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Blemishes & Defects.
HENRY H. BREEN, ESQ. F.S.A.
"La vérité qui blâme est plus honorable que la vérité qui loue."
J. J. ROUSSEAU.
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMANS,
270. a. 10.
THE few introductory remarks, which I have to offer, have reference chiefly to the Chapters on "Composition,' ," "Blunders," and "Mannerism."
Being persuaded that imaginary examples of errors seldom make any impression on the reader, I have, in every instance, cited the name of the author, together with the title of the work from which the quotation is made. When practicable or convenient, I have given several examples, and from different writers. The more the reader is convinced of the prevalence of any error, the more likely he will be to guard against the occurrence of it in his own writings. In no case, however, does this prevalence amount to what Quintilian calls the consensus eruditorum. It is admitted that a mode of speech, however faulty when first introduced, ceases to have that
character as soon as it sanction of the learned.
I speak are generally the inadvertency, neither of
receives the express The errors of which result of ignorance or which can be said to
imply concurrence or consent. Moreover, in instance where I cite an erroneous locution, I can quote far more numerous examples of the correct form.
From the list of authors quoted, I have excluded-1st, our poets of every period and degree; deeming it superfluous to quote errors which might be defended or excused on the score of poetical license, rhythm, and even rhyme; 2ndly, with three or four exceptions, the writers who flourished before the present century. Errors which are wholly inexcusable at the present day, may well be pardoned in an age when the rules of our syntax were comparatively undetermined.
The examples are thus confined to the writers of our own time, and among these to our chief historians and essayists. No one is surprised to hear that ungrammatical forms of speech are to be met with, at every page, in that species of literary production, to which we apply the terms
""current," "fugitive." It was always so,
and will continue so to the end of time. It is so in the same department of literature in other countries, and there is no reason why ours should be an exception to the common lot. But that the grossest solecisms and the most palpable blunders should be of frequent occurrence in those who claim to occupy the highest place in the republic of letters, is what few may be prepared to admit.
Much has been written in our day on the English Language;" on the "Rise, Progress, and Present Structure of the English Language;' on "English Past and Present;" on the "Study of Language;" on the "Study of Words;" on "English Synonymes;" and on “ English Grammar." But of what avail are all those writings, if, when we come to put our words together, to combine them for the main purpose for which they are designed, we show ourselves deficient in artistic skill? What would be thought of the painter who could expatiate on the properties of colours, yet should be incapable of making a judicious disposition of them on canvass ? What of the architect who could