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who will endeavour to rob you of that virtue which they care not for themselves. I could wish you that happyness as never to fall into such company.
But I consider you are to live in the world ; and, whilst either the service of your country, or your own businesse, makes your conversation with men necessary, perhaps this caution will be needful. But you may withhold your heart where you cannot deny your company; and you may allow those your civility, who possibly will not deserve your affection. I think it needlesse and impertinent to dissuade you from vices I never observed inclined to. I write this to strengthen your resolutions, not to give you new ones. But let not the importunities or examples of others prevail against the dictates of your own reason and education. I doe not in this advise you to be either a mumbe or morose ; to avoid company, or not enjoy it. - One may certainly with innocence use all the enjoyments of life: and I have beene always of opinion, that a virtuous life is best disposed to be the most pleasant. For, certainly, amidst the troubles and vanitys of this world, there are but two things that bring a reall satisfaction with them, that is, virtne and knowledge. What progress you have made in the latter, you will doe well not to lose. Your spare hours from devotion, businesse, or recreation for (for that too I can allow, where employment, not idlenesse, gives a title to it) will be well bestowed in reviewing or improving your University notions; and if at this distance I could attord your studies any direction or assistance, I should be glad, and you need only let me know it. Though your ancestors have left you a condition above the ordinary rank, yet it's yourself alone that can advance yourself to it: for it's not either your going upon two legs, or liveing in a great house, or possessing many acres, that gives one advantage over beasts or other men; but the being wiser and better. I speake not this to make you carelesse of your estate ; for, though riches be not virtue, it's a great instrument of it, wherein lyes a great part of the usefullnesse and comfort of life. In the right management of this lyes a great part of prudence, and about money is the great mistake of men ; whilst they are either too coviteous, or too carelesse of it. If you throw it away idlely, you lose your great support, and best friend. If you hugge it too closely, you lose it and yourself too. To be thought prodent and liberall, provident and good-natured, are things worth your endeavour to obtain, which perhaps you will better doe, by avoiding the occasions of expences than by a trogall limiting them when accasion hath made the
necessary. But 1 forget you are neere your lady mother whilst I give you these advises, and doe not observe that what I meant for a letter begins to grow into a treatise. Those many particulars that here is not roome for, I send you to seeke in the writings of learned and sage authors. Let me give you by them those counsells I cannot now. They will
direct you, as well as I wish you, and I doe truly wish you well. You will therefore pardon me for thus once playing the tutor, since I shall hereafter always be,
Sir, your faithful friend and servant, 1797, Feb.
XC. From John Evelyn, on the Culture and Improveinent of the
MR. URBAN, INCLOSED you receive an original letter from John Evelyn, Esq. the celebrated author of “ Sylva,” to a Fellow of the Royal Society
Sayes Court, Jan. 28. “On contemplation of your laudable designe of reviving the committee formerly appointed by the R. S. to consider of the culture and improvement of the English tongne ; I here, to make good my promise, send you what suggestions I had once prepared in order to it; and, if you could engage my Lord Arlington, and the politer greate men to favour it, they would easily obtaine of his Majesty some conveniency of meeting in the Court itself; which might not only prove an ornament to it, but render it a profitable diversion, perbaps emulons of the stage, not to say the pulpit, and, by degrees, introduce likewise a greater kindness towards the R. Society in general, as to their philosophical concerns, and place it beyond the power of that envy and detraction, under which it has so long laboured, for want of those influences, and its being better understood. But of these topics-upon some other occasion. I proceed to the subject in hand. And, first,
'I conceive the reason both of additions to, and the corruptions of, the English language (as of most other tongues,)
has proceeded from the same causes ; namely, from victo. ries, plantations or colonies, frontiers, staples of commerce, pedantry of schules, affectation of travellers, translations, fancy, and style of court, vernility and mincing of citts, pulpits, theatres, the bar, and from shops, &c.
“The parts affected with it we find to be the accent, annalogie, direct interpretation, tropes, phrases, and the like. I should, therefore, humbly propose, 1. that there might first be compil'd a gram'ar for the precepts, which (as it did the Roman, when Crates transferr'd the art to Rome, follow'd by Diomedes, Priscian, and others, who undertook it) might only insist on the rules, the sole and adequate meanes to render it a learned, as well as learnable, tongue.
“ 2. That, with this, a more certain orthography were introduced, as by leaving out superfluous letters, &c. such as (o) in woemen, people ; (u) in honour; (a) in reproach ; (ugh) in though, &c.
“ 3. That there might be excogitated some new periods and accents, besides such as our gram'arians and critics use, to assist, inspirit, and modifie, the pronuntiation of sentences, and to stand as marks before hand, how the voice and tone is to be govern'd in reading or reciting, and for varying the tune of the voice as the subject is affected. This would be of great use in the reading or pronouncing of verses, and of no small importance to the stage, the pulpit, and the barr.
“4. To this might follow a lericon, or collection of all the pure and genuine English words by themselves; then, those that are derivative from others, with their prime, certain, and natural, signification ; then the symbolical ; so as no innovation might be used or favour’d, at least, till there should arise some necessity of providing a new edition, and of amplifying the old upon mature advice.
