The Elements of English Composition (Google eBook)

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1821
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David Irving produced a book that, from its beginning, illustrates what can go wrong in language. He certainly meant well, and definitely was an improvement over several books I’ve read from his time, but was still difficult. Fortunately, others have taken his advice to an even higher level than Irving himself was able to climb. Here is an example: “By a proper mixture of short and long periods, the ear is gratified, and a certain sprightliness is joined with majesty: but when a sort of regular compass of phrases is employed, the reader soon becomes fatigued with the monotony” (45). Read this book only if you suffer from insomnia.
Irving, David. Elements of English Composition. 5th edition. London: Richard Phillips, 1821. http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=zAVKAAAAIAAJ.
 

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Page 127 - Me miserable ! which way shall I fly Infinite wrath, and infinite despair? Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell; And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep Still threatening to devour me opens wide, To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
Page 141 - Full many a gem of purest ray serene The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear : Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Page 294 - ... frequented by every fowl whom nature has taught to dip the wing in water. This lake discharged its superfluities by a stream which entered a dark cleft of the mountain on the northern side, and fell with dreadful noise from precipice to precipice till it was heard no more.
Page 138 - He scarce had ceased, when the superior fiend Was moving toward the shore ; his ponderous shield, Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, Behind him cast ; the broad circumference Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views At evening from the top of Fesole Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
Page 262 - Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law ; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office.
Page 298 - ... the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts ; wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race...
Page 165 - What could have been done more to my vineyard, That I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, Brought it forth wild grapes?
Page 141 - Death? perhaps in this neglected spot is laid some heart once pregnant with celestial fire ; hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed, or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
Page 163 - Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.
Page 316 - It has been so long said as to be commonly believed, that the true characters of men may be found in their Letters, and that he who writes to his friend lays his heart open before him. But the truth is, that such were the simple friendships of the " Golden Age," and are now the friendships only of children.

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