The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,055 pages of information about The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4.
I observed that her eyes were Of intelligence with those of Sir James, near whom I had taken care to plant myself, though this is always a sacrifice which costs.  Sir James is a great sayer of nothings; it is a spoilt mind, full of fatuity and pretension:  his conversation is a tissue of impertinences, and the bad tone which reigns at present has put the last hand to his defect,.  He makes but little care of his word; but, as he lends himself to whatever is proposed of amusing, the women all throw themselves at his head.  Adieu”

Letter 289 To John Pinkerton, Esq.(542) June 22, 1785. (page 365)

Since I received your book,(543) Sir, I scarce ceased from reading till I had finished it; so admirable I found it, and so full of good sense, brightly delivered.  Nay, I am pleased with myself too for having formed the same opinions with you on several points, in which we do not agree with the generality of men.  On some topics, I confess frankly, I do not concur with you:  Considering how many you have touched, it would be wonderful if we agreed on all, or I should not be sincere if I said I did.  There are others on which I have formed no opinion; for I should give myself an impertinent air, with no truth, if I pretended to have any knowledge of many subjects, of which, young as you are, you seem to have made yourself master.  Indeed, I have gone deeply into nothing, and therefore shall not discuss those heads which we differ most:  as probably I should not defend my own opinions well.  There is but one part of your work to which I will venture any objection, though you have considered it much, and I little, very little indeed, with regard to your proposal, which to me is but two days old:  I mean your plan for the improvement of our language, which I allow has some defects, and which wants correction in several particulars.  The specific amendment which you propose, and to which I object, is the addition of a’s and O’s to our terminations.  To change s for a in the plural number for our substantives and adjectives would be so violent an alteration, that I believe neither the power of Power nor the power of Genius would be able, to effect it.  In most cases I am convinced that very strong innovations are more likely to make impression than small and almost imperceptible differences, as in religion, medicine, politics, etc.; but I do not think that language can be treated in the same manner, especially in a refined age.  When a nation first emerges from barbarism, two or three masterly writers may operate wonders; and the fewer the number of writers, as the number is small at such a period, the more absolute is their authority.  But when a country has been polishing itself for two or three centuries, and when consequently authors are innumerable, the most supereminent genius (or whoever is esteemed so, though without foundation,) possesses very limited empire, and is far from meeting implicit obedience. 

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