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second auxiliary and the participle: as, They have been badly treated;'or it may follow the whole phrase, as, ' They have been treated badly.'
434. With regard to position no adverb presents greater difficulties than only. There is no absolute rule to determine whether it should precede or follow the word which it qualifies. In common conversation, great latitude is allowed. When we say "I only spake three words,' most people understand 'I spake three words and no more;' though strictly the adverb qualifies the verb spake. Some critics would alter thus: “I spake only three words; ' but even then the position of only is ambiguous. Others would say, 'I spake three words only'; but that is rather formal, and there can be no doubt that, in ordinary conversation, most persons would say “I only spake three words.'
In composition, however, greater attention is required; although the best writers are not always free from fault. Dryden says:
Her body shaded with a slight cymarr,
Cymon and Iphigenia.
chosen, and then voluntarily continued. - Rambler,
No. 8. As the words stand, they imply that thoughts are nothing else or nothing more than criminal,' in the case supposed ; but the doctor meant, thoughts are criminal, only when they are first chosen, and then voluntarily continued.'
So this passage: "Think only of the past, as its remembrance gives you pleasure,' should be, ' Think of the past, only as its remembrance gives you pleasure.'
435. In the following sentence the adverb only, from its position, gives a turn to the meaning quite different from that which the author intended :
He had suffered the woodward only to use his discretion
in the distant woods. In the groves about his house he allowed no marking-iron but his own.-Gilpin, Forest Scenery.
As the words stand, they imply that "he had suffered the woodward' (or guardian of the wood), and no other person than the woodward, to use his discretion in the distant woods.' But from the context it is clear that he had suffered the woodward to use his discretion in the distant woods only.' The following arrangement would make the sentence plain :
It was in the distant woods only, that he suffered the
woodward to use his discretion. In the groves about his house he allowed no marking-iron but his
own. 436. Gibbon writes :
The province of Gaul seems, and indeed only seems, an
exception to this universal toleration. Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire, c. ii. On this, Mr. Harrison remarks (English Language, p. 337), as the passage stands, it means that Gaul was in reality no exception at all ; but that it only seemed an exception,
whereas Mr. Gibbon means that the sanguinary religious rites of the Gauls, under the Druids, were not tolerated by the Romans, and that the restraint imposed upon the exercise of those rites was the only exception to the toleration which the Roman world freely enjoyed.'
Mr. Harrison has quite mistaken the meaning. Gibbon intends to say that the exception was merely apparent and not real; for the Romans, while abolishing human sacrifices and suppressing the dangerous power of the Druids, allowed the priests themselves, their gods, and their altars, to subsist in peaceful obscurity till the final destruction of Paganism. The whole passage reads thus :
The province of Gaul seems, and indeed only seems, an
exception to this universal toleration. Under the specious pretext of abolishing human sacrifices, the emperors Tiberius and Claudius suppressed the dangerous power of the Druids ; but the priests themselves, their gods and their altars, subsisted in peaceful obscurity till the final destruction of Pagan
437. Again Gibbon writes :
Pestilence and famine contributed to fill up the measure
of the calamities of Rome. The first could be only imputed to the just indignation of the gods; but a monopoly of corn, supported by the riches and power of the minister, was considered as the immediate cause of the second.--Decline and Fall of the Ro
man Empire, c. iv... • According to this form of expression,' says Mr. Harrison, the pestilence could be imputed, and nothing more than imputed, to the just indignation of the gods; whereas Gibbon means to say that the pestilence could not be attributed to the wicked administration of Commodus, but solely and entirely to the just indignation of the gods; only to the just indignation of the gods.
Here there is no doubt of the meaning. The writer intends to say, that the pestilence could be imputed to the just indignation of the gods, and to that alone. No one would suppose that only is intended to qualify the word imputed; and where there is no possibility of mistake or ambiguity, we ought not to be too severe in our criticism. ..
438. We observe the following errors in the use of not only : Addison writes,
By greatness I do not only mean the bulk of any single
object, but the largeness of the whole view.
