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An index of names to Lowth’s Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762), (1763), (1764)[*]

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Karlijn Navest (contact)

(August 2006. HSL/SHL 6)

[click to go to the index directly]

Introduction by Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade and Karlijn Navest

This index of names to Lowths Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762) has been compiled by Karlijn Navest. It is based on the index to the first edition of the grammar published previously by Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (1997), and has been extended with additional references from the 1763 and 1764 editions. Lowths grammar was originally published in 1762, apparently as a kind of pilot edition. As Lowth wrote himself in a letter to his friend and fellow scholar, James Merrick (1720–1769), around the time of the publication of the grammar,

The history of it is this: I drew it up for the use of my little Boy, for the reasons mentioned in the Preface. Mr. Legge desired to have it for his Son; wch. purpose it could not well serve without being printed. I therefore finish’d it, as well as I could for the present; & have printed an Edition of no great number, in order to have the judgement of the Learned upon it. It is capable of considerable improvements, if it shall be thought worth the while. You in particular are desired to comply with ye. Request at ye. end of the Preface (Lowth to James Merrick; ca. 8 February 1762. Brit. Lib. MS. Eng. Lett. C. 573, f. 10).

At the end of the preface of his grammar he had written:

The following short System is proposed only as an Essay, upon a Subject, tho’ of little esteem, yet of no small importance; and in which the want of something better adapted to real use and practice, than what we have at present, seems to be generally acknowledged. If those, who are qualified to judge of such matters, and do not look upon them as beneath their notice, shall so far approve of it, as to think it worth a revisal, and capable of being approved into something really useful; their remarks and assistance, communicated through the hands of the Bookseller, shall be received with all proper deference and acknowledgement (Lowth 1762:xv).

And comments and suggestions he did receive, for the second edition is a much expanded version, in any case as far as the quotations in the footnotes are concerned. There is a copy in Winchester College Library which is filled with annotations and, as Alston calls them in the introductory note to his facsimile reprint of the grammar, corrections. The relevant pages are included in Alstons reprint (Alston 1967, EL 18). Though all additions do indeed occur in the second edition of the grammar, it is unlikely that they were corrections to the first edition as such, as will be shown by Navest (forthc.).

The second edition of the grammar came out within fifteen months of the publication of the first edition, though Lowth would have preferred to wait a little longer, in order to give his reading public the opportunity of providing criticism (Tieken-Boon van Ostade 2000:24). It would thus seem that in Lowths own view the second edition was the grammars first edition proper, and it is for this reason that Reibels facsimile reprint of the grammar is based on the second rather than the first edition (Reibel 1995). In the second edition, Lowth acknowledged the comments received:

The Author is greatly obliged to several Learned Gentlemen, who have favoured him with their remarks upon the former Edition; which was indeed principally designed to procure their assistance, and to try the judgement of the public. He hath endeavoured to weigh their observations without prejudice or partiality, and to make the best use of the lights which they have afforded him. He hath been enabled to correct several mistakes, and encouraged carefully to revise the whole, and to give it all the improvement which his present materials can furnish. He hopes for the continuance of their favour, as he is sensible there will still be abundant occasion for it (Lowth 1763:xviii).

Thus far, it has unfortunately been impossible to identify any of the Learned Gentlemen Lowth refers to here, but they did indeed continue to send him their observations as requested, for the 1764 edition is extended yet further (see below). The preface to this edition ends similarly as the one to the 1763 edition, and so do all the other regular editions and reprints of the grammar included in ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online), including the ones that came out after his death in 1787. It would be interesting to see whether new references continued to come in after the 1764 edition; on the basis of our present knowledge, it would seem that after the second edition, the contents of the grammar itself changed little (Auer and Tieken-Boon van Ostade forthc.; Tieken-Boon van Ostade 2006).

The quotations in Lowths grammar mostly occur in the footnotes. Their function is to identify grammatical errors committed by even the best writers, as Lowth elucidates in his preface:

It will evidently appear from these Notes, that our best Authors, for want of some rudiments of this kind have sometimes fallen into mistakes, and been guilty of palpable errors in point of Grammar. The examples there given are such as occurred in reading, without any very curious or methodical examination: and they might easily have been much increased in number by any one, who had leisure or phlegm enough to have gone through a regular course of reading with this particular view. However, I believe, they may be sufficient to answer the purpose intended; to evince the necessity of the Study of Grammar in our own Language, and to admonish those, who set up for Authors among us, that they would do well to consider this part of Learning as an object not altogether beneath their regard (Lowth 1762:9-10).

