« AnteriorContinua »
ask their consciences the fol: ashamed of himself that he ever lowing question : “ Are they wrote at all? ready to repeat the same words, Of the same description, I conand in the same spirit, they ceive, are the writers of anony, formerly uttered behind your mous pamphlets. I mean so far back, when they next meet you as the characters and sentiments face to face ?" Besides, as inost of individuals are attacked. If backbiters speak at random, and such sort of opponents mean a by mere report, where would be fair and honourable attack, why the harm of going personally to not first make themselves known such people, that if falsely accus- to the persons whose sentiments ed they may have a fair opportuni- or conduct they design to oppose! ty of explaining themselves ? It If we have no party designs, or is amazing, what astonishing mis- any other unjustifiable motives, chief is done by the false colour- why secrete our names. And ing that is frequently put upon does it not bear the mark of that the words and actions of others, which is very men and cowardquite the reverse of their really, in a very high degree? In purpose and design !
short, truth is fair and open, This sin of backbiting, per- and loves to appear best in the haps, may discover itself by other light. Let truth and love be vehicles, than by the tongue. guides to each other, and the When the envenomed anony, world will be a thousand times mous letter-writer sends you his happier than it is. I find, howrancorous charge, is not he a ever, that I am on a subject that backbiter? First, You may al- will soon outgrow my design. most depend upon it, that he is Short papers are best for magajust as free with his tongue as he zines. I drop these hints that is with his pen. Then let his others may take up the same subcharges be ever so cruel and un- ject, especially as it is so much just, be gives you no opportunity calculated to promote the generto speak for yourself, while he al good. May peace be within perplexes your mind with a thou- the walls of all our houses ! sand suspicions against others, May peace rest not knowing who this clandestine universally! And writer can be. If he writes in a peace of God, which passeth all good spirit, need he be ashamed understanding, keep all of his name? If he writes in a hearts and minds through Jesus bad spirit, should he not be Christ our Lord !” Ev. Mag.
Review of the Eclectic Review.
Concluded from page 84.
THE Reviewers allege that the which a word directly comes to ours, "omission of u in hanor, fuvor, &c. whatever its origin may have been.” militates against a rule adhered to in This rule was followed by Dr. questionable cases; that of preferring Johnson in many cases, with evident. the orthography of the language from propriety, because it best answered
the purpose of writing, which is to language exhibits a series of contra, represent sounds to the eye, and in dictions and absurdities, partial cor. many cases, the orthography of words rections, mixed with gross blunders, received from the Latin, through the and repeated efforts of the learned to French nation, is best adapted to ex- refine and improve it, without reject. press the pronunciation, as in the ex- ing numberless barbarisms. For. ample Johnson gives, entire, instead of merly all words of the class under integer.
consideration were written with u; But to the Reviewers, it may be re
authour, debtour, candour, inferiour, anplied, that retaining u does not pre- cestour, traitour, &c. without any ref. serve the French orthography of the erence to the question, whether they words mentioned, which is honeur, fa- were of French or Latin original, ceur ; and therefore the rule, if just, The English have retrenched u from is not applicable to the case. The the whole class, except perhaps ten French acted with wisdom in aclapting or twelve. We are pursuing the al. the orthography to their pronuncia- teration to a uniform consistent role ; tion; and this is an unanswerable the omission of u is now the prevailing reason why the English should not fol- usage in the United States ; and as low them, for their spelling does not far as respects this class of words, it suit the English pronunciation. is an improvement which ought to be
The rule, however, is far from be. encouraged. ing generally adopted in our estab- The Reviewers are far from expect. lished practice ; nor can it be adopt. ing that the public will approve of ed as a general rule, for in a multi- some of my corrections of orthog. tude of cases, it is impossible to know raphy ; yet they express their own apwhether a word was taken originally probation of particular instances. in from the Latin or the French. In general they observe that a lexicogdeed a careful inspection of particu- rapher should adopt the prevailing lar words and classes of words will orthography of the age in which he show that no general rule has been writes. This rule, if received withont followed. We write legal and lateral. qualification, is fraught with mischief Is this the Latin orthography, omit- to our language. Indeed it is imting the termination ? Or is it the practicable; for in some classes of masculine gender of the French ? If words, the usage is not ascertainable, so, why do we write motive, figurative, the orthography being unsettled. relative, the feminine gender of the But the rule itself contradicts the French, and not the masculine motif, principle adopted in every other figuratif, relatif. If we have follow- branch of literature, that errors are to ed the Latin in legal and lateral, why be corrected, when discovered or clearly not in futile, volatile, omitting the ter: proved to be such. Dr. Johnson ad. mination, futil, volatil.
We have re- hered to the rule generally, as laid ceived many words in ic from the down by the Reviewers, but not with. French ique ; perhaps public, music : out exceptions. He deviated from yet we have conformed to the Greek the principle--" Quid te exempta and Roman originals in the orthogra- jnrat spinis de pluribus una ?" Why phy. Words in ous deriate from the correct one error, when you cannot French as well as the Latin, as odious, correct the whole! For in words, precious. Nourish, flourish, debt, doubt, where the orthography had been indorse, &c. are neither Latin por altered by accident or depraved by French. Confessor, predecessor, pro- ignorance," he held it to be lois duty tector are from the French confesseur, to inquire into the true orthography, predecesseur, protecteur, yet “always by tracing them to their originals, and written without; and what crowns the deciding favor of the etymology. contradictions on this subject, is, that See Preface to his Dictionary. I have even those, who pretend to follow the pursued the same rule; and have at. French in honour, favour, depart from tempted only the correction of a few it in the derivatives, honourabie, fa- palpable mistakes and incongruities, vourable, which the French write Nor ought any lexicographer to de. without 14, honorable, favorable. cide every case by numbers. When
The truth is, the history of our the practice is unsettled, it is his du.
ty to inquire into the original of words, der them perpetual ? What, because and establish that orthography which former writers were negligent, or is etymologically correct, or which is failed of arriving at trutii, by ilí-di. best suited to give the true pronuncia. rected researches, are posterity oblig. tion. In selecting authorities, heed to recognize their mistakes! ought not to be guided exclusively by The Reviewers themselves have de. a majority of numbers ; but when he cided this principle, in their refinds a smaller numbe who are cor- marks on each and either; for they rect upon principle, he should decide say, " if Saxon writers, and the trans. in favor of their practice, in prefer- lators of the Bible confounded the ence to the authority of greater num. proper meanings of these words, did bers who are evidently wrong. There they bind all their posterity to do the is an obvious propensity in writers to same ?” In that case the question is a regular orthography, a strong incli. inapplicable, for no such confusion is nation to purify the language from its found. But the Reviewers, in one barbarisms, which, in defiance of casc, admit the right in posterity to custom, gradually corrects a mistake, alter, correct and improve language ; lops off an excrescence, and retrenches which right, in another case, they superfluity. Thus, since the days of deny. Dr. Johnson, publick, musick, politick, But I will never degrade the busi&c. have lost the k; deposit and repos- ness of lexicography, by complying it, have lost e; u is retrenched from with the erroneous principle of admany words, as ambassailor, error, &c. hering, in every case, to common and the merchant who should foilow usage. I will not, like the English Johnson's spelling of the words ensur- lexicographers, sanction what is adarce, endorsement, would not escape mitted, on all hands, to be wrong. ridicule. Some of the greatest au- What, shall I admit the barbarous thors in the English nation wrote ex- word comptroller, because this oramin, determin, imagin ; among thography can claim the authority of these arc Camden in his Britannia ; common usage? Shall I, like Johnson, Lhuyd in his Archeologia, and Dave. introduce it with the authority of nant on the revenues of England. Shakespeare, Temple, and Dryden ?* Newton, Camden, Lhuyd, Hooke, Far be from me such a dereliction of Prideaux, Whiston, Bolingbroke, my duty. The lexicographer's busiMiddleton wrote scepter, theater,
ness is to search for truth, to proscribe sepulcher, &c. Pope, Dryden, Hoole, error, and repress anomaly. This is Camden, Thompson, Goldsmith, Ed. the only direct and easy method to wards' Hist. of' w. Indies, Gregory, purify our language from the corrup&c. wrote correctly mold, for mould. tions and barbarisms entailed upon it How shall these diversities be pre- by the Norman conquest, and by the vented? A certain part of writers ignorance and negligence of writers. will spurn the chains of authority, Few men have an opportunity to inand prefer correctness to custom ; vestigate the origin of words. Most while others from indolence, conve- men even of letters confide in the de. nience, or ignorance, will follow their lexicons. There is therefore but one I take this opportunity to correct a plain rule for the lexicographer to anistake in the Preface to my Dictiona. pursue, that of determining doubtful ry, page 17 ; in which I have reprecases by etymology or analogy. A sented Johnson as having mistaken the regular orthography, or that which etymology of this word. This is an er. falls into establishod analogies, is the ror occasioned by my misapprehending highest authority; and to this, after his meaning-an error, I believe, that some struggles with habits, men will has been common.