Spectator, No. 412. . Dr. Blair, Rhetoric, Lecture xxi., says that the author intended to refer only to the bulk of a single object;' and he corrects,
I do not mean the bulk of any single object only, but
the largeness of a whole view. 439. The adverbial phrase at least is often misplaced. Dr. Blair says,
To support this weighty argument, he enters into a con
troversy with A. Gellius, in order to prove that Aristotle's Rhetoric was not published, till after Demosthenes had spoken at least his most con
siderable orations.— Rhetoric, Lecture xxvi. • It is evident that the phrase at least is intended to qualify the words most considerable ;' and it would have been better to say, had spoken the most considerable at least of his orations.'
440. The inconsistent combination of adverbs should be carefully avoided ; for almost never it is better to say scarcely ever, or very seldom. Dr. Blair writes :
It produces that slow Alexandrian air, which is finely
suited to a close, and for this reason such lines almost never occur together, but are used in finish
ing the couplet.—Rhetoric, Lecture xxxviii. In the following passage we observe an unhappy combination and accumulation of adverbs :
How much soever the reformation of this corrupt and
degenerate age is almost utterly to be despaired of, we may yet have a more comfortable prospect of future times.—Tillotson, Preface to Sermon, 49.
441. A Conjunction, from the Latin con-junctio, signifies a joining together, and the term is applicd to a certain class of 'connective' words. It is agreed that a conjunction joins sentences together; but whether a conjunction may be said to join individual words together, is a disputed point.
- The early grammarians, says Sir John Stoddart (Universal Grammar, p. 159), included what we call conjunctions and prepositions under the general name of connective (ovvdeo uos). Subsequent writers, however, thought it would be convenient to separate these two classes of connectives. Hence, they gave to that which shows the relation of word to word the name of preposition; and to that which shows the relation of sentence to sentence the name of conjunction.
Harris expressly says (Hermes, ii. 2), the conjunction connects not words, but sentences ; ' and other grammarians have concluded that “a preposition connects words; a conjunction connects propositions.'
Horne Tooke objects, that there are cases in which the words, commonly called conjunctions, do not connect sentences, or show any relation between them : as, 'Two and two make four.' 'John and Jane are a handsome couple.' He asks does two make four ? Is John a couple ? See Diversions of Purley, i. 209, 210.
442. Again, in this sentence, “ All men are black or white,' we cannot say that it is compounded of · All men are black, or all men are white.' The meaning is not that all men are of one colour, but that, “If a man is not black, he is white; if he is not white, he is black.'
Sir John Stoddart's reply to this objection is not satisfactory. He contends that the conjunction varies the assertion, and does potentially, if not actually, combine different sentences. For example, in such a sentence as this : 'I bought a book for two and sixpence,' he argues that the purchaser did employ two shillings in buying, and he did employ sixpence in buying. So that if the meaning were fully developed, it would be, "I bought a book for two shillings and I bought a book for sixpence.
This is very far-fetched. Why, 'I bought the book for half-a-crown ;' and if we choose to call half-a-crown two and sixpence,' that does not divide one sentence into two.
But Sir John Stoddart is not quite satisfied with his own theory; for he adds:
'Nevertheless, if any one contend that the word and in the above sentences does simply and solely connect together the nouns, then we say it must in such cases be called a preposition; but this will in no degree alter its property or character as a conjunction, when it is really employed to connect sentences.' Universal Grammar, p. 160.
443. This suggestion, that under certain circumstances and must be called a preposition, may be contrasted with Mr. Cobbett's notion that with has sometimes the force of a conjunction. He thinks (Grammar, 246) that when with means along with, together with, in company with, it is nearly the same as and. Hence he would say, "He, with his brothers, are able to do much.' 'If,' says he, the pronoun be used instead of brothers, it will be in the objective case : “He, with them, are able to do much.” But this is no impediment to the including of the noun (represented by them) in the nominative. With, which is a preposition, takes the objective case after it; but if the persons, or things, represented by the words coming after the preposition, form part of the actors in a sentence, the understood nouns make part of the nominatives. “The bag,