English Heritage

William Lily’s Short Introduction of Grammar, the most important grammar textbook in the history of England, had considerable influence on many subsequent grammars, including that of Ezekiel Cheever, who taught Latin in Boston, Massachusetts for seventy years. The manuscript textbook that he developed during this period was put into print after his death, with the title, A Short Introduction to the Latin Tongue.

Less influential than Lily, but still important, was William Walker’s Treatise of English Particles, an extraordinarily minute and detailed discussion of all grammatical particles (words like prepositions, conjunctions, and articles, which cannot be declined and must be paired with other words in order to convey meaning). Walker offers paired English and Latin examples.

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William Walker. A Treatise of English Particles. London: J. H., 1706. Thirteenth Edition.


John Clarke, in An Introduction to the Making of Latin, is critical of Lily’s work, arguing that it was written with “little Regard to the Capacities of Children”—a recurring concern in the history of grammatical pedagogy.

John Clarke. An Introduction to the Making of Latin. Worcester: Isaiah Thomas, 1786. First American Edition.


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