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Of vivacity as depending on the arrangement of the words.
tin to write in periods than it is in English, or perhaps in any European tongue. The construction with them depended mostly on inflection; consequently the arrangement, which ascertains the character of the sentence in respect of composition, was very much in their own power; with us, on the contrary, the construction depends mostly on arrangement, which is therefore comparatively very little in our power. Accordingly, as the sense in every sentence hangs entirely on the verb, one ordinary way with them of keeping the sense suspended, was by reserving the verb to the end. This, in most cases, the structure of modern languages will not permit us to imitate. An example of a complex sentence, that is not a period, I shall produce from the same performance.. "One party had given "their whole attention, during several years, to the project of enriching themselves, and impoverishing "the rest of the nation; and, by these and other means, "of establishing their dominion, under the government, "and with the favour of a family who were foreigners, " and therefore might believe that they were establish"ed on the throne, by the good will and strength of
‹ à être instruit ; mais il ne faut pas que cet avantage inspire de l'or"gueil." "There is a real advantage in being instructed; but we "ought not to be proud of this advantage." He adds, Le mais 'raproche les deux propositions ou membres de la periode, et les
met en opposition.' "The but connects the two propositions or "members of the period, and sets them in opposition." (Des Conjonctions.) It is evident that the sentence adduced is no period n the sense of the ancients. Muda:
"this party alone." The criterion of such loose sentences is as follows: There will always be found in them one place at least before the end, at which, if you make a stop, the construction of the preceding part will render it a complete sentence. Thus in the example now given, whether you stop at the word themselves, at nation, at dominion, at government, or at foreigners, all which words are marked in the quo tation in Italics, you will find you have read a perfect
WHEREFORE, then, it may be asked, is this denominated one sentence, and not several? For this reason, that though the preceding words, when you have reached any of the stops above-mentioned, will make sense, and may be construed separately, the same cannot be said of the words which follow. In a period, the dependence of the members is reciprocal; in a loose sentence the former members have not a necessary dependence on the latter, whereas the latter depend entirely on the former. Indeed, if both former and latter members are, in respect of construction, alike independent on one another, they do not constitute one sentence, but two or more. And here I shall remark by the way, that it is by applying the observation just now made, and not always by the pointing, even where the laws of punctuation are most strictly observed, that we can discriminate sen
tences. When they are closely related in respect of sense, and when the sentences themselves are simple,
Of vivacity as depending on the arrangementof the words.
they are for the most part separated only by commas or by semicolons, rarely by colons, and almost never by points. In this way the passages above quoted from the song of Moses and the Psalms, are pointed in all our English Bibles.
BUT there is an intermediate sort of sentences which must not be altogether overlooked, though they are neither entirely loose, nor perfect periods. Of this sort is the following: " The other institution,” he is speaking of the eucharist, "has been so disguis"ed by ornament, || and so much directed in your "church at least, to a different purpose from comme"moration, that if the disciples were to assemble "at Easter in the chapel of his Holiness, Peter "would know his successor as little, as Christ "would acknowledge his vicar; and the rest "would be unable to guess || what the ceremony re"presented or intended *. This sentence may be distributed into four members. The first is complex, including two clauses, and ends at commemoration. The second is simple, ending at Holiness. It is evident that the sentence could not terminate at either of these places, or at any of the intermediate words. The third member is subdivided into two clauses, and ends at vicar. It is equally evident, that if the sentence had been concluded here, there would have been no defect in the construction. The fourth mem
*Bol. Phil. Es. iv, Sect. 7.
ber, which concludes the sentence, is also compound, and admits a subdivision into three clauses. At the word represented, which finishes the second clause, the sentence might have terminated. The two words which could have admitted a full stop after them, are distinguished by italics. Care hath also been taken to discriminate the members and the clauses. It may, however, justly be affirmed, that when the additional clause or clauses are, as in the preceding example, intimately connected with the foregoing words, the sentence may still be considered as a period, since it hath much the same effect. Perhaps some of the examples of periods to be produced in the sequel, if examined very critically, would fall under this denomination. But that is of little or no consequence.
ON comparing the two kinds of complex sentences together, to wit, the period and the loose sentence, we find that each hath its advantages and disadvantages. The former savours more of artifice and design, the latter seems more the result of pure Nature. The period is nevertheless more susceptible of vivacity and force; the loose sentence is apt, as it were, to languish, and grow tiresome. The first is more adapted to the style of the writer, the second to that of the speaker. But as that style is best, whether written or spoken, which hath a proper mixture of both; so there are some things in every species of discourse, which require a looser, and some which require a preciser manner. In general, the use of pe
Of vivacity as depending on the arrangement of the words.
riods best suits the dignity of the historian, the political writer, and the philosopher. The other manner more befits the facility which ought to predominate in essays, dialogues, familiar letters, and moral tales. These approach nearer the style of conversation, into which periods can very rarely find admittance. In some kinds of discourses intended to be pronounced, but not delivered to the public in writing, they may properly find a place in the exordium and narration, for thus far some allowance is made for preparation ; but are not so seasonable, unless very short, in the argumentative part, and the pathetic.
PART II....Observations on periods, and on the use of antithesis in the composition of sentences.
I now proceed to offer some observations on the period. It hath been affirmed to have more energy than a sentence loosely composed. The reason is this. The strength which is diffused through the latter, is in the former collected, as it were, into a single point. You defer the blow a little, but it is solely that you may bring it down with greater weight. But in order to avoid obscurity, as well as the display of art, rhetoricians have generally prescribed that a period should not consist of more than four members. For my own part, as members of sentences differ exceedingly both in length and in structure from one another, I do not see how any general rule can be established, to ascertain their number. A period con