Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

THE

PREFACE.

THE success, with which the principles of any art or science are investigated, is generally proportioned to the number of those, whose labours are directed to its cultivation and improvement. Enquiry is necessarily the parent of knowledge ; error itself, proceeding from discussion, leads ultimately to the establishment of truth.

Were we to estimate our progress in the knowledge of English grammar from the non

b

ber of works, already published on the subject, we should perhaps be prompted to infer, - that in a field so circumscribed, and at the same time so often and so ably explored, no object worthy of notice could have escaped attention, And yet in this, as in every other art or science, strict examination will convince us, that, though much may have been accomplished, still much remains, to stimulate the industry, and exercise the ingenuity of future enquirers. The author indeed is fully persuaded, that it is impossible to examine the English language with any degree of critical accuracy, and not perceive, that its syntactical principles especially are yet but imperfectly illustrated, and that there are many of its idioms, which have entirely eluded the attention of our grammarians. That these defects are all supplied by the present work, the author is far from having the vanity to believe. That he has exanined a few idioms, and elucidated some principles, which have escaped the observation of other grammarians, he trusts, the intelligent reader will remark.

The Treatise, the second edition of which now solicits the notice of the public, is intended chiefly for the improvement of those, who have made some advancement in classic literature. That an acquaintance with Greek and Latin facilitates the acquisition of crery other language, and that by a know ledge of these the classical scholar is therefore mate:ially assisted in attaining a critical acquaintance with his native tongue, it would argue extreme perversity to deny.

But that an extensive knowledge of Greek and Latin is often associated with an imperfect and superficial acquaintance with the principles of the English language is a fact, which experience demonstrates, and it would not be difficult to explain. To make

progress in a classical course, without acquiring a general knowledge of English grammar, is indeed impossible; jet

any tolerable

to finish that course, without any correct acquaintance with the mechanism of the English language, or any critical knowledge of its principles, is an occurrence neither singular nor surprising. No language whatever can be critically learned, but by careful study of its general structure, and peculiar principles. To assist the classical scholar in attaining a correct acquaintance with English grammar, is the chief, though not the sole end, for which the present Treatise was composed. That it is, in some degree, calculated to answer this purpose, the author, from its reception, is willing to believe.

His obligations to his predecessors in the same department of literature, he feels it his duty to acknowledge. He trusts at the same time, that the intelligent reader will perceive, that he has neither copied with servility, nor implicitly adopted the opinions of others; but has, in every question, exercised his own judg

« AnteriorContinua »