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Eloquence produces in us astonishment and gratification. It plays around us with grace and buoyancy; diffusing radiance upon, and infusing aniination into, whatever may be within its reach. But after all, what is it? what are the things which constitute it? or by what com. bination is it produced ? It is, like light, indescribable. Attempt to seize hold of it, and what do you find it? You cannot find it at all; there is no tangibility about it. Is it a shadow ? no; it is something more than this. It is what principally produces a shadow; and it leaves a shadow of what it was, upon our minds; which we try, by reflection, to magnify into a substance ; but generally without success; for we can scarcely ever collect a suffi. cient quantity of the particles of maiter spoken of, to be able to form them into an organized body; or even to analyze them, so as to form a judgment with regard to their properties.
But, instruction, instead of carrying the listener up to some dizzy height, upon which, owing to the strangeness of the element, and the intoxication occasioned by the rapid ascension, he is unable to keep his feet, and is there. fore precipitated headlong to the level from which he rose, gradually draws him up an endless inclined plane ; from which he can fairly see the country through which he passes; and thereby obtain the information necessary to all travellers through life! Instead of leading its votory through the air, in a phantom's trail, to pluck the colours from the rainbow, and therewith gild the flowery artificials of his fancy, INSTRUCTION gently guides him through amaranthine bowers, where he can revel in their bosoms, and decorate his brow with branches from the tree of knowledge! Instead of being the meteor which gleams across our vision, as across thz firmament, astounding by its grandeur, then fading forever from our view, INSTRUCtion is the fixed star, which beams with never dying brightness, on the admiring, aspiring beholder. And like a solar orb, its great possession is its durability. It does not become dimmed by time; nor less admired by intimate acquaintance with ; nor destitute of interest, by being pondered over. Reflection is its nurse; examina.
tion is its daily nourishment. It will last long, long after every atom of eloquence has been obliterated from the memory.
The study of English Grammar, is generally considered one of the dryest affairs inflicted upon youths during their school era ; and so indeed, it generally is; but why? not because the subject is, of itself, destitute of sap, and therefore incapable of producing any fruit; but because of the bad manner in which the student is taught to attempt ascend the tree in order to obtain the fruit, which is found to be principally at the top of the main part. Instead of making, at the commencement, footholds, he is instructed to be continually jumping up and seizing hold of the branches. These are insufficient to support his weight, and therefore break. In this way, every limb is broken off; and no means are then presented whereby he can ascend. The old trunk is then left to itself; which, owing to the number of pores opened by the amputation of its limbs, soon withers and bleeds to death; and the student finds himself, after all his exertions, still upon the level, not an inch higher than at the commencement; the shorn, dead trunk presenting to him a horrid spectacle of mystery, which nothing on earth could ever induce him again to attempt to climb.
The proper study of English Grammar so far from being dry, is one of the most rational enjoyments known
one that is highly calculated to ronse the dor. mant energies of the student; it requiring continual mental effort; unceasing exercise of mind. It is, in fact, the spreading of a thought-producing-plaster of paris upon the extensive grounds of intellect! It is the parent of idea, and great causation of reflection; the mighty instigator of insurrection in the interior; and above all, the unflinching champion of internal improvement!
Whatever is most calculated to cause us TO THINK, will tend most to promote the health of the mind. And * whatever amusements have a tendency to dissolve the union" of mind and body, " or contribute to violate or
lessen the sovereign authority” of the former, “ought to be considered as hostile to the" soundness and proper expansion of the human system.
And what do you possess when you have obtained the object sought for? why, something, of which nothing short of insanity can ever deprive you. You have a life tenure of the property, which no vicissitude of fortune can affect; you have built your house upon a rock, and the blowing of the winds, the descending of the rains, and the coming of the floods, are of no avail.
He who may wish to enter the Garden of Literature, will find that English Grammar is the only gate through which he can enter. To be sure, he may commence reading every novel and history, and biography, and work on philosophy that shall fall in his way; using every effort to progress, and no doubt will, to some extent; but, then he is only realizing the design, suggested by Joshua Rey. nolds, who, when asked how he would paint folly, replied, that he would paint a man clambering a high and danger. ous wall, and close beside him a large gate standing wide open!
Many persons fancy that a better knowledge of correct speaking and writing can be obtained by reading the best authors, than by acquiring a knowledge of English Gram. mar; which, they say, is too complicated and too inconsis. tent to be of use to any one.
“The best authors!" why, how are these persons to judge who are the best authors, when they have no knowledge of the contrivance by means of which the whole engine of language is worked ? They cannot judge. They must therefore adopt the opinions of others; and how servile, how degrading, how totally unbc. coming a person of spirit is it, that he cannot exercise his own judgment; that he is forced to take up the decisions which knowledge, or more likely caprice, has induced another to
And besides, how often do we find the decisions of a majority to be erroneous. How often do we find that the good shall be bad, and the bad shall be good. How probable then, that what the student reads for one of “the best authors” may, in reality, so far as language is concerned, be one of the worst authors; and instead of the reading being a benefit, it will be a positive injury to him. He will find his taste becoming corrupted, and his judgment impaired ; and no means presented for counteraction. Towards the close of this work, and through other parts of it, you will find sufficient to convince you of the truth of what is here stated.
It is no vain glorious boasting to say, that a knowledge of English Grammar is more useful to a social being, than any accomplishment that he could possess. There is no situation, in which he will not find it of incalculable advantage. It gives him confidence in himself; he knows that he is right; he knows that no one can question his language; and therefore, he feels perfectly at ease about the opinions that others may form of him. The consciousness that he is correct prevents him from being reluctant to speak for fear of blundering. He has the clear day before him, and can therefore see what he is doing. The very moment that he hears a person speak, he knows what that person's powers of language are. But with the person who has no knowledge of grammar, the face of matters has another complexion. He finds himself working in the dark ; groping his way along; stumbling over every thing that he comes in contact with. Instead of walking along the plain, straight path, which he might very well do, if he only knew where it was, he blindly wanders along the unpaved zig-zag road, until at last he finds himself, stuck fast in the mud; and obliged to call for assistance in order to be extricated. He may sometimes happen to get into the right path; but then he is unconscious of it; he merely blunders into it ; his good fortune triumphs over his natural perception; and he would not know, if it were not for the silence preserved by the lookers
on, that he was not then mid-depth in the mire! How often is a knowledge of grammar, a source of inde. scribable felicity to its possessor. How often does it happen that the writing, or the speaking of some great repre. sentative of emptiness, who has managed, by some means to climb the precipice of fortune, comes under the notice of an obscure, but intelligent individual; one, whom the mighty man, in the vanity of his riches, has considered it
derogatory to his character to know; and when it does happen, what must be the triumph of the sneered at, to find the favoured of fortune thus humbled; thus deprived of all his peacock feathers, and exhibited to the world in his natural crow attire! It is the triumph of the UNKNOWN LION over the sham greatness of the PETTED FOX!