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PRONOUN AND ANTECEDENT.
It is a sound rule that the Relative should be as close as possible to the Antecedent. Between the relative and the antecedent there should not be any word that might usurp the rights of the antecedent.
'I gave him a piece of bread, which he ate'. We know of course that'which' refers, on the rule of prominence, to 'piece'; 'of bread' being a mere adjunct to define the nature of piece'.
'I must not forget the two sons of this aspiring citizen, who came to church in a dashing curricle'. Without the context, we cannot be quite certain, although we may think it highly probable, that'who' refers not to the near noun
citizen', but to the prominent noun 'sons'. The possessive -'citizen's two sons, who'-would remove all doubt.
Sometimes the subject and the clause adjunct are separated by the predicate. In these cases, the subject is often & pronoun; the predicate is usually short: 'He is well paid that is well satisfied'; 'he lives long that lives well’; ‘that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet'.
I cannot blame thee,
he is drown'd Whom thus we stray to find'. (Tempest.) Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old ?' (Gen. xviii. 13.)
In cases where the clause is co-ordinate, the relative may sometimes be advantageously resolved. 'I cannot blame thee, for I myself am weary'; 'shall I of a surety bear a child, seeing that I am old ?' If the resolution be inconvenient, some other device may be open to us. In the last example, we may read : 'Shall I, which am old, of a surety bear a son ?'
"The time drew near at which the Houses must re-assemble'. (Macaulay.) An easy inversion will serve here : 'Now drew
PRONOUN CLOSE TO THE ANTECEDENT.
near the time when (= at which) the Houses must reassemble'.
* Two languid campaigns followed, during which neither army did anything memorable’. In imitation of the preceding example we may say: “Then followed two languid campaigns, during which, &c.
‘About ten thousand picked and veteran soldiers were thus obtained, of which the Duke of Alva was appointed generalin-chief'. (Motley.) There is nothing specially objectionable in this particular instance; but the predicate could easily be transferred to the beginning : ‘Thus (there) were obtained about ten thousand
soldiers, of which &c'. Besides bringing relative and antecedent closer, we have probably brought this sentence into nearer connection with the foregoing by the prominence of 'thus'.
A similar change produces a similar double effect in the next example:
‘All evils here contaminate the mind.
That opulence departed leaves behind'. (Goldsmith.) • Here', placed in the beginning, connects this statement very pointedly with what precedes; the predicate comes next naturally; and then all evils' gets into contact with its relative adjunct.
(Other similar cases will appear under PLACING OF ADVERB.)
The antecedent is sometimes awkwardly implied in a pos. sessive case that is not close to the relative. The possessive is often pronominal. This
way will direct you to a gentleman's house that hath skill to take off these burdens' (Pilgrim's Progress). Correct to this: 'to the house of a gentleman that hath skill’.
Nor better was their lot who fled'. (Scott). Changed : Nor better was the lot of them that fled'.
'Why then their loss deplore that are not lost ?' (Young.) • The loss of them that are not lost'. "I am his first born-son that was the last
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome'. (Tit. Andron.) • The first-born son of him that &c.'.
* His praise is lost who stays till all commend'. (Pope.) . The praise awarded by him that stays &c'.
• But that verbal questions, if treated as verbal questions, and not mistaken for what they are not, may lead to the most useful results, I need not express my conviction, who have compiled the following observations for the sake of explaining the signification of political words’. (G. C. Lewis.)
The following example, though perfectly grammatical, is felt to be very awkward : The King marched from Exeter into Cornwall, which having pacified, he returned to Winchester'. Better' which he pacified; he then returned to Winchester': or and having pacified this county, he returned.
• They leave us
Which how long will you bear?' (Ben Jonson.) A daring inversion. The relative is close upon the antecedent; but objection may be taken to the position of the interrogative word after it. Yet the infrequency of the construction gives it great emphasis ; and we may regard it as a sudden and direct rhetorical stroke for ' which you will surely not bear much longer'.
. So glister'd the dire snake, and into fraud
Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake'. The Latin construction Quce quum, &c. is apt to get translated in this form, which is not common, and should not be encouraged.
• Patriots obtained a recognition of certain immunities, called political liberties or rights, which it was to be regarded as a breach of duty in the ruler to infringe, and which if he did infringe, specific resistance, or general rebellion, was held to be justifiable '. (J. S. Min.) A serious case. The first 'which' is suspended over a complicated clause till we at last reach its governing verb 'infringe’; the second 'which', here, as in the preceding case, object and first word of an adverbial clause, is felt to fit into the sentence differently from what the reader expects. 'Say-liberties
PROXIMITY A CONDITION OF ORDER.
or rights, infraction of which by the ruler was to be regarded as a breach of duty (on his part), justifying specific resistance or general rebellion'.
In examples such as the following, where the relative clause comes before the formal antecedent, or has not any expressed antecedent, the order is quite exceptional. It can appear omly in passages that are highly wrought, mostly poetical. And in every case, the antecedent, even when it is formal brought in after the clause, is understood and mentally supplied before the relative.
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
that man is great indeed'. (Pope.)
PLACING OF THE ADVERB.
The Adverb, Adverbial Phrase, and Adverbial Clause, include the larger number of qualifying adjuncts, and bring to view all the delicate considerations respecting Order of Words.
PROXIMITY, viewed as a condition of Order, allows the qualifying word to be placed either before or after. Very often the Adverb is, for convenience, placed after the verb or other member affected, especially if it ends the sentence. 'He quenched the rebellion speedily'; `he issued a proclamation first of all’. The adverb must be referred back to the verb with its object, or to the action—' quenching the rebellion'. At the end of a sentence, or of part of a sentence, the qualifying word is not in danger of being referred to something coming after.
Again, when an action is beset with numerous adjuncts, these adjuncts need to be divided and distributed partly before and partly after the verb. Speaking of a river in its course, Helps describes it as 'flowing with equable current (1) busily (2) by great towns (3)'. Here are three adjuncts all thrown to the end; but a division might be made, and one at least taken before the verb—' with equable current flowing busily by great towns'.
Proximity secures the desired end, provided the adjuncts are so placed that they cannot be referred to any other subject than the one intended; a provision not always easy to make good.
The law of PRIORITY rests upon certain distinct and important considerations. The first is that, on the most general principle of construction, the qualification should precede the thing qualified. In our language, this is the usage with the adjective, and to a considerable extent with the adverb. Hence, if a qualification lies between two words, and is not specially excluded from the one that precedes. the mere principle of Order would make us refer it to the one that follows; we always by preference look forward.
Another important circumstance connected with Priority is that a qualifying adjunct bears upon all that follows, until there is a break. It is not simply the word or phrase immediately following, but the entire group of circumstances up to the end of the sentence, or at least to a comma pause.
Special instances of single-word Adverbs.
The single-word adverbs that are most frequently misplaced, are 'only' and 'not'. There are some others that often give trouble, as 'never', 'even', 'always', 'enough', (phrase) ' at least'.
ONLY. “The Spirit of Laws' was only completed when the author was sixty years of age, and after he had spent on it twenty years of toil'. The 'only' is not meant to operate on the verb 'completed', but on the adjuncts that follow. Say was completed only when the author was sixty years of age -'. But in a sentence of this kind