How to Write Clearly - Rules and Exercises on English Composition
by Edwin A. Abbott
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Point out and remove the ambiguity.

26. "He remained in the House while his speech was taken into consideration; which (52) was a common practice with him, because the debates amused his sated mind, and indeed he used to say (a) (6 b) that they were sometimes as good as a comedy. His Majesty had certainly never seen a more (17) sudden turn in any comedy of intrigue, either at his own play-house or the Duke's, than that which this memorable debate produced."

(a) "and were sometimes, he used to say, as good &c."

27. "The Commons would not approve the war (20) expressly; neither did they as yet condemn it (20) expressly; and (a) (18) the king might even have obtained a supply for continuing hostilities (19) from them, on condition of (b) redressing grievances connected with the (c) administration of affairs at home, among which the Declaration of Indulgence was a very important (d) (15a) one."

(a) Write "they were even ready to grant the king &c." (b) Use the verb with a subject, (c) Condense all this into one adjective, meaning "that which takes place at home." (d) End with a noun, "importance," or "foremost place."

28. "Next to thinking clearly, (a) (5) it is useful to speak clearly, and whatever your position in life may hereafter be it cannot be such (54) as not to be improved by this, (b) so that it is worth while making almost any effort to acquire (c) it, if it is not a natural gift: (d) it being an undoubted (d) fact that the effort to acquire it must be successful, to some extent at least, if (d) it be moderately persevered in."

(a) "Next in utility ... comes speaking clearly—a power that must be of assistance to you &c." (b)" If, therefore, you cannot speak clearly by nature, you &c." (c) "this power." (d) Omit "fact;" "for undoubtedly, with moderate perseverance &c."

29. "It (a) (38) appears to me (15) a greater victory than Agincourt, a grander triumph of wisdom and faith and courage than even the English constitution or (b) liturgy, to have beaten back, or even fought against and stemmed in ever so small a degree, those basenesses that (c) (10a) beset human nature, which are now held so invincible that the influences of them are assumed as the fundamental axioms of economic science."

(a) Begin with "To have beaten &c.," and end with "liturgy." (b) Repeat for clearness and emphasis, "the English." (c) "The besetting basenesses of &c."

30. "The (a) (2) unprecedented impudence of our youthful representative reminds us forcibly of the unblushing and (54) (40) remarkable effrontery (c) (which (26) he almost succeeds in equalling) of the Member for St. Alban's, whom our (b) (1) neophyte (b) (1) alluded to, in the last speech with which he favoured those whom (47a) he represents, (19) as his pattern and example."

(a) Show that "unprecedented" is inconsistent with what follows. (b) What is the meaning of "neophyte," "alluded to"? (c) Begin a new sentence, "Our young adventurer &c.," and end with "and he almost succeeds in equalling his master."

31. "The (a) (1) veracity of this story is questionable, and there is the more reason for doubting the (a) (1) truth of the narrator, because in his remarks on the (1) observation of the Sabbath he distinctly (a) (1) alludes to a custom that can be shown never to have existed."

(a) Distinguish between "veracity" and "truth," "observation" and "observance." Show the inconsistency between "allude" and "distinctly."

32. "It (a) (5) is a most just distribution, (10 a) which the late Mr. Tucker has dwelt upon so (b) largely in his works, between pleasures in which we are passive, and pleasures in which we are active. And I believe every attentive observer of human life will assent to (c) this position, that however (d) grateful the sensations may occasionally be in which we are passive, it is not these, but the latter class of our pleasures, (8) which constitutes satisfaction, (e) (38) which supply that regular stream of moderate and miscellaneous enjoyments in (10 c) which happiness, as distinguished from voluptuousness, consists."

(a) "There is great justice in &c." (b) Omit "so." (c) "admit." (d) Not often now used in this sense. (e) Repeat the antecedent, "I mean those (pleasures) &c."

33. "The prince seemed to have before him a limitless (54) prospect of unbounded prosperity, carefully (33) trained for the (a) tasks of the throne, and stimulated by the (a) pattern of his father, (b) who (43) breathed his (3) last suddenly at the age of sixty-two, just after the conclusion of the war."

(a) Find more appropriate words. (b) Begin a new sentence.

34. "On his way, he visited a son of an old friend (a) (25) who had asked him to call upon him on his journey northward. He (b) (5) was overjoyed to see him, and (c) he sent for one of his most intelligent workmen and told (d) him to consider himself at (e) his service, (30) as he himself could not take (f) him as he (g) wished about the city."

(a) If you mean that the "son" had "asked him," write "An old friend's son who;" if you mean that the "friend" had "asked him," write "He had been asked by an old friend to call, on his journey northward, upon his son. Accordingly he visited him on his way." (b) Use, instead of he, some name meaning "one who entertains others." (c) Use participle, (d) "The man." (e) "the stranger's." (f) "his guest." (g) Write "could have wished" to make it clear that "he" means "the host."

35. "Tillotson died in this year. He was exceedingly beloved both by King William and by Queen Mary (43), who nominated Dr. Tennison, Bishop of Lincoln, to succeed him."

36. "(a) The entertainment was arranged with a magnificence that was (b) perfectly stupendous and (c) most unprecedented, and which quite kept up his Lordship's unrivalled reputation for unparalleled hospitality, and, thanks to the unequalled energy of Mr. Smith, who is rapidly becoming one of the most effective toast-masters in the kingdom, the toasts were given with a spirit quite unexampled on occasions of this nature; and indeed we were forcibly reminded in this respect of the inimitable entertainment of three years ago (2)."

(a) Omit most of the epithets, or soften them down. Point out the contradictions in the sentence as it stands. (b) Write "a remarkable magnificence that quite &c.," thus dispensing with the following "and." (c) Show that "most" is superfluous.

37. "If we compare Shakespeare with the other dramatic authors of the Elizabethan era, his wonderful superiority to them in the (15) knowledge of human nature is what (15 a) principally strikes us."

38. "The prince found himself at once in sore perplexity how to provide himself with the commonest comforts or even necessaries of life, when he landed on this desolate coast, being (33) accustomed to luxury."

39. "This make-shift policy recommended itself to the succeeding ministers (a) (50), both because they were timid and because they were prejudiced, and they were delighted to excuse (b) (13) themselves by quoting the example of one who (c) (34) had controlled the Liberals and humoured the Conservatives, (37) commended himself to the country at large by his unfailing good-humour, and (d) (44) (37) done nothing worthy of the name of statesman."

(a) "to the timidity and prejudices of &c." (b) "shelter themselves behind." (c) "while he had at once." (d) "had yet done."

40. "William Shakespeare was the sun among the lesser lights of English poetry, and a native of Stratford-on-Avon (14 a)."

41. "(15 b) I think, gentlemen, you must confess that any one of you would have done the same (32), if you had been tempted as I was then, placed starving and ragged among wasteful luxury and comfort, deliberately instigated to acts of dishonesty by those whom I had been taught from infancy to love, (a) praised when I stole, mocked or punished when I failed to (15 a) do (b) so."

(a) Insert another infinitive beside "love." "Love" produces "obedience." (b) Repeat the verb instead of "do so."

42. "So far from being the first (54) aggressor, he not (22) only refused to prosecute his old friend when a favourable opportunity presented itself for revenging himself thus upon him, but also his friend's adviser, John Smith. Smith (a) at all (23) events suspected, if he did not know of the coming danger, and had given no information of it."

(a) If "at all events" qualifies "Smith," the sentence must be altered. "Yet, however innocent his friend may have been, at all events Smith suspected...." If the words qualify "suspected," place them after "suspected."

43. "It is quite true that he paid 5s. per day to English navvies, and even 6s., (19) in preference to 2s. 6d. to French navvies."

44. "Having climbed to the apex of the Righi to enjoy the spectacle of the sun-rise, I found myself so incommoded by a number of illiterate individuals who had emerged from the hotel for a (a) (1) similar purpose, that I determined to quit them at the earliest practicable period; and therefore, without stopping to partake of breakfast, I wended my way back with all possible celerity." (3)

(a) "the same."

45. "You admit that miracles are not natural. Now whatever is unnatural is wrong, and since, by your own admission, miracles are unnatural, it follows that miracles are wrong." (1)

46. "Who is the man that has dared to call into civilized alliance the (a) (41) inhabitant of the woods, to delegate to the (a) Indian the defence of our disputed rights?

(a) Insert some antithetical or other epithets.

47. "A (a) very (11) small proportion indeed of those who have attempted to solve this problem (b) (19) have succeeded in obtaining even a plausible solution."

(a) State what proportion succeeded, or, if you like, what failed: "not one in a hundred." (b) Begin, "Of all those that &c."

48. "To be suddenly (a) (47 a) brought into contact with a system (8) which forces one to submit to wholesale imposture, and to being (40 a) barbarously ill-treated, naturally repels (a) (15 a) one."

(a) Write, either (1) "Collision ... causes a natural repulsion," or (2) "When brought into contact ... one is naturally repelled," or (if "ill-treatment" is emphatic), (3) "One is naturally repelled by collision with &c."

49. "We annex a letter recently addressed by Mr. ——'s direction to the Editor of the ——, in contradiction of statements, equally untrue, which appeared in that periodical, and (a) (9) which the editor has undertaken to insert in the next number.... I am sure that all must regret that statements so (b) (51) utterly erroneous should have (c) (23) first appeared in a publication of such high character."

