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false tongue ? Sharp arrows of ON THE EVILS OF BACKBITING. the Almighty, with coals of juni
per.” Even among the profesPEACE, harmony, and love are sors in primitive times, this spirit some of the graces of the Divine was unhappily found to exist. Spirit, which ereate a little heaven St. Paul thus complains against upon earth, wherever they are some belonging to the Corinthian found to prevail ; while the church: “I sear, lest when I contrary tempers must have just come, I shall not find you such the contrary effects.
as I would ; and that I shall be The sin of backbiting stands found unto you such as ye would registered in the word of God, not : lest there be debates, not only as a great evil in itself, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbut as being very mischievous bitings, whisperings, swellings, in its consequences and effects. tumults.” But it is enough fürIt is a great evil in itself: it is ther to observe, that it is a direct recorded as being one of the violation of the ninth command ; worst of crimes committed by the while the evil consequences Heathen world, who are said to which attend a backbiting spirit be full of envy, murder, debate, are incalculable. Chief friends deceit, and malignity. From are separated thereby ; and the these principles, we have next spirit of mutual patience, forbearwhisperers and backbiters; while ance, brotherly love, and all these even on the same list are next milder graces, which so emia registered the haters of God.* nently belong to the Christian The Psalmist observes, that such character, are entirely forgotten are not to be reckoned among and thrown aside. It were well the real citizens of Sion"; for he, if all professors would but rethe real citizen, “ speaketh the member, “ that the tongue is a truth in his heart, he backbiteth fire,-a world of iniquity :" not with his tongue, nor doeth that it " defileth the whole body, evil to his neighbour, nor taketh and setteth on fire the course up a reproach against his neigh- of nature, and is set on fire of bour;”+ and in the fiftieth Psalm hell ;” and that “it is an unruly we have the following sharp re- evil, which no man can tame.” buke of the same evil : “ Thou Now, notwithstanding thesegivest thy mouth to evil, and thy evils are so glaring, and the contongue frameth deceit : thou sequences so pernicious, yet sittest and speakest against thy there is scarce a backbiter upon brother; thou slanderest thine the earth who cannot make an exown mother's son :” and in the cuse for his crime. I mention 120th Psalm, David offers up this some of them : “ I spoke nothprayer against the same evil : ing but the truth ; and where is & Deliver my soul, O Lord, from the harm of that ?” But we are lying lips, and from a deceitful never in a right spirit, or fit to tongue ;” and then adds, “What speak at all, but as we are enabled shall be given unto thee, or what to speak the truth in love. Let shall be done unto thee, thou such apologists for themselves
* Rom. i. 19, &c. † Ps. xv. 2, 3.
* See James iii. 5, &c.
ask their consciences the fol- ashamed of himself that he ever lowing question : “ Are they wrote at all? ready to repeat the same words, Of the same description, I conand in the same spirit, they ceive, are the writers of anonyformerly uttered behind your mous pamphlets. I mean so far back, when they next meet you as the characters and sentiments face to face ?" Besides, as most of individuals are attacked. If backbiters speak at random, and such sort of opponents mean a by mere report, where would be fair and honourable attack, why the harm of going personally to not first make themselves known such people, that if falsely accus-, to the persons whose sentiments ed they may have a fair opportuni- or conduct they design to oppose! ty of explaining themselves ? It If we have no party designs, or is amazing, what astonishing mis- any other unjustifiable motives, chief is done by the false colour- why secrete our names. And ing that is frequently put upon
does it not bear the mark of that the words and actions of others, which is very mean and cowardquite the reverse of their real ly, in a very high degree? In purpose and design !
short, truth is fair and open, This sin of backbiting, per- and loves to appear best in the haps, may discover itself by other light.
