Infomotions, Inc.An apology for the study of northern antiquities / Elstob, Elizabeth, 1683-1756

Author: Elstob, Elizabeth, 1683-1756
Title: An apology for the study of northern antiquities
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): monosyllables; saxon; elstob; northern; elizabeth; antiquities
Contributor(s): Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832 [Commentator]
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Size: 14,072 words (really short) Grade range: 11-14 (high school) Readability score: 53 (average)
Identifier: etext15329
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Title: An Apology For The Study of Northern Antiquities

Author: Elizabeth Elstob

Release Date: March 11, 2005 [EBook #15329]

Language: English

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Produced by David Starner, Louise Hope and the Online Distributed
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[Transcriber's Note:
This text includes a number of citations from languages other than
English, and in scripts other than Roman. They are shown as:
    ++Hebrew, Gothic++
    #black-letter type# (German, Middle English, Old French)

Characters that could not be shown in 7-bit ascii have been
    edh, thorn > [dh], [th]
    "ae" ligature (Latin, Saxon) > ae
    eta, omega > e:, o: ]


                   ELIZABETH ELSTOB

              An Apology for the Study of
                 Northern Antiquities


                   Introduction by
                     Charles Peake

                 Publication Number 61

                     Los Angeles
         William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
               University of California


           *       *       *       *       *

RICHARD C. BOYS, University of Michigan
RALPH COHEN, University of California, Los Angeles
VINTON A. DEARING, University of California, Los Angeles
LAWRENCE CLARK POWELL, Clark Memorial Library

W. EARL BRITTON, University of Michigan

EMMETT L. AVERY, State College of Washington
BENJAMIN BOYCE, Duke University
LOUIS BREDVOLD, University of Michigan
JOHN BUTT, King's College, University of Durham
JAMES L. CLIFFORD, Columbia University
ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, University of Chicago
EDWARD NILES HOOKER, University of California, Los Angeles
LOUIS A. LANDA, Princeton University
SAMUEL H. MONK, University of Minnesota
ERNEST C. MOSSNER, University of Texas
JAMES SUTHERLAND, University College, London
H.T. SWEDENBERG, JR., University of California, Los Angeles

EDNA C. DAVIS, Clark Memorial Library

           *       *       *       *       *


The answerers who rushed into print in 1712 against Swift's _Proposal
for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue_ were
so obviously moved by the spirit of faction that, apart from a few
debating points and minor corrections, it is difficult to disentangle
their legitimate criticisms from their political prejudices. As
Professor Landa has written in his introduction to Oldmiron's
_Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to Harley_ and Mainwaring's
_The British Academy_ (Augustan Reprint Society, 1948): "It is not
as literature that these two answers to Swift are to be judged. They
are minor, though interesting, documents in political warfare which
cut athwart a significant cultural controversy."

Elizabeth Elstob's _Apology for the Study of Northern Antiquities_
prefixed to her _Rudiments of Grammar for the English-Saxon Tongue_
is an answer of a very different kind. It did not appear until 1715;
it exhibits no political bias; it agrees with Swift's denunciation
of certain current linguistic habits; and it does not reject the
very idea of regulating the language as repugnant to the sturdy
independence of the Briton. Elizabeth Elstob speaks not for a party
but for the group of antiquarian scholars, led by Dr. Hickes, who
were developing and popularizing the study of the Anglo-Saxon origins
of the English language--a study which had really started in the
seventeenth century.

What irritated Miss Elstob in the _Proposal_ was not Swift's eulogy
or Harley and the Tory ministry, but his scornful reference to
antiquarians as "laborious men of low genius," his failure to
recognize that his manifest ignorance of the origins of the language
was any bar to his pronouncing on it or legislating for it, and his
repetition of some of the traditional criticisms of the Teutonic
elements in the language, in particular the monosyllables and
consonants. Her sense of injury was personal as well as academic.
Her brother William and her revered master Dr. Hickes were among the
antiquarians whom Swift had casually insulted, and she herself had
published an elaborate edition of _An English-Saxon Homily on the
Birthday of St. Gregory_ (1709) and was at work on an Anglo-Saxon
homilarium. Moreover she had a particular affection for her field
of study, because it had enabled her to surmount the obstacles to
learning which had been put in her path as a girl, and which had
prevented her, then, from acquiring a classical education. Her
_Rudiments_, the first Anglo-Saxon grammar written in English, was
specifically designed to encourage ladies suffering from similar
educational disabilities to find an intellectual pursuit. Her personal
indignation is shown in her sharp answer to Swift's insulting phrase,
and in her retaliatory classification of the Dean among the "light and
fluttering wits."

As a linguistic historian she has no difficulty in exposing Swift's
ignorance, and in establishing her claim that if there is any refining
or ascertaining of the English language to be done, the antiquarian
scholars must be consulted. But it is when she writes as a literary
critic, defending the English language, with its monosyllables and
consonants, as a literary medium, that she is most interesting.

There was nothing new in what Swift had said of the character of the
English language; he was merely echoing criticisms which had been
expressed frequently since the early sixteenth century. The number
of English monosyllables was sometimes complained of, because to
ears trained on the classical languages they sounded harsh, barking,
unfitted for eloquence; sometimes because they were believed to impede
the metrical flow in poetry; sometimes because, being particularly
characteristic of colloquial speech, they were considered low; and
often because they were associated with the languages of the Teutonic
tribes which had escaped the full refining influence of Roman
civilization. Swift followed writers like Nash and Dekker in
emphasizing the first and last of these objections.

There were, of course, stock answers to these stock objections.
Such criticism of one's mother tongue was said to be unpatriotic or
positively disloyal. If it was difficult to maintain that English was
as smooth and euphonious as Italian, it could be maintained that its
monosyllables and consonants gave it a characteristic and masculine
brevity and force. Monosyllables were also very convenient for the
formation of compound words, and, it was argued, should, when properly
managed, be an asset rather than a handicap to the English rhymester.
By the time Swift and Miss Elstob were writing, an increasing number
of antiquarian Germanophils (and also pro-Hanoverians) were prepared
to claim Teutonic descent with pride.

Most of these arguments had been bandied backwards and forwards
rather inconclusively since the sixteenth century, and Addison in
_The Spectator_ No. 135 expresses a typically moderate opinion on
the matter: the English language, he says, abounds in monosyllables,
  which gives us an opportunity of delivering our thoughts in few
  sounds. This indeed takes off from the elegance of our tongue,
  but at the same time expresses our ideas in the readiest manner,
  and consequently answers the first design of speech better than
  the multitude of syllables, which make the words of other
  languages more tunable and sonorous.

It is likely that neither Swift nor Miss Elstob would have found much
to disagree with in that sentence. Swift certainly never proposed any
reduction in the number of English monosyllables, and the simplicity
of style which he described as "one of the greatest perfections in any
language," which seemed to him best exemplified in the English Bible,
and which he himself practised so brilliantly, has in English a very
marked monosyllabic character.

But in his enthusiasm to stamp out the practice of abbreviating,
beheading and curtailing polysyllables--a practice which seemed to
him a threat to both the elegance and permanence of the language--
he described it as part of a tendency of the English to relapse into
their Northern barbarity by multiplying monosyllables and eliding
vowels between the rough and frequent consonants of their language.
His ignorance of the historical origins of the language and his rather
hackneyed remarks on its character do not invalidate the general
scheme of his _Proposal_ or his particular criticisms of current
linguistic habits, but they did lay him open to the very penetrating
and decisive attack of Elizabeth Elstob.

In her reply to Swift she repeats all the stock defenses of the
English monosyllables and consonants, but, by presenting them in
combination, and in a manner at once scholarly and forceful, she
makes the most convincing case against Swift. Unlike most of her
predecessors, Miss Elstob is not on the defensive. She is always ready
to give a sharp personal turn to her scholarly refutations--as, for
instance, when she demonstrates the usefulness of monosyllables in
poetry by illustrations from a series of poets beginning with Homer
and ending with Swift. There can be little doubt that Swift is
decisively worsted in this argument.

