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Title: The Comic English Grammar - A New and Facetious Introduction to the English Tongue
Author: Unknown
Language: English
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  Bangor House, Shoe Lane.




  Introduction to the English Tongue.




  A Writer unrivalled in this or any other Age for

  (if the expression may be pardoned) _quite unique_, and a Dexterity in
  the USE OF METAPHOR unparalleled; whose multifarious and sublime--it
  would not be too much to say talented--COMPOSITIONS would, it may be
  fearlessly asserted, afford any


  a not-every-day-to-be-met-with, and not in-a-hurry-to-be-relinquished
  opportunity for an


  forming a Property which, under judicious management, would soon become
  entitled to the well-merited appellation of a


  which, without exciting a blush in the mind of veracity, might be said
  (in a literary point of view) to be fertilised by a meandering rivulet
  of Poetry, comparable for Beauty and Picturesque Effect to


  whose richness (equalled only by his fidelity) of description,
  presenting a refreshing contrast to the style of his various compeers,
  precludes the attempt to perpetrate a panegyric, otherwise than by
  assuming the responsibility and risk of applying to him the words of our


  “Take him for all in all
  We ne’er shall see his like again.”

  This little Treatise on


  is, with the most profound VENERATION, ADMIRATION, nay, even with
  RESPECT (and the term is used “advisedly”)

  humbly dedicated


It may be considered a strange wish on the part of an Author, to have his
preface compared to a donkey’s gallop. We are nevertheless desirous that
our own should be considered both short and sweet. For our part, indeed,
we would have every preface as short as an orator’s cough, to which, in
purpose, it is so nearly like; but Fashion requires, and like the rest of
her sex, requires _because_ she requires, that before a writer begins the
business of his book, he should give an account to the world of his
reasons for producing it; and therefore, to avoid singularity, we shall
proceed with the statement of our own, excepting only a few private ones,
which are neither here nor there.

To advance the interests of mankind by promoting the cause of Education;
to ameliorate the conversation of the masses; to cultivate Taste, and
diffuse Refinement; these are the objects which we have in view in
submitting a Comic English Grammar to the patronage of a discerning
Public. Nor have we been actuated by philanthropic motives alone, but also
by a regard to Patriotism, which, as it has been pronounced on high
authority to be the last refuge of a scoundrel, must necessarily be the
first concern of an aspiring and disinterested mind. We felt ourselves
called upon to do as much, at least, for Modern England as we had before
done for Ancient Rome; and having been considered by competent judges to
have infused a little liveliness into a dead language, we were bold enough
to hope that we might extract some amusement from a living one.

Few persons there are, whose ears are so extremely obtuse, as not to be
frequently annoyed at the violations of Grammar by which they are so often
assailed. It is really painful to be forced, in walking along the streets,
to hear such phrases as, “That _’ere h_omnibus.” “Where’ve you _bin_.”
“_Vot’s_ the _h_odds?” and the like. Very dreadful expressions are also
used by draymen and others in addressing their horses. What can possibly
induce a human being to say “Gee woot!” “’Mather way!” or “Woa?” not to
mention the atrocious “Kim aup!” of the ignorant and degraded
costermonger. We once actually heard a fellow threaten to “pitch into” his
dog! meaning, we believe, to beat the animal.

It is notorious that the above and greater enormities are perpetrated in
spite of the number of Grammars already before the world. This fact
sufficiently excuses the present addition to the stock; and as serious
English Grammars have hitherto failed to effect the desired reformation,
we are induced to attempt it by means of a Comic one.

With regard to the moral tendency of our labours, we may here be permitted
to remark, that they will tend, if successful, to the suppression of _evil

We shall only add, that as the Spartans used to exhibit a tipsy slave to
their children with a view to disgust them with drunkenness, so we, by
giving a few examples here and there, of incorrect phraseology, shall
expose, in their naked deformity, the vices of speech to the ingenuous



  FRONTISPIECE.                                        Page

  MINERVA TEACHING                                        x

  JOHN BULL                                              12

  THE “PRODIGY”                                          14

  “JANE YOU KNOW WHO”                                    18

  MUTES AND LIQUIDS                                      23

  AWKWARD LOUT                                           24

  HA! HA! HA! HO! HO! HO! HE! HE! HE!                    27

  “O!, WHAT, A, LARK!--HERE, WE, ARE!”                   28


  SINGLE BLESSEDNESS                                     40

  APPLE SAUCE                                            45

  MATILDA                                                48

  A SOCIALIST                                            50

  “SHAN’T I SHINE TO NIGHT, DEAR?”                       51

  JULIA                                                  57

  A VERY BAD CASE                                        59

  A SELECT VESTRY                                        69

  SELF-ESTEEM                                            78

  “FACT, MADAM!”--“GRACIOUS, MAJOR!”                     82

  YEARS OF DISCRETION                                    89

  “I SHALL GIVE YOU A DRUBBING!”                         97

  A COMICAL CONJUNCTION                                 106

  “AS WELL AS CAN BE EXPECTED”                          108

  “HOW’S YOUR INSPECTOR?”                               119

  “WHAT A DUCK OF A MAN!”                               120

  THE FLIRT                                             122

  THE CAPTAIN                                           128

  THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON                                131

  “OH! YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING MAN!”                       137

  THE YOUNG GENTLEMAN                                   139

  “VIRTUE’S REWARD”                                     142

  “NOT TO MINCE MATTERS, MISS, I LOVE YOU”              145

  THE FRENCH MARQUIS                                    149

  “THE ENGAGED ONES”                                    153

  “THE LADIES!”                                         156

  “HIT ONE OF YOUR OWN SIZE!”                           158

  ALL FOR LOVE                                          169

  “TALE OF A TUB”                                       170

  “A RESPECTABLE MAN”                                   177

  DOING WHAT YOU LIKE WITH YOUR OWN                     180

  “WHAT A LITTLE DEAR!”                                 183

  BRUTUS                                                187

  THE TWO DOVES                                         190

  “THE NASTY LITTLE SQUALLING BRAT”                     205

  “OH, JEMIMA!”                                         214

  LOVE AND MURDER                                       216

  STANDING ON POINTS                                    218

  “WHERE GOT’ST THOU THAT GOOSE?”                       219


Our native country having been, from time immemorial, entitled _Merry_
England, it is clear that, provided it has been called by a right name, a
Comic Grammar will afford the most hopeful means of teaching its
inhabitants their language.

That the epithet in question has been correctly applied, it will therefore
be our business to show.

If we can only prove that things which foreigners regard in the most
serious point of view, and which, perhaps, ought in reality to be so
considered, afford the modern Minotaur John Bull, merely matter of
amusement, we shall go far towards the establishment of our position. We
hope to do this and more also.

Births, marriages, and deaths, especially the latter, must be allowed to
be matters of some consequence. Every one knows what jokes are made upon
the two first subjects. Those which the remaining one affords, we shall
proceed to consider.

Suicide, for instance, is looked upon by Mr. Bull with a very different
eye from that with which his neighbours regard it. As to an abortive
attempt thereat, it excites in his mind unmitigated ridicule, instead of
interest and sympathy. In Paris a foolish fellow, discontented with the
world, or, more probably, failing in some attempt to make himself
conspicuous, ties a brickbat to his neck, and jumps, at twelve o’clock of
the day, into the Seine. He thereby excites great admiration in the minds
of the bystanders; but were he to play the same trick on London Bridge, as
soon as he had been pulled out of the water he would only be laughed at
for his pains.

There was a certain gentleman, an officer in the navy, one Lieutenant
Luff; at least we have never heard the fact of his existence disputed; who
used to spend all his time in drinking grog; and at last, when he could
get no more, thought proper to shoot himself through the chest. In France
he would have been buried in Père La Chaise, or some such place, and would
have had an ode written to his memory. As his native country, however, was
the scene of his exploit, he was interred, for the affair happened some
years ago, in a cross-road; and his fate has been made the subject of a
comic song.

That our countrymen regard Death as a jest, no one who considers their
bravery in war or their appetite in peace, can possibly doubt. And the
expressions, “to hop the twig,” “to kick the bucket,” “to go off the
hooks,” “to turn up the toes,” and so on, vernacularly used as synonymous
with “to expire,” sufficiently show the jocular light in which the last
act of the farce of Life is viewed in Her Majesty’s dominions.

An execution is looked upon abroad as a serious affair; but with us it is
quite another matter. Capital punishments, whatever they may be to the
sufferers, are to the spectators, if we may judge from their behaviour,
little else than capital jokes. The terms which, in common discourse, are
used by the humble classes to denote the pensile state, namely, “dancing
on nothing,” “having a drop too much,” or “being troubled with a line,”
are quite playful, and the “Last Dying Speech” of the criminal is usually
a species of composition which might well be called “An Entertaining
Narrative illustrated with Humourous Designs.”

The play of George Barnwell, in which a deluded linendraper’s apprentice
commits a horrid murder on the body of a pious uncle, excites, whenever it
is represented, as much amusement as if it were a comedy; and there is
also a ballad detailing the same circumstances, which, when sung at
convivial meetings, is productive of much merriment. Billy Taylor, too,
another ballad of the same sort, celebrates, in jocund strains, an act of
unjustifiable homicide.

Even the terrors of the other world are converted, in Great Britain, into
the drolleries of this. The awful apparitions of the unfortunate Miss
Bailey, and the equally unfortunate Mr. Giles Scroggins, have each of them
furnished the materials of a comical ditty; and the terrific appearance of
the Ghost of a Sheep’s Head to one William White,--a prodigy which would
be considered in Germany as fearful in the extreme, has been applied, by
some popular but anonymous writer, to the same purpose. The bodily
ablation of an unprincipled exciseman by the Prince of Darkness, a
circumstance in itself certainly of a serious nature, has been recorded by
one of our greatest poets in strains by no means remarkable for gravity.
The appellation, “Old Nick,” applied by the vulgar to the Prince in
question, is, in every sense of the words, a nickname; and the aliases by
which, like many of his subjects, he is also called and known, such as
“Old Scratch,” “Old Harry,” or “The Old Gentleman,” are, to say the very
least of them, terms that border on the familiar.

In the popular drama of Punch,[1] we observe a perfect climax of
atrocities and horrors. Victim after victim falls prostrate beneath the
cudgel of the deformed and barbarous monster; the very first who feels his
tyranny being the wife of his bosom. He, meanwhile, behaves in the most
heartless manner, actually singing and capering among the mangled
carcases. Benevolence is shocked, Justice is derided, Law is set at
nought, and Constables are slain. The fate to which he had been consigned
by a Jury of his Country is eluded; and the Avenger of Crime is
circumvented by the wily assassin. Lastly, to crown the whole, Retribution
herself is mocked; and the very Arch Fiend is dismissed to his own
dominions with a fractured skull. And at every stage of these frightful
proceedings shouts of uproarious laughter attest the delight of the
beholders, increasing in violence with every additional terror, and
swelling at the concluding one to an almost inextinguishable peal.

Indeed there is scarcely any shocking thing out of which we can extract no
amusement, except the loss of money, wherein, at least when it is our own,
we cannot see anything to laugh at.

Some will say that we make it a principle to convert whatever frightens
other people into a jest, in order that we may imbibe a contempt for
danger; and that our superiority (universally admitted) over all nations
in courage and prowess, is, in fact, owing to the way which we have
acquired of laughing all terrors, natural and supernatural, utterly to
scorn. With these, however, we do not agree. Our national laughter is, in
our opinion, as little based on principle as our national actions have of
late years been. We laugh from impulse, or, as we do everything else,
because we choose. And we shall find, on examination, that we have
contrived, amongst us, to render a great many things exceedingly droll and
absurd, without having the slightest reason to assign for so doing.

For example, there is nothing in the office of a Parish Clerk that makes
it desirable that he should be a ludicrous person. There is no reason why
he should have a cracked voice; an inability to use, or a tendency to
omit, the aspirate; a stupid countenance; or a pompous manner. Nor do we
clearly see why he should be unable to pronounce proper names; should say
Snatchacrab for Sennacherib, or Leftenant for Leviathan. Such,
nevertheless, are the peculiarities by which he is commonly distinguished.

We are likewise at a loss to divine why so studiously ridiculous a costume
has been made to enhance the natural absurdity of a Beadle; for we can
hardly believe that his singular style of dress was really intended to
inspire small children with veneration and awe.

It can scarcely be supposed that a Lord Mayor’s Show was instituted only
to be laughed at; yet who would contend that it is of any other use? Nor
could the office of the Chief Magistrate of a Corporation, nor that of an
Alderman, have been created for the amusement of the Public: there is,
however, no purpose which both of them so frequently serve.

If the wig and robes of a Judge were meant to excite the respect of the
community in general, and the fear of the unconscientious part of it, we
cannot but think that the design has been unsuccessful. That the ministers
of justice are not, in fact, so reverently held, by any means, as from the
nature of their functions they might be expected to be, is certain. A
magistrate, to go no further, is universally known, if not designated, by
the jocose appellation of “Beak.”

Butchers, bakers, cobblers, tinkers, costermongers, and tailors; to say
nothing of footmen, waiters, dancing-masters, and barbers have become the
subjects of ridicule to an extent not warranted by their avocations,
simply considered.

But the comical mind, like the jaundiced eye, views everything through a
coloured medium. Such a mind is that of the generality of Britons. We
distinguish even the nearest ties of relationship by facetious names. A
father is called “Dad,” or “The Governor;” an uncle, “Nunkey;” and a wife,
“a rib,” or more pleasantly still, as in the advertisements, an
“encumbrance.” Almost every being or thing, indeed, has in English two
words to express it, an ordinary and an odd one; and so greatly has the
number of expressions of the kind last mentioned increased of late, that,
as it appears to us, a new edition of Johnson’s Dictionary, enriched with
modern additions, is imperatively called for. When we talk of odd words,
we have no fear that our meaning will be misunderstood. It is true that
there are some few individuals who complain that they do not see any wit
in calling a sheep’s-head a “jemmy,” legs “bandies,” or a hand a “mawley;”
and it is also true that there was once a mathematician, who, after
reading through Milton’s Paradise Lost, wanted to know what it all proved?

And now that we are speaking of names, we may mention a few which are
certainly of a curious nature, and which no foreigner could possibly have
invented; unless, which would be likely enough, he meant to apply them
seriously. The names we allude to are names of places--and pretty places
they are too; as, “Mount Pleasant,” “Paradise Row,” “Golden Lane.”

Then there are a great many whimsical things that we do:--

When a man cannot pay his debts, and has no prospect of being able to do
so except by working, we shut him up in gaol, and humorously describe his
condition as that of being in Quod.

We will not allow a man to give an old woman a dose of rhubarb if he have
not acquired at least half a dozen sciences; but we permit a quack to sell
as much poison as he pleases, with no other diploma than what he gets from
the “College of Health.”

When a thief pleads “Guilty” to an indictment, he is advised by the Judge
to recall his plea; as if a trial were a matter of sport, and the culprit,
like a fox, gave no amusement unless regularly run down. This perhaps is
the reason why allowing an animal to start some little time before the
pursuit is commenced, is called giving him _law_.

When one man runs away with another’s wife, and, being on that account
challenged to fight a duel, shoots the aggrieved party through the head,
the latter is said to receive _satisfaction_.

We never take a glass of wine at dinner without getting somebody else to
do the same, as if we wanted encouragement; and then, before we venture to
drink, we bow to each other across the table, preserving all the while a
most wonderful gravity. This, however, it may be said, is the natural
result of endeavouring to keep one another in countenance.

The way in which we imitate foreign manners and customs is very amusing.
Savages stick fish-bones through their noses; our fair countrywomen have
hoops of metal poked through their ears. The Caribs flatten the forehead;
the Chinese compress the foot; and we possess similar contrivances for
reducing the figure of a young lady to a resemblance to an hour-glass or a

There being no other assignable motive for these and the like proceedings,
it is reasonable to suppose that they are adopted, as schoolboys say, “for

We could go on, were it necessary, adducing facts to an almost unlimited
extent; but we consider that enough has now been said in proof of the
comic character of the national mind. And in conclusion, if any foreign
author can be produced, equal in point of wit, humour, and drollery, to
Swift, Sterne, or Butler, we hereby engage to eat him; albeit we have no
pretensions to the character of a “helluo librorum.”



“English Grammar,” according to Lindley Murray, “is the art of speaking
and writing the English language with propriety.”

The English language, written and spoken with propriety, is commonly
called the King’s English.

A monarch, who, three or four generations back, occupied the English
throne, is reported to have said, “If beebles will be boets, they must
sdarve.” This was a rather curious specimen of “King’s English.” It is,
however, a maxim of our law, that “the King can do no wrong.” Whatever bad
English, therefore, may proceed from the royal mouth, is not “King’s
English,” but “Minister’s English,” for which they alone are responsible.
For illustrations of this kind of “English” we beg to refer the reader to
the celebrated English Grammar which was written by the late Mr. Cobbett.

King’s English (or, perhaps, under existing circumstances we should say,
_Queen’s_ English) is the current coin of conversation, to mutilate
which, and unlawfully to _utter_ the same, is called _clipping_ the King’s
English; a high crime and misdemeanour.

Clipped English, or bad English, is one variety of Comic English, of which
we shall adduce instances hereafter.

[Illustration: He’s only a little “prodigy” of mine, Doctor.]

Slipslop, or the erroneous substitution of one word for another, as
“prodigy” for “protégée,” “derangement” for “arrangement,” “exasperate”
for “aspirate,” and the like, is another.

Slang, which consists in cant words and phrases, as “dodge” for “sly
trick,” “no go” for “failure,” and “carney” “to flatter,” may be
considered a third.

Latinised English, or Fine English, sometimes assumes the character of
Comic English, especially when applied to the purposes of common
discourse; as “Extinguish the luminary,” “Agitate the communicator,” “Are
your corporeal functions in a condition of salubrity?” “A sable visual
orb,” “A sanguinary nasal protuberance.”

American English is Comic English in a “_pretty particular considerable
tarnation_” degree.

Among the various kinds of Comic English it would be “_tout-à-fait_”
inexcusable, were we to “_manquer_” to mention one which has, so to speak,
quite “_bouleversé_’d” the old-fashioned style of conversation;
French-English, that is what “_nous voulons dire_.” “_Avec un poco_” of
the “_Italiano_,” this forms what is also called the Mosaic dialect.

English Grammar is divided into four parts--Orthography, Etymology,
Syntax, and Prosody; and as these are points that a good grammarian always
stands upon, he, particularly when a pedant, and consequently somewhat
_flat_, may very properly be compared to a table.





Orthography is like a junior usher, or instructor of youth. It teaches us
the nature and powers of letters and the right method of spelling words.

_Note._--In a public school, the person corresponding to an usher is
called a master. As it is sometimes his duty to flog, we propose that he
should henceforth be called the “Usher of the Birch Rod.”

Comic Orthography teaches us the oddity and absurdities of _letters_, and
the wrong method of spelling words. The following is an example of Comic

    islinton foteenth of
    febuary 1840.

    my Deer jemes

    wen fust i sawed yu doun the middle and up agin att Vite condick ouse
    i maid Up my Mind to skure you for my hone for i Felt at once that my
    appiness was at Steak, and a sensashun in my Bussum I coudent no ways
    accompt For. And i said to mary at missis Igginses said i theres the
    Mann for my money o ses Shee i nose a Sweeter Yung Man than that Air
    Do you sez i Agin then there we Agree To Differ, and we was sittin by
    the window and we wos wery Neer fallin Out. my deer gemes Sins that
    Nite i Havent slept a Wink and Wot is moor to the Porpus i Have quit
    Lost my Happy tight and am gettin wus and wus witch i Think yu ort to
    pitty Mee. i am Tolled every Day that ime Gettin Thinner and a Jipsy
    sed that nothin wood Cure me But a Ring.

    i wos a Long time makin my Mind Up to right to You for of Coarse i
    Says jemes will think me too forrad but this bein Leep yere i thout
    ide Make a Plunge speshialy as her grashius madjesty as Set the
    Exampel of Popin the queshton, leastways to all Them as dont Want to
    Bee old Mades all their blessed lives. so my Deer Jemes if yow want a
    Pardoner for Better or for wus nows Your Time dont think i Behave
    despicable for tis my Luv for yu as makes Me take this Stepp.

    please to Burn this Letter when Red and excuse the scralls and
    Blotches witch is Caused by my Teers i remain

        till deth Yure on Happy
            _jane you No who_.


    nex Sunday Is my sunday out And i shall be Att the corner of Wite lion
    Street pentonvil at a quawter pas Sevn.

        Wen This U. C.
          remember Mee
            j. g.


Now, to proceed with Orthography, we may remark, that

A letter is the least part of a word.

Of a _comic letter_ an instance has already been given.

Dr. Johnson’s letter to Lord Chesterfield is a capital letter.

The letters of the Alphabet are the representatives of articulate sounds.

The Alphabet is a Republic of Letters.

There are many things in this world erroneously as well as vulgarly
compared to “bricks.” In the case of the letters of the Alphabet, however,
the comparison is just; they constitute the fabric of a language, and
grammar is the mortar. The wonder is that there should be so few of them.
The English letters are twenty-six in number. There is nothing like
beginning at the beginning; and we shall now therefore enumerate them,
with the view also of rendering their insertion subsidiary to mythological
instruction, in conformity with the plan on which some account of the
Heathen Deities and ancient heroes is prefixed or subjoined to a
Dictionary. We present the reader with a form of Alphabet composed in
humble imitation of that famous one, which, while appreciable by the
dullest taste, and level to the meanest capacity, is nevertheless that by
which the greatest minds have been agreeably inducted into knowledge.


  A was Apollo, the god of the carol,
  B stood for Bacchus, astride on his barrel;
  C for good Ceres, the goddess of grist,
  D was Diana, that wouldn’t be kiss’d;
  E was nymph Echo, that pined to a sound,
  F was sweet Flora, with buttercups crown’d;
  G was Jove’s pot-boy, young Ganymede hight,
  H was fair Hebe, his barmaid so tight;
  I, little Io, turn’d into a cow,
  J, jealous Juno, that spiteful old sow;
  K was Kitty, more lovely than goddess or muse;
  L, Lacooon--I wouldn’t have been in _his_ shoes!
  M was blue-eyed Minerva, with stockings to match,
  N was Nestor, with grey beard and silvery thatch;
  O was lofty Olympus, King Jupiter’s shop,
  P, Parnassus, Apollo hung out on its top;
  Q stood for Quirites, the Romans, to wit;
  R, for rantipole Roscius, that made such a hit;
  S, for Sappho, so famous for felo-de-se,
  T, for Thales the wise, F.R.S. and M.D.:
  U was crafty Ulysses, so artful a dodger,
  V was hop-a-kick Vulcan, that limping old codger;
  _Wenus_--Venus I mean--with a W begins,
  (_Vell_, if I _ham_ a Cockney, _wot_ need of your grins?)
  X was Xantippe, the scratch-cat and shrew,
  Y, I don’t know what Y was, whack me if I do!
  Z was Zeno the Stoic, Zenobia the clever,
  And Zoilus the critic, Victoria for ever!

Letters are divided into Vowels and Consonants.

The vowels are capable of being perfectly uttered by themselves. They are,
as it were, independent members of the Alphabet, and like independent
members elsewhere form a small minority. The vowels are _a_, _e_, _i_,
_o_, _u_, and sometimes _w_ and _y_.

An I. O. U. is a more pleasant thing to have, than it is to give.

A blow in the stomach is very likely to W up.

W is a consonant when it begins a word, as “Wicked Will Wiggins whacked
his wife with a whip;” but in every other place it is a vowel, as
crawling, drawling, sawney, screwing, Jew. Y follows the same rule.

A consonant is an articulate sound; but, like an old bachelor, if it exist
alone it exists to no purpose. It cannot be perfectly uttered without the
aid of a vowel; and even then the vowel has the greatest share in the
production of the sound. Thus a vowel joined to a consonant becomes, so to
speak, a “better half:” or at all events very strongly resembles one.

Consonants are divided into mutes and semi-vowels.

The mutes cannot be sounded _at all_ without the aid of a vowel. Like
young ladies just “come out,” they are silent as long as you let them
alone. Some have compared them, on account of their name, to the “Original
Good Woman;” but how joining her to anything except to her head again
would have cured her of her dumbness, it is not easy to see. _B_, _p_,
_t_, _d_, _k_, and _c_ and _g_ hard, are the letters called mutes, or, as
some have denominated them, _black letters_.

The semi-vowels, which are _f_, _l_, _m_, _n_, _r_, _v_, _s_, _x_, _z_,
and _c_ and _g_ soft, have an imperfect sound of themselves. Well! half a
loaf is better than no bread.

_L_, _m_, _n_, _r_, are further distinguished by the name of liquids. Like
certain other liquids they are good for mixing, that is to say, they
readily unite with other consonants; and flow, as it were, into their

The specific gravity of liquids can only be rendered amusing by comical
_figures_. The gravity, too, of a _solid_ is generally the more ludicrous.

[Illustration: MUTES AND LIQUIDS.]

A diphthong is the union of two vowels in one sound, as _ea_ in heavy,
_eu_ in Meux, _ou_ in stout.

A triphthong is a similar union of three vowels, as _eau_ in the word
beau; a term applied to dandies, and addressed to geese: probably because
they are birds of a feather.

A proper diphthong is that in which the sound is formed by both the
vowels: as, _aw_ in awkward, _ou_ in lout.


An improper diphthong is that in which the sound is formed by one of the
vowels only, as _ea_ in heartless, _oa_ in hoax.

According to our notions there are a great many improper diphthongs in
common use. By improper diphthongs _we_ mean vowels unwarrantably dilated
into diphthongs, and diphthongs mispronounced, in defiance of good
English, and against our Sovereign Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity.

For instance, the rustics say,--

“Loor! whaut a foine gaal! Moy oy!”

“Whaut a precious soight of crows!”

“As I was a comin’ whoam through the corn fiddles (fields) I met Willum

After this manner cockneys express themselves:--

“I sor (saw) him.”

“Dror (draw) it out.”

“Hold your jor (jaw).”

“I caun’t. You shaun’t. How’s your Maw and Paw? Do you like taut (tart)?”

We have heard young ladies remark,--

“Oh, my! What a naice young man!”

“What a bee--eautiful day!”

“I’m so fond of dayncing!”

Dandies frequently exclaim,--

“I’m postively tiawed (tired).”

“What a sweet tempaw! (temper).”

“How daughty (dirty) the streets au!”

And they also call,--

Literature, “literetchah.”

Perfectly, “pawfacly.”

Disgusted, “disgasted.”

Sky (theatrical dandies do this chiefly) “ske-eye.”

Blue, “ble--ew.”

We might here insert a few remarks on the nature of the human voice, and
of the mechanism by means of which articulation is performed; but besides
our dislike to prolixity, we are afraid of getting _down in the mouth_,
and thereby going the _wrong way_ to please our readers. We may
nevertheless venture to invite attention to a few comical peculiarities in
connection with articulate sounds.

Ahem! at the commencement of a speech, is a sound agreeably droll.

The vocal comicalities of the infant in arms are exceedingly laughable,
but we are unfortunately unable to spell them.

The articulation of the Jew is peculiarly ridiculous. The “peoplesh” are
badly spoken of, and not well spoken.

Bawling, croaking, hissing, whistling, and grunting, are elegant vocal

Lisping, as, “thweet, Dthooliur, thawming, kweechau,” is by some
considered interesting, by others absurd.

Stammering is sometimes productive of amusement.

Humming and hawing are ludicrous embellishments to a discourse. Crowing
like a cock, braying like a donkey, _quacking_ like a duck, and hooting
like an owl, are modes of exerting the voice which are usually regarded as

But of all the sounds which proceed from the human mouth, by far the
funniest are Ha! ha! ha!--Ho! ho! ho! and He! he! he!




Syllable is a nice word, it sounds so much like syllabub!

A syllable, whether it constitute a word or part of a word, is a sound,
either simple or compound, produced by one effort of the voice, as, “O!,
what, a, lark!--Here, we, are!”


Spelling is the art of putting together the letters which compose a
syllable, or the syllables which compose a word.

Comic spelling is usually the work of imagination. The chief rule to be
observed in this kind of spelling, is, to spell every word as it is
pronounced; though the rule is not universally observed by comic spellers.
The following example, for the genuineness of which we can vouch, is one
so singularly apposite, that although we have already submitted a similar
specimen of orthography to the reader, we are irresistibly tempted to make
a second experiment on his indulgence. The epistolary curiosity, then,
which we shall now proceed to transcribe, was addressed by a patient to
his medical adviser.


    “My Granmother wos very much trubeld With the Gout and dide with it my
    father wos also and dide with it when i was 14 years of age i wos in
    the habbet of Gettin whet feet Every Night by pumping water out of a
    Celler Wich Cas me to have the tipes fever wich Cas my Defness when i
    was 23 of age i fell in the Water betwen the ice and i have Bin in the
    habbet of Getting wet when traviling i have Bin trubbeld with Gout
    for seven years

        “Your most humbel

Chelsea College has been supposed by foreigners to be an institution for
the teaching of orthography; probably in consequence of a passage in the
well known song in “The Waterman,”

  “Never more at Chelsea Ferry,
   Shall your Thomas take a _spell_.”

_Q._ Why is a dunce no conjuror?

_A._ Because he cannot _spell_.

Among the various kinds of spelling may be enumerated spelling for a
favour; or giving what is called a broad hint.

Certain rules for the division of words into syllables are laid down in
some grammars, and we should be very glad to follow the established usage,
but, limited as we are by considerations of comicality and space, we
cannot afford to give more than two very general directions. If you do
not know how to spell a word, look it out in the dictionary, and if you
have no dictionary by you, write the word in such a way, that, while it
may be guessed at, it shall not be legible.



There is no one question that we are aware of more puzzling than this,
“What is your opinion of _things_ in general?” _Words_ in general are,
fortunately for us, a subject on which the formation of an opinion is
somewhat more easy. Words stand for things: they are a sort of counters,
checks, bank-notes, and sometimes, indeed, they are _notes_ for which
people get a great deal of money. Such words, however, are, alas! not
English words, or words sterling. Strange! that so much should be given
for a mere song. It is quite clear that the givers, whatever may be their
pretensions to a refined or literary taste, must be entirely unacquainted
with _Words_worth.

Fine words are oily enough, and he who uses them is vulgarly said to “cut
it fat;” but for all that it is well known that they will not butter

Some say that words are but wind: for this reason, when people are having
words, it is often said, that “the wind’s up.”

Different words please different people. Philosophers are fond of hard
words; pedants of tough words, long words, and crackjaw words; bullies, of
rough words; boasters, of big words; the rising generation, of slang
words; fashionable people, of French words; wits, of sharp words and smart
words; and ladies, of nice words, sweet words, soft words, and soothing
words; and, indeed, of words in general.

Words (when spoken) are articulate sounds used by common consent as signs
of our ideas.

A word of one syllable is called a Monosyllable: as, you, are, a, great,

A word of two syllables is named a Dissyllable; as, cat-gut, mu-sic.

A word of three syllables is termed a Trisyllable; as, Mag-net-ism,

A word of four or more syllables is entitled a Polysyllable; as,
in-ter-mi-na-ble, cir-cum-lo-cu-ti-on, ex-as-pe-ra-ted, func-ti-o-na-ry,
met-ro-po-li-tan, ro-tun-di-ty.

Words of more syllables than one are sometimes comically contracted into
one syllable; as, in s’pose for suppose, b’lieve for believe, and ’scuse
for excuse: here, perhaps, ’buss, abbreviated from omnibus, deserves to be

In like manner, many long words are elegantly trimmed and shortened; as,
ornary for ordinary, ’strornary for extraordinary, and curosity for
curiosity; to which mysterus for mysterious may also be added.

Polysyllables are an essential element in the sublime, both in poetry and
in prose; but especially in that species of the sublime which borders very
closely on the ridiculous; as,

  Where left’st thou Chrononhotonthologos?”


All words are either primitive or derivative. A primitive word is that
which cannot be reduced to any simpler word in the language; as, brass,
York, knave. A derivative word, under the head of which compound words are
also included, is that which may be reduced to another and a more simple
word in the English language; as, brazen, Yorkshire, knavery, mud-lark,

Broadbrim is a derivative word; but it is one often applied to a very
_primitive_ kind of person.





Etymology teaches the varieties, modifications, and derivation of words.

The derivation of words means that which they come from _as words_; for
what they come from as _sounds_, is another matter. Some words come from
the heart, and then they are pathetic; others from the nose, in which case
they are ludicrous. The funniest place, however, from which words can
come, is the stomach. By the way, the Lord Mayor would do well to keep a
ventriloquist, from whom, at a moment’s notice, he might ascertain the
voice of the corporation.

Comic Etymology teaches us the varieties, modifications, and derivation,
of words invested with a comic character.

Grammatically speaking, we say that there are, in English, as many sorts
of words as a cat is said to have lives, nine; namely, the Article, the
Substantive or Noun, the Adjective, the Pronoun, the Verb, the Adverb, the
Preposition, the Conjunction, and the Interjection.

Comically speaking, there are a great many sorts of words which we have
not room enough to particularise individually. We can therefore only
afford to classify them. For instance; there are words which are spoken in
the _Low Countries_, and are _High Dutch_ to persons of quality; as in
Billingsgate, Whitechapel, and St. Giles’s.

Words in use amongst all those who have to do with horses.

Words that pass between rival cab-men.

Words peculiar to the P. R. where the order of the day is generally a word
and a blow.

Words spoken in a state of intoxication.

Words uttered under excitement.

Words of endearment, addressed to children in arms.

Similar words, sometimes called burning, tender, soft, and broken words,
addressed to young ladies, and whispered, lisped, sighed, or drawled,
according to circumstances.

Words of honour; as, tailors’ words and shoemakers’ words; which, like the
above-mentioned, or lovers’ words, are very often broken.

With many other sorts of words, which will be readily suggested by the
reader’s fancy.

But now let us go on with the parts of speech.

1. An Article is a word prefixed to substantives to point them out, and to
show the extent of their meaning; as, _a_ dandy, _an_ ape, _the_

One kind of comic article is otherwise denominated an oddity, or queer

Another kind of comic article is often to be met with in Bentley’s

2. A Substantive or Noun is the name of anything that exists, or of which
we have any notion; as, _tinker_, _tailor_, _soldier_, _sailor_,
_apothecary_, _ploughboy_, _thief_.

Now the above definition of a substantive is Lindley Murray’s, not ours.
We mention this, because we have an objection, though, not, perhaps, a
serious one, to urge against it; for, in the first place, we have “no
notion” of impudence, and yet impudence is a substantive; and, in the
second, we invite attention to the following piece of Logic,

  A substantive is something,
  But nothing is a substantive;
  Therefore, nothing is something.

A substantive may generally be known by its taking an article before it,
and by its making sense of itself: as, a _treat_, the _mulligrubs_, an

3. An Adjective is a word joined to a substantive to denote its quality;
as a _ragged_ regiment, an _odd_ set.

You may distinguish an adjective by its making sense with the word thing:
as, a _poor_ thing, a _sweet_ thing, a _cool_ thing; or with any
particular substantive, as a _ticklish_ position, an _awkward_ mistake, a
_strange_ step.

4. A Pronoun is a word used in lieu of a noun, in order to avoid
tautology: as, “The man wants calves; _he_ is a lath; _he_ is a

5. A Verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer: as, I am;
I calculate; I am fixed.

A verb may usually be distinguished by its making sense with a personal
pronoun, or with the word _to_ before it: as I _yell_, he _grins_, they
_caper_; or to _drink_, to _smoke_, to _chew_.

Fashionable accomplishments!

Certain substantives are, with peculiar elegance, and by persons who call
themselves _genteel_, converted into verbs: as, “Do you _wine_?” “Will you
_malt_?” “Let me persuade you to _cheese_?”

6. An Adverb is a part of speech which, joined to a verb, an adjective, or
another adverb, serves to express some quality or circumstance concerning
it: as, “She swears _dreadfully_; she is _incorrigibly_ lazy; and she is
_almost continually_ in liquor.”

7. An adverb is generally characterised by answering to the question, How?
how much? when? or where? as in the verse, “_Merrily_ danced the
Quaker’s wife,” the answer to the question, How did she dance? is,

8. Prepositions serve to connect words together, and to show the relation
between them: as,

“Off _with_ his head, so much _for_ Buckingham!”

9. A Conjunction is used to connect not only words, but sentences also:
as, Smith _and_ Jones are happy _because_ they are single. A miss is _as_
good _as_ a mile.


10. An Interjection is a short word denoting passion or emotion: as,
“_Oh_, Sophonisba! Sophonisba, _oh_!” Pshaw! Pish! Pooh! Bah! Ah! Au!
Eughph! Yah! Hum! Ha! Lauk! La! Lor! Heigho! Well! There! &c.

Among the foregoing interjections there may, perhaps, be some unhonoured
by the adoption of genius, and unknown in the domains of literature. For
the present notice of them some apology may be required, but little will
be given; their insertion may excite astonishment, but their omission
would have provoked complaint: though unprovided with a Johnsonian title
to a place in the English vocabulary, they have long been recognised by
the popular voice; and let it be remembered, that as custom supplies the
defects of legislation, so that which is not sanctioned by magisterial
authority may nevertheless be justified by vernacular usage.



The Articles in English are two, _a_ and _the_; _a_ becomes _an_ before a
vowel, and before an _h_ which is not sounded: as, _an_ exquisite, _an_
hour-glass. But if the _h_ be pronounced, the _a_ only is used: as, _a_
homicide, _a_ homœopathist, _a_ hum.

This rule is reversed in what is termed the Cockney dialect: as, _a_
inspector, _a_ officer, _a_ object, _a_ omnibus, _a_ individual, _a_
alderman, _a_ honour, _an_ horse, or rather, a _norse_, _an_ hound, _an_
hunter, &c.

It is usual in the same dialect, when the article _an_ should, in strict
propriety, precede a word, to omit the letter _n_, and further, for the
sake of euphony and elegance, to place the aspirate _h_ before the word;
as, a _h_egg, a _h_accident, a _h_adverb, a _h_ox. But sometimes, when a
word begins with an _h_, and has the article _a_ before it, the aspirate
is omitted, the letter _a_ remaining unchanged: as, a ’ogg, a ’edge, a
’emisphere, a ’ouse.

The slight liberties which it is the privilege of the people to take with
the article and aspirate become always most evident in the expression of
excited feeling, when the stress which is laid upon certain words is
heightened by the peculiarity of the pronunciation: as, “You _h_ignorant
_h_upstart! you _h_illiterate ’og! ’ow dare you to _h_offer such a
_h_insult to my _h_understanding?--You are a _h_object of contempt, you
_h_are, and a _h_insolent _w_agobond! your mother was nothing but a
_h_apple-woman, and your father was an ’uckster!”

_Note._--In the above example, the ordinary rules of language relative to
the article and aspirate (to say nothing of the maxims of politeness) are
completely set at nought; but it must be remembered, that in common
discourse the modification of the article, and the omission or use of the
aspirate, are determined by the Cockneys according to the ease with which
particular words are pronounced; as, “Though _h_impudent, he warn’t as
_i_mpudent as Bill wur.” Here the word _impudent_, following a
vowel-sound, is most easily pronounced as _h_impudent, while the same
word, coming after a consonant, even in the same sentence, is uttered with
greater facility in the usual way.

_A_ or _an_ is called the indefinite article, because it is used, in a
vague sense, to point out some one thing belonging to a certain kind, but
in other respects indeterminate; as,

“_A_ horse, _a_ horse, my kingdom for _a_ horse!”

So say grammarians. Eating-house keepers tell a different story. A cheese,
in common discourse, means an object of a certain shape, size, weight, and
so on, entire and perfect; so that to call half a cheese a cheese, would
constitute a flaw in an indictment against a thief who had stolen one. But
a waiter will term a fraction, or a modicum of cheese, _a_ cheese; a
plate-full of pudding, _a_ pudding; and _a_ stick of celery, a celery, or
rather, a _salary_. Nay, he will even apply the article _a_ to a word
which does not stand for an individual object at all; as _a_ bread, _a_
butter, _a_ bacon. Here we are reminded of the famous exclamation of one
of these gentry:--“Master! master! there’s two teas and a brandy-and-water
just hopped over the palings!”

_The_ is termed the definite article, inasmuch as it denotes what
particular thing or things are meant; as,

  “_The_ miller he stole corn,
   _The_ weaver he stole yarn,
   And _the_ little tailòr he stole broad-cloth
   To keep _the_ three rogues warm.”

A substantive to which no article is prefixed is taken in a general sense;
as, “Apple sauce is proper for goose;” that is, for all geese.

[Illustration: APPLE-SAUCE.]

A few additional remarks may advantageously be made with respect to the
articles. The mere substitution of the definite for the indefinite article
is capable of changing entirely the meaning of a sentence. “That is _a_
ticket” is the assertion of a certain fact; but “That is _the_ ticket!”
means something which is quite different.

The article is not prefixed to a proper name; as, Stubbs, Wiggins, Chubb,
or Hobson, except for the sake of distinguishing a particular family, or
description of persons; as, He is _a_ Burke; that is, one of the Burkes,
or _a_ person resembling Burke. The article is sometimes also prefixed to
a proper name, to point out some distinguished individual; as, _The_
Burke, or the great politician, or the resurrectionist, Burke.

Who is _the_ Smith?

The indefinite article is joined to substantives in the singular number
only. We have heard people say, however, “He keeps _a_ wine-vaults;” or,
to quote more correctly--waltz. The definite article may be joined to
plurals also.

The definite article is frequently used with adverbs in the comparative
and superlative degree: as, “_The_ longer I live, _the_ broader I grow;”
or, as we have all heard the showman say, “This here, gentlemen and
ladies, is the vonderful heagle of the sun; _the_ ’otterer it grows, _the_
higherer he flies!”




Substantives are either proper or common.

Proper names, or substantives, are the names belonging to individuals: as
William, Birmingham.

These are sometimes converted into nicknames, or _im_proper names: as
Bill, Brummagem.

Common names, or substantives, denote kinds containing many sorts, or
sorts containing many individuals under them: as brute, beast, bumpkin,
cherub, infant, goblin, &c.

Proper names, when an article is prefixed to them, are employed as common
names: as, “They thought him a perfect _Chesterfield_; he quite astonished
the _Browns_.”

Common names, on the other hand, are made to denote individuals, by the
addition of articles or pronouns: as,

“There was _a_ little man, and he had _a_ little gun.”

“_That_ boy will be the death of me!”

Substantives are considered according to gender, number, and case; they
are all of the third person when spoken _of_, and of the second when
spoken _to_: as,

  Matilda, fairest maid, who art
    In countless bumpers toasted,
  O let thy pity baste the heart
    Thy fatal charms have roasted!




The distinction between nouns with regard to sex is called Gender. There
are three genders; the Masculine, the Feminine, and the Neuter.

The masculine gender belongs to animals of the male kind: as, a fop, a
jackass, a boar, a poet, a lion.

The feminine gender is peculiar to animals of the female kind: as, a
poetess, a lioness, a goose.

The neuter gender is that of objects which are neither males nor females:
as, a toast, a tankard, a pot, a pipe, a pudding, a pie, a sausage, a
roll, a muffin, a crumpet, a puff, a cheesecake, a bun, an apricot, an
orange, a lollipop, a cream, an ice, a jelly, &c. &c. &c.

We might go on to enumerate an infinity of objects of the neuter gender,
of all sorts and kinds; but in the selection of the foregoing examples we
have been guided by two considerations:--

1. The desire of exciting agreeable emotions in the mind of the reader.

2. The wish to illustrate the following proposition, “That almost
everything nice is also neuter.”

Except, however, a nice young lady, a nice duck, and one or two other
nice things, which we do not at present remember.

Some neuter substantives are by a figure of speech converted into the
masculine or feminine gender: thus we say of the sun, that when _he_
shines upon a Socialist, he shines upon a thief; and of the moon, that she
affects the minds of lovers.

[Illustration: A SOCIALIST.]

There are certain nouns with which notions of strength, vigour, and the
like qualities, are more particularly connected; and these are the neuter
substantives which are figuratively rendered masculine. On the other hand,
beauty, amiability, and so forth, are held to invest words with a
feminine character. Thus the sun is said to be masculine, and the moon
feminine. But for our own part, and our view is confirmed by the
discoveries of astronomy, we believe that the sun is called masculine from
his supporting and sustaining the moon, and finding her the wherewithal
to shine away as she does of a night, when all quiet people are in bed;
and from his being obliged to keep such a family of stars besides. The
moon, we think, is accounted feminine, because she is thus maintained and
kept up in her splendour, like a fine lady, by her husband the sun.
Furthermore, the moon is continually changing; on which account alone she
might be referred to the feminine gender. The earth is feminine, tricked
out, as she is, with gems and flowers. Cities and towns are likewise
feminine, because there are as many windings, turnings, and little odd
corners in them as there are in the female mind. A ship is feminine,
inasmuch as she is blown about by every wind. Virtue is feminine by
courtesy. Fortune and _mis_fortune, like mother and daughter, are both
feminine. The Church is feminine, because she is married to the state; or
married to the state because she is feminine--we do not know which. Time
is masculine, because he is so trifled with by the ladies.

[Illustration: “Shan’t I shine to-night, dear?”]

The English language distinguishes the sex in three manners; namely,

1. By different words; as,

  MALE.        FEMALE.
  Bachelor     Maid.
  Boar         Sow.
  Boy          Girl.
  Bull         Cow.
  Brother      Sister.
  Buck         Doe.
  Bullock      Heifer.
  Hart         Roe.
  Cock         Hen.
  Dog          Bitch.
  Drake        Duck.
  Wizard       Witch.
  Earl         Countess.
  Father       Mother.
  Friar        Nun.

And several other

  Words we don’t mention,
    (Pray pardon the crime,)
  Worth your attention,
    But wanting in rhyme.

2. By a difference of termination; as,

  MALE.         FEMALE.
  Poet         Poetess.
  Lion         Lioness, &c.

3. By a noun, pronoun, or adjective being prefixed to the substantive; as,

       MALE.                                FEMALE.
  A cock-lobster                 A hen-lobster.
  A jack-ass                     A jenny-ass (vernacular).
  A man-servant, or flunkey.     A maid-servant, or Abigail.
  A he-bear (like King Harry).   A she-bear (like Queen Bess).
  A male flirt (a rare animal).  A female flirt (a common animal).

We have heard it said, that every Jack has his Jill. That may be; but it
is by no means true that every cock has his hen; for there is a

  Cock-swain, but no Hen-swain.
  Cock-eye, but no Hen-eye.
  Cock-ade, but no Hen-ade.
  Cock-atrice, but no Hen-atrice.
  Cock-horse, but no Hen-horse.
  Cock-ney, but no Hen-ney.

