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The author sends this little work into the world, not as a mere outlet for mental restlessness, or from any morbid affection for authorship; but because he conscientiously believes that some such manual is among the wants of the day.
His intention is to furnish, in a concise form, the results of recent philological inquiries into the structure and history of the English language. How far he has succeeded in presenting these results in an intelligible manner to the young student, the public alone can decide.
The author candidly pleads guilty to a very limited acquaintance with existing English grammars. The few he consulted discouraged him, and he read no more. Had he been more persevering, his book would doubtless have been improved. At the same time he is anxious to indicate the real sources of his information, and thankfully to acknowledge the assistance he has received.
Although frequently dissenting from the views entertained by Dr. Latham, he has availed himself largely of the valuable materials accumulated in that writer's interesting contributions to the history of the English language,—contributions the more meritorious, as having served as pioneers to prepare and smooth the way for future investigation.
Many valuable hints have been gathered from the able papers contributed by various writers to the Proceedings of the Philological Society.
But it is to one writer preeminently that the author is anxious to acknowledge the full extent of his obligations. Whatever philological information he possesses is due directly or indirectly to the teaching, writings, or conversation of Professor Key. There are few pages in this volume which do not contain some indication of principles for which the author, in common with all writers who enter the interesting field of Comparative Grammar, is indebted to that distinguished philologist's acute criticism and varied research. Where the obligation is of so universal a character, it would be unprofitable to burden the body of the work with special references, even if a treacherous memory did not render such reference in many cases impossible. But the author cannot refrain from directing the reader's attention to the sections on Diminutives, and referring him for fuller information to the able papers on that subject in the Proceedings of the Philological Society (1856, pp. 219-295).
The author invites the attention of thoughtful teachers to the more perfect exhibition of the Verb, and to the double form of the Gerund, presented probably for the first time in these pages as an integral element in an English Grammar. A careful consideration of the author's views will materially assist in explaining many obscure and anomalous constructions in our mother-tongue. Our language may fairly pride itself on the possession of a Verb more perfect and philosophical in its development than that of any ancient or modem European language; but it has hitherto received scant justice at the hands of popular writers on the subject.
UNrvEBSrrY College, London,