Fohnson mentions ultimately submit.
the mistake of others; but by setting Is it not the most mischievous doc. doron comptroll, and its derivatives, trine, that we must be bound by com. with the exemplifications, he has, dimon usage, whether righi or wrong? rectly contrary to his intentions, spread Must we sanction the most obvious the use of this orthography-as gross a errors, and add our authority to ren- blunder as ever was made.
eisions of lexicographers; for which ty in national practice. This eager, reason the compilers of dictionaries ness to give books a currency by imshould not be “ dlabblers in etimolo. itating particular men of popular gy,” as many of them have been ; but fame, tends to unsettle established men of deep research, and of accurate usages, and keep the language in philological knowledge. Compilers perpetual fluctuation. of this character, instead of transcrib- The effort of the Reritiers to vining and sanctioning the errors of wri- dicate the English practice of giving ters, who had no authority but the to a its long sound in angel, ancient, errors of their predecessors, who have which is also the practice in some of immemorially copied the same mis. these states, is beyond measure fee. takes, would gradually acquire a do. ble. What, " a strong accent” give minion over practice, subdue its to a its long sound, in angel, ancient, anomalies, and improve the language. and not in angle, tinguish, annual, an
The Reviewers remark, that in 85%, anchor, anecilote, Co. ! Surely speaking of pronunciation, I have the Gentlemen cannot be serious. It passed no censure on the accenchuation is far better to admit the real fact at and grachulation of Walker, nor on once, that the practice is a departure the furnichur and multichood of Sher- from the original sound of the letter, idan, which they condemn. But the in Greek and Latin, and from the Gemlemen misapprehend my motive analogies of other English words. in making a comparison between Let me add that the Americans do Sheridan, Walker and Jones, in the not pronounce a in arigel, ancient, as class of words to which they refer. It they do in command. was not for the purpose of censuring In the criticism upon the orthogra. either; but to exhibit the diversities phy of though the Reviewers may be of practice and opinion among standi. correct ; and this is the only point in ard authors. I can however assure which their strictures wear to me an the Reviewers, that in the instances appearance of correctness. I had mentioned, as in many other words, well weighed the facts which they I do beartily agree with them in give bave suggested, The original oring the preference to Jones.
