Page images
PDF
EPUB

signs of complex ideas. Here then the ambiguity arises from a cause which has not been mentioned. To state this cause, it is necessary to mention a distinction between clauses introduced by the relative as explicative of the meaning of the antecedent, and those introduced as determinative of its meaning. "Man who is born of

"The

a woman, is of few days and full of trouble." man that endureth to the end, shall be saved." In the former of these sentences, the clause introduced by the relative is explicative. It merely points out some property of the antecedent, but does not affect its meaning as used in the given instance. It might be said of man that he is of few days and full of trouble, though he were not born of a woman. In the other example, the relative introduces a determinative clause, which affects the meaning of the antecedent. It is not said that all men shall be saved, but only "he that endureth to the end ;" and the clause introduced by the relative cannot be removed without entirely changing the meaning of the Now the clause introduced by the relative, in the example at the head of this paragraph, is designed to be determinative in its effect on the antecedent. It has this force in the corrected form of the example, which is given to it by the insertion of the demonstrative pronoun those before words. The same effect would have been produced by the insertion of the definite article. Hence then we infer the rule, that whenever a clause, which is designed to be determinative in its effect on the antecedent, is introduced by the relative, the antecedent should be preceded by the demonstrative pronoun, or the definite article.

sentence.

3. Of conjunctions, and other particles.

Every one acquainted with grammar, knows that adverbs are not essential parts of language, but that they might be dismissed, and the same meaning expressed by

circumlocutions. It has been shown by a late eminent philologist,* that conjunctions are of the same nature. They are obsolete forms of verbs, and in the use of them an ellipsis is implied, in supplying which, where they serve the purpose of connectives, a pronoun is used. This is shown in the following example :-"Faith cannot be perfect unless there be good works." Here, unless is to be considered as the imperative of the obsolete verb onlessan, the signification of which is to dismiss. In supplying the implied ellipsis, the sentence will read, "Faith cannot be perfect to this dismiss there be good works." In this then, as in the preceding examples, the real connective is a pronoun.

In agreement with this account of conjunctions, it is found, that besides implying connexion, they express the manner of connexion, or the relation of one clause or member to another, or of one sentence to another. In doing this, they retain their original meaning, and hence the different classes into which they are divided; as the copulative, disjunctive, causal, illative, etc. all of which names are intended to show the nature of the relation expressed by the conjunctions included under them.

Skill, in the use of conjunctions, both as connectives, and as showing the relation between parts connected, is to be acquired from practice in writing, and from familiarity with good writers. It is also most frequently found united with clearness of thought, and accurate habits of reasoning. Hence no directions are here given to guide the writer in their use, but simply a few remarks offered, the reason and propriety of which, sound sense and good taste must perceive.

1. Long conjunctions are to be avoided. Such are the

* "ETεα IITεpoɛvra, or the Diversions of Purley," by John Horne Tooke,

words, nevertheless, notwithstanding, furthermore, forasmuch.

The improvement of our language has caused most of these conjunctions to give place to others, which are shorter; and as such words are but secondary parts of sentences, it is desirable that they should not occupy more room, and become more conspicuous, than is absolutely necessary.

2. The frequent recurrence of the same conjunction is to be avoided; especially if that conjunction consists of more than one syllable. The reason of this direction, as of the preceding, is to prevent conjunctions from appearing too prominent.

3. The accumulating of several conjunctions in the same clause is to be avoided, unless their coalition be absolutely necessary. To aid in forming a judgment of what propriety and the idiom of the language allow in such cases, the following remarks are made:—

Two conjunctions may follow each other, when one of them serves to connect the sentence with what precedes, and the other to connect one clause in the sentence with another clause. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself." And is the connective of the sentences, and if of the clauses.

Conjunctions of the same class may be united, but such coalitions are often unnecessary and should be avoided. Examples of this kind are but however, and further, yet nevertheless, etc. In each of these instances, one of the conjunctions used is unnecessary.

Conjunctions of different classes are often joined together, and sometimes necessarily, but at others they are found united, when more care in the construction of the sentence would have rendered their union unnecessary. Of the propriety of such coalitions, a knowledge of the

usage of the best writers, and of the original meaning of the conjunction, will enable us to judge.

Conjunctions may often be left to be supplied by the

reader.

To use a conjunction wherever the sense would allow of one, would render the style heavy, and conduce but little to its perspicuity. Here, as in the former instance, the usage of good writers must decide. On the one hand, we must guard against the omission of connectives to that degree, which might render the style defective and obscure; and on the other, we are to avoid the too frequent use of them, which would render our manner of writing awkward and defective.

To these remarks on connectives, it may be added, that the abbreviations, i. e., e. g., and viz. are to be avoided in dignified composition.

Examples, in the correction of which the rules and principles stated in this chapter are illustrated, are found among the Exercises. (Ex. 7.)

CHAPTER V.

ON STYLE.

STYLE is defined by Dr. Blair, to be "the peculiar manner in which a writer expresses his thoughts by words. It is a picture of the ideas of the mind, and of the order in which they exist there." Buffon has more boldly and happily said, "Style is the man himself." Let two individuals write on the same subject. We see in their productions their peculiar modes of thinking-the extent of their knowledge-their tastes and their feelings. The portrait executed by the most skilful painter, does not more fully represent the countenance, than the productions of the pen exhibit the characteristics of the mind.

Consistently with this account of what is meant by style, the attention has been directed, in the preceding chapters, to thought, as the foundation of good writingto the nature and objects of literary taste, and to skill in the use of lauguage. It may easily be inferred, from what has been said on these different heads, that there are some qualities of style, which are common to all good writers. But as style depends on the intellectual habits and acquirements, on literary taste, and on skill in the use of language, each of which is possessed by different individuals in different degrees, it must be obvious, that the modes of writing, peculiar to different authors, will differ according to their characteristic traits. Other diversities in style, arising from the subject and occasion, and characteristic of different classes of writing, will also be found. I purpose, therefore, to divide this chapter into three different sections, and to examine,1. The qualities of style common in some degree to all

« EelmineJätka »