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emphasis; for, besides securing emphatic position, expectation is aroused, and more mental energy is expended on the idea when reached. This fact brings us to another principle of the periodic structure of the sentence. This, as already noted, reverses the ordinary arrangement, and so fulfills the law of emphasis. In this the leading idea is kept back till the close; thus stimulating the mind by anticipation and curiosity, it is prepared to receive the idea with its full force when presented.
Explain the arrangement by which emphasis is secured in the following, and examine selections from authors, noting their method of emphasis:
1. “ Now is the accepted time.” 2. Had I known of the accident, I should have gone. 3. “ Flashed all their sabres bare.” 4. He left the room quickly. 5. Insolent though he was, he was silent at last. 6. It was Lincoln who freed the slaves. 7. “ We ought not to bestow the reverence that is due to the great benefactors of mankind upon a mere conqueror.” 8. “ Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? ” 9. “ Military courage, the boast of the sottish German, of the frivolous and prating Frenchman, of the romantic and arrogant Spaniard, he neither possesses nor values." 10. “On whatever side we contemplate Homer, what principally strikes us is his wonderful invention.” 11. “Slowly and sadly we laid him down." 12. “ Certainly the spread of religion will elevate the morals of a country if anything will.” 13. “ Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero as he entered the state parlor of Van Tassel's mansion.”
14. “ It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
By the name of Annabel Lee."
15. “ In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Radiant palace — reared its head." b. Attention through suspense is secured through the periodic structure. This arrangement throws forward emphasis to the end, excites expectation, and compels attention to the close. This structure is essential to dignified and lofty thought. The following from Burke's speech on “Conciliation with America ” are good examples of Energy through this means:
1. “While we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson Bay and Davis Strait, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold.”
2. “When I contemplate these things; when I know that the colonies owe little or nothing to any care of ours and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of watchful and suspicious government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection, — when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all the presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt and die away in me.”
Not only the sentence, but the entire discourse may have the periodic structure. In this, as in the sentence, the point to be brought out is suspended till the close, thus exciting expectation and compelling attention throughout. The recipient is made to feel that if his attention at any time should relax he would miss something important to follow. And this attention is intensified by curiosity aroused by the suspense. If this structure is not skillfully managed, however, the composer loses more than he gains. Unless curiosity can be greatly excited, or there is habit of prolonged attention on the part of the recipient, there is danger of losing attention altogether. The element of curiosity must not be relied on as the chief source of the interest, as is usual in the lower grade of novels. Mere curiosity to know the outcome is not a legitimate means of sustaining the interest and holding the attention. Shakespeare, feeling that there is a deeper source of interest than curiosity, keeps back no secrets, but reveals the truth as rapidly as the development permits. But under certain conditions and within certain limits, the chief thought may be withheld until the mind is opened and well prepared by circumstantial truths and a general background of thought and sentiment.
2. Not only is the relation of ideas indicated by the position of words, but also by the use of relative words, as already stated. These words include such as refer to an antecedent for their meaning; namely, pronouns
- personal, relative, and demonstrative — conjunctive adverbs, prepositions, and phrases of reference.
Either (a) the incorrect use of these or (b) their omission or the omission of some word to which they refer confuses the mind, and often leads to obscurity or ambiguity.
a. Relative words refer to some antecedent term; and error arises when they are so used that it is not clear which of several apparent antecedents is the real one. Accordingly, the simple rule is to use relative words so that their antecedents are obvious and unmistakable. In the case of pronouns, they should follow the nouns to wħich they refer without the intervention of another noun. And further, as stated by Campbell: “ It is but seldom that the same pronoun can be used twice or oftener in the same sentence, in reference to different things, without darkening the expression.” But in short, whatever the relative word, its reference must be so certain that the reader or hearer need give no attention to making out the connection intended.
In the following, show how the mind is unnecessarily engaged by uncertain reference of relatives to their antecedents:
1. “Her home was near the village church, and this seems to have had great influence on her religious character."
2. “ Thus patriotism begets patriotism and makes the Republic a nation of patriots, which becomes evident when the occasion is presented.”
3. “ I saw my old schoolfellow again by mere accident when I was in London at the time of the first Exhibition, walking down Regent Street and looking at the shops.”
4. “ The laws of nature are truly, what my Lord Bacon styles his aphorisms, laws of laws. Civil laws are always imperfect, and often false deductions from them, or application of them; nay they stand in many instances in direct opposition to them.”
5. “When a man considers the state of his own mind, about which every member of the Christian world is supposed at this time to be employed, he will find that the best defense against vice is preserving the worthiest part of his own spirit pure from any great offense against it.”
6. “ The general told him that he thought he had come none too soon."
7. “ This hill forms a very pleasing part of this picture, but the most pleasing part of it is the trees that surround these houses."
8. “ Are our schools so conducted that the poor can and must attend ? Any one who has visited American cities will answer that they do not, on account of their poverty."
9. “And since at least a part of the emigrants are provided with specie it brings a considerable amount of money to this country.”
10. “One may have an air which proceeds from a just sufficiency and knowledge of the matter before him, which may naturally produce some motion of his head and body which might become the bench better than the bar."
II. “ The sharks who prey on the inadvertency of young heirs, are more pardonable than those, who trespass upon the good opinion of those, who treat with them upon the foot of choice and respect.”
12. “ They were persons of such modern intellects, even before they were impaired by their passions."
13. “ While treating of pronunciation of those who minister in public, two other words occur to me which are very commonly mangled by our clergy. One of them is covetous, and its substantive covetousness. I hope some who read these lines, will be induced to leave off pronouncing them covetious and covetiousness. I can assure them that when they do thus call them, one, at least, of their hearers has his appreciation of their teaching disturbed.”
b. The omission of words necessary to make the connection clear is a common violation of the law of economy of attention; thus:
Cardinal Richelieu hated Buckingham as sincerely as the Spaniard Olivares — as did the Spaniard Olivares.
Here the omission of did obscures the meaning. A good illustration of undue attention required by omission is found in what is called “splitting particles.” As, “He heard of, and went to see the man," instead of this: He heard of the man and went to see him.