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THE GIFT OF 

3ames Morgan Mnvt 



Cornell University Library 

PE 1439.L67 1894 



Historv of the English paragraph. 




3 1924 026 640 247 




Cornell University 
Library 



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the Cornell University Library. 

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THE HISTORY 



OF THE 



ENGLISH PARAGRAPH 



A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF 

ARTS, LITERATURE, AND SCIENCE, OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, IN CANDIDACY 

FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR 

OF PHILOSOPHY 



mUr^Jx 



i-^c 





EDWIN HERBERT LEWIS 



CHICAGO 

C^e mnibetisfts of att)icago ^tese 

1894 



/ - 




THE HISTORY 



OF THE 



ENGLISH PARAGRAPH 



A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF 

ARTS, LITERATURE, AND SCIENCE, OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, IN CANDIDACY 

FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR 

OF PHILOSOPHY 



BY 

EDWIN HERBERT LEWIS 



CHICAGO 

Elje ^anibrcsitg of (Hljicago iPresB 

1894 

'TV 



4 



A.Z.85 



"7 



CONTENTS, 



Preface . 5 

CHAPTER I. 
The Mechanical Signs of the Paragraph 1 1 

CHAPTER II. 
Rhetorical Theories of the Paragraph 20 

CHAPTER III. 
Paragraph-Length and Sentence-Length ' 34. 

CHAPTER IV. 

Recent Investigations in Prose- Form: their Bearing on the His- 
tory of the Paragraph 52 

CHAPTER V. 
Alfred to Tyndale , 66 

CHAPTER VI. 
Tyndale to Temple 75 

CHAPTER VII. 
Temple to De Quincey 104 

CHAPTER VIII. 
De Quincey to Holmes i37 

CHAPTER IX. 
The Prose Paragraph : Summary i6g 

Bibliography '79 

APPENDIX. 

Notes on the Verse Paragraph of Middle English 185 

3 



PREFACE, 



Historically considered, the word paragraph means (a) a 
marginal character or note employed to direct attention to some 
part of the text ; (d) a character similar to (a), but placed in the 
text itself ; (c) the division of discourse introduced by a paragraph 
mark or by indentation, and extending to the next paragraph 
mark or the next indentation ; (d) the rhetorical paragraph, that 
is, (c) developed to a structural unit capable of organic internal 
arrangement. 

The plan of the present essay is to discuss, in the first chapter, 
(a) and {6) and other mechanical signs of the paragraph ; in the 
second chapter to introduce (<:) for the purpose of further defi- 
nition ; in the next seven chapters to show the historical devel- 
opment of (c) in English prose, first by a statement of the general 
development, then by a particularized account according to 
periods, then by a summary of this account ; lastly, in an appen- 
dix, to offer a few incomplete notes on the development of {/:) in 
Middle English verse. 

It is a pleasure to acknowledge here my indebtedness, first to 
Professor W. D. McClintock, who approved the choice of subject, 
and made most searching and suggestive comments upon the whole 
course of the treatment; and to Professors F. A. Blackburn, W. 
C. Wilkinson, and A. H. Tolman, for many helpful criticisms. 
Professor L. A. Sherman, of the University of Nebraska, gener- 
ously furnished me with certain statistics, noted in the text by the 
parenthesis (Sherman). Mr. G. W. Gerwig, of Allegheny, Pa., 
kindly supplied me in advance with the results of his research 
concerning the decrease of predication, — research pursued under 
Professor Sherman's direction. I have quoted freely from his 
results, using as reference mark the parenthesis (Gerwig). In such 

5 



6 PREFACE. 

cases the expression " clauses saved " needs a word of explana- 
tion. Mr. Gerwig says : 

" The manifest effect of such verb suppression is a lightening 
of the style of the authors engaging in it. A partial effort was 
made to find out the line of this movement, but no complete 
or final results were obtained. The number of clauses saved 
by the substitution of present and past participles or by the use 
of appositives was noted, and is made a systematic part of the 
present exhibits. No especial value is claimed for the results, 
except perhaps as an aid to later investigators. . . . This 
exhibit of course includes only the verb suppressions through 
aid of the simplest substitutes. That there has been a similar 
saving by the use of verbal nouns, gerundive constructions, and 
other devices will be apparent to any student." 

I have made no effort to extend the line of investigation thus 
indicated. But, since the matter concerns indirectly the develop- 
ment of paragraph structure, I have quoted many of Mr. Ger- 
wig's results on this point, as suggestive, though incomplete. 

