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Tityre, dum redeo (brevis est via) pasce capellas.
Translated the passage runs,
Oh Tityrus, until I return (the journey is but a short one) feed the goats.
A parenthesis is a note and ought only to be inserted in a sentence, when from its brevity, it does not distract the mind of the reader too long from the main proposition. Kett, in his Elements of General Literature, observes, that “the long parenthesis which so frequently occurs in the older [English] writers to the great embarrassment and perplexity of their meaning, has fallen much into disuse; and,” he adds, “that it is no where to be found in the writings of Johnson.”37
Not unfrequently but improperly, two comma-points are substituted for the parenthesis-points :-there may be parts of a sentence which partake partly of the nature of a comma, and partly of the nature of a parenthesis ; whenever there is a doubt, whether they should be marked with the one or the other of the points, the better plan will be to recast the words, and give them beyond question, the form of a comma or a parenthesis.
Sir James Burrow, approves of superadding colon and semi-colon points at the end of a parenthesis.
MORE PARTICULARLY OF THE PARATHESIS.
Sir James Burrow says that one special use of the parathesis is, “That when a Speaker is repeating, or a Writer citing the Words of another Person ; and finds that his adding a single Word, or two or three Words of his own, will be necessary or convenient towards ascertaining any equivocal Term or Expression, or clearing up any Doubt; he puts these added Words of his own, within a PARATHEBIS, if he is Writing, or lowers
the Trojan chief? wherefore am I by the fates forbidden ? Had not Pallas the power to burn the Argive Fleet ?
What is an interjection ? is it a fragment of one single word? or is it a member or a fragment of a sentence of many words? or is it merely a point? Instead of a long dissertation upon these questions, I will quote some phrases marked by Grammarians with the interjectionpoint, and leave my readers to form their own opinions upon the matter.
From the Port Royal Latin Grammar :
Oh what a country!
This note in its legitimate use, is expressive of astonishment, rapture, or lamentation, and other emotions of the mind; but it is often abused, and pressed by satirists and libellers into their service: one of these writers is afraid to speak out; yet he wishes to satirise or to libel a particular person; to effect this he uses words of courtesy; but he adds the dagger-like note of admiration :
The gallant admiral !
The learned civilian !!!
Upon another abuse of this note Blair says,—"it has become a fashion among some writers, to subjoin points of admiration to sentences, which contain nothing but simple affirmations or propositions; as if, by an affected method of pointing, they would transform them in the reader's mind into high figures of eloquence.39
This mark was at first called the break, and its primary use was to denote that a period had broken off abruptly:
I speak in the presence and fear of the Everlasting God, that my tongue is not my own for it is the Lord's, and to be disposed of according to his pleasure, and not to speak my own words; I have been so long in prison Then he was interrupted by the Judge. In this way was this mark used in 1662.
The Dash is classed by Lindley Murray among the points: according to him it may be legitimately used, where a significant pause is required,—where a sentence THE GENERAL CONCLUSION.
If any one yet clings to the notion that periods, colons, and semi-colons are points, and not members of periods, he is referred to the language of Cicero; “ what the Greeks call commas and colons, we call commata[commas] and [membra] members." 44 -Quinctilian distinctly says,
A member is contained within certain measures ; torn from the body it can effect nothing. Oh skilful men, is perfect; but, removed from the body, it has no strength, as a hand, foot, or head by itself: when then is the body (period) perfect, even when the conclusion is attained ?"45
Many writers have no other intention in using any points, than to mark certain pauses, and some masters even of authority, have condescended to teach, -" at a comma stop while you can count one,-at a semi-colon two,--at a colon three,-at a period four :"_looking at the imperfection of language, perhaps no better method can be found of teaching infants what pauses are; in the practice of grown up life such rules are of little or no value;
the proper length of the several pauses depending upon the nature of the work, and the style of the reader or speaker.
In this work, very little notice has been taken of the rules laid down by Grammarians for pointing ; this has been done under a conviction, that a knowledge of what a period is,—that a knowledge that colons, semi-colons, and interrogatives, are members of a complex period, — that a knowledge of what is a comma, a parenthesis, or a parathesis,-added to a knowledge of the uses of the note of interjection and the dash, will enable a writer, consistently, and correctly, to point his own work.
From the opinion of the ancient anonymous author, “if points be well used they make the sentence very light and easy to be understood, both to the reader and the hearer,”—not an iota ought to be abstracted;—but yet it may confidently be said, that if a sentence requires one point to make plain the author's meaning,-or if by pointing, it can be made to bear more meanings than one, it is a faulty sentence; any attempt to mend it can only be cobbling, and the only remedy is wholly to recast it :-"it was not,” said Augustus Matthæi, “until the great influx of strangers to Alexandria impaired the purity of the Greek Language, that the art of pointing became an object with the learned.” A sentence which absolutely requires points, in order to be understood, or by the use of different points, or by the use of the same points in different places, can be made to bear more than one meaning, is deserving of little more consideration than a common puzzle.46 Lord Kames remarks,“ that if it shall be thought that a defect in perspicuity is easily supplied by accurate punctuation, the answer is, that punctuation may remove a difficulty, but will never produce that peculiar beauty, which is perceived, when the sense comes out clearly and distinctly, by means of a happy arrangement.”'47 Punctuation may make, but can never, altogether remove, an ambiguity : it is often not only a question what point ought to be used, but where it ought to be used, and if such a question can be raised upon any sentence, it cannot but be an ambiguous one; a happier arrangement of the words, not an alteration in the pointing, can in such a case, be the only effectual remedy.48 The language of Blair