Thursday, April 21, 2016


In Defense of Grammatical Nit-Picking

Robert South (1634-1716), Animadversions Upon Dr. Sherlock's Book (London: Randal Taylor, 1693), pp. 347-348:
And now, if either he, or any one else for him, shall pretend to slight and despise this charge, and tell me that the Faults and Mistakes here alledged by me, are small Things; so, say I, is the point of a Dagger too; but for all that, it may stab a Man to the Heart; and, I think, it matters not how small the Thing is, which wounds a Man's Credit, if it chance to bleed to Death of the Wound. But there are some Things in the World, the Knowledge of which seems but small, but the Ignorance of them is not so. And certainly of all Men living, such as will be Writers, especially provoking, Insulting Writers, are concerned to tread tenderly, and to take every step with the utmost Caution, where they do not find a Grammatical Bottom firm under them. For my own part, I dare account nothing small, or despicable, which may either do a Man a great mischief, or is necessary to prevent one. The first step in any Ascent may be reckoned but a low and a mean thing, nevertheless there is no getting to the top without it.

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