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in Sterne himself; in this case, I say, it may be reckoned among one of the greatest abuses of modern orthography.
Sterne's dashing may be called a species of rhetorical punctuation ; but the dash may and ought to be used grammatically, when there is such an order of the words as to induce the reader to run the sense of one member into another, from which it ought to be separated.
After the Prince of Orange had got possession of the government of England Scotland and Ireland remained still to be settled.
Macpherson's History of England.
The punctuation of the eye, and that of the ear, being thus at variance, and the latter being the principal object of this essay, it may not be useless to attempt to give a general idea of the principles of that punctuation which really exists in correct and elegant speaking, but which has hitherto been left entirely to the taste and judgment of the reader..
Theory of Rhetorical Punctuation,
. It may be observed, that pausing is regulated by two circumstances; one is, conveying ideas distinctly by separating such as are distinct, and uniting such as are associated ; the other is, forming the words that convey these ideas into such classes, or portions, as may be forcibly and easily pronounced ; for this reason, when the words, from their signification, re. quire to be distinctly pointed out, that is, to convey objects distinguished from each other, however fre. quent and pumerous the pauses may be, they are
necessary ; but if words connected in sense, continue to a greater extent than can be easily pronounced together, and at the same time have no such distinct parts as immediately suggest where we ought to pause, the only rule that can be given is, not to separate such words as are more united than those that we do not separate.
But it may be demanded, how shall we know the several degrees of union between words, so as to enable us to divide them properly ? - To this it may be answered, that all words may be distinguished into those that modify, and those that are modified* : the words that are modified are the nominative, and the verb it governs ; every other word may be said to be a modifier of these words : the noun and verb being thus distinguished from every other, may be one reason, that, when modified, they so readily admit a pause between them ; because words that are separately modified may be presumed to be more separable from each other than the words that modify and the words modified. The modifying words are themselves modified by other words, and thus become divisible into superior and subordinate classes, each class being composed of words more united among themselves than the several classes are with each other. Thus in the sentence, The passion for praise produces excellent effects in women of sense the noun passion, and the verb produces, with their several adjuncts, form the two principal portions, or classes, of words in this sentence ; and between these classes a pause is more readily admitted than between any other words : if the latter class may be thought too long to be pronounced without a pause, we may more easily place one at effects than between any other words ; because, though produces is mod. ified by every one of the succeeding words, taken
* Buffier Grammaire, p. 60
all together, yet it is more immediately modified by excellent effects, as this portion is also modified by in women of sense ; all the words of which phrase are more immediately modified by the succeeding words than the preceding phrase, produces excellent effects, is by them.
But what, it may be said, is the principle of unity among these classes; and by what marks are we to judge that words belong rather to one class than to another ? To this it may be answered, that the modifying and the modified words form the first or larger classes ; and the words that modify these modifying words, and the modifying words themselves, which are necessarily more united with each other than with those they modify, form the smaller classes of words. Upon these principles we may divide the sentence last quoted ; and upon the same principles we may account for the division of the following.--A violent and ungovernable passion for praise the most universal and unlimited, produces often the most ridiculous consequences in women of the most exalted understandings.When I say, a violent and ungovernable passion, I may pause at violent to distinguish it from ungovernable, but not at ungovernable, because it immediately modifies passion ; but when I say, for praise, the most universal and unlimited, I must pause at passion, to shew the greater connection between the words praise and universal and unlimited than between these and pas, sion ; the latter class thus secured, by a pause, from mixing with the former, it is subject to such division as its structure requires ; the substantive praise, coming before the modifying words, is separated from them by a pause, not because such a pause is necessary the better to understand the connection between them ; for had the modifying word been single, it would not have admitted a pause ; but be, cause the two modifying words, universal and unlim
ited, form a class by themselves, sufficiently united to the word praise to detach it from passion, and sufficiently distinct from it to be separated by a comma. But it may be asked, why does not the same classification take place in the former part of this sentence, with respect to the two adjectives, violent and ungovernable, and the substantive, passion ? It may be answered, that a pause of distinction is ad. mitted at violent; but if we were to pause at ungovernable, the two modifying words would seem to form a class, before the word modified by them is expressed or understood ; whereas, in the succeeding part of the sentence, the word praise is understood, and the modifying words, universal and unlimited, are necessarily referred to it.
If it be demanded, why, in the former sentence, A violent and ungovernable passion for praise produces, &c. we cannot pause both at passion and praise ? it may be answered, that as the words for praise modify passion, they have the nature of an adjective, and therefore should coalesce with the word passion, which they modify ; unless another word, more united to them than they are to passion, could be added, to make them form a distinct class; for, in this case, they would be as easily separable as two adjectives after a substantive. Thus in the phrase, A violent and ungovernable passion, for praise and adulation, &c. here we find praise and adulation form a class of words sufficiently united to be pronounced separately from passion, if either the necessity of taking breath, or a distinctness of pronunciation, require it ; for as pausing ought to answer one of these purposes, where neither of them are answercd, the pause must be improper. Thus in the following sentence : A violent and ungovernable passion for praise produces, &c. if we pause at passion, and then at praise, we shall pause without any necessity ; for as we must pause at praise, and the words for praise being neither associated with, nor distinguished from, any succeeding words, they ought to be united with those that precede, as both of them form a member sufficiently short to be pronounced with ease ; but if distinctness had made it necessary to pause at praise, then notwithstanding the shortness of the phrase, it would have formed a distinct member, and have readily admitted a pause. Thus in the sentence, A violent and ungovernable passion for praise, rather than improvement in virtue, produces often the most ridiculous circumstances, &c. : here the word praise, being emphatically distinguished from improvement in virtue, demands a pause after it ; and as this word, and its opposite, form a class more united together than both are with the word passion, a pause is necessary, to shew they belong to distinct classes ; the pause between the opposing words shewing their distinction, and the pause before and after them shewing their union.
But it may be asked, how can we suppose words opposed to each other, and requieing a pause to shew that opposition, can be more united with each other than they are with the preceding words they modify ? It may be answered, that the modifying word, when unaccompanied by adjuncts, and the word modified, form but one class, and do not admit of a pause, either when the modifying word precedes or succeeds the word modified. Thus in the phrases, It was from a prepense malice that he com. mitted the action ; and, It was from a malice. prépense that he committed the action : In these phrases, I say, the substantive malice, and the adjective prepense, are equally inseparable by a pause ; but in the following phrases : . It was from a preconceived and prepense malice that he committed the action : and, It was from a malice, preconceived and prepense, that he committed the action. In the former of these phrases, the mod