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liberty is the rather taken, because Vossius allows that a period may be monocolonic, or consist only of one member.18 The words sentence and period are also treated in this work as being synonymous. 19

Dr. Valpy in his Elegantiæ Latinæ defines a period and gives instructions for its formation; of his chapter upon its structure, great use will be made.20

The word period is derived from the Greek; the Greek word being rendered, a period or perfect sentence, a circuit, a comprisal, a joining without interruption, a cycle, a return or revolution as that of a planet.21

The point denoting a sentence or period and that it has reached its close, is sometimes called a full-point, sometimes a full-stop, and sometimes a period.

The period, in English composition, may be thus described ;—its beginning and end are divided by one or more words; and although the beginning and the end are so divided, they are yet so connected, or have such a mutual dependence, that a reader or hearer, as he reads or listens, is aware, because he has not found those things expressed, which preceding words have led him to expect, that he has not arrived at the end.

A period is never perfect, when the mind of the reader or the hearer is brought to a rest at any part, before the period is actually ended.

Lucius Mummius destroyed Corinth. This is an example of a period of only one member : the mind cannot rest at either of the words Mummius or destroyed, without perceiving that the sense is not complete.

Lucius Mummius, because he was ignorant, destroyed Corinth. This is an example of a period with one fragment or comma;—the words, because he was ignorant, form a fragment, and this fragment by itself would convey no meaning ;--stop at the word ignorant, the mind makes not a rest, it looks for something more.

Lucius Mummius, because he was ignorant and illiterate, destroyed Corinth. The words and illiterate form another fragment.

If as much, as Alexander excelled other commanders in warlike bravery, he had surpassed them in the virtue of temperance, he would not more have commanded the veneration of posterity, than he did the love, the respect, and the subjection of his people. In this period, the mind having been prepared by the initiative phrase, if as much, to expect something more, it cannot come to a satisfied rest, until the word people has been attained.

The truth or beauty of a thing is sometimes better understood, nay even discovered, by contrast; therefore to make this matter of the period yet clearer, the difference between a perfect period and a loose period shall be set forth.

Lucius Mummius destroyed Corinth, because he was ignorant and illiterate.

This is a loose period; for when we have read or heard the word Corinth, the proposition is apparently complete; the mind is satisfied; there is not one preceding word, which intimates that the period was not finished, and before it can be proceeded with, the mind has to take up the subject a second time.

Dr. Whateley, now Archbishop of Dublin, in his work on rhetoric, describes a loose sentence, as follows ;—"a loose sentence is any, whose construction will allow of a stop, so as to form a perfect sentence at one or more places, before we


arrive at the end": he gives the following example of a very loose sentence ;

We came to our journey's end, at last, with no small difficulty, after much fatigue, through deep roads, and bad weather. In this example there are no less than five commas or fragments; at the end of any one of which the sentence might have terminated,—have satisfied the mind,-and yet have been grammatically correct. Loose sentences fatigue the mind: in one of them it once, twice, or thrice, comes to a rest; but behold! without any previous notice, again has it to take up the subject; and in a very loose sentence, over and over again. Now the quotation last before given, only wants a different arrangement of its commas or fragments (the very same words only being used) to make pleasant to the ear and mind that, which was before tiresome :

At last, after much fatigue, through deep roads, and in bad weather, we came, with no small difficulty to our journey's end. In this form, stop where you will, until you have reached the end, the sense is not complete and the mind cannot be satisfied.23

In stating what a period ought to be, there is no intention of asserting or recommending, that compositions in English should be framed only in exact periods ; the nature of our language, to some extent, forbids this : to write in periods was much easier in Greek and Latin than it is in English. On this head I cannot do better than give at length, a part of what Dr. Whateley says; —“Periods, or sentences nearly approaching to Periods, have certainly, when other things are equal, the advantage in point of Energy. An unexpected continuation of a sentence which the reader had supposed to be con


the relative pronouns, as partaking of the nature of conjunction. It is by these parts, less significant in themselves, that the more significant parts, particularly the members of complex sentences, are knit together. The frequent recurrence, therefore, of such feeble supplements, cannot fail to prove tiresome, especially in pieces wherein an enlivened and animated diction might naturally be expected. But no where hath simplicity in the expression a better effect in invigorating the sentiments, than in poetical description on interesting subjects. Consider the song composed by Moses, on occasion of the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, and you will find, that part of the effect produced by that noble hymn is justly imputable to the simple, the abrupt, the rapid manner adopted in the composition. I shall produce only two verses for a specimen. “The enemy said, I will pursue; I will overtake; I will divide the spoil; my revenge shall be satiated upon them: I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them; thou blewest with thy breath ; the sea covered them : they sank as lead in the mighty waters.” This is the figure which the Greek rhetoricians call asyndeton,26 and to which they ascribe a wonderful efficacy. It ought to be observed that the natural connexion of the particulars mentioned is both close and manifest; and it is this consideration which entirely supersedes the artificial signs of that conn

onnexion, such as conjunctions and relatives. Our translators (who, it must be acknowledged, are not often chargeable with this fault) have injured one passage in endeavouring to mend it. Literally rendered it stands thus : Thou sentest forth thy wrath : it consumed them as stubble. These two simple sentences have appeared to them too much de


tached. For this reason, they have injudiciously combined them into one complex sentence, by inserting the relative which, and thereby weakened the expression : “Thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.” They have also thought fit sometimes to add the conjunction and when it was not necessary,

and might well have been spared.

If any one perceives not the difference, and consequently, is not satisfied of the truth of this doctrine, let him make the following experiment on the song now under review. Let him transcribe it by himself, carefully inserting conjunctions and relatives, in every place which will admit them in a consistency with the sense, and then let him try the effect of the whole. If, after all, he is not convinced, I know no argument in nature that can'weigh with him. For this is one of those cases in which the decision of every man's own taste must be final with regard to himself.”:27

Although there has not been any intention in this essay, of trenching on the office of a rhetorician, any further than is necessary to elucidate the punctuation of sentences, it is suggested that in the formation of a sentence, the use of pronouns and other words of reference to other sentences, should as much as possible be avoided.

Perhaps to the arrangement or misarrangement of the members and fragments of periods and sentences, is it to be attributed, that we are pleased with some public speakers, and displeased with others :-two preachers shall have the very same ideas upon the very same subject, shall both use much the same words upon the same subject, and both shall actually convey their ideas to the minds of their hearers ; now one pleases us

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