Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, August 15, 1789, Page 142, Image 2

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    A/tf. tEXNO,
If you and your brother-editors can find room for
the following remarks, amflng your political disquisi
tions, you may forward the work of improvements in
literature, and by Jhaking the throne of prejudice and
fa/fe philosophy, you may bring about a revolution in
favor of common sense.
THKRE is not a subject in literature so ge
nerally defpil'ed as Grammar ; yet there is not a
I'ubject of more consequence. The reason why
it is lo odious to every body but schoolmasters,
may perhaps be this. The authors who have trea
ted ol' this fubjedt, however eminent for erudi
tion, have been wholly ignorant of the origin
and conftrudtion of the Engliih language ; and
have, by falfe arbitrary rules, attempted to dis
card the idioms of the language, and introduce
iomething different frt>m common practice. Now
real Grammar is nothing but common practice ;
and when a man rises up and tells a nation, they
are all blockheads, and their language incorredt,
and vulgar, it is but jult that they in return Ihould
call him a pedant, and despise his rules. This
has been the fate of the three molt celebrated
philologersofthe Engliih nation, Johnl'on, Lowth,
and Harris. These writers, great indeed in Greek
and Latin, but knowing nothing of the true prin
ciples of English, have labored to prove their na
tive language full of errors and defects, and to
correct the one and supply the other by foreign
rules. The authority of their names has had an
unhappy effect upon the language—it has pcr
fuaded the learned to resign the true idioms of
the language and introduce many corruptions in
to books ; while the body of the nation, govern
ed by habit, retain their former practice. Hence
the difference between the language of books
and con verfation—a difference generally illfound
ed, and improper. To lheW how I'uperficially
some of these great men, as they are called, have
conlidered the fubjeit, letme request my readers
to attend to the following examples. Lowth tells
us, that the phrase I am mijlaket:, means I am mif
underjlood. Strange indeed that so great a man
Ihould be so mijlakeu. Let me ask what is it that
conltitutes the meaning of a word ? Every ration
al man will reply, the sense which a whole nation
itnnex to it in praaiee. If I fay, /am mijlaken, does
not every man, woman and child understand me
to mean, lam wrong, or in an error' my ft If? This
cannot be denied. This common under/landing then
conltitutes the truefignitication of the phrase, and
no man, not even a Right Reverend Father in
God, has a right to fay it is not the meaning. The
truth is, when applied to persons, miflaken is al
ways used in this sense, and in no other. It has
loft its participial meaning; in the fame manner
as fraught and drunken, tlio derived from freight
and drink have loft all idea of action and become
mere adjectives ; so that it is improper to use
them in the participial manner ; he has fraught a
vsjfsl, a man has drunken. Yet as adjectives de
noting a quality, the one denoting very full, the
other a Jlate of intoxication, they are both correct
andexprelfive ; a man fraught with mifchief, a drunk
en man.
Lowth fays likewise adje«£tives are improperly
used for adverbs ; as extreme cold. Why did the
good Bilhop overlook the phrases full sweet, very
cold ! Will any man deny the latter to be good
Engliih ? It will be laid very is an adverb. Not
at all: The adverb is verily. Very is always an
adjective, as, this is the very man : It is limply the
Fiench vrai, true ; formerly written in Engliih
veray, and in modern times, very. The truth is,
it is an idiom of the language, co-eval with its
formation, that one adjective may qualify another:
and the idipm of the language is not only one,
but the only ground of grammatical rules. Yet
this idiom has always been overlooked.
.Another example. Dr. Samuel Johnson writes
" he needs not be very carefulinltead of the
common phrase, he need not. How surprizing it
is that a whole nation Ihould overlook the real'on
why need, in the usual practice offpeaking, iscor
rect Engliih, without the personal termination !
Need when used alone and followed by an object,
is regular; he needs support. But when followed
by another verb, it is considered as a helper, 1 as
well as will, can or may ; and he needs not go, is as
bad Engliih as he wills not go, or cans not go. This
diftindtion has been observed in will, he will not go,
he wills it, and why it Ihould have been overlooked
in need and dare, when it is strictly observed in
practice from the prince to the wajher-womati, is
really surprizing.
Lowth, with his head full of Latin rules, re
commends averse from instead of averse to ; and
many American writers have adopted it. From
is a noun fignifying beginning and to, a noun lig
nifying end. " A man goes from New-York to
Bolton; "That is, "he goes beginaing NewYork,?W
Bollon. This conltruition is not more curious
than true ; as modern discoveries have clearly
proved, that rude nations talk firft by names on
ly ; and that all our particles, are old Gothic
nouns and verbs. lam averse from war, therefore
is simply this, lam averse beginning war. This
is not the meaning ; for averse denotes a quality
or state of the mind, beginning in my own brealt,
and directed to the object, war. Hence the old
phrase averse to is correct, and will ltand the test
of all the criticism in the nation.