(a) What the writer intended to express was that the editor had undertaken to insert, not the "statements," but the "contradiction." (b) Omit either "so" or "utterly." (c) "appeared first," or, "for the first time."

50. "This is a book which (10 a) is short and amusing, which (10 a) can be easily (a) understood, which (10 a) is admirably adapted for the purpose for which it (b) was (54) written; and (10 e) which ought to be more popular than the last work which (10 a) was published by the same author."

(a) Express "which can be understood" in one adjective. (b) "Its purpose."

51. "When thousands are left (19) without (40) pity and without (40) attention (19) on a field of battle, amid (40) the insults of an enraged foe and (40) the trampling of horses, while the blood from their wounds, freezing as it flows, binds them to the earth, and (40) they are exposed to the piercing air, it (15 a) must be indeed a painful scene."

The whole sentence must be remedied by (40).

52. "(a) The youth was naturally thoughtful, and disposed (19) besides by his early training—(31) which had been conducted with great care, the object of his parents being to pave (14) his way as far as possible over the stormy (14) sea of temptation and to lead him into the harbour of virtue—to a sincere (b) (1) remorse (19) for the (b) (1) crimes that he had committed in the sight of heaven, and also for his recent (b) (1) sin in breaking the laws of his country."

(a) First state the reasons for his being "disposed." "The youth was naturally thoughtful; moreover, his early training had been conducted with great care by his parents, whose &c. .... He was therefore disposed &c." (b) What is the difference between "remorse" and "repentance," between "sin" and "crime"?

53. "(a) One day (54) early in the morning, the general was approached by a messenger, (30) in the midst of the entanglements and perplexities which had unexpectedly surprised him, when the perilous hour of (54) danger was at hand, and (37), in spite of their promises, even the tribes that were well disposed (54) and friendly, were threatening to desert him, and (54) leave him to face the enemy (b) (23) alone."

Condense the sentence by omitting some of the italicized words, e.g. (a) "Early one morning." (b) Though there is no real ambiguity (unless a wrong emphasis is placed on "enemy"), yet, in strictness, "alone" ought to qualify "enemy." Write therefore, "alone in the face of the enemy."

54. "A man (a) (10 d) who neglected the ordinary duties *of* life, and, immersed in study, devoted himself to grand plans for the benefit of mankind, (b) (44) and refused to provide for the wants of those dependent on him, and suffered his aged relatives to become paupers because he would not help them, (c) would, in my opinion, (34) be a bad man, and not altogether (d) (40 a) without hypocrisy."

(a) "If a man." (b) "if he refused," or "while he refused." (c) "such a man" or "he." (d) "to some extent a hypocrite."

55. "I cannot believe in the guilt of (a) one (b) (10 e) who, whatever may have been said to the contrary, can be shown, and has been shown by competent testimony proceeding from those who are said to have carefully examined the facts, in spite (23) of many obstacles, to have resisted all attempts to (29) induce him to leave his situation, (c) (29) to consult his own interests and to (29) establish a business of his own."

(a) "his guilt;" (b) (1) "for, whatever &c.... it can be shown by &c.... that, in spite of &c., he resisted." Or (2) insert "in spite ... obstacles" between "have" and "carefully." (c) (1) "for the purpose of consulting ... and establishing." Or (2) write "and to consult his own interests by establishing &c."

56. "We must seek for the origin of our freedom, (a) (37) prosperity, and (a) (37) glory, in that and only (b) that[18] portion of our annals, (30) though it (c) is sterile and obscure. The great English people was (d) then formed; the notional (e) disposition began (d) then to exhibit those peculiarities which it has ever since (e) possessed; and our fathers (d) then became emphatically islanders, (f) in their politics, (a) feelings, and (a) manners, and (30 a) not merely in their geographical position."

(a) Repeat the Pronominal Adjective, (b) Express the emphatic "only that" by beginning the sentence thus: "It is in that portion of our annals &c." (c) Omit. (d) "It was then that &c." (e) Use words implying something more marked than "disposition," and more forcible than "possessed;" in the latter case, "retained." (f) Repeat "islanders."

57. "(a) He was the universal (54) favourite of (54) all (8) who knew him, and cemented many friendships at this period, (a) (33) (moving in the highest circle of society, and, as he (b) (50) had a (4 a) certain property, being independent of the profits of literature), and soon completely extinguished the breath of slander which at the outset of his career had threatened to sap the foundations of his reputation."

(a) Begin "Moving in &c." (b) "rendered independent of ... by &c." Show that Rule (14) is violated by the metaphors.

58. "The outward and material form of that city which, during the brief period which (10 a) is comprised in our present book, reached the highest pitch of military, artistic, and literary glory, was of this (a) (15) nature. The progress of the (b) (5) first has been already traced."

(a) Begin the sentence with "Such was." (b) By "the first" is meant "military glory."

59. "The detachment not only failed to take the fort, (30) spite of their numbers and the weakness of the garrison, but also to capture the small force that was encamped outside the town, and was, after some sharp fighting, driven back with inconsiderable loss."

Point out the ambiguity. Remedy it by inserting either "which," or "the assailants."

60. "(a) (b) Believing that these reforms can only (c) (21) be effected as public opinion is prepared for them, and that (5) this will be more or less advanced in different localities, the Bill of the Association, (a) (31) which has been for a (3) considerable period in draft, and will be introduced in the next Session of Parliament, provides for placing (d) (3) the control in regard to the points above-mentioned in the (3) hands of the ratepayers of each locality; the power to be exercised through representative Licensing Boards to be periodically elected by them."

(a) Place the parenthesis first, as an independent sentence: "The Bill of the Association has been ... Parliament." (b) What noun is qualified by "believing?" Write "In the belief." (c) "effected only so far as they are in accordance with public opinion, which &c." (d) "it, or, the Bill provides that the ratepayers ... shall receive control ... and shall exercise this control."

61. "I think they are very (1) nice persons, for they kept me amused for a long (a) (11) time together yesterday by their (1) nice stories all about what they (b) have experienced in Japan, where they had been for (a) ever so long, and (c) (43) where they said that the natives ripped up their (d) (5) stomachs."

(a) Mention some time. (b) "experiences" or "adventures." (c) "among other things, they told us &c." (d) "their own."

62. "To contend for advantageous monopolies, which are regarded with a dislike and a suspicion (a) which daily (10 a) increases, (30) however natural it may be to be annoyed at the loss of that which one has once possessed, (15 a) is useless."

(a) A compound adjective can be used, including "daily."

63. "Upon entering the rustic place of entertainment to partake of some refreshment, my nerves were horrified by lighting on a number of boisterous individuals who were singing some species of harvest song, and simultaneously imbibing that cup which, if it cheers, also inebriates; and when, banished from their society by the fumes of the fragrant weed, I wended my way to the apartment which adjoined the one in which I had hoped to rest my weary limbs, I found an interesting assortment of the fairer sex, who were holding a separate confabulation apart from the revels of their rougher spouses."

Write "village inn," "next room," &c., for these absurd circumlocutions. See (3).

64. "When Burgoyne was born, in 1782, Napoleon and Wellington were both boys (11)."

Napoleon studied at Brienne, Wellington at Eton. Mention this, and, in order to imply the boyhood, call Wellington "Arthur Wellesley."

65. "An honourable friend of mine, who is now, I believe, near me—(38) to whom I never can on any occasion refer without feelings of respect, and, on this subject, (36) feelings of the most grateful homage; (38) whose abilities upon this occasion, as upon some former ones, are not entrusted merely to the perishable eloquence of the (a) day, but will live to be the admiration of that (a) hour when all of us are mute and most of us forgotten: (b) (38) has told you that prudence is (52) the first of virtues, and (52) can never be used in the cause of vice."

(a) Though "of the day" is a recognized expression for "ephemeral" or "transitory," yet to use "day" for a short time, and "hour" for a longer, is objectionable. Write moment for day. Else write future for hour. (b) "—this gentleman has told &c."

66. "To see the British artisan and his wife on the Sabbath, neat and clean and cheerful, with their children by their sides, (a) (19) disporting themselves under the open canopy of heaven, is (15) pleasant."

(a) There is no reasonable ground for mistaking the sense here, as the context makes it clear; but since Lord Shaftesbury was questioned whether he meant disporting to qualify "artisan and his wife" or "children," write "and, by their sides, their children disporting &c."

67. "Even if (a) it were attended with extenuating circumstances, such conduct would deserve severe reprobation, (b) and it is the more called for because it would seem that (c) it was the intention of the author of the crime, in perpetrating (e) it, to inflict all the misery that was possible, upon his victim." See (5).

(a) Omit "it were." (b) "which." (c) "to have been." (d) Express "author of the crime" in one word. (e) Use the noun.

68. "The (a) (1) observance of the heavenly bodies must have been attended with great difficulties, (b) (30) before the telescope was (a) (1) discovered, and it is not to be wondered at if the investigations of astronomers were often unsatisfactory, and failed to produce complete (a) (1) persuasion, (30) (15, a) under these disadvantages."

(a) What is the difference between "observance" and "observation," "discover" and "invent," "persuasion" and "conviction"? (b) Begin "Before &c."