Professor W. I. Knapp, of this University, was good enough 
to let me examine the rubrication in certain rare Romance texts 
in his possession. To the authorities of the British Museum, 
the Cambridge University Library, the Astor Library, and the 
Newberry Library (especially Dr. Karl Pietsch) I owe repeated 
courtesies. Two other friends, Mr. L. D. Thornton and Mr. W. 
E. Moffatt, from time to time lightened for me the burden of the 
numerical work ; one of these, Mr. Moffatt, interested himself in 
the general theme, and called my attention to several enlight- 
ening facts. 

A discussion of the history of the paragraph must necessarily 
concern itself chiefly with what De Quincey called the mechan- 
ology of style. The danger in such study is that the method of 
investigation may itself become mechanical. But, though no 
other method is so mechanical as the numerical method, and 
though I have wished to lay the chief emphasis upon the purely 
rhetorical discussion, I have not been able to resist the tempta- 



PREFACE. 7 

tion to do a little counting. For the figures obtained I do not 
wish to claim any significance that is not in them ; they seem to 
me interesting in themselves, and have proved to some extent 
a means of testing conclusions reached by freer and more sym- 
pathetic reading. Psychological meaning, too, they must have, 
but I understand little of it. Had time permitted the making of 
curves, from the tables in hand, to illustrate the exact course of 
each author's numbers, these curves would have possessed far 
more meaning than the system of averages I have had to use. 
Manifestly, in employing a system of averages, one is constantly 
in danger of implying more than he wishes to. For the mere 
numerical average may not be the most important thing to know 
in a given case ; the course of an author's fluctuations in sen- 
tence length or paragraph length, may be the really significant 
thing ; and this matter of fluctuations I have not been able to 
deal with adequately. Again, when, in the later chapters, refer- 
ences are freely made to a given author's average paragraph length, 
it must be remembered that in most cases only a small part of the 
author's whole work serves as a basis of induction. The numer- 
ical results are therefore avowedly tentative, and the interpretation 

of them is often inadequate. 

E. H. L. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE MECHANICAL SIGNS OF THE PARAGRAPH. 

The various signs of the paragraph, as they appear in English 
manuscripts and English books, are a legacy from classical 
scribes, and must be studied in the light of their origin. 

The paragraph (irapaypa</)os {ypafj.fji.i^), is the oldest mark of 
punctuation in Greek manuscripts. It first occurs as a horizontal 
stroke (sometimes with a dot over it), placed at the beginning 
of a line, just beneath the first two or three letters. It indicated 
that a sentence, or some longer division of the text, was ended in 
the underscored line. The mark thus distinguished the close of 
one section rather than the beginning of another. 

Instead of the horizontal mark the wedge (SlttXtj), or the 
hook (Kopwvk), was occasionally employed. The terms SmXrj 
and KopQivL'; are not carefully discriminated by lexicographers ; both 
forms shown in Fig. i, in the accompanying cut, are called 
SnrXrj, and at least the first form has been called KopuivU. 

Later in Greek literature, the mark is used for other purposes. 
It marks a spurious passage ; or it indicates, in the drama, a 
change of persons in dialogue, chorus, or parabasis. Aristotle, 
Rhet. III., 8, 6, says that the terminal poeon, ^^^-, should not 
be determined by the paragraph (wapaypafftrj) — a warning which 
points to great frequency in the use of the mark. I cannot, 
however, say whether Welldon is fully justified in his note on ^;_Z" 
the point: "The 'marginal annotation' (Grk. Trapaypatfirj, Lat. 
inte7-ductus librarii) would answer to the modern full stop."' 

In law Trapaypa(l>ij came to mean an exception taken by the 
defendant to the indictment. In the later rhetoric irapaypaKJiy 
meant a brief summary. The sign used for a paragraph of this 
sort in the Gortynian Codex of Private Rights is the cross shown in 

» The Rhetoric of Aristotle, Trans. J. E. C. Welldon, p. 251. 

9 



lo HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Fig. 2. The use of irapaypaKftri to mean a summary indicates how 
soon the word came to signify a division of discourse. 