Lowth, in other words, wanted to encourage the study of English grammar in order for writers to avoid making grammatical errors. To this end, he had collected in the course of his general reading what he calls palpable errors in point of Grammar, all of them committed by authors who were no longer alive (Percy 1997:134). Similar to Johnson in his Dictionary published some ten years previously, Lowth had adopted the principle by which he would admit no testimony of living authours (Johnson 1755:Preface), but his reasons for doing so must have been completely different. While Johnson explains that he did so to avoid being misled by partiality, and that none of my cotemporaries might have reason to complain, Lowth would have been motivated by the risk of avoiding censure if he quoted the mistake of a fellow writer. His approach is critical, and he invoked his authors, as Percy (1997:141) puts it, as negative examples”. Even though his quotations inevitably date from the past, he thus shows what is incorrect and therefore must be avoided in present-day usage. See for instance the following examples:

The burning lever not deludes his pains.
            Dryden, Ovid. Metam. B. xii.
I hope, my Lord, said he, I not offend.
                 Dryden, Fables.
These examples make the impropriety of placing
the Adverb not before the Verb very evident
               (Lowth 1762:116n)
For ever in this humble cell
Let Thee and I, my fair one, dwell. Prior.
It ought to be Me.
               (Lowth 1762:117n).

Though Lowth is usually regarded as a prescriptivist, it is evident from these examples that he took a proscriptive rather than a prescriptive approach, offering corrections of the grammatical errors discussed.

The following index thus forms a collation of three editions, i.e. the first edition proper (Lowth 1762), the second edition (1763) and a new edition, corrected (1764), which is a different publication of the grammar than the third edition proper, which had been published in the same year (Alston 1965:43). The reason for selecting the latter copies of the grammar was that they happened to be present in the University of Leiden at the time the index was compiled, and before ECCO became available. To give some indication of the extent of the differences between the three editions of the grammar:

  • there are 272 quotations in the first edition of the grammar[1]
  • the second edition contains 149 new quotations (i.e. an additional 55%), including 38 from Shakespeare, 25 from the Bible (11 from the Old and 14 from the New Testament), 14 from Milton, 11 from Addison and 8 from Pope
  • the large number of new instances from Shakespeare is partciularly striking, as is the fact that Shakespeare's language comes in for criticsm in 23 of the 38 new instances; Shakespeare comes eighth in the list of authors and works most criticised in eighteenth-century normative grammars, after Swift, the New Testament, Hume, Addison, Pope, the Spectator, and the Old Testament (Sundby et al 1991:35)
  • the 1764 edition contains a further 21 quotations (i.e. 5% more), among which there are 6 from Swift, 5 from Addison, 2 from the Bible (New Testament only), 2 from Dryden and 1 from Pope
  • both editions contain quotations from authors who did not occur in the first edition, such as Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon in the second edition and Thomas Sprat in the 1764 edition. As in the case of Lowths other authors, none of them were alive any longer.

The addition of quotations from authors from the past demonstrates that Lowths selection criteria remained unchanged in later editions, though he appears to have become more critical of Shakespeare's language in the course of time.As Lowth continued to call for comments on the grammar in the preface to later editions, it is not unlikely that further additions were made as new editions and reprints came out. References in Percy (1997) suggest that they did. However, given the substantial decrease between those added to the second edition (149) and those of the 1764 edition (21), it seems unlikely that there would still be very many of them. We welcome the extension of the present index with additional quotations to later editions and reprints of the grammar on the basis of systematic collation with the editions already analysed. 

For the sake of easy reference, different colouring has been used to refer to the different editions studied, i.e. green for the second edition, and blue for the 1764 edition. Quotations lacking a source in the text have been identified as much as possible with the help of Google. The classification of the instances into “criticism”, “source”, “older use” and “some of our best writers” is the same as that in Tieken-Boon van Ostade (1997).



Alston, R.C. 1965. A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800. Vol. 1. Leeds: Arnold and Son.

Alston, R.C. (ed.). 1967. Facs. ed. of Robert Lowth, A short introduction to the English Language (1762). Menston: The Scolar Press. EL 18.

