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as foon as he rofe. This is what I claim as my difcovery. If the ancients knew it, it must have been long fince forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at least to the Parisians; which to prove, I need ufe but one plain fimple argument. They are as well instructed, judicious, and prudent a people as exist any where in the world, all profeffing, like myself, to be lovers of œconomy; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the neceffities of the state, have furely reafon to be economical. I fay it is impoffible that fo fenfible a people, under fuch circumftances, should have lived fo long by the fmoky, unwholesome, and enormously expenfive light of candles, if they had really known that they might have had as much pure light of the fun for nothing. I am, &c.
ON MODERN INNOVATIONS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND IN PRINTING.
To NOAH WEBSTER, jun. Efq. at HARTFORD.
Philadelphia, Dec. 26, 1789.
I RECEIVED, fome time fince, your Differtations on the English Language. It is an excellent work, and will be greatly ufeful 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 acknowledgement fooner, but much indifpofition prevented me.
I cannot but applaud your zeal for preferving the purity of our language both in its expreffion and pronunciation,
and in correcting the popular errors feveral of our states are continually falling into with refpect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though poffibly they may already have occurred I wish, however, that in fome future publication of yours, you would fet a discountenancing mark upon them. The first I remember, is the word improved. When I left New-England in the year 1723, this word had never been ufed 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 Remarkable Provi dences. As that man wrote a very obfcure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word employed, I conjectured that it was an error of the printer, who had miftaken a fhort in the writing for an r, and a y with too fhort a tail for a v, whereby employed was converted into improved:
improved: but when I returned to Boston
in 1733, I found this change had obtained favour, and was then become common; for I met with it often in perufing the newspapers, where it frequent ly made an appearance rather ridiculous. Such, for inftance, as the advertisement of a country houfe to be fold, which had been many years improved as a tavern ; and in the character of a deceafed country gentleman, that he had been, for more than thirty years, improved as a juftice of the peace. This ufe of the word improve is peculiar to New England, and not to be met with among any other speakers of English, either on this or the other fide of the water.
During my late absence in France, I find that feveral other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language. For example, I find a verb formed from the fubftantive notice. I fbould not have noticed this, were it not that
that the gentleman, &c. Alfo another verb, from the fubftantive advocate; The gentleman who advocates, or who has advocated that motion, &c. Another from the fubftantive progress, the most awkward and abominable of the three: The committee having progreffed, refolved to adjourn. The word opposed, though not a new word, I find used in a new manner, as, Thegentlemen who are opposed to this measure, to which I have also myself always been oppofed. If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them.
The Latin language, long the vehicle used in diftributing knowledge among the different nations of Europe, is daily more and more neglected; and one of the modern tongues, viz. French, feems, in point of univerfality, to have fupplied its place. It is spoken in all the courts of Europe; and most of VOL. I. G