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the first instance, George and Samuel do the same thing ; there is an agreement between them; but in the second, George does one thing and Samuel does another; there is a disagreement between them. Take another instance : “Bulwer and D'Israeli are good writers.
Their writings are an honor to the age. But Dickens (known as Boz) is the mere collector and disseminator of the lowest slang. His writings can answer no purpose except that of feeding a depraved appetite, and of corrupting the taste of all who partake of the polluted dish which he serves up." The first and shows that there is an agreement between Bulwer and D’Israeli. The but shows that there is a disagreement between what is said of Dickens, and what is said of the preceding writers. The second and shows that both names collectively or agreeingly apply to Dickens. serves to connect the effect with the purpose. And the last and shows that what is said after it is used, agrees with what is said before, in applying to Dickens' writings.
131. I hope that what is said with regard to Conjunctions, will cause you no perplexity. These words are small affairs, and very easily understood, so far as is neces. sary. I know that some writers on grammar, make a great noise about Conjunctions; and do all in their power, and may succeed in a few instances, in proving that this part of speech does not perform in language the part which its definition says it must perform. But what if it do not ? The instances are never such as can possibly lead to error in the formation of a sentence. This part of speech never changes its endings; it is always written in the same way; and it is, as with prepositions, a matter of the smallest con. cern by what name it is known, if we only rightly under. stand its use, No reasoning grammarian cares a fig whether a word which is called a Conjunction, or a word which is called a preposition, come or come not within the limits of the definition that has been given to it. All that he cares for, is, the meaning of the word, taken in connec. tion with the other words of the sentence.
132. The same words are sometimes Conjunctions, some. times prepositions, and sometimes adverbs; according to the sense in which they are used; for example: “I will
vote for an honest and intelligent man; for no other, no matter how much he may profess to be in favour of democracy and the rights of the people, is fit to be a legislator.” The first for is a preposition, and the second a Conjunction, Again: “ The Speaker of the Assembly of Arkansas, descended from the chair, and stabbed another member while in his seat, dead, through the body; but through fear, or the influence of money, the perjured jury brought in the wilful murder, justifiablo homicide."
The first through is a preposition, and the last an adverb.
€133. Before I proceed, I must state to you that there are other words beside those which come under the head of Conjunctions and prepositions, which are sometimes of one part of speech and sometimes of another: as, “a notice was posted on the street corners."
16 I will notice as soon as circumstances will permit, the work which you have brought." The first “notice” is a noun and the second a verb: “ The remark which you made, was very judicious.” "Allow me to remark that you have been misinformed.” The first “remark” is a noun, and the second a verb. The sense in which the word is used, and not its formation must determine the part of speech to which it belongs. Yuu recollect that I told you something similar to this, when treating upon participles.
134. I have now finished my instructions with regard to Etymology; and I trust that every thing spoken of, is as clear to you, as I have endeavored to make it. If it be not, I would urgently press upon you the necessity of reading again and again, whatever is in the slightest degree obscure; and not only of reading but of reflecting well upon what you do read ; for it will be the summit of folly to enter on Syntax without you thoroughly understand all that relates to Etymology.
MY YOUNG FRIEND,
135. Syntax, you know, means, in plain language, sentence making; and as there can be no sense in sentences, indeed as there can be no sentences at all, unless certain marks and points, which come under the name of Punctuation, be attended to, I think this the most suitable place to give you the necessary instructions in regard to this punc. tuation. The meaning of a sentence is very much affected by punctuation. Let me give you an example, and at the same time relate an incident, which is pretty well authenticated.
136. A person was brought before a criminal court, in Ireland, on a charge of robbery. Almost the only evidence against him, was a partial confession which he had made in the police office, when first examined. This confession was taken down by the police officer, and produced by him upon the trial of the accused individual. It read,
Mangan said he never robbed but twice
Said it was Crawford This, you perceive, is written without any regard to marks or points. But the meaning which the writer attached to
Mangan said he never robbed but twice :
Said it was Crawford.” After this convicting piece of writing had been read, the counsel for the prisoner requested to see it. He glanced over it, and immediately declared that so far from showing his client's guilt, it clearly proved his innocence. “This,” said he, " is the positive and obvious reading of the paper:
• Mangan said he never robbed :
But twice said it was Crawford.'” This interpretation had the desired effect upon the jury and the prisoner was accordingly acquitted.
