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"Or why so long (in life if long can be)
Parentheses, however, containing interrogations or exclamations, form an exception to this rule; as, "If I grant his request, (and who could refuse it ?) I shall secure his esteem and attachment.
APOSTROPHE AND QUOTATION.
The apostrophe is used to abbreviate a word, and also to mark the possessive case of a noun; as, "tis, for it is; tho', for though; o'er, for over;” “A man's poverty."'
A Quotation marks a sentence taken in the author's own language; as, "The proper study of mankind is man."
When an author represents a person as speaking, the language of that person should be designated by a quotation; as, At my coming in, he said, "You and the physician are come too late." A quotation contained within another, should be distinguished by two single commas; as, "Always remember this ancient maxim: 'Know thyself.""
DIRECTIONS FOR USING CAPITAL LETTERS.
It is proper to begin with a capital,
1. The first word of every sentence.
2. Proper names, the appellations of the Deity, &c.; as, "James, Cincinnati, the Andes, Huron ;" "God, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Supreme Being, Providence, the Holy Spirit."
3. Adjectives derived from proper names, the titles of books, nouns which are used as the subject of discourse, the pronoun I and the interjection O, and every line in poetry; as, "American, Grecian, English, French; Irving's Sketch Book, Percival's Poems; I write; Hear, O earth!"
POETRY is the language of passion, or of enlivened imagination. VERSIFICATION, in English, is the harmonious arrangement of a particular number and variety of accented and unaccented syllables, according to particular laws.
RHYME is the correspondence of the sound of the last syllable in one line, to the sound of the last syllable in another; as, "O'er the glad waters of the dark-blue sea,
"Our thoughts as boundless and our souls as free."
BLANK VERSE consists in poetical thoughts expressed in regular numbers, but without the correspondence of sound at the end of the lines which constitutes rhyme.
POETICAL FEET consist in a particular arrangement and connexion of a number of accented and unaccented syllables.
They are called feet, because it is by their aid that the voice, as it were, steps along through the verse in a measured pace.
All poetical feet consist either of two, or of three syllables; and are reducible to eight kinds; four of two syllables, and four of three, as follows:
A Trochee has the first syllable accented, and the last unac cented; as, Hateful, péttish:
Restless mortals tõōil för nought.
An Jambus has the first syllable unaccented, and the last accented; as, Bětray, consist:
The seas shall waste, the skies in smōke děcây.
A Dactyle has the first syllable accented, and the two latter unaccented; as, Labourer, póssible :
From the low pleasures of this fallen nature.
An Anapaest has the first two syllables unaccented, and the last accented; as, Contravéne, acquiésce:
At the close of the day when the hamlet is still.
A Spondee; as, The pale mōōn: a Pyrrhick; as, on the tall tree an Amphibrach; as, Delightful: a Tribrach; as, Numěrăblě.
GRAMMAR instructs us how to express our thoughts correctly: RHETORICK teaches us to express them with force and ele
The former is generally confined to the correct application of words in Constructing single sentences. The latter treats of the proper choice of words, of the happiest method of constructing sentences, of their most advanageous arrangement in forming a discourse, and of the various kinds and qualities of composition. The principles of rhetorick are principally based on those unfolded and illustrated in the science of grammar. Hence, an acquaintance with the latter, and, indeed, with the liberal arts, is a prerequisite to the study of rhetorick and belles-lettres.
It may be laid down as a maxim of eternal truth, that good sense is the foundation of all good writing. One who understands a subject well, will scarcely write ill upon it
Rhetorick, or the art of persuasion, requires in a writer, the union of good sense, and a lively and chaste imagination. It is, then, her province to teach him to embellish his thoughts with elegant and appropriate language, vivid imagery, and an agreeable variety of expression. It ought to be his aim,
"To mark the point where sense and dulness meet."
STYLE. PERSPICUITY AND PRECISION.
STYLE is the peculiar manner in which we express our conceptions by means of language. It is a picture of the ideas which rise in our minds, and of the order in which they are produced.
The qualities of a good style, may be ranked under two heads, perspicuity and ornament.
PERSPICUITY, which is considered the fundamental quality of a good style, claims attention, first, to single words and phrases; and, secondly, to the construction of sentences. When considered with respect to words and phrases, it requires these three qualities, purity, propriety, and precision.
Purity of language consists in the use of such words and such constructions as belong to the language which we speak, in opposition to words and phrases belonging to other languages, or which are obsolete or new-coined, or employed without proper authority.
Propriety is the choice of those words which the best usage has appropriated to the ideas which we intend to express by them. It implies their correct and judicious application, in opposition to low expressions, and to words and phrases which would be less significant of the ideas which we wish to convey. It is the union of purity and propriety, which renders style graceful and perspicuous.
Precision, from præcidere, to cut off, signifies retrenching all superfluities, and pruning the expression in such a manner as to exhibit neither more nor less than an exact copy of the ideas intended to be conveyed.
STRUCTURE OF SENTENCES.
A proper construction of sentences is of so great importance in every species of composition, that we cannot be too strict or minute in our attention to it.
Elegance of style requires us generally to avoid many short or long sentences in succession; a monotonous correspondence of one meraber, to another; and the commencing of a piece, section, or paragraph, with a long
The qualities most essential to a perfect sentence, are Unity Clearness, Strength, and Harmony.
