« ForrigeFortsett »
32. RULE 2. -Let your words be the most appropriate and significant that can be selected for conveying the idea intended. An object of primary importance should be, not that your meaning may be understood, but that it shall be impossible to be misunderstood. He is most likely to succeed in this respect, who is accustomed to weigh well the import of words, and rigidly adhere to grammatical structure.
Obs. 3. This rule excludes every lax mode of expression by which a word is employed in a sense different from its proper acceptation, as in the following instances ;
“ His hand got entangled,” say, “ became entangled.” Who learns him geography ?” say, “ Who teaches him, &c. ?” “He fell sick.” say, “He became sick, or was seized with sickness.” “His private character is undeniable,” say, “ unexceptionable.” “No less than one hundred,” say, “No fewer,” &c. “He took a fever,” say, "was seized with a fever.” “ Direct your letters to me,” say, “ Address your letters."
33. RULE 3.- Let your words fully express your meaning, but no more than your meaning. This rule is most frequently violated by the employment of words termed synonymous. Great care, therefore, will be necessary in discriminating the exact import and appropriate application of these words.
A list of the most common synonymes is given in the author's English Grammar, p. 155, &c. For additional information on this subject, reference may be had to Crabbe's Synonymes.
34. RULE 4.- In the inflection, government, concord, and arrangement of words, a rigid adherence to grammatical propriety must be observed.
QUESTIONS. Quote the first rule for the employment of words? What writers adhere to, and what deviate from, this rule ? Quote the second rule. Mention several deviations from this rule. Quote the third and fourth rules.
Lesson 11.- Structure of Sentences. 35, RULE 5.- Every sentence should be the enunciation of only one leading thought, which must be so expressed as to be at once evident to the reader. The strongest part of the thought, or that which forms the result, should, in general, be placed the last in the sentence. The subordinate clauses, if any, must be placed in their appropriate parts of the sentence, and so skilfully interwoven as never to diminish the predominancy of the main sentiment.
36. RULE 6.-As a general rule, sentences should be of moderate length, but this must be determined by the judgment of the writer, and the nature of the composition. Short sentences, when judiciously introduced, contribute to the liveliness of the style. Long sentences are well adapted for sustaining the reader's attention ; but, if the clauses and members are not skilfully constructed, the meaning is rendered less easy of apprehension than in a sentence of moderate length.
37. To avoid tediousness there must be a judicious admixture of sentences of varied length.
ILLUSTRATION. The following long sentence is given to show how advantageously sentences of this kind may be broken into several smaller ones. “The discipline of the Romans was the result of steady and painful perseverance, and their attachment to it was equally politic and firm ; for they were too acute not to discern that it was the most effectual support of their power, and they also administered the military oath under peculiar circumstances of solemnity, at which time, the soldier swore never to desert the standard, which was displayed in the front of his legion, and to which he looked up as to a tutelary god, by whose guidance he was assured he should be led to victory.”
The preceding sentence will be preferably divided into several, thus, -“The discipline of the Romans was the result of steady and painful perseverance. Their attachment to it was equally politic and firm ; for they were too acute not to discern that it was the most effectual support of their power. The military oath was administered under peculiar circumstances of solemnity. The soldier swore never to desert his standard which was displayed in front of his legion. To this he looked up as to a tutelary god, by whose guidance he was assured he should be led to victory."
38. RULE 7.- As one principal person or thing should be predominant in each sentence, so one species of construction should be observed throughout.' An unnecessary change of scene, or the admixture of active and passive phraseology in the same sentence, must be avoided ; thus, “ Copies of the Bible were rapidly dispersed, and persons of all ranks perused them with the greatest avidity;" would be better constructed thus, -“ Copies of the Bible were rapidly dispersed, and perused by persons of all ranks."
39. RULE 8. — With regard to punctuation, it may be briefly stated, that every complete sentence requires a period (.) at the end. The first word in each sentence begins with a capital letter. Members of a sentence, which, though complete in them.
selves, are followed by some additional remark, are separated by colons (.) or semicolons (;). Subordinate clauses are separated by commas (,). (For directions in detail on punctuation, see the English Grammar, p. 112.)
EXERCISES. — 1. Divide the following long sentence into five smaller ones.
In the volumes of sacred history there is an impartiality of narrative, which is an undoubted characteristic of truth ; but if we read the lives of Plutarch, or the history by Livy, we soon discover that these writers composed their works under the influence of many prejudices in favour of their respective countries; they throw a veil over the defects of their heroes, but their virtues are placed in a strong light, and painted in vivid colours ; but in the Scriptures, on the contrary, both of the Old and the New Testament, the strictest impartiality prevails ; thus, the vices of David, Solomon, and their successors, are neither concealed nor palliated.
2. Render the following sentences uniform in their construction according to Rule 7. No. 38.
1. We place the works of Pagan writers in their proper situation, and an additional value is given to them when they are made subservient to the cause of religion, and the illustration of divine truth.
2. In the Holy Scriptures the characters of persons are faithfully sketched, and they represent the effects the passions without reserve or concealment.
3. The art of writing preserves the memorials of truth, and by it the records of accurate knowledge are imparted to successive generations.
LESSON 12.–Paragraphs. 40. RULE 9.- Nearly every composition admits of several divisions and subdivisions, each of which is occupied in the discussion of some branch belonging to the principal subject. These divisions are called paragraphs, and are distinguished from one another, by leaving off and commencing a new line. Each paragraph must contain only those sentences which belong to the same subject and which form an intimate connection in thought.
EXERCISES. -a. Arrange the following sentences into four distinct paragraphs ;
When Socrates was asked why he had built for himself so small a house, “ Small as it is,” he replied, “ I wish I could fill it with friends." These, indeed, are all that a wise man would desire to assemble ; for a crowd is not company, faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal where there is no love. It is related of Pythagoras, an eminent philosopher of antiquity, that before he would admit any one as a pupil into his school, he was accustomed to inquire, who were his associates ; justly concluding that those who would keep bad company would not be much profited by his instructions. When any of his courtiers attempted to inflame Antonīnus Pius with a passion for military glory, he would answer, that he more desired the preservation of one subject than the destruction of a thousand enemies. Every man is fastened to some spot of earth, by the thousand small threads that habit and association are continually binding over him. When the Canadian Indians were once solicited to emigrate, “What !” they replied, “shall we say to the bones of our fathers, arise, and go with us into a foreign land ?”
b. Arrange the following sentences into three distinct paragraphs ;
Optics. — This is a beautiful and interesting branch of science, for it relates to the properties of light, which is the most rapid, subtile, and divisible of all bodies; and to the structure of the eye, the most wonderful organ of the human