There were, among the Greeks, other mechanical devices for 
indicating the paragraph. Roberts' mentions the use of the let- 
ters of the alphabet, in an old Locrian inscription, to indicate 
the successive divisions ; the letters were turned upon one side. 
In the manuscripts the custom early arose of leaving a short space 
after the last word of each paragraph. Very early also grew up 
the habit of emphasizing the conclusion of a paragraph byppints, 
placed in the space referred to. Many English manuscripts show 
the same device : as, a full point placed high,° or a colon and a 
dash,^ or three full points (.'.)." 

Of the Greek marks, it was the KopwvU, I take it, that sur- 
vived, assuming the form of a gamma [Fig. 3];^ although the 
hypothesis has been suggested' that the gamma stands for ypap.iJLrj. 
In later times this gamma underwent many modifications, though 
it is usually possible to recognize in the variants the parent mark, 
even as late as the sixteenth century. In the cut these changes, 
for they can hardly be called steps in any evolution, are shown 
in figures 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 (?), 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 
(second character). Fig. 8 is from the West Gothic forms given 
by Wattenbach. Fig. 12 is from the Ormulum; fig. 13, from the 
Harleian Leviticus. Walther gives 14, 22, 23, 24, 25, in the Z^".*:- 
icon Diplomaticum. Fig. 14 is difficult to explain, and I am not 
sure that it is a gamma at all. Fig. 17, though it seems to have 
the force of a paragraph mark, is no easier to dispose of than 14. 
The gamma in 27 is from a beautiful incunabulum by Ulrich 

^ An Introduction to Greek Epigraphy , p. 348. 

^ E.g. Cotton MS., Vespasian A. viii., A. D. 966. 

'E.g. D'Orville MS. X. I. Inf., 2.30. Bodleian Lib., A. D. 889. 

^E.g. Cotton MS., Claudius B. iv. Early eleventh century. 

5 Cf. Isidor {Orig. I. 21) . . . " Paragraphus [Fig. 3] ponitur ad separandas 
res a rebus." (Quoted in Wattenbach, Anleitung zur Lateinischen Palceographie, 
P-36.) 

' Cf. Liddell and Scott's Lexicon. 



MECHANICAL SIGNS OF THE PARAGRAPH. 1 1 



1\ X rr 






'73 /^ 



/5 ' nr" 17 iv 



/ .5^ ^^ ^^ '^ J 

li iij Zf ^» f-9 ««> 

^ 1 c § S T (( T 

3^ ^? 5«t 3^ '/O 4/ ^i, ^5 

PARAGRAPH MARKS. 



12 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Zell. On the page of chapter titles this mark alternates with 
the thick character resembling a reversed D. 

When one looks at the West Gothic form given in Fig. 8, the 
question suggests itself, might not the modern mark ^ have 
descended from the original gamma^ It is probably the obser- 
vation of this West Gothic mark, or some still more suggestive 
form, that has led Mr. Maunde Thompson' to say recently: 
" Our modern ^ is directly derived from the simple ancient form " 
[Fig. 3]. Mr. Thompson introduces no fact whatever in support 
of this statement. There are surely definite objections to this 
view, even if we can find more suggestive forms than Fig, 8. One 
objection is that unquestionable variants of the gamma have per- 
sisted side by side with the variants of the Y, and to a very late 
date, as in the Ulrich Zell book mentioned. A more serious 
objection is the fact that the form resembling a P (Fig. 4), 
is found in very old Latin manuscripts. Now, if Mr. Thompson 
can cite no transitional form (between the gamma and this ancient 
P) more marked than Fig. 8, his case is not strong. It is a 
long step from the bold, oblique stroke of Fig. 8 to the care- 
fully limited curve of Fig. 4. It seems much more rational, there- 
fore, to believe that the P stood for " paragraphus ; " nothing 
could be more natural for a Latin scribe than to substitute the ini- 
tial letter of a word with which he was familiar, for the ancient 
gamma, which seemed to him quite unrelated to the word it 
represented. 

This early Latin mark had been changed as early as 1127 to 
the form in Fig. 1 1 ; whether to distinguish the sign from all let- 
ters, or because the left curve is easier to make than the right, is 
not clear. The change may have been hastened by the habit 
which grew up in the twelfth (?) century, of placing the mark at 
the left of the marginal line in poetry. The reason for the change 
in this case would be the danger of the right curve impinging 
upon the text. 

In the years between 1127 and 1280 the long stem of the 

^Handbook of Greek and Latin Palceography, p. 71. 



MECHANICAL SIGNS OF THE PARAGRAPH. 13 

reversed P was gradually dropped, and the form shown in Fig. 1 5 
resulted. A little later the long reversed P again came into 
fashion. 