Then we have a weather-cock, but no weather-hen; a turn-cock, but no
turn-hen; and many a jolly cock, but not one jolly hen; unless we except
some of those by whom their mates are pecked.

Some words; as, parent, child, cousin, friend, neighbour, servant, and
several others, are either male or female, according to circumstances. The
word blue (used as a substantive) is one of this class.

It is a great pity that our language is so poor in the terminations that
denote gender. Were we to say of a woman, that she is a rogue, a knave, a
scamp, or a vagabond, we feel that we should use, not only strong but
improper expressions. Yet we have no corresponding terms to apply, in case
of necessity, to the female. Why is this? Doubtless because we never want
them. For the same reason, our forefathers transmitted to us the words,
philosopher, astronomer, philologer, and so forth, without any feminine
equivalent. Alas! for the wisdom of our ancestors! They never calculated
on the March of Intellect.

We understand that it is in contemplation to coin a new word, _memberess_;
it being confidently expected that by the time the new Houses of
Parliament are finished, the progress of civilisation will have furnished
us with female representatives.

In that case the House will be an assembly of _Speakers_.

But if all the old women are to be turned out of St. Stephen’s, and their
places to be filled with young ones, the nation will hardly be a loser by
the change.



Number is the consideration of an object as one or more; as, one _poet_,
two, three, four, five _poets_; and so on, ad infinitum.

Other countries may reckon up as many poets as they please; England has
_one more_.

The singular number expresses one object only; as, a towel, a viper.

The plural signifies more objects than one; as, towels, vipers.

Some nouns are used only in the singular number; dirt, pitch, tallow,
grease, filth, butter, asparagus, &c.; others only in the plural; as,
galligaskins, breeches, &c.

Some words are the same in both numbers; as, sheep, swine, and some

  “A doctor, both to sheep and swine,”
     Said Mrs. Glass, “I am;
   For legs of mutton I can _dress_,
     And shine in _curing_ ham.”

The plural number of nouns is usually formed by adding s to the singular;
as, dove, doves, love, loves, &c.

  Julia, _dove_ returns to _dove_,
  Quid pro quo, and _love_ for _love_;
  Happy in our mutual _loves_,
  Let us live like turtle _doves_!


When, however, the substantive singular ends in x, ch _soft_, sh, ss, or
s, we add es in the plural.

  But remember, though box
    In the plural makes boxes,
  That the plural of ox
    Should be _oxen_, not _oxes_.

A few _Singular Plurals_, or Plurals popularly varied, are as follow:--

  Beast           Beastes, beastices.
  Crust           Crustes.
  Gust            Gustes.
  Ghost           Ghostes.
  Host            Hostes.
  Joist           Joistes.
  Mist            Mistes.
  Nest            Nestes.
  Post, &c.       Postes, postices, &c.

_Note._--The singular is often used, by a kind of licence conceded to
persons of refinement, for the plural; as, “May I trouble you for _a
bean_?” “Will you assist Miss Spriggins to _a pea_?” So also people say,
“A few _green_.” “Two or three _radish_,” &c.



There is nearly as much difference between Latin and English substantives,
with respect to the number of cases pertaining to each, as there is
between a quack-doctor and a physician; for while in Latin substantives
have six cases, in English they have but three. But the analogy should
not be strained too far; for the fools in the world (who furnish the
quack with his cases) more than double the number of the wise.

[Illustration: A VERY BAD CASE.]

The cases of substantives are these: the Nominative, the Possessive or
Genitive, and the Objective or Accusative.

The Nominative Case merely expresses the name of a thing, or the subject
of the verb: as, “The doctors differ;”--“The patient dies!”

Possession, which is nine points of the law, is what is signified by the
Possessive Case. This case is distinguished by an apostrophe, with the
letter s subjoined to it: as, “My soul’s idol!”--“A pudding’s end.”

But when the plural ends in _s_, the apostrophe only is retained, and the
other _s_ is omitted: as, “The Ministers’ Step;”--“The Rogues’
March;”--“Crocodiles’ tears;”--“Butchers’ mourning.”

When the singular terminates in _ss_, the letter _s_ is sometimes, in like
manner, dispensed with: as, “For goodness’ sake!”--“For righteousness’
sake!” Nevertheless, we have no objection to “Guinness’s” Stout.

The Objective Case follows a verb active, and expresses the object of an
action, or of a relation: as, “Spring beat Bill;” that is, Bill or
“William _Neate_.” Hence, perhaps, the American phrase, “I’ll lick you

By the by, it seems to us, that when the Americans revolted from the
authority of England, they determined also to revolutionise their

The Objective Case is also used with a preposition: as, “You are in a

English substantives may be declined in the following manner:--


  What is the nominative case
  Of her who used to wash your face,
  Your hair to comb, your boots to lace?
                                      A _mother_!

  What the possessive? Whose the slap
  That taught you not to spill your pap,
  Or to avoid a like mishap?
                                      A _mother’s_!

  And shall I the objective show?
  What do I hear where’er I go?
  How is your?--whom they mean I know,
                                      My _mother_!


  Who are the anxious watchers o’er
  The slumbers of a little bore,
  That screams whene’er it doesn’t snore?
                                      Why, _mothers_!

  Whose pity wipes its piping eyes,
  And stills maturer childhood’s cries,
  Stopping its mouth with cakes and pies?
                                      Oh! _mothers’_!

  And whom, when master, fierce and fell,
  Dusts truant varlets’ jackets well,
  Whom do they, roaring, run and tell?
                                      Their _mothers_!





An English Adjective, whatever may be its gender, number, or case, like a
rusty weathercock, never varies. Thus we say, “A certain cabinet; certain

But as a rusty weathercock may vary in being more or less rusty, so an
adjective varies in the degrees of comparison.

The degrees of comparison, like the genders, the Graces, the Fates, the
Kings of Cologne, the Weird Sisters, the Jolly Postboys, and many other
things, are three; the Positive, the Comparative, and the Superlative.

The Positive state simply expresses the quality of an object; as, fat,
ugly, foolish.

The Comparative degree increases or lessens the signification of the
positive; as, fatter, uglier, more foolish, less foolish.

The Superlative degree increases or lessens the positive to the highest or
lowest degree; as, fattest, ugliest, most foolish, least foolish.

Amongst the ancients, Ulysses was the _fattest_, because nobody could
_compass_ him.

Aristides the Just was the _ugliest_, because he was so very _plain_.

The most _foolish_, undoubtedly, was Homer; for who was more _natural_
than he?

The positive becomes the comparative by the addition of _r_ or _er_; and
the superlative by the addition of _st_ or _est_ to the end of it; as,
brown, browner, brownest; stout, stouter, stoutest; heavy, heavier,
heaviest; wet, wetter, wettest. The adverbs _more_ and _most_, prefixed to
the adjective, also form the superlative degree; as, heavy, more heavy,
most heavy.

Most heavy is the drink of draymen: hence, perhaps, the _weight_ of those
important personages. More of this, however, in our forthcoming work on

Monosyllables are usually compared by _er_ and _est_, and dissyllables by
_more_ and _most_; except dissyllables ending in _y_ or in _le_ before a
mute, or those which are accented on the last syllable; for these, like
monosyllables, easily admit of _er_ and _est_. But these terminations are
scarcely ever used in comparing words of more than two syllables.

We have some words, which, from custom, are irregular in respect of
comparison; as, good, better, best; bad, worse, worst, &c. Much amusement
may be derived from the comparisons of adjectives, as made by natural
grammarians; a class of beings who generally inhabit the kitchen or
stable, but may sometimes be met with in more elevated regions. A few
examples will not be out of place. We are not speaking of _servants_, but
of degrees of comparison; as,

  Good               More better,            Most best,
                  betterer or more           bestest.
  Tight             More tighter,         Most tightest.
                  tighterer or more
  Bad              Wuss or wusser.        Wust or wussest.
  Handsome       More handsomer like.     Most handsomest.
  Extravagant       Extravaganter,        Extravagantest,
                 more extravaganter.    most extravagantest.
  Stupid              Stupider,              Stupidest,
                   more stupider.         most stupidest.
  Little       Littler, more littler.   Littlest, most littlest.

With many others.

Here also may be adduced the Yankee’s “notion” of comparison; “My uncle’s
a tarnation rogue; but I’m a tarnation_er_.”



Comparisons appear to have been strongly disapproved of by Dr. Johnson.
“Sir,” said he, “the Whigs make comparisons.” It must be confessed that
the Doctor’s meaning is not quite so evident here as it is in general; but
that may be the fault of his biographer. Perhaps some of the Whigs had
been making comparisons at his expense, or impertinent comparisons, which
his temper, being _positive_, may have tempted them to indulge in. Or they
may have been _out_ in making their comparisons, which, in that case, must
of course have been bad. But a truce to speculations of this kind, on the
saying of one, another of whose dogmas was, that “the man who could make a
pun would also pick a pocket.” We only hope, that such comparisons as we
may make, will no more vex his spirit now than they would once have
aroused his bile.

Lindley Murray judiciously observes, that “if we consider the subject of
comparison attentively, we shall perceive that the degrees of it are
infinite in number, or at least indefinite:” and he proceeds to say, “A
mountain is larger than a mite; by how many degrees? How much bigger is
the earth than a grain of sand? By how many degrees was Socrates wiser
than Alcibiades? or by how many is snow whiter than this paper? It is
plain,” quoth Lindley, “that to these and the like questions no definite
answers can be returned.”

No; but an impertinent one may. Ask the first charity-boy you meet any one
of them, and see if he does not immediately respond, “Ax my eye;” or, “As
much again as half.”

But when quantity can be exactly measured, the degrees of excess may be
exactly ascertained. A foot is just twelve times as long as an inch; a
tailor is nine times less than a man.

Moreover, to compensate for the indefiniteness of the degrees of
comparison, we use certain adverbs and words of like import, whereby we
render our meaning tolerably intelligible; as, “Byron was a _much_ greater
poet than Muggins.” “Honey is _a great deal_ sweeter than wax.” “Sugar is
_considerably_ more pleasant than the cane.” “Maria says, that Dick the
butcher is _by far_ the most killing young man she knows.”

The words very, exceedingly, and the like, placed before the positive,
give it the force of the superlative; and this is called by some the
superlative of eminence, as distinguished from the superlative of
comparison. Thus, Very Reverend is termed the superlative of eminence,
although it is the title of a dean, not of a cardinal; and Most Reverend,
the appellation of an Archbishop, is called the superlative of comparison.

A _Bishop_, in our opinion, is _Most Excellent_.

The comparative is sometimes so employed as to express the same
pre-eminence or inferiority as the superlative. For instance; the
sentence, “Of all the cultivators of science, the botanist is the most
crafty,” has the same meaning as the following “The botanist is more
crafty than any other cultivator of science.”

Why? some of our readers will ask--

Because he is acquainted with all sorts of _plants_.



Pronouns or proxy-nouns are of three kinds; namely, the Personal, the
Relative, and the Adjective Pronouns.

_Note._--That when we said, some few pages back, that a pronoun was a word
used instead of a noun, we did not mean to call such words as thingumibob,
whatsiname, what-d’ye-call-it, and the like, pronouns.

And that, although we shall proceed to treat of the pronouns in the
English language, we shall have nothing to do, at present, with what some
people please to call pronoun-_ciation_.



“Mr. Haddams, don’t be personal, Sir!”

“I’m not, Sir.”

“You har, Sir!”

“What did I say, Sir?--tell me that.”

“You reflected on my perfession, Sir; you said, as there was _some_ people
as always stuck up for the _cloth_; and you insinnivated that certain
parties dined off _goose_ by means of _cabbaging_ from the parish. I ask
any gentleman in the westry, if that an’t personal?”

[Illustration: A SELECT VESTRY.]

“Vell, Sir, vot I says I’ll stick to.”

“Yes, Sir, like vax, as the saying is.”

“Wot d’ye mean by that, Sir?”

“Wot I say, Sir!”

“You’re a individual, Sir!”

“You’re another, Sir!”

“You’re no gentleman, Sir!”

“You’re a humbug, Sir!”

“You’re a knave, Sir!”

“You’re a rogue, Sir!”

“You’re a wagabond, Sir!”

“You’re a willain, Sir!”

“You’re a tailor, Sir!”

“You’re a cobbler, Sir!” (Order! order! chair! chair! &c.)

The above is what is called personal language. How many different things
one word serves to express in English! A pronoun may be as personal as
possible, and yet nobody will take offence at it.

There are five Personal Pronouns; namely, I, thou, he, she, it; with their
plurals, we, ye or you, they.

Personal Pronouns admit of person, number, gender, and case.

Pronouns have three persons in each number.

In the Singular;

    I, is the first person.

    Thou, is the second person.

    He, she, or it, is the third person.

In the plural;

    We, is the first person.

    Ye or you, is the second person.

    They, is the third person.

This account of persons will be very intelligible when the following
Pastoral Fragment is reflected on:--


  _I_ love thee, Susan, on my life:
  _Thou_ art the maiden for a wife.
  _He_ who lives single is an ass;
  _She_ who ne’er weds a luckless lass.
  _It’s_ tiresome work to live alone;
  So come with me, and be my own.


  _We_ maids are oft by men deceived;
  _Ye_ don’t deserve to be believed;
  _You_ don’t--but there’s my hand--heigho!
  _They_ tell us, women can’t say no!

The speaker or speakers are of the first person; those spoken to, of the
second; and those spoken of, of the third.

Of the three persons, the first is the most universally admired.

The second is the object of much adulation and flattery, and now and then
of a little abuse.

The third person is generally made small account of; and, amongst other
grievances, suffers a great deal from being frequently bitten about the

The Numbers of pronouns, like those of substantives, are, as we have
already seen, two; the singular and the plural.

In addressing yourself to anybody, it is customary to use the second
person plural instead of the singular. This practice most probably arose
from a notion, that to be thought twice the man that the speaker was,
gratified the vanity of the person addressed. Thus, the French put a
double Monsieur on the backs of their letters.

Editors say “We,” instead of “I,” out of modesty.

The Quakers continue to say “thee” and “thou,” in the use of which
pronouns, as well as in the wearing of broad-brimmed hats and of stand-up
collars, they perceive a peculiar sanctity.

Gender has to do only with the third person singular of the pronouns, he,
she, it. He is masculine; she is feminine; it is neuter.

Pronouns have the like cases with substantives; the nominative, the
possessive, and the objective.

Would that they were the hardest cases to be met with in this country!

The personal pronouns are thus declined:--

  Nom.     I                We.
  Poss.    Mine             Ours.
  Obj.     Me               Us.

Pronouns, you see, are declined without fuss.

  Nom.     Thou            Ye or you.
  Poss.    Thine           Yours.
  Obj.     Thee            You.

How glad I shall be when my task I’ve got through!

Now the third person singular, as we before observed, has genders; and we
shall therefore decline it in a different way. Variety is charming.


  CASE.     MASC.    FEM.    NEUT.
  Nom.      He       She     It.
            Well     done    Kit!
  Poss.     His.     Hers    Its.
            Now      Tom’s   quits.
  Obj.      Him       Her    It.
            Deuce     a      bit!

  CASE.                   PLURAL.
  Nom.                    They
  Poss.                   Theirs.
  Obj.                    Them.
           Reader, Mem.

We beg to inform thee, that the third person plural has no distinction of



The Pronouns called Relative are such as relate, for the most part, to
some word or phrase, called the antecedent, on account of its going
before: they are, _who_, _which_, and _that_: as, “The man _who_ does not
drink enough when he can get it, is a fool; but he _that_ drinks too much
is a beast.”

_What_ is usually equivalent to _that which_, and is, therefore, a kind of
compound relative, containing both the antecedent and the relative; as,
“You want _what_ you’ll very soon have!” that is to say, _the thing which_
you will very soon have.

_Who_ is applied to persons, _which_ to animals and things without life;
as, “He is a _gentleman who_ keeps a horse and lives respectably.” “To the
_dog which_ pinned the old woman, they cried, ‘Cæsar!’” “This is the _tree
which_ Larkins called a _h_elm.”

Larkins.--I say, Nibbs, ven is a helm box like a asthmatical chest?

Nibbs.--Ven it’s a _coffin_.

_That_, as a relative, is used to prevent the too frequent repetition of
_who_ and _which_, and is applied both to persons and things; as, “_He
that_ stops the bottle is a _Cork_ man.” “This is the house _that_ Jack

_Who_ is of both numbers; and so is an Editor; for, according to what we
observed just now, he is both singular and plural. _Who_, we repeat, is of
both numbers, and is thus declined:--


  Nominative.         Who
     Is the maiden to woo?

  Genitive.           Whose
      Hand shall I choose?

  Accusative.         Whom
      To despair shall I doom?

_Which_, _that_, and _what_ are indeclinable; except that _whose_ is
sometimes used as the possessive case of _which_; as,

  “The roe, poor dear, laments amain,
   _Whose_ sweet hart was by hunter slain.”

Thus _whose_ is substituted for _of which_, in the following example:--

  “There is a blacking famed, _of which_
   The sale made Day and Martin rich;
   There is another blacking, _whose_
   Compounder patronised the Muse.”[2]

_Who_, _which_, and _what_, when they are used in asking questions, are
called Interrogatives; as, “_Who_ is Mr. Walker?” “_Which_ is the left
side of a round plum-pudding?” “_What_ is the damage?”

Those who have made popular phraseology their study, will have found that
_which_ is sometimes used for _whereas_, and words of like signification;
as in Dean Swift’s “Mary the Cookmaid’s Letter to Dr. Sheridan”:--

  “And now I know whereby you would fain make an excuse,
   Because my master one day in anger call’d you a goose;
   _Which_, and I am sure I have been his servant since October,
   And he never called me worse than sweetheart, drunk or sober.”

_What_, or, to speak more _im_properly, _wot_, is generally substituted by
cabmen and costermongers for _who_; as, “The donkey _wot_ wouldn’t go.”
“The man _wot_ sweeps the crossing.”

_That_, likewise, is very frequently rejected by the vulgar, who use _as_
in its place; as, “Them _as_ asks shan’t have any; and them _as_ don’t ask
don’t want any.”



Adjective pronouns partake of the nature of both pronouns and adjectives.
They may be subdivided into four sorts: the possessive, the distributive,
the demonstrative, and the indefinite.

The possessive pronouns are those which imply possession or property. Of
these there are seven; namely, _my_, _thy_, _his_, _her_, _our_, _your_,

The word _self_ is added to possessives; as, myself, yourself, “Says I to
myself, says I.” _Self_ is also sometimes used with personal pronouns;
as, himself, itself, themselves. _His_ self is a common, but not a proper

[Illustration: SELF-ESTEEM.]

The distributive are three: _each_, _every_, _either_; they denote the
individual persons or things separately, which, when taken together, make
up a number.

_Each_ is used when two or more persons or things are mentioned singly;
as, “_each_ of the Catos;” “_each_ of the Browns.”

_Every_ relates to one out of several; as, “_Every_ mare is a horse, but
_every_ horse is not a mare.”

_Either_ refers to one out of two; as,

  “When I between two jockeys ride,
   I have a knave on _either_ side.”

_Neither_ signifies “not either;” as “_Neither_ of the Bacons was related
to Hogg.”

The demonstrative pronouns precisely point out the subjects to which they
relate; such are _this_ and _that_, with their plurals _these_ and
_those_; as, “_This_ is a foreign Prince; _that_ is an English Peer.”

_This_ refers to the nearest person or thing, and to the latter or last
mentioned; _that_ to the most distant, and to the former or first
mentioned; as, “_This_ is a man; _that_ is a nondescript.” “At the period
of the Reformation in Scotland, a curious contrast between the ancient and
modern ecclesiastical systems was observed; for while _that_ had been
always maintained by a _Bull_, _this_ was now supported by a _Knox_.”

The indefinite are those which express their subjects in an indefinite or
general manner; as, _some_, _other_, _any_, _one_, _all_, _such_, &c.

When the definite article _the_ comes before the word _other_, those who
do not know better, are accustomed to strike out the _he_ in _the_, and to
say, _t’other_.

The same persons also use _other_ in the comparative degree; for
sometimes, instead of saying quite the reverse, or perhaps re_w_erse, they
avail themselves of the expression, _more t’other_.

So much for the Pronouns.





The nature of Verbs in general, and that in all languages, is, that they
are the most difficult things in the Grammar.

Verbs are divided into Active, Passive, and Neuter; and also into Regular,
Irregular, and Defective. To these divisions we beg to add another; Verbs

A Verb Active implies an agent, and an object acted upon; as, to love; “I
love Wilhelmina Stubbs.” Here, I am the agent; that is, the lover; and
Wilhelmina Stubbs is the object acted upon, or the beloved object.

A Verb Passive expresses the suffering, feeling, or undergoing of
something; and therefore implies an object acted upon, and an agent by
which it is acted upon; as, to be loved; “Wilhelmina Stubbs is loved by

A Verb Neuter expresses neither action nor passion, but a state of being;
as, I bounce, I lie.

[Illustration: “Fact, Madam!”

“Gracious, Major!”]

Of Verbs Regular, Irregular, and Defective, we shall have somewhat to say

Verbs Comic are, for the most part, verbs which cannot be found in the
dictionary, and are used to express ordinary actions in a jocular manner;
as, to “morris,” to “bolt,” to “mizzle,” which signify to go or to depart;
to “bone,” to “prig,” that is to say, to steal; to “collar,” which means
to seize, an expression probably derived from the mode of prehension, or
rather apprehension characteristic of the New Police, as it is one very
much in the mouths of those who most frequently come in contact with that
body: to “lush,” or drink; to “grub,” or eat; to “sell,” or deceive, &c.

Under the head of Verbs Comic, the Yankee-isms, I “calculate,” I “reckon,”
I “realise,” I “guess,” and the like, may also be properly enumerated.

Auxiliary, or helping Verbs (by the way, we marvel that the Americans do
not call their servants auxiliaries instead of helps,) are those, by the
help of which we are chiefly enabled to conjugate our verbs in English.
They are, do, be, have, shall, will, may, can, with their variations; and
let and must, which have no variation.

Let, however, when it is _anything but_ a _helping_ verb, as, for
instance, when it signifies to _hinder_, makes lettest and letteth. The
phrase, “This House to Let,” generally used instead of “to be let,” really
meaning the reverse of what it is intended to convey, is a piece of comic

To verbs belong Number, Person, Mood, and Tense. These may be called the
properties of a verb; and like those of opium, they are soporiferous
properties. There are two very important objects which the writer of every
book has, or ought to have in view, to get a reader who is wide awake, and
to keep him so:--the latter of which, when Number, Person, Mood, and Tense
are to be treated of, is no such easy matter; seeing that the said writer
is then in some danger of going to sleep himself. Never mind. If we nod,
let the reader wink. What can’t be cured must be endured.



Verbs have two numbers, the Singular and the Plural; as, “I fiddle, we
fiddle,” &c.

In each number there are three persons; as

                  SINGULAR.     PLURAL.
  First Person    I love        We love.
  Second Person   Thou lovest   Ye or you love.
  Third Person    He loves      They love.

What a deal there is in every Grammar about love! Here the following
Lines, by a Young Lady (now no more), addressed to Lindley Murray, deserve
to be recorded:--

  “Oh, Murray! fatal name to me,
     Thy burning page with tears is wet;
   Since first ‘to love’ I learned of thee,
     Teach me, ah! teach me ‘to forget!’”