69. "He plunged into the sea once more, (30) not content with his previous exertions. After a long and dangerous struggle, he succeeded in reaching a poor woman that was crying piteously for help, and (a) (35) was at last hauled safely to shore."

(a) Point put and remedy the ambiguity by inserting "he" or by writing "who," according to the meaning.

70. "Sir John Burgoyne himself, face to face with Todleben, became (a) (1) conscious of the difference between the fortifications of San Sebastian and of Sebastopol, (b) which (10 e) was (c) (12) very weak compared with Metz or Paris."

(a) What is the exact meaning of conscious? (b) Avoid the relative, by repeating the name, with a conjunction, (c) "weakness itself."

71. "Upon Richard's leaving the (c) stage, the Commonwealth was again set up; and the Parliament which Cromwell had (a) broken was brought together; but the army and they fell into new disputes: so they were again (a) broken by the army: and upon that the nation was like to fall into (b) (11) great convulsions."

(a) Modern Eng., "broken up." (b) "violently convulsed." (c) It is a question whether this metaphor is in good taste. The meaning is that Richard "retired from public life." It might be asserted that Richard, the Commonwealth, the Parliament are regarded as so many puppets on a "stage." But this is extremely doubtful. Make Parliament the principal subject: "When Richard retired ... and when the Commonwealth &c.... the Parliament was ... but, falling into a dispute with &c., it was...." See (18) and (43).

72. "What a revolution in the military profession! He began with (a) (11) unnecessary formality, and (b) (11) inefficient weapons, and ended with (c) (b) (11) greatly improved fire-arms."

(a) "pig-tail and pipe-clay." (b) "Six-pounders and flint-locks" are now inefficient compared with "twenty-four-pounders and breech-loaders." (c) Something is wanted antithetical to (a), perhaps "loose drill" or "open order."

73. "Children fear to go in the dark. Men fear death in the same way. The fear of children is increased by tales. So is the fear of death. The contemplation of death, as the 'wages of sin,' and passage to another world, is holy and religious. The fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is weak. In religious meditations on death there is sometimes mixture of vanity and of superstition."

Insert connecting adverbs or conjunctions. See (44).

74. "I have often heard him reiterate (54) repeatedly that he would never again, if a safe (54) and secure path was open to him, prefer the perilous (54) road of danger, however alluring (54) and attractive the latter might be."

75. "I thought in my dream that when my friend asked me whether I did not observe anything curious in the conduct of the pigeons, I (a) (4 a) remarked that if any one of the birds was so bold as to take an atom from a heap of grain in the midst of them, (31) (which (b) a detachment guarded, and which, being continually increased and never eaten, seemed useless), all the rest turned against him and pecked him to death for the (c) (50) action."

(a) Point out the ambiguity. (b) This should come earlier in the sentence, and not as a parenthesis. "I noticed a heap of grain in the midst of them, guarded by ... Being continually ..., to all appearance, useless: yet." (c) "theft."

76. "If this low view of the royal office becomes generally adopted, then sovereigns who (8) have always hitherto commanded the respect of Englishmen will by degrees fall into disrespect."

Point out the ambiguity. Show how it might be removed (a) by punctuation, (b) by altering "who."

77. "I struck the man in self-defence. I explained this to the magistrate. He would not believe me. Witnesses were called to support my statements. He committed me to prison. He had the right to do this. It is a right that is rarely exercised in such circumstances. I remonstrated."

See (44). Insert conjunctions or connecting adverbs.

78. "He attained a very distinguished position by mere (15) perseverance and common sense, which (52) (10 a) qualities are perhaps mostly underrated, (30) though he was deficient in tact and not remarkable for general ability."

79. "Vindictiveness, which (a) (50) is a fault, (b) and which may be defined as anger (10 a) which is caused not by sin nor by crime but by personal injury, ought to be carefully distinguished from resentment, which (a) (50) is a virtue, (b) and which is anger (49) which is natural and (c) right caused by an act (d) which is unjust, because it is unjust, (30 a) not because it is inconvenient."

(a) "The fault of vindictiveness;" "the virtue of resentment." (b) Omit (c) "Right" cannot be used as an adjective, but "righteous" can. (d) "an act of injustice."

80. "(a) He told his friend that (a) his brother was surprised that (a) he had given so small a contribution, for (a) he was (b) (12) a very rich man, in spite of (a) his recent losses and the bad state of trade, (19) (30) compared with himself."

(a) Use (6). (b) What Asian king was proverbial for wealth?

81. "(a) (15 b) It must be indeed wrong to (a) crucify a Roman citizen if to (b) (32) slay one is almost parricide, to (b) scourge him is a monstrous crime, and to (b) bind him is an outrage."

(a) "What must it be...?" (b) See (40).

82. "The universal (54) opinion of all the citizens was that the citadel had been (15) betrayed, (30) having been captured in broad daylight by a very small number of the enemy, and those unprovided with scaling ladders, and admitted by a postern gate, (15 a) and much wearied by a long march."

In any case "betrayed" must come at the end of a sentence. The sentence may be converted into two sentences: "The citadel had been captured.... Naturally therefore ...;" or, "The opinion ... for it had been captured...." Else, if one sentence be used, write "As the citadel had been captured &c."

83. "This author surpassed all those who were living (a) at the same time with him in the forcible (b) manner in which he could address (c) an appeal to the popular sympathy, and in the ease with which he could draw towards (a) himself the hearts of his readers."

(a) Express in one word. (b) "force with." (c) Omit.

84. "This great statesman was indeed a pillar of commerce, and a star in the financial world. He guided or impelled the people from the quicksands of Protection and false political economy to the safe harbour of Free Trade; and (a) (14 a) saved the country several millions."

(a) It would be well to literalize the preceding metaphors. Else the literal statement must be changed into a metaphor.

85. "The ministers were most unwilling to meet the Houses, (a) (43) (51) because even the boldest of them (though their counsels were lawless (15) and desperate) had too much value for his (b) (11) personal safety to think of resorting to the (c) (12) unlawful modes of extortion that had been familiar to the preceding age."

(a) Begin a new sentence with "Lawless and desperate though their counsels had been &c." (b) "neck." (c) Insert some of these unlawful modes, "benevolences, ship-money, and the other &c."

86. "We will not (a) (15) pretend to guess what our grandchildren may think of the character of Lord Byron, as exhibited in (15 a) his poetry." No writer ever had the whole eloquence of scorn, misanthropy, and (a) (15) despair (15 a) so completely at his command. That fountain (b) (12) of bitterness was never dry."

(a) "We will not pretend to guess" and "despair" are intended by the author to be emphatic. (b) "Marah."

87. "The captain asked to be allowed fifty men, a supply of food, and one hundred and fifty breech-loaders. (44) The general replied coldly that he could not let his subordinate have (a) (4) anything that he wanted. (44) The captain was forced to set out (34) with an insufficient force, spite of the superabundance of soldiers doing nothing in the camp (34), and with every obstacle put in his way by a general who from the first had resolved not even to give him ordinary assistance, (b) (10 a') which the captain had for some time anticipated."

(a) Point out and remove the ambiguity. (b) Write, according to the meaning, " ... assistance that" or " ... a resolution that."

88. "I am a practical man, and disbelieve in everything (8) which is not practical; theories (a) which amuse philosophers and pedants have no attractions for me, (30) for this reason."

(a) What difference in the meaning would be caused by the use of "that" for the second "which"?

89. "Yet, when that discovery drew no other severity but the (11 a) turning (a) him out of office, and the (11 a) passing a sentence (b) condemning him to die for it (31) (which was presently pardoned, and he was after a short confinement restored to his liberty), all men believed that the king knew of the letter, (c) (43) and that (6 b) the pretended confession of the secretary was only collusion to lay the jealousies of the king's (d) (11 a) favouring popery, (e) (43) which still hung upon him, (30) notwithstanding his (e) writing on the Revelation, and his (e) affecting to enter on all occasions into controversy, (e) asserting in particular that the Pope was Antichrist."

(a) "expulsion from." (b) "a pretended sentence to death—a pretence that was soon manifested by his pardon and liberation." (c) Begin a new sentence: "'The secretary's pretended confession,' it was said, 'was &c.'" (d) "the suspicion that the king favoured Popery." (e) The juxtaposition of the two verbal nouns, "writing" and "affecting," with the participle "asserting," is harsh. Write, "For, notwithstanding that he affected controversy, and attacked the Pope as Antichrist in his treatise on the Book of Revelation, the king was still suspected."

90. "The opinion that the sun is fixed was once too (a) (1) universal to be easily shaken, and a similar prejudice has often (b) rendered the progress of new inventions (15 a) very slow, (19) arising from the numbers of the believers, and not (36) the reasonableness of the belief."

(a) Write "general." Show the absurdity of appending "too" to "universal." (b) What single word can be substituted for "rendered slow"?

91. "The rest of the generals were willing to surrender unconditionally, (30) depressed by this unforeseen calamity; (4) only the young colonel, who retained his presence of mind, represented to them that they were increasing the difficulties of a position in itself very difficult (19) (15, a) by their conduct."

92. "To (a) (31) an author who is, in his expression of any sentiment, wavering between the (b) demands of perspicuity and energy (of which the (c) (40 a) former of course requires the first care, lest (40 a) he should fail of both), and (37) doubting whether the (d) phrase which (8) has (e) the most force and brevity will be (f) readily taken (g) in, it may (h) (3) be recommended to use both (d) expressions; first, (h) to expound the sense sufficiently to be clearly understood, and then (i) to contract it into the most compendious and striking form."

(a) Write "When an author &c." (b) Can be omitted. (c) Assimilate the constructions: "Of which the former must, of course, be aimed at first, lest both be missed." (d) Use "expression" or else "phrase" in both places. (e) Assimilate the construction to what follows; write "that is most forcible and brief." (f) Insert "also." (g) "understood." (h) "let him use ...; first let him expound." (i) Omit.

93. "When I say 'a great man,' I not (22) only mean a man intellectually great but also morally, (38) who (8) has no preference for diplomacy (a) (23) at all events which (10 a) is mean, petty, and underhanded to secure ends which (8) can be secured by an honest policy equally (20) well, (38) who (8) does not resemble Polonius, (b) who prefers to get at truth by untruthful tricks, and (b) who considers truth a carp which (10 g) is to be caught by the bait falsehood. We cannot call a petty intriguer great (c), (30) though we may be forced to call an unscrupulous man by that (15 a) name."

(a) "at all events no preference." (b) Why is who right here? If you like, you can write, "does not, like Polonius, prefer ... and consider." (c) End with "we cannot give the name to a petty intriguer."

94. "I regret that I have some (a) (3) intelligence which (10 a) is of a most (3) painful nature, and which I must tell you at once, though (b) I should like to defer it on (c) (40 a) account of your ill-health, and because (c) (40 a) you have already had many troubles, and (40 a) owing to the natural dislike which (8) a friend must always feel to say that (10 f) which is unpleasant. Many old friends in this district have turned against you: I scarcely like to write the words: only (21) I remain faithful to you, and I am sure you will believe that I am doing that (10 f) which is best for your interests."

(a) "news." (b) In a letter these words should remain is they are; but if a period is desired, they must (30) come last, after "unpleasant." (c) Write "because of your ill-health ... and the troubles ... and because of...."

95. "The general at once sent back word that the enemy had suddenly appeared on the other side of the river, and [(35) or (37)] then (a) retreated. (b) It was thought that (b) it would have shown more (c) (1) fortitude on his (3) part if he had attacked the fortifications, (d) which were not tenable for more than a week at all events. Such was the (54) universal opinion, at (23) least, of (54) all the soldiers."

(a) Point out the ambiguity. (b) "It was thought he would have shown &c." (c) Distinguish between "fortitude" and "bravery." (d) What would be the meaning if "that" were substituted for "which"? It will be perhaps better to substitute for "which," "since they."

96. "A notion has sprung up that the Premier, though he can legislate, cannot govern, and has attained an influence which renders it imperative, if this Ministry is to go on, that (a) it should be dispersed."

(a) Who or what "has attained"? Write "and this notion has become so powerful that, unless it is dispersed...."

97. "Those who are habitually silent (a) (3) by disposition and morose are less liable to the fault of exaggerating than those who are habitually (a) (3) fond of talking, and (40 a) of (a) (3) a pleasant disposition."

(a) Each of these periphrases must be condensed into a single adjective.

98. "This author, (a) (31) though he is not (b) altogether (c) guiltless of (b) occasional (c) faults of exaggeration, which are to be found as plentifully in his latest works as in those which he (d) published when he was beginning his career as an author, yet, notwithstanding these (e) defects, surpassed all those who were living at the (f) same time with him in the clear (g) manner in which he could, as it were, see into the feelings of the people at large, and in the power—a power that indeed could not be (f) resisted—with which he drew (f) toward himself the sympathy of those who (f) perused his works." See (54).

(a) Convert the parenthesis into a separate sentence. (b) One of these words is unnecessary. (c) One of these is unnecessary. (d) Condense: "his earliest." (e) Omit these words as unnecessary. (f) Express all this in one word. (g) "clearness with."

99. "Among the North (a) (23) American Indians I had indeed heard of the perpetration of similar atrocities; but it seemed intolerable that such things should occur in a civilized land: and I rushed from the room at once, leaving the wretch where he stood, with his tale half told, (30) horror-stricken at his crime."

(a) Make it evident whether the speaker once lived among the North American Indians, or not, and show who is "horror-stricken."

100. "His (1) bravery under this painful operation and the (1) fortitude he had shown in heading the last charge in the recent action, (30) though he was wounded at the time and had been unable to use his right arm, and was the only officer left in his regiment, out of twenty who were alive the day before, (19) inspired every one with admiration."

Begin, "Out of twenty officers &c.... Though wounded &c.... he had headed." "The bravery he had then shown and...."

101. "Moral as well as (41) other considerations must have weight when we are selecting an officer (a) that (10 b) will be placed in a position that will task his intelligence (b) (18) and his fidelity."

(a) The repetition of "that" is objectionable. Use "to fill." (b) "and" can be replaced by some other conjunction to suit what precedes.

102. "It happened that at this time there were a few Radicals in the House who (8) could not forgive the Prime Minister for being a Christian."

Point out the difference of meaning, according as we read "who" or "that."

103. "It cannot be doubted (15 b) that the minds of a vast number of men would be left poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves, if (32) there were taken out of men's minds vain opinions, false valuations, imaginations as one (a) would, and the (15 a) like."

(a) The meaning (which cannot easily be more tersely expressed than in the original) is "castles in the air," "pleasant fancies."

104. "God never wrought a miracle to refute atheism, because His ordinary works refute it. (a) A little philosophy inclines man's mind to atheism: depth in philosophy brings men's minds back to religion. (44) While the mind of man looks upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them; (44) when it beholds the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs acknowledge a Providence. (44) That school which is most accused of atheism most clearly demonstrates the truth of religion."

(a) Insert a suspensive conjunction. See (34).

105. "The spirit of Liberty and the spirit of Nationality were once for all dead; (a) (5) it might be for a time a pious duty, but it could not continue always expedient or (c) (15) (18) profitable to (b) (13) mourn (c) (15 a) for their loss. Yet this is the (b) (13) feeling of the age of Trajan."

(a) Omit. (b) "To sit weeping by their grave;" "attitude." (c) Notice that "expedient or profitable" are emphatic, as is shown by "yet" in the next sentence. Make it evident therefore, by their position, that these words are more emphatic than "to mourn &c."

106. "(a) If we ask (15 b) what was the nature of the force by which this change was effected, (a) we find it to have been (b) the force that had seemed almost dead for many generations—(38) of theology."

(a) Omit these words. (b) Begin a new sentence: "It was a force &c."

107. "I remember Longinus highly recommends a description of a storm by Homer, because (a) (5) (c) he has not amused himself with little fancies upon the occasion, as authors of an inferior genius, whom he mentions, (b) (15 a) have done, (30) but (c) because he has gathered together those (d) (1) events which are the most apt to terrify the imagination, and (35) really happen in the raging of a tempest."

(a) "The poet." (b) Omit "have done" and write "like some authors." (c) Suspend the sentence by writing "the poet ... instead of ... has." (d) What is the word for "that which happens around one, or in connection with some central object?"

108. "To have passed (a) (3) in a self-satisfied manner through twenty years of office, letting things take their own course; to have (b) sailed with consummate sagacity, never against the tide of popular (c) judgement; to have left on record as the sole title to distinction among English ministers a peculiar art of (d) sporting with the heavy, the awful responsibility of a nation's destiny with the jaunty grace of a juggler (11) (e) playing with his golden ball; to have joked and intrigued, and bribed and (f) deceived, with the result of having done nothing (g), (h) either for the poor, (h) or for religion (for (i) which indeed he did worse than nothing), (h) or for art and science, (h) or for the honour or concord or even the financial prosperity of the nation, (38) is surely a miserable basis on which the reputation of a great (15) statesman can be (k) (15 a) founded."

(a) "complacently." (b) "Sail" implies will and effort: use a word peculiar to a helpless ship, so as to contrast paradoxically with "sagacity." (c) Use a word implying less thought and deliberation. (d) With is too often repeated; write "bearing" so as to introduce the illustration abruptly. (e) "tossing." (f) Use a word implying a particular kind of "deceit," not "lying," but the next thing to "lying." (g) Insert the word with a preceding and intensifying adverb, "absolutely nothing." (h) Instead of "either," "or," repeat "nothing." (i) The parenthesis breaks the rhythm. Write "nothing, or worse than nothing." (k) "to found."

109. "A glance at the clock will make you (1) conscious that it is nearly three in the morning, and I therefore ask you, gentlemen, instead of wasting more time, to put this question to yourselves, 'Are we, or are we not, here, for the purpose of (1) eliminating the truth?'"

110. "The speech of the Right Honourable member, so far from unravelling (14) the obscurities of this knotty question, is eminently calculated to mislead his supporters (a) (8 a) who have not made a special study of it. It may be (b) (23) almost asserted of every statement (8) which he has made that the very (1) converse is the fact."

(a) The meaning appears to be, not "all his supporters," but "those of his supporters who:" the convenience of writing "his supporters that" is so great that I should be disposed to use "that." (b) "Every," not "asserted," requires the juxtaposition of "almost."

111. "The provisions of the treaty which (8) require the consent of the Parliament of Canada await its assembling."

Point out the meaning conveyed by which, and by that.

112. "Mrs. Smith demonstrated (26), in opposition to the general dictum of the press, that (a) there had been a reaction against woman's suffrage, that there had really been a gain of one vote in the House of Commons."

(a) Substitute "instead of," and erase the second "that."

113. "The practice of smoking hangs like a gigantic (14 a) cloud of evil over the country."


[18] That which treats of the thirteenth century.



The following exercises consist of extracts from Burnet, Butler, and Clarendon, modernized and altered with a view to remove obscurity and ambiguity. The modernized version will necessarily be inferior to the original in unity of style, and in some other respects. The charm of the author's individuality, and the pleasant ring of the old-fashioned English, are lost. It is highly necessary that the student should recognize this, and should bear in mind that the sole object is to show how the meaning in each case might have been more clearly expressed.

Occasionally expressions have been altered, not as being in themselves obscure or objectionable, but as indicating a habit of which beginners should beware. For example, in the extract from Burnet, he is often altered, not because, in the particular context, the pronoun presents any obscurity, but because Burnet's habit of repeating he is faulty.

These exercises can be used in two ways. The pupil may either have his book open and be questioned on the reasons for each alteration, or, after studying the two versions, he may have the original version dictated to him, and then he may reproduce the parallel version, or something like it, on paper.


The principal faults in this style are, long heterogeneous sentences (43), use of phrases for words (47 a), ambiguous use of pronouns (5), excessive separation of words grammatically connected together (19).


(44) It will not be impertinent And now, in order to explain, as nor unnatural to this (50) far as possible, how so prodigious present discourse, to set down an alteration could take place in in this place the present temper so short a time, and how the[19] and constitution of both Houses royal power could fall so low as of Parliament, and (34) of the to be unable to support itself, court itself, (30) that (5) it its dignity, or its faithful may be the less wondered at, that servants, it will be of use to set so prodigious an alteration should down here, where it comes most be made in so short a time, and naturally, some account of the[20] (37) the crown fallen so low, that present temper and composition, it could neither support itself not only of both Houses of nor its own majesty, nor those Parliament, but also of the court who would (47 a) appear itself. faithful to it.

* * * * * * * * * *

(Here follows a description of the House of Lords.)

In the House of Commons were many In the House of Commons persons of wisdom and gravity, who there were many men of wisdom (7) being possessed of great and and judgment whose high plentiful fortunes, though they position and great wealth disposed were undevoted enough to the them, in spite of their indifference court, (19) had all imaginable to the court, to feel duty for the king, and affection a most loyal respect for the to the government established(47 king, and a great affection for a) by law or ancient custom; the ancient constitutional (43) and without doubt, the major government of the country. Indeed, part of that (54) body it cannot be doubted that consisted of men who had no mind the majority had no intention to to break the peace of the kingdom, break the peace of the kingdom or to make any considerable or to make any considerable alteration in the government of alteration in Church or State. Church or State: (43) and Consequently, from the very therefore (18) all inventions outset, it was necessary to resort were set on foot from the (15) to every conceivable device beginning to work upon (5) for the purpose of perverting them, and (11) corrupt (5) this honest majority into rebellion. them, (43) (45) by suggestions "of the dangers (8) which With some, the appeal was threatened all that was precious addressed to their patriotism. to the subject (19) in their They were warned "of the liberty and their property, by dangers that threatened [all overthrowing (47 a) or that was precious in] the liberty overmastering the law, and (47 and property of the subject, a) subjecting it to an if the laws were to be made arbitrary (47a) power, and by subservient to despotism, and countenancing Popery to the if Popery was to be encouraged subversion of the Protestant to the subversion of the Protestant religion," and then, by religion." infusing terrible apprehensions into some, and so working upon The fears of others were appealed their fears, (6 b) "of (11 a) to. "There was danger," so[21] it being called in question for was said, "that they might be somewhat they had done," by which called to account for something (5) they would stand in need of they had done, and they would then (5) their protection; and (43) stand in need of the help of those (45) raising the hopes of others, who were now giving them this "that, by concurring (47 a) timely warning." In others, hopes with (5) them (5) they were excited, and offices, should be sure to obtain offices honours, and preferments were held and honours and any kind of out as the reward of adhesion. preferment." Though there were too Too many were led away by one or many corrupted and misled by these other of these temptations, and several temptations, and (19) indeed some needed no other others (40 a) who needed no temptation than their innate other temptations than from the fierceness and barbarity and the fierceness and barbarity of malice they had contracted against their (47 a) own natures, and the Church and the court. But the the malice they had contracted leaders of the conspiracy were not against the Church and against the many. The flock was large and court; (43) yet the number was not submissive, but the shepherds were great of those in whom the very few. government of the rest (47 a) was vested, nor were there many who had the absolute authority (13) to lead, though there were a multitude (13) that was disposed to follow.

(44) (30) Mr. Pym was looked upon Of these, Mr. Pym was thought as the man of greatest experience superior to all the rest in in parliaments, where he had parliamentary experience. To this (50) served very long, and was advantage he added habits of always (50) a man of business, business acquired from his (7) being an officer in the continuous service in the Exchequer, (43) and of a good Exchequer. He had also a good reputation generally, (30) though reputation generally; for, though known to be inclined to the known to be inclined to the Puritan party; yet not of those Puritan party, yet he was not so furious resolutions against the fanatically set against the Church Church as the other leading men as the other leaders. In this were, and (44) wholly devoted to respect he resembled the Earl of the Earl of Bedford, who had Bedford, to whom he was nothing of that spirit. thoroughly devoted.

(Here follow descriptions of Hampden and Saint John.)

It was generally believed that These three persons, with the these three persons, with the three peers mentioned before, were other three lords mentioned united in the closest confidence, before, were of the most intimate and formed the mainspring of the and entire trust with each other, party. Such at least was the and made the engine which (47 general belief. But it was clear a) moved all the rest; (30) that they also admitted to their yet it was visible, that (15) unreserved confidence two others, Nathaniel Fiennes, the second son (45) whom I will now of the Lord Say, and Sir Harry describe,—Nathaniel Fiennes, Vane, eldest son to the Secretary, second son of Lord Say, and Sir and Treasurer of the House, were Harry Vane, eldest son of the received by them with full Secretary, and Treasurer of the confidence and without reserve. House.

The former, being a man of good Nathaniel Fiennes, a man of good parts of learning, and after some parts, was educated at New years spent in New College in College, Oxford, where[22] his Oxford, (43) of which his father family claimed and enjoyed some had been formerly fellow, (43) privileges in virtue of their that family pretending[23] and kindred to the founder, and enjoying many privileges there, as where[22] his father had formerly of kin to the founder, (43) (19) been a fellow. He afterwards spent had spent his time abroad in some time in Geneva and in the Geneva and amongst the cantons of cantons of Switzerland, where[22] Switzerland, (30) where he he increased that natural improved his disinclination to the antipathy to the Church which he Church, with which milk he had had imbibed almost with his been nursed. From his travels he mother's milk.[24] By a singular returned through Scotland (52) coincidence, he came home through (which[24] few travellers took in Scotland (not a very common route their way home) at the time when for returning travellers) just (5) that rebellion was in bud: when the Scotch rebellion was in (30) (43) (44) and was very little bud. For some time he was scarcely known, except amongst (5) that known beyond the narrow and people, which conversed (47 a) exclusive circle of his sect, wholly amongst themselves, until until at last he appeared in he was now (15) found in Parliament. Then, indeed, it was Parliament, (30) (43) (44) when quickly discovered that he was it was quickly discovered that, likely to fulfil even the fond as he was the darling of his hopes of his father and the high father, so (5) he was like to promise of many years. make good whatsoever he had for many years promised.

(5) The other, Sir H. Vane, was Fiennes' coadjutor, Sir H. Vane, a man of great natural parts[25] was a man of great natural (45) and of very profound ability.[25] Quick in understanding dissimulation, of a quick and impenetrable in dissembling, conception, and of very ready, he could also speak with sharp, and weighty expression. He promptness, point, and weight. His had an (50) unusual aspect, which, singular appearance, though it though it might naturally proceed might naturally proceed from his from his father and mother, parents, who were not noted for neither of which were beautiful their beauty, yet impressed men persons, yet (19) made men think with the belief that he had in him there was somewhat in him of something extraordinary, an extraordinary: and (52) his whole impression that was confirmed by life made good that imagination. the whole of his life. His Within a very short time after he behaviour at Oxford, where he returned from his studies in studied at Magdalen College, was Magdalen College in Oxford, where, not characterized, in spite of the (43) though he was under the care supervision of a very worthy of a very worthy tutor, he lived tutor, by a severe morality. Soon not with great exactness, (43) he after leaving Oxford he spent some spent some little time in France, little time in France, and more in and more in Geneva, and, (43) Geneva. After returning to after his return into England, England, he conceived an intense (38) contracted a full prejudice hatred not only against the and bitterness against the Church, government of the Church, which both against the form of the was disliked by many, but also government and the Liturgy, (43) against the Liturgy, which was which was generally in great held in great and general reverence, (15 a) even with reverence. many of those who were not friends to (5) the other. In Incurring or seeming to incur, by his giddiness, which then much his giddiness, the displeasure of displeased, or seemed to his father, who at that time, displease, (30) (43) his father, beside strictly conforming to the who still appeared highly Church himself, was very bitter conformable, and exceedingly sharp against Nonconformists, the young against those who were not, Vane left his home for New (5) he transported himself into England. New England, (43) a colony within few years before planted by a This colony had been planted a few mixture of all religions,[26] which years before by men of all sorts of disposed the professors to dislike religions, and their the government of the Church; who differences[26] disposed them to (30) (43) (44) were qualified by dislike the government of the the king's charter to choose their Church. Now, it happened that their own government and governors, privilege (accorded by the king's under the obligation, "that every charter) of choosing their own man should take the oaths of government and governors was allegiance and supremacy;" (30) subject to this obligation, "that (43) (5) which all the first every man should take the oaths of planters did, when they received allegiance and supremacy." These their charter, before they oaths had been taken, not only by transported themselves from hence, all the original planters, on nor was there in many years after receiving their charter, before the least scruple amongst them of leaving England, but also for many complying with those obligations: years afterwards, without exciting so far men were, in the infancy the slightest scruple. Indeed, (15) of their schism, from scruples against lawful oaths were refusing to take lawful oaths. unknown[27] in the infancy of the (45) He was no sooner landed English schism. But with the there, but his parts made him arrival of Vane all this was quickly taken notice of, (26) and changed. No sooner had he landed very probably his quality, being than his ability, and perhaps to the eldest son of a some extent his position, as eldest Privy-councillor, might give him son of a Privy-councillor, some advantage; insomuch (51) recommended him to notice: and at that, when the next season came the next election he was chosen for the election of their Governor. magistrates, he was chosen their governor: (30) (45) (43) in which In his new post, his restless and place he had so ill fortune (26) unquiet imagination found (his working and unquiet fancy opportunity for creating and raising and infusing a thousand diffusing a thousand conscientious scruples of conscience, which (5) scruples that had not been brought they had not brought over with over, or ever even heard of, by the them, nor heard of before) (19) colonists. His government proved a that he unsatisfied with failure: and, mutually them and they with him, dissatisfied, (45) governed and he retransported himself governor parted. Vane returned into England; (30) (43) (44) to England, but not till he had having sowed such seed of accomplished his mischievous task, dissension there, as grew up too not till he had sown the seeds of prosperously, and miserably those miserable dissensions which divided the poor colony into afterwards grew only too several factions, and divisions prosperously, till they split the and persecutions of each (15 a) wretched colony into distinct, other, (30) (43) which still hostile, and mutually persecuting continue to the great (54) factions. His handiwork still prejudice of that plantation: remains, and it is owing to (15) insomuch as some of (5) them, him that some of the colonists, upon the ground of their first on the pretext of liberty of expedition, liberty of conscience, conscience, the original cause of have withdrawn themselves from (5) their emigration, have withdrawn their jurisdiction, and obtained themselves from the old colonial other charters from the king, by jurisdiction and have obtained which, (30) (43) in other forms of fresh charters from the king. government, they have enlarged These men have established new their plantations, within new forms of government, unduly limits adjacent to (5) (15 a) enlarged their boundaries, and set the other.their plantations, up rival settlements on the within new limits adjacent to (5) borders of the original colony. (15 a) the other.


[19] The original metaphor uses the crown as a prop, which seems a confusion. Though the metaphor is so common as scarcely to be regarded as a metaphor, it is better to avoid the appearance of confusion.

[20] We sometimes say, briefly but not perhaps idiomatically, "the then sovereign," "the then temper," &c.

[21] The personality of the tempters and organizers of the conspiracy is purposely kept in the background.

[22] The relative is retained in the first two cases, because it conveys the reason why Fiennes was educated at New College; and in the third case, because the increased "antipathy" is regarded as the natural consequence of the residence in Calvinistic Geneva.

[23] Claiming.

[24] An insinuation of sedition seems intended.

[25] This sentence is a preliminary summary of what follows.

[26] If "which" is used here according to Rule (8), the meaning is, (a) "and their differences;" if it is used for "that," the meaning will be, (b) "all religions that were of a nature to dispose &c." I believe (a) is the meaning; but I have found difference of opinion on the question.

[27] The following words appear to be emphatic, bringing out the difference between the infancy and the development of schism.


The principal faults in Burnet's style are (a) the use of heterogeneous sentences (see 43); (b) the want of suspense (see 30); (c) the ambiguous use of pronouns (see 5); (d) the omission of connecting adverbs and conjunctions, and an excessive use of and (see 44); and (e) an abruptness in passing from one topic to another (see 45). The correction of these faults necessarily lengthens the altered version.


And his maintaining the honour of He also gratified the English the nation in all foreign feeling of self-respect by countries gratified the (1) maintaining the honour of the vanity which is very natural nation in all foreign countries. (50) to Englishmen; (30) (43) of So jealous was he on this point which he was so (15) (17 a) that, though he was not a crowned careful that, though he was not head, he yet secured for his a crowned head, yet his (40 a) ambassadors all the respect that ambassadors had all the respects had been paid to the ambassadors paid them which our (15) kings' of our kings. The king, he said, ambassadors ever had: he said (6 received respect simply as the b) the dignity of the crown nation's representative head, was upon the account of the and, since the nation was the nation, of which the king was same, the same respect should (50) only the representative be paid to the[28] nation's head; so, the nation being the ministers. same, he would have the same regards paid to (41) his ministers.

Another[29] instance of (5) this The following instance of jealousy pleased him much. Blake with the for the national honour pleased fleet happened (50) to be at him much. When Blake was at Malaga Malaga before he made war upon with his fleet, before his war Spain: (44) and some of his with Spain, it happened that some seamen went ashore, and met the of his sailors going ashore and Host carried about; (44) and not meeting the procession of the only paid no respect to it, but Host, not only paid no respect to laughed at those who did; (43) it, but even laughed at those who (30) (51) so one of the priests did. Incited by one of the priests put the people upon resenting this to resent the indignity, the indignity; and they fell upon people fell on the scoffers and (5) them and beat them severely. beat them severely. On their When they returned to their ship return to the ship the seamen (5) they complained of (5) complained of this ill-usage, this usage; and upon that Blake whereupon Blake sent a messenger sent a trumpet to the viceroy to to the viceroy to demand the demand the priest who was the priest who was the instigator of chief (1) instrument in that the outrage. The viceroy answered ill-usage. The viceroy answered that he could not touch him, as he he had no authority over the had no authority over the priests. (15) priests, and so could not To this Blake replied, that he did dispose of him. Blake upon that not intend to inquire to whom the sent him word that he would not authority belonged, but, if the inquire who had the (1) power to priest were not sent within three send the priest to him, but if hours, he would burn the town. The he were not sent within three townspeople being in no condition hours, he would burn their town; to resist, the priest was at once (43) and (5) they, being in no sent. On his arrival, he defended condition to resist him, sent himself, alleging the insolence of the priest to him, (43) (44) who the sailors. But the English (50) justified himself upon the Admiral replied that a complaint petulant behaviour of the seamen. should have been forwarded to him, and then he would have punished (44) Blake answered that, if (5) them severely, for none of his he had sent a complaint to (5) sailors should be allowed to him of(5) it, (5) he would affront the established religion have punished them severely, since of any place where they touched. (5) he would not suffer his "But," he added, "I take it ill men to affront the established that you should set on your religion of any place at which (5) countrymen to do my work; for I he touched; but (5) (6) he will have all the world know that took it ill, that he set on the an Englishman is only to be Spaniards to do (5) it; for he punished, by an Englishman." Then, would have all the world to know satisfied with having had the (50) that an Englishman was only to be offender at his mercy, Blake punished by an Englishman; (43) entertained him civilly and sent (44) and so he treated the priest him back. civilly, and sent him back (30), being satisfied that he had him at his mercy.

Cromwell was much delighted with Cromwell was much delighted with (5) this, (43) and read the Blake's conduct. Reading the letters in council with great letters in council with great satisfaction; and said he (6) satisfaction, he said, "I hope I hoped he should make the name of shall make the name of an an Englishman as great as ever Englishman as much respected as that of a Roman (15 a) had ever was the name of Roman." been. (44) The States of Holland Among other countries the States were in such dread of (5) him that of Holland were in such dread of they took care to give him no sort Cromwell that they took care to of umbrage; (43) (44) and when give him no sort of umbrage. at any time the king or his Accordingly, whenever the king or brothers came to see their sister his brothers came to see the the Princess Royal, (23) within a Princess Royal their sister, they day or two after, (5) they used were always warned in a day or two to send a deputation to let them by a deputation that Cromwell had know that Cromwell had required of required of the States to give the States that (5) they should them no harbourage. give them no harbour.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cromwell's favourite alliance was The free kingdom of Sweden was Sweden.[30] (44) Carolus Gustavus Cromwell's favourite ally; not and he lived in great conjunction only under Charles Gustavus, with of counsels. (44) Even Algernon whom he was on most confidential Sydney, (10 a) who was not terms, but also under Christina. inclined to think or speak well of Both these sovereigns had just kings, commended him (5) to me; notions of public liberty; at and said he (5) had just least, Algernon Sydney, a man notions of public liberty; (44) certainly not prejudiced in favour (43) and added, that Queen of royalty, assured me this was Christina seemed to have them true of Gustavus. He also held the likewise. But (44) she was same opinion of Queen Christina; much changed from that, when but, if so, she was much changed I waited on her at Rome; for when I waited on her at Rome; for she complained of us as a factious she then complained of the factious nation, that did not readily and unruly spirit of our nation. comply with the commands (47 a) of our princes. (44) All Italy All Italy, no less than trembled at the name of Cromwell, Holland,[31] trembled at the name and seemed under a (1) panic as of Cromwell, and dreaded him till long as he lived; (43) his fleet he died. Nor durst the Turks scoured the Mediterranean; and the offend the great (50) Protector Turks durst not offend him; but whose fleet scoured the delivered up Hyde, who kept up the Mediterranean; and they even gave character of an ambassador from up Hyde, who, for keeping up in the king there (23) (43), and was Turkey the character of ambassador brought over and executed for (5) from the king, was brought to it. England and executed.

(44) (11 a) The putting the In another instance of severity brother of the king of Portugal's towards foreigners—the execution ambassador to death for murder, of the brother of the Portuguese was (11 a) carrying justice ambassador for murder—Cromwell very far; (43) since, though in carried justice very far. For, the strictness of the law of though in strictness the law of nations, it is only the nations exempts from foreign ambassador's own person that is jurisdiction the ambassador alone, exempted from (4) any authority yet in practice the exemption has (47 a) but his master's that extended to the whole of the sends him, yet the practice has ambassador's suite. gone in favour of all that the ambassador owned (47 a) to Successful abroad, Cromwell was no belong to him. (41) (44) Cromwell less successful at home in showed his good (11) selecting able and worthy men for understanding in nothing more public duties, especially for the than in seeking[32] out capable courts of law. In nothing did he and worthy men for all employments, show more clearly his great but most particularly for the natural insight, and nothing courts of law, (43) (30 a) contributed more to his popularity. (10 a) which gave a general satisfaction.


[28] The meaning is "his, and therefore the nation's, ministers." There is a kind of antithesis between "the nation" and "the nation's ministers."

[29] No instance has yet been mentioned.

[30] The thought that is implied, and should be expressed, by the words, is this: "Cromwell's favourite ally was a free country."

[31] The remarks about Christina are a digression, and Burnet is now returning to the respect in which Cromwell was held by foreign nations.

[32] He not only sought, but sought successfully. That "find" is not necessarily implied by "seek out" seems proved by the use of the word in the Authorized Version, 2 Tim. ii. 17: "He sought me out very diligently, and found me."


The principal faults in this style are (a) a vague use of pronouns (5), and sometimes (b) the use of a phrase, where a word would be enough (47 a).


Some persons, (15) upon Some persons avowedly reject all pretence[33] of the sufficiency of revelation as[34]essentially the light of Nature, avowedly incredible and necessarily reject all revelation as, in its fictitious, on the ground that the (47 a) very notion, light of Nature is in itself incredible, and what (47 a) sufficient. And assuredly, had the must be fictitious. And indeed light of Nature been sufficient in (32) it is certain that no such a sense as to render revelation would have been given, revelation needless or useless, no (32) had the light of Nature been revelation would ever have been sufficient in such a sense as to given. But let any man consider render (5) one not[35] wanting, the spiritual darkness that once or useless. But no (15 b) man in (41) prevailed in the heathen seriousness and simplicity can world before revelation, and that possibly think it (5) so, who (41) still prevails in those considers the state of religion in regions that have not yet received the heathen world before the light of revealed truth; above revelation, and its (5) present all, let him mark not merely the state in those (11) places (8) natural inattention and ignorance which have borrowed no light of the masses, but also the from (5) it; particularly (19) the doubtful language held even by a doubtfulness of some of the (12) Socrates on even so vital a greatest men concerning things of subject as[36] the immortality of the utmost (11) importance, as the soul; and then can he in well as the (15 a) natural seriousness and sincerity maintain inattention and ignorance of that the light of Nature is mankind in general. It is (34) sufficient? impossible to say (12) who would have been able to have reasoned It is of course impossible to deny out that whole system which we that some second[36] Aristotle call natural religion, (30) in its might have reasoned out, in its genuine simplicity, clear of genuine simplicity and without superstition; but there is a touch of superstition, the certainly no ground to affirm whole of that system which we that the generality could. call natural religion. But there (44) If they could, there is is certainly no ground for no sort of probability that affirming that this complicated they would. (44) Admitting there process would have been possible were, they would highly want a for ordinary men. Even if they had standing admonition to remind them had the power, there is no of (5) it, and inculcate it upon probability that they would have them. And further still, were (5) had the inclination; and, even if they as much disposed (47 a) we admit the probable inclination, to attend to religion as the they would still need some better sort of men (15 a) are; standing admonition, whereby yet, even upon this supposition, natural religion might be there would be various occasions suggested and inculcated. Still for supernatural instruction and further, even if we suppose these assistance, and the greatest ordinary men to be as attentive to advantages (50) might be religion as men of a better sort, afforded (15 a) by (5) yet even then there would be them. So that, to say revelation various occasions when is a thing superfluous, what supernatural instruction and there (47 a) was no need of, assistance might be most and what can be of (47 a) no beneficially bestowed. service, is, I think, to talk wildly and at random. Nor would it Therefore, to call revelation be more extravagant to affirm that superfluous, needless, and (40 a) mankind is so entirely useless, is, in my opinion, to (40 a) at ease in the present talk wildly and at random. A man state, and (40 a) life so might as reasonably assert that we completely (40 a) happy, that are so entirely at ease and so (5) it is a contradiction to completely happy in this present suppose (40 a) our condition life that our condition cannot capable of being in any respect without contradiction be supposed (47 a) better.—(Analogy of capable of being in any way Religion, part ii. chap. 1.) improved.


[33] "To pretend" once meant "to put forward," "maintain."

[34] It has been suggested, however, that by "in its very notion incredible," is meant "inconceivable."

[35] "Wanting" is used for modern "wanted."

[36] This use of the particular for the general would be out of place in Butler's style, but it adds clearness.



The following extract exhibits examples of tautology and lengthiness. The "implied statement" (50) can often be used as a remedy, but, more often, the best remedy is omission.


The Russian empire is (50) a Russia, with her vast strength and state of (54) such vast boundless resources, is obviously strength and boundless destined to exercise on the course resources, that it is of history a great and lasting obviously destined to make a influence. The slowness of her great and lasting impression on progress only renders her human affairs. Its (50) progress durability more probable. The has been slow, but (5) it[37] is Russian Empire has not, like the only on that account the more empires of Alexander the Great and likely to be durable. (5) It has Napoleon, been raised to sudden not suddenly risen to greatness, greatness by the genius of like the empire of Alexander in individuals or the accidents of ancient (19) (31), or that of fortune, but has been slowly Napoleon in modern, times, from enlarged and firmly consolidated the force of individual genius, or by well-guided ambition and the accidents of (54) casual persevering energy,[38] during a fortune, but has slowly advanced, long succession of ages. and (40 a) been firmly consolidated (15) during a succession of ages, from the combined influence of ambition skilfully directed and energy (15 a) perseveringly applied.

* * * * * * * * * *

The extent and fertility of the The extent and fertility of her Russian territory are such (54) territory furnish unparalleled as to furnish facilities of facilities for the increase of her increase and elements of strength population and power. European which no nation (47 a) in the Russia, that is, Russia to the world enjoys. European west of the Ural Mountains, Russia—that is, Russia to the contains one million two hundred westward of the Ural thousand square geographical Mountains—contains a hundred and miles, or ten times the surface of fifty thousand four hundred square Great Britain and Ireland. marine leagues, or about one million two hundred thousand square geographical miles, being ten times the surface of the British Islands, which contain, including Ireland, one hundred and twenty-two thousand. Great part, This vast territory is intersected no doubt, of this immense (54, by no mountain ranges, no arid see below) territory is covered deserts; and though much of it is with forests, or (40 a) lies rendered almost unproductive of so far to the north as to be food either by the denseness of almost unproductive of food; but forests, or by the severity of the no ranges of mountains or arid northern winter, yet almost all, deserts intersect the vast (54, except that part which touches see above) extent, and almost the Arctic snows, is capable of the whole, excepting that which yielding something for the use touches the Arctic snows, is of man. capable of yielding something for the use of man. The (3) (54) The steppes of the south present boundless steppes of the south an inexhaustible pasturage to present (54) inexhaustible those nomad tribes whose numerous fields of pasturage, and give and incomparable horsemen form the birth to those nomad tribes, in chief defence of the empire. whose numerous and incomparable horsemen the chief defence of the empire,[39] as of all Oriental states, (15 a) is to be found. The rich arable lands in the heart The rich arable lands in the of the (54) empire produce an interior produce grain enough to (2) incalculable quantity of support four times the present grain, capable not only of population of the empire, and yet maintaining four times (5) its leave a vast surplus to be present inhabitants, but affording transported by the Dnieper, the a vast surplus for exportation by Volga, and their tributaries, into the Dnieper, the Volga, and their the Euxine or other seas. tributary streams, (30) which form so many (54) natural outlets into the Euxine or other seas; (44) while the cold and Lastly, the cold bleak plains shivering plains which stretch stretching towards Archangel and towards Archangel and the shores towards the shores of the White of the White Sea are (48) covered Sea, and covered with immense with immense forests of fir and forests of oak and fir, furnish oak, furnishing at once (54)[40] materials for shipbuilding and inexhaustible materials for supplies of fuel that will for shipbuilding and supplies of fuel. many generations supersede the (54) These ample stores for many necessity of searching for coal. generations will supersede the necessity of searching in the (14 a) bowels of the earth for the purposes of (54) warmth or manufacture.