I will not multiply examples. Horne Tooke
has made some valuable discoveries, which will be
the bads of the firlt English Grammar ever pub
lished. The philological writers in America,
have not the authority of a Right Rtverend, a
D. D. or a L. L. D. to give weight to their opin
ions ; but their attempts to correct the taste of
our youths, by ftrippiug the learningof thi3 coun
try of its pedantry, will finally prevail over pre
judice, and call back the lludentto the principles
of common sense.
THE engrolled bill, providing for the expell
ees which may attend negociations, and treating
with the Indian tribes—and for appointing com
lnilliofiers to superintend the fame, was read,
when the House proceeded to fill up the blanks.—
It was moved that thefum of forty one thousand
dollars be inferred in the firft blank. This mo
tion was oppoled by Mr. Sumpter, Mr. Gerry,
and Mr. Livermore—lt was said, that a previ
ous estimate of the expences neceflary to be incur
ed, ought firft to be exhibited to the house—that
great frauds and abuses had been complained of
in tliefe negociations—t'lat the whole amount of
the revenue would fall short of the neceflary ex
pences of the current year, and therefore it was
incumbent 011 the House to grant monies with due
caution and deliberation—That it could not be
contended that so large a sum was requifitp, but
011 the supposition of a very large number of In
dians' attending, and presents being provided for
thein —It was urged that the treaties would be as
efficacious without collecting a whole nation to
gether—and the custom of giving presents
was reprobated by some of the members, as a mea
sure fraught with useless expence, much milchief,
and inconvenience.
Mr. Jackson, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Clymer,
and Mr. Baldwin supported the motion—The
latter gentleman produced a statement of the ex
pences which would arise from holding a treaty
with the Creek nation only, of which it was ex
ped;ed that 1 500 would attend—lt was observed
that the sum moved for was to defray the expen
ces of treating with the Indian tribes in general
—more particularly with the Wabafh nation, aiid
with the tribes to the southward of the Ohio—
That agreeably to the estimate, which was laid
on the table, the whole sum moved for would be
necefliiry ; but if the house chose to have the
treaties conducted upon different principles from
what has been customary, they can make such al
terations as they may fee proper.
The motion for 41000 being put, it parted in the
negative. Mr. Madison then moved that the
blank should be filled with 40000 —this was like
wise opposed—and the <yejand noes called for on
the queltion—which are as follow :
Meflis Baldwin, Benfon, Brown,
Burke, Cadwallader, Clymer, Cole,
Fitzjimons, Gale, Griffin, Hartley,
. _ j Huntington, Jack/on, Laurance, Lee,
y es -• "i Madison, Matthews, P. Muhlenberg,
Page, Scott, Smith, (S. C.) Stone, Syl
vejter, Trumbull, Tucker, Fining,
Wadfworth, Wynkoop. twenty-eight.
C Meflrs Ames, Boudinot, Carrol,
j Floyd, Gerry, Gilman, Grout, Heijler,
„ ] Hathorn, Leonard, Livermore, Moore,
OCS } Parker, Partridge, Van Ranfellaer,
| Schureman, Sedgwick, Seney, Sherman,
[Smith, (M.) Sturgis, Sumpter,Thacher.
Majority 5. So the motion obtained.
The blank in the clause for allowing a compen
sation to the commiflioners was rilled with Eight
Dollars pr. day, exclufiveof their actual expences
at the place of holding the treaties.
Upon motion Mr. P. Muhlenberg, and Mr.
W ads wo kt h were added to the committee ap
pointed to bring in a bill providing a fyltem of
regulations for the militia of the United States.
[It should have been noticed before, that Meflrs
Fitzsimons, Laurance, and Griffin, were
appointed a committee to bring in a bill, to es
tablish the salaries of the officers in the executive
N. B. In the committee of conference on the
part of the Senate, mentioned in our last, for
" Jackson" read Johnson.
The engrofled bill providing for the expences
of negociations and treating with the Indians,
& c. was read, and palled to be enacted.
Mr. Lee moved that the House should resolve
itfelf into a committee of the whole on the state
of the Union, to take into consideration the re
port of the committee on amendments to the
The immediate adoption of this motion was
advocated by Mr. Madison, Mr. Page, and Mr.
