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few pupils have derived a practical knowledge of grammar from his work.
As class-hooks, Murray's Grammar and Exercises have been found so incumbered with rules and examples, that the memory of the pupil is fatigued by their prolixity, and his understanding confused by their numerous contradictions, which, even with the help of the Key, he is unable to reconcile with each other. Nor has the case been much amended by the modifications of his works which have appeared from time to time under different titles. In these oracular digests, the rules and illustrations have been so greatly abridged, as to be utterly unfit for the purposes of grammatical instruction.
With this conviction upon his mind, the Editor of the present work was persuaded that the defects referred to could only be overcome by the adoption of a New English Grammar, and of a different plan of instruction from that which has been generally followed. He was confirmed in this opinion on examining the various grammatical works in use in the national schools of France and America. Among these, the "Institutes of Grammar," by Goold Brown, appeared to him so well suited to the purposes of instruction, that he has adopted it as the basis of the present work; and his own part of the task has been limited to such changes and modifications as, after much reflection, he judged necessary for the plan he had in view—the production of a practical Grammar for the use of English schools.
In its present form, it is believed that this Grammar will be found to possess many advantages over any other now in use. There is nothing in it which any pupil of common abilities will find difficult to understand or apply. Its greatest peculiarity is, that it requires the pupil to speak or write a great deal, and the teacher very little. It is the plain didactic method of definition and example, rule and exercise, which no man who means to teach grammar will ever abandon for another. There is only one way in which grammar can be successfully taught; which is to cause the principal definitions and rules to be so thoroughly committed to memory, that they may ever afterwards be readily applied. But it is at this point that the pupil
generally feels the commencement of his difficulties, from the number and abstruse character of the rules he has to learn, and his inability to apply them. In the present work, the rules have been shortened, reduced in number, and expressed in a clear and simple manner, so as to render them more easy and intelligible.
As grammar is a practical art, it is the plan of this work to bring every doctrine which has been learned into immediate and constant application; and, for this purpose, a complete series of exercises, adapted to its several parts, has been given, with notices of the manner in which they are to be used, according to the place assigned them: and Parsing, which is so essentially necessary in grammatical instruction, commences immediately after the first lesson of Etymology. The pupil is then alternately exercised in learning rules, in applying them in parsing, and in orally correcting the examples of false syntax. In this manner, he is progressively conducted through all the primary definitions and rules of grammar; and if this be performed according to the order prescribed, it cannot fail to render them perfectly familiar, and of easy application, so as to secure his farther progress. The same plan has been followed in Syntactical Parsing; and it is hoped, that the importance of such a method of instruction will particularly commend the work to teachers of youth. A series of questions has been appended at the foot of the page for the examination of classes, and the definitions and rules have been so expressed as to supply the answer, which the pupil should be accustomed to recite with clearness and fluency.
While precision and simplicity have thus been attended to, and a scheme of teaching and a system of examination suggested, care has been taken to reduce the illustrations and examples to a moderate compass, by the omission of those unnecessary details which occupy so large a space in other grammars. Thus, in the chapter of Prosody, a few examples only of the rules of punctuation have been given, as exercises in this department can be supplied from the daily lesson in Reading, or the pages of any correctly printed work. A Key to the examples of false syntax has also been dispensed with,
that the scholar might be taught to depend more completely upon his own judgment and industry. By these omissions, space has been obtained for ample illustrations in the departments of greater difficulty and importance, as will be especially seen in the division of Syntax, and the numerous examples and exercises with which it is accompanied. The Editor, therefore, confidently hopes, that wherever this work is introduced, it will be found so comprehensive and perspicuous, as to form an efficient text-book and guide to correct composition; and yet, that this important branch of education may be comprised within a six months' course.
It must always be kept in mind, however, that the manner of teaching is of more importance than even the text-book. It would be as hopeless to expect proficiency from a pupil who had merely committed the rules to memory, as it would be to make him a skilful arithmetician without working the sums. In addition therefore to the examples and exercises by which every rule is illustrated, and which in this work are merely supplied as specimens, the careful teacher will suggest others, according to the capacity of his pupils. The reading lesson of the day might supply them; and thus the scholars, instead of being confined to the pages of the Grammar, would become accustomed to parse at sight—and in this manner their understandings would be exercised, and their emulation excited. It is by such instruction only that grammar can be rendered an interesting study to the youthful mind, and that the scholar can be effectively taught to express his sentiments with propriety, and to write his native language with correctness and elegance. B. T.
London, Jan. 1, 1840.
Definition and Division of the Subject