Page images

towards the evening of life, grow great and monstrous.' “ Our interests are interwoven by threads innumerable ;' “By threads innumerable, our interests are interwoven."

Rule xix. Where a verb is understood, a comma may often be properly introduced. This is a general rule, which, besides comprising some of the preceding rules, will apply to many cases not determined by any of them as, “ From law arises security; from security, curiosity, from curiosity, knowledge.”. In this example, the verb " arises” is understood before 66 curiosity” and “knowledge;" at which words a considerable



necessary. Rule xx. The words, nay, so, hence, again, first, seconilly, formerly, now, lastly, once more, above ail, on the contrary, in the next place, in short, and all other words and phrases of the same kind, must generally be separated from the context by a comma: as, “ Remember thy best and first friend; formerly, the supporter of thy infancy, and the guide of thy childhood ; now, the guardian of thy youth, and the hope of thy coming years.” feared want, hence, he over-valued riches." duct may heal the difference, nay, it may constantly prevent any in future.” " Finally, I shall only repeat what has been often justly said.” “ If the spring put forth no blossoms, in summer there will be no beauty, and in au. tumn, no fruit; so, if youth be trified away without improvement, riper years may be contemptible, and old age miserable."

In many of the foregoing rules and examples, great regard must be paid to the length of the clauses, and the proportion which they bear to one another. An attention, to the sense of any passage, and to the clear, easy communication of it, will, it is presumed, with the aid of the preceding rules, enable the student to adjust the proper pauses, and the places for inserting the commas.

6. He 66 This cono

[ocr errors]


OF THE SEMICOLON. THE Semicolon is used for dividing a compound sentence into two or more parts, not so closely connected as those which are separated by a comma, nor yet so

little dependent on each other, as those which are dis; tinguished by a colon.

The semicolon is sometimes used, when the preceding member of the sentence does not of itself give a complete sense, but depends on the following clause : and some. times when the sense of that member would be complete without the concluding one: as in the following instances: “As the desire of approbation, when it works according to reason, improves the amiable part of our species in every thing that is laudable ; so nothing is more destructive to them when it is governed by vanity and folly."

Experience teaches us, that an entire retreat from worldly affairs, is not what religion requires; nor does it even enjoin a long retreat from them.'

“ Straws swim upon the surface; but pearls lie at the bottom."

“ Philosophers assert, that Nature is unlimited in her operations; that she has inexhaustible treasures in reserve; that knowledge will always be progressive; and that all future generations will continue to make discoveries, of which we have not the least idea."


OF THE COLON. The Colon is used to divide a sentence into two or more parts, less connected than those which are separated by a semicolon; but not so independent as separate distinct sentences.

The Colon may be properly applied in the three following cases.

1. When a member of a sentence is complete in itself, but followed by some supplemental remark, or further pllustration of the subject : as, “Nature felt her inability to extricate herself from the consequences of guilt: the gospel reveals the plan of Divine interposition and aid.' * Nature confessed some atonement to be necessary: the gospel discovers that the necessary atonement is made.”

2. When several semicolons have preceded, and a still greater pause is necessary, in order to mark the connect. ing or concluding sentiment: as, “A divine legislator uttering his voice from heaven ; an almighty governor, stretching forth his arm to punish or reward ; informing

us of perpetual rest prepared hereafter for the righteous, and of indignation and wrath awaiting the wicked: these are the considerations which overawe the world, which support integrity, and check guilt."

3. The Colon is commonly used when an example, a quotation, or a speech is introduced: as, “ The Scriptures give us an amiable representation of the Deity, in these words : God is love.'' “ He was often heard to say: 'I have done with the world, and I am willing to leave it.''

The propriety of using a colon, or semicolon, is sometimes determined by a conjunction's being expressed, or not expressed: as, “Do not flatter yourselves with the hope of perfect happiness: there is no such thing in the world.” “ Do not flatter yourselves with the hope of perfect happiness ; for there is no such thing in the world."


