« ZurückWeiter »
be placed in the shops of the wax and tal low . chandlers, and no family be permitted to be s upplied with more than one pound of candles per ,week.
Third. Let guards be posted to stop all the coaches, &c. that would pass the streets a her sun-set, except those of physicians, surgeons: and midwives.
Fourth. Every morning, as soon as the: sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ri nging; and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street, and wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest.
All the difficulty will be in the first^wo or three days; after which the reformation will be as natural and as easy as the present irregularity: for, ce n' est que le premier pas qui coute. Oblige a . man to rise at four in the morning, and it-is more than probable he shall go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and, having had eight hours sleep, he will rise more willingly at four the morning following. But this sum of ninetysix millions and seventy-five thousand livres is not the whole of what may be saved by my co- nomical project. You may observe, that I have calculated upon only one half of the year, and much may be saved in the other, though the days are shorter. Besides, the immense stock of wa± and tallow left unconsuhied during the summer, will probably make candles much cheaper for the ensuing winter, and continue cheaper as long as the proposed reformation shall be supported.
For the great benefit of this discovery, thus freely communicated and bestowed by me on the public, I demand neither place, pension, exclusive! privilege, nor any other reward whatever. I ejtpect only to have the honor of it. And yet I Mow there are little envious minds who will, as usual, deny me this, and say that my invention was known to the ancients, and perhaps they may bring passages out of the old books in proof of it. I will not dispute with these people that the ancients knew not the sun would rise at certain hours; they possibly had, as we have, almanacks that predicted it: but it does not follow from thence that they knew he gave light as soon as he rose. This is what I claim as my discovery. If the ancients knew it, it must have flon£ since been forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at least to the Parisians; which to prove, I need use but one plain simple argument. They are as well instructed,, judicious, and prudent a people as exist any where, in the world, all professing, like myself, to be lovers of economy ; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the necessities of the state, have surely reason to be economical. I say it is impossible that so sensible a people, under men circumstances, should have lived so long by the smoky, unwholesome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really knows that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing. I am, &c.
* An ABONNE.
ON MODERN INNOVATIONS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, AND IN PRINTING., ,
To Noah Whb^tbr, jura Esq. at Hartford.
Pkiladelpliia, Dec. 26, 1789.
I RECEIVED, some time since, your Dissertations on the English Language. . It is an excellent work, and will be greatly useful in turning the thoughts of our countrymen to correct writing. Please to accept my thanks for it, as' well as for the great honour you have done me in its dedication. I ought to have made this acknowledgment sooner, but much indisposition prevented me. t .''
I cannot but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language both in its expression and pronunciation, and in correcting the popular errors, several of our states are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may already have occurred to you. I wish, however, that in some future publication of yours you would set a discountenancing mark upon them. The first' I remember, is the word improved.' ..When I left New-tfnghmd in the year 1723, this word had never .been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated, or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather's, entitled, -RemaPkntife Provider:* - ces. i ;As that man wrote a vert/iibscure hand, I remember that when I read that stuff in his book, used instead of the word employed, I conjectured place. The great body of excellent printed sermons in our language, and the freedom of our writings on political subjects, have induced a great number of divines of different sects and nations, as well as gentlemen concerned in public affairs to study it, so far at least as to read it. And if we were to endeavour the facilitating its progress, the study of our tongue might become much more general. Those who have employed some part of their time in learning a new language, must have frequently observed, that while their acquaintance with it was imperfect, difficulties, small in themselves, operated as great ones in obstructing their progress. A book, for example, ill printed, or a pronunciation in speaking not well articulated, would render a sentence unintelligible, whfcil from a clear print, or a distinct speaker, would have been immediately comprehended. If therefore, we would have the benefit of seeing our language more generally known among mankind, we should endeavour to remove all the difficulties, however small, that discourage the learning of it. But I am sorry to observe, that of late years, those difficulties, instead of being diminished, have been augmented.
In examining the English books that were printed between the restoration and the accession of George the Second, we may observe, that all substantives were begun with a capital, in which we imitated our mother tongue, the German. This was more particularly useful to those who were not well acquainted with the English, there being such a prodigious number of our words that are both verbs and substantives, and spelt in the same manner, though often accented differently in pronunciation. This method has, by the fancy of printers, of late years, been entirely laid aside;. from an idea, that suppressing the capitals shews the character to greater advantage; those letters, prominent above the line, disturbing its even, regular appearance. The effect of this change is so considerable, that a learned man in France, who used to read our books, though not perfectly acquainted with our language, in conversation with me on the subject of our authors, attributed the greater obscurity he found in our modern books, compared with those written in the period above mentioned, to change of style for the worse in our writers; of which mistake I convinced him, by marking for him each substantive with a capital in a paragraph, which he then easily understood, though before he could not comprehend it. This shews the inconvenience of that pretended improvement.
From the same fondness for an uniform and even appearance of characters in the line, the printers have of late banished also the Italic types, in which words of importance to be attended to in the sense of the sentence, and words on which an emphasis should be put in reading, used to be printed. And lately another fancy has induced other printers to use the round s instead of the long one, which formerly served well to distinguish a word reJdily by its varied appearance. Certainly the omitting this prominent letter makes