Auer, Anita and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (forthc.). “Robert Lowth and the use of the inflectional subjunctive in eighteenth-century English”.

ECCO: Eighteenth-Century Collections Online. Thomson Gale.

Johnson, Samuel. 1755. A Dictionary of the English Language. Repr. in facs. 1968. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung. Preface to the Dictionary.

Lowth, Robert. 1762. A short introduction of the English language. London: A. Millar, R. and J. Dodsley. 1763. 2nd edition, London: A. Millar, R. and J. Dodsley. 1764. A new edition, corrected. London: A. Millar, R. and J. Dodsley.

Navest, Karlijn (forthc.). “The unidentified hands: annotating Lowth’s Short Introduction to English Grammar”.

Percy, Carol. 1997. “Paradigms lost: Bishop Lowth and the ‘poetic dialect’ in his English Grammar”. Neophilologus 81. 129-144.

Reibel, David. 1995. “Introduction” to Robert Lowth, A short introduction to the English language. vii-xxxvii. London: Routledge/Theommes Press.

Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid. 1997. “Lowth’s corpus of prescriptivism”. In: Terttu Nevalainen and Leena Kahlas-Tarkka (eds.). To Explain the Present. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. 451–463.

Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid. 2000. “Robert Dodsley and the genesis of Lowth’s Short introduction to English Grammar”. Historiographia Linguistica 27. 21–36.

 Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid. 2006.“The codifiers and the history of multiple negation in English”, paper presented at the colloquium Perspectives on Prescriptivism, Ragusa (Sicily), 20 – 22 April 2006.



[*] The research for this paper was carried out as part of a research assistantship in the Spring of 2004 at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leiden. The joint introduction was written in the context of the NWO sponsored research project The Codifiers and the English Language: Tracing the Norms of Standard English.

[1] This figure is a correction to the total number of quotations mentioned in Tieken-Boon van Ostade (1997:452), which erroneously omitted a quotation from Shakespeare on page 57 of the grammar.


The Index



*= criticism
(s)= source
(o)=older use
b = “some of our best writers”
Page numbers in italics refer to the main text, those in ordinary font to the footnotes.

bAddison, Joseph (1672–1719) (22), (11), (5): *38, *43, *52, *126

Guardian 9: *146; Gua. 98: *26; Gua. 167: *166;

Spectator 57: *99; Sp. 73: 162, 168 (“ibid.”), 169 (“ibid.”), 181;Sp. 81: *130; Sp. 122: *77; Sp. 124: 170; Sp. 135: 26–27 (s);Sp. 164: *87; Sp. 285: *132; Sp. 287: *156; Sp. 290: *116; Sp. 434:*87; Sp. 464: 114; Sp. 517: *48; Sp. 530: *126; Sp. 535:*151; Sp. 549: *137

Travels: *130, *42

Preface to his Travels: *130

Tatler 133: *145

Whig Exam 1; *143

On Medals: *19, *138

Hymn: *53

Freeholder 31: *65; Freeh. 38: *162; Freeh. 49: *147

Freeholder. Contents of No 38: *129

Anon. (1):

Stat. 2 and 3 Ed. VI. ch. 21: 37 (o)

bAtterbury, Francis (1662–1732) (6), (6), (1)

Sermons: *19, *41 (2x), 53–54, *63, *86, *105, *111, *120, *124, *152, 155, *159

Bacon, Sir Francis (“Lord”) (1561–1626) (11), (1), (1)

Essay 6: *151; Essay 14: *147; Essay 20: *140; Essay 22: 134 (o); Essay 23: *151; Essay 25: 94 (o); Essay 29: 81 (o); Essay 34: *150; Essay 35: 94 (o); Essay 39: *150, Essay 58:34–35 (o)Natural History: *151

The New Atlantis: 133

Bentley, Richard (1662–1742) (“Dr.”) (3), (1):

On Milton’s Paradise Lost: 34 (s), 107–108 (s), 146 (s)

Sermons; *82

Bible (Authorised Version) (44), (25), (2):

Old Testament (19), (9):

Genesis: 142–143
Leviticus: 142, *132
2 Kings: 132–133, *132
1 Samuel: 58
2 Samuel: *132
Ezra: *120
Job: 142
Psalms: *20, 75, 112, 132, 135–136, 143, 156
Proverbs: *159
Isaiah: 135, *136
Jeremiah: *117, 112
Ezekiel: 132 (o)
Daniel: *18, 18

