« PreviousContinue »
above laid down, that perspicuity ought not to be facrificed to any other beauty, holds equally in both. Ambiguities occasioned by a wrong arrangement are of two forts ; one wliere the arrangement kads to a wrong sense, and one where the lense is beft doubtful. The first, being the more culpable, fhall take the Icad, beginning with examples of words put in a wrong place.
How much the imagination of such a presence must exalt a genius, we may observe merely from the iufluence which an ordinary presence has over men.
Charutieristics. vol. 1. p. 7.
This arrangement leads to a wrong sense : the adverb merely seems by its position to aifect the preceding word ; whereas it is intended to affect the following words, an ordinary presence ; and therefore the arrangement ought to be thus :
How much the imagination of such a presence must exalt a genius, we may observe from the influence which an ordinary presence inerely has over men. (Or, beiter,] which even an ordinary presunce has over men.
The time of the election of a poet-lauret being now at hand, it may be proper to give some account of the rites and ceremonies anciently ufed at that folemnity, and only discontinued through the neglect and degeneracy of later tincs.
The term only is intended to qualify the noun degeneracy, and not the participle discontinued ; and therefore the arrangement ought to be as follows :
-and discontinued through the neglect and degeneracy only of later times.,
Sixtus the Fourth was, if I mistake not, a great collector of books at least.
Letters on History, vol. 1. let 6. Bolingbroke.
The expreffion here leads evidently to a wrong sense ; the adverb at least, ought not to be connected with the substantive books, but with collector thus :
Sixtus the Fourth was a great collector at least of books.,
If he was not the greatest king, he was the best actor of majelty at lealt, that ever filled a throne.
ibid. leiter 7. Better thus :
If he was not the greatest king, he was at least the belt actor of majetty, &. This arrangement removes the wrong sense occasioned by the juxtapofition of majesty and at least. The following examples are of a wrong arrangement of members.
I have confined myself to those methods for the advancement of piety, which are in the power of a prince limited like ours by a strict execution of the laws.
À project for the advancenient of religion. Swift. The structure of this period leads to a meaning which is not the author's, viz. power limited by a
Itrict execution of the laws. That wrong sense is • removed by the following arrangement:
have confined myself to those methods for the advancement of picty, which by a striet execu'ion of the laws, are in 'the power of a prince limited like ours.
This morning, when one of Lady Lizard's daughters was looking over fome hoods and ribands brought by her tirewoman, with great care and diligence, I employed no less in examining the box which contained them.
Guardian, No. 4.
The wrong sense occasioned by this arrangement, may be eatily prevented by varying it thus:
This morning when, with great care and diligence, one of Lady Lizard's daughters was looking over fome hoods and ribands, &c.
A great stone that I happened to find after a long search by the sea-shore, served me for an anchor.
Gulliver's Travels, port 1. chap. 8.
One would think that the search was confined to the sea-shore ; but as the meaning is, that the great stone was found by the sea-shore, the period ought to be arranged thus :
A great stone, that, after a long search, I happened to fied by the sea-shore, served me for an anchor.
Next of a wrong arrangement where the sense is left doubtful ; beginning, as in the former fort, with examples of wrong arrangement of words in a meinber :
These forms of conversation by degrees multiplied and grew troublesome.
Spe&tator, No. 119. Ilere it is left doubtful whether the modification by degrecs relates to the preceding meinber or to wha follows: it fhould be,
These forms of conversation multiplied by degrees:
Nor does this false modesty expose us only to such a&tions as are indiscreet, but very often to such as are highly criminal.
Spettator, No. 458. The ambiguity is removed by the following arrangement :
Nor does this false modesty expose us to such actions only as are indiscreet, &c.
The empire of Blcfufcu is an island situated to the north"east side of Lilliput, from whence it is parted only by a channel of Soo yards wide.
Gulliver's Travels, part 1. chap. s.
The ambiguity may be removed thus :
from whence it is parted by a channel of 800 yards wide only.
In the following examples the sense is left doubtful by wrong arrangement of members.
The minister who grows less by his elevation, like a little statue placed on a mighty pedestal, will always have his jealousy strong about him.
Difertation upon parties, Dedication. Bolingbroke.
Here, as far as can be gathered from the arrangement, it is doubtful, whether the object introduced by way of fimile, relate to what goes before or to what follows: the ambiguity is removed by the following arrangement :
The minister, who, like a little Ralue placed on a mighty »pedettal, grows less by his elevation, will always, &c.
Since this is too much to ask of freemen, nay of flaves, if bis exprelation best an/wered, fhall he form a lafling divifica upon such transient motiies?
Better thus :
Since this is too much to ask of freemen, nay of Naves, Mall he, if his expectations be not answered, form, &c.
Speaking of the superstitious practice of locking up the room where a person of distinction dies.
The knight secing his habitation reduced to so small a compass, and himself in a manner shut out of his own house, upon the death of his mother, ordered all the apartments to be flung open, and exercised by his chaplain.
Spectator, No. 110. Better thus :
The knight, seeing his habitation reduced to so small a compass, and himself in a manner thut out of his own house, ordered, upon the death of his mother, all the apartinents to be Hung open.
Speaking of some indecencies in conversation :
As it is impossible for such an irrational way of converfation to last long among a people that make any profesfion of religion, or flow of modesty, if the country gentlemen get into it, they will certainly be left in the lurch.
Spectator, No. 119.
The ambiguity vanishes in the following arrange
the country gentlemen, if they get into it, will certainly be left in the lurch.
Speaking of a discovery in natural philosophy, that colour is not a quality of matter