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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 26

Part First — Grammar, Analysis, and Composition: Notes on their Teaching

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Part First

Grammar, Analysis, and Composition: Notes on their Teaching.


Grammar may be considered under two aspects,—as a course of logical training, and as a means of knowing the laws of language.

Under the first aspect in which it is viewed apart from its application to the right use of language, Grammar has its chief end in mental regimen. Properly taught, Grammar should form the school course of Logic, towards which it can be made a most efficient instrument, quite within the grasp of children, in which they may be made to take positive pleasure. It should be made a means of training and exercising them more or less in abstract thought, in correct reasoning, in clear and ready discrimination of differentia, in classification, and definition, in the discovery of fallacy, and indeed in all the chief processes of the science of Logic—a logical course which will be all that most of our children will ever know of Logic and scientific method.

Its success will therefore depend on the correctness and logical accuracy of the definitions, classifications, and reasoning processes of our grammatical course both as to the general principles of grammar and their application to English.

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I.—Our Common Grammars Defective.

Yet it is remarkable that our English grammar, as it has been till lately taught, and as even now too generally taught in our common class-books, is very far from all this, and is full of positive error and illogical classification. English grammar is the least correct and least scientific part of our school course in text-book and practice. This is a grave charge to make, but it is too true. Indeed, so much is this the case that a good grammarian could, without fear, undertake to show error, deficiency, or logical fallacy in almost every page of the most of our grammars, and most successfully in those in most common use, and that by a few questions given to an average class. Into this subject and the substantiation of this charge, we cannot now enter at any length. We shall only adduce a few examples, as pointing out what any one may discover for himself, and which it is his duty to do, if his teaching on this most important subject is to produce the result it is calculated to do. Let us glance hurriedly through the pages of most of our common school grammars, and note a few points.

The Noun.

The definition of a noun, where it departs from the simple statement that a noun is a name, or the name of anything, is generally either defective or redundant, or both.

In the definition of gender a confusion is made between gender, which is a distinction of words, and sex, which is a distinction of animals. The classification of words by gender is made the same as the sexual differences in animals, and English gender is declared to be of two kinds. Gender, however, is a verbal distinction. It is based upon difference in sex, but is not sex. Sex is dual, but words in English may have five genders or kinds as based on sex:—masculine= he of male; feminine=she or female; neuter= what has no sex, hence its name—neither; common; what has either sex; and words including both sexes, as children: or shortly thus,—he page 7 and she; and then either, neither, or both—all the possible varieties based on the idea of the two sexes.

Neuter is too often defined as "that which is without life"; one hears it almost daily. The word, of course, tells its own meaning; neuter is neither—i.e., neither "he" nor "she," life being only an accidental idea, which may be present or not. If neuter is without life, what is the gender of "spirit," "soul," which = it? What is the gender of the whole vegetable world, which certainly has life? A tree lives, and can die, and yet it is neuter.

Case.—In our grammars, English is said to have three cases, and yet, in these same books, we read not only of nominative possessive, and objective, but of the absolute case and the case of address. Then what is to determine case—inflection or function in a sentence? Let us adhere to either the one idea or the other. If it is to be determined by inflection, nouns have only two cases, pronouns three, if not four. If by function, English will be found to have at least these cases—nominative, genitive or possessive, objective or accusative, case of address or vocative, case absolute, and the dative case, which last it has both functionally and historically, as in him, "m" being the old dative termination.

Then, nominative absolute is a misnomer, and unphilosophic, nominative being the case in all languages of the subject, and the absolute case being always one of the oblique cases,—"genitive," as in Greek; "ablative," as in Latin; "dative," as in Saxon, &c.: "case absolute" would perhaps be the simplest name in modern English. The same objection holds of nominative of address.

The Adjective.

The definition of the adjective is equally defective. If it is defined by quality, what of adjectives of quantity? and if by quality and quantity, what of adjectives of distinction?

Then it is generally defined as being added to a noun, and, more fully, a pronoun. What of phrases, and sentences, and ideas expressed by paragraphs or otherwise?

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Then one still hears that the comparative sometimes expresses a less degree of comparison, as "smaller." The comparative "er" always, of course, expresses a higher degree of the idea of the positive.

The superlative is often stated to be the highest degree of the positive, ignoring the true conception of comparison, that the comparative and superlative are only higher and highest of certain things compared; while the same positive in another instance may be much higher in degree, than its own superlative in this instance. The general statement, that adjectives have three degrees, should therefore be modified by the statement that, when things are compared, adjectives take three degrees. Absolutely, they have many degrees expressed in various ways.

The positive is also stated to express an idea without any reference to another, which is only true in a very limited sense; for, when I assert any man to be tall, I can do so only by reference to others.

There is a fertile source of error and confusion in not distinguishing between adjectives and pronouns. Many words have both functions in most languages, as the demonstrative, distributive, indefinite, and relative. They are, of course, adjectives when they qualify, and pronouns when they stand alone—i.e., stand for a noun. Yet we hear of a demonstrative adjective pronoun, &c., as if both at once. "Did he tell you that? " That is either an adjective or a pronoun, not both.

One seldom now hears of nine parts of speech, and the articles are referred to their true class of adjective. But this is frequently carried too far. These articles form a distinct class by themselves, and should not be coolly allocated to the demonstratives and numerals. They are absent in some languages and present in others, and add to the completeness of any language that has them. They should be made one of the classes of adjectives.

The Pronoun.

Pronouns are generally stated to be used to prevent the page 9 too frequent occurrence of the noun, which is a subsidiary idea. Each of them conveys certain specific additional conceptions which are their distinctive functions.

The personal pronoun is stated to be the mere substitute for a noun, which is only the general definition of a pronoun, and misses the specific function of the personals—that of expressing the relation of the speaker or writer to the persons or things spoken of.

Then, personal is explained as meaning, standing for persons. What of the neuters, which are oftener spoken of than persons? The true meaning of the word lies in the dramatic meaning of "persona," denoting the part played in speech.

Again, demonstratives point out. What, then, are "they," "theirs," "them," "he," "she," "it," which can do this as distinctly as "this" and "that," can be used interchangeably with them, and are derived from them etymologically? Our classification of pronouns sadly lacks reform.

Again, the relative has as its special definition, that it relates to something going before it, which is simply stating a property of all pronouns. One distinctive function is missed—that of joining sentences, suggesting conjunctive as a better term. If relative is retained, it should be explained not as relating to a noun, but as relating, that is, joining, sentences.

The first person expresses the one speaking; the second, the one spoken to. But all pronouns are spoken of, however used. What of this definition?

The word compound is used with confusing vagueness. Compound should be used either of etymological structure or of function, not of both. "Whatever" is compound by structure, yet "what" is also called compound, but in quite a different sense; hence confusion.

Words like "myself," "himself," &c., are classed as pronouns. are they so, in use or derivation? They are simply nouns with possessive pronouns prefixed and sometimes attached. But you ask, what of "himself," &c.? "Him" is simply put for "his" by way of euphony. It existed in old English, and still exists in Scotch. Yet we see them variously called emphatic, reflective, and reciprocal pronouns, for this page 10 good reason, that in Latin and some other languages such ideas are expressed by pronouns, ignoring the plain fact that English has a different idiom, and expresses these by nouns.

The word indefinite is most indefinitely used as applied to pronouns. Surely "all," "both," "none," and others, are the most definite of words. These pronouns are indefinite in special and different senses. Some, as "many," "all," are indefinite in number, and should be called indefinite numerals; others, in selection of person, as "another," "other," though definite enough in number. Others are definite in both number and individuality, as "both." These ought to be discriminated.

The Verb.

The definition of the verb is often erroneous or defective. Its radical idea of making a statement has come into our grammars only recently. The common one mostly heard yet, that it "expresses being, doing, or suffering," is true of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and in short is the basis of all idea and of its expression in words. Every conception must express being or doing or suffering.

The definition of transitive is peculiar. "An action that passes over to an object," is at least a strange idea, if we think of it, and I fear turns out to be unreal. What is an action that passes over to an object? Can the thing be done? The idea of a transitive verb can be given with greater simplicity from the necessity for a completion of the conception.

There is a confusion between tense and time. Tense, like gender, is a conception belonging to words; time to things. Tense is based on time, but is more than time. There are only three times, but there may be many tenses.

Mood requires reform and re-determination. If the indicative is the mood of direct statement, we demolish potential. "He can lift a ton" is as much indicative in every sense as "he is able to lift a ton." Some late grammarians have therefore rightly put this Latin mood aside.

Nothing requires more urgent reform than the infinitive and participles. The infinitive is the noun of the verb, yet page 11 we hear of the participles being used as nouns. The truth is, that we have at least three infinitives—an infinitive with to, an infinitive without to, and an infinitive with ing, which is a corruption of the old Saxon infinitive in an; while the ing of the participle is a corruption of the participial termination in and or end. The confusion has been made from the modern form ing representing two old terminations and two different moods.

