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Back in the times when an “s” was printed in form that more resembled the letter “f”, Robert Lowth began his English Grammar Preface with “The English Language hath been much cultivated during the last two hundred years. It has been considerably polished and refined; its bounds have been greatly enlarged; its energy, variety, richness, and elegance, have been abundantly proved by numberless trials, in verse and in prose, upon all subjects, and in every kind of style: but whatever other improvements it may have received, it hath made no advances in Grammatical accuracy” (xi). As with other older English-language works, this will be almost alien in the minds of 21st century readers, yet that is its exact value. Spelling, and fashion of constructing thoughts, may have changed somewhat noticeably since then, but when reading writings nearer to Lowth’s time, this helps the reader become much more comfortable in gleaning knowledge that is still usable and good from such a time before our current days.
Lowth, Robert. Short Introduction to English Grammar. London: Millar, 1763. http://books.google.com/books/reader?id=tqgifS7RsAkC.