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It follows, that a plurality of copulatives in the same period ought to be avoided: for if the laying aside copulatives give force and liveliness, a redundancy of them must render the period languid. I appeal to the following instance, though there are but two copulatives. Upon looking over the letters of my female correspondents, I find several from women complaining of jealous husbands; and at the same time protesting their own innocence, and desiring my advice upon this occasion.

I except the case where the words are intended to express the coldness of the speaker; for there the redundancy of copulatives is a beauty:. And the author shows great delicacy of taste by varying the expression in the mouth of Peter, who is represented more animated:. We proceed to the second kind of beauty; which consists in a due arrangement of the words or materials.

This branch of the subject is no less nice than extensive; and I despair of setting it in a clear light, except to those who are well acquainted with the general principles that govern the structure or composition of language. In a thought, generally speaking, there is at least one capital object considered as acting or as suffering. This object is expressed by a substantive noun: its action is expressed by an active verb; and the thing affected by the action is expressed by another substantive noun: its suffering Edition: ed; Page: [ 45 ] or passive state is expressed by a passive verb; and the thing that acts upon it, by a substantive noun.

Beside these, which are the capital parts of a sentence or period, there are generally under-parts; each of the substantives as well as the verb, may be qualified: time, place, purpose, motive, means, instrument, and a thousand other circumstances, may be necessary to complete the thought. And in what manner these several parts are connected in the expression, will appear from what follows. In a complete thought or mental proposition, all the members and parts are mutually related, some slightly, some intimately. To put such a thought in words, it is not sufficient that the component ideas be clearly expressed; Edition: current; Page: [ ] it is also necessary, that all the relations contained in the thought be expressed according to their different degrees of intimacy.

To annex a certain meaning to a certain sound or word, requires no art: the great nicety in all languages is, to express the various relations that connect the parts of the thought.

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Could we suppose this branch of language to be still a secret, it would puzzle, I am apt to think, the acutest grammarian, to invent an expeditious method: and yet, by the guidance merely of nature, the rude and illiterate have been led to a method so perfect, as to appear not susceptible of any improvement; and the next step in our progress shall be to explain that method. Edition: ed; Page: [ 46 ].

Words that import a relation, must be distinguished from such as do not. Substantives commonly imply no relation; such as animal, man, tree, river. Adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, imply a relation: the adjective good must relate to some being possessed of that quality: the verb write is applied to some person who writes; and the adverbs moderately, diligently, have plainly a reference to some action which they modify.

When a relative word is introduced, it must be signified by the expression to what word it relates, without which the sense is not complete.


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For answering that purpose, I observe in Greek and Latin two different methods. Adjectives are declined as well as substantives; and declension serves to ascertain their connection: If the word that expresses the subject be, for example, in the nominative case, so also must the word be that expresses its quality; example, vir bonus: again, verbs are related, on the one hand, to the agent, and, on the other, to the subject upon which the action is exerted: and a contrivance similar to that now mentioned, serves to express the double relation; the nominative case is appropriated to the agent, the accusative to the passive subject; and the verb is put in the first, second, or third person, to intimate its connection with the word that signifies the agent: examples, Ego amo Tulliam; tu amas Semproniam; Brutus amat Portiam.

It must be obvious, that those terms which have nothing relative in their signification, cannot be connected in so easy a manner. When two substantives happen to be connected, as cause and effect, as principal and accessory, or in any other manner, such connection cannot be expressed by contiguity solely; for words must often in a period be placed together which are not thus related: the relation between substantives, therefore, cannot otherwise be expressed but by particles denoting the relation.

Latin indeed and Greek, by their declensions, go a certain length to express Edition: ed; Page: [ 48 ] such relations, without the aid of particles. But in other instances, declensions not being used in the English language, relations of this kind are commonly expressed by prepositions. Examples: That wine came from Cyprus. He is going to Paris. The sun is below the horizon.

This form of connecting by prepositions, is not confined to substantives. Qualities, attributes, manner of existing or acting, and all other circumstances, may in the same manner be connected with the substances to which they relate. I observe, beside, that the using a preposition in this case, is not Edition: current; Page: [ ] always a matter of choice: it is indispensable with respect to every circumstance that cannot be expressed by a single adjective or adverb.

To pave the way for the rules of arrangement, Edition: ed; Page: [ 49 ] one other preliminary is necessary; which is, to explain the difference between a natural style, and that where transposition or inversion prevails.

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There are, it is true, no precise boundaries between them, for they run into each other like the shades of different colours. In a natural style, relative words are by juxtaposition connected with those to which they relate, going before or after, according to the peculiar genius of the language. Again, a circumstance connected by a preposition, follows naturally the word with which it is connected. But this arrangement may be varied, when a different order is more beautiful: a circumstance may be placed before the word with which it is connected by a preposition; and may be interjected even between a relative word and that to which it relates.

