Page images

4. I exposed myself so much among the people, that I had like to have gotten one or two broken heads. 5. He is very dexterous in smelling out the views and designs of others. 6. You may perceive, with half an eye, the difficulties to which such conduct will expose you. 7. This performance is much at one with the other. 8. Every year a new flower, in his judgment, beats all the old ones, though it is much inferior to them both in colour and shape. 9. His name must go down to posterity with distinguished honour in the public records of the nation. 10. If all men were exemplary in their conduct, things would soon take a new face, and religion receive a mighty encouragement. 11. Learning and arts were but then getting up. 12. It fell out unfortunately, that two of the principal persons fell out, and had a fatal quarrel. 13. Most of the hands were asleep in their berths, when the vessel shipped a sea that carried away our pinnace and binnacle. Our dead-lights were in, or we should have filled. The mainmast was so sprung, that we were obliged to fish it, and bear away for the nearest port.

II. Supply the words which are necessary to make the sense complete, in the following sentences:—

1. Let us consider the works of nature and art with proper attention. 2. He is engaged in a treatise on the interests of the soul and body. 3. Some productions of nature rise in value, according as they more or less resemble those of art. 4. The Latin tongue, in its purity, was never in this island. 5. For some centuries, there was a constant intercourse between France and England, by the dominions we possessed there, and the conquests we made. 6. He is impressed with a true sense of that function, when chosen from a regard to the interests of piety and virtue. 7. The wise and foolish, the virtuous and vile, the learned and ignorant, the temperate and profligate, must often, like the wheat and tares, be blended together.

III. Correct the improper use of the same word in different senses, in the following sentences:—

1. An eloquent speaker may give more, but cannot give more convincing arguments, than this plain man offered. 2. They were persons of very moderate intellects, even before they were impaired by their passions. 3. True wit is nature dressed to advantage; and yet some works have more wit than does them good. 4. The sharks, who prey on the inadvertency of young heirs, are more pardonable than those, who trespass upon the good opinion of those, who treat them with great confidence and respect. 5. Honour teaches us properly to respect ourselves, and to violate no right or privilege of our neighbour: it leads us to support the feeble, to relieve the distressed, and to scorn to be governed by degrading and injurious passions: and yet we see honour is the motive which urges the destroyer to take the life of his friend.

IV. Correct the equivocal or ambiguous expressions in the following sentences:—

1. When our friendship is considered, how is it possible that I should not grieve for his loss 2 2. The eagle killed the hen, and eat her in her own nest. 3. It may be justly said, that no laws are better than the English. 4. The pretenders to polish and refine the language have chiefly multiplied abuses and absurdities. 5. The adventurers, instead of reclaiming the natives from their uncultivated manners, were gradually assimilated to the ancient inhabitants, and degenerated from the customs of their own nation. 6. Solomon, the son of David, who built the temple of Jerusalem, was the richest monarch that reigned over the Jewish people. 7. The Divine Being heapeth favours on his servants, ever liberal and faithful.

V. Correct or omit such words and phrases, in the following sentences, as are unintelligible, inapplicable, or less significant than others, of the ideas which they are intended to express:—

1. I seldom see a noble building, or any great piece of magnificence and pomp, but I think, how little is all this to satisfy the ambition, or to fill the idea, of an immortal soul.

2. Yet when that flood in its own depth was drown'd,
It left behind it false and slipp'ry ground.

3. That man is not qualified for a bust, who has not a good deal of wit and vivacity, even in the ridiculous side of his character.

4. And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide.

5. No less than two hundred scholars have been educated in that school. 6. The attempt, however laudable, was found to be impracticable. 7. He is our mutual benefactor, and deserves our respect and obedience. 8. Vivacity is often promoted by presenting a sensible object to the mind, instead of an intelligible one. 9. The house is a cold one, for it has a north exposition. 10. The proposition for each of us to relinquish something was complied with, and produced a cordial reconcilement. 11. It is difficult for him to speak three sentences together. 12. The negligence of timely precaution was the cause of this great loss. 13. Disputing should be always so managed, as to remember the only end of it is truth. 14. We have enlarged our family and expenses, and increased our garden and fruit orchard. 15. By proper reflection, we may be taught to mend what is erroneous and defective. 16. The good man is not overcome by disappointment, when that which is mortal passes away, when that which is mutable dies, and when that which he knew to be transient begins to change.


Precision of style consists in using such words only, as are necessary to express distinctly the ideas which we mean to convey.

To attain precision of style, avoid—I. Superfluous expressions;–II. Tautology, or the unnecessary repetition of a word or an idea in the same sentence;— 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 designs, 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 2. The secretary left the place of trust he held under government, gave up his party, quitted his parents in affliction, and deserted 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 application 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 Demosthenes was the great difficulty in his designs. 11. He is master of a complete house, which has not one entire apartment.

« PreviousContinue »