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TREATISE



ENGLISH PUNCTUATION;



DESIGNED FOB

LETTER-WRITERS, AUTHOBS, PRINTERS, AND
CORRECTORS OF THE PRESS;



THE USE OF SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES.



ESEttfj an



CONTAINIXa RULES ON THE USE OF CAPITALS, A LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS)

HINTS ON THE PREPARATION OF COPT AND ON PROOF-READINQ,

SPECIMEN OF PROOF-SHEET, ETC.



BY JOHN WIIIJBNUBRAR1

OF
ANGELES



TWENTY-FIFTH EDITION.



POTTER, AINSWORTH, & COMPANY,

NEW YORK AND CHICAGO.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year J871, by

JOHN WILSON,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at "Washington.



University Press : John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.



PREFACE TO THE TWENTIETH EDITION.



Is 1826, an edition of this work, designed solely for printers,
was first published. In 1850, the second edition appeared,
greatly enlarged, and designed for letter-writers, authors,
printers, and correctors of the press.

In 1855, the author, in his Preface to the third edition,
says : " In presenting anew the following treatise, the author
would say, that, agreeably to the admission contained in the
closing paragraph of the Preface to the second edition, he
has embraced the opportunity of making what is conceived
to be further improvements, by changing occasionally the
modes of expression, enlarging the remarks and exercises,
rewriting and extending the section on compound and de-
rivative words, drawing up a more copious list of abbrevia-
tions, offering to young authors some considerations on the
preparation of ' copy,' and appending a full and minute
Index. He feels justified in affirming, that not only in its
present form, but in its past, this book is the most complete
of any on the subject that he has seen."

And now, three years after the author's death, this edi-
tion the twentieth is offered to the public, in the hope
that it may still continue to merit the approval awarded to
former editions.



CAMBRIDGE, Mass.
1871.



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION



THB work that follows Is a new edition of one published by the
writer in England, abont six years ago, under the title of " A Trea-
tise on Grammatical Punctuation ; " the difference consisting, not in
their fundamental principles, but in the mode in which these are
stated, in the divisions of the subjects treated of, in the augmentation
of the exercises, and in the insertion of matter which is entirely
new.

The proper manner of using the book will depend altogether on
the capabilities of the learner. If unversed in Punctuation, or but
slightly acquainted with the art, it is recommended, that, after a
careful study of Sect. II. of the " Introduction," he confine his
attention to the leading principles laid down in the definitions and
rules, all of which are printed in a larger character, and may be
readily seen ; and also to their illustrations, which are given under
the head of " Examples " and of " Oral Exercises," in that por-
tion which applies merely to the rules. When he has gone through
this course, he will have been furnished with as much information
as will enable him to comprehend the exceptions or the additional
principles contained in the " Remarks," and to explain or write and
punctuate the remaining or second series of exercises in accordance
both with the rules and the remarks.

These modes of studying the book, it is conceived, may be
advantageously adopted hi schools, with more or less variation, to
suit the capacity of each individual in a class. The Italic lines,
under the heads termed " Exercises," are mere general directions,
which the teacher may modify according to his own taste and judg-
ment But, beyond these brief hints, the writer has not prescribed
a*



VI PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.

any questions for examination, because he thinks that such a pro-
cedure, common as it is in elementary books, either offers a premium
to sloth and ignorance on the part of an instructor, or implies an
insult to his understanding and his talents, as if he were less capable
than an author of knowing what to ask of those under his charge.

Though written in a manner which specially adapts it to instruc-
tion in schools, the work is also designed for printers and private
students, all of whom must have some previous acquaintance with
English literature ; and also for young authors, who can have little
difficulty in mastering an art so intimately connected with their
tastes or profession. For this class of students, the exercises termed
"Oral" will be found peculiarly serviceable; tending, as they do
by a variety of examples, to impress on the mind the practical
applications of the rales and remarks to which they refer.

At the request of friends, the writer has introduced into the
Appendix a short article on Proof-reading, the insertion of which
will, he trusts, be found of some use to authors and printers, if not
to general readers.

With respect to the mode in which the work has been executed,
its author asks no indulgence but that of candor and good feeling.
He has ventured, as in the former edition, to call the book a " Trea-
tise," because he professes to have gone somewhat thoroughly into
the subject with which it deals ; but he does not flatter himself, that
he has cleared away every obstacle which has beset one small but
requisite pathway to literary excellence. On the contrary, he feels
that in a production of this nature, which requires so- much expe-
rience and accuracy, and for the preparation of which so little aid,
comparatively speakuig, can be derived from other writers, all is not
yet effected that can be done to simplify, and to put on a firm basis,
that despised but useful art, the art of Punctuation.

BOSTON, May, 1850.



CONTENTS.



CHAP. I. INTRODUCTION.

Paga

SECT. I. THE IMPORTANCE AND USES OF CORKECT PUNC-
TUATION 1

SHOT. II. PLAN OF THE WORK, AND DEFINITIONS OF THB

TERMS USED 19



CHAP. H. - THE GRAMMATICAL POINTS.

Introductory Observations 26

SECT. I. THE COMMA.

Remarks on the Use of the Comma 27

Two Words, of the same Part of Speech, connected by the

Conjunctions and, or, nor 28

Two Words, of the same Part of Speech, not connected by a

Conjunction 83

Series of Words of the same Part of Speech 37

Words or Phrases in Apposition 41

Words or Phrases in Contrast 45

The Subject and the Predicate 60

Relative Pronouns and Relative Clauses 57

Parenthetical Phrases and Clauses 64



Vlil CONTENTS.

Page.

Vocative Words, Phrases, and Clauses 68

Adjectival, Participial, and Absolute Phrases 69

Adverbs and Adverbial Phrases 72

Phrases at the End of Sentences or Clauses 78

Inverted or Transposed Expressions 83

One Clause depending on Another 89

Correlative Words, Phrases, and Clauses 93

Phrases and Clauses in the same Construction 98

Clauses having a Verb understood 104

Clauses consisting of Short Quotations or Remarks .... 108

Numeral Figures and Worda 112

SECT. II. THE SEMICOLON.

A Sentence consisting of Two Conjoined Clauses 118

Expressions divided into Simpler Parts 116

A Series of Expressions having a Common Dependence . . . 120

Short Sentences slightly Connected 125

Lists of Words, Phrases, and Numbers . 128

SECT. III. THE COLON.

Remarks on the Use and Abuse of the Colon 129

Two Clauses not joined by a Conjunction 180

Conjoined Members of Sentences 134

Quotations, Remarks, &c., formally Introduced ...... 138

The Chanting Service in the Liturgy . 141

Terms in the Rule of Three 141

Concluding Remarks 141

SECT. IV. THE PERIOD.

Complete and Independent Sentences 142

s, Subheads, Phrases in Titlepages, &c 147



CONTENTS. IX

rage.

Names, Titles, and other Words, abbreviated 148

Marks or Figures used instead of Words 160

Letters used for Figures or Words 160



CHAP. HI. THE GRAMMATICAL AND
RHETORICAL POINTS.

Introductory Observations 168

SECT. I. NOTES OF INTERROGATION AND

EXCLAMATION.

Remarks on the Notes of Interrogation and Exclamation . . 164

Expressions in the Form of Questions 166

Expressions indicating Passion or Emotion 169

SECT. II. MARKS OP PARENTHESIS.

Observations on Parentheses, and Marks of Parenthesis . . . 167

Words thrown obliquely into the Body, of a Sentence .... 168

SECT. III. THE DASH.

Remarks on the Use and Abuse of the Dash 174

Broken and Epigrammatic Sentences 176

A Concluding Clause on which other Expressions depend . . 178

The Echo, or Words repeated Rhetorically 182

A Parenthesis coalescing with the Main Passage 186

Ellipsis of the Adverb " Namely," &c. 181

Subheads, &c., to Paragraphs 194

Omission of Letters, Figures, or Words 186



X CONTENTS.

CHAP. IV. LETTER, SYLLABIC, AND

QUOTATION POINTS.

Page.

Introductory Observations ; 197

SECT. I. THE APOSTROPHE.

Elision of Letters, or Shortening of Words 198

The Genitive or Possessive Case 204

SECT. II. THE HYPHEN.

Remarks on the Uses of the Hyphen 208

Componnd Words 209

Prefixes in Derivative Words 219

The Division of Words into Syllables, according to their Pro-
nunciation 224

The Division of Words into Syllables, according to their Form,

Derivation, or Meaning 225

SECT. III. MARKS OF QUOTATION.

Words borrowed from a Speaker or an Author 228

One Quotation within Another 230

Extracts composed of Successive Paragraphs 232



CHAP. V. - MISCELLANEOUS MARKS.

