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ON THE STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE;
RULES FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF EPISTOLARY COMPOSITION.
[Continued from Page 13.]
The preceding examples shew the importance. As this sentence stands, it is the sun which is of attending to the position of adverbs. When affirmed to be “ made up of those different ever they are placed at a distance froin the noun stains of light;" an affirmation which the sucthey are intended to qualify, ambiguity will ne. ceeding part of the sentence proves to be foreign cessarily ensue.
to his lordship's meaning. This whole sentence The position of relatives is not of less conse is so ill constructed, that there is no possibility quence to the clearness of a sentence, than the of connecting the relative with its antecedent, position of adverbs : relatives should adhere to but by giving the sentence ano:her form. A let. their antecedents. The disposition of the rela ter now before me, from a school girl, contains tive pronouns, who, which, what, whose, and of the following passage : “ This little performance all those particles which connect the different was composed by M. d'Egville, for the purparts of speech, is of the utmost consequence in pose of showing off some of the best dancers in Janguage. It seldom happens that the sense is the school, who had built much upon the credit brought out clear, when a relative is remote he should acquire by it.” Here the relative who from its antecedent; but even where the mean appears to relate to the best dancers, until we aring is intelligible, we always find something rive at the pronoun he, which points out the reawkward and disjointed in the structure of the lative's real antecedent. The sentence ought to sentence, when relatives are out of their proper have been arranged thus : “ This little per. place. “This kind of wit,” says an author, | formance was composed by M. d'Egville, who
was very much in vogue among our countrymen, had built much upon the credit he should ac. about an age or two ago ; who did not practise quire by it, for the purpose of showing off some it for anyoblique reason, but purely for the sake of the best dancers in the school.” of being witry.” We are at no loss about the With regard to the relatives, it may be farmeaning here ; but the construction would evi ther observed, that obscurity often arises from dently be mended by disposing the circumstance, the too frequent repetition of them, particularly of " about an age or two ago," in such a manner the pronouns who, they, them, and theirs, when as not to separate the relative who from its ante we have occasion to refer in different persons, as cedent our countrymen; in this way :
“ About an
in the foilowing sentence of Tillotson : “ Men age or two ago this kind of wit was very much i look with an evil eye upon the good that is in in vogue among our country men, who did not others, and think that their reputation obscures practise it," &c.
them, and their commendable qualities stand in The following passages are far more censura their light; and therefore they do what they can ble:“ It is folly to pretend to arm ourselves to cast a cloud over them, that the bright shining against the accidents of life, by heaping up trea of their viriues may not obscure them.” This is surés which nothing can protect us against but || altogether careless writing. When we find these the good providence of God.” Which always refers | personal pronouns crowding too fast upon us, grain matically to the substantive immediately we have often no method left but to throw the preceding ; and that, in the instance just whole sentence into some form by which we given, is “ treasures.” The sentence oughi to may avoid those frequent references to persons have stood thus : “ It is folly to pretend, by who have before been mentioned. To have the heaping up treasures, to arm ourselves against relation of every word and member of a the accidents of life, which nothing can protect tence mark d in the most diitrict manner, not us against but the good providence of God." only gives clearness to it, but makes the mind “ We no where meet with a more pleasing or pass snioothly and agreeably along all the parts glerious show in nature,” says Lord Shaftsbury, \ of it.
* than what appears in the heavens at the rising Having shewn the necessi'y of attending to
and setting of the sun, which is wholly made up of those different stains of light which show themselves in clouds of a different situation."
