The aim of this book is to let us see our language as a living and developing human activity in a period of history which offers special advantages for the purpose. Miss Tucker's method is to analyse in the course of a connected narrative a large, wide-ranging body of words and phrases from two principal points of view. In Part One, using as the basis of evidence and discussion a few representative critical journals, including those with which Johnson, Goldsmith, Smollett, and Burke were prominently associated, she asks how the eighteenth century looked at its own language: what, for example, it esteemed elegant or vulgar, held correct or a solecism, found new or old-fashioned, impressive or funny. In Part Two the emphasis shifts from the eighteenth century's views of itself to our views of the eighteenth century as we look back. Here the interest centres by contrast on our difficulties, our discoveries, and our conclusions and in the process our understanding of eighteenth century literature and manners is immeasurably sharpened.