Page images

“Literature, if it is to flourish, must have a standard of taste built up, which shall expand to meet new forms of excellence, but which shall preserve that which is excellent in old forms, and shall serve as a guide to the rejection of whatever is bad, pretentious, and artificial ; and it is the business of critics to see that this standard is built up and maintained."-SATURDAY REVIEW.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


I HAVE been asked not to publish another edition of this work; but I do not think I should be benefiting the cause of literature by complying with that request. The care of the national language," says Schlegel, “is at all times a sacred trust.

Every man of education should make it the object of his unceasing concern to pre

serve his language pure”; and I consider that I am doing only my duty in that respect, when I re-issue this work, which, by exposing the errors of one of exalted position and reputed learning, makes a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

light in the church" serve as a beacon to all around.

I wish it to be distinctly understood that in publishing these criticisms I have not been actuated by any feeling of ill-will towards the Dean of Canterbury. I object not to the man, but to the man's language; it is faulty in the extreme; and since the faults of teachers, if suffered to pass unreproved, soon become the teachers of faults, it was necessary that some one should take upon himself the task of " demonstrating", as 'The Edinburgh Re'view' said, "that while the Dean undertook "to instruct others, he was himself but a

castaway in matters of grammar. As a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, one of the objects of which is “to

preserve the purity of the English lan“guage”, I took upon myself the demonstration. How far I have succeeded, each

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

individual reader will determine for himself; but the rapid sale of three editions of 'The Dean's English', and the demand for a fourth, give very flattering evidence that, by the public generally, the work has been favourably received.

Since the publication of the last edition of The Dean's English', the Dean has brought out the second edition of The

Queen's English'. One circumstance, in connexion with that, is worthy of remark. In Good Words' the Dean said to his readers,—The less you turn your words

"right or left to observe Mr. Moon's rules, the better”. It will provoke a smile on the face of the reader of these pages to be told, that the Dean himself, although he gives this advice to others, has altered and struck out, altogether not fewer than eight-and-twenty passages which I had condemned as faulty. For the entertain

[ocr errors]

ment of the curious in such matters, I have given, in parallel columns in this edition, the sentences as originally published in Good Words', and condemned in 'The Dean's English'; and the altered sentences as they now appear in the Dean's second edition of his 'Queen's English'.

The Dean's book contains much valu

able information, collected from various sources; but it is blended with so very much that would be really injurious to the student of literature, that the work can never safely be recommended for his guidance. The style, too, in which it is written, is so hopelessly bad, that no amount of alteration could obtain for it the praise of being a model for chasteness and elegance of expression. We still read in it, of persons making “a precious messof their work! and expletives, we are

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »