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purposes; and that, if thus employed, they would tend, by the necessity of perpetually repeating them, and the consequent minute separations of words and phrases, rather to perplex the judgment of the reader, than to facilitate his comprehension of the writer's meaning. Let us suppose, for instance, that the following passage were so punctuated as to correspond in some measure with the peculiar notation adopted by Mr. Vandenhoff, in his excellent work on the “Art of Elocution,” pp. 73, 74, and with the real pauses demanded by an accurate and effective delivery, it would stand thus : —

“Men of superior genius; while they see the rest of mankind, painfully struggling, to comprehend obvious truths; glance, themselves, through the most remote consequences; like lightning, through a path, that cannot be traced; they see the beauties of nature, with light and warmth, and paint them forcibly, without effort; as the morning sun, does the scenes he rises upon; and, in several instances, communicate to objects, a morning freshness, and unaccountable lustre, that is not seen in the creations of nature. The poet, the statuary, the painter, have produced images, that left nature far behind.”

But let the same sentence be punctuated by the rules of grammar, and not by those of rhetoric, and with the sole view of indicating the sense of the passage, it would appear as follows: —

“Men of superior genius, while they see the rest of mankind painfully struggling to comprehend obvious truths, glance themselves through the most remote consequences, like lightning through a path that cannot be traced. They see the beauties of nature with light and warmth, and paint them forcibly without effort, as the morning sun does the scenes he rises upon; and, in several instances, communicate to objects a morning freshness and unaccountable lustre that is not seen in the creations of nature. The poet, the statuary, the painter, have produced images that left nature far behind.”

By comparing the two modes of punctuation adopted in the passage under notice, — namely, the rhetorical or

close, and the grammatical 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 inflecLions, 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 understanding ‘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 unfoid the 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. 68.

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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’ll shave you for nothing,
And give you some drink?”

8. 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.”



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 twofold 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 : —


I. 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.
8. Kings reign.

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

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