The characters in Figs. 16 and 18 are developed from 15, 
although the first form of 16 shows how nearly the gamma and 
the Latin mark could be made to approach each other ; the 
same resemblance occurs again in 28. Other variants of the P 
appear in Figs. 19, 20, and 21, of which the first belongs to the 
latter part of the fourteenth century, the second and third to the 
first part of the fifteenth. 

The ornamental form 26 is but one of many fanciful and 
even fantastic shapes that grew up under the hand of the illu- 
minator — forms which could not be shown to advantage here 
without the aid of many colors. Indeed it should be remem- 
bered that red and blue are the colors in which most of the 
figures of the cut appear in the manuscripts or incunabula. The 
list will show which are printer's types. 

In certain manuscripts, as British Museum Additional Manu- 
script, 15,580, the paragraph mark is not employed at all; its 
place is taken by the parallel virgules, oblique. 

The heavy-faced marks shown in 32 were the models of the 
paragraph-type cast in Germany as early as 1477. Caxton began 
in i483(?) to use a similar mark — 36. Down to this time, or 
even till 1485, according to Mr. Blades,' Caxton employed a 
rubricator (rubrisher), who inserted, in vermilion, paragraph marks 
and initials. It was in the book called Quattuor Sermones that he 
first employed a paragraph-type. 

Fig. 29 shows how, by careless drawing, the modern reference 
mark "^ was evolved. It is hardly to be supposed that the type 
"^ was deliberately meant to be, as Worcester's definition has it, 
"Nothing more than a capital P reversed, the white part being 
made black, and the black part white, for the sake of greater dis- 
tinction." This modern type was used by English printers in 
the sixteenth century. But a similar one was used, having only 

' The Biography and Typography of William Caxton, p. 135. 



14 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

one stem — Figs. 41, 43. These long-stemmed varieties were used 
more as ornaments than as paragraph marks. By the middle of 
the sixteenth century the paragraph mark had indeed almost 
passed out of use except as a decoration, and when it was revived 
it was as a reference mark. In editions of Latin and Greek 
classics it was still retained, being placed in the text. 

Indentation (German and French alinea) was not an inven- 
tion of the fifteenth century, nor yet of the fourteenth. Its 
origin is often ascribed to the practice of leaving a blank space 
to be filled with a capital by the illuminator. But why is it 
necessary to assign such a reason for a device which really exists 
in some of the oldest English manuscripts ? In a manuscript 
of the sixth century (Cambridge University Library, 41), quota- 
tions are written as in modern paragraphs, — carried in evenly 
from the marginal line. 

Perfect indentation in t^ie modern sense, where the space of 
a printer's em is left at the beginning of the new paragraph, is 
to be found as early as 1482, in an incunabulum of Knoblocht- 
zer." Caxton made no indentations in the modern sense. But 
he often spaced out the line before a new paragraph, and occa- 
sionally left a space within the line to mark a new section of the 
discourse — a sort of compound paragraph (cf. p. 28). 

In the time of Caxton's successor, De Worde, the word para- 
graph had come to be applied, under the guise of pilcrow, not 
only to the mark itself, but to the index [1^^] as well " The 
word itself had suffered corruption, first into paragrafte, and 
then, according to Skeat, into pylcrafte.' At any rate, the word 
pilcrow is common. Thus in Tusser, Five Hundred Points of 
Good Husbandry (1557) : 

" In husbandry matters, where pilcrow ye find, 
That verse appertaineth to huswifery kind." 

■ Oratio Habita in Synode Argent. Gailer von Kaiserburg, Strassburg 
1482. 

= Indeed before Caxton's day we have pylcrafte meaning something other 
than paragraph. Thus as early as 1440, in Geoffrey's Promptorium Parvulorum, 
pylcrafte is defined as asterishis. 



MECHAXICAL SIGNS OF THE PARAGRAPH. 15 

The name pilcrow continued to be used till after the middle, at 
least, of the seventeenth century. In " The New World of 
English Words — or a General Dictionary, containing the Inter- 
pretation of such hard words as are derived from other lan- 
guages," 1658, we have this definition : "A Paragraphe (Greek), 
a full head or title in any kind of writing; as much as is com- 
prehended in one section ; it is also called a Pillkrow." 

