George P. Marsh
Lectures on the English Language
(London: John Murray, 1863) pp. iii-iv.

George P. Marsh

English Language Course

English Lecture Material Mr. Marsh, who now [1865] holds the post of Minister of the United States at the court of the King of Italy, delivered the following Lectures in the autumn and winter of 1858-59 at Columbia College in the city of New York. They formed a course of what he terms 'post-Graduate Lectures,' and were intended, he says, "to excite a more general interest among educated men and women in the history and essential character of their native tongue, and to recommend the study of the language in its earlier literary monuments rather than through the medium of grammars and linguistic treatises." This plan seems to me preferable to a systematic grammatical course, which is usually repulsive and seldom instructive to older students; and it has been attended with such success that the work has not only reached a fourth edition at New York in the course of two years, but has also received the emphatic commendation of the most competent judges in this country [England]. It might be liable to misconstruction if I were to point out what appear to me the peculiar excellences of the book as contrasted with other works upon the same subject; but I may without impropriety quote the opinion of one of ablest, perhaps the ablest living writer on the Science of Language, who remarks that "Mr. Marsh's Lectures certainly constitute one of the most acceptable contributions to English scholarship which we have received for many years from the other side of the Atlantic;" and that "we hardly know of any work that we could more honestly recommend to those who, without wishing to dive very deep into Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and Gothic, would be glad to learn all that is known about the origin, the history, and character of their own tongue."


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