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of the literary history of the country. Several of them united in forming an association for literary intercourse, and for conducting a periodical and miscellaneous journal, which they entitled The Monthly Anthology. Among the associates were John S. Gardiner, William Emerson, John T. Kirkland, William Tudor, Arthur M. Walter, Joseph S. Buckminster, Samuel C. Thacher, and others, some of whom still survive. All here named, except Dr. Gardiner, who was educated in England, and those not named, with two or three exceptions, received their discipline in English composition at Harvard College, under the rigid inspection of Dr. Pearson, an exact grammatical and logical critic. What they had well begun they pursued with ardor. Many of them were eminent scholars, and widely conversant with the Greek and Latin, as well as the English, classics. In their associated authority they visited with severe criticism contemporaneous publications of professional and literary men, not overlooking single occasional sermons, and orations delivered before large assemblies on national festive days, and before literary and charitable associations. In this way their critical commentaries reached a large portion of our educated men, who were thus put upon their guard with a degree of strictness corresponding to that exercised by the sentinels.
Contemporaneously with the endeavours of the associated conductors of the Anthology, in the capital of New England, to preserve the purity of the English language, we were admonished, in a manner sometimes friendly and sometimes supercilious, of our degeneracy in the use of our mother tongue, by writers in the British journals. In whatever spirit the admonitions were administered, their operation was salutary in the end. If the authors of them were hypercritical, we had scholars who were competent to expose their exaggerations. If they drew general conclusions from few examples, we were able to show the fallacy of their inferences.
The Edinburgh Review, in the period of its youth (October, 1804), took notice of Marshall's and Ramsay's Lives of Washington. The reviewers said, "We have found a great many words and phrases which English criticism refuses to acknowledge." To show that they were not influenced by jealousy or pride, they added generous and enlarged wishes and anticipations in regard to the prosperity and glory of the United States, to the triumphs VOL. LXIV. · - No. 134.
therein of the English language, and to the alliance of interest and affection between the two countries. "But," they said, "if the men of birth and education in that other England, which they are building up in the west, will not diligently study the great authors who purified and fixed the language of our common forefathers, we must soon lose the only badge that is still worn of our consanguinity."
For several succeeding years, we continued to receive warning and advice from writers in various British periodical publications, in relation to the purity and integrity of our common language. The American works which gave occasion to their remarks were few in number. Marshall's, Ramsay's, and Bancroft's biographies of Washington, Pinckney's Travels through France, and Stoddard's Sketches of Louisiana, were among the prominent books that fell under
The British Critic (1808), in a review of Marshall, says, "We have often discovered, in the writings of Americans, deviations from the purity of the English idiom, which we have been more disposed to censure than to wonder at. common speech of the United States has departed very considerably from the standard adopted in England. Mr. Marshall deviates occasionally, but not grossly." In the same work, two years later, the reviewers of Bancroft's Life of Washington say, "We observe with regret rather than with astonishment the introduction of several new words, or old words in a new sense; a deviation from the rules of the English language, which, if it continues to be practised by good writers in America, will introduce confusion into the medium of intercourse, and render it a subject of regret that the people should not have an entirely separate language.
The Critical Review (1807), speaks more disparagingly of Marshall's style than does the British Critic, saying, that "it abounds with many of those idioms which prevail on the other side of the Atlantic."
The Annual Review (1808), after commenting upon the faults of Marshall, concludes with a harsh, indiscriminate censure of the American writers, spiced with a sly sarcasm for the benefit of the Yankee nation. "We have been more particular," say the reviewers," in noticing the faults of Mr. Marshall's language, because we are not at all certain that the Americans do not consider them as beauties; and because
we wish, if possible, to stem that torrent of barbarous phraseology, with which the American writers threaten to destroy the purity of the English language."
All these things, and more like them, were written before the sarcastic question, "Who reads an American book?" was propounded. How far the critics were conscious of magnifying the danger which seemed to threaten the purity of the English language, as written and spoken in the United States, and whether they did not affect a good deal, in respect to the extent of the fears which they expressed lest its identity with genuine English should be lost or destroyed, we will not undertake to decide. Nor is it of any importance that we should. There is no reason to think that they combined for the purpose of exciting a causeless alarm. In regard to danger there was no question. It had already begun; and the true question was about the degree, and how it was to be arrested. It was a matter of mutual interest; and if some of us were too sensitive under rebuke, for the moment, we were wise enough afterwards to con it in private, and not subject ourselves to its repetition.