Brackets, or Crotchets 235

A Comma Inverted; Two Commas 236

The Index, or Hand; Three Stars; the Caret; the Brace . . 237

Marks of Ellipsis ; Leaders 238

Accents; Marks of Quantity; the Cedilla; the Tilde . ... 239

Marks of Reference 240



CONTENTS. D
CHAP. VI. GENERAL EXERCISES.

Page.

Introductory Observations 241

Pride and Humility, by Thomas Brown 242

Abon Ben Adhem, by Leigh Hunt 244

Panegyric on England, by Edward Everett 245

The Pen and the Press, by John Critchley Prince 247

A Taste for Reading, by George S. Hillard 248

Relative Perfection, by John James Taylor >. 250

Labor not Lost, by R. C. Trench 251

Ancient and Modern Writers, by Charles Sumner 252

The True Source of Reform, by E. H. Chapin 258

Great Men generally Good, by John Logan 254



APPENDIX.



CTsKS OF CAPITAL LETTERS 257

The First Word of a Book, Tract, &c 268

The First Word after a Full Point 268

Appellations of God and Christ 259

Titles of Honor and Respect 261

Names of Persons, Places, &c 262

Nouns and Adjectives derived from Proper Names .... 268

Words of Primary Importance 264

The Pronoun 7, and the Interjection 265

Commencement of Lines in Verse 266

Prosopopoeia, or Personification 266

Quotations, Examples, &c 267

Capitals used instead of Figures 268

Titlepages, Inscriptions, &c < 268



XU CONTENTS.

Page.

ITALIC CHARACTERS 269

TERMS RELATING TO BOOKS 270

Captions, Subheads, Sideheads, and Running Titles ... 270

Signatures 271

Names of Various Sizes of Books 271

ABBREVIATIONS AND REPRESENTATIVE LETTERS .... 272

Various Modes of Forming Abbreviations . 272

Table of Abbreviations 277

MEDICAL AND MATHEMATICAL SIGNS 801

ASTRONOMICAL CHARACTERS 302

The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac 802

The Planetary Signs 802

The Lunar Signs 802

Aspects of the Planets 802

HINTS ON PREPARING COPT, AND ON BEADING PROOFS . . 808

EXPLANATION OF PROOF-MARKS 816

SPECIMEN OF PROOF-SHEET 820

INDEX ... 323



ENGLISH PUNCTUATION.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.



SECT. L THE IMPORTANCE AND USES OP CORRECT
PUNCTUATION.

No one will hesitate to admit, that next in value to the
capacity of discerning or discovering truth, and of feel-
ing the blessed relations which we sustain to the Being
who made us, and to our fellow-creatures, particularly
those with whom we are more immediately connected,
is the power, by which intelligence and emotion are
communicated from one mind to another. By it the
great and the gifted of past times have bequeathed to us
many a rich legacy of thought and deed ; and by it
those of the present either re-create the old materials,
or fashion new ones, for the delight and improvement
of their own generation ; and transmit to the future
to beings yet unborn their treasures of wisdom, of
genius, and of love. This power, it is needless to say,
is language, oral and written, especially the latter.

But as oral speech has its tones and inflections, its
pauses and its emphases, and other variations of voice,
1



2 INTRODUCTION.

to give greater expression to the thoughts which spoken
words represent, and to produce on the mind of the
hearer a more rapid and intense impression than lifeless
enunciation could effect ; so written or printed language
is usually accompanied by marks or points, to enable the
reader to comprehend at a glance the precise and deter-
minate sense of the author, a sense which, without
these marks, would in many instances be gathered only
by an elaborate and painful process, and very often be
misunderstood. It therefore obviously follows, that the
art which serves to elucidate the meaning of a writer,
to bring out his ideas with more facility, and to render
his expressions a genuine transcript of the feelings
and sentiments which he would convey to the hearts
and the minds of others, is entitled to no small degree
of attention.

Now, it is indisputable that Punctuation does conduce
to make written language more effective, by exhibiting
with greater precision and definiteness the ideas, feel-
ings, and emotions of an author, than could be accom-
plished by a mass of words, however well chosen, if
brought together without those peculiar marks which
show the multifarious varieties of union or of separa-
tion existing in thought and expression. For what is
Punctuation, and what its ami? It is the art of
dividing a literary composition into sentences, and parts
of sentences, by means of points, for the purpose of
exhibiting the various combinations, connections, and
dependencies of words. And what is this process but
a means of facilitating that analysis and combination
which must be made, consciously or unconsciously,
before we can penetrate to the very core of an author's



THE IMPORTANCE OF PUNCTUATION. 3

thoughts, and appropriate them as food for the life and
growth of our own minds ?