light. Let truth and love be vehicles, than by the tongue. guides to each other, and the When the envenomed anony- world will be a thousand times mous letter-writer sends you his happier than it is. I find, howrancorous charge, is not he a ever, that I am on a subject that backbiter ? First, You may al- will soon outgrow my design. most depend upon it, that he is Short papers are best for magajust as free with his tongue as he zines. I drop these hints that is with his pen. Then let his others may take up the same subcharges be ever so cruel and un- ject, especially as it is so much just, he gives you no opportunity calculated to promote the generto speak for yourself, while he al good. May peace be within perplexes your mind with a thou- the walls of all our houses ! sand suspicions against others, May peace restupon Zion Dot knowing who this clandestine universally! And writer can be. If he writes in a peace of God, which passeth all good spirit, need he be ashamed understanding, keep all of his name? If he writes in a hearts and minds through Jesus bad spirit, should he not be Christ our Lord !” Ev. Mag.
Review of the Eclectic Review.
Concluded from page 84.
THE Reviewers allege that the which a word directly comes to ours, omission of u in honor, favor, &c. whatever its origin may have been." militates against a rule adhered to in This rule was followed by Dr. questionable cases; that of preferring Johnson in many cases, with evident the orthography of the language from propriety, because it best answered
the purpose of writing, which is to language exhibits a series of contra, represent sounds to the eve, and in dictions and absurdities, partial cormany cases, the orthography of words rections, mixed with gross blunders, received from the Latin, through the and repeated efforts of the learned to French nation, is best adapted to ex- refine and improve it, without reject. press the pronunciation, as in the ex- ing numberless barbarisms. For ample Johnson gives, entire, instead of merly all words of the class under integer.
consideration were written with u; But to the Reviewers, it may be re- authour, debtour, candour, inferiour, an plied, that retaining u does not pre- cestour, traitour, &c. without any ref. serve the French orthography of the erence to the question, whether they words mentioned, which is honeur, fa. were of French or Latin original. veur ; and therefore the rule, if just, The English have retrenched u from is not applicable to the case. The the whole class, except perhaps ten French acted with wisdom in adapting or twelve. We are pursuing the al. the orthography to their pronuncia.
teration to a uniform consistent rule ; tion; and this is an unanswerable the omission of uis now the prevailing reason why the English should not fol- usage in the United States ; and as low them, for their spelling does not far as respects this class of words, it suit the English pronunciation. is an improvement which ought to be
The rule, however, is far from be. encouraged. ing generally adopted in our estab- The Reviewers are far from expectlished practice ; nor can it be adopt. ing that the public will approve of ed as a general rule, for in a multi
of my corrections of orthog. tude of cases, it is impossible to know raphy ; yet they express their own apwhether a word was taken originally probation of particular instances. In from the Latin or the French. In general they observe that a lexicog. deed a careful inspection of particu- rapher should adopt the prevailing lar words and classes of words will orthography of the age in which he show that no general rule has been writes. This rule, if received without followed. We write legal and lateral. qualification, is fraught with mischief Is this the Latin orthography, omit- to our language. Indeed it is imting the termination ? Or is it the practicable; for in some classes of masculine gender of the French ? If words, the usage is not ascertainable, so, why do we write motive, figurative, the orthography being unsettled. relative, the feminine gender of the
But the rule itself contradicts the French, and not the masculine motif, principle adopted in every other figuratif, relatif. If we have follow- branch of literature, that errors are to ed the Latin in legal and lateral, why be corrected, when discovered or clearly not in futile, volatile, omitting the ter- proved to be such. Dr. Johnson ad. mination, futil, volatil. We have re
hered to the rule generally, as laid ceived many words in ic from the down by the Reviewers, but not with. French ique ; perhaps public, music: out exceptions. He deriated from yet we have conformed to the Greek the principle" Quid te exempta and Roman originals in the orthogra. juvat spinis de pluribus una ?” Why phy. Wordis in ous deviate from the correct one error, when you cannot French as well as the Latin, as odious, correct the whole ? For in words, precious. Nourish, flourish, debt, doubt, where the oribiography had been indorse, &c. are neither Latin nor “ altered by accident or depraved by French, Confessor, predecessor, pro, ignorance," he held it to be his duty tector are from the French confesseur, to inquire into the true orthography, predecesseur, prosecteur, yet always by tracing them to their originals, and written without 11; and what crowns the deciding in favor of the etymology. contradictions on this subject, is, that See Preface to his Dictionary. I hate even those, who pretend to follow the pursued the same rule ; and have at, Fiench in honour, favour, depart from tempted only the correction of a fers it in the derivatives, honourable, fico palpable mistakes and incongruities. vourable, which the French write Nor ought any lexicographer to de. without u, honorable, favorable. cide every case by numbers. When
The truth is, the history of our the practice is unsettled, it is his du.
