Excerpt from A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language: For the Use of Schools
In regard to the arrangement of matter, - eu important item, - I venture to claim for the book a superiority over every other of its kind. It is well known that science and literature languis... hed, until Bacon and Shakespeare emancipated them from the thralldom of ancient opinions; and, as Latin Grammars were first made, and English Grammars modeled after them, the latter have probably suf fered from a similar dominion. A language that has many in¿ections, may well have its etymology taught as a separate branch; but a language, like ours, whose actual in¿ections might all be printed on two or three pages, needs to such treatment. Besides, words have etymology because they have syntax - the very existence of the one implying the other; and to stop with etymology, is to leave the work half finished. The greatest sticklor for stparating them in our language, has failed to draw the dividing line; and much of the etymology taught in our grammars - as in the cases of nouns - is sheer syntax. Ever y teacher of experience, too, must have observed how wearisome to pupils is the long desert of etymology, before they see its application in syntax; and then they often dc not get the full benefit of this, because they have but a faint and confused recollection of the other. Moreover, by the usual system, almost the whole grammar must be learned before any practical benefit is derived from it; and, as children in many parts of the country can attend school only a part of each year, the consequence is, that they begin their grammar anew from year to year, get tired of its technical jargon, and derive, at last, but little benefit from the study. By the arrangement in this treatise, each section bears its own fruit, and will be, if learned, of permanent value, whether any further progress is made or not. The book, too, can be more conveniently resumed at the beginning of any Section, Parsing and Analysis have not only been made full, but stripped of much super¿uous machinery. Doctrines and classifications have, in many places been simplified and abridged; and for some of the insufiicient articles in our grammars have been substituted others that are altogether more substantial. The book comprises both a Primary and a Higher Grammar, and is, in the highest Ruse, progressive and philosophical. It is built up, in Part First, by a regular synthesis, from the Alphabet to Analysis; in Part Second, from Pronunciation to Versifica tion; and closes with a thorough and well-authorized section on Punctuation, as teaching the finish to the whole. In other grammars, most of the doctrine is printed in small type, and the exercises are printed in larger. This may be more agreeable to the teacher, but it is less so to the learner. I have given the main principles first, in large type, and apart from the examples; then the exercises in type sufficiently large; and, lastly, the unimportant doctrine in smaller type, under the head of Observations, and at the end of each section. The best modes of teaching and learning have been constantly kept in mind; but, of course, no reasonable teacher or learner will imagine, that the grammar of a mighty lan guage - of a language that reaches into every fibre of human knowledge - can be learned without labor, or in six lessons 1 A full preface, explanatory and defensive, would require many pages. I therefore leave the work, without further remark, to the candor, judgment, and research of the reader.
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