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In Hume's striking eulogy on King Alfred, the disposition of the qualifying adjuncts is generally good, while somno slight amendments may be suggested: ‘Both living and dead, Alfred was regarded, by foreigners no less than his own subjects, as the greatest prince after Charlemagne who had appeared in Europe during several ages, and as one of the wisest and best who had ever adorned the annals of any nation'. The participial adjuncts to Alfred properly precede, to make way for the adverbial qualifications : 'Both living and dead, Alfred was regarded, by foreigners no less than by' his own subjects, as, after Charlemagne, the greatest prince that had appeared in Europe for ages, and as one of the wisest and best that had ever adorned the annals of any nation'.
"The plain of Latium must have been, in primeval times, the scene of the grandest conflicts of nature, while the slowly formative agency of water deposited, and the eruptions of mighty volcanoes upheaved, the successive strata of that soil on which the question was to be decided to what people the sovereignty of the world should belong'. The expressions marked in italics are not in the best places. The phrase in primeval times’ is imbedded in the first clause, as if confined in its action to that clause. In point of fact, however, it is a general circumstance or situation applicable to the whole sentence. The matters brought forward all relate to what happened in primeval times. In such a case, an adverbial adjunct should not only be placed at the commencement, but should have a comma break to prevent its fusing with the first clause, which would confine it to that clause. The two other expressions could be advantageously transposed : 'was to be decided' separates “question’ from its adjunct 'to what people'. The concluding clause
be made more emphatic by inverting the order of subject and verb, to what people should belong the sovereignty of the world'.
The whole might stand thus: 'In primeval times, the plain of Latium must have been the scene of the grandest
conflicts of nature ; on the one side, the slowly formative agency of water was depositing, and, on the other side, the eruptive force of mighty volcanoes was upheaving, the successive strata of that soil whereon was to be decided (the question) to what people should belong the sovereignty of the world'.
On the other hand, we may find standing prominently at the head of the sentence an expression that belongs to a subordinate member. ' At first, it appears that the price of the tickets was not fixed'. We may say—' At first, it appears, the price was not fixed': i.e., when the theatre was opened under the special circumstances. Or, retaining the original construction : ‘It appears that, at first, the price of the tickets was not fixed'.
• When the foundations of the mind of a nation are heaving under the operation of truths which it is now for the first time making its own, more important changes will follow in fifty years than in two centuries of calmer, or more stagnant existence'.
Let us examine the qualifications minutely; taking first the words and phrases.
The foundations of the mind of a nation'. The first of these nouns is the subject of the preliminary adverbial clause, the others enter into phrases qualifying it. The phrase
of the mind' qualifies 'foundations', while 'mind' is itself qualified by 'of the nation'. The only place of these adjective phrases (as they must be called in ordinary parsing) is after the noun. When possessives can be substituted, the position is before the noun—'a mind's foundations', 'a nation's mind'-which is a considerable gain to the general effect of the sentence; the subject comes at once into contact with its verb, and stands out with greater prominence. • Are heaving under the operation of new truths which it is now for the first time making its own'. The verb 'are heaving' is here coupled with a very long qualification, involving numerous smaller qualifying adjuncts. The leading phrase is under the operation', which immediately
follows the verb (intransitive). 'Operation' is qualified by the phrase 'of new truths'; truths', already qualified by 'new', is farther acted on by the adjective or restrictive clause—'which it is now-'. That clause contains a transitive (incomplete) verb and object, and two adverb qualifications, placed between the auxiliary and the participle'now', 'for the first time'. The subject is the demonstrative “it', whose reference is to the second of the three nouns in the complex subject of ‘are heaving'; a somewhat awkward reference, since nothing but a consideration of the meaning could lead us to decide between ‘mind' and
nation'as the antecedent; while, but for the plural number, we should have gone by preference to 'foundations', the real subject of the clause.
Every one of the adjuncts is placed according to the rules suited to the circumstances. The only question arising is whether we could not reduce and simplify the excessive load of qualifications; at the same time amending the reference of the demonstrative `it'. For the foundations of the mind of a nation are heaving 'say, simply 'when a nation's mind is heaving'. For the long qualification to 'heaving', say "under the working of truths for the first time made its own’; or 'heaving under truths newly made its own'.
