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XI.

LECT. of whofe genius, and manner of writing, betrays him frequently into inaccuracies of this fort. It is in the Introduction to his Idea of a Patriot King, where he writes thus: "It seems to me, that, in order to maintain "the fyftem of the world, at a certain point, "far below that of ideal perfection (for we "are made capable of conceiving what we "are incapable of attaining), but, however, "fufficient, upon the whole, to constitute a "state easy and happy, or at the worst, to"lerable; I fay, it feems to me, that the "Author of Nature has thought fit to mingle, " from time to time, among the focieties of men, a few, and but a few, of those on "whom he is graciously pleased to bestow a

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larger portion of the Ethereal Spirit, than " is given, in the ordinary course of his go"vernment, to the fons of men." A very bad Sentence this; into which, by the help of a Parenthesis, and other interjected circumftances, his Lordship had contrived to thrust fo many things that he is forced to begin the conftruction again with the phrafe I fay; which, whenever it occurs, may be always affumed as a fure mark of a clumfy ill-conftructed Sentence; excufable in fpeaking, where the greatest accuracy is not expected, but in polifhed writing, unpardonable.

I SHALL add only one rule more for the Unity of a Sentence, which is, to bring it

always

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XI.

always to a full and perfect clofe. Every thing LECT. that is one, fhould have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I need not take notice, that an unfinished Sentence is no Sentence at all, according to any grammatical rule. But very often we meet with Sentences, that are, fo to fpeak, more than finished. When we have arrived at what we expected was to be the conclufion, when we have come to the word on which the mind is naturally led, by what went before, to reft; unexpectedly, fome circumstance pops out, which ought to have been omitted, or to have been difpofed of elfewhere; but which is left lagging behind, like a tail adjected to the Sentence; fomewhat that, as Mr. Pope describes the Alexandrine line,

❝ Like a wounded fnake, drags its flow length along." All these adjections to the proper close, disfigure a Sentence extremely. They give it a lame ungraceful air, and, in particular, they break its Unity. Dean Swift, for instance, in his Letter to a Young Clergyman, speaking of Cicero's writings, expreffes himself thus: "With these writings young divines are "more converfant, than with those of De"mofthenes, who, by many degrees, excelled "the other; at least, as an orator." Here the natural clofe of the Sentence is at these words, "excelled the other." These words conclude the propofition; we look for no more; and

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XI.

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LECT. and the circumftance added, "at least, as an "orator," comes in with a very halting pace. How much more compact would the Sentence have been, if turned thus: "With these writ ings, young divines are more converfant " than with thofe of Demofthenes, who, by many degrees, as an orator at leaft, excelled "the other." In the following Sentence, from Sir William Temple, the adjection to the Sentence is altogether foreign to it. Speaking of Burnet's Theory of the Earth, and Fontenelle's Plurality of Worlds, "The first," fays he, "could not end his learned treatise, "without a panegyric of modern learning, in "comparison of the antient; and the other "falls fo grofsly into the cenfure. of the old "poetry, and preference of the new, that I "could not read either of thefe ftrains without fome indignation; which no quality among men is fo apt to raise in me as self"fufficiency." The word indignation," concluded the Sentence; the laft member, "which no quality among men is fo apt to

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raife in me as felf-fufficiency," is a propofition altogether new, added after the proper clofe.

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LECTURE XII.

STRUCTURE OF SENTENCES.

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XII.

AVING treated of Perfpicuity and LECT. Unity, as neceffary to be ftudied in the Structure of Sentences, I proceed to the third quality of a correct Sentence, which I termed Strength. By this, I mean, fuch a difpofition of the feveral words and members, as shall bring out the fenfe to the best advantage; as fhall render the impreffion, which the Period is defigned to make, most full and complete; and give every word, and every member, their due weight and force. The two former qualities of Perfpicuity and Unity, are, no doubt, abfolutely neceffary to the production of this effect; but more is ftill requifite. For a Sentence may be clear enough; it may also be compact enough, in all its parts, or have the requifite unity; and yet, by fome unfavourable circumftance in the ftructure, it may fail in that strength or liveliness of impreffion,

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LECT. which a more happy arrangement would have

XII.

produced.

THE first rule which I fhall give, for promoting the Strength of a Sentence, is, to divest it of all redundant words. These may, fometimes, be confiftent with a confiderable degree both of Clearnefs and Unity; but they are always enfeebling. They make the Sentence move along tardy and encumbered;

Eft brevitate opus, ut currat fententia, neu se
Impediat verbis, laffas onerantibus aures *.

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It is a general maxim, that any words, which
do not add fome importance to the meaning
of a Sentence, always fpoil it. They cannot
be fuperfluous, without being hurtful. "Ob-
"ftat," fays Quinctilian, "quicquid non
adjuvat." All that can be easily supplied
in the mind, is better left out in the expreffion.
Thus: "Content with deferving a triumph,
"he refused the honour of it," is better Lan-
guage than to fay, "Being content with de-
"ferving a triumph, he refufed the honour of
"it." I confider it, therefore, as one of the
most useful exercises of correction, upon re-
viewing what we have written or composed;
to contract that round-about method of ex-

*"Concife your diction, let your fense be clear,
"Nor, with a weight of words, fatigue the ear."
FRANCIS

preffion,

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