One other use of the paragraph mark in the sixteenth cen- 
tury should perhaps be mentioned, — a bookbinder's use. The 
system of signatures, developed in the fifteenth century, gave a 
letter to each signature, a Roman numeral being added to show 
the page. Thus the first signature would be A, and its leaves, 
Aj, Aij, Aiij, etc. The introductory section (preceding A) was 
often marked ^i, ^ij, etc. If there was a second introductory 
section, as a preface after the title pages and blank pages, it was 
sometimes marked ^l^i, ^Tjij, etc. 

After the establishment of indentation the method of mark- 
ing paragraphs becomes essentially what we find it today. At 
first the old mark was for emphasis occasionally added to the 
indentation, as in Ascharii now and then. But this custom was 
short-lived. The paragraphs of the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries are often separated by wide spaces ; but this is a print- 
er's convenience, and has no connection with the modern way of 
double-spacing before an unusual break in the sense {cf. p. 29). 
In the eighteenth century it was a printer's custom to print the 
first word of each paragraph in capitals. 

It remains to consider the origin of the so-called section 
mark [§], called on the continent, paragraphe. The genesis of 
this mark has been explained in two different ways. The first 
of these is equally ingenious and ingenuous. It is thus 
expressed in an American treatise on composition and rhetoric :' 
" The Section [§], the mark for which seems to be a combina- 
tion of two s's, standing for signum sectionis, the sign of the 
section." The theory is still more definitely expounded in 

■Quackenbos, Course of Composition and Rhetoric, p. 145. 



1 6 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

D. J. Hill's Elements of Rhetoric:^ "The Section [§] . . . is 
supposed to be derived from the Latin words, signum sectionis, 
sign of a section, the two old-fashioned long // being written 
side bv side, but finally one below the other." The only neces- 
sary answer to this fancy is that the early section-type, Fig 30, 
does not at all suggest the combination of two s's. 

The second theory is that of Friedrich Blass, and must be 
received with respect, though stated without defense or expla- 
nation. Blass says (Ivan von Midler's Handbuch der Klassischen 
Alterthiimswissenschaft, 1., 332): " Aus diesem Zeichen [the 
gamma] erstant durch die Mittelform [Fig. 7] unser §." By 
this he seems to mean that the hollow branch of the transitional 
gamma [Fig. 7] developed into the long duplex circumflexus of 
the old section mark. 

It is hard to see how this can be. Whatever evolution the 
form 7 would have gone through would naturally have been from 
left to right, not vice versa. In fact the only form of the gamma 
I have found that bears the slightest resemblance to the early 
§ (Fig. 30) is Fig. 24, where the canny scribe has invented 
a Tironian paragraph-mark by uniting the curve of the Latin 
mark to the stem of a fully developed gamma. But surely 30 
could never have come from 24, and it seems next to impossible 
for it to have come from 7. 

The type 30 was used at Padua in 1473. I have not found it 
in earlier Italian books, though it may have been used. The 
(rubricated) mark which does exist, however, and frequently and 
conspicuously in Venetian books of 1474-1479, is the graceful 
one shown in Figs. 31 and 33. 

Why, then, should not 30 be an invention, perhaps between 
1467 and 1473," based on the beautiful first form in 31 ? A vari- 
ant still nearer to 30 is 37, where but the slightest change is 
needed to give a rude form of 30. 

'D. ]. Hill, Eleincnls of Rhetoric, p. 123. 

= No Roman or Venetian book that I have been able to examine shows a 
paragraph-type in this period. 



MECHAXICAL SIGNS OF THE PARAGRAPH. 17 

^[\• hypothesis then is, that the § is developed, not from the 
gamma, but from the old P, the date of the final change being 
approximately as indicated in the preceding paragraph. 

SOURCES OF THE CUT. 

1. Early Greek inscriptions. Mommsen, Res Gestce divi 
Augusti, p. 190. 

2. Gortynian Codex of Private Rights. 

3. Early Greek and Latin MSS. Wattenbach, Ankitung 
zur Lateinischen Palaographie, p. 36. 

4. Oldest Latin MSS. Wattenbach, Anleitung, p. 36. 

5. 804-820 A. D. S. Augustinus. Boulogne MS., 44. 

6. 854-873 A. D. Rabanus Maurus. Munich Hofbibliotek. 
Lat. 6262. ' 

7. Date? Blass, in Ivan von Miiller's Handbuch der Klass- 
ischen Alterthumswissenschaft, I., 332. 

8. Ninth century. West Gothic form. Wattenbach, Anlei- 
tung, p. 36. 

9. Tenth century. Berliner Bibliotek. MS., theol. lat. Fol. 
4S1. 

10. Eleventh century. Freiburger Universitatbibliotek. MS. 
containing the Canonessandung of Burchard von Worms. 

11. 1127 A. D. Regula S. Benedicti. British Museum Add. 
MS. 16,979. 

