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various ways in which the work can be done. But all do it. This part of composition entirely belongs to analysis. And, accordingly, the following pages are devoted to specimens of analysis. Passages from familiar writings have been taken. The main subject and predicate have first of all been extracted, then the clauses have been separated off and ticketed, and finally each sentence in full mapped out on paper, so that the eye can follow its connexion and decide on the grammatical power of the clauses. This dissection of sentences is absolutely necessary to give a learner, who has no time to spare for rote-work, any true knowledge of composition.
Every sentence in the world must be on the same main plan. Every sentence must have a subject and predicate.
Every expansion of a sentence must be by adding to the subject or the predicate.
It never happens that both the subject and predicate in a sentence are hard to analyse and separate into their parts. Therefore, when any difficulty is felt, separate off piece by piece what is easy and certain. This reduces the difficulty to a small compass; and a difficulty brought into a small compass generally ceases to be a difficulty. It is hard to find a needle in a bundle of hay, not hard to find it among a few blades.
Again, every sentence in its arrangement has two main objects in view, clearness and force.
Of these two, clearness seems to hold the first place, as without clearness there can be no force.
But clearness does not necessarily mean the easiest sentence to understand, as many seem to think.
If the idea to be conveyed is simple, then it does mean this. If the idea is many-sided, it does not of necessity mean this.
A clear writing is that writing which has all its parts in due order and proportion. Few ideas are so single as to need only a single word-stamp to express them. Most ideas are complex. And a clear sentence or paragraph will then be that sentence or paragraph which leaves on the mind the most perfect impression of the whole idea, with the parts in due order; not that sentence or sentences which keep putting parts as if each was a whole; so that another sentence and another of the same kind must follow before the whole is expressed; and when it is expressed it has been expressed in parts without connexion or graduation. In fact, sentences are little word-pictures; and just as a good picture is not made by painting all the parts side by side of the same size, so a good sentence is not made by putting each thing separately, as of equal importance. Short sentences therefore are clear and emphatic, fitted to make an impression in parts, and admirably adapted for lectures or lecture-writing, and also for an occasional concentration of the mind on striking and telling incidents; as, ‘Ridge fell, and no man died that night with more glory-yet many died, and there was much glory.' (Napier, Penins. War.)
On the other hand, short sentences continued are monotonous, hard to be remembered as a series, incapable of giving ideas in due proportion, or unfolding gradually and truthfully facts of a complicated character. All the great prose writers in ancient times wrote long sentences.
The ordinary structure of an English sentence requires the subject to stand first, as otherwise there is nothing to distinguish it, and for the same reason the words which are to be taken together must on the whole stand together. This interferes very much with the force of a sentence.
In languages which have changing word-forms that mark the use of a word, there is no difficulty in arranging the words according to their importance, as no grammatical confusion can arise, since the forms are a sort of uniform which tell at once where the words belong, and the general can at once distinguish his men wherever they are. The want of these forms in English makes it necessary, in
many instances, to put those words side by side which are to be taken together. This leads to a habit of doing so even when it is not necessary; and thus much freedom and power of expression is lost. Translators very often are ignorant of this; but a writing may be very intelligible and very good grammar, and yet go against the habits of the language to such an extent as to make it entirely wrong; wrong, that is to say, if in writing English it is wrong to put what no native of the country would write. On the other hand, a forcible and nervous style will hazard the putting important words and clauses early in the sentence for the sake of force, even though the easy flow that so charms the modern reader be somewhat lost by doing so.
A short summary of what has been stated amounts to thisThat to learn to be a first-rate composer requires much reading and discrimination. But that every one does compose, and with a little teaching may compose intelligently and well. I have attempted to show that truth should be the aim of every writer in his way of working. First, truth in the subject, by which is meant the special characteristics and inner lifemarks which make it specially what it is, and the having the parts in due order so that the whole unfolds according to the value and importance of each part. Next, truth in the mental eye, by which is meant an humble, impressible spirit, able to see and then to put forth what it sees. Then, truth in the language used, by which is meant some knowledge of the properties of the language itself as distinct from other languages, and also a thorough fitness in the words and way of using them, a fitness belonging to the subject and to the writer; for each subject and view ought to make its own outward shape, and each writer to be himself in his writings. And finally, the steps by which the educated mind arrives at this truth-power are the knowledge of common grammar, by which is meant the knowing how to fit together intelligently the speech-machine which each man daily works when he talks; and secondly, analysis and synthesis, by which is meant the power of separating into its component parts and examining separately and putting together again, either in the same or in a different shape, any thought that has taken to itself a word-body.
There is no reason why every living being that speaks should not understand the construction of his own speech, and be able to construct it himself with firmness and certainty either in speaking or writing. What every man hourly does, every man can be made to understand. The subject only requires a little patience, and most assuredly is worthy of it. No man can be above or below the knowledge of that speech-power which is peculiar to man, and in perpetual use.
It is supposed that the pupil is already familiar with wordforms and parts of speech, the construction of an ordinary sentence and simple analysis, from the first part of this work. Therefore the principal points only are recapitulated here.
No Sentence can be without a Subject and a Predicate, or Speech-clause, about the subject.
N.B. The Subject means the word or words spoken of by the Predicate; and has nothing to do with the main idea of the sentence necessarily, in the sense in which we commonly speak of the subject of a book, or a conversation. The main idea is generally in the predicate, whilst the subject is often an insignificant word, or a pronoun, or is left out altogether, and supplied in thought from the sentence before.
And the predicate is everything predicated, or spoken out, about the subject. In grammar, the verb with all its belongings is the predicate, or that which is spoken of the subject. Sometimes an adjective or participle with a tense of the verb "to be’ is the predicate; e. g. “Life is good.' Sometimes other auxiliaries are used; e. g. “The ground becomes fruitful.'
Nouns show by their form differences of Number, so do verbs. The verb, therefore, as it is to speak of its subject noun, must agree with it in number.
Verbs show by their form differences of Person. The verb, therefore, as it is to speak of its subject noun, must agree with it in person.
Nouns are said to be in a Case when they are joined with words which are not complete in sense without them; e. g. 'I strike.' What is struck ? "the ground.' In English there are two cases; the Objective Case, as 'ground,' in the example above; and the Possessive Case, as 'The friend's hat,' where the word 'friend's' shows by form its sense and place in the sentence. Verbs are divided into Intransitive and Transitive. In Intransitive verbs the sense is completed in the verb itself; as, 'flows,' —'water flows.' In Transitive verbs the sense passes across from the verb to some noun; as, 'gladdens,'—'water gladdens flowers.'
Prepositions, or Case-links, supply the want of formal cases : they are, as it were, loose case-forms, capable of being fastened to any noun to give it a fresh case-meaning. Prepositions are said to take a case after them.
Adjectives are joined to nouns to show the sort or quality of the noun; as, ' A good man.' In English, adjectives do not change their form.
Adverbs are joined to verbs principally, but also to adjectives and other adverbs, to show the sort or degree of the verb, adjective, or adverb; as, 'greatly loves.'
Participles are adjectives with the addition of the notion of time, and a power of taking a case.
Conjunctions join words, sentences, or parts of sentences; as, “The horse and dog.'
A Sentence, or Sentences, or part of a sentence, often stands as the name of one idea, i. e. as a noun; e. g. 'To see a smooth portly fellow of an adversary, that cared not a button for the merits of the question, with a provoking sneer carry the argument clean from him in the opinion of all the bystanders, who, &c.—hath moved our gall:'—where the subject is, from “To see' down to 'who, &c.;' and the whole stands for one noun, if a noun could be found to express it. Moreover, every clause in which there is a relative pronoun is a complete sentence, standing for a noun, or an adjective, or a participle, or an adverb. Every clause or part of a sentence beginning with a preposition also stands for an adjective, a participle, or an adverb. Many sentences are incomplete : the construction is sometimes very difficult to be discovered unless the part wanting is supplied.
The following pages give examples, first, of clauses which represent parts of speech, and afterwards of more extended analysis of sentences :