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was understood, at least as well by them as by us; meaning, that by them it was better understood. If this laft, as I make no doubt, was Dean Swift's own meaning, the ambiguity would have been avoided, and the fenfe ren-. dered independent of the manner of pronouncing, by arranging the words thus: "The Romans understood liberty as well, at "leaft, as we." The fact is, with respect to such adverbs, as, only, wholly, at least, and the reft of that tribe, that in common difcourse, the tone and emphasis we use in pronouncing them, generally ferves to fhow 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 fpeaks 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 circumftance is interposed in the middle of a Sentence, it fometimes requires attention how to place it, fo as to divest it of all ambiguity. For inftance; "Are these defigns" (fays Lord Bolingbroke, Differt. on Parties, Dedicat.) "Are thefe

defigns which any man, who is born a Bri"ton, in any circumftances, in any fituation,

"ought

LEC T.

XI.

XI.

LECT. ought to be ashamed or afraid to avow?" Here we are left at a lofs, whether thefe words, "in any circumftances, in any fituation," are connected with, "a man born in Britain, in "any circumftances, or fituation," or with that man's "avowing his defigns, in any circum"ftances, or fituation, into which he may be "brought?" If the latter, as feems most probable, was intended to be the meaning, the arrangement ought to have been conducted thus: "Are thefe defigns, which any man "who is born a Briton, ought to be ashamed or afraid, in any circumstances, in any fitua"tion, to avow?" But,

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THIRDLY, Still more attention is required to the proper difpofition of the relative pronouns, who, which, what, whofe, and of all those particles which exprefs the connection of the parts of Speech with one another. As all reafoning depends upon this connection, we cannot be too accurate and precife here. A small error may overcloud the meaning of the whole Sentence; and even, where the meaning is intelligible, yet where thefe relative particles are out of their proper place, we always find fomething awkward and disjointed in the Structure of the Sentence. Thus, in the Spectator, (No. 54.) "This kind of wit," fays Mr. Addifon," was very much in vogue among

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our countrymen, about an age or two ago, "who did not practise it for any oblique reafon, but purely for the fake of being witty." We are at no lofs about the meaning here; but the construction would evidently be mended by difpofing of the circumftance, "about "an age or two ago," in fuch a manner as not to separate the relative who, from its antecedent our countrymen; in this way: "About

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an age or two ago, this kind of wit was very "much in vogue among our countrymen, "who did not practise it for any oblique reafon, but purely for the fake 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 rifing and fetting of the fun, which is "wholly made up of thofe different ftains of light, that show themselves in clouds of a "different fituation." Which is here defigned to connect with the word fhow, as its antecedent; but it stands fo wide from it, that without a careful attention to the fenfe, we should be naturally led, by the rules of fyntax, to refer it to the rifing and fetting of the fun, or to the fun itself; and, hence, an indistinctnefs is thrown over the whole Sentence. The following paffage in bishop Sherlock's Sermons (Vol. II. Serm. 15.) is ftill more cenfurable: "It is folly to pretend to arm ourselves "against the accidents of life, by heaping up "treasures,

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LECT.
XI.

LEC T.
XI.

"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 "ec 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."

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Of the like nature is the following inaccuracy of Dean Swift's. He is recommending to young clergymen, to write their fermons fully and diftinctly. "Many," fays he, "act

fo directly contrary to this method, that, from a habit of faving 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 univerfity of faving time and paper,

they write in fo diminutive a manner." In another paffage, the fame author has left his meaning altogether uncertain, by misplacing

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XI.

a relative. It is in the conclufion of his letter LE CT. to a member of parliament, concerning the Sacramental Teft: "Thus I have fairly given (c 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 fecurely reckon." Now I afk, what it is he would have his correfpondent to reckon upon, securely? The natural conftruction leads to thefe words, "this "weighty affair." But, as it would be difficult to make any fenfe of this, it is more probable he meant that the majority of both houses might be fecurely reckoned upon; though certainly this meaning, as the words. are arranged, is obfcurely expreffed. The Sentence would be amended by arranging thus: "Thus, Sir, I have given you my own opinion, relating to this weighty affair, as "well as that of a great majority of both houfes "here; upon which I am confident you may fecurely reckon."

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SEVERAL other inftances might be given; but I reckon those which I have produced fufficient 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 fuch order as fhall moft clearly mark the relation of the feveral parts of the Sentence to one another; particularly,

that

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