Imágenes de páginas

Dids to Self-Culturr.

THE ART OF READING.-PUNCTUATION. PAUSES are generally divided into the comma (,), semicolon (;), colon (:), and period (.). Besides these, are the notes of interrogation (?) and admiration (!), (or, as it is better named, the note of exclamation,) the parenthesis ( ), and the dash (-).

It is generally understood, that punctuation is the art of pointing, in writing and printing. By pointing is meant, separating the different parts of a sentence or paragraph, so as to make the sense, at once, apparent. The notion that they are to indicate pauses in reading, is true only to an extent: they do so, but not so completely as a good reader would require. Any one, trusting entirely to their guidance, will find himself sometimes at a loss. Thus, supposing the following sentence given, which is not an exaggerated case,—how difficult it would be to read it with ease.

“A violent and insatiable desire of inflicting unmerited injury upon a harmless and unoffending class of people can proceed from none but malicious and unprincipled natures.”

This specimen is perfectly fair; as no point could properly be inserted: and yet few people would like to have many such to read off, without pausing to take breath.

A good reader, or one who understands why he reads in a certain manner, scarcely needs the half of the ordinary points, not that they are no help, rather otherwise; but still they are subsidiary.

Many writers consider them as hints for the modulation of the voice; but this can be said only of the notes of interrogation, exclamation, parenthesis—and dash (which is sometimes only another kind of parenthesis).

It is no uncommon error to assert, that the pauses or points, all have a settled, definite length or time allotted them; like the minim, crotchet, quaver, &c., in music: but this is an error of so grave importance, that we wonld hope that all who have any desire to hear good readers in the place of bad ones, -really strong, energetic and yet graceful readers, take the place of miserable halting, stilted stump orators, will aid in disabusing the minds of others on this matter. Imagine the following passage read on this principle; namely, of counting “one” to a comma, “two” to a semicolon, “ three” to a colon, and “ four” to a period.

“This round of green, ('one') this orb of fame, ('one',

Fantastic beauty ; ('one, two') such as lurks
In some wild poet, ('one') when he works

Without a conscience or an aim." ( one, two, three, four.') We think any one will see the absurdity of it at once. The best readers make very little difference in the time of the pauses, in simple narratives, but in dramatic compositions, or in poetry generally, there is a difference, caused not by the printer's marks, but by the thought or feeling there expressed. It is quite possible to pause as long at a comma as at a period, or vice versa; or to pause as long where there is no point at all, and still preserve the sense and the beauty of the passage. Taste, alone, must determine the time or duration of the pause equally with the length of sound given to a word or a syllable. So that we begin by making the duration of all pauses indefinite; the sense of the author's com

[ocr errors]

position, and the judgment of the reader, must determine. Taste and exercise will prevent mistakes. The signs used by printers and good writers, should be taken more as helps to distinguish the principal, from the minor, clauses of a sentence, than as places of rest. Thus, in reading the following—“There is no blessing of life comparable to the enjoyment of a discreet and virtuous friend. It eases and unloads the mind, clears and improves the understanding, engenders thought and knowledge, animates virtue and good resolutions, and finds employment for the most vacant hours of life,"—it is very desirable to have the different clauses separated by marks; so as to be enabled to take into the eye and mind, complete sentences or thoughts, at once. The above sentence will show the principle we advocate as to the duration of the pause; as it will be seen that a semicolon might just as well be placed after each sentence as a comma, and yet nu greater pause be made. “ It eases and unloads the mind; clears and improves the understanding; engenders thought and knowledge; animates virtue and good resolutions; and finds employment for the most vacant hours of life.”

It will readily be granted, we think, that no one would care to pause at the close of each separate part, longer than he might count “one,” even though they are divided by semicolons.

The first general principle of punctuation is, that a sentence, having but one subject or nominative, and one finite verb, requires no point.

Example.—"Nature showers her blessings upon all.”

Here “Nature" is the nominative case to the verb “ showers; "—consequently, no point is required between them;--and no point could possibly be admitted between “showers" and“ her blessings," as it will at once be perceived that the active verb and the objective should not be separated; and “her blessings” must not be separated, as it would be contrary to rule and to common sense, to separate the noun or the verb and the word which immediately qualifies either. No one would think of pausing, in speaking or reading, between the two. Again, as the preposition “upon” might also be called a postposition, inasmuch as it connects the two parts of the sentence, and shows the relation of “ showers" with "allo (people understood), no point can be admitted either before or after it.

Example 2nd.—“How beautifully the ship divides the waves."

The exception to the above general rule is, when a new verb is added to the sentence, and thereby makes it compound, or when a sentence is inserted as a parenthesis. Examples (a).

Her gentle limbs she did undress,

And lay down in her loveliness." “ God wills it, was Peter's watchword.”

" Old histories tell us, that the great Charlemagne stamped his edicts with the hilt of his sword.*

(6). “ Nature, the kindest of parents, showers her blessings upon all.”

" Hoffman says, in one of his note books, that on the eleventh of March, at half-past eight o'clock precisely, he was an ass.”

It will be seen that in the examples (a) new verbs, or sentences, are introduced; and

* This may be taken as the first instance, on recor), of signing with the steel pen.

[ocr errors]

therefore, the points are used to divide the sentences into their natural and principal parts. In the examples (6) the sentences are used parenthetically; and therefore, the points are used to separate them from the principal sentence; so that we might write the two last sentences thus:

Nature, (the kindest of parents,) showers her blessings upon all." “Hoffman says, (in one of his note books,) that on the eleventh of March, (at half-past eight o'clock precisely,) he was an ass.