ty to inquire into the original of words, der them perpetual? What, because and establish that orthography which former writers were negligent, or is etymologically correct, or which is failed of arriving at truthi, by ill-dibest snited to give the true pronuncia- rected researches, are posterity obligtion. In selecting authorities, heed to recognize their mistakes ? ought not to be guided exclusively by The Reviewers themselves have dea majority of numbers ; but when he cided this principle, in their refinds a smaller numbe. who are cor- marks on each and either; for they rect upon principle, he should decide say, “ if Sason writers, and the transin favor of their practice, in prefer- lators of the Bible confounded the ence to the authority of greater num- proper meanings of these words, did bers who are evidently wrong. There they bind all their posterity to do the is an obvious propensity in writers to same ?” In that case the question is a regular orthography, a strong incli- inapplicable, for no such confusion is nation to purify the language from its found. But the Reviewers, in one barbarisms, which, in defiance of case, admit the right in posterity to custom, gradually corrects a mistake, alter, correct and improve language; lops off an excrescence, and retrenches which right, in another case, they superfluity. Thus, since the days of deny. Dr. Johnson, publick, musick, politick, But I will never degrade the busi&c. have lost the k; deposit and repos. ness of lexicography, by complying it, bave lost e; u is retrenched from with the erroneous principle of ad. many words, as ambassador, error, &c. hiering, in every case, to common and the merchant who should follow usage. I will not, like the English Johnson's spelling of the words ensur- lexicographers, sanction what is ad. ance, endorsement, would not escape mitted, on all hands, to be wrong. ridicule. Some of the greatest au- What, shall I admit the barbarous thors in the English nation wrote ex- word comptroller, because this oramin, determin, imagin; among thography can claim the authority of these are Camden in his Britannia
; conmon usage? Shall I, like Johnson, Lhuyd in his Archeologia, and Dave- introduce it with the authority of nant on the revenues of England. Shakespeare, Temple, and Dryden ?* Newton, Camden, Lhuyd, Hooke, Far be from me such a dereliction of Prideaux, Whiston, Bolingbroke, my duty. The lexicographer's busiMiddleton wrote scepter, theater, ness is to search for truth, to proscribe sepulcher, &c. Pope, Dryden, Hoole, error, and repress anomaly. This is Camden, Thompson, Goldsmith, Ed. the only direct and easy method to Kvards' Hist. of w. Indies, Gregory, purify our language from the corrup&c. wrote correctly mold, for mould. tions and barbarisms entailed lipon it How shall these diversities be pre- by the Norman conquest, and by the vented? A certain part of writers ignorance and negligence of writers. will spurn the chains of authority, Few men have an opportunity to inand prefer correctness to custom ; vestigate the origin of words. Most while others from indolence, conve. men even of letters confide in the de. nience, or ignorance, will follow their lexicons. There is therefore but one * I take this opportunity to correct a plain rule for the lexicographer to mistake in the Preface to my Dictionapursue, that of determining doubtful ry, page 17 ; in which I have repreCases by etymology or analogy. A sented
Fohnson as having mistaken the regular orthography, or that which et vmology of this word. This is an erfalls into established analogies, is the ror occasioned by my misapprehending highest authority; and to this, after his meaning an error, I believe, that some struggles with habits, men will has been coinmon.
