Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, August 15, 1789, Page 142, Image 2
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. SKETCH OF PROCEEDINGS OF CONGRESS. In the HOUSE of REPRESENTATIVES of the UNITED STATES, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, lj8<). 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 : AFFIRM ATI VE. 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. NEGATIVE. 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. Adjourned. [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 department. N. B. In the committee of conference on the part of the Senate, mentioned in our last, for " Jackson" read Johnson. T HURSDAY, AUG. 13. 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 Constitution. 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"