We would not overrate the importance of Punctua-
tion, or deny that many subjects are worthy of a higher
regard, and have a more immediate and vital influence
on the well-being of society. But we would emphati-
cally say, that this subject ought to be understood by
all who are led, by the bent of their tastes, the force of
their genius, or their condition in life, to enter upon any
of the walks of literature, whether they would tread an
humble and a beaten track, or wander into paths adorned
by flowers and fruit. It is related to philology and
metaphysics, and indeed, more or less, to every science
or art communicated by the instrumentality of written
language. It is intimately connected with the principles
of grammar ; subservient to the purposes of syntax ;
essential to the clearing-up of ambiguities, which so
often obscure composition ; and useful to the more
ready understanding even of those sentences whose
construction is not liable to the charge of obscurity. By
the omission or the improper insertion of points, not only
would the beauties and elegances of literature, but even
its advantages, be faintly discerned and enjoyed, except
by the most attentive readers, or by men of superior
taste and information : the sense of even the more simple
and familiar class of productions such as the narra-
tive, the essay, or the epistle would be liable to be
misapprehended, or, at least, to be imperfectly under-
stood. Indeed, the perusal of a single page of any
work will bear testimony to the comparative value of a
just punctuation. Nay, scarcely can a sentence be
perused with satisfaction or interest, unless pointed with



4 INTRODUCTION.

some degree of accuracy. The well-known speech of
Norval, for instance, in the tragedy of " Douglas," may,
by an erroneous use of the pauses, be delivered in such
a manner as to pervert or destroy the meaning ; as, - -

" My name is Norval on the Grampian hills.
My father feeds his flock a frugal swain ;
Whose constant cares were to increase his store.



We fought and conquered ere a sword was drawn.
An arrow from my bow, had pierced their chief
Who wore that day the arms which now I wear."

But the insertion of the right stops will restore the sense
of these passages, and render them conformable to the
conceptions of the dramatist :

" My name is Norval. On the Grampian hills
My father feeds his flock ; a frugal swain,
Whose constant cares were to increase his store.



We fought and conquered. Ere a sword was drawn,
An arrow from my bow had pierced their chief,
Who wore, that day, the arms which now I wear."

Notwithstanding, however, its utility, Punctuation
has not received that attention which its importance
demands. Considered merely as the plaything of the
pedant, or as the peculiar function of the printer, it is
often neglected or perverted by those who have occasion
to present to the eye either their own thoughts or the
thoughts of others. The man of science, the mental
philosopher, and the philologist seem to regard it as too

In the note at the end of this section, page 18, will be found a few other
instances of erroneous pointing, which, though in their nature sufficiently
ludicrous, show in a forcible manner the necessity of paying a due regard to
punctuation. Many happy illustrations of the importance of correct marks
may also be seen in Day's valuable little work, entitled " Punctuation reduced
to a System," pp. 3345.



THE IMPORTANCE OF PUNCTUATION.

trifling, amid their grander researches into the laws of
the universe, the internal operations of the human mind,
and its external workings by means of language. The
grammarian passes it by altogether unheeded, or lays
down u few general and abstract principles ; leaving the
pupil to surmount the difficulties of the art as well as
he may. The lawyer engrosses in a character which
is perfectly legible ; but, by its deficiency in sentential
marks, it often proves, like the laws of which he is the
expounder, " gloriously uncertain " as to the meaning
intended to be expressed. The painter, the engraver,
and the lithographer appear to set all rules at defiance,
by either omitting the points or misplacing them, when
required in certain departments of their work. The let-
ter-writer, with his incessant and indiscriminate dashes,
puts his friend, his beloved one, his agent, or his em-
ployer, to a little more trouble, in conning over his
epistle, than is absolutely necessary. Even the author
who, of all writers, ought to be the most accurate
not unfrequently puts his manuscript into the printer's
hands, either destitute of grammatical points, or so
badly punctuated as to create a needless loss of time to
the compositor.

