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order not al.
the only way in which these differences of meaning can be expressed is by a circumlocution. Thus we may fix attention upon the murderer by saying, “It was Nero who killed Agrippina :” in this sentence, the words “it was” are like a hand pointing to Nero. Again, we may fix attention on the person murdered by saying, “It was Agrippina whom Nero killed :” in this sentence, the hand points to Agrippina. Again, we may fix attention on the murder by saying, “For Nero's crime against Agrippina the only word is murder.”
A simple illustration like that just given is sufficient to show that the usua] English order — subject first, then verb, then object -- is not necessarily the nat- The usual ural or the logical order. In many cases, no ways the best. doubt, it is natural to put the grammatical subject first; but in other cases it is equally natural to begin with the predicate or with a part of the predicate. The homely proverb, “Nearest the heart, nearest the mouth,” dictates the arrangement of many sentences, whether in speech or in writing. For example:
“ Nov is your time.” “ Such a show I never saw before." “What a good ride we had I” “How glad I am to see you!” “Up he jumped." “ Down dropped the thermometer." “There goes the express ! “Not once was he defeated.” “ Last of all marched the Seventh Regiment.” “ Him they did n't care for.” Go he shall."
Between these examples from every-day conversation and the following from good authors, there is, as regards arrangement, no appreciable difference :
“ He had come there to speak to her, and speak to her he would.” 1
“ Her plan was to set the people by the ears talking, if talk they would."
“ Her it was his custom to visit early in the afternoon." 8
1 Anthony Trollope : Framley Parsonage, vol. i. chap. xvi. Tauchaitz edition.
2 Ibid., chap. xvii. 8 Ibid., vol. ii. chap. XV
“ Him Heaven had kneaded of much more potent stuff." I
“ How Gann and his family lived after their stroke of misfortune, I know not.” 2
“ On the wire window-blind of the parlour was written, in large characters, the word OFFICE; and here it was that Gann's services came into play.”3
“ Since I was man,
“Not in the legions
Before the gates there sat
“ Me only cruel immortality
« Out burst all with one accord.” 13
1 Carlyle : History of Frederick the Great, book i. chap. ii.
9 Ibid.: Geraint and Enid. 10 Ibid.: Maud.
11 Ibid. : The Charge of the Light Brigade. 13 Browning: Hervé Riel.
The fault of beginning a sentence with an expression which should occupy a subordinate position is frequently committed by inexperienced writers, and some- Weak begin times by writers of experience.
nings. “I think the delight that many people take in this game is an indication that the bloodthirsty sporting-instinct of our Roman ancestors is not killed, but only restrained by centuries of law, and by a sense of obligation to our fellow-men.” 1
In this sentence, the unimportant words “I think ” hold too prominent a position. A better arrangement is, “ The delight that many people take in this game is, I think, an indication,” etc. By this arrangement the important words are made prominent and the unimportant sink into a secondary position.
“ It is not probable, judging from all Asiatic history, that Abbas II. will content himself long merely with being sulky.” ?
In this sentence, the words “it is not probable” are of least importance. “Judging from all Asiatic history” should begin the sentence. Objectionable as weak beginnings are, weak endings are
In order to make an easy transition from what precedes, or to prepare the reader for what is
Weak endings. to follow, it may be necessary to begin a sentence with an unimportant expression; but it is seldom necessary to end one ineffectively. It may be desirable to lead up from a weak beginning; but it is rarely if ever desirable - in serious composition, at least - to lead down to a weak ending.
“Marshal Canrobert denies the report that he is about to publish his memoirs, much to the satisfaction of some people.” 8
In this sentence, the unimportant words“ much to the satisfaction of some people" make a weak ending. A more forcible arrangement is, “ Much to the satisfaction of some people, Marshal
i Student's theme.
Caprobert denies the report that he is about to publish his mo moirs," - an arrangement which places unimportant words at the beginning of the sentence in order to bring the important words to the end.
In each of the following examples, the italicized words should end the sentence:
“ He would offer it to him gently or give it to him little by little; but he could never be guilty of rudeness for a moment.” 1
“ The Queen of the Ansarey listened with deep and agitated attention to Tancred.” 2
“ The Indian view, that it would be possible to attack Russia at Herat, is one which seems to me still less tenable, even supposing that the Afghan tribes were friendly and anxious to provide us with supplies." 8
In each of the following examples, changes in phraseology are necessary in order to bring the italicized words to the end of the sentence:
“ Now and then a roar from an inner room announces that the lions and tigers are there if no one else is.” 4
“ There can be no doubt that our transport in India is still defective, although immense progress has been made since Sir Frederick Roberts has held command and been assisted in this matter by his late Quartermaster-General and by General Chesney.”
“ Upon inspecting this paper, Colonel Mannering instantly admitted it was his own composition, and afforded the strongest and most satisfactory evidence, that the possessor of it must necessarily be the young heir of Ellangowan, by avowing his having first appeared in that country in the character of an astrologer.” 6
Force, as well as clearness, may often be gained by ANTITHESIS,? — the setting over against each other of
1 Student's theme. 2 Disraeli: Tancred, book vi. chap. iii. 8 Sir Charles W. Dilke: Problems of Greater Britain, part iv. chap. i. American magazine.
5 British periodical. 6 Scott: Guy Mannering, vol. ii. chap. xxvii. 7 From årtitionue, set opposite.
contrasted or opposed ideas expressed in language that brings out the contrast most forcibly, word corresponding to word, clause to clause, construction to construction. The principle is the same as that which makes a white object appear whiter and a black one blacker if the two are placed side by side. For example: “ Measures, not men.” “ Words are the counters of wise
and the money of fools.” “ When reason is against a man, he will be against reason.” 1 “I do not live to eat, but eat to live." ; “* Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.” “A proverb is the wisdom of many and the wit of one.”
Here lies our good Edmund, 4 whose genius was such,
And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.” Examples of effective antithesis are given in the following passages :
“ Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.” 6
« « He says I don't understand my time. I understand it cer. tainly better than he, who can neither abolish himself as a nuisance por maintain himself as an institution.'”7
They work to pass, not to know; and outraged Science takes her revenge. They do pass, and they don't know.” 8
“ A man in the right relies easily on his rectitude, and therefore goes about unarmed. His very strength is his weakness. A man in the wrong knows that he must look to his weapons ; his very
1 Thomas Hobbes. • Edere oportet at vivas, non vivere nt edas. - Cicero: Ad Herennium. • Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.
4 Edmund Burke. • Goldsmith: Retaliation. This poem is full of antitheses. See also Pope and Dryden (passim).
2 Timothy ii. 9. ? Henry James : The Portrait of a Lady, chap. viii. 8 Huxley: Science and Culture; Universities Actual and Ideal.