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Of vivacity as depending on the arrangement of the words.
66 when Christ shall ap
were embosomed in the other,
So much for the primary distinction of sentences into simple and complex.
SECT. II....Simple sentences.
With regard to simple sentences, it ought to be observed first, that there are degrees in simplicity. “ God made man,” is a very simple sentence. s the sixth day God made man of the dust of the “ earth after his own image,” is still a simple sentence in the sense of rhetoricians and critics, as it hath but óne verb, but less simple than the former, on account of the circumstances specified. Now it is evident, that the simpler any sentence is, there is the less scope for variety in the arrangement, and the less indulgence to a violation of the established rule. Yet even in the simplest, whatever strongly impresses the fancy, or awakens passion, is sufficient to a certain degree to authorise the violation.
No law of the English tongue, relating to the disposition of words in a sentence, holds more generally than this, that the nominative has the first place, the verb the second, and the accusative, if it be an active verb that is employed, has the third *; if it be a sub
* Let it be observed, that in speaking of English syntax, I use
stantive verb, the participle, adjective, or predicate, of whatever denomination it may be, occupies the third place. Yet this order, to the great advantage of the expression, is often inverted. Thus, in the general uproar at Ephesus, on occasion of Paul's preaching among them against idolatry, we are informed, that the people exclaimed for some time without intermission, “ Great is Diana of the Ephe“ sians *.” Alter the arrangement, restore the grammatic order, and say, “ Diana of the Ephesians is "great," and you destroy at once the signature of impetuosity and ardour resulting, if you please to call it so, from the disarrangement of the words.
We are apt to consider the customary arrangement as the most consonant to nature, in consequence of which notion we brand every departure from it as a transgression of the natural order. This way of thinking ariseth from some very specious causes, but is far from being just. “ Custom," it hath been said, “be" comes a second nature.” Nay, we often find it strong enough to suppress the first. Accordingly, what is in this respect accounted natural in one language, is
the terms nominative and accusative, merely to avoid tedious circumlocutions, sensible that in strict propriety our substantives have no such cases. By the nominative I mean always the efficient, agent, or instrument operating, with which the verb
in ber and person ; by the accusative, the effect produced, the object aimed at, or the subject operated on.
Acts xix. 28. and 34.
Of vivacity as depending on the arrangementof the words.
unnatural in another. In Latin, for example, the negative particle is commonly put before the verb,'in English it is put after it ; in French one negative is put before, and another after. If in any of these languages you follow the practice of any other, the order of the words will appear unnatural. We in Britain think it mosť suitable to nature to place the adjective before the substantive; the French and most other Europeans think the contrary. We range the oblique cases of the personal pronouns, as we do the nouns whose place they occupy, after the verb; they range them invariably before, notwithstanding that when the regimen is a substantive, they make it come after the verb, as we do. They and we have both the same reason, custom, which is different in different countries. But it may be said, that more than this can be urged in support of the ordinary arrangement of a simple sentence above explained. The nominative, to talk in the logician's style, is the subject; the adjective, or participle, is the predicate ; and the substantive verb, the copula. Now, is it not most natural, that the subject be mentioned before the thing predicated of it? and what place so proper for the copula which unites them, as the middle? This is plausible, and, were the mind a pure intellect, without fancy, taste, or passion, perhaps it would be just. But as the case is different with human nature, I suspect there will be found to be little uniformity in this particular in different tongues, unless where, in respect either of matter or of form, they have been in a great measure derived
from some common source. The Hebrew is a very simple language, and hath not that variety either of moods or of conjunctions that is requisite for forming a complicated style. Here, therefore, if any where, one would expect to find an arrangement purely natural. Yet, in this language, the most usual, and what would with them therefore be termed the grammatical disposition of the words, is not the disposition above mentioned. In the historic style, or when past events are related, they commonly place the verb first, then the nominative, afterwards the regimen, predi. cate, or attendant circumstances *. The freedom
* Thus the very first words of Genesis, a book even among
the books of scripture remarkable for simplicity of style, are an evi
השמים ואת הארץ בראשית ברא :dence of this in the active verb
The arrangement here is .בקר יום אחד ויהי ערב ויהי ,verse
nx Snake. The order is preserved exactly in the Vulgat. “In
principio creavit Deus cælum et terram.” That the same order is observed in disposing the substantive verb, appears from the fifth
, . perfectly exhibited in the Latin version of Junius and Tremellius, which is generally very literal. " Sic fuit vespera et fuit mane diei primi.”
Yet in Englih we should be apt to call the order in both passages, especially the last, rather unnatural. 66 In the be“ ginning created God the heavens and the earth.”. evening and was morning day first.” The same thing might be il. lustrated in the passive verbs, in the neuter, and in the reciprocal, if necessary. Nothing therefore can we more evident, than that it is custom only which makes us Britons prefer one order of words, and others another, as the natural order. I am surprised that a critic of so much taste and discernment as Bouhours (see his Entretiens d' Ariste et d’Eugene. 2. la langue Françoise) should represent this
166 And was
Of vivacity as depending on the arrangemeut of the words.
which Greek and Latin allow on this article, renders it improper to denominate one order grammatical ex
as one of the excellencies of the French tongue, that it follows the natural order of the words. It is manifest, from what has been said, that its common arrangement has no more title to be denominated natural, than that of any other language. Nay, we may raise an argument for confuting this silly pretence, from the very laws that obtain in this language. Thus, if the natural order require that the regimen should follow the active verb, their way of arranging the oblique cases of the pronouns is unnatural, as they always place them before the verb ; if, on the contrary, the natural order require that the regimen should precede the governing verb, their way of arranging nouns governed by verbs is unnatural, since they always place them after the verb; so that, whichever be the natural way, they depart from it in the disposition of one or other of these parts of speech. And even in placing their adjectives, wherever use hath made exceptions from the general rule, it has carried the notion of what is natural along with it. They would call it as unnatural to say homme jeune, as to say garaien ange. All therefore that can be affirmed with truth is, that the French adhere more inviolably than other nations to the ordinary arrangment established in the language. But this, as I hope to evince in the sequel, is one of the greatest imperfections of that tongue. The ease with which the Italian admits either order in the personal pronouns, especially in poetry, adds often to the harmony and the elegance, as well as the vivacity of the expression, as in these lines of Metastasio's Arta
Bouhours, in the dialogue above mentioned, has dropt the character of critic and philosopher, for that of encomiast. He talks like a lover about his mistress. He sees neither blemish nor defect. All is beauty and excellence. For my part, if I were to prove the in.