12. c. 1200 A.D. Ormulum. MS. Junius L 

13. 1 1 76 A. D. Leviticus. Harl. MS. 3038. 

14. 1265 A. D. In Walther, Lexicon Diplomaticum. 

15. 1280 A. D. Miinchener Hof- und Staatsbibliotek, MS. 
13,029. 

16. Thirteenth century. French MS. 

17. 1295 A. D. Comptes du Temple. 

18. Thirteenth century. The Great Psalter, in Three Parts. 
Paris, Biblioteque Pie. 

19. Before 1400. Wiclif's Bible. MS. Douce 70. 

20. c. 1400 A. D. Piers Plowman. MS. Laud Misc., 581. 



21. 


1422 A. 


D. 


22. 


I43S A. 


D. 


23- 


1441 A. 


D. 


24. 


1441 A. 


D. 


25- 


1441 A. 


D. 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

In Walther, Lexicon Diplomaticum. 
In Walther, Lexicon Diplomaticum. 
In Walther, Lexicon Diplomaticum. 
In ^\'alther. Lexicon Diplomaticum. 
In AValther, Lexicon Diplomaticum. 

26. 1460-1465 A. D. Incunabulum, Quadrag. F. Leon. Ital. 

27. 1470 A. D. Tractatics Diversi. Incunabulum, by Zell, 
Cologne. 

28. c. 1470 A. D. St. Bernard. Incunabulum, Strassburg. 

29. 1472 A. D. Fr. Beneveiitura Breviloquium. Incunab- 
ulum, Nurnberg. 

30. 1473 A. D. Type. Platea, Tabula Restitutionum. Padua. 

31. 1474. A. D. Duns Scotus, Scriptuin in primum Sententi- 
arum. Incunabulum, Venice. 

32. 1477 A. D. Type. Jacobus de Cessolis, Schachzabelbuch, 
Incunabulum by Heinrich Knoblocktzer, Strassburg. 

33. 1479 A. D. Carraciolo de Licio, Sacrce Theologies Magis- 
tri Necnou Sacri, Incunabulum, Venice. 

34. 1483 A. D. Deutscher Kalendar. Incunabulum by Kno- 
blocktzer, Strassburg. 

35. 1481 A. D. St. Bernard, Epistolcs. Incunabulum. 

36. 1483 (?) A. D. Caxton, Quattuor Sermones, d^c. 

37. Date uncertain. A Latin incunabulum in the Newberry 
Library, Chicago. 

38. 1585 A. D. Type, used by East. 

38 a. 1587 A. D. Alnick J., Meditations vpon Gods Mon- 
archie, and the Deicill his Kingdome, London, Gerred 
Dewes. 

39. Modern English "section mark," ci\\t& paragrapheh\ 
continental printers. 

40. French variant of 39. 

41. 1599 A. D. Type used by the firm, of George Bishop, 
Ealph Newberie, & Robert Barker. 

42. 1491 A. D. Type. Mirabilia Urbis Hotnce. German 
incunabulum. 



MECHANICAL SIGNS OF THE PARAGRAPH. 1 9 

1738 A. D. Hugo, De Prima Sa-ibendi Origi/ie, 
Trajecti ad Rhenum, mdccxxviii., p. 257. Quoted from 
Pancirolus as "vetus ilia," thus: "Est autem nota 
hcec § et vetus ilia [Fig. 43] cujus ilia sit formae, novi 
inventi, cum olim verba omnia in MSS. cohaerent, rari- 
usque singula interpungeretur, et a seculo nono demum 
distinctiones per spatia qupedam inter singulas voces 
relicta obtinerent, etc." 



CHAPTER II. 
RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 

§!• 

We have now examined, at rather tedious length, the general 
history of the mechanical marks of the paragraph ; the rest 
of our discussion must concern itself chiefly with rhetorical 
qualities of the paragraph. Before we can proceed to trace 
the history of this unit of composition, we must have a definition 
of it, and a classification of its varieties. In this matter the long- 
est way round is perhaps the shortest way home ; and to reach a 
working definition and classification we will examine such defini- 
tions and classifications as have already been made. 

