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House disaster, yet she had evidently still sufficient to keep her in perfect comfort, and even luxury.” 1
“She wore a diamond pin in her hair which was bought in Paris.”
“ Under such circumstances, the poor woman, amid her cares, may be excused if she looked back a little wistfully at Lucilla going home all comfortable and independent and light-hearted, with no cares, nor anybody to go on at her, in her sealskin coat.” 8
“ And it was with this sense of certainty that she put on her bonnet and issued forth, though it snowed a little, and was a very wintry day, on Mr. Ashburton's behalf, to try her fortune in Grange Lane."
“In a few moments more, he was mounted on a fine powerful black horse, and followed by Sampson, on his road to London.” 1
“Though they (the Lords] have been very far from a uniformly sagacious assembly, take them all in all, yet the English people are certainly very unlikely to decide in favour of a constitutional revolution which would have made the very hair of the American conscript fathers stand on end more than a century ago, at its utter folly and rashness.” 6
“ Her slings and arrows, numerous as they were and outrageous, were directed against such petty objects, and the mischief was so quick in its aim and its operation, that, felt but not seen, it is scarcely possible to register the hits, or to describe the nature of the wounds.” 6
“Forty years ago, there was assuredly no spot of ground, out of Palestine, in all the round world, on which, if you knew, even but a little, the true course of that world's history, you saw with so much joyful reverence the dawn of morning, as at the foot of the Tower of Giotto." ;
1 William Graham: Chats with Jane Clermont The Nineteenth Century, November, 1893, p. 756.
2 American newspaper.
8 Mrs. Oliphant: Miss Marjoribanks, vol. ii. chap. xii. Tauchnitz edition.
4 Captain Marryat: The Children of the New Forest, chap. xxi.
“Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door; and the car. riage stopped at the small gate, which led by a short gravel walk to the house, amidst the nods and smiles of the whole party.”
Obliged to part with their effects at the lowest prices, the Jews sadly departed, amid the execrations of the people, and a bearing away little but their destitute wives and children, from the scenes of their birth and infancy."
“ The farce had now turned to tragedy which found swift completion in the total destruction of the colonists, who were massacred by the friends of the dead chief while at work in the field.” 4
“I ... found it [the manuscript of “Waverley "] again by mere accident among other waste papers in an old cabinet, the drawers of which I was rummaging, in order to accommodate a friend with some fishing tackle, after it had been mislaid for several years.”
“this was what the middle-aged married woman felt who had, as may be said, two men to carry on her shoulders, as she went anxiously down Grange Lane to conciliate Mrs. Centum, wrapping her shawl about her, and feeling the light snow melt beneath her feet, and the cold and discomfort go to her heart.” 6
In each of the following sentences a phrase or a clause has what is called a “squinting ” construction, that is, it looks two ways:
“ The smooth monotony of the leading religious topics, as man. aged by the French orators, under the treatment of Jeremy Taylor, receives at each turn of the sentence a new flexure.” 7
They attire themselves accordingly for what they may expect, and except for any native nobility in their air, in their heavy boots and sensible shooting suits, are scarcely to be distinguished from the keepers in attendance.” 8
1 Miss Austen: Pride and Prejudice, vol. i. chap. xxviii.
8 Mrs. Oliphant: Miss Marjoribanks, vol. ii. chap. xii. Tauchnitz edition.
7 De Quincey: Essay on Rhetoric. 8 The Pall Mall Budget (1875).
..“he then departed, to make himself still more interesting, in the midst of a heavy rain.” 1
“Owen, hovering betwixt his respect for his patron, and his love for the youth he had dandled on his knee in childhood, like the timorous, yet anxious ally of an invaded nation, endeavoured at every blunder I made to explain my no-meaning.” 3
“ The young mind, to which growth is as natural as it is to the young body, if it has any of that irrepressible, unconscious elasticity, which is the main characteristic of its divine remoteness from age, will never acquiesce in a limitation it sees.