the arrangement of words, I shall proceed to de. monstrate that equal care should be exercised with respect to the disposition of circumstances,
and of particulus members. Circumstances should disorderly style is the wrong collocation of ad-
which subsist between the interior parts of
are perpetually disjointing all the to know whether they relate to “a man born in connectives. Lord Monboddo furnishes many Britain, in any circumstances, in any situation,” | instances of this, in his “Account of the Origin or to that man's “ avowing his designs in any and Progress of Language." I have selected circumstances, or in any situation into which he the two following:--In the first, speaking of may be brought.” If, as is probable, the latter puns, he says, “ They gave great offence tu were intended, the sentence ought to have run many, and sometimes, I believe, did inuch mis. thus :-“ Are these designs which any man,
chief, for it was not onlikely that his pun, (when who is born a Briton, ought to be ashamed, in speaking of Octavius, he said, that the young any circumstances, in any situation, to avow?" man was laudandus, ornan-lus, ollendus,) upon the The following is anothor instance of a wrong word 'tollendus,' cost him his life. No one can arrangement of circumstances : “ A great stone read this sentence without perceiving that the that I happened to find, after a long search, by words in italics ought have been joined, as “his the sea-shore, served me for an anchor.” One' pun upon the word tollendus.” In the following would think that the search was confined to the instance, the verb and its nominative are so resea-sbore, but as the meaning is, that the great
mote from each other, that on arriving at the stone was found by the sea-shore, the period furmer, we have to travel back to find what it ought to have run thus: “ A great stone that, || refers to. “I cannot, at present, recollect any one after a long search, I happened to find by the sea instance of a Roman who, from tedium vitx, low shore, served me for an anchor,"
spirits, weak nerves, or whatever other naine we In constructing a sentence we should be care choose to give to the effects of intemperance, or ful not to crowd too many circunstances together, the indulgence of pleasure without any moderabut rather to intersperse them in different parts of || tion, art, or economy, destroyed himself.” The the sentence, joined with the principal words on sentence should have been written thus: “I which they depend. For instance : What I cannot, at present, recollect any one instance of a had the opportunity of mentioning to my friend, Roman who destroyed himself,” &c. for then some time ago, in conversation, was not a new the verb would have immediately followed its thoughe." These two circumstances,
nominative. The following passages from Additime ago, and “ in conversation,” which are here
son are transgressions against the same rule: put together, would have had a better effect dis
“ For the English are naturally fanciful, and very joined, thus: “What I had the opportunity, I often disposed, by that gloominess and melansome time ago, of mentioning to my friend, in il choly of temper, which are frequent in our naconversation, was not a new thought.”
tion, 10 many will notions and exiravagancies, The correspondent meinbers of a sentence should
to which others are not liable.” Here the verb
Nothing should be suffered to interrene between or other, his works may be ap;lied.”
ture or time, that order should be regarded, in order of nature. First, we have the variety of assigning them their places in a sentence; unless objects mentioned, which sighi furnishes to the the scope of the passage requires to be varied. mind; next we have the action of sight on these The conclusion of the fo lowing lines is in- | objects; and las:ly, we have the time and conaccurate in this respect: But still there will be tinuance of its action. No order could be more such a mixture of delight, as is proportioned to natural or exact. the degree in which any one of these qualifica These, and the examples given before, show tions is most conspicuous and prevailing. “ The how the sense may be obscured by an irregular order in which the two last words are placed order of the parts of a sentence.
A little attenshould have been reversed, and made to stand tion to the rules which have been laid down, prerailing and conspices. They are conspicuous, will prevent similar faul's occurring in the style because they preraił. The following sentence is of those who may be desirous of expressing a beautiful example of strict conformity to this themselves with perspicuity, accuracy, and rule.“ Our sight fills the mind with the largest elegance ; and since there are none who will variety of ideas, converses with its objects at the deny that the attaininent of these properties is greatest distance, and continues the longest in desirable, there are few, it is presumed, who will ac ion, without being tired or satiated with its deem the pains requisite to acquire them too proper enjoyment.” This passage follows the great an exertion.
FAMILIAR LECTURES ON USEFUL SCIENCES.
From a Work published in the last Month by the justly celebrated Mrs. BRYAN, entitled,
“ Lectures on Natural Philosophy, the result of many years' experience of the facts clucidated," the following extract is made. It is a lecture on Astronomy; and we doubt not but it will prove acceptable to such of our female readers as are ambitious of that scientific knowledge which is at once elegant and usefulla
THE SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLAINED, &c. contemplate the aspects of the sun and moon for
SO grand, beautiful and sublime, is the different times and seasons, in order to regulate whole scheme of the universe, that it requires the affairs of agriculture and domestic employthe association of all the most elevating ideas to ment. The results of these early investigations raise the mind to a pitch of thought capable of excited an increasing curiosity in the breasts of conveying even the weakest impression of its intelligent men, and led them to contemplate astonishing excellence! yet the assimilating the fixed stars, the influence of which was then power of science enables us to calculate many of much considered and accredited. But science its sublime effects, and to view and understand being incompetent to enable men io ascertain its resplendent beauties and most powerful ener either the sizes or distances of the stars, they gies, with ease, satisfaction and conviction. are only distinguished by their different apparent
Aided by mathematics, we venture to speak magnitudes; and by being grouped into conwith certainty of the sizes, distances, periods and stellations, and characterized by names, either of motions of some of the heavenly bodies, though particu’ar observers of these beautiful luminaries, far removed from our familiar inspection. The or adapted to different events in profane history. solar system was first established by Pythagoras; | This arrangement was particularly useful to na. and since revived by Copernicus, after the exu vigation before the use of the magnet was disberance of genius had been corrected by the covered. infusion, and modified by the res:rict:ons of In the centre of the solar system is placed the science. That the motions of the heavenly l sun, like the father of a family, surrounded by bodies excited the attention of the earliest ages bodies dependent on his emanations, called we may readily believe; for the necessities of planets; one of which is our earth. Mercury human nature must have naturally led men to is situated nearest the grand luminary; next
Venus ; then our Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, || primaries, and also revolving with them round and Herschel, or Georgium Sidus.
