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furnish not only a text-book for the higher institutions, but also a reference-book for teachers, which may help to give breadth and exactness to their views, and thus qualify them to impart oral instruction to their pupils who study some smaller work.
It has also been my endeavor to furnish men in Professional life with a work for occasional reference or perusal, to keep alive and extend in their minds their knowledge of the principles of the language. President Dwight made the remark, that "every graduate should keep his Murray's Grammar"-a work then used in Yale College-" and read the more important parts of it at least once a year." Unless men, at least occasionally, bestow their attention upon the science and the laws of the language, they are in some danger, amid the excitements of professional life, of losing the delicacy of their taste and giving sanction to vulgarisms, or to what is worse. On this point, listen to the recent declarations of two leading men in the Senate of the United States, both of whom understand the use of the English language in its power:
In truth, I must say that, in my opinion, the vernacular tongue of the country has become greatly vitiated, depraved, and corrupted by the style of our Congressional debates." And the other, in courteous response, remarked, "There is such a thing as an English and a parliamentary vocabulary, and I have never heard a worse, when circumstances called it out, on this side Billingsgate!"
"Language is not made, but grows." As new ideas germinate in a fertile mind, they often come forth in new forms of expression, which sometimes become permanent portions of the language. Foreign terms are imported. New terms are applied to new inventions in art or new discoveries in science. An old term applied to a single object is transitively applied to other objects. A language thus grows by grafts from without and by germs from within.
This law of growth in the English language is more strikingly seen in some epochs than in others; as, for instance, in the time of Chaucer, when the language became rich in expressions of sensible objects and simple feelings; as in the age of Shakspeare, when the "imagination bodied forth the form of things unknown;" as in the time of Locke, when the language was more fully developed as an instrument of reason; as in our own times, when it grows with the rapid growth of knowledge in the domains of natural science, mental philosophy, and the arts.
The growth of language can not be repressed any more than can the genial activity of the human soul. Especially in our own country, in this "wilderness of free minds," new thoughts and corresponding new
he higher institutions, but also a ref ay help to give breadth and exactfy them to impart oral instruction to er work.
furnish men in Professional life with
the Senate of the United States,
ws." As new ideas germinate in
1 language is more strikingly seen r instance, in the time of Chaucer, xpressions of sensible objects and akspeare, when the "imagination 10wn;" as in the time of Locke, veloped as an instrument of reagrows with the rapid growth of science, mental philosophy, and
in repressed any more than can the specially in our own country, houghts and corresponding new
expressions spring up spontaneously to live their hour or to be permanent. As our countrymen are spreading westward across the continent, and are brought into contact with other races, and adopt new modes of thought, there is some danger that, in the use of their liberty, they may break loose from the laws of the English language, and become marked not only by one, but by a thousand Shibboleths. Now, in order to keep the language of a nation one, the leading men in the greater or smaller communities, the editors of periodicals, and authors generally, should exercise the same guardian care over it which they do over the opinions which it is used to express; and, for this purpose, they should be familiar with works which treat of its analogies and idioms, that they may understand what are the laws of normal and of abnormal growth, and by their own example and influence encourage only that which is strictly legitimate.
Our language, as the depository of the wisdom and experience of past generations, we have received by inheritance, to be transmitted to the ages to come certainly enlarged, and, if possible, improved. "A man should venerate his native language as the first of his benefactors; as the awakener and stirrer of his spiritual thoughts, the form, and mold, and rule of his spiritual being; as the great bond and medium of intercourse with his fellows; as the mirror in which he sees his own nature, and without which he can not commune even with himself; as the image which the wisdom of God has chosen to reveal itself to him.” It was in some such spirit and under some such impressions that the present work was undertaken.
Philology has of late, especially in Germany, been successfully culti vated in what have been called its two great branches: the Philosophy of language or the formation of words; and the Method of language or the formation of sentences. English philology has made great advances from the indirect contributions received from such men as Rask and Bosworth, Grimm and Bopp, Becker and Kühner, as well as from the direct efforts of such as Webster, Latham, and Guest. Some of the practical results of their investigations I have embodied in this work. Other materials were collected from the wide field of English literature while I was engaged in giving instruction to classes in college The older grammarians, such as Wallis, Greenwood, and Lowth, I have consulted, as well as some of the modern, such as Murray, Crombie, and Arnold. I am also under obligation to Whately, Gray, and Mill, in logic; and to Harrison, and especially to Sir John Stoddart, in etymology and syntax. To Dr. Latham, late Professor of the English language and literature in the London University, something
more than a general acknowledgment is due. I have read his works
I have also to state that I am much indebted to Professor J. W.
Amherst, August, 1850.