The to of the infinitive also requires investigation; it is sometimes the preposition to in form and function, sometimes something else: but though it is interesting, into this we cannot enter.

The division of the infinitive and participle into present and past is, of course, erroneous. They have no time in the sense of the other moods, but take their time from the words to which they are joined. Their classification should be based on the state of the action, as complete or incomplete.

The future tense is generally wrongly given in our grammars, heard in our schools, and spoken in common speech by those that should know better. There are at least three tenses included in the one so-called future; one of simple statement of futurity, and two of determination, the one that of the speaker, the other that of the subject of the verb. Another form of the same tense is used, conveying the idea of the original meaning of "shall"= ought, as "Thou shalt not kill."

These should be distinguished and thoroughly conquered. If they were, we should hear less frequently the daily errors made in even good society.

But we must cease our criticism. Not half the field has been traversed, and in that gone over only a mere indication of the surprising extent of the incorrectness of our grammatical knowledge as shown in our common text-books. Indeed, so much is this the case that Latham declares:—

"I have no hesitation in asserting that out of every hundred statements made by the current writers on English grammar, ninety-nine come under one of the two following predicaments: they either contain that which is incorrect, and better not known at all, or something that was known before, and would have been known independent of any grammatical lesson whatever."

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Much has lately been done towards rendering our grammars more correct, and banishing common traditional errors, but much more still remains to be done. English grammarians have been bound hand and foot by traditional definitions and classifications, and most of all by painful adherence to Latin grammar. The English language has never received sufficient justice as an independent tongue, having its own idioms, and governed by its own laws and by those of the cognate Teutonic languages. On the revival of letters, the only grammar known and taught was, of course, the classical; and its forms and divisions got into our schools and scholars, and by these, and these only, the structure and forms of our language were determined and interpreted; to these it was made by every means to conform. No matter that the languages were those of very differing types. The classical grammar was so and so, the greatest and only grammar, and the English must be the same; and to this rock the undying Prometheus of the English tongue has been bound, with his strong thews stretched and twisted until now; and only recently have some of these bonds been untied. Our English tongue must be interpreted by its own principles and idioms and by those of its sister Teutonic tongues, and all foreign antagonistic systems and classifications must be rigorously expelled. English grammar, as taught in our schools, must be based on the genius and history of the English language. The great want in grammatical study is a historical English grammar. Many works have of late come into the field, and our noble language will ere long receive the full justice to which its independent and firmly-knit structure entitle it.

II.—How to use Defective Text-Books.

With text-books so defective, it becomes a pressing question, What are teachers to do, and how is grammar to be taught? The only right thing to do is, that each man for himself choose the best grammar he can find, and make it his text-book. But in addition to any text-book, he should page 13 possess himself of several of the best grammars, and investigate the subject for himself, making choice of the best points in each under any head, and forming an eclectic grammar for himself. But whatever definitions he adopts, let him see to it that they are correct, as far as he can judge, and that his classifications are simple, complete, and logical. Let him at once discard everything useless, imperfect, or wrong. During the last few years, grammars more or less correct, and great improvements on the grammars of our own youth, have appeared at reasonable prices.

But there is abundant and often insurmountable difficulty in introducing new books! Do not let this deter any one. Grammar is best taught orally; and where it is best taught, and best understood by the children, I generally find it taught orally. In a school where I knew it better taught than anywhere else, it was done without any text-book.

Then, where a defective text-book is used, do not slavishly follow its dictation, but make it a basis for criticism and the better understanding of the language, and for finding better definitions and classifications. In several ways, a defective grammar is an advantage; and, all things considered, it may be preferred by some. I know a teacher who took a grammar lately issued under a well-known name, but containing very little of late and more accurate conclusions, and made it a subject of textual grammatical criticism with his highest class. Choose a good text-book, or use the defective one you have. But see that a natural order of procedure is followed. Do not begin as the old books begin, with general conceptions of grammar and its relation to other sciences, ushering in the ponderous subject under great Latin words, "Orthography" heading the list, thus placing lions in the way to the House Beautiful. Begin at once with the noun and the verb, and let the other parts of speech follow naturally as related to these.

III.—Grammar a Logical Course.

