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“ published within the compass of seven years past, which
at first band would cost you an hundred pounds, “ wherein you fhall not be able to find ten lines toge “ ther of common grammar or common sense.
“ These two evils, ignorance and want of tafte, have “ produced a third, I mean the continual corruption of
our Englih tongue, which without fome timely remedy, « will suffer more by the false refinements of twenty
years past, than it hath been iinproved in the forego“ ing hundred. And this is what I design chiefly to en“ large npon, leaving the former evils to your animado 46 version.
“ But instead of giving you a list of the late refine-
of a letter I received some time ago, tromy a most « accomplished person in this way of writing,. uponi " which I shall make some remarksIt is in these terms ;
• boozel us agen,
I coud’n't get the things you fent for all about townI tho't to-ha' come down myself, and then I'd ha' bro't ’um, but ha'nt don't, and I believe I can't do't, that's: pozz.-Tom begins to g’imself airs, because he's going with the plenipo's--'Tis said the French King will bam
which causes many speculations. The Jacks, and others of that kidney, are very uppisb, and alert upon't, as you may fee by their phizz's Will ha. zard has got the hipps, having loft to the tune of five hundr’d pound, tho' he understands play very well; nobody better. He has promis't me upon Rep to leave of play; but you know 'tis a weakness. he's too apt to give into, tho'he hath as much wit as any man; no body more : he has lainz incog ever since-The mob's very quiet with us now.--I believe you tho't I banter'd you in my laft like a country put. I lhan't leave town this month, &c.
“ This letter is in every point an admirable pattern of So the present police way of writing ; nor is it of less au• “thority for being an epistle : you may gather every “ flower of it, with a thousand more of equal tweetness, “ from the books, pamphlets, and single papers, offer46 ed us every day in the coffee-houses. And these are
e the beapties introduced to fupply the want of wit, a sense, humour, and learning, which formerly were " looked upon as qualifications for a writer. If a man " of wit, who died forty years ago, were to rise from the
grave on purpose, how would he be able to read this 6 letter and after he had got through that difficulty, 96 how would he be able to understand it! The firtt " thing that strikes your eye, is the breaks at the end of " almost every fentence; of which I know not the use; « only that it is a refinement, and very frequently prac4 tised.
Then you will observe the abbreviations and 6 elisions, by which consonants of most obdurate sounds
are joined together, without one softening vowel to in" tervene: and all this only to make one fyilable of two, “ directly contrary to the example of the Greeks and “ Romans; altogether of the Gothic strain, and of a na“ tural tendency towards relapsing into barbarity, which " delights in monofyllables, and uniting of mute confo
nants; as it is obfervable in all the northern languages. " And this is still more vilible in the next refinement, “ which consifteth in pronouncing the first fyllable in a “ word that hath many, and dismilling the rest ; such as " phizz, hipps, mobb, pozz, rep, and many more, when we
are already overloaded with monofyllables, which are “ the disgrace of our language. Thus we cram one fyl“ lable, and cut off the relt; as the owl fattened her 6. mice after the bad bit off their legs to prevent them " froin running away ; and if ours be the same reason “ for maiming of words, it would certainly answer the " end; for I am sure no other nation will desire to bor66 row them. Some words are hitherto but fairly split, " and therefore only in their way to perfection, as in.
cog. and plenipo; but in a short time, it is to be hop. 1 ed, they will be further docked to inc. and plen. " This reflection hath made me of late years very impa. " tient for a peace, which I believe will save the lives “ of many brave words as well as men. The war hath "5 introduced abundance of polysyllables, which will nee “ ver be able to live many more campaigns. Specula« tions, operations, 'preliminaries, ambasadors, palisa. « does, communications, circumvallations, battalions, as
numerous as they are, if they attack us too frequently
“ in our coffee houses, we shall certainly put them to “ flight, and cut off the rear.
“The third refinement observable in the letter I send you,
conlisteth in the choice of certain words invent. “ ed by some pretty fellows, such as banter, bamboczle, “ country-put, and kidney, as it is there applied; fome “ of which are now struggling for the vogue, and others
are in poffetlion of it. I have done my utmost for “ some years past to stop the progre's of inob and banter, “ but bave been plainly borne down by numbers, and « betrayed by thole who promised to aslift me.
