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"The retiring Minister" may be demitting office or only shy. "To make observations" may mean to watch the stars, etc., or to utter remarks.

"Not the least amusing" is sometimes "Not amusing in the least, not amusing at all"; sometimes "One of the most amusing." "Give me another glass" may be a different, or an additional glass.

Examine also the various meanings of such words as sense, nature, false, true, right, wrong, certain, low, common, fast, box, post, head, taste, light, want.

"Boswell's Life of Johnson" and "Johnson's Life by Boswell" are both unambiguous. "Johnson's Life" and "Boswell's Life" might be ambiguous. So "Edward's history" may mean history told by Edward or told about Edward.

When a word has been used in one sense it is often confusing to find it suddenly bearing another sense. Even when unambiguous, the usage will cause a disagreeable jingle. Avoid repetitions like those in the following sentences. "The print of the prisoner's left boot was left in the clay." "His means cannot last much longer, and what he means to do is uncertain.” levying a distress on another man's goods would relieve my distress, why should not I take the job?”


At times the repetition of a word in a slightly different sense causes no ambiguity, and even gives delight by the play of sound; as "Boys will be boys." So in the following from Ivanhoe: "I see,' said Wamba after a pause, 'that the fool must still be the fool, and put his neck in the venture which wise men shrink from.""

When a word or phrase is varied, care should be taken that the verbal variation does not suggest variation of meaning. "The ship has now been raised to an angle of 35 degrees from the vertical whereas, when the work started, she was 73 degrees from the upright." The use of upright instead of vertical is an unnecessary change and might suggest a difference of meaning. Similar variations occur in the following: "As he neared his house, a man said his residence was burned to the ground."

"Copper is essential and gold indispensable." "A horse yoked in a cab ran off in Market Street. The animal rushed along Guild Street. The horse then dashed into an electric-light standard. The cab was smashed but the animal wriggled himself free from the harness. The maddened brute now turned and careered to the harbour, into which he sprang." Note, however, the skilful variation of phraseology in "I am especially indebted to the King for the liberality with which his Majesty has been graciously pleased to sanction the use of certain documents, in cases where the permission of the Sovereign was required."

N.B. Precision of statement and simplicity are sometimes antagonistic. That is, the precise word is hard to understand, the simple word is inexact. For example, the precise description of the earth's form is "an oblate spheroid," which, put into simpler but vaguer terms, is "a ball slightly flattened at the poles, something like an orange." It depends on circumstances whether we use the precise word or the simple: sometimes the one, sometimes the other, will be the more intelligible to our readers. In the following passage from Ivanhoe, ch. xxix., compare the precision of Ivanhoe's words with the simplicity of Rebecca's.

"What device does he bear on his shield?' replied Ivanhoe. 'Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue on the black shield.'

'A fetterlock and shacklebolt azure,' said Ivanhoe."



Show how the following violate the rule of brevity. Rewrite in emended form.

I. The colonel was one of those people who pride themselves on tact and savoir faire.

2. Why, wherefore and for what reason have you done it?

3. Such petty minutiae are absurd.

4. It is believed that he came to his death by walking in a state of somnambulism.

5. There was something fascinating in his cool sang froid.

6. He was born in the neighbourhood of Ripon, where his family are still held in high respect in the district.

7. That was the culminating acme of my diplomacy.

8. We do not require the extraneous aid of foreign bayonets.

9. That is the name by which among his familiar friends the man goes by.

10. They poured the contents of a vesselful of water into the gaps. Princess Louise (the Duchess of Argyll) has been in Egypt with her husband, the Duke of Argyll.



The book is expected to become increasingly valuable as a work of reference on the subject with which it deals.

13. It was a perfect day from sunrise to sunset. sunrise and shone brightly the whole day till sunset.

The sun rose at

14. The autobiographies of themselves by Professor Huxley and Professor Herkomer make interesting reading.

15. The final day of the show was favoured with beautiful weather, the conditions atmospherically that had been experienced since the opening being repeated.

16. They could not be expected to support a system which made an exception in their case to its scheme of general toleration.


The natives still tell of the disasters to property which the floods occasioned and the loss of life which they entailed.

18. She was knocked off the log once or twice by one end hitting the bank, which caused the log to stop with a jerk so that she toppled into the water several times.

19. With regard to our swifts and our night-jars, it is not altogether easy perhaps for the unlearned to perceive the mutual likeness in virtue of which they are now classified together; but on the negative side of the whole question there is evidence easily to be appreciated-evidence, that is to say, that there is apparent reason for rejecting the claim to close relationship with the swallows and the martins which used to be made for the swifts.

20. No object can be nearer my heart than to promote the welfare and prosperity of all classes of the people.


He lies under a world's weight of incubus and nightmare. 22. Your investigation of the state of the circulation and currency of the kingdom demands my warmest acknowledgment.

23. After October, passes not signed by the secretary will not be valid.

24. words.


It is not to be denied that much value does not attach to his

As the absence of redness is no proof that there has not been inflammation, so its presence is no proof to the contrary.

26. So far we are barely not indignant; but as time wears on we become highly so.

27. The whole nation gave itself up to exultation, and people had no thoughts in their mind but of joy.

28. They had mutually agreed that they would jointly and in company spend the evening.

29. Mutual shakes of the hands were exchanged.

XXIII. Add words necessary for clearness.


A jug of hot and cold water was brought us.




Give reasons.

It was scarcely legible through lack of paint and dust and

The musketeers with 4000 soldiers were ready to march.

4. Note the comparison in these poems of the proud and humble believer to the peacock and the pheasant.

5. The disagreement between the French and English school of tragedy cannot be reconciled till the French become English or the English French.



Yet one but flatters us,

As well appeareth from the cause you come.
Mr Abraham will not help him more than you.

8. The conductor must punch the ticket in the printed space opposite to which the passenger is travelling.

XXIV. Point out instances of want of simplicity and of directness in the following. Express the meaning simply and directly. I. I am precluded from giving even the gist of the noble lord's observations.

2. He is a county member, and has been from time whereof the memory of man is not to the contrary.

3. She repaired to the parochial fane every Sunday morning.


The advent of the butler with a brace of footmen announced the arrival of the urn and the various jentacular appurtenances.

5. It was a day of magnitudinous moment, a diurnal period of pretentious preponderance, and a zodiacal lapse of stupendous signifi


6. The yawning goal-mouth was not fed with the elusive leather sphere.

7. These writers are reminiscent in their very original movements and relative in their most absolute aseity.


Such is the practice of the septentrionalian squires.

9. Several little boys were engaged upon the lapidation of a lame duck.


"What's wrong, my boy." "Sir, I am suffering from a slight abrasion of the epidermis in the olecranal region.

II. No sooner was the orgulous document consigned to its habitat than the expected gong pealed out its "tocsin of the soul," and the party filed into the dining-room.

12. Fog is really an allotropic form of mud.

13. We live in this terrestrial theatre of universal deterioration. 14. The succession of these thoughts in the squire's mind was commensurate in rapidity to the progress of the ignition of the gunpowder.

15. He perlustrated the sea-coast for several days.

16. He was utterly destitute of natatorial skill.

17. The small town was so full of visitors that many of them could find no means of horizontal refreshment.

18. The petty pilferer of a dozen years is the chrysalis of the crime-stained outlaw.

19. The anvil music of the ranine blacksmiths continued with monotonous resonant regularity.

20. Being not in the least dubitative of your spontaneous compliance, I will lead the way.

21. The original man satisfied his hunger with roots and fruits, unvitiated by the malignant adhibition of fire and all its processes of elixion and assation.

22. Do you suppose I should be unpacking my heart with words to you in this fashion, as the Swan of Avon says?

23. A pale sickly look on the face of the slothful Phoebus had succeeded the feverish hectic of the past night.

24. They all possessed the "Open Sesame,” which the wearing of a silk hat usually confers.

25. The Hegira is completed-we have all taken roost in the old Tower.

26. The golf-course was kept trim by the grazing of myriads of woolly mowing-machines.

27. Everybody was delighted. The only exception, by grammatical precedent, to prove the rule was probably Mrs Palmer.

28. The new clerk wears a beard, but his predecessors were without a chin appendage.

29. The thrifty chatelaine ordered her servants to fetch the drugget from the valhalla of the worn-out.

30. This Mecca of ichthyophagian epicures is now deserted.

31. If the envious man from the housetop denounces a man of reputation as a thief or a gambler, no man regardeth his voice though he call out with the voice of Stentor.

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