But throughout the teaching of grammar as grammar, and apart from its application to the writing of English, let it be page 14 steadily borne in mind, as already said, that one great purpose that it serves in school-work is that of mental exercise, of training the mind, in some degree, to logical, scientific, and abstract thinking and discrimination. It should, therefore, be instinct at every step with intelligence. The reason of every statement should be brought out, and expressed with logical accuracy. All rote-work must be banished. The scholar must be able at every point to state why such a thing is what he states, and then why that again is so, and so backwards till he come to the fundamental postulates and axioms of the subject. It should be as rigorously, but pleasantly, taught as mathematics. Yet how little is this done! No one that has not seen many schools and their work would believe that grammar is so little taught with intelligence as it is. Instead of this, it is a mere matter of the heavy memory of difficult and unknown technicalities. So-called "parsing," even in upper classes, is little more than the glib repetition of a certain unvarying form of words, and is often best done where least understood, because the form of speech has been more frequently repeated than where it is better taught. A little questioning as to the structure of the sentence and the relations of the words they have so trippingly described, and the reasons for the descriptions given, exposes the hollowness of the whole performance. It is an exercise, eliciting, as Professor Bain truly says, the very minimum of thought. Yet teachers remonstrate that their children are not accustomed to be questioned as to the reason why! If they are not, it is high time they should be, in a subject which is intended to exercise the reasoning powers and train to correct thinking.

The great source of error lies in not realising and acting on this idea, that grammar supplies the logical course it can be made. Let the knowledge communicated and the words used be fully understood, and, therefore, such as can be comprehended at the stage at which the child is; let the subject be intelligently taught with a definite aim at mental training; let every step be firmly taken before another is attempted,—and we may assure ourselves of thorough and pleasing suc- page 15 cess, and of making it a study in which children take intelligent and positive delight. I speak from my own experience both as scholar and teacher, and can vividly recall the painful dislike the subject inspired under one teacher, and the glow of delight and mental impetus it inspired under another who taught it as it should be taught.

Analysis of Sentences.

The analysis of sentences should be taught with the same practical aim, of not only seeing that the child understands the subject, but of giving him the power of putting it into practice, in sentences made by himself. Every new name, every new sentence or clause, should not only be taught and known, but should be exemplified by sentences drawn from the pupil; so that he not only knows a compound or complex sentence, but can make it—not only can point a clause of concession or reason or degree, but can construct one, a noun, adjective, infinitive, or participial phrase, but there it is from himself at command.

Thus we combine with Analysis of sentences, which is only one half of a subject, its converse and complement, Synthesis of sentences, with which it should always be accompanied. We should not only be able to take to pieces and parcel out sentences made by others, but should have a facility in constructing, from materials given, sentences of like structure. Attention has been too exclusively given to the analysis of sentences, and too little to its more important correlative, the synthesis; but our later books on composition give exercises on the latter, though not so fully as they should. Every lesson in analysis should therefore be accompanied by the synthesis of similar sentences. This synthesis is the more important, because it is the putting to practical effect in the use of our language the merely theoretical principles of the subject; and it is the carrying out of the principle that should pervade all our teaching of this and other subjects, not only the giving of knowledge, but, what is more important, the communicating, or rather the educing, of practical power.

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One of the chief ends of our whole school course is to give a boy the power, on leaving school, of using correctly, and if possible with ease and power, our English tongue. This being so, a stranger unacquainted with our school system would expect that a careful, systematic, and graduated course of instruction with exercises in the practical use of the language, in other words, in Composition, would be given; and that if one thing would receive more constant and careful attention than another, it would be this. Yet strangest of all possible things in any educational course, little or nothing of this is done in our schools generally. Where it is attempted, the course is, in most cases, very partial and unsystematic, and the mass of our children leave school with little practical power of using the language by which they are to do the business of life with correctness or power, and fewer still, with any degree of harmony or taste. This is scarcely credible, and, the more one thinks of it, the stranger does it appear.

Yet in the northern district, I could not name six schools where composition is fully and systematically taught. In the few that teach it, weekly exercises are given out, which are corrected by the teacher, and in which errors are pointed out as they casually occur. In the mass of schools, not even this is done, and the child leaves school with little or no attempt having been made by the teacher towards this most practical of ends. I have taken special note on this point, as I attach to it special importance, and I therefore speak with the greater certainty, but with the greater sorrow. After I came to the northern district, I wrote few reports, in which this subject was not specifically recommended. This ought not to be, and we should set ourselves to rectify our procedure in this important and practical matter.