But though an acquaintance with the principles of the
art in question has been deemed the peculiar province
of the printer, who might therefore be expected to have
the requisite qualifications for the performance of his
task ; yet it must be admitted, that from the press are
issued many books, grossly erroneous in sentential
marks ; and perhaps not a few, which, though distin-
guished for elegance of style, accuracy of orthography,
or beauty of printing, are unworthy of being held up



D INTRODUCTION.

as models of good taste and judgment in the use of
points. It is a fact well known to those connected with
the press, that compositors in general have a very
deficient knowledge of Punctuation, considered as a
branch of science ; and that they acquire what they do
know of it as an art, chiefly by mechanical habit, or by
the correction of innumerable blunders, marked on the
proof-sheets.

To make these observations, however, without grant-
ing many exceptions, would savor more of the petulance
of presumption than of the candor of true criticism.
There are numerous masterpieces of composition, in
which the writer, the compositor, and the corrector of
the press, have, either separately or together, inserted
points with taste and propriety.

But enough has been said to demonstrate the necessity
for an increased attention to the subject, and to prove a
very obvious, though not an acknowledged, truth, that
the principles of Punctuation must be duly learned,
before they can be understood, or brought into system-
atic and perfect use. The question, then, will naturally
arise, How is the desired improvement to be effected ?
how are the theory and practice of the art to be attained ?
We answer, By the most simple means ; by the very
means which are so well adapted to other subjects of
learning. Let Punctuation form a branch of academi-
cal instruction ; let it be studied, after a competent
knowledge of English etymology and syntax has been
acquired ; let the rules be thoroughly comprehended by
the pupil, be explained to him, if necessary, in the
teacher's language, and re-explained by himself in his
owa words. Let him also write copious exercises, in



THE IMPORTANCE OF PUNCTUATION. 7

order to bring into further play his judgment and taste ;
and let him present to his teacher these trials of his
skill, to be examined and approved or corrected. By
this means will he soon be capable of so punctuating
his own compositions as to be read by others with ease,
pleasure, and advantage.

This is an age of authors, as well as of readers.
Young aspirants after fame, some of them of considera-
ble merit, meet us at every step, and in every department
of literature. But surely, if they are capable of enlight-
ening the world by their wisdom, or dazzling it by their
genius, they can have no difficulty in writing so as to be
understood. If they have thoughts worthy of being
communicated through the agency of the pen and the
press, they surely cannot with justice regard it as any
degradation of their powers to submit to the task of
indicating, as accurately as possible, what they do really
intend to say. If there is beauty in their style ; if there
is pathos in their sentiments ; if there is moral and intel-
lectual vigor in the thoughts that burn for utterance ; if
their discourse is calculated to i*fine the taste, to improve
the heart, and ennoble the mind, f the reader, surely
they should be careful that that beauty be not marred,
that that pathos be not unfelt, that that vigor be not
weakened, that that discourse be not shorn of half its
power over the character and happiness of others, from
the petty motive of saving themselves the trouble of
learning what, of all men, from the very nature of their
pursuits, they are the best able and most bound to learn.
Besides, it is worthy of remark, that, by habituating
themselves to the practice of pointing, their attention
will naturally be directed to clearness of thought, and



8 INTRODUCTION.

accuracy of expression. They will be more apt to
regard words as but of little value, except as repre-
sentatives of ideas, and as an instrument by which these
may gain access to the human soul. If involved in the
difficulty of punctuating a badly formed sentence, such
as the following, " God heapeth favors on his servants
ever liberal and faithful," supposing this to imply that
the Divine Being is ever liberal and faithful, they
will almost necessarily be led to reconstruct it, that
they may rid themselves of their perplexity, and leave
no doubt as to the sense meant to be conveyed ; for,
beyond all question, facility in punctuation is generally
in proportion to the perspicuity and the good arrange-
ment of words. Let authors, therefore, turn a little of
their attention to the elements of this art, trifling and
undignified as it may seem to be. Let them not trans-
fer to their printer that department of duty which as
authors it is their own province to fill. With some few
boasted exceptions, no doubt much overrated, neither
compositors nor correctors of the press are immaculate ;
for they do not understand all the subjects treated of in
books, and cannot with accuracy punctuate what they
do not comprehend.

It was in bygone times a preliminary requisite, that
printers should be acquainted with what are termed the
learned languages. But though, in this age of a more
general and superficial literature, a profound knowledge
of Hebrew points, Greek accents, and Latin quantities,
is no longer required, it is necessary that compositors
be acquainted with the principles of their native tongue,
and with the functions of the peculiar marks used for



Online LibraryUnknownA treatise on English punctuation : designed for letter-writers, authors, printers, ... with an appendix ... → online text (page 1 of 30)