While a minister for a congregation in Nantwich, Cheshire, Priestley established a local school; it was his first successful educational venture. Believing that all students should have a good grasp of the English language and its grammar before learning any other language and dismayed at the quality of the instruction manuals available, Priestley wrote his own textbook: The Rudiments of English Grammar (1761). The book was very successful—it was reprinted for over fifty years. Its humor may have contributed to its popularity; for example, Priestley illustrated the couplet with this rhyme:
Priestley also quoted from the most famous English authors, encouraging the middle-class association between reading and pleasure, a reading that would also, Priestley hoped, foster morality. Priestley's innovations in the teaching and description of English grammar, particularly his efforts to disassociate it from Latin grammar, made his textbook revolutionary and have led twentieth-century scholars to describe him as "one of the great grammarians of his time. Rudiments influenced all of the major British grammarians of the late eighteenth century: Robert Lowth, James Harris, John Horne Tooke and even the American Noah Webster. The resounding success of Priestley's book was one of the reasons that Warrington Academy offered him a teaching position in 1761.
Commas, Constitutional Grammar, and the Straight-Face Test: What If Conan the Grammarian Were a Strict Textualist?
Mar 22, 1999; On May 8, 1998, former United States Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia died at the age of 96. The obituary that The New...