When such liberties are frequently taken, the style becomes inverted or transposed. But as the liberty of inversion is a capital point in the present subject, it will be necessary to examine it more narrowly, and in particular to trace the several degrees in which an inverted style recedes more and more from that which is natural.

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And first, as to the placing a circumstance before Edition: ed; Page: [ 50 ] the word with which it is connected, I observe, that it is the easiest of all inversion, even so easy as to be consistent with a style that is properly termed natural: witness the following examples. At St. Woolston, who writ against the miracles of our Saviour , in the utmost terrors of conscience, made a public recantation.

The interjecting a circumstance between a relative word and that to which it relates, is more properly termed inversion; because, by a disjunction of words intimately connected, it recedes farther from a natural style. But this licence has degrees; for the disjunction is more violent in some instances than in others. And to give a just notion of the difference, there is a necessity to enter a little more into an abstract subject, than would otherwise be my inclination.

I cannot conceive a quality Edition: ed; Page: [ 51 ] but as belonging to some subject: it makes indeed a part of the idea which is formed of the subject. Such partial conception of a subject, is still more easy with respect to action or motion; which is an occasional attribute only, and has not the same permanency with colour or figure: I cannot form an idea of motion independent of a body; but there is nothing more easy than to form an idea of a body at rest.

Hence it appears, that the degree of inversion depends greatly on the order in which the related words are placed: when a substantive occupies the first place, the idea it suggests must subsist in the mind at least for a moment, independent of the relative words afterward introduced; and that moment may without difficulty be prolonged by interjecting a circumstance between the substantive and its connections. This liberty, therefore, however frequent, will scarce alone be sufficient to denominate a style inverted.

The case is very different, where the word that occupies the first place denotes a quality or an action; for as these cannot be conceived without a subject, they cannot without greater violence be separated from the subject that follows; Edition: ed; Page: [ 52 ] and for that reason, every such separation by means of an interjected circumstance belongs to an inverted style. To illustrate this doctrine, examples are necessary; and I shall begin with those where the word first introduced does not imply a relation:. In the following examples, where the word first introduced imports a relation, the disjunction will be found more violent.


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  • Language would have no great power, were it confined to the natural order of ideas. I shall soon have opportunity to make it evident, that by inversion a thousand beauties may be compassed, which must be relinquished in a natural arrangement. The following example with relation to a preposition, is perhaps as tolerable as any of the kind: Edition: ed; Page: [ 54 ].

    He would neither separate from, nor act against them. I give notice to the reader, that I am now ready to enter on the rules of arrangement; beginning with a natural style, and proceeding gradually to what is the most inverted. And in the arrangement of a period, as well as in a right choice of words, the first and great object being perspicuity, the rule above laid down, that perspicuity ought not to be sacrificed to any other beauty, holds equally in both.

    Ambiguities occasioned by a wrong arrangement are of two sorts; one where the arrangement leads to a wrong sense, and one where the sense is left doubtful. The first, being the more culpable, shall take the lead, beginning with examples of words put in a wrong place. How much the imagination of such a presence must exalt a genius, we may observe merely from the influence which an ordinary presence has over men. This arrangement leads to a wrong sense: the adverb merely seems by its position to affect the preceding word; whereas it is intended to affect the following words, an ordinary presence; and therefore the arrangement ought to be thus:.

    How much the imagination of such a presence must exalt a genius, we may observe from the influence which an ordinary presence merely has over men. Edition: ed; Page: [ 55 ]. The time of the election of a poet-laureat being now at hand, it may be proper to give some account of the rites and ceremonies anciently used at that solemnity, and only discontinued through the neglect and degeneracy of later times.

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    The term only is intended to qualify the noun degeneracy, and not the participle discontinued; and therefore the arrangement ought to be as follows:. Sixtus the Fourth was, if I mistake not, a great collector of books at least.

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    The expression here leads evidently to a wrong sense; the adverb at least, ought not to be connected with the substantive books, but with collector thus:. If he was not the greatest king, he was the best actor of majesty at least, that ever filled a throne. This arrangement removes the wrong sense occasioned by the juxtaposition of majesty and at least.

    I have confined myself to those methods for the advancement of piety, which are in the power of a prince limited like ours by a strict execution of the laws. That wrong sense is removed by the following arrangement:. I have confined myself to those methods for the advancement of piety, which, by a strict execution of the laws, are in the power of a prince limited like ours. The wrong sense occasioned by this arrangement, may be easily prevented by varying it thus:.

    A great stone that I happened to find after a long search by the sea-shore, served me for an anchor. One would think that the search was confined to the sea-shore; but as the meaning is, that the great stone was found by the sea-shore, the period ought to be arranged thus:.

    A great stone, that, after a long search, I happened to find by the sea-shore, served me for an anchor.