Article published In:New Approaches to the Study of Later Modern English
[Historiographia Linguistica 33:1/2] 2006
► pp. 39–56
At the end of the preface to his Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762) Robert Lowth (1710–1787) makes an appeal for comments on his work. This article analyses his correspondence with James Merrick (1720–1769), a friend and fellow scholar, written between December 1761 and October 1764, in which he receives such comments. The discussion is an illustration of the current debate at the time as to whether Custom or Propriety should be invoked in deciding on correct usage. It shows first and foremost that Lowth’s attitude to grammar was focussed on the level of usage rather than the structure of the language.