It is not known whether Swift ever read Miss Elstob's _Rudiments_,
though it is interesting to notice a marked change of emphasis in
his references to the Anglo-Saxon language. In the _Proposal_ he had
declared with a pretense of knowledge, that Anglo-Saxon was "excepting
some few variations in the orthography... the same in most original
words with our present English, as well as with German and other
northern dialects." But in _An Abstract of the History of England_
(probably revised in 1719) he says that the English which came in
with the Saxons was "extremely different from what it is now." The
two statements are not incompatible, but the emphasis is remarkably
changed. It is possible that some friend had pointed out to Swift that
his earlier statement was too gross a simplification, or alternatively
that someone had drawn his attention to Elizabeth Elstob's

All writers owe much to the labors of scholarship and are generally
ill-advised to scorn or reject them, however uninspired and
uninspiring they may seem. Moreover when authors do enter into dispute
with "laborious men of low genius" they frequently meet with more than
their match. Miss Elstob's bold and aggressive defense of Northern
antiquities was remembered and cited by a later scholar, George
Ballard, as a warning to those who underestimated the importance of
a sound knowledge of the language. Indeed, he wrote, "I thought that
the bad success Dean Swift had met with in this affair from the
incomparably learned and ingenious Mrs. Elstob would have deterred
all others from once venturing in this affair." (John Nichols,
_Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century_,
1822, IV, 212.)

Charles Peake
University College, London

           *       *       *       *       *
               *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *       *


                        for the
                 English-Saxon Tongue,
                First given in ENGLISH:

                        with an
                    For the Study of

                  NORTHERN ANTIQUITIES.

    Being very useful towards the understanding our
      ancient _English_ POETS, and other WRITERS.

                   By ELIZABETH ELSTOB.

Our Earthly Possessions are truly enough called a _PATRIMONY_,
as derived to us by the Industry of our _FATHERS_; but the Language
that we speak is our _MOTHER-TONGUE_; And who so proper to play the
Criticks in this as the _FEMALES.

    In a Letter from a Right Reverend Prelate to the Author.


     Printed by _W. Bowyer_: And Sold by J. BOWYER
     at the _Rose_ in _Ludgate-street_, and C. KING
             in _Westminster-hall_, 1715.

           *       *       *       *       *


                         to the
                 Reverend Dr. _Hickes_.


Soon after the Publication of the Homily on St. Gregory, I was engaged
by the Importunity of my Friends, to make a Visit to _Canterbury_, as
well to enjoy the Conversations of my Friends and Relations there,
as for that Benefit which I hoped to receive from Change of Air, and
freer Breathing, which is the usual Expectation of those, who are used
to a sedentary Life and Confinement in the great City, and which
renders such an Excursion now and then excusable. In this Recess,
among the many Compliments and kind Expressions, which their
favourable Acceptance of my first Attempt in _Saxon_, had obtained for
me from the Ladies, I was more particularly gratified, with the new
Friendship and Conversation, of a young Lady, whose Ingenuity and
Love of Learning, is well known and esteem'd, not only in that Place,
but by your self: and which so far indear'd itself to me, by her
promise that she wou'd learn the _Saxon Tongue_, and do me the Honour
to be my _Scholar_, as to make me think of composing an _English
Grammar_ of that Language for her use. That Ladies Fortune hath so
disposed of her since that time, and hath placed her at so great
distance, as that we have had no Opportunity, of treating farther on
this Matter, either by Discourse or Correspondence. However though a
Work of a larger Extent, and which hath amply experienced your
Encouragement, did for some time make me lay aside this Design, yet
I did not wholly reject it. For having re-assumed this Task, and
accomplish'd it in such manner at I was able, I now send it to you,
for your Correction, and that Stamp of Authority, it must needs
receive from a Person of such perfect and exact Judgement in these
Matters, in order to make it current, and worthy of Reception from the
Publick. Indeed I might well have spared my self the labour of such
an Attempt, after the elaborate Work of your rich and learned
_Thesaurus_, and the ingenious Compendium of it by Mr. _Thwaites_;
but considering the Pleasure I my self had reaped from the Knowledge
I have gained from this Original of our Mother Tongue, and that others
of my own Sex, might be capable of the same Satisfaction: I resolv'd
to give them the Rudiments of that Language in an English Dress.
However not 'till I had communicated to you my Design for your Advice,
and had receiv'd your repeated Exhortation, and Encouragement to the

The Method I have used, is neither entirely new, out of a Fondness
and Affectation of Novelty: nor exactly the same with what has been
in use, in teaching the learned Languages. I have retain'd the old
Division of the Parts of Speech, nor have I rejected the other common
Terms of _Grammar_; I have only endeavour'd to explain them in such a
manner, as to hope they may be competently understood, by those whose
Education, hath not allow'd them an Acquaintance with the Grammars of
other Languages. There is one Addition to what your self and Mr.
_Thwaites_ have done on this Subject, for which you will, I imagine,
readily pardon me: I have given most, if not all the _Grammatical_
Terms in true old _Saxon_, from _Aelfrick_'s Translation of _Priscian_,
to shew the _polite_ Men of our Age, that the Language of their
Forefathers is neither so barren nor barbarous as they affirm, with
equal Ignorance and Boldness. Since this is such an Instance of its
Copiousness, as is not to be found in any of the polite modern
Languages; and the _Latin_ itself is beholden to the _Greek_, not only
for the Terms, but even the Names of Arts and Sciences, as is easily
discerned in the Words, _Philosophy, Grammar, Logick, Rhetorick,
Geometry, Arithmetick_, &c. These Gentlemens ill Treatment of our
Mother Tongue has led me into a Stile not so agreeable to the Mildness
of our Sex, or the usual manner of my Behaviour, to Persons of your
Character; but the Love and Honour of one's Countrey, hath in all Ages
been acknowledged such a Virtue, as hath admitted of a Zeal even
somewhat extravagant. _Pro Patria mori_, used to be one of the great
Boasts of Antiquity; and even the so celebrated Magnanimity of _Cato_,
and such others as have been called Patriots, had wanted their Praise,
and their Admiration, had they wanted this Plea. The Justness and
Propriety of the Language of any Nation, hath been always rightly
esteem'd a great Ornament and Test of the good Sense of such a Nation;
and consequently to arraign the good Sense or Language of any Nation,
is to cast upon it a great Reproach. Even private Men are most
jealous, of any Wound, that can be given them in their intellectual
Accomplishments, which they are less able to endure, than Poverty
itself or any other kind of Disgrace. This hath often occasion'd my
Admiration, that those Persons, who talk so much, of the Honour of our
Countrey, _of the correcting, improving and ascertaining_ of our
Language, shou'd dress it up in a Character so very strange and
ridiculous: or to think of improving it to any degree of Honour
and Advantage, by divesting it of the Ornaments of Antiquity, or
separating it from the_ Saxon _Root, whose Branches were so copious
and numerous. But it is very remarkable how Ignorance will make Men
bold, and presume to declare that unnecessary, which they will not be
at the pains to render useful. Such kind of Teachers are no new thing,
the Spirit of Truth itself hath set a mark upon them;_ Desiring to be
Teachers of the Law, understanding neither what they say, nor
whereof they affirm, I _Tim._ I. 7. _It had been well if those wise
_Grammarians_ had understood this Character, who have taken upon them
to teach our Ladies and young Gentlemen, _The whole System of an
English Education_; they had not incurr'd those Self-contradictions
of which they are guilty; they had not mention'd your self, and your
incomparable Treasury of _Northern Literature _in so cold and
negligent a manner, as betrays too much of an invidious Pedantry: But
in those Terms of Veneration and Applause which are your just Tribute,
not only from the Learned of your own Countrey, but of most of the
other Northern Nations, whether more or less Polite: Who would any of
them have glory'd in having you their Native, who have done so much
Honour to the Original of almost all the Languages in Europe.

But it seems you are not of so much Credit with these _Gentlemen_, who
question your Authority, and have given a very visible Proof of their
Ingenuity in an Instance which plainly discovers, that they cannot
believe their own Eyes.

  The _Saxons_, say they, if we may credit Dr. _Hickes_, had
  various Terminations to their Words, at least two in every
  Substantive singular: whereas we have no Word now in use, except
  the personal Names that has so. Thus Dr. _Hickes_ has made six
  several _Declensions_ of the _Saxon_ Names: He gives them three
  _Numbers_; a Singular, Dual, and Plural: We have no Dual Number,
  except perhaps in _Both_: To make this plainer, we shall
  transcribe the six Declensions from that Antiquary's Grammar.

