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“ A furbelow of precious stones, a hat buttoned with a diamond, a brocade waistcoat or petticoat, are standing topics. In short, they consider only the drapery of the species, and never cast away a thonght on those ornaments of the mind that make persons illustrious in themselves, and useful to others.”—Spec. No. 15.
They consider only the drapery of the species ;" who are they? why, “a furbelow of precious stones, a hat buttoned with a diamond, and a brocade waistcoat or petticoat!” things certainly prodigiously prone to “ considering !" How nonsensically persons write from not paying attention to what they are doing. The writer meant by “they,” “ ordinary women;" who are mentioned in the fourth sentence, and in no other, above the first one here quoted."
“I think it was Caligula, who wished the whole city of Rome had but one neck, that he might behead them at a blow.”—Spec No. 16.
By " whole city of Rome,” is meant all the inhabitants thereof; and these when considered individually, are plural; but when considered collectively, as forming one inass, are singular; as, “ the city of New York is more enterprising than any in America ;" and not "the city of New York are more enterprising ;" though we mean the inhabitants are more enterprising. So that to say " it was Caligula who wished the whole city of Rome had but one neck, that he might behead it at a blow,” would be better than as the sentence now reads; though to say, "that he might sever it at a blow," would be better still; and to say, “it was Caligula, who wished the whole city of Rome had but one neck, that he might behead the mighty mass at a blow,” would be much the best of any.
“I do not mean by what I have here said, that I think any one to blame for taking due care of their health.”Spec. No. 25.
“ For taking due care of his health,” it should be.
“ It is, in my opionion, a very odd spectacle, to see a queen venting her passion in a disordered motion, and a little boy taking care all the while that they do not ruffle the tail of her gown." -Spec. No. 42.
Pronouns, you know, must agree in number and person with the nouns for which they stand. Now, for which noun or nouns, does “they," in the above sentence, stand. For “disordered motion," a singular number; and there. fore “lhey," plural, should have been it ; or, “in a disordered motion,” should have been changed to, “in disordered motions."
“ The boy of the coffee-house, when they had done with it, carried it about in his hand, asking every body if they had dropped a written paper; but no body challenging it he was ordered by those merry gentlemen who had perus. ed it, to get up into the auction pulpit, and read it to the whole room, that if any one would own it, they might.”Spec. No. 46.
Every body,” or “any one,” means, one individual of many; as I have explained in the Syntax of Pronouns ; and of course, then, they, in both the instances, should be he.
“Such was the pleasure which Germanicus enjoyed, when, the night before a battle, desirous of some sincere mark of the esteem of his legions for him, he is described by Tacitus listening in a disguise to the discourse of a soldier, and wrapt up in the fruition of his glory, whilst with an undefined sincerity, they praised his noble and majestic mien, his affability, his valour, conduct, and success in war."-Spec. No. 238.
“ They praised ;" who are they? a soldier. This, of course you see, is wrong.
That soldier should occupy the place of " they." The whole sentence, however, does not appear to be very well put together. It would be better thus:
“Such was the pleasure which Germanicus enjoyed, when, the night before a battle, desirious of some sincere mark of the esteem of his legions for him, he is described by Tacitus, wrapt up in the fruition of his glory listening in a disguise to the discourse of a soldier, who, with an undefined sincerity, praised his noble and majestic mien, his affability, and his valour, conduct, and success in war."
“The entire conquest of our passions is so difficult a work, that they who despair of it."-Spec. No. 71.
" It is an uncontested maxim that they who approve an action.”-Spec. No. 451.
Those, these “theys," should be; because persons, any persons, are meant; and it would not do to say, they persons.
“ Will Honeycomb is one of those sort of men who are very absent in conversation !".-Spec. No. 77.
That " sort" is correct.
“A part of rhetoric in which Socrates his wife.”— Spec. No. 247.
This is a vulgar error. “A part of rhetoric in which Socrates' wife,” or, “ the wife of Socrates," must be the correction of the sentence.
“ If, say they, the soul is the most subject to these pas. sions at a time when it has the least instigations from the body, we may well suppose she will retain them after she is entirely divested of it.”—Spec. No. 90.
Here is confusion, and consequent unintelligibility. What is meant by the first “il?” “the soul.” Very well; what is meant by “she ?” It cannot be the soul, again; for that was called only the line above, “it;" and no one who had a particle of taste, would make such a transition. By “she," must therefore be meant “ body.” And what is meant by “it," at the close of the sentence? This too, of course must be “the soul.” And the sentence thus understood, will read, “ If, say they, the soul is the most subject to these passions at a time when it (the soul) has the least instigations from the body, we may well suppose she (the body) will retain them when she (the body) is entirely divested of it.” (the soul) This is the reading; and this is superlative nonsense.
This makes out the matter, that the body will retain after death, the passions which it, in connection with the soul, had in life ; which is the contrary of what was meant.
The sentence should read, “ If, say they, the soul is the most subject to these passions at a time when she has the least instigations from the body, we may well suppose she will retain them when shu is entirely divested of the body."
“At the instant when Phocion was to die, they asked what commands he had for his son ? he answered, • To forget this injury of the Athenians.' Niocles, his friend, under the same sentence, desired he might drink the potion before him: Phocion said, because he never had denied him any thing, he would not even this, the most difficult request he had ever made.-Spec. No. 133.
Here is great confusion, indeed. It is almost impossible to tell who is meant by the numerous hes and hims employed. “Niocles, his friend, under the same sentence, desired he might drink the potion before him.”
Who are the persons these pronouns represent ? One might think that Phocion was the first and Niocles the second ; thus : Niocles, his friend, under the same sentence, desired that Phocion might drink the pction before he did.
But the reverse of this was meant. “ Phocion said, because he never had denied him any thing, he would not even this, the most difficult request he had ever made.” For whom do these pronouns stand. One might again think that the first stood for Niocles, and the second for Phocion. This is quite plausable. We might readily suppose that as Niocles had never denied Phocion any thing, Phocion would not deny him this, even though above all requests, the most difficult to grant. But this is the opposite of what was meant. The sentences should be, “ At the instant when Phocion was to die, those about him asked what com. mands he had for his son ? he answered, 'to forget this injury of the Athenians.' And when Niocles, his friend, under the same sentence, desired to drink the potion first, the noble Athenian replied, that as he never had denied Niocles any thing, he would not even this, the most difficult request his friend had ever made."
“ Though a pleader or preacher, is hoarse or awkward, the weight of their matter commands respect and attention."-Spec. No. 141.
His, you perceive, this ought to be; for “pleader or preacher,” is the noun for which the pronoun stands.
“ But let it be a comfort to you, that I have no guilt hangs upon me, no unrepented folly that retards me.”
Spec. No. 204.
The pronoun that, is required between "guilt” and
hangs;" as, “ but let it be a comfort to you, that I have no guilt that hangs upon me."
"I have heard of a couple of preachers in a country town, who endeavoured which should outshine another, and draw together the greatest congregation.”Spec. No. 221
" One another” should be the other.
“Besides poverty and want there are other reasons that debase the minds of men who live under slavery, though I look on this as the principal.”—Spec. No. 287.
Here is the pronoun “this," made use of; and of course to supply the place of some noun. Now, which is the noun that it supplies the place of? By examining, you will find that there are two nouns, “poverty and want," represented by “this." These, then, the pronoun should have been.
My mistress has a younger sister lives in the house with her, that is some thousands below her in estate, who is con. tinually heaping her favours upon her maid; so that she can appear every Sunday, for the first quarter, in a fresh suit of clothes of her mistress's giving, with all other things suitable.”—Spec. No. 366. This extract contains several kinds of errrors.
· My mistress has a younger sister lives in the house;" should be,
my mistress has a younger sister who lives in the house;" or, “my mistress has a younger sister living in the honse.” “ That is some thousands, below her in estate, who is con. tinually heaping her favours on her maid." Here is that want of uniformity and taste, which I spoke of to you in the last Letter on pronouns. Here is “that" used in , one part of the sentence, and “ who,” in another, when both relate to the same noun.
“ So that she can appear every Sunday." Who can appear? We find by what fol. : lows - Sunday,” that the maid is meant by “she." But if the sentence had ended at “clothes," we might reaso. nably enough suppose that “she” stood for “younger sister ;" because, if this "younger sister" was contin. ually” giving away her clothes, she must certainly have procured “fresh” ones “to appear in, every Sunday."