Preliminary Sketch. so to speak, the logic of facts or of the exterior world is at war with the logic of grammar, English is free from the narrow-minded pedantry which in most languages sacrifices the former to the latter or makes people shy of saying or writing things which are not 'strictly grammatical'. This is particularly clear with regard to number. Family and clergy are, grammatically speaking, of the singular number; but in reality they indicate a plurality. Most languages can treat such words only as singulars, but inr English one is free to add a verb in the singular if the idea of unity is essential, and then to refer to this unit as it, or else to put the verb in the plural and use the pronoun they, if the idea of plurality is predominant. It is clear that this liberty of choice is often greatly advan- tageous. Thus we find sentences like these, 'As the clergy are or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation' (Miss Austen), or 'the whole race of man (sing.) proclaim it lawful to drink wine' (De Quincey), or 'the club all know that he is a disappointed man' (the same). In 'there are no end of people here that I don't know' (George Eliot) no end takes the verb in the plural because it is equivalent to 'many', and when Shelley writes in one of his letters 'the Quarterly are going to review me' he is thinking of the Quarterly (Review) as a whole staff of writers. Inversely, there is in English a freedom paralleled nowhere else of expressing grammati- cally a unity consisting of several parts, of saying, for instance, 'I do not think I ever spent a more delightful three weeks' (Ch. Darwin), 'for a quiet twenty minutes', 'another United States', cf. also 'a fortnight' (originally a fourteen-night) ; 'three years is but short' (Shakespeare), 'sixpence was offered him' (Ch. Darwin), 'ten minutes is heaps of time' (E. F. Benson)
A great many other phenomena in English show the same freedom from pedantry, as when passive constructionssuch as 'he was taken no notice of are allowed, or when adverbs or prepositional complexes may be used attributively as in 'his then residence/ 'an almost reconciliation' (Thackeray), 'men invite their out-College friends' (Steadman), 'smoking his before-breakfast pipe' (Co. Doyle), 'in his threadbare, out-at-elbow shooting- jacket' (G. du Maurier), or when even whole phrases or sentences may be turned into a kind of adjective, as in 'with a quite at home kind of air' (Smedley), 'in the pretty diamond-cut-diamond scene between Pallas and Ulysses' (Ruskin), 'a little man with a puffy Say-nothing to-me-, -or-FU-contradict-you sort of countenance' (Dickens), 'With an I-turn-the-crank-of-the-Universe air' (Lowell), 'Rose is simply self-willed; a 'she will' or 'she won't' sort of httie person' (Meredith). Although such combinations as the last-mentioned are only found in more or less jocular style, they show the possibilities of the language, and some expressions of a similar order be- long permanently to the language, for instance, 'a would- be artist', 'a stay-at-home man', 'a turn-up collar'. Such things — and they might be easily miultiplied — are in- conceivable in such a language as French where every- thing is condemned that does not conform to a definite set of rules laid down by grammarians. The French language is like the stiff French garden^ of Louis XIV, while the English is like an English park, which is laid out seemingly without any definite plan, and in which you are allowed to walk everywhere according to your own fancy without having to fear a stern keeper enforcing rigorous regulations. The English language would not have been what it is if the English had not been for centuries great respecters of the liberties of each individual and if everybody had not been free to strike out new paths for himself.