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balkenal 9-1062 448257

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PRE FACE.

THE

*HE English Language bath been much

cultivated during the last two hundred years. It bath been considerably polished and refined; its bounds have been greatly enlarged; its energy, variéty, richness, and elegance, bave been abundantly proved by numberless trials, in verse and in prose, upon all subječts, and in every kind of style : but whatever other improvements it may have received, it bath made no advances in Grammatical accuracy.

Hooker is one of the earliest Writers of confiderable note within the period above-mentioned: let his writings be compared with the best of those of more modern date ; and, I believe, it will be found,

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that in correctness, propriety, and purity of English style he hath hardly been surpassed, or even equaled, by any of his succesors.

It is now about fifty years since Doctor Swift made a public remonftrance, addresed to the Earl of Oxford, then Lord TreaJurer, of the imperfect State of our Language ; alledging in particular, " that in many in

Rances it offended against every part of " Grasamar." Swift must be allowed to bwrve been es rutet jerize of this matter ; to zehich he was himself very attentive, both in his own writings, and in his remarks upon those of his friends : be is one of the most correst, and perhaps the best of our profe writers. Indeed the juftness of this Complaint, as far as I can find, batle never been questioned'; and yet no effe&tual method hath hitherto been taken to redress the grievance, which was the obje&t of it.

But

But let us confeder, kaw, and in what el tent, we are to understand this charge brought against the English Language : for the Author seems not to have explained bimself with fufficient clearnefs and precison on this head. Does it mean, that the English Language as it is spoken by the politejt part of the nation, and as it stands in the writings of our most approved authors, often offends against every part of Grammar . Thus far, I am afraid, the charge is true. Or does it further inply, that our Language is in its nature isregular and capricious; not bitherto Jubject, Hor casily reducible, to a Sytem of rules ? 113 this respect, I am perfuadct, the charge is wholly without foundation.

The English Language is perhaps of all the present European Languages by much the most fimple in its fornt and construction. Of all the ancient Languages, extant that is the most simple, which is undoubtedly the most

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ancient : but even that Language itself does not equal the English in fimplicity.

The Words of the English Language are perhaps subje&t to fewer variations from their original Form, than those of any other. Its Substantives have but one variation of Case: nor bave they any diftin&tion of Gender, beside that which nature bath made. Its Adjectives admit of no change at all, except that which expresses the degrees of Comparison. All the posible variations of the original form of the Verb are not above fix or seven; whereas in many Languages they amount to some hundreds : and almost the whole business of Modes, Times, and Voices is managed with great ease. by the clistance of eight or nine commodious little Verbs, called from their use Auxiliaries. The Construction of this Language is so easy and obvious, that our Grammarians bave thought it bardly worth while to give us any thing like a regular and Systematical Syntax. The

English

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