UNITY is an indispensable property of a correct sentence. A sentence implies an arrangement of words in which only one proposition is expressed. It may, indeed, consist of parts; but these parts ought to be so closely bound together, as to make on the mind the impression, not of many objects, but of only In order to preserve this unity, the following rules may be
1. In the course of the sentence, the seene should be changed as little as possi
ble. In every sentence there is some leading or governing word, which, if possible, ought to be continued so from the beginning to the end of it. The following sentence is not constructed according to this rule: "After we came to anchor, they put me on shore, where I was saluted by all my friends, who received ine with the greatest kindness." In this sentence, though the objects are sufficiently connected, yet, by shifting so frequently the place and the person, the vessel, the shore, we, they, I, and who, they appear in so disunited a view, that the mind is led to wander for the sense. The sentence is restored to its proper unity by constructing it thus: "Having come to anchor, I was put on shore, where I was saluted by all my friends, who received me with the greatest kindness."
2. Never crowd into one sentence things which have so little connexion, that they would bear to be divided into two or more sentences. The violation of this rule produces so unfavourable an effect, that it is safer to err rather by too many short sentences, than by one that is overloaded and confused.
3. Avoid all unnecessary parentheses.
CLEARNESS. Ambiguity, which is opposed to clearness, may arise from a bad choice, or a bad arrangement of words.
A leading rule in the arrangement of sentences, is, that those words or members most nearly related, should be placed in the senrence as near to each other as possible, so as thereby to make their mutual relation clearly appear. This rule ought to be observed,
1. In the position of adverbs. "By greatness," says Mr. Addison, “I do not only mean the bulk of any single object, but the largeness of a whole view." The improper situation of the adverb only, in this sentence, renders it a limitation of the verb mean, whereas the author intended to have it qualify the phrase, a single object; thus, "By greatness, I do not mean the bulk of any single object only, but the largeness of a whole view."
2. In the position of phrases and members. "Are these designs which any man who is born a Briton, in any circumstances, in any situation, ought to be ashamed or afraid to avow?" Corrected: "Are these designs which any man who is born a Briton; ought to be ashamed or afraid, in any circumstances, in any situation, to avow?"
3. In the position of pronouns. The reference of a pronoun to its noun, should always be so clear that we cannot possibly mistake it: otherwise the noun ought to be repeated. "It is folly to pretend to arm ourselves against the accidents of life, by heaping up treasures, which nothing can protect us against but the good providence of our Heavenly Father." Which, in this sentence, grammatically refers to treasures; and this would convert the whole period into nonsense. The sentence should have been thus constructed, It is folly to pretend, by heaping up treasures, to arm ourselves against the accidents of life, against which nothing can protect us but the good providence of our Heavenly Father."
STRENGTH. By the strength of a sentence is meant such an arrangement of its several words and members, as exhibits the sense to the best advantage, and gives every word and member its due weight and force.
1. The first rule for promoting the strength of a sentence, is, to take from it all redundant words and members. Whatever can be easily supplied in the mind, should generally be omitted; thus, "Content with derserving a triumph, he refused the honour of it," is better than to say, "Being content with deserving a triumph," &c. "They returned back again to the same city from whence they came forth." If we expunge from this short sentence five words which are mere expletives, it will be much more neat and forcible; thus, They returned to the city whence they came." But we should be
cautious of pruning so closely as to give a hardness and dryness to the style. Some leaves must be left to shelter and adorn the fruit.
2. Particular attention to the use of copulaiives, relatives, and all the particles employed for transition and connexion, is required. In compositions of an elevated character, the relative should generally be inserted. An injudicious repetition of and enfeebles style; but when enumerating objects which we wish to have appear as distinct from each other as possible, it may be repeated with peculiar advantage; thus, "Such a man may fall a victim to power; but truth, and reason, and liberty, would fall with him."
3. Dispose of the capital word or words in that part of the sentence in which they will make the most striking impression.
4. Cause the members of a sentence to go on rising in their importance one above another. In a sentence of two members, the longer should generally be the concluding one.
5. Avoid concluding a sentence with an adverb, a preposition, or any inconsiderable word, unless it be emphatical.
6. Where two things are compared or contrasted with each other, a resemblance in the language and construction should be observed.
FIGURES OF SPEECH.
Figures of Speech may be described as that language which is prompted either by the imagination, or by the passions. They generally imply some departure from simplicity of expression; and exhibit ideas in a manner more vivid and impressive, than could be done by plain language. Figures have been commonly divided into two great classes; Figures of Words, and Fig ures of Thought.
Figures of Words are called Tropes, and consist in a word's being employed to signify something that is different from its original meaning; so that by altering the word, we destroy the figure.
When we say of a person, that he has a fine taste in wines, the word taste is used in its common, literal sense; but when we say, he has a fine taste for painting, poetry, or musick, we use the word figuratively. "A good man enjoys comfort in the midst of adversity," is simple language; but when it is said, "To the upright there ariseth light in darkness," the same sentiment is expressed in a figurative style, light is put in the place of comfort, and darkness is used to suggest the idea of adversity.
The following are the most important figures:
1. A METAPHOR is founded on the resemblance which one object bears to another; or, it is a comparison in an abridged form.
When I say of some great minister, "That he upholds the state like a pillar which supports the weight of a whole edifice," I fairly make a compar ison; but when I say of such a minister, "That he is the pilla of state," the word pillar becomes a metaphor. In the latter construction he comparison between the minister and a pillar, is made in the mine but it is expressed without any of the words that denote comparison.