Mood or Mode is a particular form of the verb, or a certain variation
which it undergoes, showing the manner in which the being, action, or
passion, is represented.

The moods of verbs are five, the Indicative, the Imperative, the
Potential, the Subjunctive, and the Infinitive.

The Indicative Mood simply points out or declares a thing: as, “He
teaches, he is taught;” or it asks a question: as, “Does he teach? Is he

Q. Why is old age the best teacher?

A. Because he gives you the most _wrinkles_.

Q. Why does a rope support a rope-dancer?

A. Because it is _taught_.

The Imperative Mood commands, exhorts, entreats, or permits: as, “Vanish
thou; trot ye; let us hop; be off!”

The Potential Mood implies possibility or liberty, power, will, or
obligation: as, “A waiter _may be_ honest. You may stand upon truth or
lie. I can filch. He would cozen. They should learn.”

The Subjunctive Mood is used to represent a thing as done conditionally;
and is preceded by a conjunction, expressed or understood, and accompanied
by another verb: as, “_If_ the skies should fall, larks would be caught.”
“Were I to punch your head, I should serve you right;” that is, “_if_ I
were to punch your head.”

The Infinitive Mood expresses a thing generally, without limitation, and
without any distinction of number or person: as, “to quarrel, to fight, to
be licked.”

The Participle is a peculiar form of the verb, and is so called, because
it participates in the properties both of a verb and of an adjective: as,
“May I have the pleasure of _dancing_ with you?” “_Mounted_ on a tub he
addressed the bystanders.” “_Having_ uplifted a stave, they departed.”

The Participles are three; the Present or Active, the Perfect or Passive,
and the Compound Perfect: as, “I felt nervous at the thought of _popping_
the question, but that once _popped_, I was not sorry for _having popped_

The worst of _popping_ the question is, that the _report_ is always sure
to get abroad.



Tense is the distinction of time, and consists of six divisions, namely,
the Present, the Imperfect, the Perfect, the Pluperfect, and the First and
Second Future Tenses.

Time is also distinguished by a fore lock, scythe, and hour-glass; but the
youthful reader must bear in mind, that these things are not to be
confounded with tenses.

The Present Tense, as its name implies, represents an action or event
occurring at the present time: as, “I lament; rogues prosper; the mob

The Imperfect Tense represents a past action or event, but which, like a
mutton chop, may be either thoroughly done, or not thoroughly done; were
it _meet_, we should say _under-done_: as,

  “When I _was_ a little boy some fifteen years ago,
   My mammy _doted_ on me--Lork! she _made_ me quite a show.”

  “When our reporter left, the Honourable Gentleman _was_ still on his

The legs of most “Honourable Gentlemen” must be tolerably stout ones; for
the “majority” do not stand on trifles. However, we are not going to
_commit_ ourselves, like _some_ folks, nor to get _committed_, like
_other_ folks; so we will leave “_Honourable_ Gentlemen” to manage matters
their own way.

The Perfect Tense declares a thing to have been done at some time, though
an indefinite one, antecedent to the present time. That, however, which
the Perfect Tense represents as done, is completely, or, as we say of John
Bull, when he is humbugged by the thimble-rig people, regularly done; as,
“I _have been_ out on the river.” “I _have caught_ a crab.”

Catching a crab is a thing _regularly_ (in another sense than completely)
done, when civic swains pull young ladies up to Richmond. We beg to inform
persons unacquainted with aquatic phraseology, that “pulling up” young
ladies, or others, is a very different thing from “pulling up” an omnibus
conductor or a cabman. What an equivocal language is ours! How much less
agreeable to be “pulled up” at Bow Street than to be “pulled up” in a
wherry! how wide the discrepancy between “pulling up” radishes and
“pulling up” horses!

The Pluperfect Tense represents a thing as doubly past; that is, as past
previously to some other point of time also past; as, “I fell in love
before I _had arrived_ at years of discretion.”


The First Future Tense represents the action as yet to come, either at a
certain or an uncertain time; as, “The tailor _will send_ my coat home
to-morrow; and when I find it perfectly convenient, I _shall pay_ him.”

The Second Future intimates that the action will be completed at or before
the time of another future action or event; as, “I wonder how many
conquests I _shall have made_ by to-morrow morning.”

N.B. One ball is often the means of killing a great many people.

The consideration of the tenses suggests various moral reflections to the
thinking mind.

A few examples will perhaps suffice:--

1. _Present_, though moderate fruition, is preferable to splendid, but
contingent _futurity_; i. e. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

2. _Imperfect_ nutrition is less to be deprecated than privation of
aliment;--a new way of putting an old proverb, which we need not again
insert, respecting half a loaf.

3. _Perfect_ callidity was the distinguishing attribute of the Curved

Callidity is another word for craftiness; but for the exercise of the
reader’s ingenuity, we forbear to mention the person alluded to as so
remarkable for his astutious qualities.

Q. What species of _writing_ is most conducive to morality?

A. _Text_-hand.



We have observed that boys, in conjugating verbs, give no indications of
delight, except that which an ingenuous disposition always feels in the
acquisition of knowledge. Now, having arrived at that part of the Grammar
in which it becomes necessary that these same verbs should be considered,
we feel ourselves in an awkward dilemma. The omission of the conjugations
is a _serious_ omission--which, of course, is objectionable in a _comic_
work--and the insertion of them would be equally serious, and therefore
quite as improper. What _shall_ we do? We will adopt a middle course;
referring the reader to Murray and other talented authors for full
information on these matters; and requesting him to be content with our
confining ourselves to what is more especially suitable to these pages--a
short summary of the _Comicalities_ of verbs.

The Conjugation of a verb is the combination and arrangement of its
numbers, persons, moods, and tenses.

The Comicalities of verbs consist in certain liberties taken with their
numbers, persons, moods, and tenses.

The Conjugation of an active verb is called the Active Voice, and that of
a passive Verb the Passive Voice.

If verbs have voices, it is but reasonable that walls should have ears.

The auxiliary and active verb To Have is thus peculiarly conjugated by
some people in some of its moods and tenses.




  SINGULAR.               PLURAL.
  1. Pers. I has.     1. Pers. We has.
  2.       Thee’st.   2.       Ye or you has.
  3.       He’ve.     3.       They has.


  SINGULAR.               PLURAL.
  1. I’ze had.        1. We’ze had.
  2. Thee’st had.     2. Ye or you’ze had.
  3. He’ve had.       3. They’ze had.


  SINGULAR.                        PLURAL.
  1. I sholl _or_ ool ha’.         1. We shool _or_ ool ha’.
  2. Thee shat _or_ oot ha’.       2. Ye or you sholl _or_ ool ha’.
  3. He sholl _or_ ool ha’.        3. They sholl _or_ ool ha’.


  SINGULAR.                        PLURAL.
  1. Let me ha’.                   1. Let’s ha’.
  2. Ha’, _or_ ha thou, _or_ do    2. Ha, _or_ ha ye, _or_ do ye,
     thee ha’.                        _or_ you ha’.
  3. Let un ha’.                   3. Let um ha’.



  SINGULAR.                        PLURAL.
  1. I med _or_ can ha’.           1. We med _or_ can ha’.
  2. Thee medst _or_ canst ha’.    2. Ye _or_ you med _or_ can ha’.
  3. He med _or_ can ha’.          3. They med _or_ can ha’.



  SINGULAR.                        PLURAL.
  1. If I has.                     1. If we has.
  2. If thee hast                  2. If ye or you has.
  3. If he ha’.                    3. If they has.


  Present,  To ha’.       Perfect, To a had.


  Present or Active,      Havun or Avun.
  Perfect,                ’Ad.
  Compound Perfect,       Havun ’ad.

The auxiliary and neuter verb To Be, is maltreated as follows:


(Toby or not Toby?--that is the question!)



  SINGULAR.              PLURAL.
  1. I be.               1. We be.
  2. Thee bist.          2. Ye _or_ you be.
  3. He, she or it am.   3. They be _or_ am.


  SINGULAR.             PLURAL.
  1. I wor, or wus.     1. We wus.
  2. Thee wort.         2. Ye _or_ you wus.
  3. He wur.            3. They wur.

“When I say as you was, I mean, as you were.”


  SINGULAR.                     PLURAL.
  1. I’ve a bin.                1. We’ve a bin.
  2. Thee’st a bin.             2. Ye _or_ you’ve a bin.
  3. He’ve a bin.               3. They’ve a bin.


  SINGULAR.                     PLURAL.
  1. Let I be.                  1. Let we be.
  2. Be thee _or_ ’st thee be.  2. Do ’ee be.
  3. Let un be.                 3. Let um be.


  Present Tense, For to be.     Perfect, For to ha’ bin.


  Present, Beun.                Perfect, Bin.
  Compound Perfect,                      Havun bin.

  If _being_ a younster, I had not been smitten,
    Of _having been_ jilted I should not complain,
  Take warning from me all ye lads who are bitten,
    When this part of Grammar occurs to your brain.

As there is a certain _intensity_ of feeling abroad, which renders people
indisposed to trouble themselves with _verbal_ matters, we shall take the
liberty of making very short work of the Regular Verbs. Even Murray can
only afford to conjugate one example,--To Love. The learner must amplify
this part of the Grammar for himself: and we recommend him to substitute
for “to love,” some word less harrowing to a sensitive mind: as, “to
fleece, to tax,” verbs which excite disagreeable emotions only in a sordid
one; and which also, by association of ideas, conduct us to useful
reflections on Political Economy. We advise all whom it may concern,
however, to pay the greatest attention to this part of the Grammar, and
before they come to the Verbs Regular, to make a particular study of the
Auxiliary Verbs: not only for the excellent reasons set forth in “Tristram
Shandy,” but also to avoid those awkward mistakes in which the
Comicalities of the Verbs, or Verbal Comicalities, chiefly consist.

“Did it rain to-morrow?” asked Monsieur Grenouille.

“Yes it was!” replied Monsieur Crapaud.

We propose the following as an _auxiliary mode_ of conjugating verbs:--“I
love to roam on the crested foam, Thou lovest to roam on the crested foam,
He loves to roam on the crested foam, We love to roam on the crested foam,
Ye or you love to roam on the crested foam, They love to roam on the
crested foam,” &c. These words, if set to music, might serve for a
grammatical _glee_, and would, at all events, be productive of _mirth_.


The Auxiliary Verbs, too, are very useful when a peculiar emphasis is
required: as, “I shall give you a drubbing!” “_Will_ you?” “I know a trick
worth two of that.” “_Do_ you, though?” “It _might_,” as the Quaker said
to the Yankee, who wanted to know what his name might be; “it _might_ be
Beelzebub, but it _is_ not.”

Now we may as well say what we have to say about the conjugation of
regular verbs active.



Regular Verbs Active are known by their forming their imperfect tense of
the indicative mood, and their perfect participle, by adding to the verb
_ed_, or _d_ only when the verb ends in _e_: as,

  I reckon.     I reckoned.   Reckoned.
  I realise.    I realised.   Realised.

Here should follow the conjugation of the regular active verb, or, as a
Cockney Romeo would say, the _regular_ torturing verb, To Love; but we
have already assigned a good reason for omitting it; besides which we have
to say, that we think it a verb highly unfit for conjugation by youth, as
it tends to put ideas into their heads which they would otherwise never
have thought of; and it is moreover our opinion, that several of our most
gifted poets may, with reason, have attributed those unfortunate
attachments which, though formed in early youth, served to embitter their
whole lives, to the poison which they thus sucked in with the milk, so to
speak, of their Mother Tongue, the Grammar.


Verbs Passive are said to be regular, when their perfect participle is
formed by the addition of _d_, or _ed_ to the verb: as, from the verb “To
bless,” is formed the passive, “I am blessed, I was blessed, I shall be
blessed,” &c.

The conjugation of a passive verb is nothing more than the repetition of
that of the auxiliary To Be, the perfect participle being added.

And now, having cut the regular verbs (as Alexander did the Gordian knot)
instead of conjugating them, let us proceed to consider the



Irregular Verbs are those of which the imperfect tense and the perfect
participle are _not_ formed by adding _d_ or _ed_ to the verb: as,

  I blow.   I blew.     blown.

To say I am blown, is, under certain circumstances, such as windy and
tempestuous weather, proper enough; but I am blowed, it will at once be
perceived, is not only an ungrammatical, but also a vulgar expression.

Great liberties are taken with the Irregular Verbs, insomuch that in the
mouths of some persons, divers of them become doubly irregular in the
formation of their participles. Among such Irregular Verbs we may
enumerate the following:--

  Am           wur                    bin.
  Beat         bet _or_ bate          bate.
  Burst        bust                   busted.
  Catch        cotch                  cotched
  Come         kim                    comed.
  Creep        crup                   crup.
  Drive        druv                   driv.
  Freeze       friz                   froze.
  Give         guv                    giv.
  Go           goed                   went.
  Rise         riz                    rose.
  See          sid                    sin, &c.

Some verbs which in this country are held to be regular, are treated as
irregular verbs in America: as,

  Row            rew                rown.
  Snow           snew               snown.



  Most men have five senses,
  Most verbs have six tenses;
  But as there are some folks
  Who are blind, deaf, or dumb folks,
  Just so there are some verbs
  Defective, or _rum_ verbs,

which are used only in some of their moods and tenses.

The principal of them are these:--

          IMPERF.     PERF. OR PASS. PART.
  Can     could              nix.
  May     might              --
  Shall   should             --
  Will    would              --
  Must    must               --
  Ought   ought              --
   --     quoth              --

There is not, perhaps, anything in the defective verbs peculiarly valuable
in a comic point of view. However, it should not be forgotten, that

_Can_ is one of the signs of the POT-ential Mood;

_Will_, _Would_ reminds us of the Drapier’s Letters.

“_Must_” is for the House of Commons (it used to be for the King).

Ought, ought, with 1 before it, stands, (in schoolboy phrase) for 100.

’Tis naught, so to speak, however, says Murray.



Having as great a dislike as the youngest of our readers can have to
repetitions, we shall not say what an adverb is over again. It is,
nevertheless, right to observe, that some adverbs are compared: as, far,
farther, farthest; near, nearer, nearest. In comparing those which end in
_ly_, we use _more_ and _most_: as, slowly, more slowly, most slowly.

Q. Who, of all the civic functionaries, moves “most slowly?”

A. Mr. Hobler.

There are a great many adverbs in the English Language: their number is
probably even greater than that of abusive epithets. They are divisible
into certain classes; the chief of which are Number, Order, Place, Time,
Quantity, Manner or Quality, Doubt, Affirmation, Negation, Interrogation,
and Comparison.

A nice little list, truly! and perhaps some of our readers may suppose
that we are going to exemplify it at length: if so, all we can say with
regard to their expectation is, that we wish they may get it gratified.
In the meantime, we will not turn our Grammar into a dictionary, to please
anybody. However, we have no objection to a brief illustration of the uses
and properties of adverbs, as contained in the following passage:--

“_Formerly_, _when first_ I began to preach and to teach, _whithersoever_
I went, the little boys followed me, and _now_ and _then_ pelted me with
brick-bats, as _heretofore_ they pelted Ebenezer Grimes. And _whensoever_
I opened my mouth, _straightways_ the ungodly began to crow. _Oftentimes_
was I hit in the mouth with an orange: _yea_, and _once_, _moreover_, with
a rotten egg; _whereat_ there was much laughter, which, _notwithstanding_,
I took in good part, and wiped my face, and looked _pleasantly_. For
_peradventure_ I said, they will listen to my sermon; _yea_, and after
that we may have a collection. So I was _nowise_ discomfited; _wherefore_
I advise thee, Brother Habakkuk, to take no heed of thy persecutors,
seeing that I, _whereas_ I was once little better off than thyself, have
_now_ a chapel of mine own. And _herein_ let thy mind be comforted, that,
preach as much as thou wilt against the Bishop, thou wilt not,
_therefore_, in these days, be in danger of the pillory. Howbeit,” &c.

_Vide_ Life of the late pious and Rev. Samuel Simcox (letter to Habbakuk



Prepositions are, for the most part, put before nouns and pronouns: as,
“out _of_ the frying-pan _into_ the fire.”

Two prepositions, _with_ and _without_, are sometimes (as we have been
informed) used in the place of substantives: as, “cold _without_, warm

The preposition _of_ is sometimes used as a part of speech of peculiar
signification, and one to which no name has as yet been applied: as, “What
have you been doing _of_?”

_At_ and _up_ are not rarely used as verbs, but we should scarcely have
been justified in so classing them by the authority of any polite writer;
such use of them being confined to the vulgar: as, “Now then, Bill, _at_
him again.” “So she _upped_ with her fists, and fetched him a whop.”

_After_ is improperly pronounced _arter_, and _against_, _agin_: as,
“Hallo! Jim, vot are you _arter_? don’t you know that ere’s _agin_ the



A Conjunction means literally, a union or meeting together. An
ill-assorted marriage is


But our conjunctions are used to connect words and sentences, and have
nothing to do with the joining of hands. They are chiefly of two sorts,
the Copulative and Disjunctive.

The Copulative Conjunction is employed for the connection or continuation
of a sentence: as, “Jack _and_ Gill went up the Hill,” “I will sing a song
_if_ Gubbins will,” “A thirsty man is like a City Giant, _because_ he is a
Gog for drink.”

The Conjunction Disjunctive is used not only for purposes of connection,
but also to express opposition of meaning in different degrees: as,
“_Though_ Lord John is as cunning as a Fox, _yet_ Sir Robert is as deep as
a Pitt.” “We pay less for our letters, _but_ shall have to pay more for
our panes: they have lightened our postage, _but_ they will darken our

Conjunctions are the hooks and eyes of Language, in which, as well as in
dress, it is very possible to make an awkward use of them: as, “For _if_
the year consist of 365 days 6 hours, _and_ January have 31 days, _then_
the relation between the corpuscular theory of light _and_ the new views
of Mr. Owen is at once subverted: _for_, ‘When Ignorance is bliss, ’tis
folly to be wise:’ _because_ 1760 yards make a mile; _and_ it is
universally acknowledged that ‘war is the madness of many for the gain of
a few:’ _therefore_ Sir Isaac Newton was quite right in supposing the
diamond to be combustible.”

The word _as_, so often used in this and other Grammars, is a conjunction:
as, “Mrs. A. is _as_ well _as_ can be expected.”


The Siamese twins formed a singular conjunction.

A tin pot fastened to a dog’s tail is a disagreeable conjunction to the
unfortunate animal.

A happy pair may be regarded as an uncommon conjunction.



We have said almost enough about their Etymology already. Still, it may
not be superfluous to bestow a passing notice on the singularly expressive
character of certain of these parts of speech, heard, it is true,
repeatedly; but unaccountably omitted in all previous Grammars. For
instance, how many lives does the warning, “Hoy!” of the coachman or
cab-driver daily save? What an amount of infantile aberrations from
propriety is the admonitory “Paw-paw!” the means of checking. With what
felicity is acquiescence denoted by “Umph!” The utility of the
Interjections on various occasions, such as our meals, for example, in
enabling us to economise our speech, is very striking.



Those who know Latin, Greek, Saxon, and the other languages from which our
own is formed, do not require to be instructed in philological derivation;
and on those who do not understand the said tongues, such instruction
would be thrown away. In what manner English words are derived, one from
another, the generality of persons know very well: there are, however, a
few words and phrases, which it is expedient to trace to their respective
sources; not only because such an exercise is of itself delightful to the
inquiring mind; but because we shall thereby be furnished (as we hope to
show) with a test by means of which, on hearing an expression for the
first time, we shall be able, in most instances, to decide at once
respecting its nature and quality.

There are several words in the English Language which were originally
Terms of Art, but came in process of time to be applied metaphorically to
the common purposes of discourse. Thus lodgings are sometimes called
_quarters_; a word which, in its restricted sense, signifies the lodgings
of soldiers; ill habits, like diseases, are said to be _remedied_; men
hope, as if indicted for an offence, that ladies will _acquit_ them of
inattention, and so forth. When, as in the instances cited, the word or
phrase can be traced back either to one of the Learned Professions, or to
any source savouring of gentility, it is esteemed a proper one, and there
is no objection to its use.

Now we have divers other words, of which many have but recently come into
vogue, which, though by no means improper or immoral, are absolutely
unutterable in any polite assembly. It is not, at first, very easy to see
what can be the objection to their use; but derivation explains it for us
in the most satisfactory manner. The truth is, that the expressions in
question take their origin from various trades and occupations, in which
they have, for the most part, a literal meaning; and we now perceive what
horrible suspicions respecting one’s birth, habits, and education, their
figurative employment would be likely to excite. To make the matter
indisputably clear, we will explain our position by a few examples.

  Bone (to steal),                    Butchers.
  Chisel (to cheat),                  Carpenters.
  Clout (to beat),                    Scullions.
  To cut it fat,                      Cooks.
  To come it strong,                  Publicans.
  To draw it mild,                    Ditto.
  To drop off the hooks,              Butchers.
  To miss your tip,                   Footmen.
  To be done,                         Cooks.
  To be done brown,                   Ditto.
  To collar (to seize),               Thieves or policemen.
  To be walked off,                   Ditto.
  A sell,                             Jews.
  A shine,                            Shoe-boys.
  A wipe (a handkerchief),            Blackguards in general, from its use.
  A mawley (a hand),                  Prizefighters.
  To welt (to beat),                  Cobblers.
  To leather (ditto),                 Ditto.
  To strap (ditto),                   Ditto.
  To hide (ditto),                    Curriers.
  Spicy (showy),                      Grocers.
  To hang out (to dwell),             Publicans.
  A drag (carriage),                  Stage-coachmen.
  Swamped (ruined),                   Watermen.
  To put one’s oar in (to interfere), Watermen.
  Get on with your barrow,            Dogs’-meat-men.
  Kidderminster (for carpet),         Upholsterers.
  Mahogany (for table),               Ditto.
  Dodge (trick),                      Pickpockets.

(N.B. All those are obliged to have recourse to the _dodge_, who are in
the habit of _outrunning_ the constable.) But, to proceed with our

  To bung up an eye,                  Brewers.
  To chalk down,                      Publicans.
  A close shaver (a miser),           Barbers.
  To be off your feed,                Ostlers.
  Hold hard (stop),                   Omnibus-men.

Numerous examples, similar to the foregoing, will, no doubt, present
themselves, in addition, to the mind of the enlightened student. We have
not, however, quite done yet with our remarks on this division of our
subject. The intrinsic vulgarity of all modes of speech which may be
traced to mean or disreputable persons, will, of course, not be
questioned. But--and as we have got hold of a nice bone, we may as well
get all the marrow we can out of it--the principle which is now under
consideration has a much wider range than is apparent at first sight.

Now we will suppose a red-hot lover addressing the goddess of his
idolatry--by the way, how strange it is, that these goddesses should be
always having their temples on fire, that a Queen of Hearts should ever be
seated on a burning throne!--but to return to the lover: he was to say
something. Well, then, let A. B. be the lover. He expresses himself

“Mary, my earthly hopes are centred in you. You need not doubt me; my
heart is true as the dial to the sun. Words cannot express how much I love
you. Nor is my affection an ordinary feeling: it is a more exalted and a
more enduring sentiment than that which usually bears its name. I have
done. I am not eloquent: I can say no more, than that I deeply and
sincerely love you.”

This, perhaps, will be regarded by connoisseurs as tolerably pathetic, and
for the kind of thing not very ridiculous. Now, let A. S. S. be the lover;
and let us have his version of the same story:--

“Mary, my capital in life is invested in you. You need not stick at giving
me credit; my heart is as safe as the Bank of England. The sum total of my
love for you defies calculation. Nor is my attachment anything in the
common way. It is a superior and more durable article than that in
general wear. My stock of words is exhausted. I am no wholesale dealer in
that line. All I can say is, that I have a vast fund of unadulterated
affection for you.”

In this effusion the Stock Exchange, the Multiplication Table, and the
Linendraper’s and Grocer’s shops have been drawn upon for a clothing to
the suitor’s ideas; and by an unhappy choice of words, the most delightful
and amiable feelings of our nature, without which Life would be a Desert
and Man a bear, are invested with a ridiculous disguise.

We would willingly enlarge upon the topic which we have thus slightly
handled, but that we feel that we should by so doing, intrench too far on
the boundaries of Rhetoric, to which science, more particularly than to
Grammar, the consideration of Metaphor belongs; besides which, it is high
time to have done with Etymology. Here, then, gentlemen, if you please, we
shall pull up.

“Pull up! what an expression!”

“Well, Sir, did you never hear that next to the _Bar_ the first school of
grammatical elegance is the _Stage_?”



“Now then, reader, if you are quite ready, we are--All right! * * * *”

The asterisks are intended to stand for a word used in speaking to horses.
Don’t blush, young ladies; there’s not a shadow of harm in it: but as to
spelling it, we are as unable to do so as the ostler’s boy was, who was
thrashed for his ignorance by his father.

“Where are we now, coachman?”


“The third part of Grammar, Sir, wot treats of the agreement and
construction of words in a sentence.”

“Does a coachman say _wot_ for _which_ because he has a licence?”

“Can’t say, Ma’am?”

“Drive on, coachman.”

And _we_ must _drive on_, or _boil on_, or whatever it is the fashion to
call getting on in these times.

A sentence is an aggregate of words forming a complete sense.

Sometimes, however, a sentence is an aggregate of words forming complete
nonsense: as,

“They are very civil and attentive to the smallest order, and furnish a
house entirely complete, _for twenty-seven guineas, all new and well
seasoned_.”--Advertisement in the Times.

Sentences are of two kinds, simple and compound.

A simple sentence has in it but one subject and one finite verb; that is,
a verb to which number and person belong: as, “A joke is a joke.”

A compound sentence consists of two or more simple sentences connected
together: as, “A joke is a joke, but a ducking is no joke. Corpulence is
the attribute of swine, mayors, and oxen.”

Simple sentences may be divided (if we choose to take the trouble) into
the Explicative or explaining; the Interrogative, or asking; the
Imperative, or commanding.

An explicative sentence is, in other words, a direct assertion: as, “Sir,
you are impertinent.”--_Johnson._

An interrogative sentence “merely asks a question:” as, “Are you a
policeman? How’s your Inspector?”

[Illustration: “How’s your Inspector?”]

An imperative sentence is expressive of command, exhortation, or entreaty:
as, “Shoulder arms!” “Turn out your toes!” “Charge bayonets!”

A phrase is two or more words properly put together, making either a
sentence or part of a sentence: as, “Good morning!” “Your most obedient!”

Some phrases consist of two or more words improperly put together: these
are improper phrases: as, “Now then, old stupid!” “Stand out of the

[Illustration: “What a duck of a man!”]

Other phrases consist of words put together by ladies: as, “A duck of a
man,” “A love of a shawl,” “_so_ nice,” “quite refreshing,” “sweetly
pretty.” “Did you ever?” “No I never!”

Other phrases again consist of French and English words put together by
people of quality, because their knowledge of both languages is pretty
nearly equal: as, “I am au désespoir,” “mis hors de combat,” “quite
ennuyé,” or rather in nine cases out of ten, “ennuy_ée_,”--“I have a great
envie” to do so and so. These constitute an important variety of comic

Besides the above, there are various phrases which we may call elliptical
phrases, consisting principally of the peculiar terms employed in the
different trades and professions: as,

“A Milton Lost,” by booksellers.

“A Lady (of the Lake) in sheets,” do.

“One college (pudding) for No. 6,” by waiters.

“To carry off:” as, “See how the old woman in a red cloak carries off the
tower,” by painters, &c.

The principal parts of a simple sentence are, the subject, the attribute,
and the object.

If you want to know what _subjects_ and _objects_ are, you should go to
the Morgue at Paris. But in Grammar--

The subject is the thing chiefly spoken of; the attribute is that which is
affirmed or denied of it; and the object is the thing affected by such

The nominative denotes the subject, and usually goes before the verb or
attribute; and the word or phrase, denoting the object, follows the verb;
as, “The flirt torments her lover.” Here, _a flirt_ is the subject;
_torments_, the attribute or thing affirmed; and _her lover_, the object.


Yes, and a pretty _object_ he is too, sometimes. But then we shall be told
that he is _not_ an object--of attachment. Alas! that is the very reason
why he _is_ an object--of compassion, or ridicule, according to people’s

It may be also said that the flirt herself is a _pretty_ object. All we
can say is, that we never saw such a flirt, nor do we believe that we ever

To torment, it seems, is the _attribute_ of the flirt, as it is that of
the ----. Well! no matter. Much good may the fellowship do her: that is

It strikes us, though, that we are somewhat digressing from our subject,
namely Syntax, which,

Principally consists of two parts (which the flirt does not, for she is
all body and no soul) Concord and Government.

Concord is the agreement which one word has with another, in gender,
number, case or person.

_Note._--That a want of agreement between words does not invalidate
_deeds_. We apprehend that such an engagement as the following, properly
authenticated, would hold good in law.

    I ose Jon stubs too Poun for valley reseved an promis to pay Him Nex

        Signed Willum Gibs is ⪥ Mark

    March 18, 1840.

Also that a friend of ours, to whom the following bill was sent, could not
have refused to discharge it on the score of its incorrect grammar.

    1835                      Mr. ----
  Jenery 10                             To J. Burton.

                                              _l._ _s._ _d._
  Reparing of Towo Tables & Muex
    Stand                                      0    4    0

  Aultern of 2 Blines & Toulroler              0    1    0

  Botal jock braket & seter jobs               0    4    0
                  (_et cetera_)

  Newpot board Barers & scirtin &c.
    stapel                                     0    5    0

  Locks to Cubard dowrs & Esing do    }
  laying down flour cloth & fiting up }        0    7    0
    Top of Butt                       }

  Fixing Lether to  } & Cuting of sheters }    0    4    0
    Dowrs in parlor }   in first flour    }

  1 Blin 2 par of Roler End & Rack puleys }
    fixing of certin Laths in Largin      }    0    2   10
    of ole of washing stand & 2 holefass  }

  Fixing webbin to Stand and fixing
    Legs to washing stule                      0    1    6

  Fiting up front of Dustbin & Cubbard
    on Landing altern lock of seler dowr       0    2    0
                                               1   11    4

Government is that power which one part of speech has over another, in
directing its mood, tense, or case.

Government is also that power, of which, if the Chartists have their way,
we shall soon see very little in this country.

  No taxes!
  No army!
  No navy!
  No parsons!
  No lawyers!
  No Commons!
  No Lords!
  No anything!
  No nothing!

To produce the agreement and right disposition of words in a sentence, the
following rules (and observations?) should be carefully studied.


A verb must agree with its nominative case in number and person: as, “I
perceive.” “Thou hast been to Brixton.” “Apes chatter.” “Frenchmen

Certain liberties are sometimes taken with this rule: as, “I own I likes
good beer.” “You’m a fine fellow, aint yer?” “He’ve been to the Squire’s.”
Such modes of speaking are adopted by those who neither know nor care
anything about grammatical correctness: but there are other persons who
_care_ a great deal about it, but unfortunately do not _know_ what it
consists in. Such folks are very fond of saying, “How it rain!” “It fit
you very well.” “He say he think it very unbecoming,” “I were gone before
you was come,” and so forth, in which forms of speech they perceive a
peculiar elegance.

The infinitive mood, or part of a sentence, is sometimes used as the
nominative case to the verb: as “to be good is to be happy:” which is as
grammatical an assertion as “Toby Good is Toby Happy;” and rather
surpasses it in respect of sense. “That two pippins are a pair, is a
proposition which no man in his senses will deny.”

  “To be a connoisseur in boots,
   To hate all rational pursuits,
   To make your money fly, as though
   Gold would as fast as mushrooms grow;
   To haunt the Opera, save whene’er
   There’s anything worth hearing there;
   To smirk, to smile, to bow, to dance,
   To talk of what they eat in France,
   To languish, simper, sue, and sigh,
   And stuff her head with flattery;
   Are means to gain that worthless part
   A fashionable lady’s heart.”

Here are examples enough, in all conscience, of infinitive moods serving
as nominative cases.

All verbs, save only in the infinitive mood or participle, require a
nominative case either expressed or understood: as, “Row with me down the
river,” that is “Row thou, or do thou row.” “Come where the aspens
quiver,” “come thou, or do thou come.” “Fly not yet;” “fly not thou, or do
not thou fly.” “Pass the ruby;” “pass thou, or do thou pass the ruby” (not
the Rubi_con_). “Drink to me only;” “drink thou, or do thou drink only.”
“Wake, dearest, wake;” “wake thou, or do thou wake.” “Tell her I love
her;” “tell thou, or do thou tell her I love her.” In short, you cannot
listen to a hawker of ballads, crying his commodities about the streets,
without hearing illustrations of the foregoing rule. “Move on!” the well
known mandate of policemen to those who create obstructions, is a very
common exemplification of it. The nominative case is easily _understood_
in the latter instance; and the person addressed, if he pretend that it is
not, does so at his own peril.

A well known popular song affords an example of the violation of this

  “Ven as the Captain comed for to hear on’t,
   Wery much applauded vot she’d done.”


The verb applauded has here no nominative case, whereas it ought to have
been governed by the pronoun _he_. “He very much applauded,” &c.

Every nominative case, except when made absolute, or used, like the Latin
Vocative, in addressing a person, should belong to some verb, implied if
not expressed. A beautiful example of this grammatical maxim, and one,
too, that explains itself, is impressed upon the mind very soon after its
first introduction to _letters_: as,

  “Who kill’d Cock Robin?
     _I_, said the sparrow,
   With my bow and arrow;
     _I kill’d_ Cock Robin.”

Of the neglect of this rule also, the ballad lately mentioned presents an
instance: as,

  “_Four-and-twenty brisk young fellows_
     Clad in jackets, blue array,--
   And they took poor Billy Taylor
     From his true love all avay.”

The only verb in these four lines is the verb _took_, which is governed by
the pronoun _they_. The four-and-twenty brisk young fellows, therefore,
though undeniably in the nominative, have no verb to belong to: while, at
the same time, whatever may be thought of their behaviour to Mr. William
Taylor, they are certainly not _absolute_ in point of case.

When a verb comes between two nouns, either of which may be taken as the
subject of the affirmation, it may agree with either of them: as,
“Two-and-sixpence _is_ half-a-crown.” Due regard, however, should be paid
to that noun which is most naturally the subject of the verb: it would be
clearly wrong to say, “Ducks and green peas _is_ a delicacy.” “Fleas _is_
a nuisance.”

A nominative case, standing without a personal tense of a verb, and being
put before a participle, independently of the rest of the sentence, is
called a case absolute: as, “My brethren, _to-morrow being_ Sunday, I
shall preach a sermon in Smithfield; after which we shall join in a hymn,
_and that having been sung_, Brother Biggs will address you.”

The objective case is sometimes incorrectly made absolute by showmen and
others: as, “Here, gentlemen and ladies, you will see that great warrior
Napoleon Bonaparte, standing agin a tree with his hands in his pockets,
_him_ taking good care to keep out of harm’s vay. And there, on the
extreme right, you will observe the Duky Vellinton a valking about amidst
the red-hot cannon balls, _him_ not caring von straw.”



Two or more singular nouns, joined together by a copulative conjunction,
expressed or understood, are equivalent to a plural noun, and therefore
require verbs, nouns, and pronouns, agreeing with them in the plural
number: as, “Veal, wine, and vinegar” (take care how you pronounce these
words) “are very good victuals I vow.” “Burke and Hare were nice men.” “A
hat without a crown, a tattered coat, threadbare and out at elbows, a
pair of breeches which looked like a piece of dirty patchwork diversified
by various holes, and of boots which a Jew would hardly have raked from a
kennel, at once proclaimed him a man who had seen better days.”

This rule is not always adhered to in discourse quite so closely as a
fastidious ear would require it to be: as, “And so, you know, Mary, and I,
and Jane _was_ a dusting the chairs, and in comes Missus.”


When the conjunction disjunctive comes between two nouns, the verb, noun,
or pronoun, is of the singular number, because it refers to each of such
nouns taken separately: as, “A cold in the head, or a sore eye _is_ a
great disadvantage to a lover.”

If singular pronouns, or a noun and pronoun of different persons, be
disjunctively connected, the verb must agree with the person which stands
nearest to it: as “I or thou _art_.” “Thou or I _am_.” “I, thou, or he
_is_,” &c. But as this way of writing or speaking is very inelegant, and
as saying, “Either I am, or thou art,” and so on, will always render
having recourse to it unnecessary, the rule just laid down is almost
useless, except inasmuch as it suggests a moral maxim, namely, “Always be
on good terms with your next door neighbour.”

It also forcibly reminds us of some beautiful lines by Moore, in which the
heart, like a tendril, is said to twine round the “nearest and loveliest
thing.” Now the person which is placed nearest the verb is the object of
choice; _ergo_, the most agreeable person--_ergo_, the loveliest person or

Should a conjunction disjunctive occur between a singular noun or pronoun,
and a plural one, the verb agrees with the plural noun or pronoun: as,
“Neither a king nor his courtiers are averse to butter:” (particularly
when thickly spread). “Darius or the Persians were hostile to Greece.”


A noun of multitude, that is, one which signifies many, can have a verb or
pronoun to agree with it either in the singular or plural number;
according to the import of such noun, as conveying unity or plurality of
idea: as, “The Parliament _is_--” we do not choose to say what. “The
nation _is_ humbugged.” “The ministry _are_ exceedingly well pensioned.”
“The multitude _have_ to pay many taxes.” “The Council _are_ at a loss to
know what to do.” “The people _is_ a many-headed monster.”

We do not mean to call the people names. We only quote what all parties
say of it when out of office. When they are _in_, it is--why, we may
exhaust the alphabet about it, as Sterne tried to do about Love; but he
couldn’t get farther than R.; and therefore, if we break down, it is no
matter. So we will e’en try a leap; and as the maxim “audi alteram partem”
is a favourite one with all rightly constituted minds, our own inclusive,
we will see what can be said on both sides. The people, then, is termed,

  By the _Ins_.             By the _Outs_.
  An apprehensive people,   An addle-headed people.
  A blessed people,         A burdened people.
  A chivalrous people,      A currish people.
  A delightful people,      A disgusting people.
  An enlightened people,    An embruted people.
  A free people,            A fettered people.
  A glorious people,        A grovelling people.
  A high-minded people,     A hoggish people.
  An intelligent people,    An impenetrable people.
  A judicious people,       A jolter-headed people.
  A knowing people,         A knotty-pated people.
  A lively people,          A lubberly people.
  A magnanimous people,     A miserable people.
  A noble people,           A niggardly people.
  An obliging people,       An odious people.
  A pious people,           A profane people.
  A quiet people,           A quarrelsome people.
  A righteous people,       A rascally people.
  A sensible people,        A stupid people.
  A Tory people,            A truculent people.
  An upright people,        An unprincipled people.
  A virtuous people,        A vicious people.
  A Whig people,            A wicked people.
  An X-cellent people,      An X-ecrable people.
  A yielding people,        A yelping people.
  A zetetic people,         A zany people.

And now for a little more Syntax.


Pronouns agree with their antecedents, and with the nouns to which they
belong, in gender and number: as, “This is the blow _which_ killed Ned.”
“England was once governed by a celebrated King, _who_ was called Rufus
the Red, but _whose_ name was by no means so illustrious as that of
Alfred.” “His Grace and the Baronet had put on _their_ boots.” “The
Countess appeared, and _she_ smiled, but the smile belied _her_

The relative being of the same person with the antecedent, the verb always
agrees with it: as, “Thou _who learnest Syntax_.” “I _who enlighten_ thy

The relative _what_ (incorrectly pronounced) is sometimes used in a manner
which is very exceptionable: as, “The gentleman _wot keeps_ the
wine-vaults.” “None but lovers can feel for _them wot loves_.” We mention
this error once more, in order to insure its abandonment.

The objective case of the personal pronouns is by some, for want of better
information, employed in the place of _these_ and _those_: as, “Let _them_
things alone.” “Now then, Jemes, make haste with _them_ chops.” “Give
_them_ tables a wipe.” “Oh! Julier, turn _them_ heyes away.” “What’s the
use o’ mancipatin’ _them_ niggers?” “Don’t you wish you was one of _them_
lobsters?” “I think _them_ shawls _so_ pretty!” “Look at _them_ sleeves.”
The adverb _there_, is sometimes, with additional impropriety, joined to
the pronoun _them_: as, “Look after _them there_ sheep.”

The objective case of a pronoun in the first person is put after the
interjections _Oh!_ and _Ah!_ as, “Oh! dear me,” &c. The second person,
however, requires a nominative case: as, “Oh! you good-for-nothing man!”
“Ah! thou gay Lothario!”

[Illustration: “Oh! you good-for-nothing man!”]


When there is no nominative case between the relative and the verb, the
relative itself is the nominative to the verb: as, “The master _who_
flogged us.” “The rods _which_ were used.”

But when the nominative comes between the relative and the verb, the
relative exchanges, as it were, the character of sire for that of son,
and becomes the governed instead of the _governor_; depending for its case
on some word in its own member of the sentence: as, “He _who_ is now at
the head of affairs, _whom_ the Queen delighteth to honour, _whose_
Pavilion (if the Court had been there) might have been at Brighton, and to
_whom_ is intrusted the helm of state--is a Lamb.”

Well, it is to be hoped that he will get on in his boat a little better
than a bear; though why that animal is considered so peculiarly _at sea_
when on the water, we cannot tell. Man is the only sailor except the
nautilus that we know of. Even the steer is no _steersman_. The bear,
however, is an ill-conditioned, awkward creature, and very likely to upset
the boat; while the more gentle _lamb_, whatever may be the perils of his
situation, leaves the rudder alone, remains quietly in his place, and goes
with the stream.


The relative and the verb, when the former is preceded by two nominatives
of different persons, may agree in person with either, according to the
sense: as, “I am the young gentleman _who do_ the lovers at the Wells;”
or, “_who does_.”


Let this maxim be borne constantly in mind. “A _murderer_ of good
characters should always be made an _example of_.”


Every adjective, and every adjective pronoun, relates to a substantive,
expressed or implied: as, “Dando was an unprincipled, as well as a
voracious man.” “Few quarrel with their bread and butter;” that is, “few
_persons_.” “This is the wonderful eagle of the sun.” That is, “This
_eagle_,” &c.

Adjective pronouns agree in number with their substantives: “This muff,
these muffs; that booby, these boobies; another numscull, other

Some people say “_Those_ kind of things,” or, “_This_ four-and-twenty
year,” neither of which expressions they have any business to use.

A good deal of speculation has been expended on the word _means_ in
connection with an adjective pronoun. Some will have it that we should
say, “By this mean;” “By that mean;” “By these means;” “By those means:”
others, that we should say, “By _this means_,” and so on. The practical
rule to be observed is, to treat the substantive, means, as a singular
noun when it refers to what is singular, and when it relates to that which
is plural, as a plural one. The word _mean_ is seldom used in the same
sense with means. We have been induced to advert to this question, by the
desire of giving the reader a caution respecting the use of this same
word, _means_. It is not uncommon to hear it said in the streets and
elsewhere, “Well, and then, you know, Jem was took afore the beak, _by
means of_ which he had three months.” “Sall was quite intosticated, by
_means_ of which (or vich) she wor fined five bob,” &c. We will not shock
the refined grammarian by the multiplication of examples of this kind;
suffice it to say, that the phrase “by means of which” is substituted for
“in consequence of which,” or, “on which account,” by the lower or
illiterate classes.

Adjectives are sometimes improperly used as adverbs: as, “He behaved very
_bad_.” “He insulted me most _gross_.” “He eat and drank _uncommon_.” “He
wur beat very _severe_.” “It hailed _tremendous_,” or, more commonly,


The article _a_ or _an_ agrees with nouns in the singular number only: as,
“A fool, an ass, a simpleton, a ninny, a lout--I would not give a farthing
for a thousand such.”

The definite article _the_ may agree with nouns in the singular and plural
number: as, “The toast, the ladies, the ducks.”

The articles are often properly omitted; when used, they serve to
determine or limit the thing spoken of: as, “Variety is charming.”
“Familiarity doth breed contempt.” “_A_ stitch in time saves nine.” “_The_
heart that has truly loved never forgets.”

The article _a_ or _an_ is sometimes (we grieve to say it) applied to
nouns in the plural number: as, “A wine-vaults.” “An oyster-rooms.” But
this misapplication of the article is positively shocking.


One substantive, in the possessive or genitive case, is governed by
another, of a different meaning: as, “A fiddle-stick’s end.” “Monkey’s
allowance.” “Virtue’s reward.”


Pronouns, as well as nouns, are thus governed by substantives: as, “The
woes of a kitten (like those of a Poet) are expressed by _its_ mews.”


Active verbs govern the objective case: as, “I kissed _her_.” “She
scratched _me_.” “Virtue rewards _her followers_.”

For which reason she is like a cook.

Verbs neuter do not govern an objective case. Observe, therefore, that
such phrases: as, “She _cried a good one_,” “He _came the old soldier_
over me,” and so forth, are highly improper in a grammatical point of
view, to say nothing of other objections to them.

These verbs, however, are capable of governing words of a meaning similar
to their own: as, in the affecting ballad of Giles Scroggins--

“I wont, she cried, and _screamed a scream_.”

The verb To Be has the same case after it as that which goes before it:
as, “_It_ was _I_,” not “_It_ was _me_.” “The _Grubbs_ were _they_ who eat
so much trifle at our last party;” not “The _Grubbses_ were _them_.”


One verb governs another that depends upon it, in the infinitive mood:
as, “Cease _to smoke_ pipes.” “Begin _to wear_ collars.” “I advise you _to
shave_.” “I recommend you _to go_ to church.” “I resolved _to visit_ the
United States.

  “And there I learned _to wheel_ about
   And jump Jim Crow.”

In general, the preposition _to_ is used before the latter of two verbs;
but sometimes it is more properly omitted: as, “I saw you _take_ it, young
fellow; come along with me.” “Let me _get_ hold of you, that’s all!” “Did
I hear you _speak_?” “I’ll let you _know_!” “You dare not _hit_ me.” “Bid
me _discourse_.” “You need not _sing_.”

The preposition _for_ is sometimes unnecessarily intruded into a sentence,
in addition to the preposition _to_, before an infinitive mood: as, “How
came you _for_ to think, _for_ to go, _for_ to do such a thing?” “Do you
want me _for_ to punch your head?”

Adjectives, substantives, and participles, often govern the infinitive
mood: as, “Miss Hopkins, I shall be happy to dance the next set with you.”
“Oh! Sir, it is impossible to refuse you.” “Have you an inclination to
waltz?” “I shall be delighted in endeavouring to do so.”


The infinitive mood is frequently made absolute, that is, independent of
the rest of the sentence: as, “To say the truth, I was rather the worse
for liquor.” “Not to mince matters, Miss, I love you.” “To begin at the
right end.” “To cut a long tale short,” &c.


The relation which words and phrases bear to each other in point of time,
should always be duly marked: instead of saying, “Last night I intended to
have made strong love to her,” we should say, “Last night I intended to
make strong love to her;” because, although the intention of making strong
love may have been abandoned (on reflection) this morning, and is now,
therefore, a thing which is _past_, yet it is undoubtedly, when last night
and the thoughts connected with it are brought back, again present to the


Participles have the same power of government with that of the verbs from
which they are derived: as, “Oh, what an exquisite singer Rubini is! I am
so fond of _hearing him_.” “Look at that horrid man; I declare he is
_quizzing us_!” “No, he is only _taking snuff_.” “See, how that thing
opposite keeps _making eyes_.” “Yes, she is _ogling Lumley_; I should so
like to pinch her!” “How fond they all are of _wearing mustaches_! Don’t
you like it?” “Oh, yes! there is no _resisting them_.” “Heigho! I am
_dying to have_ an ice--”

  ----Young man for a husband, Miss?
  For shame, Sir! don’t be rude!

Participles are sometimes used as substantives: as, “The French mouth is
adapted to _the making of_ grimaces.” “The cobbler is like the parson; he
lives by _the mending of_ soles.” “The tailor reaps a good harvest from
_the sewing of_ cloth.” “Did you ever see _a shooting of_ the moon?”

Is this what the witches mean when they sing, in the acting play of

  “We _fly_ by night?”

If _they_ “shoot the moon,” they are shooting _stars_.

There is a mode of using the indefinite article _a_ before a participle,
for which there is no occasion, as it does not convert the participle into
a substantive, and makes no alteration in the sense of what is said; in
this case the _article_, therefore, is like a wart, a wen, or a knob at
the end of the nose, neither useful nor ornamental: as, “Going out _a_
shooting.” “Are you a coming to-morrow?” “I was _a_ thinking about what
Jem said.” “Here you are, _a_ going of it, as usual!”

A liberty not unfrequently taken with the English Language, is the
substitution of the perfect participle for the imperfect tense, and of
the imperfect tense for the perfect participle: as, “He _run_ like mad,
with the great dog after him.” “Maria _come_ and told us all about it.”
“When I had _wrote_ the Valentine, I sealed it with my thimble.” “He has
_rose_ to (be) a common-councilman.” “I was _chose_ Lord Mayor.” “I’ve
_eat_ (or _a eat_) lots of venison in my time.” “I should have _spoke_ if
you hadn’t put in your oar.” “You were _mistook_.” “He sent her an
affecting copy of verses, which was _wrote_ with a Perryian pen.”


Adverbs are generally placed in a sentence before adjectives, after verbs
active or neuter, and frequently between the auxiliary and the verb: as,
“He came, Sir, and he _was most exceedingly drunk_; he _could hardly
stand_ upon his legs; he made a _very lame_ discourse; he _spoke
incoherently_ and _ridiculously_; and _was impatiently heard_ by the whole
assembly.” “He _is fashionably_ dressed.” “She _is conspicuously ugly_.”
“The eye of jealousy _is proverbially sharp_, and yet it _is indisputably
green_.” “Britons _may often be sold_, but they _will never be_ slaves.”
“The French Marquis was a _very charming_ man; he _danced exquisitely_ and
_nimbly_, and was _greatly admired_ by all the ladies.”


Several adverbs have been coined in America of late; and some of them are
very remarkable for a “particular” elegance: as, “I reckon you’re
_catawampously_ chawed up.”

In the example just given there is to be found, besides the new adverb, a
word which, if not also new to the English student, is rendered so both by
its orthography and pronunciation; namely, _chawed_. This term is no other
than “chewed,” modified (as words, like living things, would seem to be),
by transportation to a foreign country. “Chawed up” is a very strong
expression, and is employed to signify the most complete state of
discomfiture and defeat, when a man is as much crushed, mashed, and
comminuted, morally speaking, as if he had literally and corporeally
undergone the process of mastication. “Catawampously” is a concentration
of “hopelessly,” “tremendously,” “thoroughly,” and “irrevocably;” so that
“catawampously chawed up,” means, brought as nearly to a state of utter
annihilation as anything consistently with the laws of nature can possibly
be. For the metaphorical use of the word “chawed,” made by the Americans,
three several reasons have been given: 1. Familiarity with the manner in
which the alligator disposes of his victims. 2. The cannibalism of the
Aborigines. 3. The delicate practice of chewing tobacco. Each of these is
supported by numerous arguments, on the consideration of which it would be
quite out of the question to enter in this place.


Two English negatives (like French lovers) destroy one another,--and
become equivalent to an affirmative: as, “The question before the House
was _not_ an _unimportant_ one;” that is, “it was an important one.” “His
Lordship was free to confess that he did _not_ undertake to say that he
would _not_ on some future occasion give a satisfactory answer to the
right honourable gentleman.”

Thus, at one and the same time, we teach our readers Syntax and

It is probable that small boys are often unacquainted with this rule; for
many of them, while undergoing personal chastisement, exclaim, for the
purpose, as it would appear, of causing its duration to be shortened--“Oh
pray, Sir, oh pray, Sir, oh pray, Sir! I _won’t_ do so _no_ more!”


Prepositions govern the objective case: as, “What did the butcher say _of
her_?” “He said that she would never do _for him_; that she was too thin
_for a wife_, and he was not fond _of a spare rib_.”

The delicate ear is much offended by any deviation from this rule: as, in
a shocking and vulgar song which it was once our misfortune to hear:--

  “There I found the faithless she
   Frying sausages _for he_.”

As also in the conversation of rustics: as, “It’s all one _to we_.” “Come
out _of they ’taters_!” “He went to the Parson’s _with I_.” “_From he to
they_ an’t more nor dree mile.”

We had occasion, in the Etymology, to remark on a certain misuse of the
preposition, _of_. This, perhaps, is best explained by stating that _of_,
in the instances cited, is made to usurp the government of cases which are
already under a rightful jurisdiction: as, “_What_ are you got a eating
_of_?” “He had been a beating _of his wife_.”


Conjunctions connect similar moods and tenses of verbs, and cases of nouns
and pronouns: as, “A coat of arms suspended on a wall is like an executed
traitor; it _is hanged, drawn, and quartered_.” “If you continue thus _to
drink_ brandy and water _and to smoke_ cigars, you will be like Boreas the
North wind, who _takes_ ‘cold without’ wherever he goes, _and_ always
‘_blows_ a cloud’ when it comes in his way.” “Do you think there is any
thing between _him and her_?” “Yes; _he and she_ are engaged ones.”


_Note._--To ask whether there is any thing between two persons of opposite
sexes, is one way of inquiring whether they are in love with each other.
It is not, however, in our opinion, a very happy phrase, inasmuch as
whatever intervenes between a couple of fond hearts, must tend to prevent
them from coming together. Pyramus and Thisbe, as Ovid informs us, had
more between them than they liked--a conjunction disjunctive in the shape
of a wall. And by the bye, now that we are speaking of Pyramus and Thisbe,
we may as well expend a word or two on a matter which, though of much
interest, has never yet been noticed by the learned. Pyramus and Thisbe,
it is well known, used to kiss each other through a hole in the wall which
separated them. Now we have always been puzzled to imagine how they
managed it. We are told by the Poet that they lived--

                                  “Ubi dicitur altam
  Coctilibus muris cinxisse Semiramis urbem”--

that is to say, where Semiramis is said to have surrounded a lofty
city--not with _cock-tail mice_, as Mr. Canning facetiously translated
“Coctilibus muris,”--but with _brick walls_. The wall which separated two
adjoining houses must have been at least a brick thick; and although it be
possible, “with Love’s light wings” to “o’erperch” an exceedingly high
wall, it occurs to us that it would be no easy thing for Love’s long lips,
let them be as long as you will, to reach through a moderately thick one.
We do not know exactly what was the breadth of an Assyrian brick, but
supposing it to have been three inches, an inch and a half of lip would
have been required on the part of either lover for a kiss which could
barely be sworn by;--a sort of presentation salute;--but for one worth
giving or taking, we must allow an additional half inch of mouth to the
gentleman. After all, their noses must have been so much in the way, that
to make the operation at all feasible, either these features must have
been particularly flat, or the aperture a very large one; whereas it is
well known to have been merely a chink. Common observation on the part of
their respective parents would have detected such a gap, and common
prudence would have stopped it up. How, then, are we to reconcile Ovid’s
story with truth? Now, remember, reader, what has been said about noses
and lips. Our deliberate opinion is that Pyramus and Thisbe were _a couple
of negroes_. We shall be told that it is one utterly irreconcileable with
the description of them given in the Metamorphoses. No matter--

  “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
   Are of imagination all compact.”

And considering that the lover--

  “Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt,”

we do not see why Abyssinian charms should not be transformed by a poet
into those of Assyria. And so, having proved (to our own satisfaction at
least) that the beautiful Thisbe was a Hottentot Venus, we will resume the
consideration of conjunctions.


Some conjunctions govern the indicative; some the subjunctive mood. In
general, it is right to use the subjunctive, when contingency or doubt is
implied: as, “_If I were_ to say that the moon is made of green cheese.”
“_If I were_ a wiseacre.” “_If I were_ a Wiltshire-man.” “A lady, _unless
she be toasted_, is never drunk.”

And when she is toasted, those who are drunk are generally the gentlemen.

[Illustration: “The Ladies!”]

Those conjunctions which have a positive and absolute signification,
require the indicative mood: as, “He who fasts may be compared to a horse:
for _as_ the animal _eats_ not a bit, _so neither does_ the man partake of
a morsel.” “The rustic is deluded by false hopes, _for_ his daily food
_is_ gammon.”

Every philosopher has his weak points, and in the Sylva Sylvarum may be
found some _gammon of Bacon_.


When a comparison is made between two or more things, the latter noun or
pronoun is not governed by the conjunction _than_ or _as_, but agrees with
the verb, or is governed by the verb or preposition, expressed or
understood: as, “The French are a lighter people than we,” (that is “than
we are,”) “and yet we are not so dark as they,” that is, “as they are.” “I
should think that they admire me more than them,” that is, “than they
admire them.” “It is a shame, Martha! you were thinking more of that young
officer than me,” that is, “of me.”

Sufficient attention is not always paid, in discourse, to this rule. Thus,
a schoolboy may be often heard to exclaim, “What did you hit me for, you
great fool? you’re bigger _than me_. Hit some one of your own size!” “Not
fling farther _than him_? just can’t I, that’s all!” “You and I have got
more marbles _than them_.”



An ellipsis, or omission of certain words, is frequently allowed, for the
sake of avoiding disagreeable repetitions, and of expressing our ideas in
few words. Instead of saying “She was a little woman, she was a round
woman, and she was an old woman,” we say, making use of the figure
Ellipsis, “She was a little, round, and old woman.”

When, however, the omission of words is productive of obscurity, weakens
the sentence, or involves a violation of some grammatical principle, the
ellipsis must not be used. It is improper to say “Puddings fill who fill
them;” we should supply the word _those_. “A beautiful leg of mutton and
turnips” is not good language: those who would deserve what they are
talking about ought to say, “A beautiful leg of mutton and fine turnips.”

In common discourse, in which the meaning can be eked out by gestures,
signs, and inarticulate sounds variously modified, the ellipsis is much
more liberally and more extensively employed than in written composition.
“May I have the pleasure of--hum? ha?” may constitute an invitation to
take wine. “I shall be quite--a--a--” may serve as an answer in the
affirmative. “So then, you see he was--eh!--you see----,” is perhaps an
intimation that a man has been hanged. “Well, of all the--I never!” is
often tantamount to three times as many words expressive of surprise,
approbation, or disapprobation, according to the tone in which it is
uttered. “Will you?--ah!--will you?--ah!--ah!--ah!” will do either for
“Will you be so impertinent, you scoundrel? will you dare to do so another
time?” or, “Will you, dearest, loveliest, most adorable of your sex, will
you consent to make me happy; will you be mine? speak! answer, I entreat
you! One word from those sweet lips will make me the most fortunate man in

There is, however, a kind of ellipsis which those who indulge in that
style of epistolary writing, wherein sentiments of a tender nature are
conveyed, will do well to avoid with the greatest care. The ellipsis
alluded to, is that of the first person singular of the personal pronoun,
as instanced in the following model of a billet-doux:--

    April 1, 1840.


    Have not enjoyed the balm of sleep all the livelong night.
    Encountered, last night, at the ball, the beau ideal of my heart.
    Never knew what love was till then. Derided the sentiment often;
    jested at scars, because had never felt a wound. Feel at last the
    power of beauty--Write with a tremulous hand; waver between hope and
    fear. Hope to be thought not altogether unworthy of regard: fear to be
    rejected as having no pretensions to the affections of such
    unparalleled loveliness. Know not in what terms to declare my
    feelings. Adore you, worship you, dote on you, am wrapt up in you!
    think but on you, live but for you, would willingly die for you!--in
    short, love you! and imploring you to have some compassion on one who
    is distracted for your sake

          Devotedly yours
            T. TOUT.


A regular and dependent construction should be carefully preserved
throughout the whole of a sentence, and all its parts should correspond to
each other. There is, therefore, an inaccuracy in the following sentence;
“Greenacre was more admired, but not so much lamented, as Burke.” It
should be, “Greenacre was more admired than Burke, but not so much

Of these two worthies there will be a notice of the following kind in a
biographical dictionary, to be published a thousand years hence in

GREENACRE.--A celebrated critic who so cut up a blue-stocking lady of the
name of Brown, that he did not leave her a leg to stand upon.

BURKE.--A famous orator, whose power of stopping people’s mouths was said
to be prodigious. It is farther reported of him that he was only once hung
up, and that on the occasion of the last speech he ever made.

Perhaps it may be said that the rule last stated comprehends all preceding
rules, and requires exemplification accordingly. We therefore call the
attention of the reader to the following paragraph, requesting him to
consider what, and how many, violations of the maxims of Syntax it

    “We teaches, that is, my son and me teaches, they boys English
    Grammar. Tom or Dick have learned something every day but Harry what
    is idler, whom I am sure will never come to no good, for he is always
    a miching and doing those kind of things (he was catch but yesterday
    in a skittle grounds) he only makes his book all dog’s ears. I beat
    he, too, pretty smartish, as I ought, you will say, for to have did. I
    was going to have sent him away last week but he somehow got over me
    as he do always. I have had so much trouble with he, that between you
    and I, if I was not paid for it, I wouldn’t have no more to do with
    such a boy. There never wasn’t a monkey more mischievious than him;
    and a donkey isn’t more stupider and not half so obstinate as that

The Syntax of the Interjection has been sufficiently stated under Rule V.
Interjections afford more matter for consideration in a Treatise on
Elocution than they do in a work on Grammar; but there is one observation
which we are desirous of making respecting them, and which will not, it is
hoped, be thought altogether foreign to our present subject. Almost every
interjection has a great variety of meanings, adapted to particular
occasions and circumstances, and indicated chiefly by the tone of the
voice. Of this proposition we shall now give a few illustrations, which we
would endeavour to render still clearer by the addition of musical notes,
but that these would hardly express, with adequate exactness, the
modulations of sound to which we allude; and besides, we hope to be
sufficiently understood without such help. This part of the Grammar
should be read aloud by the student; or, which is better still, the
interjection, where it is possible, should be repeated with the proper
intonation by a class; the sentence which gives occasion to it being read
by the preceptor. We will select the interjection Oh! as the source from
which our examples are to be drawn.

“I’ll give it you, you idle dog: I will!”

“Oh, pray, Sir! Oh, pray, Sir! Oh! Oh! Oh!”

“I shall ever have the highest esteem for you, Sir; but as to love, that
is out of the question.”

“Oh, Matilda!”

“I say, Jim, look at that chaffinch: there’s a shy!”

“Oh, Crikey!”

“Miss Tims, do you admire Lord Byron?”

“Oh, yes!”

“What do you think of Rubini’s singing?”


“So then, you see, we popped round the corner, and caught them just in the
nick of time.”


“Sir, your behaviour has done you great credit.”


“Oats are looking up.”


“Honourable Members might say what they pleased; but he was convinced, for
his part, that the New Poor Law had given great general satisfaction.”

“Oh! oh!”

There being now no reason (or rule) to detain us in the Syntax, we shall
forthwith advance into Prosody, where we shall have something to say, not
only about rules, but also of measures.



Prosody consists of two parts; wherefore, although it may be a topic, a
head, or subject for discussion, it can never be a point; for a _point_ is
that which hath _no_ parts. Besides, there are a great many _lines_ to be
considered in the second part of Prosody, which treats of Versification.
The first division teaches the true Pronunciation of Words, including
Accent, Quantity, Emphasis, Pause, and Tone.

Lord Chesterfield’s book about manners, which is intended to teach us the
proper _tone_ to be adopted in Society, may be termed an Ethical Prosody.

Lord Chesterfield may have been a polished gentleman, but Dr. Johnson was
of the two the more shining character.





Though _penetrated_ ourselves by the desire of imparting instruction, we
are far from wishing to _bore_ our readers; and therefore we shall
endeavour to repeat nothing here that we have said before.

Accent is the marking with a peculiar stress of the voice a particular
letter or syllable in a word, in such a manner as to render it more
distinct or audible than the rest. Thus, in the word _théatre_, the stress
of the voice should be on the letter _e_ and first syllable _the_; and in
_cóntrary_, on the first syllable _con_. How shocking it is to hear people
say _con-tráry_, _the-átre_! The friends of education will be reminded
with regret, that an error in the pronunciation of the first of these
words is very early impressed on the human mind.

  “Mary, Mary,
   Quite contráry,
   How does your garden grow?”

How many evils, alas! arise from juvenile associations!

Words of two syllables never have more than one of them accented, except
for the sake of peculiar emphasis. Gentlemen, however, whose profession it
is to drive certain public vehicles called cabs, are much accustomed to
disregard this rule, and to say, “pó-líte” (or “púr-líte”), “gén-téel,”
“cón-cérn,” “pó-líce,” and so on: nay, they go so far as to convert a word
of one syllable into two, for the sake of indulging in this style of
pronunciation; and thus the word “queer” is pronounced by them as

The word “á-mén,” when standing alone, should be pronounced with two

The accents in which it usually _is_ pronounced are very inelegant.
Clerks, now-a-days, alas! are no scholars.

Dissyllables, formed by adding a termination, usually have the former
syllable accented: as, “Fóolish, blóckhead,” &c.

The accent in dissyllables, formed by prefixing a syllable to the radical
word, is commonly on the latter syllable: as, “I protést, I decláre, I
entréat, I adóre, I expíre.”

[Illustration: ALL FOR LOVE.]

Protestations, declarations, entreaties, and adorations, proclaim a swain
to be simply tender; but _expiration_ (for love) proves him to be
decidedly soft.

A man who turns lover becomes a _protest_-ant; and his conduct at the same
time generally undergoes a _reformation_, especially if he has previously
been a rake.

The zeal, however, of a reformed rake, like that of Jack in Dean Swift’s
“Tale of a Tub,” is sometimes apt to outrun his discretion.


When the same word, being a dissyllable, is both a noun and a verb, the
verb has mostly the accent on the latter, and the noun on the former
syllable: as,

  “Molly, let Hymen’s gentle hand
     Cemént our hearts together,
   With such a cément as shall stand
     In spite of wind and weather.

  “I do preságe--and oft a fact
     A présage doth foretoken--
   Our mutual love shall ne’er contráct,
     Our cóntract ne’er be broken.”

There are many exceptions to the rule just enunciated (so that, correctly
as well as familiarly speaking, it is perhaps _no_ rule); for though verbs
seldom have an accent on the former, yet nouns frequently have it on the
latter syllable: as,

  “Mary Anne is my delíght
   Both by day and eke by night;
   For by day her soft contról
   Soothes my heart and calms my soul;
   And her image while I doze
   Comes to sweeten my repóse;
   Fortune favouring my desígn,
   Please the pigs she shall be mine!”

The former syllable of most dissyllables ending in _y_, _our_, _ow_, _le_,
_ish_, _ck_, _ter_, _aye_, _en_, _et_, is accented: as, “Gránny, nóodle,”

Except allów, avów, endów, bestów, belów.

     “Sir, I cannot allów
      You your flame to avów;
  Endów yourself first with the rhino:
      My hand to bestów
      On a fellow belów
  Me!--I’d rather be--never mind--
      _I_ know.”

“Music,” in the language of the Gods, is sometimes pronounced “mú-síc!”

Nouns of two syllables ending in _er_, have the accent on the former
syllable: as, “Bútcher, báker.”

It is, perhaps, a singular thing, that persons who pursue the callings
denoted by the two words selected as examples, should always indicate
their presence at an area by crying out, in direct defiance of Prosody,
“But-chér, ba-kér;” the latter syllable being of the two the more strongly

Dissyllabic verbs ending in a consonant and e final, as “Disclose,”
“repine,” or having a diphthong in the last syllable, as, “Believe,”
“deceive,” or ending in two consonants, as “Intend,” are accented on the
latter syllable.

  “Matilda’s eyes a light disclóse,
     Which with the star of Eve might vie;
   Oh! that such lovely orbs as those
     Should sparkle at an apple-pie!

  “Thy love I thought was wholly mine,
     Thy heart I fondly hoped to rule;
   Its throne I cannot but repíne
     At sharing with a goosb’ry fool!

  “Thou swear’st no flatterer can decéive
     Thy mind,--thy breast no coxcomb rifle;
   Thou art no trifler, I beliéve,
     But why so plaguy fond of trifle?

  “Why, when we’re wed--I don’t inténd
     To joke, Matilda, or be funny;
   I really fear that you will spend
     The Honey Moon in eating honey!”

Most dissyllabic nouns, having a diphthong in the latter syllable, have
the accent also on that syllable: as,

  “A Hamlet that draws
   Is sure of appláuse.”

A Hamlet that _draws_? There are not many who can give even an outline of
the character.

In a few words ending in _ain_ the accent is placed on the former
syllable: as, “Víllain,” which is pronounced as the natives of Whitechapel
pronounce “willing.”

Those dissyllables, the vowels of which are separated in pronunciation,
always have the accent on the first syllable: as, lion, scion, &c.

  When is a young and tender shoot
    Like a fond swain? When ’tis a _scíon_.
  What’s the most gentlemanly brute
    Like, of all flow’rs? A _dandy_ líon.

Trisyllables, formed by adding a termination or prefixing a syllable,
retain the accent of the radical word: as, “Lóveliness, shéepishness,
Whíggery, knávery, assúrance.”

The first syllable of trisyllables ending in _ous_, _al_, _ion_, is
accented in the generality of cases: as in the words “sérious, cápital,”

  “Dr. Johnson declared, with a sérious face,
     That he reckoned a punster a villain:
   What would he have thought of the horrible case
     Of a man who makes jokes that are _killing_?

  “In his díction to speak ’tis not easy for one
     Who must furnish both reason and rhyme;
   Sir, the rogue who has utter’d a cápital pun,
     Has committed a cápital crime.”

