Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

language, relations of this kind are commonly express-
ed by prepositions. Examples : That 'wine came
from Cyprus. He is going to Paris.* The fun is be-
low the horizon.

This form of connecting by prepositions, is not con-
fined to substantives. Qualities, attributes, manner of
existing or acting, and all other circumstances, may in
the same manner be connected with the substances to
which they relate. This is done artificially by con-
verting the circumstance into a substantive ; in which
condition it is qualified to be connected with the prin-
cipal subject by a preposition, in the manner above
described. For example, the adjective wise being con-
verted into the substantive wisdom, gives opportunity
for the expression “ a man of wisdom,” initead of
the more simple expreslion a wife wian : this variety
in the expreslion, enriches language. I observe, be-
side, that the using a preposition in this case, is not
always a matter of choice : it is indispensable with
respect to every circumstance that cannot be express-
ed by a single adjective or adverb.

To pave the way for the rules of arrangement, one other preliminary is neceffary ;' which is, to explain the difference betweeni a natural style, and that where transposition or inversion prevails. There are, it is true, no precise boundaries between them, for they run into each other like the lades of different colours. No person, however, is at a loss to distinguish them in their extrémes : and it is necessary to make the distinction : because though some of the rules I shall have occasion to mention are common to both, yet each have rules peculiar to itself. In a natural style, relative words are by juxtaposition connceted with those to which they relate, going before or after, according to the peculiar genius of the lan. guage. Again, a circumstance connected by a prep


[merged small][ocr errors]


osition, follows naturally the word with which it is connected. But, this arrangement may be varied, when a different order is more beautiful: a circumstance may be placed before the word with which it is connected by a preposition ; and may be interjected even between a relative word and that to which it relates. When such liberties are frequently taken, the style becomes inverted or transposed.

But as the liberty of inversion is a capital point in the present subject, it will be necessary to examine it more narrowly, and in particular to trace the feveral degrees in which an inverted style recedes more and more from that which is natural. And first, as to the placing a circumstance before the word with which it is connected, I observe, that it is the easiest of all inversion, even so easy as to be consistent with a style that is properly termed natural : witness the following examples.

In the fincerity of my heart, I profess, &c.

By our own ill management, we are brought to fo low an ebb of wealth and credit, that, &c.

On Thursday morning there was little or nothing transacted in Change-alley.,

At St Bribe's church in Ficct-street, Mr. Woolston, (who writ against the miracles of our Saviour) in the utmot terrors of conscience, made a public recantation.

The interjecting a circumstance between a relative word, and that to which it relates is more properly termed inversion ; because by a disjunction of words intimately connected, it recedes farther from a natu-, ral style. But this licence has degrees ; for the diljunction is more violent in some instances than in


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

others. And to give a juft notion of the difference, there is a necessity to enter a little more into an abstract subject, than would otherwise be my inclination.

In nature, though a subject cannot exist without its qualities, nor a quality without a subject; yet in our conception of these, a material difference may be remarked. I cannot conceive a quality but as belonging to some subject : It makes indeed a part of the idea which is formed of the subject. But the opposite holds not; for though I cannot form a conception of a subject void of all qualities, a partial conception may be formed of it, abstracting from any particular quality : I can, for example, form the idea of a fine Arabian horse without regard to his colour, or of a white horse without regard to his fize. Such partial conception of a subject, is still more easy with respect to action or motion ; which is an occasional attribute only, and has not the same permanency with colour or figure : I cannot form an idea of motion independent of a body ; but there is nothing more easy than to form an idea of a body at rest. Hence it appears, that the degree of inversion depends greatly on the order in which the related words are placed : when a fubftantive occupies the first place, the idea it suggests must subsist in the mind at least for a moment, independent of the relative words afterward introduced ; and that moment may without difficulty be prolonged by interjecting a circumstance between a subllantive and its connections. This liberty, therefore, however frequent, will scarce alone be sufficient to denominate a style inverted. The case is very different, where the word that occupies the first place denotes a quality or an action ; for as these cannot be conceived without a subject, they cannot without greater violence


be separated from the subject that follows ; and for that reason, every such separation, by means of an interjected circumstance belongs to an inverted style.

To illustrate this doctrine, examples are neceffary, and I shall begin with those where the word first introduced does not imply a relation.

-Nor Eve to iterate
Her former trespass feard.

Hunger and thirft at once,
Powerful perfuaders, quicken'd at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.

Moon that now meet'st the orient fun, now fii'st
With the fix'd stars, fix'd in their orb that Aies,
And ye five other wand'ring fires that move
In myitic dance not without song, resound
His praise.

In the following examples, where the word first introduced imports a relation, the disjundion will be found more violent.

Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden trec, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our wo,
With loss of Eden, till one greater man
Restore us, and regain the blissful feat,
Sing heav'nly mufe.

Upon the firm opacious globe
Of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferior orbs inclos'd
From chaos and th' inroad of darkness old,
Satán alighied walks.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

On a sudden open fly
With iinpetuous recoil and jarring sound,
Th' internal doors.

Wherein remain',
For what could elle? to our almighty foe
Clear victory, to our part loss and rout.

Forth ruth'd, with whirlwind found The chariot of paternal Deity.

Language would have no great power, were it confined to the natural order of ideas. I shall soon have opportunity to make it evident, that by inverfion a thousand beauties may be compassed, which must be relinquished in a natural arrangement. In the mean time it ought not to escape oblervatior, that the mind of man is happily so constituted as to relish inversion, though in one respect unnatural; and to relish it so much, as in many cases to admit a separation between words the moit intimately connected. It can scarce be said that inversion has any limits; though I may venture to pronounce, that the disjunction of articles, conjunctions, or propositions, from the words to which they belong, has very seldom a good effect. The following example with relation to a preposition, is perhaps as tolerable as any of the kind :

He would neither separate from nor act against ihen.

I give notice to the reader, that I am now ready to enter on the rules of arrangement ; beginning with a natural ftyle, and proceeding gradually to what is the most inverted. And in the

And in the arrangement of a period, as well as in a right choice of words, the fivl and great oluject being perfpicuity, the rule

« PreviousContinue »