Apocrypha (4), (2):

Ecclesiasticus: *35, 132 (2x), *132, 113
1 Maccabees: *20

New Testament (25), (14), (2):

Matthew: 17, *75, 94 (o), *106 (2x), *117, *126, *130, 141–142
Mark: 17, *41, *106 (2x), *125
Luke: 18, *20 (o), *106 (2x), *110 (2x), 133, *163
John: 17, *133, 134 (o), 142
Acts: *16, *41, *106
1 Corinthians: 142 (2)
2 Corinthians: 155–156
Philippians: *125–126
Philippians: *132
1 Timothy: 138 (o)
Titus: *126
Hebrews: 155
James: *163
Jude: *137
Revelation: *133 *164

Other religious quotations (5), (1):

Collect, Whitsunday: 113; St John Baptist: *113

Liturgy: *26, *121, *122, 133

bBolingbroke, Henry St John (“Lord”) (1678–1751) (6):

Letters to Swift, Letter 46: *48–49; Letter 47: *49

Letters to Wyndham: *88, *129–130 

A Dissertation upon Parties: *145

Patriot King: *88

Burnet, Thomas (1635?–1715) (2):

Theory of the Earth: *78 (2x)

Chaucer, Geoffrey (ca. 1345–1400) (3), (1): 80 (o), 81 (o), 132 (o)

The Canterbury Tales: 140 (o)

bClarendon, Edward Hyde, earl of (1609–1674) (17):

History: *76, *97, *99, *123, *134, *149–150, *150, *151 (3x), *152

Continuation of the History: *87, *88, *140, *140–141

Life: *123, *125

Congreve, William (1670–1729) (1), (1), (1):

Preface to Homer’s Hymn to Venus: *117, *145

Old Bachelor: *165

Donne, John (1572–1631) (1):

An Anatomy of the World: *26

bDryden, John (1631–1700) (20), (7), (2): 21 (2x), *38, 39, *43, *52, 105, *120, *124, *149

Fables: *86, *97, *116, *120

Preface to Fables: *166

Fables Dedication: *132

Prologue: *112

Ovid’s Metamorphoses: *116

Poems:*86, *97

On Oliver Cromwell: *87

Juvenal, Satires:*99, *118

Essay on Dramatic Poesy: *125, *129

Preface to State of Innocence: *138

Preface to Aureng-Zebe: *143

Cymon and Iphig: *139

Alexander’s Feast; Or, The Power of Musique. An Ode in Honour of St. Cecilia’s Day: 114

Dunelm, Simeon (1)

Apud X Scriptores: 145

bGay, John (1685–1732) (1)

Fables: *88

Harris, James (“Mr.”) (1709–1780) (2)

Hermes: 30 (s), 62 (s)

Hickes, George (1642–1715) (3)

Thesaurus Linguarum Septentrionalium: 25 (s), 132 (o)

Grammatica Anglo-Saxonica: 69 (s)

Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679) (2), (6)

History of Civil Wars: 75 (o), *145

Human Nature: *16, *166

Elements of Law: *18, 148 (o)

Life of Thucydides: *96

Leviathan, Conclusion: 147–148 (o)

Hooker, Richard (1554?–1600) (1), (4): 120, 37 (o)

Laws of Ecclestiastical Polity. Book i: 29

B. V 2: 95–96 (o)

B. I. 4: 113

Johnson, Samuel (“Mr.”) (1709–1784) (2), (1): 43 (s), 147 (s)

Dictionary: 138 (s)

Locke, John (1632–1704) (2), (3): *127, *140

Essay: *138–139

Further Considerations Concerning Raising the Value of Money Wherein Mr. Lowndes’s Argument for it in his late Report concerning an Amendment of Silver Coins are particularly Examined: *124

Two Treatises of Government: *166

Mandeville, Sir John (1): 145 (1)

Middleton, Conyers (1683–1750) (“Dr.”) (3): 75

Works: 75, *151–152

bMilton, John (1608–1674) (16/22), (14): *52, 167 (2x)

Comus: 29, *86, *88

Paradise Lost: 29, *34, *37, 49 (2x), *75,*86 (2x), 96, 107(+ 6 references in note), *108, *119, *131, 140, 146, *156, 160

Paradise Regained: *86 (2x)