Trisyllables ending in _ce_, _ent_, _ate_, _y_, _re_, _le_, and _ude_,
commonly accent the first syllable. Many of those, however, which are
derived from words having the accent on the last syllable, and of those of
which the middle syllable has a vowel between two consonants, are

  They who would elegantly speak
  Should not say “ímpudence,” but “cheek;”
  Should all things éatable call “prog;”
  Eyes “ogles,” cóuntenance “phisog.”
  A coach should nóminate a “drag,”
  And spécify as “moke,” a nag:
  For éxcellent, use “prime” or “bang up,”
  Or “out and out;” and “scrag,” for hang up.
  The théatre was wont to teach
  The public réctitude of speech,
  But we who live in modern age
  Consult the gallery, not the stage.

Trisyllables ending in _ator_ have the accent placed on the middle
syllable; as, “Spectátor, narrátor,” &c. except órator, sénator, and a few
other words.

Take care that you never pronounce the common name of the vegetable
sometimes called Irish wall-fruit, “purtátor.”

A diphthong in the middle syllable of a trisyllable is accented: as also,
in general, is a vowel before two consonants: as, “Doméstic,” “endéavour.”

An endeavour to appear domesticated, or in common phraseology, to “do” the
domestic, is sometimes made by young gentlemen, and generally with but an
ill grace. Avoid such attempts, reader, on all occasions: and in
particular never adventure either to nurse babies, or (when you shall
have “gone up to the ladies”) to pour water into the tea-pot from the
kettle. A legal or medical student sometimes thinks proper, from a desire
of appearing at once gallant and facetious, to usurp the office of pouring
out the tea itself, on which occasions he is very apt to betray his
uncivilised habits by an unconscious but very unequivocal manipulation
used in giving malt liquor what is technically termed a “head.”

Many polysyllables are regulated as to accent by the words from which they
are derived: as, “Inexpréssibles, Súbstituted, Unobjéctionably,
Désignated, Transatlántic, Délicacy, Decídedly, Unquéstionable.”

Words ending in _ator_ are commonly accented on the last syllable but one,
let them be as long as they may: as, respirátor, regulátor, renovátor,
indicátor, and all the other _ators_ that we see in the newspapers.

A cockney, quoting Dr. Johnson, said, “Sir, I love a good _ator_.”

Words that end in _le_ usually have the accent on the first syllable: as,
“Ámicable, déspicable,” &c.: although we _have_ heard people say
“despícable.” “I never see such a despícable fellow, not in all my born

Words of this class, however, the second syllable of which has a vowel
before two consonants, are often differently accented: as in “Respéctable,

[Illustration: “A respectable Man.”]

Many words ending in _ion_, _ous_, _ty_, _ia_, _io_, and _cal_, have their
accent on the last syllable but two: as, “Con-si-de-rá-ti-on,
pro-dí-gi-ous, im-pe-ne-tra-bíl-i-ty, en-cy-clo-pæ´-di-a, brag-ga-dó-ci-o,
an-ti-mo-nárch-i-cal,” all of which words we have divided into syllables,
by way of a hint that they are to be pronounced (comically speaking) after
the manner of Dominie Sampson.

Having, in compliance with grammatical usage, laid down certain rules with
regard to accent, we have to inform the reader that there are so many
exceptions to almost all of them, that perhaps there is scarcely one which
it is worth while to attend to. We hope we have in some measure amused
him; but as to instruction, we fear that, in this part of our subject, we
have given him very little of that. Those who would acquire a correct
accent had better attend particularly to the mode of speaking adopted in
good society; avoid debating clubs; and go to church. For farther
satisfaction and information we refer them, and we beg to say that we are
not joking--to _Walker_.



The quantity of a syllable means the time taken up in pronouncing it. As
there is in Arithmetic a long division and a short division, so in
Prosody is Quantity considered as long or short.

A syllable is said to be long, when the accent is on the vowel, causing it
to be slowly joined in pronunciation to the next letter: as, “Flēa, smāll,

A syllable is called short, when the accent lies on the consonant, so that
the vowel is quickly joined to the succeeding letter: as “Crăck, lĭttle,

The pronunciation of a long syllable commonly occupies double the time of
a short one: thus, “Pāte,” and “Brōke,” must be pronounced as slowly again
as “Păt,” and “Knŏck.”

We have remarked a curious tendency in the more youthful students of
Grammar to regard the quantity of words (in their lessons) more as being
“small” or “great” than as coming under the head of “long” or “short.”
Their predilection for small quantities of words is very striking and
peculiar; food for the mind they seem to look upon as physic; and all
physic, in their estimation, is most agreeably taken in infinitesimal
doses. The Homœopathic system of acquiring knowledge is more to their
taste than even the Hamiltonian.

It is quite impossible to give any rules as to quantity worth reading. The
Romans may have submitted to them, but that is no reason why we should.
We will pronounce our words as we please: and if foreigners want to know
why, we will tell them that, when there is no Act of Parliament to the
contrary, an Englishman always does as he likes with his own.




Emphasis is the distinguishing of some word or words in a sentence, on
which we wish to lay particular stress, by a stronger and fuller sound,
and sometimes by a particular tone of the voice.

A few illustrations of the importance of emphasis will be, perhaps, both
agreeable and useful.

When a young lady says to a young gentleman, “You are a _nice_ fellow; you
_are_!”--she means one thing.

When a young gentleman, addressing one of his own sex, remarks, “_You_’re
a nice fellow; _you_ are;”--he means another thing.

“Your friend is a gentleman,” pronounced without any particular emphasis,
is the simple assertion of a fact.

“Your _friend_ is a _gentleman_,” with the emphasis on the words “friend”
and “gentleman,” conveys an insinuation besides.

So simple a question as “Do you like pine-apple rum?” is susceptible of as
many meanings as there are words in it; according to the position of the

“_Do_ you like pine-apple rum?” is as much as to say, “Do you, though,
really like pine-apple rum?”

“Do _you_ like pine-apple rum?” is tantamount to, “Can it be that a young
gentleman (or lady) like you, can like pine-apple rum?”

“Do you _like_ pine-apple rum?” means, “Is it possible that instead of
disliking, you are fond of pine-apple rum?”

“Do you like _pine-apple_ rum?” is an enquiry as to whether you like that
kind of rum in particular.

And lastly, “Do you like pine-apple _rum_?” is equivalent to asking if you
think that the flavour of the pine-apple improves that especial form of

A well-known instance of an emphasis improperly placed was furnished by a
certain Parson, who read a passage in the Old Testament in the following
unlucky manner: “And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass; and they
saddled _him_.”

Young ladies are usually very emphatic in ordinary discourse. “What a
little _dear_! _Oh!_ how _sweetly_ pretty! Well! I never _did_, I declare!
_So_ nice, and _so_ innocent, and _so_ good-tempered, and _so_
affectionate, and _such_ a colour! And _oh! such lovely eyes!_ and such
hair! He _was_ a little duck! he _was_, he _was_, he _was_. Tzig a tzig,
tzig, tzig, tzig, tzig!” &c. &c. &c.


This emphatic way of speaking is indicative of two very amiable feelings
implanted by nature in the female occiput, and called by the Phrenologists
Adhesiveness and Philoprogenitiveness. Those who attempt to imitate it
will be conscious, while forcing out their words, of a peculiar mental
emotion, which we cannot explain otherwise than by saying, that it is
analogous to that which attends the act of pressing or squeezing; as when,
with the thumb of the right hand, we knead one lump of putty to another,
in the palm of the left. Perhaps we might also instance, sucking an
orange. In all these cases, the organ of Weight, according to Phrenology,
is also active; and this, perhaps, is one of the faculties which induce
young ladies to lay a stress upon their words. Nevertheless, we fear that
a damsel would hardly be pleased by being told that her _weight_ was
considerable, though it would, at the same time, grievously offend her to
accuse her of _lightness_. Here we need scarcely observe, that we refer to
lightness, not of complexion, but of sentiment, which is always regarded
as a _dark_ shade in the character. This defect, we think, we may safely
assert, will never be observed in emphatic fair ones.

But we have not yet quite exhausted the subject of emphasis, considered in
relation to young ladies. Their letters are as emphatic as their language
is, almost every third word being underlined. Such epistles, inasmuch as
they are addressed to the heart, ought not to be submitted to the ear;
nevertheless we must say that we have occasionally been wicked and
waggish enough to read them aloud--to ourselves alone, of course. The
reader may, if he choose, follow our example. We subjoin a specimen of
female correspondence, endeared to us by many tender recollections, and
admirably adapted to our present purpose.

    My _dear Paul_,

    When we left _Town_ on _Wednesday last_ the weather was so very
    _rainy_ that we were _obliged_ to have the _coach windows_ up. I was
    _terribly_ afraid that _Matilda_ and I would have caught our _Death_
    of _cold_; but thank _Goodness_ no such _untoward_ event took place.
    It was _very uncomfortable_, and I _so_ wished _you had been there_.
    When we got _home_ who _do you think_ was there? Mr. _Sims_; and he
    _said_ he _thought_ that I was _so_ much _grown_. Only _think_. And so
    then you know we took some _refreshment_, for _I assure_ you, what
    with the _journey_ and _altogether_ we were very _nearly famished_;
    and we were _all invited_ to go to the _Chubbs’_ that _Evening_ to a
    small _Tea Party_, for which I _must own_ I _thought Mr. Chubb_ a
    _nice man_. After tea we had a _carpet waltz_, and although I was
    _very tired_ I _enjoyed_ it _much_. There were some _very pretty
    girls_ there, and _one_ or _two agreeable young men_; but _oh!_ &c.

The remainder of this letter being of a nature personally interesting to
ourselves only, and likely, in the opinion of some readers, to render its
insertion attributable to motives of vanity, we shall not be found fault
with for objecting to transcribe any more of it.



A Pause, otherwise called a rest, is an absolute cessation of the voice,
in speaking or reading, during a perceptible interval, longer or shorter,
of time.

Comic Pauses often occur in Oratory. “Unaccustomed as I am to public
speaking,” is usually followed by a pause of this sort. A young gentleman,
his health having been drunk at a party, afforded, in endeavouring to
return thanks, a signal illustration of the Pause Comic. “Gentlemen,” he
began, “the Ancient Romans,”--(A pause),--“I say, Gentlemen, the Ancient
Romans,”--(Hear!)--“The Ancient Romans, Gentlemen,”--(Bravo! hear!
hear!)--“Gentlemen--that is--the Ancient Romans”--“were very fine fellows,
Jack, I dare say,” added a friend, pulling the speaker down by the

That notable Ancient Roman, Brutus, is represented by Shakspere as making
a glorious pause: as,

“Who’s here so vile that would not love his country? If any, speak, for
him have I offended. I pause for a reply.”


Here, of course, Brutus pauses, folds his arms, and looks magnanimous. We
have heard, though, of an idle and impudent schoolboy, who, at a public
recitation, when he had uttered the words “I pause for a reply,” gravely
took out his penknife and began paring his nails.

This _was_ minding his _paws_ with a vengeance.

A very long pause, particularly accompanied by a very serious look on the
part of the speaker, as good as tells the audience that something of great
importance is coming. It is therefore necessary to have something of real
consequence to bring out. The following extract from a political harangue
will show how essential it is to attend to this point:--

    “And, Gentlemen, when I consider, I say, when I consider the condition
    of the masses of this country, I do think, and it is my opinion, that
    the Government has much to answer for. But not to dwell on that point,
    what have been the deeds, what have been the proceedings, I may say,
    of the Government itself? They have increased taxation, they have
    swelled the National Debt, they have assailed the liberty of the
    subject, they have trampled the poor man in the dust; he asked for
    liberty, and they made him a slave; he demanded the Charter, and they
    loaded him with fetters; he knelt for protection, and they gave him
    the Poor Law; he cried for bread, and they gave him the bayonet. By
    what name, by what term, by what expression, are we to designate such
    tyranny? (A long pause) ... Gentlemen!--it is _unconstitutional_!!!”



Tones consist of the modulations of the voice, or the notes or variations
of sound which we use in speaking: thus differing materially both from
emphasis and pauses.

An interesting diversity of _tones_ is exhibited by the _popular voice_ at
an election.

Also by dust-men, milk-women, and pot-boys; and by fruiterers,
hearth-stone-venders, ballad-singers, Last-Dying-Speech-hawkers, and old
clothesmen itinerant.

We cannot exactly write tones (though it is easy enough to write notes),
but we shall nevertheless endeavour to give some idea of their utility.

A lover and a police-magistrate (unless the two characters should chance
to be combined, which sometimes happens, that is, when the latter is a
lover of justice) would say, “Answer me,” in very different tones.

Observe, that two doves billing resemble two magistrates bowing;--because
they are beak to beak.


A lover again would utter the words “For ever and ever,” in a very
different tone from that in which a Parish Clerk would repeat them.

A young lady, on her first introduction to you, says, “Sir,” in a tone
very unlike that in which she sometime afterwards delivers herself of the
same monosyllable when she is addressing you under the influence of

As to the word “Sir,” the number of constructions which, according to the
tone in which it is spoken, it may be made to bear, are incalculable. We
may adduce a few instances.

“Please, Sir, let me off my imposition.”

“No, Sir!”

“Waiter! you, Sir.”

“Yes, Sir! yes, Sir!”

“Sir, I am greatly obliged to you.”

“Sir, you are quite welcome.”

“Your servant, Sir” (by a man who brings you a challenge).

“’Servant, Sir” (by a tailor bowing you to the door).

“Sir, you are a gentleman!”

“Sir, you are a scoundrel!”

We need not go on with examples ad infinitum. If after what we have said
anybody does not understand the nature of Tone, all we shall say of him
is, that he is a _Tony_ Lumpkin.




It is with peculiar pleasure that we approach this part of Prosody; and we
have therefore prefaced it with an exclamation indicative of delight. We
belong to a class of persons to whom a celebrated phrenological
manipulator ascribes “some poetical feeling, if studied or called forth;”
and, to borrow another expression from the same quarter, we sometimes
“versify a little;” that is to say, we _di_versify our literary
occupations by an occasional flirtation with the muses. Now it gives us
great concern to observe that popular literature is becoming very prosaic.
Poetry and Boxing have gone out of favour together, and most
probably,--though we have not quite time enough just at present to show
how,--from the same cause; namely, bad taste. We mention Boxing along with
Poetry, because it is remarkable that their decline should have been
contemporaneous; and because we are of those who believe that there
exists an essential similarity between all the branches of the Fine Arts;
and moreover, because--and we mention it as a fact no less singular in
itself than creditable to the paper in question--that a celebrated weekly
periodical bestows especial patronage on both. With regard to Boxing, we
are glad to see that a few patriotic individuals have of late been
endeavouring to revive the taste for it; and we have some hope that their
exertions, backed by certain cases of stabbing which every now and then
occur, will eventually prove successful. But no one can be found to labour
in an equal degree for the advancement of poetry. Our innate modesty is
prompting us to say, that we fear we can do but little in the cause; but
early impressions are known to be very strong and lasting: and we have a
notion that, in teaching youth to make verses, we shall in a great degree
contribute to the breeding up of a race of poets, and thereby secure, not
only laurels, at least, for them, but also gratitude, veneration, and all
that kind of thing, for ourselves.

We have a great respect for the memory of our old schoolmaster;
notwithstanding which, we think we can beat him (which, we shall be told
by the wags, would be tit for tat) at poet-making, though, indeed, he was
a magician in his way. “I’ll make thee a poet, my boy,” he used to say,
“or the rod shall.”

Let us try what _we_ can do.

A verse consists of a certain number and variety of syllables, put
together and arranged according to certain laws.

Verses being also called dulcet strains, harmonious numbers, tuneful lays,
and so forth, it is clear that such combination and arrangement must be so
made as to please the ear.

Versification is the making of verses. This seems such a truism as to be
not worth stating; but it is necessary to define what Versification is,
because many people suppose it to be the same thing with poetry. We will
prove that it is not.

  “Much business in the Funds has lately been
   Transacted various monied men between;
   Though speculation early in the week
   Went slowly; nought was done whereof to speak.
   The largest operations, it was found,
   Were twenty-five and fifty thousand _pound_;
   The former in reduced Annuities,
   And in the Three per Cents. the last of these.”

We might proceed in the same strain, but we have already done eight verses
without a particle of poetry in them; and we do not wish to overwhelm
people with proofs of what a great many will take upon trust.

Every fool knows what Rhyme is; so we need not say anything about that.


Poetical feet! Why, Fanny Elsler’s feet and Taglioni’s feet are poetical
feet--are they not? or else what is meant by calling dancing the Poetry of
Motion? And cannot each of those _artistes_ boast of a toe which is the
very essence of all poetry--a ΤΟ` ΚΑΛΟ`Ν?

No. You may make verses _on_ Taglioni’s feet, (though if she be a poetess,
she can do that better than you, standing, too, on one leg, like the man
that Horace speaks of); but you cannot make them _of_ her feet. Feet _of_
which verses are composed are made of syllables, not of bones, muscles,
and ligaments.

Feet and pauses are the constituent parts of a verse.

We have heard one boy ask another, who was singing, “How much is that a
yard?” still the yard is not a poetical measure.

The feet which are used in poetry consist either of two or of three
syllables. There are four kinds of feet of two, and an equal number of
three syllables. Four and four are eight: therefore Pegasus is an
octoped; and if our readers do not understand this logic, we are sorry for
it. But as touching the feet--we have

1. The Trochee, which has the first syllable accented, and the last
unaccented: as, “Yānkĕe dōodlĕ.”

2. The Iambus, which has the first syllable unaccented, and the last
accented: as, “Thĕ māid hĕrsēlf wĭth roūge, ălās! bĕdaūbs.”

3. The Spondee, which has both the words or syllables accented: as, “Āll
hāil, grēat kīng, Tōm Thūmb, āll haīl!”

4. The Pyrrhic, which has both the words or syllables unaccented: as, “Ŏn
thĕ tree-top.”

5. The Dactyl, which has the first syllable accented and the two latter
unaccented: as, “Jōnăthăn, Jēffĕrsŏn.”

6. The Amphibrach has the first and last syllables unaccented and the
middle one accented: as, “Oĕ’rwħelmĭng, trănspōrtĕd, ĕcstātĭc, dĕlīghtfŭl,
ăccēptĕd, ăddrēssĕs.”

7. The Anapæst (or as we used to say, _Nasty-beast_) has the two first
syllables unaccented and the last accented: as, “Ŏvĕrgrōwn grĕnădiēr.”

8. The Tribrach has all its syllables unaccented: as, “Matrĭmŏny̆,

These feet are divided into _principal_ feet, out of which pieces of
poetry may be wholly or chiefly formed; and _secondary_ feet, the use of
which is to diversify the number and improve the verse.

We shall now proceed to explain the nature of the principal feet.

Iambic verses are of several kinds, each kind consisting of a certain
number of feet or syllables.

1. The shortest form of the English Iambic consists of an Iambus, with an
additional short syllable, thus coinciding with the Amphibrach: as,

  “Whăt, Sūsăn,
     My beauty!
   Refuse one
     So true t’ ye?
   This ditty
     Of sadness
   Begs pity
     For madness.”

2. The second form of the English Iambic consists of _two_ Iambuses, and
sometimes takes an additional short syllable: as,

  “My̆ eȳe, whăt fūn,
   With dog and gun,
   And song and shout,
   To roam about!
   And shoot our snipes!
   And smoke our pipes!
   Or eat at ease,
   Beneath the trees,
   Our bread and cheese!
   To rouse the hare
   From gloomy lair;
   To scale the mountain
   And ford the fountain,
   While rustics wonder
   To hear our thunder.”

Everybody has heard of the “Cockney School,” of course.

3. The third form consists of _three_ Iambuses: as in the following
_morceau_, the author of which is, we regret to say, unknown to us; though
we _did_ once hear somebody say that it was a Mr. Anon.

  “Jăck Sprāt ĕat āll thĕ fāt,
     His wife eat all the lean,
   And so between them both,
     They lick’d the platter clean.”

In this verse an additional short syllable is also admitted: as,

  “Ălēxĭs, yoūthfŭl ploūgh-bŏy,
     A shepherdess adored,
   Who loved fat Hodge, the cow-boy,
     So t’other chap was floored.”

4. The fourth form is made up of four Iambuses: as,

  “Ădieū my̆ bōots, cŏmpāniŏns ōld,
   New footed twice, and four times soled;
   My footsteps ye have guarded long,
   Life’s brambles, thorns, and flints among;
   And now you’re past the cobbler’s art,
   And Fate declares that we must part.
   Ah me! what cordial can restore
   The gaping patch repatch’d before?
   What healing art renew the weal
   Of subject so infirm of heel?
   What potion, pill, or draught control
   So deep an ulcer of the _sole_?”

5. The fifth species of English Iambic consists of _five_ Iambuses: as,

  “Cŏme, Trāgĭc Mūse, ĭn tāttĕr’d vēst ărrāy’d,
   And while through blood, and mud, and crimes I wade,
   Support my steps, and this, my strain, inspire
   With Horror’s blackest thoughts and bluest fire!”

The Epic of which the above example is the opening, will perhaps appear
hereafter. This kind of Iambic constitutes what is called the Heroic
measure:--of which we shall have more to say by and by; but shall only
remark at present that it, in common with most of the ordinary English
measures, is susceptible of many varieties, by the admission of other
feet, as Trochees, Dactyls, Anapæsts, &c.

6. Our Iambic in its sixth form, is commonly called the Alexandrine
measure. It consists of six Iambuses: as,

  “Hĭs wōrshĭp gāve thĕ wōrd, ănd Snōoks wăs bōrne ăwāy.”

The Alexandrine is sometimes introduced into heroic rhyme, and when used,
as the late Mr. John Reeve was wont to say, “with a little moderation,”
occasions an agreeable variety. Thus, the example quoted is preceded by
the following lines:--

  “What! found at midnight with a darkey, lit,
   A bull-dog, jemmy, screw, and centre-bit
   And tongueless of his aim? It cannot be
   But he was bent, at least, on felony;
   He stands remanded. ‘Ho! Policeman A!’
   His Worship gave the word, and Snooks was borne away.”

7. The seventh and last form of our Iambic measure is made up of _seven_
Iambuses. This species of verse has been immortalised by the adoption of
those eminent hands, Messrs. Sternhold and Hopkins. It runs thus:--

  “Goŏd pēoplĕ āll, Ĭ prāy drăw nēar, fŏr yōu Ĭ neēds mŭst tēll,
   That William Brown is dead and gone; the man you knew full well.
   A broad brimm’d hat, black breeches, and an old Welch wig he wore:
   And now and then a long brown coat all button’d up before.”

The present measure is as admirably adapted for the Platform as for the

  “My name it is Bill Scroggins, and my fate it is to die,
   For I was at the Sessions tried and cast for felony.
   My friends, to these my dying words I pray attention lend,
   The public-house has brought me unto this untimely end.”

Verses of this kind are now usually broken into two lines, with four feet
in the first line, and three in the second: as,

  “Ĭ wīsh Ĭ wēre ă līttlĕ p̄ig
     To wallow in the mire,
   To eat, and drink, and sleep at ease
     Is all that I desire.”

Trochaic verse is of several kinds.

1. The shortest Trochaic verse in the English language consists of one
Trochee and a long syllable: as,

  “Bīlly̆ Blāck
   Got the sack.”

Lindley Murray asserts that this measure is defective in dignity, and can
seldom be used on serious occasions. Yet it is Pope who thus sings:

  “Dreadful screams,
   Dismal gleams.
   Fires that glow,
   Shrieks of woe,” &c.

