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PRINCIPLES OF LANGUAGE;
A PRACTICAL ENGLISH GRAMMAR.
AS AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGES GENERALLY,
THE USE OF SCHOOLS, AND SELF-INSTRUCTION.
BY GEORGE CRANE.
WHITTAKER AND CO., AVE-MARIA LANE.
A BRIEF recital of the circumstances under which this work was compiled will explain the object proposed to be accomplished by it, and render needless any apology for thus adding another to the many English Grammars already existing. Its Author was for some years engaged as Professor of English in a scholastic establishment of high character upon the Continent, in which were pupils of various nations, including some from the United Kingdom. The latter being, for the most part, destined for the public service, more especially for the army, had been sent to a foreign school that they might acquire the principal modern languages. Among them were young gentlemen verging on manhood, some of them from the very highest public schools in England, and far advanced in the Classics, yet commonly so little familiar with the Principles of Grammar, as to be incapable of illustrating some of the simplest of them in their mother tongue, and therefore unable to follow the classes of French, German, &c., as taught by the various professors; for the latter always proceeded upon the assumption, that the pupil was acquainted with the Grammar of his own language. Under these circumstances the Author was occasionally called upon by the Principal of the Institution, to impart to a pupil, in his own language, such a knowledge of the cardinal maxims of Grammar as would qualify him to follow their development in any other language. In the accomplishment of this object, the first difficulty to be overcome was a repugnance on the part of the pupil to enter upon
the proposed study, a sentiment generally shared by the parents, with whom it was a common remark, that they had not sent their sons abroad to learn English. The delusion so general in this country,—a delusion countenanced unfortunately by many engaged in education, that in learning the Latin Grammar we acquire that of our own language,-though found to be such, was still tenaciously adhered to, and the new study was commenced with little good will on the part of the pupil. The only English Grammar to be had was that of Murray, a work no way adapted to aid the Author in his purpose; and he therefore set about compiling such an explanation of the mechanism of the simple sentence, and the grammatical accidents of its clauses, as would enable a pupil to recognize and point out the corresponding members of the sentence in another language. A change was afterwards made in the Institution, by which boys were admitted at an earlier age, and this, with an accession to the number of English scholars, led to the establishment of a regular course of English Grammar for their special instruction ; and thus the Author became engaged, for the first time, in explaining his own language to his own countrymen. As the object of the course was, however, to teach the Science of Grammar, rather than English Grammar, he conceived that the method, which had answered so well with older pupils, might, if further developed, be rendered a still more efficient auxiliary to the
of the younger; nor was he disappointed by the result. The mode of teaching in foreign schools was perhaps no mean help to success; for, after having familiarly explained the subject of the lesson, he was enabled to show in chalk, upon the black board, any number of illustrations that he might deem necessary; and, by calling forward one or more of the pupils, convince himself, by their performance in face of the class, that the matter was perfectly understood. As nothing was required that was beyond the pupil's capacity, he readily set about forming sentences in imitation of those that he had seen upon the board ; the lessons were even looked forward to with pleasure, and the exercises commonly rendered in excess.
The progress of the pupil was doubtless accelerated, by the confirmation which the grammatical notions thus obtained daily received in the other classes, where the knowledge acquired in his English lessons enabled him to comprehend clearly that which the professor was there explaining to him ; for those repetitions, by proving to him the utility of his English Grammar, strengthened his confidence in the principles that it taught. Without a specific plan, and misled by some specious hope of finding a shorter route to a given point, the author occasionally lost his way; but as the only object of his search was truth, as he had no cherished fancies to which he would make even principles succumb, when he thus discovered himself at fault, he quietly led the unconscious pupil back to the point whence he had strayed, and renewed his pursuit by another road. From the desire to render his course as subservient as possible to other studies, he has, on some few minor points, waived his own opinion in deference to that of others; but the work which he now submits to his fellow-labourers in the field of instruction shows, in its arrangement, the course which, after long and anxious experience, he has found the most successful, and which he therefore conceives to be the best. It may be that some work upon a similar plan already exists in our language, if so, he can only regret that his ignorance of the fact has imposed upon him a weary task which might have been spared.
Having thus given the history of the work, a few observations may be allowed upon its matter. If universality be held a proof of the wisdom of a practice, it