Joseph Mallord William Turner

Notes on Grammar (Inscriptions by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 185 × 108 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CVI 68

Catalogue entry

Turner’s notes read:
Blair’s style.  
Perspicuity in writing is not to be considered as | merely a sort of negative virtue, or freedom | from defect. It has higher merit. It is a degree of | positive Beauty. We are pleased with an author |, we consider him as deserving praise, who frees | us from all fatigue of searching for his meaning; | who carries us through this subject without any | disarrangement or confusion, where we see to the | very bottom 
Synonymous words 
1                   2             3 
Austerity           Severity      Rigour 
Mode of Living      thinking      punishing 
1                   2 
Custom              Habit 
Action              Actor 
1                   2             3             4 
Surprised           astonishedamazed            confounded 
Unexpected          greatness  incomprehensibly terrible 
1                   2 
desist              renounce   quit leave off 
difficulty          being disagreeable    vex 
Pride               Vanity 
Self esteem         sign of being esteemed 
Haughtiness         disdain 
Of high opinion     low opinion of others 
Distinguish         to separate 
Mark pass Objects   to remove them 
To weary            to fatigue 
Continuance of      from toil labour 
Abhor               to detest 
Strong dislike 
being evident       treachery 
Invent              discovering 
Bring novelty       what was hidden 
Equivocal           ambiguous 
One meaning:        two equal 
Apparent the other  meaning 
At lower right there is a further quotation:
The criminal is bound | with ropes by ... | art is connected with scenery | by mechanical rules | when the monarch of Scotland | was asked the tenure of their | lands they ... By these | we | acquired our lands with these | (our swords) we will defend them 
Lecture on Perspecuity 
These notes are copied or summarised from Hugh Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres (1783 and subsequent editions); see note to folio 69 verso of this sketchbook (D07211; Turner Bequest CVI 66a). The passage on ‘perspecuity’, list of synonymous words and their functions and (somewhat garbled) statements on the criminal bound by ropes (by ‘the executioner’ in the original) and the Scottish king and his nobles come from Lecture X, ‘Style – Perspicuity and Precision’. The remark on art and rules is harder to source, and seems to combine various passages in Lecture XXXIV, ‘Means of Improving in Eloquence’, and Lecture XLV, ‘Dramatic Poetry – Tragedy’.

David Blayney Brown
July 2010

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