And for our own poor part, let us see what we can make out of a storm.

  “See the clouds
   Like to shrouds
   All so dun,
   Hide the Sun;
   Daylight dies;
   Winds arise;
   Songsters quake,
   ’Midst the brake;
   Shepherds beat
   Swift retreat:

  “Lo you there!
   High in air
   Whirlwinds snatch
   Tiles and thatch!
   Steeple nods!
   Oh! ye Gods!
   Hark!--that bang!--
   Brazen clang!
   There the bell
   Thund’ring fell!
   Thunder rolls--
   Save our souls!--
   Welkin glares--
   Lightning flares,
   While it splits
   Oak to bits--
   Hail comes down--
   Oh, my crown!
   Patter crack!
   Clatter whack!
   How it pours!
   Ocean roars,
   Earth replies--
   Mind your eyes--
   Here’s a cave--
   Oh! that’s brave!
   Gracious Powers
   Safety’s ours!”

2. The second English form of the Trochaic consists of two feet: as,

   Cūrrănt jēlly̆.”

It sometimes contains two feet, or trochees, with an additional long
syllable: as,

  “Yoūth ĭnclīned tŏ wēd,
   Go and shave thy head.”

3. The third species consists of three trochees: as,

  “Sīng ă son̄g ŏf sīxpĕnce.”

or of three trochees, with an additional long syllable: as,

  “Thrīce my̆ cōat, hăve ō’er thĕe rōll’d,
   Summer hot and winter cold,
   Since the Snip’s creative art
   Into being bade thee start;

  “Now like works the most sublime,
   Thou display’st the power of Time.
   Broad grey patches plainly trace,
   Right and left each blade-bone’s place;
   When thy shining collar’s scann’d,
   Punsters think on classic land:
   Thread-bare sleeves thine age proclaim,
   Elbows worn announce the same;
   Elbows mouldy-black of hue,
   Save where white a crack shines through;
   While thy parting seams declare
   Thou’rt unfit for farther wear--
   Then, farewell! “What! Moses! ho!”
   “Clo’, Sir? clo’, Sir? clo’, Sir? clo’?”

4. The fourth Trochaic species consists of four trochees: as,

  “Ūgh! yŏu līttlĕ lūmp ŏf blūbbĕr,
     Sleep, oh! sleep in quiet, do!
   Cease awhile your bib to slobber--
     Cease your bottle mouth to screw.

  “How I wish your eyelids never
     Would unclose again at all;
   For I know as soon as ever
     You’re awake, you’re sure to squall.

  “Dad and Mammy’s darling honey,
     Tomb-stone cherub, stuff’d with slops,
   Let each noodle, dolt, and spooney
     Smack, who will, your pudding chops.

  “As for me, as soon I’d smother,
     As I’d drown a sucking cat,
   You, you cub, or any other
     Nasty little squalling brat.”

[Illustration: “Would you, you disagreeable old Bachelor?”]

This form may take an additional long syllable, but this measure is very
uncommon. Example:

  “Chrōnŏnhōtŏnthōlŏgōs thĕ Grēat,
   Godlike in a barrow kept his state.”

5. The fifth Trochaic species is likewise uncommon; and, as a Bowbellian
would say, “uncommon” ugly. It contains _five_ trochees: as,

  “Hēre lĭes Māry̆, wīfe ŏf Thōmăs Cārtĕr,
   Who to typhus fever proved a martyr.”

These are a specimen of the “uncouth rhymes” so touchingly alluded to by

6. The sixth form of the English Trochaic is a line of six trochees: as,

  “Mōst bĕwītchĭng dāmsĕl, c̄harmĭng Ārăbēllă,
   Prithee, cast an eye of pity on a fellow.”

The Dactylic measure is extremely uncommon. The following may be
considered an example of one species of it:

  “Cēliă thĕ crūĕl, rĕsōlv’d nŏt tŏ mārry̆ sŏon,
   Boasts of a heart like a fortified garrison,
   Bulwarks and battlements keeping the _beaux_ all off,
   Shot from within knocking lovers like foes all off.”

Anapæstic verses are of various kinds.

1. The shortest anapæstic verse is a single anapæst: as,

  “Ĭn thĕ glāss
   There’s an ass.”

This measure, after all, is ambiguous; for if the stress of the voice be
laid on the first and third syllables, it becomes trochaic. Perhaps,
therefore, it is best to consider the first form of our Anapæstic verse,
as made up of two anapæsts: as,

  “Sĕt ă schōolbŏy ăt wōrk
   With a knife and a fork.”

And here, if you like, you may have another short syllable: as,

  “Ănd hŏw sōon thĕ yoŭng glūttŏn
   Will astonish your mutton!”

2. The second species consists of three anapæsts: as,

  “Ămărȳllĭs wăs slēndĕr ănd tāll,
     Colin Clodpole was dumpy and fat;
   And tho’ _she_ did’n’t like him at all,
     Yet he doted on _her_ for all that.”

This metre is sometimes donominated sing-song.

3. The third kind of _English_ Anapæstics may be very well exemplified by
an _Irish_ song:

  “Hăve yŏu ē’er hăd thĕ lūck tŏ sĕe Dōnny̆brŏok Fāir?”

It consists, as will have been observed, of four anapæsts. Sometimes it
admits of a short syllable at the end of the verse: as,

  “Ĭn thĕ dēad ŏf thĕ nīght, whĕn wĭth dīre cătĕrwāulĭng
     Of grimalkins in chorus the house-tops resound;
   All insensibly drunk, and unconsciously sprawling
     In the kennel, how pleasant it is to be found!”

The various specimens of versification of which examples have been given,
may be improved and varied by the admission of secondary feet into their
composition; but as we are not writing an Art of Poetry, we cannot afford
to show how: particularly as the only way, after all, of acquiring a real
knowledge of the structure of English verse, is by extensive reading.
Besides, there yet remain a few Directions for Poetical Beginners, which
we feel ourselves called upon to give, and for which, if we do not take
care, we shall not have room.

The commencement of a poet’s career is usually the writing of _nonsense_
verses. The nonsense of these compositions is very often unintentional;
but sometimes words are put together avowedly without regard to sense, and
with no other view than that of acquiring a familiarity with metrical
arrangement: as,

  “Approach, disdain, involuntary, tell.”

But this is dry work. It may be necessary to compose in this way just at
first, but in our opinion, there is a good and a bad taste to be displayed
even in writing nonsense verses; that is, verses which really deserve that
name. We recommend the young poet to make it his aim to render his
nonsense as PERFECT as possible. He will find many bright examples to
follow in the world of literature: but perhaps, for the present, he will
put up with our own.

  “Conclusive tenderness; fraternal grog,
   Tidy conjunction; adamantine bog,
   Impetuous, arrant toadstool; Thundering quince,
   Repentant dog-star, inessential Prince
   Expound. Pre-Adamite eventful gun,
   Crush retribution, currant-jelly, pun.
   Oh! eligible Darkness, fender, sting
   Heav’n-born Insanity, courageous thing.
   Intending, bending, scouring, piercing all,
   Death like pomatum, tea, and crabs must fall.”

A very good method of making nonsense verses, consists in taking bits,
selected here and there at random, out of some particular poet, or phrases
in his style, and then putting them together with a few additions of your
own _secundùm artem_. Sometimes, however, it answers very well to copy a
page or so of an author word for word. Nonsense verses composed in this
manner, form not only a beneficial exercise, but are also very useful for
insertion in young ladies’ albums; as they can be made without much
trouble, and when made, are not only thought just as well of as the most
sensible productions would be, but very often cried over into the bargain,
as affecting and pathetic.



  “Bright breaks the warrior o’er the ocean wave
   Through realms that rove not, clouds that cannot save,
   Sinks in the sunshine; dazzles o’er the tomb,
   And mocks the mutiny of Memory’s gloom.
   Oh! who can feel the crimson ecstasy
   That soothes with bickering jar the Glorious Free?
   O’er the high rock the foam of gladness throws,
   While star-beams lull Vesuvius to repose:
   Girds the white spray, and in the blue lagoon,
   Weeps like a walrus o’er the waning moon?
   Who can declare?--not thou, pervading boy
   Whom pibrochs pierce not, crystals cannot cloy;--
   Not thou, soft Architect of silvery gleams,
   Whose soul would simmer in Hesperian streams,
   Th’ exhaustless fire--the bosom’s azure bliss,
   That hurtles, life-like, o’er a scene like this;--
   Defies the distant agony of Day--
   And sweeps o’er hecatombs--away! away!
   Say, shall Destruction’s lava load the gale,
   The furnace quiver, and the mountain quail?
   Say, shall the son of Sympathy pretend
   His cedar fragrance with our Chief’s to blend?
   There, where the gnarled monuments of sand
   Howl their dark whirlwinds to the levin brand;
   Where avalanches wail, and green Distress
   Sweeps o’er the pallid beak of loveliness:
   Where melancholy Sulphur holds her sway;
   And cliffs of Conscience tremble, and obey;
   And where Tartarean rattle-snakes expire,
   Twisting like tendrils of a hero’s pyre?
   No! dancing in the meteor’s hall of power,
   See, Genius ponders o’er Affection’s tower!
   A form of thund’ring import soars on high,
   Hark! ’tis the gore of infant melody:
   No more shall verdant Innocence amuse
   The lips that death-fraught Indignation glues;--
   Tempests shall teach the trackless tide of thought,
   That undistinguish’d senselessness is nought:
   Freedom shall glare; and oh! ye links divine,
   The Poet’s heart shall quiver in the brine.”

Suppose we try another metre.

  “The Spirit saw and smiled,
   And an interminable radiance glowed
   Throughout her lucid frame;
   There rose within her soul
   A wild unspeakable intelligence,
   A sweet and gentle light,
   Which through her eyes in countless flashes shone
   Intolerably bright;
   Like to an infinite multitude of stars
   Gemming the arch of Heaven;
   Or, rather, like the shining balls that come
   Out of a Roman candle.”

However, we are not quite sure that, with the exception of the two last
lines, we have not quoted the rest of the foregoing example from memory.

It were manifestly culpable to make no mention, in a work of this sort, of
certain measures which are especially and essentially of a comic nature.
Some of these have been already adverted to, but two principal varieties
yet remain to be considered.

1. Measures taken from the Latin, in which the structure of the ancient
verse, as far as the number and arrangement of the feet are concerned, is
preserved, but the quantity of which is regulated in accordance with the
spirit of our own language. The character of such verses will be best
displayed by employing them on sentimental or serious subjects. Take, for
example, Long and Short, or Hexameter and Pentameter verses.

  “Jūlĭă, gīrl ŏf my̆ heārt, ĭs thăn jēssămĭne swēetĕr, ŏr frēsh mēads
     Hāy-cŏvĕr’d; whāt rōse tīnts thōse ŏn hĕr chēeks, thăt flŏurīsh,
   Approach? those bright eyes, what stars, what glittering dew-drops?
     And oh! what Parian marble, or snow, that bosom?
   If she my love return, what bliss will be greater than mine; but
     What more deep sadness if she reprove my passion?
   Either a bridegroom proud yon ivy-clad church shall receive me
     Soon; or the cold church-yard me with its turf shall cover.”

Or the Sapphic metre, of which the late Mr. Canning’s “Knife-Grinder” is
so brilliant an example. Sappho, fair reader, was a poetess, who made
love-verses which could be actually scanned. History relates that, for the
sake of some unprincipled or unfeeling fellow, she committed _felo de se_.

  “‘Ī căn ēndūre thīs crŭĕl pāin nŏ lōngēr;
   Fare ye well, blue skies, rivers, fields, and song-birds!’
   Thus the youth spoke: and adding, ‘Oh, Jemima!’
                          Plunged in the billow!”


2. Measures reducible to no rule, or Doggrel. Sternhold and Hopkins, of
whom such honourable mention has been made above, were illustrious as
Doggrel writers. They have been somewhat eclipsed, however, by their
modern successors, Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate, who may, perhaps, be
safely pronounced the chief of _uninspired_ bards.

Original composers in this description of verse are often not much more
particular about Syntax,--and we might add Orthography,--than they are
about Prosody. The following extract from an unpublished satire on the
singing of a country catch-club, is a tolerably fair specimen of English

  “A gentleman, who was passing by,
   Was very much amazed at what they were going to try,
   Said, ‘Hear their voices, how they sing,
   How badly they all chime in!’
   After such singing, what do you think of us,
   To send forth sounds of mirthfulness?”

Doggrel is commonly used by anonymous poets for the purpose of embodying
the moral reflections which a homicide or an execution excites in the
sensitive mind. It is likewise the metre in which the imaginative
sempstress pours forth the feelings of her bosom. May we hope that our
remarks on Prosody will in some little degree tend to facilitate, perhaps
to improve, the future treatment of those two deeply interesting
subjects--Love and Murder?




“Mind your stops.” This is one of the earliest maxims inculcated by the
instructors of youth. Hence it is clear that the subject of Punctuation is
an important one; but inasmuch as the reader, who has arrived at the
present page, has either not understood a word that he has been reading,
or else knows as much about the matter as we can tell him, we fear that a
long dissertation concerning periods, commas, and so on, would only serve
to embarrass his progress in learning with useless STOPS. We shall,
therefore, confine ourselves to that notice of Punctuation, and that only,
which the peculiar nature of our work may require.

First, it may be remarked, that the notes _of admiration_ which we so
often hear in theatres, may be called _notes of hand_. Secondly, that
_notes of interrogation_ are not at all like _bank notes_; although they
are largely uttered in _Banco Reginæ_. Let us now proceed with our

It is both absurd and inconvenient to stand upon _points_.


Of how much consequence, however, Punctuation is, the student may form
some idea, by considering the different effects which a piece of poetry,
for instance, which he has been accustomed to regard as sublime or
beautiful, will have, when liberties are taken with it in that respect.

Imagine an actor commencing Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, thus:--

  “To be; or not to be that is. The question,” &c.

Or saying, in the person of Duncan, in Macbeth:

  “This castle hath a pleasant seat, the air.”

Or as the usurper himself, exclaiming,

  “The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
   Where got’st thou that goose? Look!”


Crying, as Romeo,

  “It is my lady O! It is my love!”

Or in the character of Norval, in the tragedy of Douglas, giving this
account of himself and his origin:

  “My name is Norval. On the Grampian hills
   My father feeds.”

In short, Punctuation is the soul of Grammar, as Punctuality is that of

Perhaps somebody or other may take advantage of what we have said, to
prove both Punctuation and Punctuality _immaterial_. No matter.

How very punctual the present Ministers are! how well they _keep their

We have now said as much as we think it necessary to say on the head of
English Grammar. We shall conclude our labours with an “Address to Young
Students;” and as to the question, what that has to do with our subject,
we shall leave it to be settled by Lindley Murray, whose example, in this
respect, we follow. All we shall observe is, that in our opinion, advice
concerning manners stands in the same relation to a Comic English Grammar,
as instruction in morals does to a Serious one. For the remarks which it
will now be our business to make, we bespeak the indulgence of our elder
readers, and the attention of such as are of tender age.



Having attentively perused the foregoing pages, you will be desirous, it
is to be presumed, of carrying still further those comical pursuits in
which, with both pleasure and profit to yourselves, you have been lately
engaged. Should such be your laudable intention, you will learn, with
feelings of lively satisfaction, that it is one, in the accomplishment of
which, thanks to Modern Taste, you will find encouragement at every step.
The literature of the day is professedly comic, and of the few works which
are not made ludicrous by the design of their authors, the majority are
rendered so in spite of it. In the course of your reading, however, you
will be frequently brought into contact with hackney-coachmen, cabmen,
lackeys, turnkeys, thieves, lawyers’ clerks, medical students, and other
people of that description, who are all very amusing when properly viewed,
as the monkeys and such like animals at the Zoological Gardens are, when
you look at them through the bars of their cage. But too great
familiarity with persons of this class is sure to breed contempt, not for
them and their manners, but for the usages and modes of expression adopted
in parlours and drawing-rooms, that is to say, in good society. Nay, it is
very likely to cause those who indulge in it to learn various tricks and
eccentricities, both of behaviour and speech, for “It is certain, that
either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is caught, as men take diseases,
one of another.” Shakspere.

Beset thus, as you will necessarily be, by perils and dangers in your
wanderings amid the fields of Comicality, you will derive great advantage
from knowing before-hand what you are likely to meet with, and what it
will be incumbent on you to avoid. It is to furnish you with this
information that the following hints and instructions are intended.

Be careful, when you hear yourself called by name, to reply “Here I am,”
and not “Here you are,” an error into which you are very likely to be led
by the perusal of existing authors.

When you partake, if it be your habit to do so, of the beverage called
porter, drink it as you would water, or any other liquid. Do not wink your
eye, or nod sideways to your companion; such actions, especially when
preceded by blowing away the foam which collects on the top of the
vessel, being exceedingly inelegant: and in order that you may not be
incommoded by this foam or froth, always pour the fluid gently into a
tumbler, instead of drinking it out of the metallic tankard in which it is
usually brought to you.

In asking for malt liquor generally, never request the waiter to “draw it
mild;” and do not, on any occasion, be guilty of using the same phrase in
a metaphorical sense, that is to say, as a substitute, for “Do it
quietly.” “Be gentle,” and the like.

Never exhort young ladies, during a quadrille, to “fake away,” or to
“flare up,” for they, being unacquainted with the meaning of such terms,
will naturally conclude that it is an improper one.

Call all articles of dress by their proper names. What delight can be
found by a thinking mind in designating a hat as a tile, trousers,
kickseys, a neckerchief, a fogle, or a choker; or a great coat, an upper
Benjamin? And never speak of clothes, collectively, as togs or toggery.

Avoid inquiries after the health of another person’s mother, using that
word synonymously with Mamma, to denote a female parent. Though you may be
really innocent of any intention to be rude, your motives may very
possibly be misconstrued. Remember, also, on no account to put questions,
either to friends or strangers, respecting the quantity of soap in their

Should it be necessary for you to speak of some one smoking tobacco, do
not call that substance a weed, or the act of using it “blowing a cloud.”

When an acquaintance pays you a visit, take care, in rising to receive
him, not to appear to be washing your hands, and, should you be engaged in
writing at the time, place your pen on the table, or in the inkstand, and
not behind your ear.

Observe, when your tailor comes to measure you, the way in which he wears
his hair, and should your own style in this particular unfortunately
resemble his, be sure to alter it immediately.

Never dance _à la cuisinière_, that is to say, do not cut capers.

Eschew large shirt pins.

Be not guilty of patent leather boots.

Never say “Ma’am” or “Miss,” in addressing a young lady. If you cannot
contrive to speak to her without doing so, say nothing.

In conversation, especially in female society, beware of indulging in
jocose expressions, or witticisms, on the subject of executions. If it be
necessary to remark that such and such a person expiated his crimes on the
scaffold, content yourself with simply mentioning the circumstance, and do
not make any attempt to illustrate your meaning by dropping your head on
your right shoulder, and jerking up your neckcloth under your left ear.

Never, under any circumstances, let the abbreviation “gent.” for
gentleman, escape the enclosure of your teeth. Above all things, for the
sake of whatever you hold most dear, never say “me and another gent.”

It may happen, that a youthful acquaintance may so far forget himself as
to talk of giving another “monkey’s allowance, more kicks than
half-pence.” You, of course, will never dream of giving utterance to such
language, nor will any inducement, it is to be hoped, ever prevail upon
you to say, as an unthinking young friend once did, hearing the above
threat made, “that you prefer _kicks_ (meaning thereby sixpences) to
half-pence.” In general avoid all low wit.

When you receive a coin of any kind, deposit it at once in your pocket,
without the needless preliminary of furling it in the air.

Never ask a gentleman how much he has a-year.

In speaking of a person of your own age, or of an elderly gentleman, do
not say, Old So-and-So, but So-and-so, or _Mr._ So-and-so, as the case may
be: and have no nicknames for each other. We were much horrified not long
since, by hearing a great coarse fellow, in a leathern hat and fustian
jacket, exclaim, turning round to his companion, “Now, then, come along,
old Blokey!”

When you have got a cold in the head and weak eyes, do not go and call on
young ladies.

Do not eat gravy with a knife, for fear those about you should suppose you
to be going to commit suicide.

In offering to help a person at dinner, do not say, “Allow me to _assist_
you.” When you ask people what wine they will take, never say, “What’ll
you have?” or, “What’ll you _do it in_?”

If you are talking to a clergyman about another member of the clerical
profession, adopt some other method of describing his avocation than that
of saying, “I believe he is in your line.”

Do not recommend an omelet to a lady, as a good _article_.

Be cautious not to use the initial letter of a person’s surname, in
mentioning or in addressing him. For instance, never think of saying,
“Mrs. Hobbs, pray, how is Mr. H.?”

We here approach the conclusion of our labours. Young gentlemen, once more
it is earnestly requested that you will give your careful attention to the
rules and admonitions which have been above laid down for your guidance.
We might have given a great many more; but we hope that the spirit of our
instructions will enable the diligent youth to supply, by observation and
reflection, that which, for obvious reasons, we have necessarily left
unsaid. And now we bid you farewell. That you may never have the
misfortune of entering, with splashed boots, a drawing-room full of
ladies; that you may never, having been engaged in a brawl on the previous
evening, meet, with a black eye, the object of your affections the next
morning; that you may never, in a moment of agitation, omit the aspirate,
or use it when you ought not; that your laundress may always do justice to
your linen; and your tailor make your clothes well, and send them home in
due time; that your braces may never give way during a waltz; that you may
never, sitting in a strong light at a large dinner-party, suddenly
remember that you have not shaved for two days; that your hands and face
may ever be free from tan, chaps, freckles, pimples, brandy-blossoms, and
all other disfigurements; that you may never be either inelegantly fat, or
ridiculously lean; and finally, that you may always have plenty to eat,
plenty to drink, and plenty to laugh at, we earnestly and sincerely wish.
And should your lot in life be other than fortunate, we can only say, that
we advise you to bear it with patience; to cultivate Comic Philosophy; and
to look upon your troubles as a joke.

[Illustration: VIVAT REGINA!]




[1] It may be said that Punch is a foreign importation. True; and the same
assertion may be made respecting the drink of that name, the ingredients
of which are all exotic, except the water: nevertheless the peculiar
fondness of our countrymen for it will hardly on that account be
questioned. But the real fact is, that there is nothing outlandish about
Punch except the name, and even that has been Anglicised. We are
proverbial for improving on the inventions of other nations, but we have
done more than improve upon Punch; we have entirely remodelled his
character; and he is now no more an Italian than the descendant of one who
came in with the Conqueror is a Norman. The correctness of this position
will be found to be singularly borne out on a perusal of that celebrated
work, “Punch and Judy;” in which (no doubt from unavoidable circumstances)
the dialogues were actually taken down from the mouth of an Italian, one
Piccini, an itinerant exhibitor of the drama. The book is, or ought to be,
in everybody’s hands. Still, let any one refer to that particular part of
it, and, provided that his taste is a correct one, he will not fail to be
struck with the deteriorating effect which Signor Piccini’s broken English
and Italian loquacity have produced on the spirit of the original. Nothing
is more characteristic of the real Mr. Punch than the laconic manner in
which he expresses himself, and nothing at the same time is more English.
As to the embellishments of his discourse, introduced by Piccini, they are
about as appropriate and admirable as Colley Cibber’s improvements on
Richard the Third.

[2] See Warren’s “Ode to Kitty of Shoe Lane,” Advertisements, London
Press, _passim_.

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