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their etimology plainly suggests very different meanings, which are acting with, and active with, respectively. Beholden for indebted to is likewise exceptionable, since beholden is the perfect participle of to behold, &c. &c.
(3.) Words which never come but with some others are to be rejected. Such as a moot point, by dint of argument, pro and con, &c. &c.
(4.) Words which, when analysed, involve a solecism, or a meaning different from what use has assigned to them, or no meaning at all, are to be rejected. Such as unloose for untie, unravel for extricate, there were seven ladies in the company each more beautiful than the rest, &c. &c.
State means condition or government, and estate means property. In ancient times these two words were confounded. Bacon and Shakespeare, for instance, use both these words indiscriminately, for condition.
Property means riches either in ready money or in land. Propriety means the justness or reasonableness of a motive or action. These two words were formerly used in the latter acceptation.
The word import signifies to mean, to denote; the word importance signifies moment. An example of the former is—the import of the word noun is a name; of the latter-this is a business of great importance. These two words were formerly used in the same sense for moment. For instance, Bacon, in his Essays, has these words “ Above all for governments good policy importeth most,”—meaning "of the greatest consequence.'
Decompound formerly meant to compose of things already separated. It at present means the reverse--to separate any thing into its constituent elements.
Affect formerly meant to love, it at present means to concern. As when we say “this arrangement does not at all affect my convenience.”
Barbarism consists in the use of words which do not belong to the language in which we speak or write.
Solecism is when the words are not arranged according to the grammar of the language. It is a blunder in construction.
Impropriety is the use of words in a sense different from that which custom has assigned to them.
An idiotism or idiomatical expression is a peculiar mode of expression in which any word or phrase is intended to convey a particular meaning, which meaning is not evident from the grammar or genius of the language. Nervous signifying, in the medical cant, of weak nerves, flimsy, derived from the cant of manufacturers, &c. &c. are instances of this fault in composition.
The result which ought to be sought and obtained by perspicuity, according to Quintilian, is not that every body may understand our writing if he will, but that he must understand it whether he will or not.
(1.) Should be-This noble nation hath of all others admitted fewest corruptions--or This noble nation hath admitted fewer corruptions than any other.
(2.) Should be—The greatest masters of critical learning differ from one another-or The greatest masters &c. differ among themselves.
(3.) Should be–The consciousness &c.
(4.) Should be—Nothing less than the crown would satisfy his ambition-or Nothing less than the crown was aimed at by him.
(5.) Should be-He seeks something in order to beguile &c.
(6.) Should be—Is not man &c. ? It is only for his possession of reason that &c.
(7.) Should be-If youth be spent &c. that knowledge which we have &c.
(8.) Should be—The calamities or happiness of children proceeds from the negligence or good conduct &c..
(9.) Should be-We surely pity that man who neglects the faculties with which nature has endowed him: because then he will certainly turn &c.
(10.) Should be—However this be &c. Regiment should be regimen.
(11.) Should be—Since men naturally have no full and perfect power to command whole politic multitudes of men we would be absolutely under the control of no man living.
(12.) Should be-I should be loth thus to express my private opinion for the ordering of a public action (although I do it under the correction of those whose gravity and wisdom ought in such cases to over-rule) but that I see such boldness is now grown common; and am therefore encouraged to hope that where all men are at liberty to offend, no man will shew himself a sharp accuser.
(13.) Should be-Among no authors of eminence do we recollect of of any, unless the writer &c.
(14.) If it is any honor that has been conferred on me, it is to have received from Napoleon's heir the literary work which he composed in prison, and which he well knew contains expressions of his regret for my sentiments on his uncle.
N. B. In the foregoing examples I have not pointed out what parts are objectionable; but since I have corrected what I thought required an alteration, the exceptionable parts have been virtually pointed out.
If I remember rightly, Campbell has in some places used exceeding for exceedingly, and offended, similarly with other words ; against his own canons of style. His chapters on the power of signs to express ideas” and “how does it happen that nonesense sometimes escapes the notice both of the writer and reader,” are a standing monument of mystical writing, as he himself has acknowledged. He moreover pertinaciously adheres to the old form he hath, and never for once says he has. OMESH CHUNDER DUTT, Senior Scholar, First Class,
Third Year, Kishnaghur College. The 28th September 1850.
“What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
“ They that reverence too much old times are but a scorn to the
We rarely find people ready to accept of innovations without a struggle. History affords no instance of a race despising “time-honored" institutions, because they are found, in their own days, insufficient to fulfil the objects for which they were originally designed ; and taking up with alacrity others which experience shews to be fitter than the old
This indeed is the liar character of the inhabitants of this world, that they are all averse to change. From the philosopher down to the illiterate swain, every man desires to live as he is; and scarcely any body is found who possesses sufficient strength of mind to sacrifice present comfort to the expectations of better luck in days to come. There are of course exceptions to this—of men who, towering above their contemporaries in intellect, have conducted their fellows through untried paths of improvement and glory. But these excepted cases are few, and only serve to prove the rule. Dr. Arnold has borne testimony to the truth of this in his history of Rome. In speaking of the patient sufferings of the Roman commons under the tyranny of the Aristocracy, he says, their patience “ arose, over and above all other causes, from that innate fondness of remaining as we are which nothing but the most intolerable misery can altogether extinguish."