I.—All Grammar Should be Practically Used in Composition.

Every step we take in our grammatical course should be put to practical use in sentences made by the children. Every part of speech, every new idea or rule regarding it, page 17 should at once be fully exercised on in composition. The child should not merely know and understand a word when seen, but he should be able to use it correctly in speech and in writing. Of course, exercises are given on all these points by every careful teacher, but the exercises should not only be such as will insure that the different facts in grammar are apprehended and known by the child, but other exercises should be given directly framed with a view towards Composition, towards giving the child the power of using them in actual speech in full and correct sentences.

For example, the children should not only be able to tell the different ways of forming the plural or possessive, but should be able to put the words thus given into sentences. They should not only know the irregular adjectives, but should use them in living language. All the pronouns should not only be pointed out and named, but used in sentence-making with ease and correctness. Indefinites, interrogatives, ordinals, distributives should be real words so well known to him that he can at once put his knowledge to practical effect in composition. A transitive verb should not only be pointed out but made; the "future perfect" not only named but used in practical speech; the auxiliaries, the impersonals should be real coins for the transaction of lingual business in school life. And so of every single point in our otherwise dead grammar. We should not only exercise on words till they are known, named, and pointed out by the children, but should, in addition to this, put it definitely and continually before us, as the more important thing to do, to embody these dry details, these dead forms, in actual speech made by the children themselves under the guidance of the teacher. And just reflect what a mighty gain such a practical conversion of grammar into composition, of lifeless terminology into living thought and speech, would give a child after he has traversed the grammatical field. He not only can speak of, point out, and know when seen, an adverb of degree, or an interjection of surprise, or a co-ordinative conjunction, or a compound relative, but he is able, readily and correctly, to use these on the spot in sentences made by himself.

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II.—The Idioms of our Language Should be Conquered by Systematic Practice.

But our English tongue has, like every language, its own idioms, which we should not only know, but be able to use with case and skill. These idioms are as expressive, as delicate, as quaint, as comprehensive, as succinct, and as beautiful, as those of any language. In order to be used with ease and effect, they require as careful and repeated practice as those of Latin or Greek. Yet this is a subject which has received comparatively little attention. Look at the innumerable text-books with the most careful and systematic course of graduated exercises in Latin and Greek Construction, at which boys spend the greater part of their whole school course to acquire the power of using correctly. It inspires pleasure and pride to see the immense care bestowed on the systematic study of these languages, and the elaboration of a skilfully graduated course of instruction in their beautiful idioms by examples made by the pupils. But it more than surprises one to find how little has been clone, in this respect, for our own language, equally full of vigorous idiomatic expressions. Where can we point to a book in which the most distant approach has been made towards giving as elaborate and graduated a course of sentence making and construction in English as in these dead but grand old languages? We cannot; it yet remains to be done. The field is as extensive, the material for practice as peculiar and difficult of attainment as the classical, and the subject can be conquered only by a like careful series of exercises in English syntactical and idiomatic structure.

Let us enumerate some of these peculiar idiomatic constructions, to realise more vividly the necessity for thus conquering them, by a systematic course of constructive examples.

1. The peculiar use of "shall" and "will," by which we can give succinct expression to delicate shades of meaning peculiar to English, already spoken of; their distinctive use in indirect sentences; and their different construction in interrogation.

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2. The varied meanings expressible by our possessive, in the use of the 's, or ', or simple "s" to form it; the different ideas given by its use or non-use, as in "he is a friend of my son," and "of my son's;" its special use in names of places, as St Paul's; its use in enumerations, as A., B., & C.'s works, and A.'s, B.'s, and C.'s works.

3. The peculiar use of "the" in English; as in "the lion," to indicate a species, and its non-use as in "gold," to express a like idea; its pretty use with different meanings, as "the professor and the president," and "the professor and president;" its use with adjectives, as "the wise;" its use with comparatives, as in "the better of the two," and the peculiar idiom in "all the greater," &c.

4. The various true indefinites, like the French "on," usable in English, each with its special force and special occasion; such as "one," "we," "you," "a man," "men," "any one."

5. The very varied forms of the tenses in English, each with its own special shade of meaning and association, and special occasion for use.

