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as the sense and structure of a sentence seem to require. Of both these in their order.
A PRACTICAL SYSTEM OF RHETORICAL PUNCTUATION.
Of Visible Punctuation.
Before we give such directions for pausing, or dividing a sentence, as will in some measure enable us to avoid the errours of common punctuation, it will be necessary to inquire into the nature of a sentence, and to distinguish it into its different kinds. Sentences are of two kinds: a period, or compact sentence, and a loose sentence. A period, or compact sentence, is an assemblage of such words, or members, as do not form sense independent of each other; or, if they do, the former modify the latter, or inversely. A loose sentence is an assemblage of such words, or members, as do form sense, independent of those that follow, and at the same time are not modified by them: a period, or compact sentence, therefore, is divisible into two kinds; the first, where the former words and members depend for sense on the latter, as in the following sentence: As we cannot discern the shadow moving along the dial-plate, so the advances we make in learning are only perceived by the distance gone over. Here
we find no sense formed till the last word is pronounced; and this sentence, for distinction's sake, we may call a direct period: the second kind of period, or compact sentence, is that, where, though the first part forms sense without the latter, it is nevertheless modified by it as in the following sentence: There are several arts which all men are in some measure masters of, without being at the pains of learning them.
Here, if we stop at masters of, we find complete sense formed, but not the whole sense: because what follows modifies or alters the meaning of it: for it is not said simply, that there are several arts, which all men are in some measure masters of, but with this qualification or change in the sense, without being at the pains of learning them, which reduces the general to a particular meaning and this sentence we may call an inverted period. The loose sentence has its first members forming sense, without being modified by the latter; as in the following sentence; Persons of good taste expect to be pleased at the same time they are informed; and think that the best sense always deserves the best language. In which example we find the latter member adding something to the former, but not modifying or altering it.
This difference of connexion between the members of sentences, and consequently the different pauses to be annexed to them, will be better understood by attending to the different influence of the conjunction that and the relative which in the following passage:
A man should endeavour to make the sphere of his innocent pleasures as wide as possible, that he may retire into them with safety, and find in them such a satisfaction as a wise man would not blush to take. Of this nature are those of the imagination, which do not require such a bent of thought as is necessary to our most serious employments, nor at the same time suffer the mind to sink into that negligence and remissness, which are apt to accompany our more sensual delights. Spectator, No. 411.
In the first of these sentences we find the conjunction that modifies or restrains the meaning of the preceding member; for it is not asserted in general and without limitation, that a man should make the sphere of his innocent pleasures as wide as possible, but that he should do so for the purpose of retiring into him
self: these two members, therefore, are necessarily connected, and might have formed a period, or compact sentence, had they not been followed by the last member but as that only adds to the sense of the preceding members, and does not qualify them, the whole assemblage of members, taken together, form but one loose sentence.
The last number of the last sentence is necessarily connected with what precedes, because it modifies or restrains the meaning of it; for it is not meant, that the pleasures of the imagination do not suffer the mind to sink into negligence and remissness in general, but into that particular negligence and remissness, which is apt to accompany our more sensual delights. The first member of this sentence affords an opportunity of explaining this by its opposite for here it is not meant, that those pleasures of the imagination only are of this innocent nature which do not require such a bent of thought as is necessary to our more serious employments; but that of this nature are the pleasures of the imagination in general: and it is by asking the question, whether a preceding member affirms any thing in general, or only affirms something as limited or qualified by what follows, that we shall discover whether these members are either immediately or remotely connected; and, consequently, whether they form a loose or a compact sentence; as the former member, therefore, of the last sentence is not necessarily connected with those that succeed, the sentence may be pronounced to be a loose sentence.
Sentences thus defined and distinguished into their several kinds, we shall be better enabled to give such rules for dividing them by pauses, as will reduce punc
tuation to some rational and steady principles. Previously, however, to these rules, it will be necessary to observe, that, as the times of the pauses are exceedingly indefinite, the fewer distinctions we make between them, the less we shall embarrass the reader ;— I shall beg leave, therefore, to reduce the number of pauses to three: namely, the smaller pause, answering to the comma; the greater pause, answering to the semicolon, and colon; and the greatest pause, answering to the period. The ancients knew nothing of the semicolon; and, if we consider practice, and real utility, I believe it will be found, that the three distinctions of the ancients answer every useful purpose in writing and reading.
RULES FOR PAUSING.
The principal pause in the compact sentence. RULE I. Every direct period consists of two principal constructive parts, between which parts the greater pause must be inserted: when these parts commence with conjunctions that correspond with each other, they are sufficiently distinguishable; as in the following sentence:
As no faculty of the mind is capable of more improvement than the memory, so none is in more danger of decay by disuse.
Here we may observe, that the first constructive part begins with as, and the second with so; the expectation is excited by the first, and answered by the latter: at that point, therefore, where the expectation begins to be answered, and the sense begins to form, the principal pause is to be used; and, by these means, the two contrasted and correspondent parts are distinctly viewed by the mind.
A period may be direct, and may be properly called a compact sentence, where only the first conjunction is expressed.
As in my speculations I have endeavoured to extinguish passion and prejudice, I am still desirous of doing some good in this particular,
Here the word so is understood before I am, and the long pause as much required, as if so had been expressed; since it is here the sentence naturally divides into two correspondent and dependent parts.
That point, therefore, where the sense begins to form, or where the expectation begins to be answered, is the point which we must be the most careful to mark; as it is here the sentence naturally divides into its principal constructive parts, and it is here that in every sentence and member of a sentence the principal pause takes place.
RULE II. Every inverted period consists of two principal constructive parts, between which parts the greater pause must be inserted; these parts divide at that point where the latter part of the sentence begins to modify the former: in periods of this kind, the latter conjunction only is expressed, as in the example: Every one that speaks and reasons is a grammarian, and a logician, though he may be utterly unacquainted with the rules of grammar, or logick, as they are delivered in books and systems. If we invert this period, we shall find it susceptible of the two correspondent conjunctions though and yet; as, Though utterly unacquainted with the rules of grammar and logick, as delivered in books and systems, yet every man who speaks and rea