On the other hand, the English critics knew, that, while we were daily feasting on the classic productions of our fatherland, we were also advancing in literature, in the arts and sciences, and in a more critical study and careful use of the common language. After all, they must have been aware that occasional deviations from the English standard would occur, entitled, if they were not wilful, to as much indulgence as was claimed by Beattie, Campbell, and Burke, for their national peculiarities in the use of words and phrases.
To show the true state of the case in regard to departure from English usage in the written and spoken language of our countrymen, that eminent scholar, the late John Pickering, after making the subject a diligent study among his other various avocations, communicated to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences the result of his investigations, which was inserted in its Memoirs in 1815. In the following year he published the communication in a separate volume, "with corrections and additions." The book is entitled, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases, which have been supposed to be peculiar to the United States of America to which is prefixed an Essay on the Present State of the English Language in the United States."
In his preface to the Vocabulary, Mr. Pickering says,"I began the practice of occasionally noting Americanisms and expressions of doubtful authority, for my own use, during my residence in London; which was from the close of the year 1799 to the autumn of 1801." At the beginning of this period, he was twenty-three years old, and had already gained the well deserved reputation of a distinguished classical scholar. It was not until several years after his return from London, that he formed the plan of his Vocabulary. But the materials which he had preserved, his extensive reading, and his habits of observation, together with his critical accuracy and literary ardor, lead us to believe that his Vocabulary is as comprehensive, in respect to the words and phrases then supposed to be peculiar to the United States, as could be expected in a first attempt to collect them. The work was very useful, not only by enabling our writers and public speakers to correct errors of language already existing, but by exciting such attention to the subject as to prevent the accumulation of local peculiarities. These effects were very manifest. At the same time, it was gratifying to find, that the charges made against us, in regard to our abuses of the English language, were greatly exaggerated.
A period of one generation has passed since this Vocabulary was published, and we have now carefully examined it. The examination has led to some facts relating to the history of the English language during this period, which appear to us worthy of being recorded.
The whole number of new words, single and compounded, of American origin, contained in the Vocabulary, is about eighty; certainly less than a hundred, including the cant and vulgar words, not used by good writers in grave discourse. Of these, a few are words contained in English dictionaries, but not used by British writers. Several are such as had been used by a single American writer; namely, alienism, Americanize, anxietude, &c., which have not been adopted. Joel Barlow was probably the greatest offender of this kind. Another considerable portion consists of words analogically formed, which do not endanger the purity of language, and may be used or avoided according to the taste of the writer or speaker. Of this class are accountability, christianization, constitutional, noticeable, profanity, educational. political and religious institutions, and peculiar local customs
and usages, have given rise to a considerable number of such words. Of the remaining supposed new words, being, for the most part, old words revived, or verbs made from nouns without any change of form,- a process admitting, indeed, an indefinite addition to the English vocabulary, the number censured as Americanisms is not large. The most remarkable fact concerning Mr. Pickering's Vocabulary is, that the very Americanisms which were most ridiculed, loathed, and scorned by British critics, at the time of its publication, and for several preceding years, have, with few exceptions, been adopted by them, and been fairly incorporated into the English language; and this, too, after they had been so stigmatized and branded by these critics as vile intruders, that we, from very shame, had shunned them as unworthy of admission into good company. The following verbs, for example, particularly those in Italics, would not have been viewed by a British critic five-and-thirty years ago, without a sneer :advocate, base and bottom (in the sense of found, as "based or bottomed upon solid principles"), debark, derange, immigrate, progress, test. In the English Monthly Review, about that time, the following sentence is cited from "A Political Sketch of America," intended to ridicule the style of our writers: - "Were it not for my destitution of leisure, which obliges me to hasten to the occlusion of these pages, as I progress, I should bottom my assertion on instances from authors of the first grade; but were I to render my sketch lengthy, I should illy answer my purpose." By such a foolish juxtaposition of words it is easy to ridicule the style of any author. Of the seven words censured in this paltry attempt to be witty, only two deserve condemnation when properly associated with other words. Destitution is not a bad word, and it may as lawfully be used now as it was long since by Hooker and Taylor. We should prefer the Saxon want in most cases. Destitution, however, has a more restricted meaning, as it implies personal, absolute poverty. To time, or leisure, which is common to all persons, it is not properly applicable. Occlusion, which is a mere dictionary word, was retained by Johnson without being illustrated by any examples of its use. We know not of any American authority for its use, except that of Thomas Jefferson, who, in the year 1802, spoke of "the occlusion of the port of New Orleans by the Spaniards." We doubt whether any other respecta