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LECT. by a proper mixture of long and fhort Periods,) the ear is gratified, and a certain sprightliness is joined with majefty in our Style. "Non "femper," fays Cicero (defcribing, very expreffively, these two different kinds of Styles, of which I have been fpeaking), "non femper "utendum eft perpetuitate, & quafi conver "fione verborum; fed fæpe carpenda mem"bris minutioribus oratio eft *.”
THIS variety is of fo great confequence, that it must be ftudied, not only in the fucceffion of long and fhort Sentences, but in the ftructure of our Sentences also. A train of Sentences, conftructed in the fame manner, and with the fame number of members, whether long or short, should never be allowed to fucceed one another. However mufical each of them may be, it has a better effect to introduce even a difcord, than to cloy the ear with the repetition of fimilar founds: For, nothing is fo tiresome as perpetual uniformity. In this article of the conftruction and diftribution of his Sentences, Lord Shaftsbury has fhown great art. In the last Lecture, I obferved, that he is often guilty of facrificing precision of style to pomp of expreffion; and that there runs through his whole manner, a
* "It is not proper always to employ a continued train, "and a fort of regular compafs of phrafes; but style ought to be often broken down into fmaller members."
stiffness and affectation, which render him LECT
very unfit to be confidered as a general model. But, as his ear was fine, and as he was extremely attentive to every thing that is elegant, he has studied the proper intermixture of long and fhort Sentences, with variety and harmony in their structure, more than any other English author: and for this part of compofition he' deferves attention.
FROM these general obfervations, let us now descend to a more particular confideration of the qualities that are required to make a Sentence perfect. So much depends upon the proper conftruction of Sentences, that, in every fort of compofition, we cannot be too ftrict in our attentions to it. For, be the fubject what it will, if the Sentences be conftructed in a clumfy, perplexed, or feeble manner, it is impoffible that a work, compofed of fuch Sentences, can be read with pleasure, or even with profit. Whereas, by giving attention to the rules which relate to this part of style, we acquire the habit of expreffing ourselves with perfpicuity and ele-, gance; and if a diforder chance to arife in fome of our Sentences, we immediately fee where it lies, and are able to rectify it*.
*On the Structure of Sentences, the Antients appear to have bestowed a great deal of attention and care. The Treatife of Demetrius Phalereus, eg Egunvas, abounds S4 with
THE properties moft effential to a perfect Sentence, seem to me, the four following: 1. Clearness and Precifion. 2. Unity. 3. Strength. 4. Harmony. Each of these I fhall illustrate separately, and at fome length.
THE first is, Clearnefs and Precifion. The leaft failure here, the leaft degree of ambiguity, which leaves the mind in any fort of fufpenfe as to the meaning, ought to be avoided with the greatest care; nor is it fo eafy a matter to keep always clear of this, as one might, at first, imagine. Ambiguity arifes from two causes: either from a wrong choice of words, or a wrong collocation of them. Of the choice of words, as far as regards Perfpicuity, I treated fully in the last Lecture. Of the collocation of them, I am now to treat. The first thing to be ftudied here, is, to obferve exactly the rules of grammar, as far as these can guide us. But as the grammar of our Language is not extenfive, there
with observations upon the choice and collocation of words carried to fuch a degree of nicety, as would frequently feem to us minute. The Treatife of Dionyfius of Halicarnaffus, TEZI σurbeσEWS ovoμatwv, is more mafterly; but is chiefly confined to the mufical ftructure of Periods: a fubject, for which the Greek Language afforded much more affiftance to their writers, than our Tongue admits. On the arrangement of words, in English Sentences, the xviiith chapter of Lord Kaims's Elements of Criticism ought to be confulted; and alfo, the zd Volume of Dr. Campbell's Philofophy of Rhetoric,
may often be an ambiguous collocation of LECT.
FIRST, In the pofition of adverbs, which are used to qualify the fignification of fomething which either precedes or follows them, there is often a good deal of nicety. greatnefs," fays Mr. Addifon, in the Spectator, No. 412. "I do not only mean the bulk "of any fingle object, but the largenefs of a "whole view." Here the place of the adverb only, renders it a limitation of the following word, mean. "I do not only mean," question may then be put, What does he more than mean? Had he placed it after bulk,
LECT. ftill it would have been wrong. "I do not "mean the bulk only of any fingle object.” For we might then afk, What does he mean more than the bulk? Is it the colour? or any other property? Its proper place, undoubt edly, is, after the word object. By great"nefs, I do not mean the bulk of any fingle "object only;" for then, when we put the queftion, What more does he mean than the bulk of a fingle object? the answer comes out exactly as the author intends, and gives it; "The largenefs of a whole "view."-"Theifm," fays Lord Shaftsbury, "can only be oppofed to polytheism, or athe"ifm." Does he mean that theifm is capable of nothing elfe, except being oppofed to polytheism or atheism? This is what his words literally import, through the wrong colloca, tion of only. He fhould have faid, "Theifm
can be oppofed only to polytheism or atheifm."-In like manner, Dean Swift (Project for the Advancement of Religion), "The "Romans understood liberty, at leaft, as well " as we." Thefe words are capable of two different fenfes, according as the emphafis, in reading them, is laid upon liberty, or upon at leaft. In the firft cafe, they will fignify, that whatever other things we may understand better than the Romans, liberty, at leaft, was one thing which they understood as well as we. In the fecond cafe, they will import, that liberty