The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

From Art. 14., "The Monthly Review for August, 1759"

John Yeomans' _The Abecedarian, or Philofophic Comment upon the Englifh
Alphabet. Setting forth the Abfurdities in the prefent Cuftom of Spelling,
the Superfluity of Letters in Words, and the great Confusion that their
ill Names, and double Meanings are of to all Learnings. With modeft
Propofals for a Reformation of the Alphabet, adapting fpecial Characters
for that Purpofe, at being the only Means practicable whereby to render
the fame distinft, uniform, and univerfal. Alfo, a Word to the Reader,
fhewing the Indignity of Ill Habits in Lecturers pointing out to them the
Beauties and Excellency of graceful and fine Reading. Likewife a
Syllableium, or Univerfal Reading Table, for Beginners, calculated after
the prefent Ufe for the Way of all Schools throughout the kingdom.
Together with a Difcourfe on the Word, or A-Tau, tetragrammatical,
preceding thofe Tables._


"Words are not, as some gross ears interpret, only a grinding or chafeing
of found of types and letters, ftriking the outer ear by the operation of
the breat or fpirit; but they are very man or mono, principle, and very
felf, everlafting, of infinite, dread-united meaning, the exprefs
difpofition of his nature in the heart, and not in the inked or graven
fign. They are fpirit, and they are life; they are death, and they are
deftruction; and their types are purely banners to avocate and fummon the
mind back to itfelf, when ftolen or ftrayed away, and to regulate the
fenfes in wifdom, truth, and holinefs. The word is very God and very
Devil, good and evil, virtue and vice; and letters are as fhadows to
reflect the life. Herewith blefs we God, and therewith curfe we men, who
are formed after the fimilitude of God. _In the beginning was the word,
and the word was with God, and the word was God,_ &c. We have only ufe for
letters now to help and comfort us in this mortal ftate; for in the
immortal, every good man fhall be able to will at will, felf-quicken,
felf-move, and alfo felf-comfort; always pure, always in order; at once
hearing the most pleasant and fweetest love-chord harmony; tafting without
fufeit ambrofia, and the all that is good, and delicious. Sufceptible of
inbred divinity! fmelling the moft fenfible perfumes; knowing all things,
intuitive of all things, and all in all with God himfelf. The plain
fignification of _word, verd,_ or _green,_ or _verb,_ is perennial or
durablenefs; being of _virtue_ or _worth-ue,_ or _werthe,_ of the family
of _vir's_ and _viri's,_ man's name or the NAM; and nothing but what is
virgin virtuous can be manly, or is worthy of that venerable and divine
appellation; but differently, is vicious, unnatural, unworthy, ungodly.
None, for this caufe, fhould open their lips unwordily; forafmuch as the
very word itfelf is _werthy_ or _werde._ And the holy fcripture faith
exactly to this effect: _Let all who name the name of Chrift depart from
iniquity._ Neverthelefs, fhould there be no found heard at all from the
lips, or corporeal tongue, or man's own felf be apprehenfive by letters,
yet in fecret whifperings the heart pronounces, and the will and fpirit do
utter within, amazing languages."

Amazing languages, indeed! What a will or fpirit that muft be which
dictated fuch to our author!

The reader will, doubtlefs, by this time, think we have difplayed very
fufpicious marks of our author's being _non compos_; and therefore very
incapable to draw up the beft plan, that _ever was, or ever can be
projected,_ for the improvement and eftablifhment of the Englifh language.
According to his own requeft, therefore, and on his own terms, we confign
_him, and his proposals, to be cancelled, and his name and honour to be
buried in the duft._

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