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XI.

Plutarch, is ftill worfe: "Their march," fays LECT.
the Author, fpeaking of the Greeks under
Alexander," their march was through an
"uncultivated country, whofe favage inhabit-
"ants fared hardly, having no other riches
"than a breed of lean fheep, whofe flesh
" was rank and unfavoury, by reason of their
"continual feeding upon fea-fish." Here the
fcene is changed upon us again and again.
The march of the Greeks, the defcription of
the inhabitants through whofe country they
travelled, the account of their sheep, and the
cause of their fheep being ill tafted food,
form a jumble of objects, flightly related
to each other, which the reader cannot, with-
out much difficulty, comprehend under one
view.

THESE examples have been taken from sentences of no great length, yet over-crowded, Authors who deal in long sentences, are very apt to be faulty in this article. One need only open Lord Clarendon's Hiftory, to find examples every where. The long, involved, and intricate fentences of that Author, are the greatest blemish of his compofition; though in other refpects, as a Hiftorian, he has confiderable merit. In later, and more correct writers than Lord Clarendon, we find a period fometimes running out fo far, and comprehending fo many particulars, as to be more T3

properly

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XI.

LECT. properly a difcourfe than a fentence. Take, for an inftance, the following from Sir Wil liam Temple, in his Effay upon Poetry: "The ufual acceptation takes Profit and "Pleasure for two different things; and not "only calls the followers or votaries of them by the several names of Busy and Idle Men; "but diftinguishes the faculties of the mind,

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that are converfant about them, calling the " operations of the first, Wisdom; and of the "other, Wit; which is a Saxon word, used to "exprefs what the Spaniards and Italians call Ingenio, and the French, Efprit, both from "the Latin; though I think Wit more partiIcularly fignifies that of Poetry, as may oc"cur in Remarks on the Runic Language." When one arrives at the end of such a puzzled fentence, he is furprised to find himself got to fo great a distance from the object with which he at first fet out.

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LORD SHAFTSBURY, often betrayed into faults by his love of magnificence, fhall afford us the next example. It is in his Rhapsody, where he is defcribing the cold regions: "At

length," fays he, "the Sun approaching, "melts the fnow, fets longing men at liberty, " and affords them means and time to make "provision against the next return of Cold." This first fentence is correct enough; but he goes on: "It breaks the icy fetters of the

XI,

"main, where vast sea-monsters pierce through LECT. floating islands, with arms which can with"stand the crystal rock; whilst others, who " of themselves feem great as islands, are by "their bulk alone armed against all but Man, "whose fuperiority over creatures of such stu<< pendous fize and force, fhould make him "mindful of his privilege of Reason, and "force him humbly to adore the great Com"poser of these wondrous frames, and the Au"thor of his own fuperior wisdom." Nothing can be more unhappy or embarrassed than this fentence; the worle too, as it is intended to be defcriptive, where every thing fhould be clear. It forms no diftinct image whatever. The It, at the beginning, is ambiguous, whether it mean the Sun or the Cold. The object is changed three times in the fentence; beginning with the Sun, which breaks the icy fetters of the main; then the Seamonsters become the principal perfonages; and lastly, by a very unexpected transition, Man is brought into view, and receives a long and ferious admonition before the fentence. closes. I do not at present infist on the impropriety of such expreffions as, God's being the Compofer of Frames ; and the Sea-monfters having arms that withstand rocks. Shaftsbury's trength lay in reasoning and fentiment, more than in defcription; however much his defcriptions have been fometimes admired.

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LECT.
XI.

I SHALL only give one inftance more on this head, from Dean Swift; in his Propofal, too, for correcting the English Language: where, in place of a fentence, he has given a loose differtation upon feveral fubjects, Speaking of the progrefs of our language, after the time of Cromwell : "To this fucceeded," fays he," that licentioufnefs, which entered "with the Restoration, and, from infecting "our religion and morals, fell to corrupt our "language; which laft was not like to be "much improved by thofe, who at that time. "made up the court of King Charles the Se"cond; either fuch as had followed him in "his banishment, or who had been altogether "converfant in the dialect of these fanatic "times; or young men who had been edu"cated in the fame country: fo that the "Court, which used to be the standard of "correctness and propriety of speech, was

then, and I think has ever fince continued, "the worst school in England for that accom<< plishment; and fo will remain, till better "care be taken in the education of our nobi"lity, that they may fet out into the world "with fome foundation of literature, in order

to qualify them for patterns of politeness." How many different facts, reasonings, and obfervations, are here prefented to the mind at once! and yet fo linked together by the Author, that they all make parts of a sentence,

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XI.

which admits of no greater divifion in point- LE C T. ing, than a femicolon between any of its members? Having mentioned pointing, I shall here take notice, that it is in vain to propofe, by arbitrary punctuation, to amend the defects of a Sentence, to correct its ambiguity, or to prevent its confufion. For commas, colons, and points, do not make the proper divifions of thought; but only ferve to mark thofe which arife from the tenor of the Author's expreffion: and, therefore, they are proper or not, juft according as they correfpond to the natural divifions of the fenfe. When they are inferted in wrong places, they deserve, and will meet with, no regard.

I PROCEED to a third rule, for preferving the Unity of Sentences; which is, to keep clear of all Parentheses in the middle of them. On fome occafions, thefe may have a fpirited appearance; as prompted by a certain vivacity. of, thought, which can glance happily afide, as it is going along. But, for the most part, their effect is extremely bad; being a fort of wheels within wheels; fentences in the midst of fentences; the perplexed method of dispofing of fome thought, which a writer wants art to introduce in its proper place. It were needless to give many inftances, as they occur fo often among incorrect writers.. I fhall produce one from Lord Bolingbroke, the rapidity of

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