“ In the last place, you are to take notice of certain « choice phrases scattered through the letter ; some of 66 them tolerable enough, till they were worn to rags " by servile imitators. You might easily find them, al. " though they were not in a different print, and there. “ fore I need not disturb them.
“ These are the false refinements in our stile, which you
ought to correct ; first, by arguments and fair means ; but if those fail, I think you are to make use “ of your authority as censor, and by an annual index “ expurgatorius expunge all words and pbrates that are « offenlive to good lenle, and condeinn those barbarous “ mutilations of vowels and syllables. In this last point, (6 the usual pretence is, that they spell as they speak:
noble standard for language ! to depend upon the “ caprice of every coscomb, who, because words are the
the cloathing of our thoughts, cuts them out and tha pes “ them as he pleaseth, and changes them oftener than his so dress. I believe all reasonable people would be con. “ tent, that such refiners were more sparing of their “ words, and liberal in their syllables. On this head I « should be glad you would bestow some advice
fe “ veral young readers in our churches, who, coming up " from the university full fraught with admiration of our “ town-politeness, will needs correct the stile of their « prayer-books. In reading the absolution they are very « careful to say pardons and absolves, and in the prayer “ for the royal family, it must be endue’um, enrich'uni, “ prosper'um, and bring'um; then in their fermons they • use all their modern terms of art, Mam, banter, mob, “ bubblle, bully, cutting, Shuffling, and palming; all
"which, ® which, and many more of the like stamp, as I have “ heard them often in the pulpit from some young
fo“ phisters, so I have read them in some of those fermons “ ihat have made a great noise of late. The delign, it “ seems, is to avoid the dreadful imputation of pedan
try ; to fhew us, that they know the town, under. “ stand men and manners, and have not been poring upon
old unfashionable books in the university. " I should be glad to see you the instrument of in“ introducing into our stile, that fimplicity which is the “ best and truest ornament of most things in human life, “ which the politer ages always aimed at in their “ building and dress (fimplex munditiis), as well as " their productions of wit. It is manifest, that all
new affected modes of speech, whether borrowed “ from the court, the town, or the theatre, are the first
perishing parts in any language ; and, as I could prove " by many hundred instances, have been so in ours. The “ writings of Hooker, who was a country clergyman, " and of Parsons the Jesuit, both in the reign of Queen “ Elizabeth, are in a file that, with very few allow
ances, would not offend any present reader; much 66 more clear and intelligible, than those of Sir H. Wot.
ton, Sir Rob. Naunton, Olburo, Daniel the historian, " and several others who writ later, but being men of " the court, and affecting the phrases then in fashion, " they are often either not to be understood, or appear “ perfectly ridiculous.
. What remedies are to be applied to these evils, I " have not room to consider, having, I fear, already " taken up most of your paper : besides, I think, it is our " office only to represent abuses, and yours to redress « them.
I am, with great respect,
A MEDITATION upon a BROOMSTICK.
According to the stile and manner of the Honour.
able ROBERT BOYLE's Meditations *.
Written in the year 1703.
HIS single stick, which you now behold inglori
ously lying in that neglected corner, I once knew in a fourishing state in a forest: it was full of sap, full of leaves, and full of boughs: but now, in vain does the buly art of man pretend to vye with nature, by tying, that withered bundle of twigs to its fapless trunk : it is now at best but the reverse of what it was ; a tree turned up fide down, the branches on the earth, and the root in the air : it is now bandled by every dirty wench, condemned to do her drudgery; and, by a capricious kind of fate, destined to make other things clean, and be nafty itself. At length, worn to the stumps in the fervice of the maids, it is either thrown out of doors, or condemn. ed to the last use of kindling a fire. When I beheld this, I sighed, and said within myself, SURELY MORTAL MAN IS A BROOMSTICK! Nature fent him into the world ftrong and lusty, in a thriving condition, wearing his own hair on his head, the proper branches of this reasoning vegetable; until the axe of intemperance has lopped off his
green boughs, and left him a withered trunk: he then flies to art, and puts on a perriwig; valuing himself u
* This paper was wrote in derision of the Nile and manner of Mr Robert Boyle. To what a height must the spirit of sarcasm arise in an author, who could prevail upon himself to ridicule so good a man as Mr Boyle! But the sword of wit, like the fithe of time, cuts down friend and foe, and attacks every object that accidentally lies in its way. However sharp and irresistible the edge of it may be, Mr Boyle will always remain invulnerable. Orrery.