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• The soul, considered abstractedly from its passions, is of a remiss and sedentary nature, slow in its resolves, and languishing in its executions. .
Spectator, No. 255. The faculty (taste,) must in some degree be born with us, and it very often happens, that those who have other qualities in perfection are wholly void of this.
Ibid. No. 409. This therefore is a good office, (the planting of trees) which is suited to the meanest capacities, and which may be perform. ed by multitudes, who have not abilities to deserve well of their country, and recommend themselves to their posterity by any other method.
Ibid. No. 583.
In these last examples we may observe, that the first member, which is distinguished by a comma in most editions of the Spectator, is exactly under the same predicament with the member of the two former examples, which is marked with a semicolon ; and which is unquestionably the true method of pointing them : for though, in the compact sentence, where the sense is suspended till the whole is finished, the semicolon and colon have the rising inflection, as in examples, p. 74; yet, in the loose sentence, these points are generally accompanied by the falling inflection, as in the last examples : and it must be insisted on, that unless the line be drawn between such members as contain perfect, and suchas contain imperfect sense, the parts of a sentence cannot be pronounced to the best advantage ; if, by continuing the voice exactly in the same suspense, one thought is run into another which does not really belong to it, the sense must be injured ; and though the mind is often too well informed of the subject to be much at a loss for the sense, let the punctuation be what it will, yet it is impossible the sense of an author can be readily perceived in its full beauty, when it is obscured by an erroneous pronunciation of the sentence which conveys it.
But though sense is often, harmony is much more frequently, concerned in a proper use of this disjunc
tive inflection. The comma occurs so much oftener than any other pause, that it is highly important to harmonious delivery that it should not be introduced oftener than is necessary ; every good reader, therefore, will take frequent opportunities of changing the comma into the semicolon, as it is chiefly from not attending to this distinction that the common punctuation is so unfavourable to variety. And if the correctors of the press, who are generally very intelligent men, would but adopt this distinction of a period into a compact and loose sentence, and in the latter always place a semicolon, or colon, where the former part of the sentence forms perfect sense, and is not modified by the latter, it is inconceivable how many errours in reading might be avoided : it must be owned, indeed, that the difficulty of always precisely distinguishing between a member, which, by modifying the preceding member, is necessarily connected with it, and another, which only adds to what precedes, without modifying the sense, is no small extenuation of this common errour of printers ; but it is presumed, that our not being able to do it in difficult cases is no reason we should neglect it in obvi. ous ones, and these are sufficiently numerous to be of the utmost importance to our pronunciation. This will more evidently appear by the following rules, on the use of the falling inflection in the loose sentence.
Rule I. Every member of a sentence forming consistent sense, and followed by two other members which do not modify or restrain its signification, admits of the falling inflection.
In short, to cut off all cavilling against the ancients, and particularly those of the warmer climates, who have most heat and life in their imaginations, we are to consider that the rule of observing what the French cail the bienseance in an allusion, has been found out of later years, and in the colder regions of the world, where we would make some amends for our want of force, and spirit, by a scrupulous nicety and ex. actness in our compositions.
Spectator, No. 160. In this example we see the falling inflection at world very properly marked with a semicolon, though followed by the word where, which seems so intimately to connect them ; and which might be shown in a thousand similar passages, to induce our printers to mark these members with a comma only.
It is this that recommends variety, where the mind is every instant called off to something new, and the attention not suffered to dwell too long on any particular object.
Spectator, No. 412.
For this reason, there is nothing more enlivens à prospect than rivers, jetteaus, and falls of water, where the scene is perpetually shifting and entertaining the sight every moment with something that is new.
Ibid. No. 412. In these instances, though the word water in the last sentence, and the word variety in the preceding example, are marked with a comma only, precision, as well as harmony, require the falling inflection; the first member is a kind of text to the whole sentence and is not so closely connected with the succeeding members as these last are with each other; an occasional sense of the propriety of this distinction makes our printers sometimes point the first member of a similar sentence with the semicolon..
At a little distance from my friend's house, among the ruins of an old abbey, there is a long walk of aged èlms ; which are shot up so very high, that when one passes under them, the rooks and crows that rest upon the tops of them seem to be cawing in another region.
Spectator, No. 110.
Here the first member , is very properly pointed with a semicolon at elms, and the emphatick pause on this word gives a precision and variety to the whole
sentence ; but as an instance how little the generality of our punctuists are guided by the sense of the sentence, we need only produce the period which im. mediately follows :
I am very much delighted with this sort of noise, which I consider as a kind of natural prayer to that Being who supplies the wants of his whole creation, and who, in the beautiful language of the Psalms, feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
In these two last instances, the first part of each sentence is connected with the succeeding member by the relative which ; but as this word does not restrain but only explain and extend the meaning of the preceding member, the latter, like the former, ought to be marked with the semicolon, and pronounced with the falling inflection,
Cicero concludes his celebrated books de Oratore with some precepts for pronunciation and action ; without which part, he affirms, that the best orator in the world can never succeed, and an indifferent one who is master of this shall gain much greater applause.
Spect. No. 541.
In this instance we find the word action often pointa ed with a comma only, though it is certain that it ought to be pronounced with the falling inflection; for as the succeeding word without does not modify it, and as the next member necessarily requires the rising inflection at succeed, the falling inflection on the word action adds greatly to the precision and variety of the whole sentence.
When sentences have two parts corresponding with. each other, so as to form an antithesis, the first part must always terminate with the rising inflee,
We are always complaining our days are féw, and acting as though there should be no end of them. Spectator, No. 93.
I imagined that I was admitted into a long spacious gallery, which had one side covered with pieces, (f all the famous paint. ers who are now living ; and the other with the greatest masa, ters who are dead.
Ibid. No. 83.
· The wicked may indeed taste a malignant kind of pleasure, in those actions to which they are accustomed whilst in this life ; but when they are removed from all those objects which are here apt to gratify them, they will naturally become their own tormentors.
Ibid No 447. The pleasures of the imagination are not so gross as those of sense, nor so refined as those of the understanding. Ibid. No. 411.
In all these examples, the first part of every antithesis might form a perfect sentence by itself; but the mutual relation between the former and latter part, forms as necessary a connection between them as if the former part formed no sense by itself, and the latter part modified and restrained the sense of the former ; and therefore the word few, in the first example, the word sense in the second, the word living in the third, and the words this life in the fourth, must necessarily adopt the rising inflection. For the same reason, the same inflection must take place at the word succeed in the following example :
Cicero concludes his celebrated books de Oratore, with some precepts for pronunciation and action ; without which part, he affirms, that the best orator in the world can never succéed, and an indifferent one, who is master of this, shall gain much greater applause.
Spectator, No. 541.
. An exception to the foregoing rules forms another rule, which forbids us, without absolute necessity, to