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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
 
The Diversions of Purley
John Horne Tooke (1736–1812)
 
Diversions of Purley, The, by John Horne (Tooke) (1786–1805). The author, a political writer and grammarian, was a supporter of Wilkes, whom he aided in founding a Society for supporting the Bill of Rights, 1769. Starting a subscription for the widows and orphans of the Americans “murdered by the king’s troops at Lexington and Concord,” he was tried and found guilty of libel and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment. While in prison he began to write ‘The Diversions of Purley,’—so called from the country-seat of William Tooke, who made the author his heir, and whose name Horne added to his own.  1
  The work is a treatise on etymology: the author contending that in all languages there are but two sorts of words necessary for the communication of thought, viz., nouns and verbs; that all the other so-called parts of speech are but abbreviations of these, and are “the wheels of the vehicle language.”  2
  He asserts also that there are no indefinable words, but that every word, in all languages, has a meaning of its own. To prove this, he traces many conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs, etc., back to their source as comparisons or contractions; accounting for their present form by the assertion that “abbreviation and corruption are always busiest with the words most frequently in use; letters, like soldiers, being very apt to desert and drop off in a long march.”  3
  Throughout the work, the author constantly refers to his imprisonment and trial, introducing sentences for dissection which express his political opinions, and words to be treated etymologically which describe the moral or physical defects of his enemies.  4
 
 
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