« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
rity-to his authority. It is no derogation of his honour to his honour. It is consonant to our nature-with our nature.
Such niceties of appropriation may not be wholly disregarded; but liberty is better than slavish subjection to mere custom.
It is of some importance that the grammatic disciple should learn to disuse useless words and syllables. Upon and on are synonymous; and as the prefix up is useless, it should be discarded: thus, He came on horseback-not upon horseback. Along, together, &c., are often uselessly employed before with: John went along with James-better, John went with James. The ship together with her cargo was burned-The ship with her cargo was burned -or, The ship and her cargo were burned.
Wherever prepositions can be omitted without obscuring the meaning, composition is improved by the omission thus, He went last Monday-is better than, He went on last Monday. The rain has been falling a long time-is better than, The rain has been falling for a long time. He could not forbear expressing his displeasure-is better than, He could not forbear from expressing his displeasure, &c,
It is become a kind of rule, that whenever a present participle (i. e. a verb with ing affixed) has the before it, of should be placed after: thus, At the hearing of this intelligence-not, At the hearing this intelligence. But it would be better to omit both the and of: thus, "If the cares of Hampden had
been directed to the unfolding and guiding his dispositions." "Mallet, of the King's Bench, fell under the displeasure of the House of Lords for being privy to the preparing a petition." It would be better to omit the, (which is often as useless in composition as a mummy in a deliberative assembly,) and write, If the cares of Hampden had been directed to unfolding and guiding his disposition; better still, directed to unfold and guide his disposition. Mallet fell under displeasure-for being privy to preparing a petition; still better,-for being concerned in preparing a petition.
Such clumsy modes of expression might be easily avoided; but the and of are equally useless in such connexions. A good general rule is, to omit every word not necessary to express the meaning of a sentence; and to adopt such modes of construction as will enable the composer to express his meaning in the fewest words. Swerve from the path-is better than, Swerve out of the path-because, in the first sentence, one word (from) performs the office of two words (out of) in the last.
There is always a want of dignity in terminating sentences with such insignificant words as prepositions: Whom will you present it to? He is a poet I am much pleased with-better, To whom will you present it? He is a poet with whom I am much pleased-or still better, I am much pleased with him as a poet.
DIRECTIONS CONCERNING ADJECTIVES.
1. UNGRAMMATIC speakers and writers are apt to use adjectives instead of adverbs: thus, He walks bad for walks badly. He is miserable poor-for miserably poor. He acts agreeable to his instructions-for agreeably. He speaks his mind very free -freely. John went direct to the city-directly. James is steady employed steadily employed.
The rule is, to add ly to the adjective to express the manner of any action or quality: thus, He sleeps soundly-not He sleeps sound. They wait patiently -not patient. They stand peaceably (contr. of peaceablely)—not peaceable. He spoke forcibly (contr. of forciblely)-not forcible. He is evidently prejudiced-not evident.
There is an awkwardness in the double affix ly, which is better avoided: He lived soberly and godlily-better piously. He acted friendlily towards me-better kindly.
2. Double comparatives and superlatives should not be employed; such as, more stronger, more superior, most strongest, &c. More is equivalent to the affix er, and most to est; when, therefore, they are united there is manifest tautology.
3. Such adjectives as the following do not admit of comparative or superlative words and affixes, viz. Chief, Extreme, Perfect, Right, Universal, &c.
It is evidently illogical to say chiefest, extremest,
more perfect, most perfect, more right, most or more universal.
More and Most, or the affixes er and est, may be employed at pleasure; but the general practice is to use the form which is most agreeable to the ear: thus, more friendly, most friendly, in preference tofriendlier, friendliest.
4. According to the grammatists the comparative should be employed in reference to two objects: thus, John and James are of the same age, but James is the stronger of the two-not strongest. This rule, however, is not uniformly observed even by grammatic speakers, and it has some appearance of grammatic pedantry. There is, however, an evident propriety in using only the superlative in reference to three or more objects: Of the three brothers Robert is most learned.
The following expressions are faulty: Of all the nations of Europe our own has fewer imperfections -fewest. The representative form of government is the best of any; better thus: Of all forms of government the representative form is the best; or, the representative is the best of all the different forms of government; or simply, (certainly the best mode of expression,) the representative is the best form of government. The simplest and shortest mode of expression is the best of any: the two last words are wholly expletive.
REMARKS ON COMPOSITION.
THE reader must be aware that good composition and good grammar are not identical; that the last is, at best, only an accomplishment; and that the first is of the highest importance. There are two very different senses in which composition may be pronounced good, according as it is viewed in reference to logic or to rhetoric, i. e. as tried by sense or by taste. Concerning the last there is no wisdom in disputing; for it is as arbitrary as fashion. Persons, indeed, who wish to have an agreeable style, will not wholly disregard it; and they may read with advantage the writings of Blair and other rhetoricians. All who wish to have smooth diction will avoid, as much as possible, harsh words and combinations of words in sentences: all who value elegance of composition will avoid low words, phrases, and metaphors. Persons of rhetorical habitudes delight in eulogistic and dyslogistic phraseology; those of a logical determination prefer dyslogistic expression. It is believed that such persons, however different from one another, may consult, with some advantage, a preceding part of this Introduction. All we intend here, is to present a few remarks on composition, considered simply as a medium of meaning, or of mental intercommunication, i. e. as an interpreter of the understanding, without any reference to taste, considered as a distinct entity from sense..: