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Reminiscences of Boswell and Johnson

This entry was written by Lyda Fens.

When preparing to write my MA thesis on how the 18c American Benjamin Rush used epistolary formulas, I found that he had written

Reminiscences of Boswell & Johnson.

Apparently, "130 copies of this pamphlet … were made for Mr. & Mrs. Donald F. Hyde, of Somerville, New Jersey" in 1946. This Mrs Hyde is Mary, Viscountess Eccles. I’m very interested to see a copy of it. Since I’d rather not have to go all the way to Houghton Library at Harvard – where they may have it as part of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson – I’d like to know where I might be able to find one (possibly buy one?). I would very much appreciate your suggestions.

Robert Lowth and Hannah More

"Reconsidering the Bluestockings" (2003, eds. Pohl & Schellenberg) has an interesting article by Susan Staves on Church of England clergymen and women writers. Robert Lowth was among the friends and correspondents of Bluestocking and philantropist Hannah More. They read each other’s works, and Lowth apparently encouraged More to publish her poem ‘Sensibility’ which was something of a tribute to the "in-crowd" of literary London. It includes a reference to Lowth himself. More writes to her sister in 1781: "Mrs. Kennicott tells me Bishop Lowth insists upon my publishing ‘Sensibility’, and all my other poems together, immediately, that people may have them all together" (p.94). The poem can be found here:

More wrote to her friend Frances Boscawen (another Bluestocking, to whom ‘Sensibility’ was dedicated) apparently in 1782 that she was reading Lowth’s "Isaiah. A New Translation. With Notes", and recommended Lowth’s "De Sacra Poesi" to her "as a treasure": it "has taught me to consider the Divine Book it illustrates under many new and striking points of view; it teaches to appreciate the distinct and characteristic excellence of the sacred poetry and historians, in a manner wonderfully entertaining and instructive" (p.82). Staves notes that an English translation of Praelectiones de Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum came out in 1787, so if the editor William Roberts (1834) dated this letter correctly, More perhaps had access to the English translation before its publication. (More could read Latin, though.) There is no mention of Lowth’s grammar, unfortunately!

the English codifiers and the German tradition

I wonder if anyone has done any work on the influence of English codifiers like Ash and Lowth on the German grammatical tradition. It should be an interesting topic, as Ash’s grammar (1760) was translated into German by Christian Reichel in 1775 (see Alston’s bibliography). Lowth’s grammar was translated into German fifteen years later (also by Christian Reichel!). Possibly, there is a relationship between the two, as Ash’s grammar was subtitled "an easy introduction to Dr. Lowth’s English grammar". Murray’s influence on English language teaching has already been dealt with by Frederike Klippel (1996).

normative grammarians obsessed with multiple negation

Why would normative grammarians be so obsessed with multiple negation? This is a question that has been bothering me for some time now. Nevalainen and Raumolin-Brunberg (2003) have shown that multiple negation was already stigmatised at the end of the seventeenth century, so why do grammarians from the eighteenth century onwards continue to include strictures against multiple negation in their grammars?

I have just read an article by Gerhard Leitner, called "English grammars – past, present and future" (1986), in which he discusses the Englische Grammatik  of 1860-1965 (can this date be correct?) by E. Mätzner. Mätzner attributes the rule by which two negatives cancel each other out to Latin influence, while he considers the reinforcement of negation by two or more negatives as normal because it is well-entrenched in Germanic languages. Mätzner, according to Leitner, was "aware of social, geographical and stylistic variation" (1986:417). What kind of variety was he focussing on when observing that multiple negation was normal practice or, in other words, acceptable usage?

our weblog

Yesterday, our weblog was reviewed by Patrick Klaassen in a one-day ICT seminar in Louvain. Patrick’s paper was called "Bloggen in Leiden", and he analysed eight different Leiden weblogs. About ours he said that it was a good example of how a weblog can be integrated into a research project!

Relevant paper

This entry was written by Annegien Theunissen

The following is only of indirect interest, but I would like to draw your attention (especially for Victorina Gonzalez-Diaz’ research) to a paper given at the Amsterdam Colloquium (Semantics) by Petra Hendriks, Helen de Hoop, and Monique Lamers, called Asymmetries in Language Use Reveal Asymmetries in the Grammar. This paper can be read/downloaded from the colloquium website: via the link Proceedings, then click the right side of the line on the Proceedings.

bound copies of grammars

Chatsworth House, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, possesses a copy of Lowth’s grammar (1762, first edition), bound with Ward’s Four Essays upon the English Language (1758, first edition as well). So far, I’ve never come across such a copy of Lowth’s grammar before.

The library at Chatsworth also possesses copies of Grammatica Busbeiana … Rudimentum Grammaticae Graeco-Latinae Metricum, in usum Scholae Regiae Westmonsteriensis (London, 1732) and a Latin grammar called A Short Introduction of Grammar generally to be used (Oxford, 1714). Both grammars are anonymous.

These are all the grammatical works from the eighteenth century they have in their possession. What I would like to know is if anyone has ever come across any similarly copies of Lowth’s grammar? And also if the authors of the Latin grammars could be identified.

New feature

It is now possible for visitors of our web log to also post entries and not only comment on existing entries. In order to do that you can email us your suggestions for new topics and we will put them on the weblog. You can find our email address in the section contact information on the left.

Pictures of excursion to ‘de Ammoniet’

On this website you can find some of the pictures that were taken during the excursion to ‘de Ammoniet’ with some of our guests from the workshop ‘Grammars, Grammarians and Grammar Writing’.

French correspondences

We have just received a survey of French correspondences, compiled by Maria Courtade. It ranges from the middle ages down to the twentieth century, all items are briefly summarised, and there is an index of addressees. It is published by the Reserve centrale des bibliotheques de la Ville de Paris.