I would ask these Gentlemen, and why not credit Dr. _Hickes_? Is he
not as much to be believ'd as those Gentlemen, who have transcribed
so plain an Evidence of the six Declensions to shew the positive
Unreasonableness and unwarrantable Contradiction of their Disbelief?
Did he make those six Declensions? or rather, did he not find them in
the Language, and take so much pains to teach others to distinguish
them, who have Modesty enough to be taught? They are pleased to say we
have no Word now in use that admits of Cases or Terminations. But let
us ask them, what they think of these Words, _God's Word_, _Man's
Wisdom_, the _Smith's Forge,_ and innumerable Instances more. For in
_God's Word_, &c. is not the Termination _s_ a plain Indication of a
Genitive Case, wherein the Saxon _e_ is omitted? For example_, *Godes
Word*, *Mannes Wisdom*, *Smi[dh]es Heor[dh]*. _Some will say, that were
better supplied by _his_, or _hers_, as Man _his_ Thought, the Smith
_his_ Forge; but this Mistake is justly exploded. Yet if these
Gentlemen will not credit Dr. _Hickes_, the _Saxon_ Writings might
give them full Satisfaction. The _Gospels_, the _Psalms_, and a
great part of the _Bible_ are in _Saxon_, so are the _Laws_ and
_Ecclesiastical Canons_, and _Charters_ of most of our _Saxon Kings_;
these one wou'd think might deserve their Credit. But they have not
had Learning or Industry enough to fit them for such Acquaintance, and
are forc'd therefore to take up their Refuge with those Triflers,
whose only Pretence to Wit, is to despise their Betters. This Censure
will not, I imagine, be thought harsh, by any candid Reader, since
their own Discovery has sufficiently declared their Ignorance: and
their Boldness, to determine things whereof they are so ignorant, has
so justly fix'd upon them the Charge of Impudence. For otherwise they
must needs have been ashamed to proceed in manner following.

  We might give you various Instances more of the essential
  difference between the old _Saxon_ and modern _English_ Tongue,
  but these must satisfy any reasonable Man, that it is so great,
  that the _Saxon_ can be no Rule to us; and that to understand
  ours, there is no need of knowing the _Saxon_: And tho' Dr.
  _Hickes_ must be allow'd to have been a very curious Enquirer
  into those obsolete Tongues, now out of use, and containing
  nothing valuable, yet it does by no means follow (as is plain
  from what has been said) that we are obliged to derive the
  Sense, Construction, or Nature of our present Language from
  his Discoveries.

I would beseech my Readers to observe, the Candour and Ingenuity of
these Gentlemen: They tell us, _We might give you various Instances
more of the essential difference between the old _Saxon_ and modern
_English_ Tongue_; and yet have plainly made it appear, that they know
little or nothing of the old _Saxon_. So that it will be hard to say
how they come to know of any such _essential difference, as _MUST_
satisfy any reasonabie Man_; and much more that this _essential
difference_ is so _great, that the _Saxon_ can be no Rule to us,
and that to understand ours, there is no need of knowing the _Saxon_.
_What they say, _that it cannot be a Rule to them_, is true; for
nothing can be a Rule of Direction to any Man, the use whereof he does
not understand; but if to understand the Original and Etymology of the
Words of any Language, be needful towards knowing the Propriety of any
Language, a thing which I have never heard hath yet been denied; then
do these Gentlemen stand self-condemned, there being no less than
four Words, in the Scheme of Declensions they have borrowed from
Dr. _Hickes_, now in use, which are of pure _Saxon_ Original, and
consequently _essential to the modern English_. I need not tell any
English Reader at this Day the meaning of _Smith_, _Word_, _Son_, and
_Good_; but if I tell them that these are Saxon Words, I believe they
will hardly deny them to be _essential to the modern English_, or that
they will conclude that the difference between the old _English_ and
the modern is so great, or the distance of Relation between them so
remote, as that the former deserves not to be remember'd: except by
such Upstarts who having no Title to a laudable Pedigree, are backward
in all due Respect and Veneration towards a noble Ancestry.

Their great Condescension to Dr. _Hickes_ in allowing him to have been
a very curious Inquirer into those _obsolete Tongues, now out of use,
and containing nothing valuable in them_, is a Compliment for which I
believe you, Sir, will give me leave to assure them, that he is not at
all obliged; since if it signifies any thing, it imports, no less than
that he has employ'd a great deal of Time, and a great deal of Pains,
to little purpose. But we must at least borrow so much Assurance from
them, as to tell them, that your Friends, who consist of the most
learned sort of your own Countrey-men, and of Foreigners, do not think
those Tongues so obsolete and out of use, whose Significancy is so
apparent in Etymology; nor do they think those Men competent Judges to
declare, whether there be any thing contained in them valuable or not,
who have made it clear, that they know not what is _contain'd_ in
them. They would rather assure them, that our greatest Divines[A],
and Lawyers[B], and Historians[C] are of another Opinion, they wou'd
advise them to consult our Libraries, those of the two Universities,
the _Cottonian_, and my Lord Treasurers; to study your whole
_Thesaurus_, particularly your _Dissertatio Epistolaris_, to look into
Mr. _Wanleys_ large and accurate Catalogue of _Saxon_ Manuscripts,
and so with Modesty gain a Title to the Applause of having confest
their former Ignorance, and reforming their Judgment. I believe I
may farther take leave to assure them, that the Doctor is as little
concerned for their _Inference_, which they think _so plain from
what has been said, that they are not obliged to derive the Sense,
Construction, or Nature of our present Language from his Discoveries_.
He desires them not to _derive_ the _Sense_ and _Construction_ of
which they speak, in any other manner, than that in which the Nature
of the things themselves makes them appear; and so far as they are his
_Discoveries_ only, intrudes them on no Man. He is very willing they
should be let alone by those, who have not Skill to use them to their
own Advantage, and with Gratitude.

   [Footnote A: Archbishops _Parker_, _Laud_, _Usher_, Bishop
    _Stillingfleet_, the present Bishops _of Worcester_, _Bath_
    and _Wells_, _Carlisle_, St. _Asaph_, St. _Davids_, _Lincoln_,
    _Rochester_, with many other Divines of the first Rank.]

   [Footnote B: The Lord Chief Justice _Cook_, Mr. _Lombard_,
    _Selden_, _Whitlock_, Lord Chief Justice _Hales_, and _Parker_,
    Mr. _Fortescue_ of the Temple, and others.]

   [Footnote C: _Leland_, who writes in a Latin Style in Prose and
    Verse, as polite and accurate as can be boasted of by any of
    our modern Wits. _Jocelin_, _Spelman_, both Father and Son,
    _Cambden_, _Whelock_, _Gibson_, and many more of all Ranks and
    Qualities, whose Names deserve well to be mention'd with Respect,
    were there room for it in this place.]

But to leave these Pedagogues to huff and swagger in the heighth of
all their Arrogance. I cannot but think it great Pity, that in our
Considerations, for Refinement of the _English_ Tongue, so little
Regard is had to Antiquity, and the Original of our present Language,
which is the _Saxon_. This indeed is allow'd by an ingenious Person,
who hath lately made some Proposals for the Refinement of the
_English_ Tongue, _That the old _Saxon_, except in some few Variations
in the Orthography, is the same in most original Words with our
present _English_, as well as with the _German_ and other _Northern_
Dialects; _which makes it a little surprizing to me, to find the same
Gentleman not long after to say, _The other Languages of _Europe_
I know nothing of, neither is there any occasion to consider them:
_because, as I have before observ'd, it must be very difficult to
imagin, how a Man can judge of a thing he knoweth nothing of, whether
there can be occasion or no to consider it. I must confess I hope
when ever such a Project shall be taken in hand, for _correcting_,
_enlarging_, and _ascertaining_ our Language, a competent Number
of such Persons will be advised with, as are knowing, not only in
_Saxon_, but in the other Languages of _Europe_, and so be capable of
judging how far those Languages may be useful in such a Project. The
want of understanding this aright, wou'd very much injure the Success
of such an Undertaking, and the bringing of it to Perfection; in
denying that Assistance toward adjusting the Propriety of Words, which
can only be had from the Knowledge of the Original, and likewise in
depriving us of the Benefit of many useful and significant Words,
which might be revived and recalled, to the Increase and Ornament of
our Language, which wou'd be the more beautiful, as being more genuine
and natural, by confessing a _Saxon_ Original for their native Stock,
or an Affinity with those Branches of the other _Northern Tongues_,
which own the same Original.

