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London: C. J. CLAY AND SONS,
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS WAREHOUSE,
AVE MARIA LANE.
Glasgow: 50, WELLINGTON STREET.
Leipzig: F. A. BROCKHAUS.
New York: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
(FORTY-SIXTH TO FIFTY-FIFTH THOUSAND)
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
[All Rights reserved.]
HIS book contains the Elements of English Grammar,
but it does not profess to be a complete manual of the English Language. Boys and girls from thirteen to seventeen years of age are the readers whose wants it has been written to supply. For a treatise intended to meet the requirements of older students, a different choice of materials would often have been made, and the materials chosen would have been treated in a different fashion. Hence it will be found that in the following pages no mention is made of some of the questions which are discussed in larger works; that other questions are touched upon, but not probed to the bottom; that here and there a definition lacks completeness, logical accuracy being sacrificed to intelligibility; and that the details of early English accidence have been inserted only when modern forms would be inexplicable without them. There are elementary books which furnish information so copious that young readers cannot see the wood for the trees. One who undertakes to instruct boys and girls needs constantly to bear in mind ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντός-how much the half is greater than the whole, in order that
he may avoid 'the human too much.' The things which have been deliberately left out of this small volume would have made a big book.
When we reflect that of every hundred boys and girls now learning English Grammar probably not more than one will ever read a page of any English author who wrote before the age of Elizabeth, it seems needlessly cruel to the remaining ninety-and-nine to inflict upon them the exhaustive study of historical English accidence. The average pupil, for whom the English Grammar lesson means mastering lists of strong verbs in half-a-dozen conjugations, or learning that the comparative of near has assumed such diverse forms as nyra, nearra, nerre, nere, nerrer, or that the word which has at different times been written hwilk, whulc, whulch, wuch, wich, and whilk,deserves our sympathy when he complains that English Grammar is rather dull. Tell him that "English Grammar without a reference to the older forms must appear altogether anomalous, inconsistent, and unintelligible," and he will say that, if it is necessary to encounter grim battalions of these older forms on every page, the subject had better be left severely alone, since it is hardly worth while going through so much to get so little.
Dull, no doubt, some parts of English Grammar, and of any other grammar, inevitably are, but the subject as a whole is far from being so dull as teachers and treatises frequently succeed in making it. A good teacher, who takes an interest in the matter himself, will secure the interest of a class of quite small boys,-not merely of the good boys at the top, but of the rank and file, of all, indeed, save the hopeless residuum who 'have taken the whole of science' for their aversion,-while he sketches for them the gradual growth of our language, or talks over