But notwithstanding this peculiar tendency to resist change in the character of the human races, an inquirer is scarcely satisfied with merely observing the fact. He is inclined to seek for the probable cause, and the actual consequences of it on the condition of individuals. With respect to the cause he remains doubtful; but his own experience soon tells him that it exercises a most pernicious influence on the happiness both of individuals and of society. “ Time,” says Bacon, “is the greatest innovator.” What supplied the wants of our fathers no longer serves the same purpose to us; what satisfied their curiosity ceases to please a more fastidious posterity. All this is produced in the course of time. If, therefore, we pertinaciously fasten to the institutions and habits of days long since passed away, we try, as much as lies in our power, to turn the current of time, and, although unintentionally, oppose à barrier to the course of Providence. The immediate and remote consequences of this blind addictedness to the old and the familiar, and unjustifiable disregard of the new and the unknown are very injurious, and cannot fail to attract the notice of the most ordinary mind.
Irrespective, then, of all religious considerations, we cannot hesitate to pronounce that “a forward retention of customs” is productive of many and great mischiefs to society. We cannot, indeed, too much guard against the evils of an indiscriminate adoption of innovations; but the evils which accrue both to individuals and nations from an unenlightened love of old times are, if possible, of greater magnitude, operate longer, and have a more pernicious tendency. We, Hindus are at present too much suffering from them to require illustrations. Errors are heaped on errors in our institutions, both social and religious ; and no body dares remove them. A man, who endeavours to live in old age just as he lived in youth, is no better than a fool, that tries to trifle with time. As when the operation of a mechanical instrument is stopped by a derangement in its parts, we must first remove the cause before we can expect to see it work on as regularly as formerly ; so in the body—the work of the Great Mechanist of the universe—when any unusual circumstance produces a temporary secession of the ordinary functions, we must first of all remove that circumstance, and the body will go on as before. All innovations in government, which are really necessary, are but remedies which must be applied to the body politic, just as in cases of sickness we must apply remedies to the natural body. History affords innumerable instances of the misery and bloodshed which have happened to nations from an immoderate attachment to old customs. The same intelligent observer whom we have quoted before thus speaks of it:~" Society has almost always commenced in inequalities, and its tendency is towards equality; but the inequalities of its early stage are neither unnatural nor unjust. It is only the desire of perpetuating instead of removing them, the folly of thinking that men's institutions will be lasting when every thing else in the world is changing, that has led to injustice."
The house of Stuart wished to wield, with an impotent hand, the same unyielding sceptre which the despotic Elizabeth did over the English Nation. But the times were changed: what the fathers had endured the sons despised to bear; those privileges which the former had forborne to demand the latter, in the fullness of time carried with a high hand.
Eli: beth had made the nat tremble beneath her sway; the nation made her immediate successor tremble before them, and brought his more celebrated successor to the scaffold. Such is the giant-stride which reason and sense of justice had made on public opinion in England between the death of the Queen and the execution of Charles I. The history of Rome affords a similar illustration of the deplorable consequences of a blind attachment to old times. What a vast difference between the Roman commons of A. U. C. 250, and those of 316 ? Although the history of this period is uncommonly imperfect, yet we obtain a pretty clear idea of the revolutions and bloodsheds which preceded the enactment of the laws of the twelve tables. Again, in our own days, what a horrible scene was opened in Paris before France finally assumed a republican name!
All these horrors, all these miseries substantially proceed from withholding those rights from the people which experience shews must be given to them. That ruler, therefore, who disregarding the growing light of reason and justice, deliberately omits to fulfill this most necessary part of his duty, is emphatically a tyrant: he virtually absolves his subjects from their allegiance, and must therefore be content to undergo that punishment which the vengence of insulted humanity shall unquestionably bring upon his head.
But whatever may be the magnitude and extent of the evils which proceed to society from an unwise love of old institutions and old customs, so far as the affairs of this life of trial are concerned; they sink into insignificance, when compared with those which that love brings upon us in another life the happiness of which ought to be the sole object of our endeavours here. I have shewn that an attempt to make society remain as it is to all eternity, involves in it an impious obstruction to the will of God: that the desire of continuing in the same state, and making others to do so is wishing to impede the course of providence. This sinful endeavour to counteract the natural order of things which the Supreme Mind hath established in the universe will assuredly subject us, in the life to come, to that punishment which such a crime merits. No expiations shall afterwards save us from the justice of an impartial God.
“In the corrupted currents of this world
Third Year, Kishnaghur College. 3rd October, 1850.
“ What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
Here are the voices of the greatest Poet and of the greatest Philosopher of England against doing “what custom wills." They do not, however, proscribe all reverence for antiquity. They do not say-leave all established usage and accept unformed instutitions. They do not say—bury all endearing associations in a headstrong zeal for every imperfect birth of time. But they say,—do not “in all things, what custom wills”-have not “ too much reverence for old times." Let us, they say,-sweep the dust on antique time-remove those things on which “mountainous error" is “ too highly heaped for truth to over-peer.” Tear not with ruffian hands, say they, what has been linked by time with the great and the good of by-gone days, but gently drop such as have their good associations of the past annihilated by the experience of present evil. Retain what is good from the past but let such, as have in the lapse of time ceased to be of any benefit to us, fall into oblivion. With slight help of metaphor we may say
“Do not dull thy palm with each new and unfledg'd comrade; · But be so true to them that thou be not false to the old."
This principle with these limitations is the foundation of salutary reforms. It forms the cornerstone of human happiness. In arts as well as in sciences, in public as well as in private life, it has shewn its omnipotence to secure the progressive good of human nature. The history of man teems with illustrations of this renovating principle-of its truth and efficacy. A few, however will suffice to throw light on the words of the mighty Bard and the mighty Philosopher.