The want of knowing the _Northern Languages_, has occasion'd an unkind
Prejudice towards them: which some have introduced out of Rashness,
others have taken upon Tradition. As if those Languages were made up
of nothing else but Monosyllables, and harsh sounding Consonants; than
which nothing can be a greater Mistake. I can speak for the _Saxon_,
_Gothick_, and _Francick_, or old _Teutonick_: which for aptness of
compounded, and well sounding Words, and variety of Numbers, are by
those learned Men that understand them, thought scarce inferior to the
_Greek_ itself. I never cou'd find my self shocked with the Harshness
of those Languages, which grates so much in the Ears of those that
never heard them. I never perceiv'd in the Consonants any Hardness,
but such as was necessary. to afford Strength, like the Bones in a
human Body, which yield it Firmness and Support. So that the worst
that can be said on this occasion of our Forefathers is, that they
spoke at they fought, like Men.

The Author of the _Proposal_, may think this but an ill Return, for
the soft things he has said of the Ladies, but I think it Gratitude
at least to make the Return, by doing Justice to the Gentlemen. I will
not contradict the Relation of the ingenious Experiment of his vocal
Ladies, tho' I could give him some Instances to the contrary, in my
Experience of those, whose Writings abound with Consonants; where
Vowels must generally be understood, and appear but very rarely.
Perhaps that Gentleman may be told that I have a _Northern_
Correspondence, and a _Northern_ Ear, probably not so fine as he
may think his own to be, yet a little musical.

And now for our _Monosyllables_. In the Controversy concerning which,
it must be examined, first whether the Charge which is exhibited
against the _Northern Languages_ is true, that they consist of nothing
but _Monosyllables_; and secondly, whether or no the Copiousness and
Variety of _Monosyllables_ may be always justly reputed a fault, and
may not sometimes as justly be thought, to be very useful and

And first I must assert, that the ancient _Northern Languages_, do not
wholly nor mostly consist of _Monosyllables_. I speak chiefly of the
_Gothick_, _Saxon_, and _Teutonick_. It must be confest that in the
_Saxon_, there are many _Primitive_ Words of one Syllable, and this
to those who know the Esteem that is due to Simplicity and Plainness,
in any Language, will rather be judged a Virtue than a Vice: That is,
that the first Notions of things should be exprest in the plainest
and simplest manner, and in the least compass: and the Qualities
and Relations, by suitable Additions, and Composition of _Primitive_
Words[D]; for which the _Saxon_ Language is very remarkable, as has
been before observed, and of which there are numerous Examples, in the
following Treatise of _Saxon Grammar_, and infinitely more might have
been added.

   [Footnote D: Of this the _Greeks_ give as a fair Example, when
    they express the Original and Author of all Things, their +Pate:r
    andro:nte theo:nte+, by their Monosyllable +Zeus+. As the _Hebrews_
    do by ++yah++, the _Goths_ the Ancestors of our _Saxon_ Progenitors
    by the Word ++GO[TH]++, the _Saxons_, old _Germans_, _Teutons_,
    _Francick_, and _English_, in the _Monosyllable_ *Go[dh]*, the
    _Germans_ #Gott#, and the _French_ _Dieu_.]

The second Enquiry is, whether or no the Copiousness and Variety
of _Monosyllables_ may be always justly reputed a fault, and may not
as justly be thought, to be very useful and ornamental? Were this a
fault, it might as justly be charged upon the learned Languages,
the _Latin_ and _Greek_: For the _Latin_ you have in _Lilly_'s Rules
concerning Nouns, several Verses, made up for the most part of
_Monosyllables_, I mention him not as a Classick, but because the
Words are Classical and _Monosyllables_; and in the _Greek_ there
are several as it were, idle _Monosyllables_, that have little
Significancy, except to make the Numbers in Verse compleat, or to
give a Fulness to their Periods, as the Verses of _Homer_ and other
_Greek Poets_ plainly evidence: An Instance or two may suffice;

   +Ex hou de: ta pro:ta diaste:te:n erisante.+

Here are four _Monosyllables_ in this Verse,

   +Te:n d' ego: ou luso:, prin min kai ge:ras epeisen.+

Here are six _Monosyllables_, and one cutting off.

   +All' ithi, me: m' erethize, sao:teros ho:s ke nee:ai.
    Hos e:de: ta t' eonta, ta t' essomena, pro t' eonta.+

            Hom. Il. I. l. 70.

Here are seven _Monosyllables_; yet so far is _Virgil_ from being angry
with his Master _Homer_ on this Account, that he in a manner transcribes
his very Words, imitating him as near as the _Latin_ wou'd permit;

    Quae sint, quae fuerint, quae mox ventura trahantur.

Here is the whole Sense of _Homer_ exprest, and five _Monosyllables_.
But Mr. _Dryden_, who has exprest the Sense of _Virgil_ with no less
Accuracy, gives you the whole Line in _Monosyllables;

    He sees what is, and was, and is to come.

Mr. _Pope_ is equally happy in the Turn he has given to the Original,
who as he is an exact Master of Criticism, so has he all those
Accomplishments of an excellent Poet, that give us just Reason to hope
he will make the Father of the Poets speak to us in our own Language,
with all the Advantages he gave to his Works in that wherein they were
first written, and the modest Opinion he prescribes to his own, and other
Mens Poetical Performances, is no Discouragement to these Hopes;

      Whoever thinks a faultless Piece to see,
    Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.

And _Horace_, while he is teaching us the Beauties in the Art of Poetry,
gives no less than nine _Monosyllables_ in the compass of a Verse and a

    _Sed nunc non_ erat _his_ locus: & fortasse cupressum
    _Scis_ simulare. _Quid hoc si_, &c.

Now if these are Beauties, as I doubt not but the _politer Criticks_
will allow, I cannot see why our Language may not now and then be
tolerated in using _Monosyllables_, when it is done discreetly, and
sparingly; and as I do not commend any of our Moderns who contract
Words into _Monosyllables_ to botch up their Verses, much less such as
do it out of Affectation; yet certainly the use of _Monosyllables_ may
be made to produce a charming and harmonious Effect, where they fall
under a Judgment that can rightly dispose and order them. And indeed,
if a Variety and Copiousness of Feet, and a Latitude of shifting and
transposing Words either in Prose or Poetical Compositions, be of any
use, towards the rendering such Compactions sweet, or nervous, or
harmonious, according to the Exigencies of the several sorts of Stile,
one wou'd think _Monosyllables_ to be best accommodated to all these
Purposes, and according to the Skill of those who know how to manage
them, to answer all the Ends, either of masculine Force, or female
Tenderness; for being single you have a Liberty of placing them where,
and as you please; whereas in Words of many Syllables you are more
confined, and must take them as you find them, or be put upon the
cruel necessity of mangling and tearing them asunder. Mr. _Dryden_,
it is true, wou'd make us believe he had a great Aversion to
_Monosyllables_. Yet he cannot help making use of them sometimes in
entire Verses, nor conceal his having a sort of Pride, even where he
tells us he was forc'd to do it. For to have done otherwise would have
been a Force on Nature, which would have been unworthy of so great a
Genius, whose Care it was to study Nature, and to imitate and copy it
to the Life; and it is not improbable, that there might be somewhat of
a latent Delicacy and Niceness in this Matter, which he chose rather
to dissemble, than to expose, to the indiscreet Management of meaner
Writers. For in the first Line of his great Work the _Aeneis_, every
Word is a _Monosyllable_; and tho' he makes a seeming kind of Apology,
yet he cannot forbear owning a secret Pleasure in what he had done.
"My first Line in the _Aeneis_, says he, is not harsh.

   "Arms and the Man I sing, who forc'd by Fate.

"But a much better Instance may be given from the last Line of
_Manilius_, made _English_ by our learned and judicious Mr. _Creech_;

   "Nor could the World have born so fierce a Flame.

"Where the many liquid Consonants are placed so artfully, that they give
a pleasing Sound to the Words, tho' they are all of one Syllable."

It is plain from these last Words, that the Subject-matter,
_Monosyllables_, is not so much to be complain'd of; what is chiefly to
be requir'd, is of the Poet, that he be a good Workman, in forming them
aright, and that he _place them artfully_: and, however Mr. _Dryden_
may desire to disguise himself, yet, as he some where says, Nature will
prevail. For see with how much Passion he has exprest himself towards
these two Verses, in which the Poet has not been sparing of
_Monosyllables_: "I am sure, says he, there are few who make Verses,
have observ'd the Sweetness of these two Lines in _Coopers Hill;

   "Tho deep, yet clear; tho gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong without Rage, without o'erflowing full.

"And there are yet fewer that can find the reason of that Sweetness,
I have given it to some of my Friends in Conversation, and they have
allow'd the Criticism to be just."

You see, Sir, this great Master had his Reserves, and this was one of
the _Arcana_, to which every Novice was not admitted to aspire; this
was an Entertainment only for his best Friends, such as he thought
worthy of his Conversation; and I do not wonder at it, for he was
acquainted not only with the _Greek_ and_ Latin Poets_, but with the
best of his own Countrey, as well of ancient as of latter times, and
knew their Beauties and Defects: and tho' he did not think himself
obliged to be lavish, in dispersing the Fruits of so much Pains and
Labour at random, yet was he not wanting in his Generosity to such as
deserved his Friendship, and in whom he discern'd a Spirit capable of
improving the Hints of so great a Master. To give greater Probability
to what I have said concerning _Monosyllables_, I will give some
Instances, as well from such Poets as have gone before him, as those
which have succeeded him. It will not be taken amiss by those who
value the Judgment of Sir _Philip Sydney_, and that of Mr. _Dryden_,
if I begin with Father _Chaucer_.

   #Er it was Day, as was her won to do.#


   #And but I have her Mercy and her Grace,
    That I may seen her at the lefte way;
    I nam but deed there nis no more to say.#


   #Alas, what is this wonder Maladye?
    For heate of colde, for colde of heate I dye.#

            _Chaucer_'s first Book of _Troylus_, fol. 159. b.

And since we are a united Nation, and he as great a Poet, considering his
time, as this Island hath produced, I will with due Veneration for his
Memory, beg leave to cite the learned and noble Prelate, _Gawen Douglas_,
Bishop of _Dunkeld_ in _Scotland_, who in his Preface to his judicious
and accurate Translation of _Virgil_, p. 4. says,

    Nane is, nor was, nor zit sal be, trowe I,
    Had, has, or sal have, sic craft in Poetry:

Again, p. 5.

    Than thou or I, my Freynde, quhen we best wene.

But before, at least contemporary with _Chaucer_, we find Sir _John
Gower_, not baulking _Monosyllables;

   #Myne Herte is well the more glad
    To write so as he me bad,
    And eke my Fear is well the lasse.
        To _Henry_ the Fourth,
    _King Salomon_ which had at his asking
    Of God, what thyng him was leuest crave.
    He chase Wysedom unto governyng
    Of Goddes Folke, the whiche he wolde save:
    And as he chase it fyl him for to have.
    For through his Witte, while that his Reigne laste,
    He gate him Peace, and Rest, into his laste.#


   #Peace is the chefe of al the Worldes Welth,
    And to the Heven it ledeth eke the way,
    Peace is of Soule and Lyfe the Mannes Helth,
    Of Pestylence, and doth the Warre away,
    My Liege Lord take hede of that I say.
    If Warre may be lefte, take Peace on Hande
    Which may not be without Goddes Sande.# [E]

   [Footnote E:_ Besides the Purpose for which these Verses are here
    cited, it may not be amiss to observe from some Instances of
    Words contain'd in them, how necessary, at least useful, the
    Knowledge of the _Saxon Tongue_ is, to the right understanding
    our _Old English Poets_, and other Writers. For example,
    #leuest#, this is the same with the _Saxon_ *leofost*, _most
    beloved_, or _desirable_. #Goddes folke#, not _God his Folk_,
    this has plainly the Remains of the _Saxon_ Genitive Case.
    #Sande#, this is a pure _Saxon_ word, signifying _Mission_,
    or _being sent_. See the _Saxon Homily_ on the Birth Day of
    St. _Gregory_, p. 2. *He [dh]urh his raede & sande us fram [dh]eofles
    biggengum aetbraed.* He through his Counsel and Commission rescued
    us from the Worship of the Devil.]

Nor were the _French_, however more polite they may be thought, than we
are said to be, more scrupulous in avoiding them, if these Verses are
upon his Monument;

   #En toy qui es fitz de Dieu le Pere,
    Sauue soit, qui gist sours cest pierre.#

This will be said to be old _French_, let us see whether _Boileau_ will
help us out, who has not long since writ the Art of Poetry;

    Mais moi, grace au Destin, qui n'ai ni feu ne lieu,
    Je me loge ou je puis, & comme il plaist a Dieu.

            _Sat._ vi.

And in that which follows,

    Et tel, en vous lisant, admire chaque traite,
    Qui dans le fond de l'ame, & vous craint & vous hait.

Let _Lydgate_, _Chaucer_'s Scholar also be brought in for a Voucher;

   #For _Chaucer_ that my Master was and knew
    What did belong to writing Verse and Prose,
    Ne'er stumbled at small faults, nor yet did view
    With scornful Eye the Works and Books of those
    That in his time did write, nor yet would taunt
    At any Man, to fear him or to daunt.#

Tho' the Verse is somewhat antiquated, yet the Example ought not to be
despised by our modern Criticks, especially those who have any Respect
for _Chaucer_.

I might give more Instances out of _John Harding_, and our good old
Citizen, Alderman _Fabian_, besides many others: but out of that Respect
to the nice Genij of our Time, which they seldom allow to others, I will
hasten to the Times of greater Politeness, and desire that room may be
made, and attention given to a Person of no less Wit than Honour, the
_Earl of Surrey_, who at least had all the Elegancy of a gentle Muse,
that may deserve the Praises of our Sex,

    Her Praise I tune whose Tongue doth tune the Spheres,
    And gets new Muses in her Hearers Ears.
    Stars fall to fetch fresh Light from her rich Eyes,
    Her bright Brow drives the Sun to Clouds beneath.


    O Glass! with too much Joy my Thoughts thou greets.

And again upon the Chamber where his admired _Geraldine_ was born;

    O! if _Elyzium_ be above the Ground,
    Then here it is, where nought but Joy is found.

And _Michael Drayton_, who had a Talent fit to imitate, and to celebrate
so great a Genius, of all our _English_ Poets, seems best to have
understood the sweet and harmonious placing of _Monosyllables_, and has
practised it with so great a Variety, as discovers in him a peculiar
Delight, even to Fondness; for which however, I cannot blame him,
notwithstanding this may be reputed the Vice of our Sex, and in him
be thought effeminate. But let the Reader judge for himself;

    Care draws on Care, Woe comforts Woe again,
    Sorrow breeds Sorrow, one Griefe brings forth twaine,
    If live or dye, as thou doost, so do I,
    If live, I live, and if thou dye, I dye;
    One Hart, one Love, one Joy, one Griefe, one Troth,
    One Good, one Ill, one Life, one Death to both.


    Where as thou cam'st unto the Word of Love,
    Even in thine Eyes I saw how Passion strove;
    That snowy Lawn which covered thy Bed,
    Me thought lookt white, to see thy cheeke so red,
    Thy rosye cheeke oft changing in my sight,
    Yet still was red to see the Lawn so white:
    The little Taper which should give the Light,
    Me thought waxt dim, to see thy Eye so bright.


    Your Love and Hate is this, I now do prove you,
    You Love in Hate, by Hate to make me love you.

And to the Countess of _Bedford_, one of his great Patronesses;

    Sweet Lady yet, grace this poore Muse of mine,
    Whose Faith, whose Zeal, whose Life, whose All is thine.

The next that I shall mention, is taken out of an ingenious Poem,
entituled, _The Tale of the Swans_, written by _William Vallans_ in
blank Verse in the time of Queen _Elizabeth_; for the reprinting of
which, we are obliged to that ingenious and most industrious Preserver
and Restorer of Antiquities, Mr. _Thomas Hearne_ of _Oxford_;

    Among the which the merrie Nightingale
    With swete, and swete (her Brest again a Thorne.)

In another Place,

    And in the Launde, hard by the Parke of _Ware_


    To _Ware_ he comes, and to the Launde he flies.


    And in this Pompe they hie them to the Head.

I come now to the incomparable _Spencer_, against whose Judgment and
Practice, I believe scarce any Man will be so bold as to oppose himself;

    Assure your self; it fell not all to Ground;
    For all so dear as Life is to my Heart,
    I deem your Love, and hold me to you bound.


    Go say his Foe thy Shielde with his doth bear.


    More old than _Jove_, whom thou at first didst breed.


    And now the Prey of Fowls in Field he lies.

Nor must _Ben. Johnson_ be forgotten;

    Thy Praise or Dispraise is to me alike;
    One doth not stroke me, nor the other strike.


    Curst be his Muse, that could lye dumb, or hid
    To so true Worth, though thou thy self forbid.

In this Train of Voters for _Monosyllables_, the inimitable _Cowley_
marches next, whom we must not refuse to hear;

    Yet I must on; what Sound is't strikes mine Ear?
      Sure I Fames Trumpet hear.

And a little after,

    Come my best Friends, my Books, and lead me on;
      'Tis time that I were gone.
    Welcome, great Stagirite, and teach me now
      All I was born to know.

And commending _Cicero_, he says,

    Thou art the best of Orators; only he
    Who best can praise thee, next must be.

And of _Virgil_ thus,

    Who brought green Poesy to her perfect Age,
      And made that Art, which was a Rage.

And in the beginning of the next Ode, he wou'd not certainly have apply'd
himself to WIT in the harsh Cadence of _Monosyllables_, had he thought
them so very harsh;

    Tell me, O tell, what kind of thing is Wit,
      Thou who Master art of it.


    In a true Piece of Wit all things must be
      Yet all things there agree.

But did he believe such Concord to be inconsistent with the use of
_Monosyllables_, he had surely banished them from these two Lines; and
were I to fetch Testimonies out of his Writings, I might pick a Jury of
Twelve out of every Page.

And now comes Mr. _Waller_, and what does he with his _Monosyllables_,

    Give us new Rules, and set our Harp in Tune.

And that honourable Peer whom be commends, the Lord _Roscommon_ thus
keeps him in Countenance;

    Be what you will, so you be still the same.

And again,

    In her full Flight, and when she shou'd be curb'd.

Soon after,

    Use is the Judge, the Law, and Rule of Speech,

And by and by,

    We weep and laugh, as we see others do,
    He only makes me sad who shews the way:
    But if you act them ill, I sleep or laugh.

The next I shall mention is my Lord _Orrery_, who, as Mr. _Anthony Wood_
says, was a great Poet, Statesman, Soldier, and great every thing which
merits the Name of Great and Good. In his Poem to Mrs. _Philips_, he
writes thus;

    For they imperfect Trophies to you raise,
    You deserve Wonder, and they pay but Praise;
    A Praise which is as short of your great due.
    As all which yet have writ come short of you.


    In Pictures none hereafter will delight,
    You draw more to the Life in black and white;
    The Pencil to your Pen must yield the Place,
    This draws the Soul, where that draws but the Face.

But having thank'd these noble Lords for their Suffrage, we will proceed
to some other Witnesses of Quality: And first I beg leave to appeal to
my Lord Duke of _Buckinghamshire_, his Translation of _The Temple of

    Her Chains were Marks of Honour to the Brave,
    She made a Prince when e'er she made a Slave.


    By wounding me, she learnt the fatal Art,
    And the first Sigh she had, was from my Heart.

My Lord _Hallifax_'s Muse hath been very indulgent to _Monosyllables_,
and no Son of _Apollo_ will dare to dispute his Authority in this
Matter. Speaking of the Death of King _Charles_ the Second, and his
Improvement of Navigation, and Shipping; he says,

    To ev'ry Coast, with ready Sails are hurl'd,
    Fill us with Wealth, and with our Fame the World.


    Us from our Foes, and from our selves did shield.


    As the stout Oak, when round his Trunk the Vine
    Does in soft Wreaths, and amorous Foldings twine.

And again,

    In _Charles_, so good a Man and King, we see,
    A double Image of the Deity.
    Oh! Had he more resembled it! Oh why
    Was he not still more like; and cou'd not die?

My Lord _Landsdown_'s Muse, which may claim her Seat in the highest
Point of _Parnassus_, gives us these Instances of her Sentiments in our

    So own'd by Heaven, less glorious far was he,
    Great God of Verse, than I, thus prais'd by thee.

Again on _Mira's_ singing,

    The Slave that from her Wit or Beauty flies,
    If she but reach him with her Voice, he dies.

In such noble Company, I imagin Mr. _Addison_ will not be ashamed to
appear, thus speaking of Mr. _Cowley_;

    His Turns too closely on the Reader press;
    He more had pleas'd us, had he pleas'd us less.

And of Mr. _Waller_,

    Oh had thy Muse not come an Age too soon.

And of Mr. _Dryden_'s Muse,

    Whether in Comick Sounds or Tragick Airs
    She forms her Voice, she moves our Smiles or Tears.

And to his Friend Dr. _Sacheverell_,

    I've done at length, and now, dear Friend, receive
    The last poor Present that my Muse can give.
    And so at once, dear Friend and Muse, fare well.

To these let me add the Testimony of that Darling of the Muses, Mr.
_Prior_, with whom all the Poets of ancient and modern Times of other
Nations, or our own, might seem to have intrusted the chief Secrets, and
greatest Treasures of their Art. I shall speak only concerning our own
Island, where his Imitation of _Chaucer_, of _Spencer_, and of the old
_Scotch Poem_, inscribed the _Nut-Brown Maid_, shew how great a Master
he is, and how much every thing is to be valued which bears the Stamp of
his Approbation. And we shall certainly find a great deal to countenance
the use of _Monosyllables_ in his Writings. Take these Examples;

    Me all too mean for such a Task I weet.


    Grasps he the Bolt? we ask, when he has hurl'd the Flame.


    Nor found they lagg'd too slow, nor flew too fast.

And again,

    With Fear and with Desire, with Joy and Pain
    She sees and runs to meet him on the Plain.


    With all his Rage, and Dread, and Grief, and Care.

In his Poem in answer to Mrs. _Eliz. Singer_, on her Poem upon _Love_
and _Friendship_,

    And dies in Woe, that thou may'st live in Peace.

The only farther Example of _Monosyllabick Verses_ I shall insert here,
and which I cannot well omit, is what I wou'd desire the Author to apply
to his own Censure of _Monosyllables_, they are these which follow;

    Then since you now have done your worst,
    Pray leave me where you found me first.

            Part of the seventh Epistle of the first Book of _Horace_
              imitated, and address'd to a noble Peer, _p. ult_.

After so many Authorities of the Gentlemen, these few Instances from
some of our Female Poets, may I hope be permitted to take place. I will
begin with Mrs. _Philips_ on the Death of the Queen of _Bohemia_;

    Over all Hearts and her own Griefs she reign'd.

And on the Marriage of the Lord _Dungannon_,

    May the vast Sea for your sake quit his Pride,
    And grow so smooth, while on his Breast you ride,
    As may not only bring you to your Port,
    But shew how all things do your Virtues court.

To _Gilbert_ Lord Archbishop of _Canterbury_,

    That the same Wing may over her be cast,
    Where the best Church of all the World is plac'd.

Mrs. _Wharton_ upon the Lamentations of _Jeremiah_;

    Behold those Griefs which no one can repeat,
    Her Fall is steep, and all her Foes are great.

And my Lady _Winchelsea_ in her Poem entituled, _The Poor Man's Lamb_;

    Thus wash'd in Tears, thy Soul as fair does show
    As the first Fleece, which on the Lamb does grow.

Sir, from these numerous Instances, out of the Writings of our
greatest and noblest Poets, it is apparent, That had the Enmity
against _Monosyllables_, with which there are some who make so great
a Clamour, been so great in all Times, we must have been deprived of
some of the best Lines, and finest Flowers, that are to be met with in
the beautiful Garden of our _English_ Posie. Perhaps this may put our
Countreymen upon studying with greater Niceness the use of these kind
of Words, as well in the Heroick Compositions, as in the softer and
more gentle Strains. I speak not this, upon Confidence of any Judgment
I have in _Poetry_, but according to that Skill, which is natural to
the Musick of a _Northern Ear_, which, if it be deficient, as I shall
not be very obstinate in its Defence, I beg leave it may at least be
permitted the Benefit of Mr. _Dryden_'s Apology, for the Musick of old
Father _Chaucer_'s Numbers, "That there is the rude Sweetness of a
_Scotch_ Tune in it, which is natural and pleasing, tho' not perfect."