“5. That, in order to this, some were appointed to collect all the technical words, especially those of the more generous and liberal employments, as the author of the * Essaies des Merucilles de Nature, et des plus nobles Artifices," has don for the French ; Francis Junius, and others, have endeavour'd for the Latine; and as Mr. Philips lias lately attempted in his English dictionary, and an ingenious divine (a friend of mine) is about upon the above-mention'd " Essaies des Merveilles," &c. But this must be glean'd from shops, not books.
“ 6. That things difficult to be translated or erpress'd, and such as are, as it were, incom'ensurable one to another, as determinations of weights and measurs, coines, honors, nationalhabits, armes, dishes, drinks, municipal constitutions of courts,
old and abrogated costomes, &c. were better interpreted than as yet we find them in dictionaries, and noted in the lexicon.
« 7. That a full catalogue of exotic words, such as are minted by our logo-dedali, were exhibited; and that it were resolved on what should be sufficient to render them củrrent, ut civitate donentur ; since, without restraining that same indomitam novandi verborum licentiam, it will in time quite disguise the language. There are some elegant words introduced by physitians, chiefly, and philosophers, worthy to be retained ; others it may be fitter to be abrogated, since there ought to be a law as well as a liberty, in this particu.. lar, to allay the itch of being the author of a new, but abortive, word. And in this choyce there would be some reguard to the well sounding and more harmonious, and such as are numerous, and apt to fall gracefully into their cadences, and periods, and so recommend themselves at the very first sight, as it were. Others, which (like false stones) will never shine or give lustur, in what ever day they be placed; bat embase the rest. And here, I observe, that such as have convers'd long in universities, &c. do greatly affect words and expressions, no where in credit besides, as may be noted in Cleaveland's Poems for Cambridg; and there are also some Oxford words us'd by others, as I might instance if needfull.
“ 8. Previous to this enquiry would be, what particular dialects, idioms, and proverbs, were in use in every several county of England; for the words of the present age being properly the vernacula, or classic rather, especial reguard is to be had of them, and this consideration admits of infinite improvements, though Mr. Ray has lately published a good specimen for the references; and our new etymologicon much adorn'd this desiderat. Chaucer, Leland, and especially some of our antienter Saxon writers, have some words and expressions of greater comprehension, and not to be contem’d were we not exceedingly given sometimes to change for the worse.
“9. Happly it were not amiss that we had a better collection (tban is in the Schole of Conpliments, Helpe to Disc course, and other ridiculous books) of the most quaint and courtly expressions, by way of Florilegium, Copia, or phrases, distinct from the province, and yet un-affected ; for, we are infinitely to seek, in our civil addresses, excuses, and formes upon suddaine and unpremeditated (though ordinary) ena counters, &c. in which the French, Italians, and Spanyards, have a kind of natural grace and talent, which furnishes the conversation, and renders it very agreeable. Hore then
may come in synonimes, homonymias, &c. and for the more usefull periods in writing and expression of things difficult, the varieties and changes you suggested the other day, which would be of wonderfull use.
“ 10. And since there is likewise a manifest rotation and circling of words, which go in and out like the mode and fashion (and are for the time as greate tyrants,) bookes would be consulted for the reduction of some of the old words and expressions, had formerly in deliciis; for, our language is in many places sterile and barren by reason of this depopulation (as I may name it,) and therefore such fields should be new cultivated, and enriched, either with the former (if more significant) or some other : for example, we have hardly any word that does so fully expresse the French clinquant, naiveti, ennüy, concert, chicanerie, consume, emotion, defer, effort, &c. Italian garbato, svelto, bizzarro, &c. Let us therefore (as the Romans did the Greeks) make as many of these do homage as are like to prove good citizens ; but concerning this, I have sayd someihing in article 8.
Something might likewise be well translated out of the best orutors and poets, Greek and Latin, and even out of the modern languages; that so a judgement might be made concerning the elegancy of the style; and so a laudable and unaffected imitation of the best (by way of prolusion) recommended to writers. I am persuaded, if these particulars were well cultivated, and that a collection of ingenious persons did make it a serious business, as the French and Italians have don, under the auspices of Cardinal Richelieu, our language might in a short time reach to the noblest heights, and equally obtaine amongst our more spreading neighbours.
“ But first, Sir, there must be a stock of reputation gained by some public wriings and compositions of the members of such an assembly, or the king must com'and and favour it, that maliceous men do not put it out of countenance, by calling them comedianti, and fopps (as you know who has don ;) that so they may not think it a dishonor to submit to the test, and reguard them as judges and competent approbators,
“ Thus far were that worthy designe of yours advanced, I conceive a very small matter would dispatch the art of rhetoric, which the French proposed as one of the first things they recommended to their famous academitians.
"To give a tast what miglit possibly be don by the only assistance of the English and some neighbour tongues, I did (not long since) at the request of my Lord Howard of Nore folk, and which might happly gratifie some very greate persons