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Unity in the structure of a sentence consists in making one leading thought connect its different parts.
To attain unity in the structure of sentences, avoid— I. Changing the scene or actor during the course of a sentence;—II. Crowding into one sentence things which have so little connexion, that they may be divided into two or more sentences;–III. All unnecessary parentheses;–IV. Extending a sentence beyond what seems its natural close.
I. Correct the errors arising from the change of the scene or actor, in the following sentences:—
1. A short time after this injury, he came to himself; and the next day they put him on board a ship, which conveyed him first to Corinth, and thence to the Island of Egina.
2. The Britons, daily harassed by cruel inroads from the Picts,
were forced to call in the Saxons for their defence; who consequently reduced the greater part of the island to their own power, drove the Britons into the most remote and mountainous parts; and the rest of the country, in customs, religion, and languages, became wholly Saxon.
3. By eagerness of temper, and precipitancy of indulgence, men forfeit all the advantages which patience would have procured; and, by these means, the opposite evils are incurred to their full extent.
4. All the precautions of prudence, moderation, and condescension, which Eumenes employed, were incapable of mollifying the hearts of these barbarians, and of extinguishing their jealousy; and he must have renounced the virtue and merit which occasioned it, to have been capable of appeasing them.
5. He who performs every employment in its due place and season, suffers no part of time to escape without profit; and thus his days become multiplied, and much of life is enjoyed in little space.
6. Desire of pleasure ushers in temptation, and the growth of disorderly passions is forwarded.
II. Correct such errors, in the following passages, as arise from crowding into one sentence things which have no intimate connexion:—
1. The notions of Lord Sunderland were always good; but he was a man of great expense.
2. Cato died in the full vigour of life, under fifty; he was naturally warm and affectionate in his temper; comprehensive, impartial, and strongly possessed with the love of mankind.
3. In this uneasy state, both of his public and private life, Cicero was oppressed by a new and deep affliction, the death of his beloved daughter Tullia; which happened soon after her divorce from Dolabella, whose manners and humours were entirely disagreeable to her.
4. The sun approaching melts the snow, and breaks the icy fetters of the main, when vast sea-monsters pierce through floating islands, with arms that can withstand the crystal rock; whilst others, that of themselves seem great as islands, are by their bulk alone armed against all but man, whose superiority over creatures of such size and force, should make him mindful of his privilege of reason, and force him humbly to adore the great composer of these wondrous frames, and the author of his own superior wisdom.
5. I single him out among the moderns, because he had the foolish presumption to censure Tacitus, and to write history himself; and your lordship will forgive this short excursion in honour of a favourite author.
6. Boast not thyself of to-morrow ; thou knowest not what a day may bring forth: and, for the same reason, despair not of tomorrow ; for it may bring forth good as well as evil; which is a ground for not vexing thyself with imaginary fears; for the impending black cloud, which is regarded with so much dread, may pass by harmless: or though it should discharge the storm, yet before it breaks, thou mayest be lodged in that lowly mansion which no storms ever touch.
III. Correct the errors in the use of parentheses, in the following sentences:—
1. Disappointments will often happen to the best and wisest men (not through any imprudence of theirs, nor even through the malice or ill design of others; but merely in consequence of some of those cross incidents of life which could not be foreseen,) and sometimes to the wisest and best concerted plans.
2. Without some degree of patience exercised under injuries, (as offences and retaliations would succeed to one another in endless train,) human life would be rendered a state of perpetual hostility. 3. Never delay till to-morrow, (for to-morrow is not yours; and though you should live to enjoy it, you must not overload it with a burden not its own,) what reason and conscience tell you ought to be performed to-day. 4. We must not imagine that there is in true religion any thing which overcasts the mind with sullen gloom and melancholy austerity, (for false ideas may be entertained of religion, as false and imperfect conceptions of virtue have often prevailed in the world,) or which derogates from that esteem which men are generally disposed to yield to exemplary virtues. 5. It was an ancient tradition, that when the capitol was founded by one of the Roman kings, the god Terminus (who presided over boundaries, and was represented according to the fashion of that age by a large stone) alone, among all the inferior deities, refused to yield his place to Jupiter himself.
IV. Correct such errors, in the following passages, as arise from extending the sentences beyond what seems their natural close:—
1. Religious instruction could never be appointed to give such empty, insignificant delight as this: nor doth it in the least attain its proper end, unless it influences men to forget the preacher, and think of themselves; unless it raises in them, not a superficial complacency, or an idle admiration, but an awful solicitude about their eternal welfare, and that a durable one.
2. The first could not end his learned treatise without a panegyric on modern learning and knowledge in comparison of the ancient; and the other falls so grossly into the censure of the old poetry, and preference of the new, that I could not read either of these strains without indignation, which no quality among men is so apt to raise in me as sufficiency, the worst composition out of the pride and ignorance of mankind.
3. All the world acknowledges the AEneid to be most perfect in its kind; and, considering the disadvantage of the language, and the severity of the Roman Muse, the poem is still more wonderful; since, without the liberty of the Grecian poets, the diction is so great and noble, so clear, so forcible, and expressive, so chaste and pure, that even all the strength and compass of the Greek tongue, joined to Homer's fire, cannot give us stronger and clearer ideas than the great Virgil has set before our eyes; some few instances excepted, in which Homer, through the force of genius, has excelled.
4. Whether we may run such length, as to assert that every creature has some concern in every dispensation that happens, there is no occasion to examine; but our idea of infinite goodness warrants us to suppose, that the course of nature or fortune could not be altered in any particular, without a loss of happiness somewhere or other; and this supposition will necessarily infer an intercourse of interests between the known world and the unknown.
5. Here it was often found of absolute necessity to inflame or cool the passions of the audience; especially at Rome, where Tully spoke, and with whose writings young divines (I mean those among them who read old authors) are more conversant than with those of Demosthenes; who, by many degrees, excelled the other; at least as an orator.
Strength in the structure of a sentence consists in such a disposition of its several words and members, as may give each of them its due weight and force.
To attain strength in the structure of sentences—I. Divest them of all redundant words and members ;II. Attend particularly to the use of copulatives, relatives, and all the particles employed in transition and connexion;–III. Place the most important words in the situation, in which they will make the strongest impression;—IV. Avoid, as much as possible, placing a weaker assertion or proposition after a stronger one ; —V. Never conclude a sentence with an inconsiderable word ;-VI. In the members of a sentence where two objects are either compared or contrasted, preserve some resemblance in the language and construction.
I. Divest the following sentences of all redundant words and members:—
1. Suspend your censure so long, till your judgment on the subject can be wisely formed. 2. I look upon it as my duty, so far as I am enabled, and so long as I keep within the bounds of truth, of duty, and of decency. 3. How many are there by whom these tidings of good news were never heard | 4. He says nothing of it himself, and I am not disposed to travel into the regions of conjecture, but to relate a narrative of facts. 5. Never did Atticus succeed better in gaining the universal love and esteem of all men. 6. This is so clear a proposition, that I might rest the whole argument entirely upon it. 7. I intend to make use of these words in the thread of my fol. lowing speculations, that the reader may conceive rightly what is the subject upon which I proceed. 8. These points have been illustrated in so plain and evident a manner, that the perusal of the book has given me pleasure and satisfaction. 9. I was much moved on this occasion, and went home full of a great many serious reflections. 10. This measure may afford some profit, and furnish some amusement. ll. Less capacity is required for this business, but more time is necessary. 12. The combatants encountered each other with such rage, that, being eager only to assail, and thoughtless of making any defence, they both fell dead upon the field together. 13. Thought and language act and react upon each other mutually. 14. It is impossible for us to behold the divine works with coldness or indifference, or to survey so many beauties, without a secret satisfaction and complacency. 15. Neither is there any condition of life more honourable in the sight of the Divine Being than another, otherwise he would be a respecter of persons, which he assures us he is not. G.