Sir, I must beg your Pardon for this long Digression, upon a Subject
which many will think does not deserve it: but if I have herein
discover'd some of the greatest Beauties of our _English_ Poets, it
will be more excusable, at least for the respect that is intended to
so noble an Art as theirs. But to suspect the worst, considering that
I am now writing a Preface, I am provided with another Apology from
Mr. _Dryden_, who cautions his Reader with this Observation, _That the
Nature of a Preface is Rambling, never wholly out of the way, nor in
it_. Yet I cannot end this Preface, without desiring that such as
shall be employ'd in _refining_ and _ascertaining_ our _English
Tongue_, may entertain better Thoughts both of the _Saxon Tongue_,
and of the Study of Antiquities. Methinks it is very hard, that those
who labour and take so much pains to furnish others with Materials,
either for Writing, or for Discourse, who have not Leisure, or Skill,
or Industry enough to serve themselves, shou'd be allowed no other
Instances of Gratitude, than the reproachful Title of Men of _low
Genius_, of which low Genius's it may be observed, that they carry
some Ballast, and some valuable Loading in them, which may be
despised, but is seldom to be exceeded in any thing truly valuable,
by light and fluttering Wits. But it is not to be wonder'd, that Men
of Worth are to be trampled upon, for otherwise they might stand in
the way of these Assumers; and indeed were it not for the Modesty of
their Betters, and their own Assurance, they wou'd not only be put out
of the way of those Expectations that they have, but out of all manner
of Countenance. There is a Piece of History that I have met with in
the Life of _Archbishop Spotswood_, that may not unfitly be remembered
on this Occasion, shewing that studious Men of a private Character are
not always to be reputed Men of _low Genius:_ "Nor were his Virtues
(says the History) buried and confined within the Boundaries of his
Parish, for having formerly had a Relation to the noble Family of
_Lenox_, he was looked upon as the fittest Person of his Quality to
attend _Lodowic_, Duke of _Lenox_, as his Chaplain in that honourable
Embassy to _Henry_ the fourth of _France_, for confirming the ancient
Amity between both Nations; wherein he so discreetly carried himself,
as added much to his Reputation, and made it appear that Men bred up
in the Shade of Learning might possibly endure the Sun-shine, and when
it came to their turns, might carry themselves as handsomly abroad,
as they (whose Education being in a more pragmatick way) usually
undervalue them."

But that of _low Genius_ is not the worst Charge which is brought
against the _Antiquaries_, for they are not allow'd to have so much
as common Sense, or to know how to express their Minds intelligibly.
This I learn from _a Dissertation on reading the Classicks, and
forming a just Stile_; where it is said, "It must be a great fault of
Judgment if where the Thoughts are proper, the Expressions are not so
too: A Disagreement between these seldom happens, but among Men of
more recondite Studies, and what they call deep Learning, especially
among your _Antiquaries_ and_ Schoolmen_." This is a good careless way
of talking, it may pass well enough for the _genteel Negligence_, in
short, such _Nonsense_, as _Our_ Antiquaries are seldom guilty of;
for Propriety of Thoughts, without Propriety of Expression is such a
Discovery, as is not easily laid hold of, except by such Hunters after
Spectres and Meteors, as are forced to be content with the Froth
and Scum of Learning, but have indeed nothing to shew of that deep
Learning, which is the effect of recondite Studies. And there was a
Gentleman, no less a Friend to polite Learning, but as good a judge of
it as himself, and who is also a Friend to Antiquities, who was hugely
pleased with the Humour of his saying _YOUR Antiquaries_, being very
ready to disclaim an Acquaintance with all such Wits, and who told
me the Antiquaries, were the Men in all the World who most contemn'd
_Your Men of Sufficiency and Self-conceit_. But here his Master
_Horace_ is quite slipt out of his Mind, whose Words are,

    Scribendi recte, sapere est & principium & fons.
    Rem tibi Socraticae poterunt ostendere chartae:
    Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur.

Thus translated by my Lord _Roscommon,

    Sound Judgment is the ground of writing well:
    And when Philosophy directs your Choice
    To proper Subjects rightly understood,
    Words from your Pen will naturally flow.

_Horace_'s _Sapere_, and my Lord _Roscommon_'s _Proper Subjects
rightly understood_, I take to be the same as _Propriety of Thought_,
and the _non invita sequentur, naturally flowing_, I take to import
the Fitness and Propriety of Expression. I also gather from hence,
that there is a very easy and natural Connexion between these two, and
these same Antiquaries of OURS, must be either very dull and stupid
Animals, or a strange kind of cross-gran'd and perverse Fellows, to be
always putting a Force upon Nature, and running out of a plain Road.
He must either insinuate that they are indeed such, or that _Horace_'s
Observation is not just, or that for the Word _invita_ we ought to
have a better reading, for which he will be forced to consult the
_Antiquaries_. I know not how some of the great Orators, he has
mention'd, will relish his Compliments upon the Score of Eloquence,
when he has said such hard things against Antiquaries; many of them,
and those of chief Note, were his Censure just and universal, must
of necessity be involv'd in it. For example, the late _Bishop_ of
_Rochester_, of whom, he says, "He was the correctest Writer of the
Age, and comes nearest the great Originals of _Greece_ and _Rome_, by
a studious Imitation of the Ancients." So that, as I take it, he was
an Antiquary: If he excludes _English Antiquities_, I desire him to
remember the present _Bishop_ of _Rochester_, of whom he has given
this true Character, "Dr. _Atterbury_ writeth with the fewest Faults,
and greatest Excellencies of any who have studied to mix Art and
Nature in their Compositions, _&c_." He hath however thought fit to
adorn the Subject of Antiquities with the Beauties of his Stile,
without any Force upon Nature, or the being obliged to forsake her
easy and unconstrain'd Method of applying proper Expressions to proper
Thoughts. The _Bishop_ of St. _Asaph_ hath shewn his Skill in
Antiquities, by more Instances than one; yet do I not find, that even
in the Opinion of this Gentleman, it hath spoil'd his Stile. I shall
add to these the late and present _Bishops_ of _Worcester_, the
former, Dr. _Stillingfleet_, is allow'd by all to have been one of
the most learned Men and greatest Antiquaries of his Age; and for the
present Bishop, who is also a learned Antiquary, take the Character
which is given of his Skill and Exactness in the _English_ Tongue from
[F]_Bishop Wilkins_;

  I must acknowledge my self obliged, saith he, to the continual
  Assistance I have had from my most learned and worthy Friend, Dr.
  _William Lloyd_, than whom (so far as I am able to judge) this
  Nation could not have afforded a fitter Person, either for that
  great Industry, or accurate Judgment, both in _Philological_, and
  _Philosophical_ Matters, required to such a Work. And particularly,
  I must wholly ascribe to him that tedious and difficult Task, of
  suiting the Tables to the _Dictionary_, and the drawing up of the
  _Dictionary_ itself, which, upon trial, I doubt not, will be found
  to be the most perfect, that was ever yet made for the _English

I will only farther beg leave to mention, the _Bishop_ of_ Carlisle_,
_Your Self_, and Dr. _Gibson_, who for good Spirit, masterly Judgment,
and all the Ornaments of Stile, in the several ways of Writing, may be
equalled with the best and most polite. To conclude, if this Preface
is writ in a Stile, that may be thought somewhat rough and too severe,
it is not out of any natural Inclination to take up a Quarrel, but
to do some Justice to the Study of Antiquities, and even of our own
Language itself, against the severe Censurers of both; whose Behaviour
in this Controversy has been such, as cou'd not have the Treatment it
deserved in a more modest or civil manner. If I am mistaken herein, I
beg Pardon: I might alledge that which perhaps might be admitted for
an Excuse, but that I will not involve the whole Sex, by pleading
Woman's Frailty. I confess I thought it would be to little purpose
to write an _English Saxon Grammar_, if there was nothing of Worth
in that Language to invite any one to the study of it; so that I
have only been upon the Defensive. If any think fit to take up Arms
against me, I have great Confidence in the Protection of the Learned,
the Candid, and the Noble; amongst which, from as many as bear the
Ensigns of St. _George_, I cannot doubt of that help, that true
Chevalrie can afford, to any Damsel in Distress, by cutting off the
Heads of all those Dragons, that dare but to open their Mouths, or
begin to hiss against her. But, Sir, before I conclude, I must do
you the Justice to insert an extract of two Letters from the Right
Honourable _D. P._ to the Reverend Dr. _R. Taylor_, relating to your
_Thesaurus. Lingg. Vett. Septentrion._ which indeed might more
properly have been placed in the eighth Page of this Preface, had
it come sooner to my Hands. It is as follows,

  --"The _Dean_'s Present, which I shall value as long as I live for
  his sake. _Dom. Mabillon_ was the first that told me of that Work,
  and said, that the Author was a truly learned Person, and not one
  of those Writers who did not understand their Subject to the
  bottom, but, said he, that learned Man is one of ten thousand."

