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respondent. I own that this may happen insensibly without design or affectation on the part of our writers; and that either from the close intercourse which we have with that nation, or from the great use that we make of their writings, and the practice now so frequent of translating them. But that I may not be thought unreasonable in imputing to this cause, what is not justly chargeable on it, I shall specify in the margin a few instances wherein the penury of the French language hath, in the way of which I am speaking, been hurtful to the English *.
* The local adverbs are very properly classed with us as in Latin into three orders, for denoting rest or motion in a place, motion to it, and motion from it. In every one of these orders there are three adverbs to denote this place, that place, and what, or which place, interrogatively or relatively. In French there are only two orders, the first and second being confounded. subjoined:
See the scheme
Since the Restoration, which I take to be neither the only nor the earliest, but the most successful æra in regard to the introduction of French books, French sentiments, and French modes into this island, the adverbs of the first order have almost always been employed in conversation, and frequently in print, for those of the se cond. Thus we say, "Where are you going?" and sometimes, "Come here," though the only proper adverbs in such cases be whither and hither. Another instance the above scheme furnishes of the absurd tendency we have to imitate the French, even in their
Of the connectives employed in combining the parts of a sentence.
I SHALL only here subjoin to these observations, that if the whereunto's, and the therewithal's, may be denominated the gouty joints of style, the viz.'s, and the i. e.'s, and the e. g.'s, for videlicet, id est, and exempli gratia, may not unfitly be termed its crutches. Like these wretched props, they are not only of foreign materials, but have a foreign aspect. For, as a
imperfections, The local adverbs of the third order are with them distinguished from those of the first and second only by prefixing the preposition de, which signifies from. This is manifestly the origin of those pleonastic phrases in English, from hence, from thence, and from whence. I shall produce another evidence of the bad effect of this propensity. So many of Nature's works are known to us by pairs, the sexes, for example, and the most of the organs and the members of the human body, and indeed of every animal body, that it is natural, even in the simplest state of society, and in the rise of languages, to distinguish the dual member from the plural. And though few languages have made, or at least retained this distinction in the declension of nouns, yet most have observed it in the numeral adjectives. The English in particular have observed it with great accuracy, as appears from the annexed scheme.
Relatively and Interrogatively Whether.
This distinction in French hath been overlooked altogether, and in English is beginning, at least in some instances, to be confounded. Perhaps the word every will not be found in any good writer applied to two; but it is certain that the word each hath usurped the place
stick can never be mistaken for a limb, though it may in a clumsy manner do the office of one, so these pitiful supplements can never be made to incorporate with
of every, and is now used promiscuously by writers of all denominations, whether it be two or more that are spoken of. The pronominal adjective whether is now quite obsolete, its place being supplied by which. About a century and a half ago whether was invariably used of two, as appears from all the writings of that period, and particularly from the translation of the Bible; thus Matt. xxi. "Whether of them twain did the will of his father?" and xxiii. 17. "Whether is greater, the gold, or the temple?" The rest of this class have hitherto retained their places amongst us. How long they may continue to do so, it will be impossible to say. Indeed, the clumsy manner in which these places are supplied in French, doth perhaps account for our constancy, as it will prove, I hope, our security against a sudden change in this particular. It would sound extremely awkward in our ears, all the two, or the one or the other, and nor the one nor the other, which is a literal version of tous les deux, ou l'un ou l'autre, and ni l'un ni l'autre, the phrases whereby both, either, and neither, are expressed in French. It may be said, custom softens every thing, and what though several words thus fall into disuse, since experience shows us that we can do without them? I answer, first, change itself is bad, unless evidently for the better: secondly, perspicuity is more effectually secured by a greater choice of words when the meanings are distinct: thirdly, vivacity is promoted both by avoiding periphrasis, and by using words as much as possible limited in signification to the things meant by the speaker: fourthly, in an abundance without confusion, there is always greater scope for variety. And to come to the particular defect which gave rise to these observations, every body must be sensible, that the frequent recurrence in French to these uncouth sounds, quoi, que, qui, quelque, and the like, doth not serve to re eommend the language to the ear of a stranger.
Of the connectives employed in combining the parts of a sentence.
the sentence, which they help in a bungling manner to hobble forwards.
I PROCEED to exemplify further, in our own language, the general observation made above, that an improvement of taste leads men insensibly to abbreviate those weaker parts of speech, the connexive particles. I have remarked already the total suppression of the conjunction that after because, before, although, and many others of the same stamp, with which it was wont to be inseparably combined. But we have not stopt here. This particle is frequently omitted, when there is no other conjunction to connect the clauses, as in this example, "Did I not tell you positively, I "would go myself?" In order to construe the sentence, we must supply the word that after positively. Concerning this omission I shall just observe, what I would be understood in like manner to observe concerning the omission of the relatives to be mentioned afterwards, that though, in conversation, comedy, and dialogue, such an ellipsis is graceful when, without hurting perspicuity, it contributes to vivacity; yet, wherever the nature of the composition requires dignity and precision in the style, this freedom is hardly to be risked.
ANOTHER remarkable instance of our dislike to conjunctions, is a method, for aught I know, peculiar to us; by which the particles tho' and if, when in construction with any of the tenses, compounded with bad,
could, would, or should, are happily enough set aside as unnecessary. This is effected by a small alteration in the arrangement. The nominative is shifted from its ordinary station before the auxiliary, and is placed immediately after it, as in these words, " Had I known "the danger, I would not have engaged in the busi"ness;" that is, "If I had known the danger," *Should you remonstrate ever so loudly, I would not "alter my resolution; that is, "Tho' you should re"monstrate"The reason that this transposition cannot be admitted in the other tenses, is, that in them it would occasion an ambiguity, and give the sentence the appearance of an interrogation, which it scarcely ever hath in the tenses above mentioned. Sometimes, indeed, the preterimperfect admits this idiom, without rendering the expression ambiguous; as in these words, "Did I but know his intention,”. " for "If I did but "know his intention "" Were I present,"--for
If I were present." The tense, however, in such instances, may more properly be termed an aorist, than a preterit of any kind; and the mood is subjunc tive.
SECT. II.... Of other Connectives.
Now, that I am speaking of the auxiliaries, it may not be amiss to remark, that they too, like the conjunctions, the relatives, and the prepositions, are but words of a secondary order. The signification of the