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Fourth. Every morning as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street, and wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest.
All the difficulty will be in the first two or thiree days; after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the present irregularity : for, ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute. Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he shall go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and having had eight hours sleep, he will rise more willingly at four the morning following. But this sum of ninety-six millions and seventy-five thousand livres is not the whole of what may be saved by my æconomical projeet. You may observe, that I have calculated upon only one half the year, and much may be saved in the other, though the days are shorter. Besides, the immense stock of wax and tallow left unconsumed during the summer, will probably make candles much cheaper for the ensuing winter, and continue cheaper as long as the proposed reformation shall be supported.
For the great benefit of this discovery, thus freely communicated and bestowed by me on the public, I demand neither place, pension, exclusive privilege, nor any other reward whatever. I expect only to have the honour of it. And yet I know there are little envious minds who will, as usual, deny me this, and say that my invention was known to the ancients, and perhaps they may bring passages out of the old books in proof of it. I will not dispute with these people that the ancients knew not the sun would rise at certain hours; they possibly had, as we have, almanacks that predicted it: but it does not follow from thence that they knew he gave light as soon as he rose.
This is what I claim as my discovery. If the ancients knew it, it must long since have been forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at least to the Parisians ; which to prove I need use but one plain simple argument. They are as well instructed, judi
cious, and prudent a people as exist any where in the world, all professing, like myself, to be lovers of economy; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the necessities of the state, have surely reason to be ceconomical. I say it is impossible that so sensi. ble a people, under such circumstances should have lived so long by the smoky, unwholesome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really known that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing
I am, &c.
ON MODERN INNOVATIONS.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE, AND IN
To Noau WEBSTER, Jun. Esq. AT HARTFORD.
Philadelphia, Dec. 26, 1789.
I RECEIVED, some time since, your Dissertations on the English Language. It is an excellent work, and will be greatly useful in turning the thoughts of our countrymen to correct writing. Please to accept my thanks for it, as well as for the great honour you have done me in its dedication, I ought to have made this acknowledgment sooner, but much indisposition prevented me.
I cannot but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language both in its expression and pro
nunciation, and in correcting the popular errors several of our states are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may already have occurred to you. I wish, however, that in some future publica. tion of yours you would set a discountenancing mark upon them, The first I remember, is the word im. proved. When I left New England in the year 1723, this word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated, or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mathers, entitled, Remarkable providences. As that man wrote a very obscure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word employed, I conjectured that it was an error of the printer, who had mistaken a short l in the writing for an r and a y with too short a tail for a v, whereby employed was converted into improved : but when I returned to Boston in 1733, I found this change had obtained favour, and was then become common; for I met with it often in perusing the newspapers, where it frequently made an appearance rather ridiculous. Such, for instance, as the advertisement of a country house to be sold, which had been many years improved as a tavern ; and in the character of a deceased country gentleman, that he had been, for more than thirty years, improved as a justice of the peace. This use of the word improve is peculiar to New England, and not to be met with among any other speakers of English, either on this or the other side of the water.
During my late absence in France, I find that several other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language. For example, I find a verb formed from the substantive notice. I should not have noticed this, where it not that the gentleman, &c. Also another verb from the substantive advocate ; The gentleman who advocates, or who has advocated that inotion, &c. Another from the substantive progress, the most awkward and abominable of the three : The committee having progressed, resolved to adjourn. The
word opposed, though not a new word, I find used in a new manner, as, The gentlemen who are opposed to this measure, to which I have also myself always been opposed. If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them.
The Latin language, long the vehicle used in distributing knowledge among the different nations of Europe, is daily more and more neglected ; and one of the modern tongues, viz. French, seem in point of universality, to have supplied its place. It is spoken in all the courts of Europe; and most of the literati, those even who do not speak it, have acquired a knowledge of it, to enable them easily to read the books that are written in it. This gives a considerable advantage to that nation. It enables its authors to inculcate and spread through other nations, such sentiments and opinions, on important points, as are most condu. cive to its interests, or which may contribute to its reputation, by promoting the common interests, of mankind. It is, perhaps, owing to its being written in French, that Voltaire's Treatise on Toleration has had so sudden and so great an effect on the bigotry of Eu. rope, as almost entirely to disarm it. The general use of the French language has likewise a very advantageous effect on the profits of the bookselling branch of commerce, it being well known, that the more copies can be sold that are struck off from one composition of types, the profits increase in a much greater proportion than they do in making a greater number of pieces in any other kind of manufacture. And at present there is no capital town in Europe without a French bookseller's shop corresponding with Paris. Our English bids fair to obtain the second place. The great body of excellent printed sermons in our language, and the freedom of our, writings on political subjects, have induced a great number of divines of different sects and nations, as well as gentlemen concerned in public affairs to study it, so far at least as to read it. And if we were to
endeavour the facilitating its progress, the study of our tongue might become much more general. Those who have employed some part of their time in learning a new language, must have frequently observed, that while their acquaintance with it was imperfect, difficulties, small in themselves, operated as great ones in obstructing their progress. A book for example, ill printed, or a pronunciation in speaking not well articulated, would render a sentence unintelligible, which from a clear print, or a distinct speaker, would have been immediately comprehended. If therefore, we would have the benefit of seeing our language more generally known among mankind, we should endeavour to remove all the difficulties, however small, that discourage the learning of it. But I am sorry to observe, that of late years, those difficulties, instead of being diminished, have been augmented.
In examining the English books that were printed between the restoration and the accession of George the Second, we may observe, that all substantives were begun with a capital, in which we imitated our mother tongue, the German. This was more particularly useful to those who were not well acquainted with the English, there being such a prodigious number of our words that are both verbs and substantives, and spelt in the same manner, though often accented differently in pronunciation. This method has, by the fancy of printers, of late years, been entirely laid aside ; from an idea, that suppressing the capitals shews the character to greater advantage; those letters, prominent above the line, disturbing its even, regular appearance. The effect of this change is so considerable, that a learned man in France, who used to read our books, though not perfectly acquainted with our language, in conversation with me on the subject of our authors, attributed the greater obscurity he found in our modern books, compared with those written in the period above mentioned, to change of style for the worse in our writers; of which mistake I convinced him, ,by marking for him each substantive with a capital, in a