Under every time—present, past, or future—we have a remarkable variety of ideas and expressions, greater than in most languages: the indefinite or general form, the simple progressive, the perfect, the perfect progressive, the emphatic, the expletive, the interrogative in various forms, the negative in various ways. In addition to these, we have special uses of various tenses—the tense for the expression of general truths, the use of the present for the future, the use of the present for the past, or historical present, the use of the progressive for a continuous action, the use of the present-perfect for a thing completed in past time, the use of the present-perfect for a historical tense, the use of the past for a habitual state, and so on.

6. The different moods of the verb, each with its own peculiar phase of thought—the indicative, the potential form of the indicative, the conditional, the hypothetical in its two forms, the different forms of expressing command, the infinitive in its different forms of to, ing, and gerundive, and the attributive or participial.

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7. The use of "would" and "should," for intention, obligation, condition; and their use as the past of "will" and "shall," in reported speech and hypothetical sentences, which is a frequent source of error even with educated people.

8. The differing uses of a or an as the indefinite article; its use after "such," "many," "too," &c.; before few, little, &c.: the different meanings with and without a; the peculiar idiom in "a good and a true man," and "a good and true man," "a better general than a ruler," and "a better general than ruler,"—and many more.

9. The different and peculiar uses of as.

10. The difficult and peculiar uses of "only."

11. The proper occasions and different uses of that.

12. The former and latter; the one, the other; this and that.

13. Words plural in form and singular in meaning.

14. Ten sail, three score, sixpence and sixpennies.

15. Correlative words, as either, or; verbs followed by certain prepositions; pronouns, like such followed by as, &c.

16. The use of relatives to introduce co-ordinate as well as subordinate sentences.

17. The use of the adjective and the adverb after substantive verbs, which should be carefully distinguished.

18. The use of the substitutional words "it," "there."

The foregoing gives but a slight indication of the immense wealth of peculiar idiomatic phraseology possessed by the English language. To be known they must be used, and to be known and used with case and security, they must receive as careful and graduated practice as those of Latin and Greek.

III.—The General Principles of Composition Should be Systematically Taught.

But over and above this practice in composition of the grammatical forms and idioms of our language, Composition thoroughly taught aims at and achieves more.

It investigates, teaches, and exercises on the whole subject of the structure of sentences. It reduces to practice the principles embodied under the name of analysis and synthesis of page 21 sentences. It exercises in paraphrasing. It instructs in the writing paragraphs and themes and essays. A boy should leave school with a thorough knowledge of what is necessary to correct and classical English writing and good style. He should know the principles that determine the choice of words to express an idea with correctness and power; those that regulate the structure of sentences and paragraphs; and those that guide in discovering, selecting, and arranging his subject-matter. For example, he ought fully to know regarding words that they should be—
1.Correct in spelling.
2.Correct in meaning and application, with careful discrimination of pseudo-synonymous words.
3.Simple, to the avoidance of unusual, provincial, professional, or obsolete words.
4.Specific, without ambiguity, with as great a use as possible of the Saxon element of the language.
5.Classical, as avoiding vulgarisms and foreign words.
6.Adapted to style and aim, whether plain, conversational, ornamental, pathetic, or sublime.
Regarding sentences, he ought to know, for example, that they should be—
1.Grammatically correct.
2.Clear without ambiguity in expression or collocation.
3.One in thought and structure; one clear thought with its necessary adjuncts.
4.Concise and precise, without circumlocution and redundancy.
5.Energetic, with the use of figure and illustration.
6.Idiomatic, peculiarly English in words and structure.
7.Varied in length, structure, and kind.
8.Harmonious, a harmony adapted to the thought.

And so on, more or less fully, according to age, capacity, and time. So, also, of the subject-matter, not the least important.

Such principles should be gradually, but simply, taught more or less from the very beginning. In our upper classes, they should be taught systematically, and every point fully page 22 exercised on, the aim of course being that a child shall not only know them, but as far as possible be able with ease and pleasure, and some degree of power, to put them to practice. In our upper classes, the pupils should be able to tell what things are to be attended to in the choice of words and the structure of sentences, and have these so clearly before them as to be able to enumerate them at any time, and construct examples in accordance.

The most of this work to be done by an upper class is most inviting, interesting, and instructive, and may be made a splendid instrument for the critical discrimination of the meanings, character, vigour, and uses of words; the varied and most appropriate means of expressing ideas; the cultivation of taste, judgment, harmony, and intelligence; and for the critical examination of the styles of our best authors,—thus imparting the capacity of deriving a new and exquisite pleasure from the use of language, equivalent to the possession of a new faculty. Its educating power is of the highest.