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nouns of the period or member to be illustrated, are frequently and must sometimes be necessarily used : thence it follows, that every colon may be reduced to the form of a simple or monocolonic period, by converting its pronouns into the nouns they severally represent, and by repeating or supplying any word, which is not expressed, but only understood.
One criterion of a colon is, that it always has its own verb expressed or understood. 29
Example of a sentence of three members ;Geology has claims upon the regard of all cultivated and pious minds: it leads us to study that, which God has made our earthly abode, in its present state, filled with monuments of past conditions, and presages, I venture to think, of the future: it leads us into some acquaintance with a magnificent part of Jehovah's will, according to which he worketh all things.
The following is an example of a sentence consisting of five members, in the form of a climax ;
We can do nothing well till we act with one accord: we can have no accord in action till we agree together in heart: we cannot agree without a supernatural influence: we cannot have a supernatural influence unless we pray for it: we cannot pray acceptably without repentance and confession.
A mistake pointed out, sometimes teaches as much as a perfect work : the printer of William Cobbett's English Grammar, in the very sentence in which Cobbett professes to shew what a colon is, has placed a fullpoint, where a colon-point ought to have been inserted : this may be seen in the following extract;-"The colon which is written thus (:) is next to the full-point in requiring a complete sense to the words. It is indeed often used when the sense is complete, and there is something still behind, which tends to make the sense fuller or clearer :” now Mr. Cobbett's second period is a member, which tends to make the sense of the former fuller or clearer; therefore, according to Mr. Cobbett's own rule, it ought to have been divided from the former by a colon-point, or at least a semi-colonpoint, and not by a full-point.
MORE PARTICULARLY OF THE SEMI-COLON.
The semi-colon of English composition is only a variety of the colon : like that it has its own verb expressed or understood:-the distinction between them may be drawn as follows ;—the colon takes more nearly than the semi-colon the form of a period, and words of reference are more frequently used in the semi-colon, than in the colon.
The semi-colon appears in two forms: the first is this ; if one member contains a word or words, which lead the reader to expect another member, and another member, having a word or words of reference to the former does immediately follow, the latter member is a semi-colon.
The second form is, when one member is followed by another, and the latter means nothing or effects nothing, without calling in aid the preceding member, then the latter member is a semi-colon.
An example of the semi-colon in the first form will now follow ;
As the desire of approbation, when it works according to reason, improves a man in everything that is laudable ; so nothing is niore destructive to him, when he is governed by vanity and folly.
Examples of the semi-colon in the second form ;Under the general head of conversation for the improvement of the mind, we may rank the practice of disputing; that is, when two or more persons appear to have different sentiments, and maintain their own, or oppose the other's opinion, in alternate discourse, by some methods of argument.
Disputes may sometimes be successful to search out truth,--sometimes effectual to maintain truth and convince the mistaken ; but at other times a dispute is a mere scene of battle, in order to victory and vain triumph.
what is there said of Lowth and Campbell and the quotations from their works, might be added as illustrative members (colons) and marked with colon-points; but such a sentence would be found of inconvenient length and not readily intelligible; therefore the proposition is three times repeated, and to each repetition different illustrative members have been added.
The practice of marking colons with full points, leads to an inconvenience similar to that spoken of in note 6, in regard to modern versions of the Scriptures being divided into verses; viz., by this practice many passages are looked upon as distinct, when they ought to be considered as united; consequently the interpetration is likely to be injured.
Periods, colons, and semi-colons, having been debated at great length, what is a colon or semi-colon will be summed up in a general description :
:--a colon or semicolon is the more which cometh after, used only to illustrate what goeth immediately before; the more which cometh after and that which goeth before forming a period.30
In treating of the colon the object was to shew, that it is a member of a sentence; but it is not so with the comma : a comma is only a fragment of a sentence.
Comma is a Greek word which is variously translated; -segment; fragment; a slice; a piece cut off or cut out; part of a period; a short division of a period; a part of a member in a sentence; the smallest part or fragment of a sentence; a mark; a sign; the smallest part in music,31 Cicero says, what the Greeks called commas and colons, the Latins incorrectly termed incisa and membra.32
A comma may be thus defined ;-it is a fragment, consisting of one or more words, conveying by itself no intelligible idea to the mind, and generally may be removed from a sentence and the sentence remain sense.
The use of a comma is to qualify other words and phrases of the sentence, of which it is a fragment.
Vossius says, that with the ancient rhetoricians the comma was accounted an imperfect sentence, or a part of a period composed without a verb :33 if, in English composition, a rule can be laid down that a comma has not its verb, to such a rule there must be some exceptions.
As a further help to the student some rules upon the comma, mainly framed from what Bishop Lowth says upon
and what Lindley Murray says upon the comma-point, shall be given.
Two or more nouns occurring in the same construction, are severally commas and are usually pointed; as,
Reason, virtue, answer one great aim.
Two or more adjectives belonging to the same substantive, are likewise commas and are usually pointed; as,
Plain, honest truth. David was brave, wise, and pious. The most innocent pleasures are the sweetest, the most rational, the most affecting, and the most lasting.
Two or more verbs, having the same nominative case, are commas and are usually pointed ; as,
Virtue supports in adversity, moderates in prosperity.
clapping of hands, which accompany them, instead of adding to the honors and reputations, of some men, frequently make them, what is, indeed, sometimes, intended, by their companions, objects of fun: for folks call, upon them, for speeches, and replies, and the necessity, as some fancy, of saying something, the perplexity of not knowing what to say, and the anxiety of appearing learned, deep-read, or witty, are circumstances, which are capable of making, and have made, many a man, appear ridiculous: besides, these customs, are evil customs, because they, sometimes, give a blockhead, of many words, and little sense,
One, who strikes his breast, and slaps his thighs,
As, if he's stung, by gnats, or flies, with superficial listeners, particularly those of the fair sex, an advantage over men, of undoubted ability, to which these talking chaps, are not, justly, entitled.
The error of high pointing may be avoided by omitting to point some commas, or by pointing others only at one extremity : in short periods, 'which are so plain in themselves, that the several parts require no distinctive marks, confusion rather than perspicuity is produced, by the introduction of comma-points : confusion rather than perspicuity, is also produced in long sentences, where comma-points are unnecessarily thrust in. The difficulty with commas is not as to what is or what is not a comma, but whether they shall be marked at all, or only with one or two points.34
THE PARENTHESIS AND PARATHESIS.
MORE PARTICULARLY OF THE PARENTHESIS.
Parenthesis is taken from the Greek and signifies interposition.35 The Parenthesis is placed by Grammarians, as one of the five species of the figure of speech called Hyperbaton ; 36 the following is by some of them given as an example ;