Samson Agonistes: *86, *165

Il Penseroso: *42

[Milton’s] Poems: *76

Light: 49

Philips, John (1676–1709) (2):

Cyder: *15, *131

bPope, Alexander (1688–1744) (18), (8), (1): 16, *52, *52, *121, 168

Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot: *137, *17

Essay on Criticism: *87, *79

Essay on Man: 150 (2x), *106

Epitaph: *49

Note on the Iliad: *126

Translation Homer’s Iliad: *128

Translation Homer’s Odyssey: *26, *91

Letter to Steele: 153

Letters to Swift, Letter 56: *49; Letter 80: *152–153

Messiah: *87

Moral Epistles: *119

Dissertation prefixed to the Odyssey: *104

Postscriptum to the Odyssey: *97

Preface to the Poems: 127

Universal Prayer: *136

Works: *123

bPrior, Matthew (1664–1721) (14), (1): *33, *34, *52, *87 (2x), *97, *106, *117, *119, *121, *143, *145, *146

Alma: *88

Solomon: *88

Raleigh, Sir Walter (1552?–1618) (2), (1): 75 (o), *91, 96 (o)

Roscommon, Earl of (Wentworth Dillon) (1633–1685) (1):

An Essay on Translated Verse: *82

Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of (“Lord”) (1671–1713) (2), (2):

Letter to Lord Molesworth: *91, *96

Miscel.: 131 (o)

An Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour: *96

Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) (6), (38): 120

King John: 20

King Richard III: 20, *141

Hamlet: 49, 54–55 (o), 57, 114, *136

Othello: 49, 57, 114

Coriolanus: 17

Henry IV, part 1: *33, *102

Henry IV, part 2: 20

Henry VI, part 1: *43

Henry VI, part 2: *35

Henry VIII: *32, *104

The Tempest: *41

Julius Caesar: 62, *103, 114, *118

Henry V: 72 (o), *74, *140

Antony and Cleopatra: 72 (o)

Cymbeline: *76

As You Like It: *91, *140 (2x)

Measure for Measure: *92, *129

Timon: *116

Much Ado About Nothing: *119, 126 (2x) (o), 139

The Merchant of Venice: *104

Twelfth Night: *104

Macbeth: *130

Romeo and Juliet: *157

Sherlock, Thomas (“Bishop”) (1678–1761) (3): 29–30, 57

Disc.: *120

Sidney, Sir Philip (1554–1586) (1), (3): 38 (o), 120, *124, 138 (o)

Spenser, Edmund (1552?–1599) (1): 111

Sprat, Thomas (1635–1713) (1)

Sermons: *133

[Steele, Sir Richard (1672–1729] (1): Spectator 32: *99

Swift, Jonathan (1667–1745) (39), (4), (6): *116, *82

Battle of the Books: *88, *121, *125–126

The Conduct of the Allies: *123, *141, *145 *150 (2x)

Contests and Dissentions: *63, *129 (3x)

Examiner 21: *133; Ex. 23: *130; Ex. 24: *152 (2x)

Four last years of the Queen: *151

Gulliver’s Travels: *123–124, *124 (2x), *137

A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue: *119, *129 (2x)

Letter to Pope: *144

Letter to Stella: *145

Mechanical operation of the spirit: *124

A Tale of a Tub: *88 (3x), *99, *120–121, *125–126, *131 (2x), *140–141, *143, *152

Preface to A Tale of A Tub: *104, *111, *120–121

Preface to Temple’s Memoirs: *130

The Drapier’s Letters: *166

To Stella, Who Collected and Transcribed His Poems: *54

The Public Spirit of the Whigs: *133

On Cutting down the Old Thorn at Market Hill: *146

An Elegy on the supposed Death of Partridge, the Almanack-Maker: *89

Temple, Sir William (1628–1699) (1): *150

Tillotson, John (1630–1694) (“Archbishop”) (12), (1)

Sermon 18: *135; Serm. 22: *109; Serm. 27: *63, *97; Serm. 35: *153; Serm. 42: *139–140; Serm. 49: *104; Serm. 52: *63, *108, *126; Serm. 54: *109

Preface to Sermon 49: *126–127, *138

Waller, Edmund (1606–1687) (1): *52

Ward, John (1679–1758) (1):

Four Essays on the English Language: 83 (s)

Wilkins, John (1614–1672) (1):

An Essay towards a Real Character: 59–62 (s)