thography, theah, theh, thoth, I had ex. In respect to the pronunciation of an ined, and carefully considered the words, the Reviewers concur with my primitive guttural sound of h. Sull I criticisms, in some instances, and dis. am not satisfied with Mr. H. Tooke's sent from them in others. The next opinion that theah, and thef are from club of Reviewers will probably give the same root. Thof is certainly the a directly contrary opinion. The fact imperative of thafian, to allow : but I is, no country, city, village or private have a strong suspicion that theah is club can be found in which all the in- from the same root as the Latin do, dividuals can agree upon the pronun- dare to give-in the imperative da ciation of certain words. All men or tha, which we see in the Celtic prefer the pronunciation to which daigham. But I prefer the orthogra. they have been accustomed. The phy, tho, as it gives the propunciation, preference is determined by babit, without obscuring the etymology, and rather than by principle; except in makes an obvious distinction to the young men ambitious of fame, who eye, between though and through. seek to imitate the pronunciation of On the subject of a repugnance some popular speaker, upon the stage among the learned to a reformation or at the bar. But the lexicographer of orthography, I wish to be inę should not be misled by bis habits, dulged in a few general remarks. nor biassed by the caprices of emi- 1st, My own attempts go no further nent men. The lexicographer who than a correction of obvious errors attempts to change the coniinon pro- and inconsistencies. nunciation of words, upon the author. 20. Philosophical precision in or. ity of a distinguished plaver, or a thography is found in no modern lan“great luminary of the law,"* pre: guage, nor is it necessary. çludes the possibility of uniformi. 3. The material anomalies in the
orthography of the English lan. See Walker, under the word record. guage might be corrected without
any new characters; without render Europe demonstrate that the general ing any book useless, and without oc- diffusion of the French language has casioning any ditficulty to elderly peo. been the pioneer to their aims. Yet ple. The schemes of Sir Thomas with all these lessons of experience, Smith, Dr. Gill, Dr. Franklin and the English, whose very existence is others which have been offered, cre- ' menaced by the power of France, are ate difficulties which are needless, so little sensible of the policy by and which must forever prevent their which her influence and dominions success. If any general effort were have been extended, that they cannot to be made to eitect the object, I establish a college even in India, withrould present a scheme, for the pur- out attaching to it French professors. pose, of far greater simplicity. The people of the United States fall
4th. The friends of English litera- into the same current of fashionable ture have a deep interest in reforming error ; and our sons and daughters the orthography of the language, for are taught tu believe, that a knowits irregularities are among the ledge of the French language, like greatest obstacles to the diffusion of French couillions, is essential as a poit in foreign countries. This circum- lite accomplishment. Little as men stance has had a material influence are accustomed to reflect upon the in retarding the study of English remote or primary calises of great among foreigners, and giving a revolutions, we may be assured that preference to the French. The the French language has been a prinFrench is far inferior to the English, cipal instrument by which the gove in copiousness and strength ; indeed ernment has divided the citizens, and the French is inferior to most lan- vanquished the armies, of the neighguages in Europe. Yet the French bouring states; while it bas propanation have had the address to spread gated the most licentious manners, the knowledige of their language, so and tlie most detestable system of pu. that it is, in a manner, a common litical principles. medium of intercourse in Europe, and To pave the way for this extension in some parts of Asia.
of their language, the French had the Few men seem to have observed policy to refine and improve it, by the connexion of this extension of the purifying its orthography, and reducFrench language with the political ing it to a good degree of regularity. views of the French governinent, and In short, they first removed the chief its influence upon the manners and obstacles to the easy acquisition of morals of other nations, The their langage by foreigners; and French language is unquestionably without this previous measure, their one of the principal instruments of efforts would have been unavail. extending the influence of the ing. nation from the Ganges to the The English pursue a different wilds of America. The natives of line of conduct; and with a far more France are spread over the habitable excellent language : with more exglobe. Not a country, city, or town, tensive colonial establishments ; with and scarcely a village can be named, an unlimited commerce, and all the in which we may not find Frenchmen, motives to extend their influence, who, either in the characters of min- which any nation can have, they isters, consuls, merchants, travellers, take incredible pains to retain in refugees, teachers of their language, their language, the anomalies which painters, dancing masters, fencing offer almost insurmountable obstamasters, music masters, or barbers, cles to its progress among forare spreading a knowledge of their eigners. Every suggestion of a relanguage, introducing frivolous formation is repelled by the dogmas musements and levity of manners, or of Dr. Johnson, or other writers, that securing political attachments with a “change is inconvenient, even from view to some national advantage. In worse to better, and that there is in 10 country can the French govern- constancy and stability a general and ment want influence, where a party of lasting advantage, which overbalances' friends is not previously secure il to the slow improvements of gradusi their hands; and the late erents in correction.” These positions, with