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are, in that most irksome and difficult part of literature, with so much labor of the memory, and with to little assistance of the understanding."
It should also be considered, that many boys destined for a commercial or a military life are sent to grammarschools for a few years only, during which short period, if they are not instructed in English, they seldom can cultivate it afterwards with success, and of course must remain shamefully incapable of expressing themselves with propriety in their mother tongue. This is a defect, for which no other accomplishment can make amends : yet, very little attention is paid to it, and we are every day struck with the force and justness of that remark of CiCERO's, which Dr. Lowth chose for a motto to his English Grammar, viz. That a purity of style is certainly commendable, though not so much for its intrinsic consequence, as because it is too generally neglected : in short, it is not so meritorious to speak our native tongue correctly, as it is disgraceful to speak it otherwise ; nor is it so much the proper qualification of a good orator, as of every wellbred member of the community.
A few years ago, I had some conversation on this subject with a friend of mine, who was then preparing for the press a treatise of practical education, and who politely expressed some satisfaction at my manner of accounting for the general neglect of English Grammar. This appeared to me to arise in a great measure from the simple structure of our language, the natural order in which our words follow one another, and the few changes they admit of in their last syllables, which induced many persons to suppose, that the utmost degree of correctness in speaking and writing it might be acquired by an intercourse with the polite world, and an attentive perusal of good books, without the trouble of Grammar rules, which they thought only gave an appearance of difficulty to an attainment in itself easy and pleasurable. To the prevalence of this notion, and the consequent defect of early culture, we must attribute the many blunders which disgrace the style of most persons with whom we converse, and have a still worse effect in many literary productions, otherwise not destitute of merit. We find the force of solid reasoning often weakened by slovenly expressions, and the beauty of a fine thought obscured by some wretched solecism. It should be remembered that the easy construction of a language, instead of justifying the neglect of its Grammar, serves only to render the smallest offences against it more glaring and unpardonable. Any fault is less entitled to indulgence in proportion to the little care with which it might have been avoided.
I took occasion at the same time, to suggest to my friend another very prevalent mistake, that the study of Latin Grammar would supersede the necessity of any particular attention to English Grammar. The general principles of all languages are indeed the same, and the study of any one Grammar will therefore facilitate that of another; but every language has its peculiar forms of construction, its idioms, its niceties, which can only be known by distinct application ; and as a proof of this, we often meet with good classical scholars, who, from their disregard of English Grammar, are frequently deficient in purity, precision, and correctness. Surely the first, as well as the greatest care ought to be bestowed upon an attainment which we have hourly occasion for, and the want of which is so easily discovered. Other languages, particularly those of ancient Greece and Rome, have undoubted claims to our regard. They should be treated with the politeness and respect due to well-bred foreigners, sojourning in our country; but our own language must be cherished as a bosom friend, whose agreeable intercourse, whose constant and faithful services we ought to repay with the strongest proofs of our cordial affection and partiality.
As to the best method of teaching English Grammar, it will be enough to make boys commit to memory the definitions and principal rules in Lowth's Introduction, a work so justly admired for its clearness, simplicity, precision, and elegance. But the whole must be read with great care; and though I am not an advocate for diffuse interpretations, yet MURRAY's paraphrase of Lowth may lessen a part of the Tutor's labor. The next object is to exercise the pupils frequently in parsing, that is, shewing the construction, agreement, and dependence of the several words that compose any sentence assumed at pleasure. After this, you are to put to the proof their discernment of the smallest inaccuracies, by accustoming them to correct every day pieces of bad English drawn up for the purpose ; and MURRAY's Exercises, which are well adapted to his Grammar, will save you a great deal of trouble in this respect. Lastly, every scholar should be obliged to produce twice a week some little composition of his own, in the form of a letter, a short story, a fable, or a theme, according to his age and state of improvement.
We are now advancing one step higher in the scale of liberal improvement; and I am convinced that it will be taken by the pupil with ease and pleasure, if his grammatical studies have been conducted in the manner which I have ventured to point out. He will pass with eagerness from the art of employing words correctly to that of employing them persuasively; and the facility of the transition will afford the best proof of the excellence or alluring judiciousness of the preparatory plan. “ The liberal Arts and Sciences,” says Sir Richard Steele,“ are all beautifal as the Graces ; nor has Grammar, the severe Mother of all, so frightful a face of her own: it is the vizard put upon it that scares children. She is made to speak hard words, which to them sound like conjuring. Let her talk intelligibly and they will listen to her.” This remark may be applied with still greater force and justness to Rhetoric, of all arts and sciences the most susceptible of flowers and of engaging attractions, yet often rendered more repulsive than any of them by the harshness of technical language, and the intricacy of rules which are far beyond the comprehension of the youthful mind, and which, instead of smoothing the road to Eloquence, encumber it with much useless and offensive rubbish.
Haring long observed the bad effects of the books of Rhetoric which are commonly taught in schools, it sometimes occurred to me, that the art of speaking well and persuasively would be greatly facilitated, if those books were to be burned, and such of Chesterfield's Letters as relate to this subject introduced in their stead. The following letter alone appears to me to contain more useful information, and a stronger incentive to the study of Eloquence, than all the long strings of tropes and figures, the divisions and subdivisions, the jargon and absurdities, with which the minds of ingenuous youth have been pestered from the days of ARISTOTLE to the present time.
In a former letter, Lord CHESTERFIELD had told his son, that he believed him to be the first boy, to whom, under the age of eight years, one had ever ventured to mention the subject of Rhetoric. “ But," continues he, “I am of opinion that we cannot begin to think too young; and that the art which teaches us how to persuade the mind, and touch the heart, must surely deserve the earliest attention.” After some remarks in the same letter on purity of language, grammatical correctness, and the careful perusal of good authors, he passes in a few subsequent letters to other subjects, and then resumes his favorite topic thus :
DEAR BOY, “ Let us return to Oratory, or the art of speaking well, which should never be entirely out of your thoughts, since it is so useful in every part of life, and so absolutely necessary in most. A man can make no figure without it in Parliament, in the Church, or in the Law; and even in common conversation, a man that has acquired an casy and habitual eloquence, who speaks properly and accurately, will have a great advantage over those who speak incorrectly and inelegantly.
“ The business of Oratory, as I have told you before, is to persuade people ; and you easily feel, that to please people is a great step towards persuading them. You must then, consequently, be sensible, how advantageous it is for a man who speaks in public, whether it be in Parliament, in the Pulpit, or at the Bar (that is, in the Courts of Law) to please his hearers so much as to gain