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acceptation takes profit and pleasure for two different things, and not only calls the followers or votaries of them by the several names of busy and idle men; but distinguishes the faculties of the mind, that are conversant about them, calling the operations of the first, Wisdoin ; and of the other, Wit ; which is a Saxon word, used to express what the Spaniards and Italians call Ingenio, and the French Esprit, both from the Latin, though I think wit more particularly signifies that of poetry, as may occur in remarks on the Runic language.” When the reader arrives at the end of this perplexed sentence, he is surprised to find himself at so great distance from the object with which he set out.

Long, involved, and intricate sentences, are great blemishes in composition. In writers of considerable correctness, we find a period sometimes running out so far, and comprehending so many particulars, as to be more properly a discourse than a sentence. An author, speaking of the progress of our language after the time of Cromwell, runs on in this manner : " To this succeeded that licentiousness which entered with the restoration, and, from infecting our religion and morals, fell to corrupt our language; which last was not like to be much improved by those who at that time made up the court of king Charles the Second ; either such as had followed him in his banishment, or who had been altogether conversant in the dialect.of these times, or young men who had been educated in the same country : so that the court, which used to be the standard of correctness and propriety of speech, was then, and I think has ever since. continued, the worst school in England for that accomplishment ; and. so will remain, till better care be taken in the education of our nobility, that they may set out into the world with some foundation of literature, in order to qualify them for patterns of politeness."

The author, in place of a sentence, has here given a loose dissertation upon several subjects. How many different facts, reasonings, and observations, are here presented to the mind at once ! and yet so linked together by the author that they

all make parts of a sentence, which admits of no greater division in pointing than a colon, between any of its members.

It may be of use here to give a specimen of a long sentence, broken down into several periods ; by which we shall more clearly perceive the disadvantages of long sentences, and how easily they may be amended. Here follows the sentence in its original form : Though in yesterday's paper we showed how every thing that is great, new, or beautiful, is apt to affect the imagination with pleasure, we must own, that it is impossible for us to assign the necessary cause of this pleasure, because we know neither the nature of an idea, nor the substance of a human soul : and therefore, for want of such a light, all that we can do, in speculations of this kind, is, to reflect on those operations of the soul that are most agreeable ; and to range, under their proper heads, what is pleasing or displeasing to the mind, without being able to trace out the several necessary and efficient causes, from whence the pleasure or displeasure arises."

The following amendment, besides breaking down the period into several sentences, exhibits some other useful alterations : “ In yesterday's paper, we showed that every thing which is great, new, or beautiful, is apt to affect the imagination with pleasure. We must own, that it is impossible for us to assign the efficient cause of this pleasure, because we know not the nature either of an idea, or of the human soul. All that we can do, therefore, in speculations of this kind, is to reflect on the operations of the soul which are most agreeable, and to range

under

proper heads what is pleasing or displeasing to the mind.”

A third rule for preserving the unity of sentences, is, to keep clear of all unnecessary parentheses.

On some occasions, when the sense is not too long suspended by them, and when they are introduced in a proper place, they may add both to the vivacity and to the energy of the sentence. But for the most part their effect is extremely bad. They are wheels within wheels ; sep.

tences in the midst of sentences; the perplexed method of disposing of some thought, which a writer wants judgment to introduce in its proper place. The parenthesis in this sentence is striking and proper ;

“And was the ransom paid ? It was; and paid

(What can exalt the bounty more ?) for thee.” But in the following sentence, we become sensible of an impropriety in the use of it. “If your hearts secretly reproach you for the wrong choice you have made, (as there is time for repentance and retreat; and a return to wisdom is always honourable,) bethink yourselves that the evil is not irreparable.” It would be much better to express in a separate sentence, the thoughts contained in this parenthesis; thus : “ If your hearts secretly reproach you for the wrong choice you have made, bethink yourselves that the evil is not irreparable. Still there is time for repentance and retreat ; and a return to wisdom is always honourable.”See the APPENDIX to the Exercises.