OF THE PERIOD. When a sentence is complete and independent, and not connected in construction with the following sentence, it is marked with a Period.

Some sentences are independent of each other, both in their sense and construction : as, " Fear God. Honour the king. Have charity towards all men.”. Others are independent only in their grammatical construction : as, “ The Supreme Being changes not, either in his desire to promote our happiness, or in the plan of his administration. One light always shines upon us from above. One clear and direct path is always pointed out to man.

A period may sometimes be admitted between two sentènces, though they are joined by a disjunctive or copu. lative conjunction. For the quality of the point does not always depend on the connective particle, but on the sense and structure of sentences : as, Recreations, though they may be of an innocent kind, require steady government, to keep them within a due and liniited province. But such as are of an irregular and vitious nature, are not to be governed, but to be banished from every well-regulated mind.


“ He who lifts himself up to the observation and notice of the world, is, of alt mer, the least likely to avoid cen:

For he draws upon himself a thousand eyes, that will narrowly inspect him in every part." The period should be used after every abbreviated word:

M. S. P. S. N.B. A.D. 0. S. N. S.” &c,


Of the Dash, Notes of Interrogation and Exclamation, &c


som visu, though often used improperly by basty and incoherent writers, may be introduced with propriety, where the sentence breaks off abruptly; where a significant pause is required; or where there is an unexpected turn in the sentiment: as, “ If thou art he, so much respected once-but, oh! how fallen ! how degraded !” “ If acting conformably to the will of our Creator ;-if pro moting the welfare of mankind around us ;--if'securing Jur own happiness ;- are objects of the highest moment :: - then we are loudly called upon, to cultivate and extend the great interests of religion and virtue.'

“ Here lies the great-False marble, where?

Nothing but sordid dust lies here." Besides the points which mark the pauses in discourse, there are others, which denote a different modulation of voice, in correspondence to the sense.

The Interrogation point, ?
The Exclamation point, !
The Parenthesis. ()

INTERROGATION. A note of Interrogation is used at the end of an interrogative sentence; that is, when a question is asked: as, "Who will accompany me ?” “ Shall we always be friends ?"

Questions which a person asks himself in contemplation, ought to be terminated by points of interrogation : as, • Who adorned the heavens with such exquisite beauty ??

These are,

" At whose command do the planets perform their conintant revolutions ?

A point of interrogation is improper after sentences which are not questions, but only expressions of admira tion, or of some other emotion.

“How many instances have we of chastity and exceldence in the fair sex !"

“ With what prudence does the son of Sirach advise us in the choice of our companions !"

A note of interrogation should not be employed, in cases where it is only said a question has been asked, and where the words are not used as a question. “ The Cyprians asked me, why I wept.” To give this sentence the interrogative form, it should be expressed thus : “ The Cyprians said to ne, . Why dost thou weep?

EXCLAMATION. The note of Exclamation is applied to expressions of gudden emotion, surprise, joy, grief, &c. and also to invocations or addresses : as, My friend! this conduct amazes me :* “ Bless the Lord, O my soul! and forget not all his benefits !"

“Oh! had we both our humble state maintain'd,
And safe in peace and poverty remain'd!"

"Hear me, O Lord! for thy loving kindness is great! It is difficult, in some cases, to distinguish between an interrogative and exclamatory sentence; but a sentence, in which any wonder or admiration is expressed, and no answer either expected or implied, may be always properly : terminated by a note of exclamation : as, “ How much vanity in the pursuits of men !” “Who can sufficiently express the goodness of our Creator !" " What is more amiable than virtue !"

The interrogation and exclamation points are indetermiDate as to their quantity or time, and may be equivalent

in that respect to a semicolon, a colon, or a period, as the sense may require. They mark an elevation of the voice.

The utility of the points of Interrogation and Exclamation, appears from the following examples, in which the meaning is signified and discriminated solely by the points.

to What condescension !"
" What condescension ?"

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »