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Abbey which has during many ages afforded a quiet resting-place to those whose minds and bodies have been shattered by the contentions of the Great Hall, the dust of the illustrious accused should have mingled with the dust of the illustrious accusers. This was not to be. Yet the place of interment was not ill chosen. Behind the chancel of the parish church of Daylesford, in earth which already held the bones of many chiefs of the house of Hastings, was laid the coffin of the greatest man who has ever borne that ancient and widely extended name.”

Short sentences and long we find here, deliberately intermixed. Periodic, every one of them. Artificial, if you please : the nineteenth century is nothing if not self-conscious. But the free periodicity of Macaulay, frankly recognizing the limits of a language where the order of words chiefly determines the relation of thoughts, is a wonderfully different thing from the half-Latin periodicity of two centuries before.

Of course, these few examples indicate the development of style in a very rouglı way. They prove nothing, unless very careful and detailed study prove them typical. Personally, I incline to believe that it would. But putting that question aside, these examples certainly show how varied the effects are which can be produced within the limits of periodic sentences alone, and how far from modern a style must be whose periodicity is laboriously artificial. They show too, with much distinctness, another trait in the composition of sentences which is worth keeping in mind. In each of the four extracts the sentences are balanced. The balance of Ralegh's clauses is very obvious and simple,-as obvious as that of the Psalms. In the passage from Sir Thomas Browne is a clause whose balance is to me the most exquisite I have found in the language: to see just what is meant by balance, then, we cannot do better than study it for a moment in detail :

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"Quietly rested under the drums and tramplings of three conquests."

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Not only every significant word in this clause has one to balance it; but the main consonantal sounds of each balancing pair are identical, and yet so subtilely varied that though the exquisite art of the phrase is not exquisite enough to seem quite artless, few would perceive exactly in what the artifice consists. Quietly balances conquests; rested balances three; drums balances tramplings. An obviously balanced style - Dr. Johnson's is notoriously the most so in our classical literature - has the fatal fault of aggressive

artificiality. A style which neglects balance is often, in effect, still worse. Take this sentence, for example, from some newspaper: “ As distinctly as W. Renshaw is at the head of the men, so is Miss Maud Watson the premier lady player.” What makes this so vile is not so much, I think, the barbarous impropriety of the last clause, as its utter and needless dissimilarity to the first. In brief, I am accustomed to urge pupils to make style as balanced as idiomatic freedom will allow.

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I have now discussed, as far as time will permit, the first two phases of the sentence which I proposed at the beginning of this chapter: the danger of offending in composition against the paramount authority of good use, and some of the different effects which within the limits of good use may be produced by sentences of different kinds. Our business now is to turn to the principles of composition, and to inquire how far good use will allow us to apply them to the composition of sentences.

These principles of composition, you will remember, are three : The first, the principle of Unity, concerns the substance of a composition : every composition should group itself about one central idea. The second, the principle of Mass, concerns the external form of a composition: the chief parts of every composition should be so placed as readily to catch the eye. The third, the principle of Coherence, concerns the internal arrangement of a composition : the relation of each part of a composition to its neighbors should be unmistakable. The question before us now is how far we may apply these principles to the composition of sentences.

To turn, then, to the principle of Unity,—that every composition should group itself about one central idea. In the first chapter I pointed out sufficiently how very elastic this principle is : as our purpose varies, the same idea may legitimately be made the central idea of a sentence or a paragraph or a chapter or a book. The question of scale, in short, is a perfectly indepen.

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dent one; but the question of unity is a perfectly distinct one.

A style in which each composition has a demonstrable central idea is a style very different in effect from one in which each composition is heterogeneous, and for general purposes is by no means as

, serviceable. An example you can all turn to will show what I mean: the paper in the “Spectator” which tells of the death of Sir Roger de Coverley. It is too long for insertion here; but a short extract will perhaps serve our purpose :


" I have likewise a letter from the butler, who took so much care of me last summer when I was at the knight's house. As my friend the butler mentions, in the simplicity of his heart, several circumstances the others have passed over in silence, I shall give my reader a copy of his letter, without any alteration or diminution:

“ • HONOURED SIR, — Knowing that you was my old master's good friend, I could not forbear sending you the melancholy news of his death, which has afflicted the whole county as well as his poor servants, who loved him, I may say, better than we did our lives. I am afraid he caught his death the last county-sessions, where he would go to see justice done to a poor widow woman and her fatherless children, that had been wronged by a neighbouring gentleman; for you know, Sir, my good master was always the poor

man's friend.''

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The contrast between the polite style of the Spectator himself and the vulgar style of the butler, proves on analysis to be chiefly a matter of unity of sentence. And this example emphasizes one important fact: neglect of the principle of Unity in the composition of sentences is very apt to produce a subtile effect of

a vulgarity. It connotes, in short, a confusion of mind which, in educated people, nothing short of extreme emotion will justify.

The question which naturally presents itself now is whether there is any test by which unity of sentence may be proved. At the risk of seeming too dogmatic, I have come to the practice of laying down a rule as definite as this: When a sentence may be resolved into a single subject with legitimate modifiers, and a single predicate with legitimate modifiers, it has unity. Sentences not thus reducible often lack it.

From this, two or three conclusions follow, sometimes laid down as distinct rules. Obviously, a short sentence is less apt to stray out of unity than a long; a periodic than a loose. Short and periodic, then, should, on the principle of Unity, commonly be preferred. Again, a shift of subject in a sentence, or of predicate, or an accumulation of either subjects or predicates, is apt to lead to violation of unity; and violation of unity is apt to mean a missing of the effect which, as educated people, most writers generally wish to produce.

A glance back at the four examples of different stages of English style which I cited a little while ago will show an interesting fact about this matter of unity. Three hundred years ago, and two hundred, for that matter, few writers seem to have paid much attention to unity of sentence; like modern Germans and Harvard undergraduates, Englishmen of

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