« PreviousContinue »
equally shocking, are synonymous ; whereas to be barbarous, and to be in familiar use, are a contradiction in terms. Yet in this manner does our author often express himself. “ No authority,” says he in another place, “is sufficient to justify so manifest a “solecism.” No man needed less to be informed, that authority is every thing in language, and that it is the want of it alone that constitutes both the barbarism and the solecism.
Canon the second.
THE second canon is, In doubtful cases regard ought to be had in our decisions to the analogy of the language.
For this reason I prefer contemporary to cotemporary. The general use in words compounded with the inseparable composition con, is to retain the [n] before a consonant, and to expunge it before a vowel or an [h] mute. Thus we say condisciple, conjuncture, concomitant; but co-equal, co-eternal, co-incide, co-heir. I know but one exception, which is co-partner. But in dubious cases we ought to follow the rule, and not the exception. If by the former canon the adverbs backwards and forwards are preferable to backward and forward; by this canon, from the principle of analogy, afterwards and homewards should be preferred to afterward and homeward. Of the two adverbs thereabout and thereabouts, compounded
Sect. I. Good use not always uniform in her decisions....Canon II.
of the particle there and the preposition, the former alone is analogical, there being no such word in the language as abouts. The same holds of hereabout and whereabout. In the verbs to dare and to need, many say, in the third person present singular, dare and need, as, “he need not go; he dare not do it.” Others say, dares and needr. As the first usage is exceedingly irregular, hardly any thing less than uniform practice could authorise it. This rule supplies us with another reason for preferring scarcely and exceedingly as adverbs, to scarce and exceeding. The phrases Would
to God, and Would God, can both plead the authority
of custom; but the latter is strictly analogical, the former is not. It is an established idiom in the English tongue, that any of the auxiliaries might, could, would, should, did, and had, with the nominative subjoined, should express sometimes a supposition, sometimes a wish : which of the two it exprsses in any instance, is easily discovered from the context. Thus the expression, ‘Would he but ask it of me,’ denotes either, “If be would, or I wish that he would but ask it of me.’ Would God, then, is properly, I wish that God would, or 0 that God would. The other expression it is impossible to reconcile to analogy in any way *. For a
* What has given rise to it is evidently the French Pát & Dieu, of the same import. But it has not been adverted to (so servile commonly are imitators), that the verb plaire is impersonal, and regularly construed with the preposition a ; neither of which is the case with the English wis/ and zoox//.
The nature and use of verbal criticism, with its principal canons.
like reason the phrase ever so, as when we say, ‘though he were ever to good, is preferable to never so. In both these decisions I subscribe to the judgment of Dr Johnson. Of the two phrases in no wife in three words, and nowire in one, the last only is conformable to the present genius of the tongue. The noun wire, signifying manner, is quite obsolete. It remains now only in composition, in which, along with an adjective or other substantive, it forms an adverb or conjunction. Such are ridewise, lengthwise, coastwire, contrariwise, likewise, otherwise. These always preserve the compound form, and never admit a preposition; consequently nowife, which is an adverb of the same order, ought analogically to be written in one word, and not to be preceded by in. In very ancient style all these words were uncompounded, and had the preposition. They said in like wife, and in other wire *.
* In proof of this I shall produce a passage taken from the Prologue of the English translation of the Legenda Aurea, which seems to have been made towards the end of the fifteenth century. “I haue submysed my selfe to translate into Engylshe the legende “of syntes whyche is called legenda aurea in Latyn; That is to “saye, the golden legende. For in lyke wyse as golde is moost “noble aboue all other metallys; in lyke wyse is thys legende “holden moost noble aboue all other werkes.” About the time that our present version of the scriptures was made, the old usage was wearing out. The phrase in like wire occurs but once, (Matt. xxi. 24.) whereas the compound term likewire occurs frequently. We find in several places, on this wire, in any wire, and in nowire. The two first phrases are now obsolete, and the third seems to be in the state Dr Johnson calls obsolescent.
Sect. I. Good use not always uniform in her decisions....Canon IIs.
And if custom at present were uniform, as it is divided, in admitting in before nowire, it ought to be followed, though anomalous. In these matters it is
foolish to attempt to struggle against the stream. All
that I here plead for is, that when custom varies, analogy should decide the question, In the determination of this particular instance I differ from Dr Priestley. Sometimes whether is followed by no, sometimes by not. For instance, some would say, ' Whether he will or no;' others, Whether he will or not.’ Of these it is the latter only that is analogical. There is an ellipsis of the verb in the last clause, which when you supply, you find it necessary to use the adverb mot, * Whether he will or will not.’ I shall only add, that by both the preceding canons we ought always to say rend in the present of the indicative and of the infinitive, and never rent, as is sometimes done. The latter term hath been pre-occupied by the preterit and the participle passive, besides that it is only in this application that it can be said to be used analogically. For this reason, the active participle ought always to be rending, and not renting. A.
Canon the third.
THE third canon is, When the terms or expressions are in other respects equal, that ought to be preferred which is most agreeable to the ear.
This rule hath perhaps a greater chance of being Vol. I. X
The nature and use of verbal criticism, with its principal canons.
observed than any other, it having been the general bent for some time to avoid harsh sounds and unmusical periods. Of this we have many examples. DeJicateness hath very properly given way to delicacy; and for a like reason authenticity will probably soon displace authenticalness, and vindictive disposses vindicative altogether. Nay, a regard to sound hath, in some instances, had an influence on the public choice, to the prejudice of both the former canons, which one would think ought to be regarded as of more importance. Thus the term ingenuity hath obtained, in preference to ingeniousness, though the former cannot be deduced analogically from ingenious, and had besides been pre-occupied, and consequently would be equivocal, being a regular derivative from the term ingenuous, if the newer acceptation had not before now supplanted the other altogether.
Canon the fourth. .
THE fourth canon is, In cases wherein none of the foregoing rules gives either side a ground of preference, a regard to simplicity (in which I include etymology when manifest) ought to determine our choice.
UNDER the name simplicity I must be understood to comprehend also brevity; for that expression is always the simplest which, with equal purity and perspicuity, is the briefest. We have, for instance, seve