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COMPOSITION AND RHETORIC.
THE SIMPLE SENTENCE.
Composition is the art of combining ideas, or thoughts, and arranging them in order. As an art, it is regulated by the principles of Rhetoric.
Rhetoric, derived from a Greek verb meaning to speak, is the science that discusses the means whereby thoughts may be forcibly presented. Aristotle, the oldest writer on the subject, defines rhetoric as “the faculty of perceiving all the possible means of persuasion on every subject.” As its etymology suggests, it was originally limited to spoken discourse; but since the principles which apply to spoken discourse apply with equal force to written discourse, the meaning of the term has been so extended as to include both written and spoken composition.
Composition and Style.-The two important divisions of Rhetoric are Composition and Style.
A Simple Sentence consists of one independent proposition. It contains only one subject and one predicate; but an indefinite number of words and phrases may be brought into the sentence, and grouped about the subject and the predicate as modifiers of these elements.
The subject årid the predicate can be enlarged only by the addition of words and phrases; for, if another proposition, either subordinate or independent, be introduced, the sentence is no longer simple, but complex or compound, according to the nature of the proposition introduced. The following examples will severally illustrate the simple, the complex, and the compound sentence:
After reading the papers, I returned them.
Since this sentence contains but one subject and one predicate, it is restricted to a single proposition, and is, therefore, simple.
When I had read the papers, I returned them.
What was expressed in the first sentence by means of the phrase "after reading the papers," is in the second sentence expressed by means of the clause " when I had read the papers." This clause contains a subject and a predicate, but, for completeness of meaning, depends on some word in the succeeding clause.
Such clauses are subordinate, or dependent, and sentences containing such clauses are complex.
I read the papers, and I returned them.
In the third sentence we use neither the phrase nor the dependent clause, but express the ideas by means of independent propositions. Such a sentence is compound.
In its simplest form, the simple sentence consists of subject and predicate, without adjuncts. The first of the following sentences is in its simplest form. Observe how the subject and the predicate are enlarged, in the three sentences following, by the gradual addition of certain particulars. Thus:
Merry John ran quickly. Merry John, the blacksmith's son, ran quickly down the hill. Merry John, son of the black ran quickly down the hill to bring smith of White Plains,
a bucket of water. We see, therefore, that, by a skillful introduction of words and phrases, even the simple sentence may be long and difficult, and may express much.
Words introduced as modifiers are:
(1) Adjectives; as, "Honest men can speak for themselves."
(2) Adverbs; as, “The house fell suddenly.”
(3) Nouns used as complements; as, “He is considered a good man.”
(4) Nouns used as adjective modifiers—either possessive or explanatory; as, “Thy father's virtue is not thine”; “Mr. Barret, a surgeon, was writing a history of Bristol.”
(5) Words used independently; as, “O, sir, hear me!” DIRECTION.-Write sentences illustrating all the points made above.
Phrases introduced as modifiers may be prepositional, infinitive, participial, or adjectival.
Prepositional Phrase. A preposition and its object, forming a prepositional phrase, may be brought into the sentence and perform the office of:
(1) An adjective modifier; as, “The clouds of smoke will disappear."
(2) An adverb modifier; as, “They walked beyond us."
Without its preposition the noun may be used adverbially and become: (1) An indirect object; as, “Give John the book”; or
; (2) A noun of measure, direction, or time; as, “He sat an hour."
An infinitive phrase, “to” with its verb, may be brought into the sentence, and become:
(1) A subject; as, “To forget an injury is noble.” (2) A complement; as, “The duty is to act”; “He told
; me to go home”; “The doctor bade the man (to) walk.”
(3) An adjective modifier; as, “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.'
(4) An adverb modifier; as, “Aim to speak well."
(5) An explanatory modifier; as, “This law, to love, is recognized by Christians.”
(6) An independent phrase; as, “To speak plainly, your habits are your worst enemies.”
(7) It may be the principal term of another phrase; as, “They are about to fall.”
A participle or a participial phrase may be brought into the sentence and become:
(1) A subject; as, “Dying for a principle is a high degree of virtue.”
(2) An adjective modifier; as, “Flowers, withering, soon perish"; "The Knight, having called the squire aloud, dismounted.”
(3) A complement; as, "Hope appeared smiling”; “I saw a man laughing."
(4) The principal word of a prepositional phrase; as, "By taking pains, you will succeed.”
(5) The principal word in a phrase used as a complement; as, “Excuse my answering your question."
(6) It may be independent; as, “Confessing the truth, there were many bad traits in the character of Queen Elizabeth.”
The adjective phrase is one introduced by a word used regularly as an adjective. Thus: “He was a man
generous in all things”; “His garden, gay with flowers, was open to us.
The absolute phrase is without grammatical dependence on any other word. It may consist of the name of a person or thing spoken of in exclamatory phrases; as, “O their dreadful end!” or of a noun with a limiting adjective or participle; as, “The storm having ceased, we departed"; or of the name of the person or thing addressed, modified by words or phrases; as, “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth.”
DIRECTION.-Write sentences illustrating all the points made above.
DIRECTION.-Supply appropriate subjects, so as to make complete simple sentences. Thus:
tends his flock. The shepherd tends his flock.
DIRECTION.-Supply appropriate predicates, so as to make complete simple sentences. Thus: King John of France.
. King John of France was led in triumph through the streets of London.