Johnson mentions ultimately submit.
the mistake of others; but by setting Is it not the most mischierous doc. down comptroll, and its derivatives, trine, that we must be bound by com. with the exemplifications, he has, di. mon usage, whether right or wrong? rectly contrary to his intentions, spread Must we sanction the most obvious the use of this orthography-as gross a errors, and add our authority to ren- blunder as ever was made.
cisions of lexicographers ; for which ty in natimal practice. This cager. reason the compilers of dictionaries ness to give books a currency by im. should not be "dabblers in etymolo. itating particular men of popular gy,” as many of them have been ; but fame, tends to unsettle established men of deep research, and of accurate usages, and keep the language in philological knowledge. Compilers perpetual fluctuation. of this character, instead of transcribe The effort of the Reviewers to vin. ing and sanctioning the errors of wri- dicate the English practice of giving ters, who had no authority but the to a its long sound in angel, ancient, errors of their predecessors, who have which is also the practice in some of immemorially copied the same mis. these states, is beyond measure fee. takes, would gradually acquire a do. bie. What, " a strong accent” give minion over practice, subdne its to a its long sound, in angel, ancient, anomalies, and improve the language. and not in angle, anguish, annual, an
The Reviewers remark, that in gry, anchor, anecdote, c. ! Surely speaking of pronunciation, I have the Gentlemen cannot be serious. It passed no censure on the accenchuation is far better to admit the real fact at and grachulation of Walker, nor on once, that the practice is a departure the furnichur and multichoud of Sher- from the original sound of the letter, idan, which they condemn. But the in Greek and Latin, and from the Gentlemen misapprehend my motive analogies of other English words. in making a comparison between Let me add that the Americans do Sheridan, Walker and Jones, in the not pronource a in angel, ancient, as class of words to which they refer. It they do in command. was not for the purpose of censuring In the criticism upon the orthogra. either; but to exhibit the diversities phy of though the Reviewers may be of practice and opinion among stand. correct ; and this is the only point in ard authors. I can however assure which their strictures wear to me an the Reviewers, that in the instances appearance of correctness. I had mentioned, as in many other words, well weighed the facts which they I do heartily agree with them in giv- have suggested. The original oring the preference to Jones.
thography, theah, theh, thoth, I had ex. In respect to the pronunciation of amivedi, and carefully considered the words, the Reviewers concur with my primitive guttural sound of h. Still I criticisms, in some instances, and dis- amn not satisfied with Mr. H. Tooke's sent from them in others. The next opinion that theah, and thof are from club of Reviewers will probably give the same root. Thof is certainly the a directly contrary opinion. The firct imperative of thafian, to allow ; but I is, no country, city, village or private have a strong suspicion that theah is club can be found in which all the in- from the same root as the Latin do, dividuals can agree upon the pronun- dare to give-in the imperative da ciation of certain words. All men or tha, wbich we see in the Celtic prefer the pronunciation to which daigham. But I prefer the orthogra. they have been accustomed. The phy, tho, as it gives the pronunciation, preference is determined by habit, without obscuring the etymology, and rather than by principle ; except in makes an obvious distinction to the young men ambitious of fame, who eye, between though and through. seek to imitate the pronunciation of On the subject of a repugnance some popular speaker, upon the stage among the learned to a reformation or at the bar. But the lexicographer of orthography, I wish to be in. should not be misied hv bis habits, dulged in a few general remarks. nor biassed by the caprices of emi- 1st, My own attempts go no further nent men. The lexicographer who than a correction of obvious errors attempts to change the common pro. and inconsistencies. nunciation of words, upon the author. 21. Philosophical precision in ority of a distinguished player, or a thography is found in no modern lan, "great luminary of the law,"* pre- guage, nor is it necessary. cludes the possibility of uniformi- 3il. The material anomalies in tho
orthography of the English lan, ! See Walker, under the word record. Sunye might be corrected without