Hartley—and opposed Jjy Mr. Sedgwick v
Smith, (S. C.) Mr. Gerry.Mr. Laurance' and
Mr. Sherman—The latter gentlemen general]
obi'erved, That there was a great variety of bu/
ness before the lioufe, which it is of tht created
importance fliould precede the conliderati on V
all other—that it appears absurd to make altera
tion in a form of government, before it has a"
operative existence—that it is of the firft cons
quence to compleat the judiciary bill— that with
out this and l'everal other bills now pending j,
the house, we cannot carry one of the revenue
laws into execution—not a breach of the lav, , f
the United States can be puniflied— not a veflel
can be seized—The difcullion of the subject at this
moment will obftrud the wheels of government
and throw every thing into confufion—meantime
the United States are without law, and have no
authority topvuiiih a single crime. It was further
said, that few, if any of the State allemblies are
in fellion, and therefore it will unneceflarily con
sume the preient time, which is so precious—that
the people reposing full confidence in tlie justice
and wisdom of the House that this fubje<ft would
have seasonable and due attention paid to it are
as anxious and solicitous to fee the government
in operation, as they are about amendments.
The Speakers against the motion severally ex
prefled tliemfelvesin favor of taking up the fub
jecft as fo?n as the judicial, executive, and revenue
departments were so far completed that it could
with propriety be said that we had a government.
In support of the motion it was observed,—
That since the ftlbjed had firft been introduced, so
much time has elapsed, that if it is not novvtaken
up, the people will be led to suppose, that it is
the intention of Congress never to do anything
in the bufinels—that the people are extremelv
anxious upon the fubjed—and nothing short of a
convidion tliat'thofe rights, which they conccive
to be in danger as the Constitution now Hands,
will be placed in a state of greater security, will
quiet their apprehensions—that the number of
those in favor of amendments conliftcd ofa large
and respectable proportion of the citizens of the
States—that the peace and tranquility of the Uni
on depend upon a proper attention to their juit
expectations—that if those who are anxious for
amendments, had been added to those who open
ly opposed the Constitution, it would have pro
bably met a quite different fate—that except these
amendments are made, the government will want
the confidence of the people, and that energy
which is necessary to its existence—that the fame
reasons for a postponement have repeatetflybeen
assigned, and there is 110 profped that a more con
venient opportunity will offer. The queftionoe
ing put 011 the motion of Mr. Lee, it pafledinthe
affirmative. The House accordingly formed in
to a committee of the whole.
Mr. Boudinot in the chair.
The report of the committee was then read—
the firft article of which is in these words, viz.
11l the introductory paragraph of the Conftira
lion, before the words "We the people," add,
" Government being intended for the benefit of
the People,and the rightful eftablifhnieut thereof
being derived from their authority alone."
Mr. Sherman : I am opposed to this mode of
making amendments to the Conftitution —and am
for ftrikingout from the report of the committee
the firft article entirely. I conceive that we can
not incorporate these amendments in the body
of the Constitution. It would be mixing brass,
iron, and clay—it would be as absurd as to incor
porate an a<ft in addition to an ad:, in the body ot
the ad propoled to be amended or explained
thereby—which I believe was never heard of be
fore.—l conceive that we have 110 right to 00
this, as the Constitution is an ad of the people,
and ought to remain entire—whereas the amend
ments will be the ad: of the several legislatures.
Mr. Sherman then read a proposition which he
moved should befubftituted in place oft he article
in the report.
This beingfeconded, brought on an intercity
debate—Whether the amendments fliould be in
corporated in the body of the Conllitution, or
made a diftind supplementary ad.
Mr. Madison fupportecl the former, and
that he did not coincide with the gentleman fro'
Connedicut : I conceive, said he, that tn ere
a propriety in incorporating the amendments'
the Constitution itfelf, in the several P' :ices ,-
which they belong—the system will in that ca
be uniform and entire—nor isthisan uncoinnio
thing to be done—lt is true that ads are B en ,
ally amended by additional ads ; but this
lieve may be imputed rather to ' n^°'encc^j ier(
however is not always the cafe, for where t
is a taste for political and legislative P ro P, n , e 5 B
isotherwife—lf these amendments area
the Constitution by way of supplement, '
embarrass the people—lt will be difficult or
to determine to what parts of the 0 e . crea te
particularly refer—and at any rate «' s
unfavorable comparisons between the two p
of the infti-ument. If these amendments
dopted agreeably to the plan propo «' >
will Hand upon as good a foundation as 11 ,
parts of the Constitution—and will be fa"