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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Account of a Famous Grammar

By Lindley Murray (1745–1826)

[From Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Lindley Murray. 1827.]

I WAS often solicited to compose and publish a Grammar of the English language for the use of some teachers who were not perfectly satisfied with any of the existing grammars. I declined, for a considerable time, complying with this request, from a consciousness of my inability to do the subject that justice, which would be expected in a new publication of this nature. But being much pressed to undertake the work I, at length, turned my attention seriously to it. I conceived that a grammar containing a careful selection of the most useful matter, and an adaptation of it to the understanding and the gradual progress of learners, with a special regard to the propriety and purity of all the examples and illustrations, would be some improvement on the English grammars which had fallen under my notice. With this impression, I ventured to produce the first edition of a work on this subject. It appeared in the spring of the year 1795. I will not assert that I have accomplished all that I proposed. But the approbation and the sale which the book obtained have given me some reason to believe that I have not altogether failed in my endeavors to elucidate the subject, and to facilitate the labors of both teachers and learners of English grammar.

In a short time after the appearance of the work a second edition was called for. This unexpected demand induced me to revise and enlarge the book. It soon obtained an extensive circulation. And the repeated editions through which it passed in a few years encouraged me, at length, to improve and extend it still further; and, in particular, to support by some critical discussions the principles upon which many of its positions are founded….

But my views in writing and publishing were not of a pecuniary nature. My great objects were, as I before observed, to be instrumental in doing a little good to others, to youth in particular; and to give my mind a rational and salutary employment. It was, I believe, my early determination that if any profits should arise from my literary labors I would apply them, not to my own private use, but to charitable purposes, and for the benefit of others. My income was sufficient to support the expenses of my family and to allow of a little to spare; and I had not any children to provide for. There was, consequently, no inducement to warrant me in deviating from the determination I had made: and as I have hitherto adhered, I trust I shall continue faithfully to adhere, to my original views and intentions.