Formidable as the power of Russia Much as we may dread Russia for is from the vast extent of its the vastness of her territory and territory, and the great and of her rapidly increasing numbers, rapidly increasing number of there is greater cause for fear its (54) subjects, (5) it is in the military spirit and the still more (5) so from the docility of her people. military spirit and docile disposition by which they are (54)[41] distinguished. The prevailing (54) passion of the A burning thirst for conquest is nation is the (54) love of as prevalent a passion in Russia conquest, and this (54) ardent as democratic ambition in the free (54) desire, which (54) burns states of Western Europe. This as (54) fiercely in them as passion is the unseen spring[2] democratic ambition does in the which, while it retains the free states of Western Europe, is Russians in the strictest the unseen spring[42] which both discipline, unceasingly impels retains them submissive (54) their united forces against all under the standard of their adjoining states. chief and impels their accumulated forces in ceaseless The national energy, which is as violence over all the adjoining great as the national territory, states. The energies of the rarely wastes itself in disputes people, great as[43] the territory about domestic grievances. For all they inhabit, are rarely wasted in internal evils, how great soever, internal disputes. Domestic the Russians hope to find a grievances, how great soever, are compensation, and more than a (54) overlooked in the thirst for compensation, in the conquest of foreign aggrandizement. (15) In the world. the conquest of the world the people hope to find a compensation, and more than a compensation, (15 a) for all the evils of their interior administration.


[37] Apparently "it" means, not "progress," but the "Russian empire."

[38] Not "energy," but "a long succession of ages," needs to be emphasized.

[39] There is nothing in the context that requires the words, "as of all Oriental states."

[40] If they were really "inexhaustible," the "necessity of searching in the bowels of the earth" would be "superseded," not for "many," but for all generations.

[41] The words can be implied, and besides they are expressed in the following sentence.

[42] The metaphor is questionable; for a "spring," qua "spring," does not retain at all; and besides, "a passion" ought not to "burn" in one line, and be a "spring" in the next.

[43] The meaning appears not to be, "great as" (is), i.e. "though the territory is great."


* * * * *










"It is not so much a merit to know English as it is a shame not to know it; and I look upon this knowledge as essential for an Englishman, and not merely for a fine speaker."—ADAPTED FROM CICERO.





Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral, late Head Master of the City of London School.


We have other motives, beside the respect and gratitude which must be felt for you by all those of your old pupils who are capable of appreciating the work you did at the City of London School, for asking you to let us dedicate to you a little book which we have entitled "English Lessons for English People."

Looking back upon our school life, we both feel that among the many educational advantages which we enjoyed under your care, there was none more important than the study of the works of Shakspeare, to which we and our school-fellows were stimulated by the special prizes of the Beaufoy Endowment.

We owe you a debt of gratitude not always owed by pupils to their teachers. Many who have passed into a life of engrossing activity without having been taught at school to use rightly, or to appreciate the right use of, their native tongue, feeling themselves foreigners amid the language of their country, may turn with some point against their teachers the reproach of banished Bolingbroke:—

My tongue's use is to me no more Than an unstringed viol or a harp, Or like a cunning instrument cased up, Or, being open, put into his hands That knows no touch to tune the harmony; Within my mouth you have engaoled my tongue, Doubly portcullis'd with my teeth and lips, And dull, unfeeling, barren ignorance Is made my gaoler to attend on me. I am too old to fawn upon a nurse, Too far in years to be a pupil now.

It is our pleasant duty, on the contrary, to thank you for encouraging us to study the "cunning instrument" of our native tongue.

Our sense of the benefits which we derived from this study, and our recollection that the study was at that time optional, and did not affect more than a small number of the pupils, lead us to anticipate that when once the English language and literature become recognized, not as an optional but as a regular part of our educational course, the advantages will be so great as to constitute nothing short of a national benefit.

The present seems to be a critical moment for English instruction. The subject has excited much attention of late years; many schools have already taken it up; others are on the point of doing so; it forms an important part of most Government and other examinations. But there is a complaint from many teachers that they cannot teach English for want of text-books and manuals; and, as the study of English becomes year by year more general, this complaint makes itself more and more distinctly heard. To meet this want we have written the following pages. If we had had more time, we might perhaps have been tempted to aim at producing a more learned and exhaustive book on the subject; but, setting aside want of leisure, we feel that a practical text-book, and not a learned or exhaustive treatise, is what is wanted at the present crisis.

We feel sure that you will give a kindly welcome to our little book, as an attempt, however imperfect, to hand on the torch which you have handed to us; we beg you also to accept it as a token of our sincere gratitude for more than ordinary kindnesses, and to believe us

Your affectionate pupils,


* * * * *

Messrs. Roberts Brothers' Publications.

ENGLISH LESSONS FOR ENGLISH PEOPLE. By Rev. E. A. ABBOTT, M.A., and Prof. J. R. SEELEY, M.A. Part I.—Vocabulary. Part II—Diction. Part III.—Metre. Part IV.—Hints on Selection and Arrangement. Appendix. 16mo. Price $1.50.

From the London Athenaeum.

The object of this book is evidently a practical one. It is intended for ordinary use by a large circle of readers; and though designed principally for boys, may be read with advantage by many of more advanced years. One of the lessons which it professes to teach, "to use the right word in the right place," is one which no one should despise. The accomplishment is a rare one, and many of the hints here given are truly admirable.

From the Southern Review.

The study of Language can never be exhausted. Every time it is looked at by a man of real ability and culture, some new phase starts into view. The origin of Language; its relations to the mind; its history; its laws; its development; its struggles; its triumphs; its devices; its puzzles; its ethics,—every thing about it is full of interest.

Here is a delightful book, by two men of recognized authority,—the head Master of London School, and the Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge, the notable author of "Ecce Homo." The book is so comprehensive in its scope that it seems almost miscellaneous. It treats of the vocabulary of the English Language; Diction as appropriate to this or that sort of composition; selection and arguments of topics; Metre, and an Appendix on Logic. All this in less than three hundred pages. Within this space so many subjects cannot be treated exhaustively; and no one is, unless we may except Metre, to which about eighty pages are devoted, and about which all seems to be said that is worth saying,—possibly more. But on each topic some of the best things are said in a very stimulating way. The student will desire to study more thoroughly the subject into which such pleasant openings are here given; and the best prepared teacher will be thankful for the number of striking illustrations gathered up to his hand.

The abundance and freshness of the quotations makes the volume very attractive reading, without reference to its didactic value.

Sold by all booksellers. Mailed, postpaid, by the Publishers,



This book is not intended to supply the place of an English Grammar. It presupposes a knowledge of Grammar and of English idiom in its readers, and does not address itself to foreigners, but to those who, having already a familiar knowledge of English, need help to write it with taste and exactness. Some degree of knowledge is presumed in the reader; nevertheless we do not presume that he possesses so much as to render him incapable of profiting from lessons. Our object is, if possible, not merely to interest, but to teach; to write lessons, not essays,—lessons that may perhaps prove interesting to some who have passed beyond the routine of school life, but still lessons, in the strictest sense, adapted for school classes.

Aiming at practical utility, the book deals only with those difficulties which, in the course of teaching, we have found to be most common and most serious. For there are many difficulties, even when grammatical accuracy has been attained, in the way of English persons attempting to write and speak correctly. First, there is the cramping restriction of an insufficient vocabulary; not merely a loose and inexact apprehension of many words that are commonly used, and a consequent difficulty in using them accurately, but also a total ignorance of many other words, and an inability to use them at all; and these last are, as a rule, the very words which are absolutely necessary for the comprehension and expression of any thought that deals with something more than the most ordinary concrete notions. There is also a very common inability to appreciate the differences between words that are at all similar. Lastly, where the pupil has studied Latin, and trusts too much for his knowledge of English words to his knowledge of their Latin roots, there is the possibility of misderiving and misunderstanding a word, owing to ignorance of the changes of letters introduced in the process of derivation; and, on the other hand, there is the danger of misunderstanding and pedantically misusing words correctly derived, from an ignorance of the changes of meaning which a word almost always experiences in passing from one language to another. The result of all this non-understanding or slovenly half-understanding of words is a habit of slovenly reading and slovenly writing, which when once acquired is very hard to shake off.

Then, following on the difficulties attending the use of words, there are others attending the choice and arrangement of words. There is the danger of falling into "poetic prose," of thinking it necessary to write "steed" or "charger" instead of "horse," "ire" instead of "anger," and the like; and every teacher, who has had much experience in looking over examination papers, will admit that this is a danger to which beginners are very liable. Again, there is the temptation to shrink with a senseless fear from using a plain word twice in the same page, and often from using a plain word at all. This unmanly dread of simplicity, and of what is called "tautology," gives rise to a patchwork made up of scraps of poetic quotations, unmeaning periphrases, and would-be humorous circumlocutions,—a style of all styles perhaps the most objectionable and offensive, which may be known and avoided by the name of Fine Writing. Lastly, there is the danger of obscurity, a fault which cannot be avoided without extreme care, owing to the uninflected nature of our language.

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