Each of the following sentences is so badly constructed that a mere change in the position of a phrase or a clause will not remove the obscurity; to cure the difficulty the sentence must be recast:
“Except in dealing with foreign policy, Lord Beaconsfield has of all other subjects most thoroughly mastered the management of a party and the conduct of Parliamentary business.” 4
“ The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister's match which she had feared to encourage, as an exertion of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true!”5
Perhaps at some future time I may be inclined to give some of these dialogues to the world; for if she did not note them down at the time, I certainly did so as they came from her lips on return. ing each evening to my own abode, with the words fresh in my memory, and showed her the following day what I had written.” 6
“ There was not a soul to be seen in Grange Lane at that moment in the snow, which came on faster and faster, but one of
Miss Austen: Sense and Sensibility, vol. i. chap. ix. 3 Scott: Rob Roy, vol. i. chap. i. 8 E. F. Benson: The Rubicon, book ii. chap. iv. · The Saturday Review, Aug. 16,•1879, p. 191. 6 Miss Austen : Pride and Prejudice, vol. ii. chap. xix.
6 William Graham: Chats with Jane Clermont. The Nineteenth Century, November, 1893, p. 763.
Mr. Wentworth's (who at that time was new in St. Roque's) grey sisters, and another lady who was coming down, as quickly as Lucilla was going up, by the long line of garden-walls.” 1
“Observe,” says Blair, “ the arrangement of the following sen. tence in Lord Shaftesbury's Advice to an Author. He is speaking of modern poets, as compared with the ancient : • If, whilst they profess only? to please, they secretly advise, and give instruction, they may now, perhaps, as well as formerly, be esteemed, with justice, the best and most honourable among authors.' This is a well constructed sentence. It contains a great many circumstances and adverbs, necessary to qualify the meaning; only, secretly, as well, perhaps, now, with justice, formerly; yet these are placed with 80 much art, as neither to embarrass, nor 8 weaken the sentence; while that which is the capital object in it, viz., • Poets being justly esteemed the best and most honourable among authors,' comes out in the conclusion clear and detached, and possesses its proper place. See, now, what would have been the effect of a different arrangement. Suppose him to have placed the members of the sentence thus : • If, whilst they profess to please only, they advise and give instruction secretly, they may be esteemed the best and most honourable among authors, with justice, perhaps, now, as well as formerly. Here we have precisely the same words and the same sense : but, by means of the circumstances being so intermingled as to clog the capital words, the whole becomes perplexed, without grace, and without strength.” 4
The effect of putting subordinate words in obscure positions is to leave important words where they are “clear and disentangled from any other words that would clog them," 4 — a great advantage to clearness; for words so placed hold the attention. The advantage to force is still greater.
1 Mrs. Oliphant: Miss Marjoribanks, vol. ii. chap. xii Tauchnitz edition.
2 Is this, all things considered, the best place for only
words in em
FORCE requires that the most important word or words in a sentence - the "capital" words, as Blair calls them Important shall be put where they will make the strongphatic places est impression. That place will usually be either at the beginning or at the end. On this point no rules can be given; for the question is affected by many considerations, considerations drawn from the character of the sentence in hand, from its relations with other sentences in the paragraph, from the nature of the subjectmatter, and from the capacity of the persons addressed.
The application of the general principle which requires that important words shall be put in emphatic places is, Limitation on moreover, restricted by a grammatical limitaarrangement. tion upon the English arrangement as compared with the Latin. In a language like the Latin, in which the subject and the object of the verb are readily distinguished by their terminations, their relative positions may be changed at will; but in languages in which the subject and the object are, for the most part, the same in form, the order is always an important and sometimes a necessary means of distinguishing them.
In Latin, it is possible to arrange in six different ways, each with a meaning of its own, the three words signifying that Nero killed Agrippina: Nero interfecit Agrippinam; Agrippinam interfecit Nero; Nero Agrippinam interfecit; Agrippinam Nero interfecit; interfecit Nero Agrippinam; interfecit Agrippinam Nero. In English.