« PreviousContinue »
III. The improper use of words, which, though commonly employed as synonymous, are really different in signification.
I. Omit the superfluous expressions in the following sentences :
1. This great politician desisted from, and renounced his de. signs, when he found them impracticable.
2. Though raised to an exalted station, she was a pattern of piety, virtue, and religion.
3. The human body may be divided into the head, trunk, limbs, and vitals.
4. His end soon approached, and he died with great courage and fortitude.
5. Poverty induces and cherishes dependence; and dependence strengthens and increases corruption.
6. There can be no regularity or order in the life and conduct of that man, who does not give and allot a due share of his time to retirement and reflection.
7. His cheerful, happy temper, remote from discontent, keeps up a kind of daylight in his mind, excludes every gloomy prospect, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
II. Correct the tautology in the following sentences :
1. The first day was spent in forming rules of order, and the second day was spent in presenting resolutions.
2. The birds were clad in their brightest plumage, and the trees were clad in their richest verdure.
3. The occurrence which the sentinel told the sergeant, he told the captain, who told it to the general.
4. Notwithstanding the rapidity with which time passes, men pass their lives in trifles and follies ; although reason and religion declare, that not a moment should pass without bringing something to pass.
5. He used to use many expressions not usually used, and which are not generally in use.
6. The writing which mankind first wrote, was first written on tables of stone.
7. Our expectations are frequently disappointed, because we
expect greater happiness from the future, than experience authorizes us to expect.
8. No learning that we have learned, is generally so dearly bought, or so valuable when it is bought, as that which we have learned in the school of experience.
9. The brightness of prosperity, shining on the anticipations of futurity, casts the shadows of adversity into the shade, and causes the prospects of the future to look bright.
III. Correct the following errors in the use of words commonly employed as synonymous:
1. Would you say that he is trust-worthy who has abandoned his friends, relinquished all hope of regaining their esteem, and forsaken even the pretension of being called an honest man ?
2. The secretary left the place of trust he held under government, gave up his party, quitted his parents in affliction, and de. serted the kingdom for ever.
3. I detest being in debt ; I abhor treachery.
4. The king is happy who is served by an industrious minister, ever active to promote his country's welfare, nor less sedulous to obtain intelligence of what is passing at other courts, than diligent to relieve the cares of his royal master, and assiduous to study the surest methods of extending the commerce of the empire abroad, while he lessens all burdens upon the subjects at home.
5. A patriot acknowledges his opposition to a corrupt ministry, and is applauded; a gentleman confesses his mistake, and is forgiven ; a prisoner avows the crime of which he stands accused, and is punished.
6. A hermit is severe in his life; a casuist rigorous in his appli. cation of religion or law; a judge austere in his sentences.
7. Buchanan's history is genuine; but there are some doubts regarding the authenticity of Ossian's poems.
8. The earl, being a man of extensive abilities, stored his mind with a variety of ideas ; which circumstance contributed to the successful exertion of his vigorous capacity.
9. By the habit of walking often in the streets, one acquires a custom of idleness.
10. Philip found an obstacle to managing the Athenians, on account of their natural dispositions ; but the eloquence of De. mosthenes was the great difficulty in his designs.
11. He is master of a complete house, which has not one entire apartment.
12. An honest man will refrain from employing an ambiguous expression; a confused man may often utter equivocal terms with. out design,
13. This man, on all occasions, treated his inferiors with great haughtiness and disdain.
14. Galileo discovered the telescope ; Harvey invented the cir. culation of the blood.
15. He is a child alone, having neither brother nor sister. 16. A man may be too vain to be proud.
17. The traveller observed the most striking objects he saw ; the general remarked all the motions of the enemy.
18. I am amazed at what is new or unexpected ; confounded at what is vast or great ; surprised at what is incomprehensible ; astonished by what is shocking or terrible.
19. He died with violence ; for he was killed by a sword.
20. A prudent man employs the most proper means for success; a wise man, the safest means to avoid being brought into danger.
CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF SENTENCES.
Write a critical examination of the following sentences, commenting particularly on the purity, propriety, and precision of the style:-
1. “Man, considered in himself, is a very helpless, and a very wretched being."
This sentence exhibits a very correct choice of words for expressing the ideas which the author means to convey. The first word, man,"
,” is an appellative for the human race, and is universally employed in this sense by the best authors. " Man considered in himself,” signifies, man as existing by himself, and unconnected with his fellow-creatures. In this state, says the author, he is “ a very helpless being.” The term “ helpless” denotes here, the want of power to succour himself : and surely it is evident that, if man were left to himself in infancy, he would perish; and if he were altogether detached from society in manhood, he could not procure for himself either the necessaries or the comforts of life.
considered in himself,” is not only a very helpless, but also “ a very wretched being."
The term wretched” is generally used as synonymous with unhappy or miserable ; but,
in this passage, it is more expressive of the meaning of the author, than either of these words would have been. Unhappy denotes merely the uneasiness of a man, who may be happy if he pleases ; as the discontented are unhappy, because they think others more prosperous than themselves.
Miserable is applied to persons whose minds are tormented by the stings of conscience, agitated by the violence of passion, or harassed by worldly vexations ; and, accordingly, we say that wicked men are miserable. But “wretched,” derived from the Saxon word for an exile, signifies literally, cast away or abandoned. Hence appears the proper application of the word in this sentence : for man, if abandoned to himself, might indeed exist in a solitary state without being either unhappy or miserable, provided his bodily wants were supplied ; though he certainly would be a very “ wretched” being, when deprived of all the comforts of social life, and all the endearments of friends and kindred.
2. “ Education is the most excellent endowment, as it enlarges the mind, promotes its powers, and renders man estimable in the eyes of society.”
This sentence, though it contains many pompous words, is a very remarkable example of the want of propriety in style. Education is not an “endowment;" for an endowment is a natural gift, as taste or imagination. Education does not "enlarge” the “mind;" though it may, in a figurative sense, enlarge its capaci. ties. Education cannot promote” ” the mental “ powers” them. selves ; but it may promote their improvement. Neither does it follow, that, because a man has improved his mind by education, he is on that account “estirnable ;" for esteem is produced only by intrinsic worth ; but a man may be rendered more respectable by a good education. The sentiment which the author intended to convey should have been expressed thus: “Education is the most excellent attainment, as it enlarges the capacities of the mind, promotes their improvement, and renders a man respectable in the eyes of society.”
EXERCISES. 1. The great end of prudence is to give cheerfulness to those hours, which splendour cannot gild, and acclamation cannot exhil. arate,
2. To dread no eye, and to suspect no tongue, prerogative of innocence; an exemption granted only to invariable virtue.
3. Arbitrary power I look upon as a greater evil than anarchy itself, as much as a savage is in a happier state than a slave at the
4. Whoever is in the least acquainted with Grecian history must know that their legislator, by the severity of his institutions, formed the Spartans into a robust, hardy, valiant nation, made for war.
CLEARNESS IN THE STRUCTURE OF SENTENCES.
Clearness in the structure of sentences consists in a perspicuous arrangement of the words and members.
To attain clearness of style, avoid ambiguity-1. In the position of adverbs ;-II. In the position of clauses and circumstances ;-—III. In the position or the too frequent repetition of pronouns.
I. Correct the errors in the position of adverbs, in the following sentences :
1. The works of art receive a great advantage from the resemblance which they have to those of nature, because here the simili. tude is not only pleasant, but the pattern is perfect.
2. By doing the same thing it often becomes habitual. 3. Not to exasperate him, I only spoke a few words.
4. Sixtus the Fourth was, if I mistake not, a great collector of books at least.
5. We do those things frequently, which we repent of after. wards.
* These examples and exercises, and those which follow under Section IX., have been introduced, to show how the Teacher may best lead his Pupils to attend minutely to style, whether for the purpose of acquiring what is excellent, or avoiding what is faulty. He may prescribe similar exercises, when suitable passages occur in the books which his Pupils are perusing.