   [Footnote F: See the Epistle to the Reader in the Essay towards
    a Real Character, p. 3.]

And in another Letter to the abovemention'd Dr._ Taylor_--. "When
_Dom. Mabillon_ first told me of it, he did not name the Author, so as
I understood who he was, but the Elogium he made of him, was indeed very
great, and I find that the _Dean_ in one Word, has done that worthy Man
Justice." This high Elogium of your self, and of your great Work, from so
renowned an Antiquary, as it is a great Defence and Commendation of the
_Old Northern Learning_, so is it the more remarkable, in that it was
given by one, against whom you had written in the most tender Point of
the Controversy, _De Re Diplomatica_, as may be seen in your _Lingg.
Vett. Septentr. Thesaur. Praefat. General._ p. _xxxvi_, &c.

Sir, I once more heartily beg your Pardon for giving you so much
trouble, and beg leave to give you my Thanks for the great Assistance
I have received in the _Saxon_ Studies from your learned Works, and
Conversation; and in particular for your favourable Recommendation of
my Endeavours, in a farther cultivating those Studies, who with sincere
Wishes for your good Health, and all imaginable Respect for a Person of
your Worth and Learning, am,


              Your Most Obliged,

                  Humble Servant,

                      _Elizabeth Elstob._

           *       *       *       *       *
               *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *       *

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: University of California


_General Editors_

University of Michigan

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles

Wm. Andrews Clark Memorial Library

Corresponding Secretary:
Mrs. EDNA C. DAVIS, Wm. Andrews Clark Memorial Library

THE SOCIETY exists to make available inexpensive reprints (usually
facsimile reproductions) of rare seventeenth and eighteenth century
works. The editorial policy of the Society remains unchanged. As in the
past, the editors welcome suggestions concerning publications. All income
of the Society it devoted to defraying cost of publication and mailing.

           *       *       *       *       *

Publications for the eleventh year [1956-57]

(At least six items, most of them from the following list, will be

_An Essay on the New Species of Writing Founded by Mr. Fielding_ (1751).
  Introduction by James A. Work.

Elizabeth Elstob, _An Apology for the Study of Northern Antiquities_
  (1715). Introduction by Charles Peake.

G. W. _Magazine, or Animadversions on the English Spelling_ (1703).

Anon., _The Needful Attempt, to make Language and Divinity Plain and
  Easie_ (1711). Introduction by David Abercrombie.

_Prefaces to Fiction._ Selected, with an introduction, by Claude E.

Samuel Johnson. _Notes to Shakespeare, Vol. II, Histories._ Edited by
  Arthur Sherbo. (A double issue)

_Parodies of Ballad Criticism._ Selected, with an introduction, by
  William K. Winsatt, Jr.

_Two Funeral Sermons._ Selected, with an introduction, by Frank L.

Richard Savage, _An Author to be Let_ (1732). Introduction by James

           *       *       *       *       *


*First Year (1946-1947)*

Numbers 1-6 out of print.

*Second Year (1947-1948)*

 7. John Gay's _The Present State of Wit_ (1711); and a section on Wit
    from _The English Theophrastus_ (1702).

 8. Rapin's _De Carmine Pastorali_, translated by Creech (1684).

 9. T. Hanmer's (?) _Some Remarks on the Tragedy of Hamlet_ (1736).

10. Corbyn Morris' _Essay towards Fixing the True Standards of Wit,
    etc._ (1744).

11. Thomas Purney's _Discourse on the Pastoral_ (1717).

12. Essays on the Stage, selected, with an Introduction by Joseph
    Wood Krutch.

*Third Year (1948-1949)*

13. Sir John Falstaff (pseud.), _The Theatre_ (1720).

14. Edward Moore's _The Gamester_ (1753).

15. John Oldmixon's _Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to Harley_
    (1712); and Arthur Mainwaring's _The British Academy_ (1712).

16. Nevil Payne's _Fatal Jealousy_ (1673).

17. Nicholas Rowe's _Some Account of the Life of Mr. William Shakespeare_

18. "Of Genius," in _The Occasional Paper_, Vol. III, No. 10 (1719);
    and Aaron Hill's Preface to _The Creation_ (1720).

*Fourth Year (1949-1950)*

19. Susanna Centlivre's _The Busie Body_ (1709).

20. Lewis Theobold's _Preface to The Works of Shakespeare_ (1734).

21. _Critical Remarks on Sir Charles Grandison, Clarissa, and Pamela_

22. Samuel Johnson's _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ (1749) and Two
    _Rambler_ papers (1750).

23. John Dryden's _His Majesties Declaration Defended_ (1681).

24. Pierre Nicole's _An Essay on True and Apparent Beauty in Which from
    Settled Principles is Rendered the Grounds for Choosing and Rejecting
    Epigrams_, translated by J.V. Cunningham.

*Fifth Year (1950-1951)*

25. Thomas Baker's _The Fine Lady's Airs_ (1709).

26. Charles Macklin's _The Man of the World_ (1792).

27. Out of print.

28. John Evelyn's _An Apologie for the Royal Party_ (1659); and
    _A Panegyric to Charles the Second_ (1661).

29. Daniel Defoe's _A Vindication of the Press_ (1718).

30. Essays on Taste from John Gilbert Cooper's _Letters Concerning
    Taste_, 3rd edition (1757), & John Armstrong's _Miscellanies_ (1770).

*Sixth Year (1951-1952)*

31. Thomas Gray's _An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard_ (1751);
    and _The Eton College Manuscript_.

32. Prefaces to Fiction; Georges de Scudery's Preface to _Ibrahim_
    (1674), etc.

33. Henry Gally's _A Critical Essay_ on Characteristic-Writings (1725).

34. Thomas Tyers' A Biographical Sketch of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1785).

35. James Roswell, Andrew Erskine, and George Dempster. _Critical
    Strictures on the New Tragedy of Elvira, Written by Mr. David
    Malloch_ (1763).

36. Joseph Harris's _The City Bride_ (1696).

*Seventh Year (1952-1953)*

37. Thomas Morrison's _A Pindarick Ode on Painting_ (1767).

38. John Phillips' _A Satyr Against Hypocrites_ (1655).

39. Thomas Warton's _A History of English Poetry_.

40. Edward Bysshe's _The Art of English Poetry_ (1708).

41. Bernard Mandeville's "A Letter to Dion" (1732).

42. Prefaces to Four Seventeenth-Century Romances.

*Eighth Year (1953-1954)*

43. John Baillie's _An Essay on the Sublime_ (1747).

44. Mathias Casimire Sarbiewski's _The Odes of Casimire_, Translated
    by G. Hils (1646).

45. John Robert Scott's _Dissertation on the Progress of the Fine Arts._

46. Selections from Seventeenth Century Songbooks.

47. Contemporaries of the _Tatler_ and _Spectator_.

48. Samuel Richardson's Introduction to _Pamela_.

*Ninth Year (1954-1955)*

49. Two St. Cecilia's Day Sermons (1696-1697).

50. Hervey Aston's _A Sermon Before the Sons of the Clergy_ (1745).

51. Lewis Maidwell's _An Essay upon the Necessity and Excellency of
    Education_ (1705).

52. Pappity Stampoy's _A Collection of Scotch Proverbs_ (1663).

53. Urian Oakes' _The Soveriegn Efficacy of Divine Providence_ (1682).

54. Mary Davys' _Familiar Letters Betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady_ (1725).

*Tenth Year (1955-1956)*

55. Samuel Say's _An Essay on the Harmony, Variety, and Power of
    Numbers_ (1745).

56. _Theologia Ruris, sive Schola & Scala Naturae_ (1686).

57. Henry Fielding's _Shamela_ (1741).

58. Eighteenth Century Book Illustrations.

59. Samuel Johnson's _Notes to Shakespeare_. Vol. I, Comedies, Part I.

60. Samuel Johnson's _Notes to Shakespeare_. Vol. I, Comedies, Part II.

           *       *       *       *       *

  as changed by transcriber:

  _Introduction_, first paragraph:
    (Augustan Reprint Society, 1948)
  _printed text reads_
    (Auguston Reprint Society, 1948)

  under _Publications for the eleventh year_:

  G. W. _Magazine, or Animadversions on the English Spelling_ (1703).

  Anon., _The Needful Attempt, to make Language and Divinity Plain and
    Easie_ (1711). Introduction by David Abercrombie.

  _printed text_ leaves no space between these two items

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of An Apology For The Study of Northern
Antiquities, by Elizabeth Elstob


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