137. I will give you another example in order that you may be still more impressed with the importance of attending to this matter of punctuation: Abner Kneeland was twice tried on a charge of blasphemy. The first time the
jury could not agree and were discharged. The second time he was found guilty ; but appealed to a higher court. The sentence on which the charge of blasphemy was founded, was contained in a letter from Mr. Kneeland to the editor of a universalist newspaper. It ran thús : "you believe in a god which I do not.” This is the sentence as Mr. Kneeland affirmed he wrote it. But the editor in giving publicity to it, printed it, “ You believe in a God, which I do not. This last, you perceive, adınits of a meaning different from that which the first does: “ You believe in a God, which I do not;" that is, “ in a God, which belief in a God, I have not." This is the interpretation that most persons would put upon the sentence; but, as Mr. Kneeland wrote it, this meaning cannot, with any thing like justice, be given to it; “ you believe in a god which I do not ;” or, "you believe in a god that I do not."
That is to say, the god which you believe in, is not the one which I do. I believe in a God, but not in your god. This is undoubtedly the meaning of the sentence. But to make the matter still plainer, and to show you the incalculable advantage that a knowledge of grammar is, and the ridicule to which persons who have not that knowledge, may be exposed, I will quote the sentence again; though in so doing, I shall digress a little from the matter immediately under consideration : “ You believe in a god which I do not." You know that " which" is a relative pronoun; and that being such, it must have some preceding noun or personal pronoun, called the ante. cedent, to which it relates. Now, what is the antecedent in this case ? why, it is god; and therefore, the sentence filled up is, “you believe in a god which god I do not believe in.” It is impossible to extract, fairly, any other meaning from the sentence. Here, then, is a powerful illustration of what punctuation will do, and I trust that it will not be thrown away upon you.
138. The points made use of, in writing, are four. The comma, (,) the semicolon, (;) the colon, (:) and the full-point, or period. (.)
139. It is not in the power of any grammarian to give rules for punctuating, which will at all times be correct. The judgment of the writer or speaker, is the best guide.
He certainly ought to know best what meaning he wishes to give to his own phrases. He is best able to tell where the voice requires a momentary suspension, and where it requires no suspension at all. Every person can always make the proper pauses when speaking, and, indeed, gener ally does, when reading his own writing, though not a pause may be marked. But thuugh he can do this, those who read his writings cannot; and this is the very opposite of what he should desire ; for language is used only as a vehicle for the conveyance of ideas from the mind of one to the minds of others. Persons are seldom at a loss to know that such, or such a place in their writings, requires a pause; but they are frequently at a loss to know what can represent that pause; they are at a loss to know what to put down that will convey to the reader the same meaning that they attach to the sentence. They do not know whether they should make a comma, a semicolon or a colon; at least a large majority of writers of the ordinary class do not. Now, all that these persons want, is to know what point has been decided upon by good writers to designate a certain pause. The Comma is used to designate the smallest divisions in writing, and the shortest pauses in speaking. For example: “ It is the times that make the men; and not the men, the times. Had the mighty American revolution never broken out, the world would, probably, never have heard of George Washington, or Thomas Jeffer: son.” You perceive that after the second men, broken out, would probably, and Washington, short pauses, are required; and therefore commas, are used; but that after the firsi men, and the second times, longer pauses are required; and therefore, differents points are used.
140. The Semi-colon is next to the comma in the duration of the time for which the voice should cease. It divides simple sentences, in cases where the comma is not quite sufficient to keep the meaning of the simple sentences sufficiently distinct. Let me give you an example in which you will find many semi-colons, and some other points : « How many rich men are there, who are the very soul of hospitality and liberality, when visited by a wealthy man; but yet who grind to powder those in their employ; who