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XI.

was understood, at least as well by them as by LECT. us; meaning, that by them it was better understood. If this last, as I make no doubt, was Dean Swift's own meaning, the ambiguity would have been avoided, and the sense rendered independent of the manner of pronouncing, by arranging the words thus : " The Romans understood liberty as well, at « least, as we.” The fact is, with respect to such adverbs, as, only, wholly, at least, and the rest of that tribe, that in common discourse, the tone and emphasis we use in pronouncing them, generally serves to show their reference, and to make the meaning clear; and hence, we acquire a habit of throwing them in loosely in the course of a period. But, in writing, where a man speaks to the eye, and not to the ear, he ought to be more accurate; and fo to connect those adverbs with the words which they qualify, as to put his meaning out of doubt

upon

the first inspection.

Secondly, When a circumstance is interposed in the middle of a Sentence, it fometimes requires attention how to place it, so as to divest it of all ambiguity. For instance : " Are these designs” (says Lord Bolingbroke, Differt. on Parties, Dedicat.) « Are these

designs which any man, who is born a Briton, in any circumstances, in any situation,

« ought

XI.

LE C T. “ ought to be ashamed or afraid to avow ?”

Here we are left at a loss, whether these words, " in any circumstances, in any situation,are connected with, “ a man born in Britain, in

any circumstances, or situation,” or with that man's “ avowing his designs, in any circum“ ftances, or situation, into which he may be “ brought " If the latter, as seems most probable, was intended to be the meaning, the arrangement ought to have been conducted thus : " Are these designs, which any man “ who is born a Briton, ought to be ashamed “ or afraid, in any circumstances, in any fitua

cion, to avow?” But,

THIRDLY, Still more attention is required to the proper disposition of the relative pronouns, who, which, what, whose, and of all those

particles which express the connection of the parts of Speech with one another. As all reasoning depends upon this connection, we cannot be too accurate and precise here. A small error may overcloud the meaning of the whole Sentence; and even, where the meaning is intelligible, yet where these relative particles are out of their proper place, we always find something awkward and disjointed in the Structure of the Sentence. Thus, in the Spectator, (No. 54.) « This kind of wit,” says Mr. Addison, " was very much in vogue among

our

XI.

“ our countrymen, about an age or two ago, LE C T. " who did not practise it for any oblique rea 4 « son, but purely for the sake of being witty." We are at no loss about the meaning here; but the construction would evidently be mended by disposing of the circumstance, “ about

an age or two ago,” in such a manner as not to separate the relative who, from its antecedent our countrymen; in this way: “ About an age or two ago, this kind of wit was very “ much in vogue among our countrymen, "s who did not practise it for any oblique rea

son, but purely for the sake of being witty." Spectator, No. 412.

" We no where meet “ with a more glorious and pleasing show in

nature, than what appears in the heavens at “ the rising and setting of the sun, which is " wholly made up of those different stains of " light, that show themselves in clouds of a “ different situation.Which is here designed to connect with the word show, as its antece. dent; but it stands so wide from it, that without a careful attention to the sense, we should be naturally led, by the rules of syntax, to refer it to the rising and setting of the sun, or to the sun itself; and, hence, an indistinctness is thrown over the whole Sentence. The following passage in bishop Sherlock's Sermons (Vol. II. Serm. 15.) is still more censur. able: “ It is folly to pretend to arm ourselves " against the accidents of life, by heaping up

o treasures,

LE C T.

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" treasures, which nothing can protect us

against, but the good providence of our “ Heavenly Father.” Which, always refers grammatically to the immediately preceding - fubftantive, which here is, “ treasures ;” and this would make nonsense of the whole Period. Every one feels this impropriety. The Sentence ought to have stood thus : “ It is folly " to pretend, by heaping up treasures, to arm

ourselves against the accidents of life, which “ nothing can protect us against, but the good “providence of our Heavenly Father.”

Of the like nature is the following inaca curacy of Dean Swift's. He is recommending to young clergymen, to write their sermons fully and distinctly. Many,” says he, “ act " so directly contrary to this method, that, ** from a habit of saving time and paper, “ which they acquired at the university, they " write in fo diminutive a manner, that they " can hardly read what they have written." He certainly does not mean, that they had acquired time and paper at the university, but that they had acquired this habit there; and therefore his words ought to have run thus : « From a habit which they have acquired at - the university of saving time and paper,

they write in so diminutive a manner.' In another passage, the same author has left his meaning altogether uncertain, by misplacing

a re.

XI.

à relative. It is in the conclusion of his letter L ECT. to a member of parliament, concerning the Sacramental Test : « Thus I have fairly given

you, Sir, my own opinion, as well as that “ of a great majority of both houses here,

relating to this weighty affair ; upon which “I am confident you may securely reckon." Now I ask, what it is he would have his correspondent to reckon upon, securely? The natural construction leads to these words, “ this

weighty affair.” But, as it would be difficult to make any sense of this, it is more probable he meant that the majority of both houses might be securely reckoned upon ; though certainly this meaning, as the words atë arranged, is obscurely expressed. The Sentence would be amended by arranging thus: “ Thus, Sir, I have given you my own " opinion, relating to this weighty affair, as "s well as that of a great majority of both houses “ here ; upon which I am confident you may

securely reckon."

Several other instances might be given 3 but I reckon those which I have produced sufficient to make the rule understood ; that, in the construction of Sentences, one of the first things to be attended to, is, the marshalling of the words in such order as Mall molt clearly mark the relation of the several parts of the Sentence to one another; particularly,

that

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