Our earth has one moon; Jupiter, Three other planets, lately discovered, have four; Saturn seven; and the Georgiuin Sidus not yet been introduced into astronomical tables; six, already discovered. From the benefits deyet I must not neglert mentioning them. Ofrived from the influences of the moon on our these, the iwo first discovered are called Piazzi carth, we naturally infer, ihat the satellities of and Olbers, after the names of their discoverers; || the other planets perforin the same essential and or, as they are otherwise called, Ceres and Pallas. saluiary offices to the respective worlds connected The former of these planets was discovered on with them. the fist day of the present century-namely, To afford a rational solution of the globes, and January 1, 1801, by M. Piazzi, astronomer, at the problems to be performed by them, I shall Palermo in Sicily; and the latter on the twenty state the circumstances which confirm us in the eighth March, 1602, by Dr. Olbers, astronomer, belief of the sun being the central borly of our ai Bremen in Germany. Bo h of these planets sysłem ; and of the planets, and thei moons, or appear extremely small, like ielescopic siars of satellites, shining only by red cting the light of the seventh or eighth magnitude. They move the sun: also, show how the rotation of these in orbits between those of Mars and Jupiter, and bodies on their axes is ascertained, and explain in some parts of their tracks they approach very the causes of eclipses. I is evident to our senses near to each other; and, what is singular in our
that the earth and the heavenly bodies move observations of these planetary bodies, their round each other. The revulving bodies move orbits cross each other; the planet Olbers coming in an unresisting medium, on which account nearer to the sun than Piazzi in the perihelion,
these motions are continual, and always regular. or near part of their orbits; but going off to a It is impossible, by the sense alone, to ascertain greater distance than the latter in their aphelion, which of ihese has the quickest, and which the or further part of their orbits; this singularity is slowest motion; or which moves exterior, and owing to the great eccentricity of the orbit of which interior, in respect to another; because Olbers, which is equal to one-fourth part of its the atmosphere revolving with the earth, renders mean distance, while that of Piazzi is but about that motion insensible to creatures on i's surf.ce; the twenty-eighth part of its mean distance from for the earth has no motion independent of its the sun.
The other planet was discovered, atmosphere. Hence, as our senses are incuf. September 1, 1804, by Mr. Hardinge, astrono. ficient to determine the fact, we must call in the mer, at the Observatory at Lilienthall, err Bre aid of our judgment, which may be confirmed men, in Germany. It appears very small, like by reasoning on known truths. Notwithstaiding a telescopic star of the eighth magnitude. Sub the possibility of the earth moving round the sequent observations have determined some of sun, yet as we cannot perceive that it does so by its phenomena. lts period is four years four sensible effects, to establis' that fact, we will months; the inclination of its orbit between 10 compare this circumstance with effec s perceived and 21°. Its mean distance from the sun three in familiar instances, and confirmed by undevintbundred millions of miles.
ing laws. The periodical time of Olbers is found to be Suppose a large bill placed on one extremity four years seven months and ten days: and of a stick, and a smaller one on its other extre. that of Piazzi but very little different. The sizes i mity; to place the whole in such a manner that of these planets are variously stated by different we may give it a revolving motion round the astronomers. Taking the apparent diameter at centre of graviy between ihe balls, we must duly a second and a half, the real diameter may be il balance the two balls, by placing their centre of about one-seventh of that of our earth, or one gravity on a point, or pivot. It is evident to half that of the moon. From Dr. Herschel's reason, that the centre of gravity of these two observations they appear to be much smaller; || unequal borlies must be nearer to the larger than namely, the diameter of Piazzi about one hund to the smaller on'. It is a known law in motion, red and sixty-two miles, and that of Olbers only that revolving bodies connected together by an nine-v.five miles. He also considers them ' intervening agent, as ihe sun and planets really of a different species from the ither known are bv atra' iun, must move round a centre; and planeis, and calls them asteroids; as in the clear.', that centre be nearer to the larger than to the ness of their light they resemble the other planets smallehodies and stars, while in their size and motion they The sun, fri m his magnitude, balances all the resemble the comets.