More important changes will follow in fifty years than in two centuries of calmer and more stagnant existence'. The main subject'changes' has two adjuncts, 'more' and “inportant'. The usual operation of two adjectives is to narrow the noun by both limitations; a 'clever young man' means that we are first to select from the class 'men', those that are young; and next to select from this narrowed class a still narrower class 'clever'. If the present example had been 'great important changes', there would have been a double selection in this way. But the word ‘more' is both adjective and adverb; it expresses not quality but quantity, which gives a different turn to the rendering of an adjective. By the rule of priority, a qualifying word placed before affects not simply the next word but everything up to a break; that is, it affects not important' alone but 'impor
tant changes’; and the meaning is—a greater number of important changes. Often, however, such a word is intended by the speaker to affect the following word solely: 'more', being also an adverb, may qualify 'important’; the meaning then is-changes of greater importance. If the first meaning is intended, the phrase might stand, as being justified by the law of priority. If the second meaning is intended, the above alteration should be made.
'Changes will follow' is somewhat redundant; change' implies succession, and is expressive enough without'follow';
will be made' is enough; or simply there will be more changes of importance'.
Will follow in fifty years'. The phrase of time, placed close after 'follow', might precede, thus : 'there will, in fifty years, be more changes of importance'. "Than in two centuries of calmer or more stagnant existence'. The than' refers to the more changes’; and it is an improve
. ment to bring the expressions closer together, as in the alteration last suggested. In contrasting fifty years' and two centuries ', the varying of the unit is of doubtful advantage: a half century' and 'two whole centuries', 'fifty years' and 'two hundred'. After an emphatic comparison, we should avoid other uses of the comparative degree-'two centuries of calm or stagnant existence'. To give the sentence entire:
—While a nation's mind heaves under the working of truths newly made its own, in fifty years there will be more changes of importance) a greater number of important changes than in two hundred years of stagnant existence'. The sentence as given is a good example of the employment of the progressive tense—are heaving', ‘is now making'. Nevertheless, I have changed the progressive to the indefinite, for no stronger reason than to avoid the alliteration of 'heaving', 'working’; the fact being, that the conjunction 'when', coupled with 'heaves', sufficiently answers the purpose; and by using 'while' with the indefinite, we should get the full sense of the progressive. Precision in stating time depends far more on the adverbial and other adjuncts than on the tenses.
‘Mr. Disraeli, treating Hellenic things with the scornful negligence natural to a Hebrew, said the other day in a wellknown book that our aristocratic class, the polite flower of the nation, were truly Hellenic in this respect among others
that they cared nothing for letters and never read. Now, there seems to be here some inaccuracy, if we take our standard of what is Hellenic from Hellas at its highest pitch of development; for the latest historian of Greece, Dr. Curtius, tells us that in the Athens of Pericles 'reading was universally diffused’; and again, that what more than anything'distinguishes the Greeks from the barbarians of ancient and modern times, is the idea of a culture comprehending body and soul in an equal measure. And we have ourselves called our aristocratic class barbarians, which is the contrary of Hellenes, from this very reason; because, with all their fine, fresh appearance, their open-air life, and their love for field-sports, for reading and thinking they have in general no turn'.
* Mr. Disraeli, treating Hellenic things with the scornful negligence natural to a Hebrew'. 'Mr. Disraeli’ is the principal subject qualified by the clause 'treating, &c.' This qualifying clause is well placed, being in closest proximity to the noun qualified. • Treating' has for its object' things' and is qualified by the adverbial phrase (for such it is) with the scornful negligence natural to a Hebrew'. This phrase occupies its right position immediately after the object of the verb. Negligence’ is qualified by 'scornful' and by ' natural to a Hebrew'. The second of these follows the noun, because it is an adjective with enlargement; were it a bare adjective it would come before the noun. It is always objectionable to have a long clause intervening between subject and verb (as here), and so this clause might be shortened. Say, 'treating Hellenic things with the scornful negligence of a Hebrew' (better than with a Hebrew's scornful negligence '); where 'natural to’ finds its substitute in the preposition 'of'. Sometimes in cases like the present it is possible to substitute a simple adjective for adjective and enlargement, and then we gain in brevity.