The next general rule is, that as many subjects, verbs (except infinitives), adjectives belonging to nouns, expressed or implied, or adverbs belonging to verbs, &c., so many points (except onet) must there be. Examples.

1. “ All warlike spirits have not the same fate.

Semiramis, the glorious parent of
A hundred kings, although she failed in India,
Brought Persia, Media, Bactria to the realm

Which she once swayed.”
2. “My sole resources, in the path I trod,

Were these, my bark, my sword, my love, my God!
Or if we reverse the latter we shall find the same rule still true:--

“My God, my love, my sword, my bark, thesef were
My sole resources, in the path I trod.”
3. “And the silken, sad, uncertain

Rustling of each purple curtain." Here there is a point after“ silken” and “ sad;" but not after “uncertain," as it “immediately qualifies” the verbal noun “rustling.”

4. “What this grim, ungainly, ghastly,

Gaunt and ominous bird of yore,

Meant in croaking, 'Never more.'”. 5. Deep into that darkness peering,

Long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dreamed before."
When only two subjects, verbs or adjectives, are united by a conjunction they require no

1. “ Gaunt AND ominous bird of yore."
2. For the rare and radiant maiden."
3. From grief and groan to a golden throne."
4. That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee." • Reader! dost thou keep a' note book "?

+ The reason of this exception is explained earlier in this article, in the sentence—“It would be contrary to rule and to common sense, to separate the noun, or the verb, and the word which immediately qualifies it."

* "These" is equal to a noun, as it means the whole, the sum.

It scarcely needs to be observed, that the points already spoken of are commas merely.

When a sentence requires to be divided into two principal sections, each of which, or one of which, is again divisible, by a comma, into minor parts; a semicolon should be used.

1. “For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling-my darling—my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea,

In her tomb by the sounding sea.” It will be at once obvious, to the most ordinary capacity, that there is generally a greater separation between the parts which require a semicolon, than between those which require only a comma: so that, the sense of what is written must, in most instances, be the guide. Perhaps the following will show it more clearly.

2. “ The bronze figures seemed alive; a white cloud rose from the flame; and spread itself through the chamber, whose four walls dilated into magnificent cloud vistas; a fragrance, as of wild flowers, filled the air; music, like distant, sweet-chiming bells, announced the approach of the midnight divinity.”

We think little need be said on the last sentence, as it is so obvious that there is a greater separation of the sense of the sentence at the words “ alive," "vistas," and“ air, than at any other place. It, perhaps, is worth pointing out that the commas at“ music" and“ bells” show the intervening clause to be parenthetic; and that at“ distant” separates the two adjectives,“ distant” and “sweet-chiming." When a sentence requires higher pointing than is provided for by either of the foregoing

of rules,—when the sentence may be divided into two equal parts, each of which, or one which, is again divisible by a semicolon;-that is, when the sense of the parts seems 50 far divided as to require a greater separation than a semicolon would indicate, and yet where a period would be too great, the colon should be used.


" Ay! the count
· Of mighty poets is made up; the scroll

Is folded by the muses; the bright roll
Is in Apollo's hand: our dazed eyes
Have seen a new tinge in the western skies:
The world has done its duty.”
2. “Maid of Athens, I am gone:

Think of me sweet, when alone.
Tho' I fly to Istambol,*
Athens holds my heart and soul:

* Constantinople.

Can I cease to love thee? no!

Ζώη μου, σας αγαπώ.** In this verse (“Maid of Athens”) the sentences which are separated by colons (and necessarily so) do not contain others, divided by semicolons: so that they rather form an exception; nevertheless, it is easily conceived, by the sense of the lines, that they require such pointing.

When a sentence is complete, and excites no expectation of anything to follow, or when that which follows does not form an integral part of that which goes before, a period or full stop is requisite.

Examples. 1. “I dislike an eye that twinkles like a star.”

2.“ Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear, and with a manly heart.”

3. " And thou must sail upon this sea, a long

Eventful voyage. The wise may suffer wreck,
The foolish must. Oh, then, be early wise.”

Pronounced, Zoë mõõ, sås ăgăpā,—“My life, I love thee !



EPISCOPACY.--ARTICLE III. BEFORE our Episcopalian compeers can our friend" Rolla's” liberality, were he Prime conclude their battle fairly, it is necessary Minister of an English Republic, and can to clear the ground of a few irrelevancies. only hope we should be beyond reach. We And first, we venture to remonstrate upon trust the Episcopalian reader will have the the tone of some of the articles – - a tone forbearance, and the Congregationalist the which seems to be the consequence of giving discretion, to forget his article, and we the question a more vital character than the appeal especially to the latter not to give a nature of the evidence and the relative posi- tacit sanction to such fearful language'as tion of the subject in the Christian system the quotations on pages 253, 254. appear to justify. It is a question of church Here, however, we find ourselves thus early government, and no more entitled to rank in a position it is necessary to defend. Is with questions of doctrine than that of the the question thus secondary in importance? respective merits of monarchy and republic- As Christians, we justify ourselves by the anism with the principles by which either affirmation that church government is not so should be regulated. But one will have it, defined in Holy Writ that it must be followed, Ecclesia est in Episcopo;" another that his or so described that it can be said to be enreaders " can have no hesitation in pronounc- joined. As Churchmen, by the spirit of ing” for Presbytery; a third, that the Con- 'Art. xxxiv. (Catholic-minded Nonconformists gregationalist alone is “guiltless of schism." attack their best friends when they attack Nor

are the advocates of free thought by any the articles), “ It is not necessary that tradimeans the least dogmatic. We tremble for tions and ceremonies be in all places one

« AnteriorContinuar »