Until 1866, when Bain published his J/a««a/ of English Com- 
position and Rhetoric, the paragraph as a structural unit had 
received from writers on rhetoric no serious attention. Camp- 
bell had discussed sentence connectives in an indifferent sort of 
way, and De Quincey had urged in more than one place the phi- 
losophy of transition. But it is a little remarkable that the treatises 
on -rhetoric were so slow in coming to note the organic signifi- 
cance of the paragraph ; that the theory of the teachers was so 
many years behind the practice of the writers. 

Bain's definition ran thus [§ 158] : "The division of discourse 
next higher than the sentence is the Paragraph : which is a col- 
lection of sentences with unity of purpose." Angus was more 
specific, but less to the point : " A paragraph is a combination 
of sentences, intended to explain, or illustrate, or prove, or apply 
some truth ; or to give the history of events during any definite 
portion of time, or in relation to any one object of thought." ' 
Minto's Manual does not define. D. J. Hill says: "A paragraph 
is a group of sentences that are closely related in thought." = 

' Handbook of the English Tongue, § 730. 
^ Klenients of Rhetoric, p. 71. 



RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 2 I 

McElrov ■ "A Paragraph is in fact a whole composition in minia- 
ture, and sometimes constitutes a whole composition." " Genung: 
" A paragraph is a connected series of sentences constituting the 
development of a single topic."" A. S. Hill speaks of the para- 
graph as "something more than a sentence and something less 
than an essay ; ... an important means of marking the natural 
divisions of a composition as a whole." ^ G. R. Carpenter quotes 
Bain, Genung, and McElroy, and adds: "These definitions of 
well-known writers on rhetoric all agree in making a paragraph 
a series or combination of sentences, constituting an integral part 
of a whole composition."'' 

Three writers have somewhat more definitely declared the 
organic nature of the paragraph. These three, John Nichol, 
T. W. Hunt, and Barrett Wendell, define the paragraph in terms 
of syntax. Nichol,^ in a parenthesis, thus : " With regard to the 
arrangement of sentences in a Paragraph — to which on a larger 
scale the same laws apply as to the sentence — it may be remarked 
that the best effect is generally produced when the long sentence 
precedes and the short sentence follows, striking, as it were, 
the nail on the head, and concentrating the sentiment which 
has been previously followed." Hunt: — "a collection of sen- 
tences unified by some common idea. It sustains the same 
relation to the sentence which this does to the clause or mem- 
ber. It is a structure of which completeness is a mark — 
■completeness of form and discussion."* Wendell,' after search, 
finds in the books no definition that suits him, and says : " In 
these straits, trying to make a definition for myself, I have 
been able to frame no better one than this, whose comparative 

' The Structure of English Prose, § 246. 

= The Practical Elements of Rhetoric, p. 193. 

i Foundations of Rheio7-ic, p. 325. 

•■Exercises in Rhetoric and English Composition, Advanced Course, p. 153. 

^ Primer of English Composition, p. 103. 

* The Principles of Written Discourse, ]). 82. 

I English Composition, p. 119. 



2 2 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

form makes it at least suggestive : A paragraph is to a sentence 
what a sentence is to a word." Hunt's definition comes nearer 
to historical truth then Wendell's. But the latter writer, whose 
definition would hardly be couched in such tropical terms if it 
were meant to apply to the historical' paragraph, does not pretend 
to say that good use has necessitated this definition ; he is 
rather speaking of a paragraph that ought to be. 

The latest definition is that of Scott and Denney.' It is par- 
ticularly important, since it emphasizes the idea that a good par- 
agraph is, more properly than the sentence itself, an organic unit 
of composition. "A paragraph is a unit of discourse developing 
a single idea. It consists of a group or series of sentences closely 
related to one another and to the thought expressed by the whole 
group or series. Devoted, like the sentence, to the development 
of one topic, a good paragraph is also, like a good essay, a com- 
plete treatment in itself." 

All the definitions thus far given were framed primarily for 
purposes of pedagogy. This may explain why so much stress 
is laid upon the idea of a paragraph as a sentence group. It 
hardly need be said that one of the trials of the teacher is 
this, — that when a young mind is told to make paragraphs it 
begins to paragraph each sentence." It proceeds by what might 
be called impartial analysis, failing to distinguish the larger stadia 
of the thought from the smaller. 

The question, however, arises, whether the name of paragraph 
can justly be refused to an indented sentence. