Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

close, and the gramınatical or free, - it will be obvious, that, while the latter tends to elucidate the aim of the writer, and to some extent assist the delivery, the former throws nothing but obscurity on his meaning; and, though showing the various pauses of the voice with greater accuracy, imparts no information whatever on matters which in delivery are as important, — the inflections, the intonations, the emphases, the calm, equable flow, or the wild torrent, of a good reader or an eloquent speaker.

That grammatical and rhetorical punctuation are not one and the same, is acknowledged by the best elocutionists. Thus the writer just quoted says,* that “the grammatical pauses, which are addressed to the eye of the reader, are insufficient for the speaker, who addresses himself to the understandingó through the porches of the ear.'... We have, therefore, rhetorical pauses, which are independent of, though consistent with and assistant to, the grammatical pauses.”

It must, however, be admitted that some of the points — namely, the mark of admiration and of exclamation, the parenthesis, and the dash — partake more of a rhetorical character than the common and principal points; and in this light we will consider them in the following pages. But, on the whole, it will be found that the art of Punctuation is founded rather on grammar than on rhetoric; that its chief aim is to unfold che meaning of sentences, with the least trouble to the reader; and that it aids the delivery, only in so far as it tends to bring out the sense of the writer to the best advantage.

* " Art of Elocution,” p 63.

NOTES

ILLUSTRATING THE VALUE OF CORRECT PUNCTUATION.

1. The following request is said to have been made at church: “A sailor going to sea, his wife desires the prayers of the congregation for his safety.” But, by an unhappy transposition of the comma, the note was thus read: “A sailor, going to see his wife, desires the prayers of the congregation for his safety."

2. A blacksmith, passing by a hair-dresser's shop, observed in the window an unpointed placard, which he read as follows:

“What do you think?

I'll shave you for nothing,

And give you some drink.” The son of Vulcan, with a huge black beard on his chin and a little spark in his throat, considered the opportunity too good to be lost. He accordingly entered; and, after the operation had been duly performed, asked, with the utmost sang froid, for the liquor. But the shaver of beards demanded payment; when the smith, in a stentorian voice, referred him to his own placard, which the barber very goodhumoredly produced, and read thus:

“What! do you think

I'shave you for nothing,

And give you some drink?" 3. Another example of the ludicrous will tend still better to show the value of just punctuation:

“Every lady in this land

Hath twenty nails upon each hand;
Five and twenty on hands and feet.

And this is true, without deceit.” If the present points be removed, and others inserted as follow the true meaning of the passage will at once appear:

" Every lady in this land
Hath twenty nails: upon each hand
Five; and twenty on hands and feet.
And this is true, without deceit."

Sect. II. – PLAN OF THE WORK, AND DEFINITIONS

OF THE TERMS USED.

In the preceding section, Punctuation was defined to be the art of dividing a written or printed discourse into sentences, and parts of sentences, by means of certain marks called points, for the purpose of exhibiting the various combinations, connections, and dependencies of words. Its uses also were found to consist primarily in developing, with as much clearness as possible, the sense and the grammatical constructions of a composition; and secondarily in showing, to some extent, the various pauses which are requisite for an accurate reading or delivery.

We now proceed to enter on the practical mode of attaining the information required; and, for the sake of order and of clearness of conception, it is proposed to regard the subject as separable into branches. We will treat, in the first place, of the marks pertaining to SENTENCES, which may be divided into two kinds, – the common or principal points, which are chiefly of a grammatical nature; and the less common but equally necessary points, which, occurring as they often do in animated composition, and being used for the twofoll purpose of bringing out the sense and aiding the delivery, are entitled to be spoken of as both grammatical and rhetorical. We will, lastly, speak of other marks, which either bear a more intimate relation to LETTERS and syLLABLES than to words and sentences, or are of a varied and mixed character; and hence these may

be termed letter, syllabic, quotation, and miscellaneous points.

Before, however, commencing the study of the laws which regulate the use of these marks, the learner should know at least as much of grammar as will enable him to distinguish, with tolerable accuracy, the different parts of speech into which language is resolvable. Besides this, it is essential that he be in some measure acquainted with the various kinds of sentences, their usual constructions, and the mode in which they may be analyzed into their component parts. Taking, therefore, for granted that he is not entirely ignorant of the principles of the English language, we will intrude into the province of the grammarian, only so far as may be necessary for the student to form correct notions of the meaning of a few terms, relating to sentences, which will frequently occur in the rules and remarks, and without a due knowledge of which he would be unable fully to comprehend the laws of Punctuation. The terms alluded to, then, are defined and illustrated as follow:

DEFINITIONS.

1. A SENTENCE is an assemblage of words, so arranged as to form a proposition, or two or more related propositions; making, directly or indirectly, complete sense.

II. A SIMPLE SENTENCE expresses only a simple proposition. It consists of: one nominative, subject, or thing spoken of, and of a single predicate, or affirmation concerning the subject; as, 1. Calumny | destroys reputation. 2. The Creator | is good.

3. Kings | reign. In these propositions, the words that precede the perpendicular lines are the subjects or nominatives, and those that follow are the predicates.

A logician would define a proposition by stating it to be a sentence consisting of a subject; of the copula, or sign of predication; and of the predicate. But the explanation given will be found sufficiently correct for grammatical purposes.

III. A COMPOUND SENTENCE consists of two or more simple sentences in combination, and therefore contains more than one nominative and finite verb, either expressed or understood; as, –

1. Virtue refines the affections; but vice debases them.
2. To err is buman; to forgive, divine.
3. Age, though it lessens the enjoyment of life, increases our desire

of living.

That these sentences are compound will be seen at once by resolving each into two simple sentences: “ Virtue refines the affections. Vice, on the other hand, debases the affections." —" To err is human. To forgive is divine.” -“ Age lessens the enjoyment of life. It, lowever, increases our desire of living.”

IV. MEMBERS. — When a sentence consists of several clauses, admitting of a union of some and a separation of others, those which are combined may together be called members; as,

The ox knoweth his owner, I and the ass his master's crib: || but Israel doth not know; | ny people do not consider. In this example there are four clauses: the first two forming one member; the latter two, another member.

In many books, however, the word member is used in its primary and more extensive sense, as denoting any portion of a sentence, whether a single clause, a phrase, or a word.

V. A Clause is a simple sentence, or part of a sentence, united to another, and contains a nominative and a finite verb, either expressed or understood; as,

1. That high moral excellence is true greatness | cannot be denied. 2. Candor is a quality | which all admire. 8. Though he slay me, 1 yet will I trust in him. 4. The smile of gayety may be assumed, while the heart aches within. 5. Gentleness often disarms the fierce, / and melts the stubborn.

When the subject of a proposition is itself a sentence, or contains a finite verb, as in No. 1, above, it is called a nominative clause; when a clause begins with a relative pronoun, as the last in No. 2, it is termed a relative clause; when clauses are introduced by correspond

« AnteriorContinuar »