bodies which circulate round him; and these Some of the planets have satellites, or moons, bodies are all connected with that luminary by belonging to them; performing revolutions the power of gravity. It must be obvious to round a centre between themselves and their every one, that the sun, being the largest of the
bodies constituting the solar system, must per that it is greller at the equator than at the poles: form his revolution nearer to the cominon centre and hence it is, that the equatorial part of our of gravity than any of the others.
earth is larger than any other; which postulatum The centre of gravity between the sun and all has been established by actual mensuration and the planets is not more than the sun's semi the law of pendulums. The application of the diameter from itself. Thus, by familiar obser- || latter to ascertain this circumstance, arose from vations, and easy inferences, we are able to esta. the motion of this instrument being accelerated blish the sublime and important fact--ihat the by an increased force of gravity, and retarded by sun is the central body of our system.
its weaker impressions. Hence we infer, that That the planets shine only by reflecting the as a pendulum vibrates slower at the equator, light of the sun, is evident in the effectper that part must have its gravity counteracted by ceived of the inferior planets, Venus and Mer some power, which power is found to be the cury; and also of the moon that accompanies centrifugal force; this counteracts in a degree our earth, and the satelliies of Jupiler; which | the effi-ets of gravity at the equator, and also never appear bright but when so situated that enlarges that part of the surface of our globe. thev receive the sun's rays.
In recurring to the other circumstances of the The moon performs her revolution round the solar system, it becomes necessary to mention centre of gravity between herself and the earth, certain bodies that are perceived by us at irreguin a plane inclined to the earth's orbit.
lar intervals, called comets; but of which 10 That the planets are globular bodies actual positive theory is established: for neither their observations have determined. As thus: by the periods nor distances are actually ascertained; aid of glasses we are able to discern spots on some though calculations have been made of the of these bodies; and the different appearances of length of the orbits of some of them, and the the spots at different times have been such as time of their revolutions, by observations taken must arise from viewing them on the surface of || of the velocity with which these bodies move in a globular revolving body; namely, their appear- || certain parts of their orbits. However, we may ing broader than in the centre, in respect to our suppose the orbits of comets to be very long sight, than wh approaching to our central ellipses, because these bodies are sometimes far situation, or near to the sides of the revolving | beyond our sight, and at others approach very bo:ly. These effects are most evident on the near to the sun, moving with great velocity in sun and moon; by which observations the time their nearest approach to that luminary. From of the rotation of each of these bodies on its axis the known laws of motion, and of centrifugal is determined. The circular figure cast by our and centripetal forces, we know that all the earth in its shadow, as proved at the time of an planets revolve in elliptical orbits, and must eclipse of the sun, huve indisputably established therefore be sometimes nearer to the sun, and this fact. The fixed stars, as they are called, at other periods further removed from their grand from their b ing stationary in respect to our ob- vivifying principle. This change of distance we servations of them, always appearing at nearly | perceive in respect to our earth, for in winter the same points in the heavens relatively to each the sun subtends a larger angle with it than in other, furnish us, by their apparent diurnal revo summer; accordingly, the sun must be nearer lution (which is produced by the real motion of to us in the former season than in the latter; our globe on its axis), with the time of the en. but this difference is so small, compared with his tire rotation of the earth ; for by the observation absolute distance from us, even in our nearest of the situation of a certain fixed star on one approach to his splendid animating orb, that no evening, and its return 10 the same spot the next, diminution or augmentation of either heat or this is ascertained. The sun is so distant from light is perceived, in consequence of this change us, that he appears stationary; yet even his of distance. motion can be estimated, by our observations of Let us for a moment leave the small part of certain spots on his surface.
the universe to which we belong, and extend our Having endeavoured to establish the facts of view within the confines of the ethereal expanse; the sun being the centre of the system, and the where suns innumerable resplendent shine, aniplanets shining only by his light, I shall proceed imating other planetary worlds that circulate with ihe subject of motion.
round them. This idea is too grand for our cirAll bodies revolving on an axis exert a force cumscribed comprehensions to appreciate ; but from their centre, which force is increased in the fact is established by the evidences of our proportion to the greater dis:ance of any part of senses, and confessedly manifested to us by our such bodies from that centre. These effects of reason, which perceives and judges of one thing the centrifugal force being applicable to the by azo:her. God his created nothing in vain ; nature and configuration of our earth, we infer
and these beautiful luminaries appear like ous