CHAPTER III.

OF THE STRENGTH OF A SENTENCE.

THE THIRD requisite of a perfect sentence, is, Strength.

By this is meant such a disposition and management of the several words and members, as shall bring out the sense to the best advantage, and give every word and every member, its due weight and force.

A sentence may be clear, it may also be compact in all its parts, or have the requisite unity, and yet, by some circumstance in the structure, it may fail in that strength of impression, which a better management would have produced.

The first rule for promoting the strength of a sentence, is, to prune it of all redundant words and members.

It is a general maxim, that any words which do not add some importance to the meaning of a sentence, always injure it. Care should therefore be exercised with respect to synonymous words, expletives, circumlocutions, tautologies, and the expressions of unnecessary circumstances. The attention becomes remiss, when words are multiplied without a correspondent multiplication of ideas.

« Content with deserving a triumph, he refused the honour of it ;" is better language than to say, “Being content with deserving it," &c.

“ In the Attic commonwealth,” says an author," it was the privilege and birthright of every citizen and poet, to rail aloud and in public.” Better simply thus: “ In the Attic commonwealth, it was the privilege of every citizen to rail in pubiic."

Another expresses himself thus: “ They returned back again to the same city from whence they came forth ;" in • stead of, “ Thçe returned to the city whence they came."

The five words, back, again, same, from, and forth, are mere expletives, that have neither use nor beauty, and are therefore to be regarded as encumbrances.

The word but is often improperly used with that : as, “There can be no doubt bul that he seriously means what he says." It is not only useless, but cumbersome: “There can be no doubt that he seriously means what he says." By transposing the parts of the sentence, we shall immediately perceive the propriety of omitting this word: a That he seriously means what he says, there can be no doubt."

"I am honestly, seriously, and unalterably of opinion, that nothing can possibly be more incurably and emphatically destructive, or more decisively fatal, to a kingdom, than the introduction of thoughtless dissipation, and the pomp of lazy luxury." Would not the full import of this noisy sentence be better expressed thus : "I am of opinion, that nothing is more ruinous to a kingdom, than luxury and dis. sipation ?"

Some writers use much circumlocution in expressing their ideas. A considerable one, for so very simple a thing as a man's wounding himself, says, To mangle, or wound, his outward form and constitution, his natural limbs or body."

But, on some occasions, circumlocution has a peculiar

a

force; as in the following sentence : "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

In the sentences which follow, the ill effects of tautology appear.

“ So it is, that I must be forced to get home, partly by stealth, and partly by force."

“Never did Atticus succeed better in gaining the universal love and esteem of all men."

The subsequent sentence contains several unnecessary circumstances. “ On receiving this information, he arose, went out, saddled his horse, mounted him, and rode to town.” All is implied in saying, “On receiving this information, he rode to town.”

This manner, however, in a certain degree, is so strongly characteristic of the simple style of remote ages, that, in books of the highest antiquity, particularly the Bible, it is not at all ungraceful. Of this kind are the following scriptural phrases. “He lifted up his voice, and wept. " He

* opened his mouth, and said.” It is true, that, in strictness, they are not necessary to the narration, but they are of some importance to the composition, as bearing the venerable signature of ancient simplicity. It may, on this occasion, be further observed, that the language of the present translation of the Bible, ought not to be viewed in an exceptionable light, though some parts of it may appear to be obsolete. From universal admission, this language has become so familiar and intelligible, that in all transcripts and allusions, except where the sense is evidently injured, it ought to be carefully preserved. And it may also be justly reinarked, that, on religious subjects, a frequent recurrence of scripture-language is attended with peculiar force and propriety.

Though it promotes the strength of a sentence, to contract a roundabout method of expression, and to lop off excrescences, yet we should avoid the extreme of pruning too closely : some leaves should be left to shelter and surrouwd the fruit. · Even synonymous expressions may, on

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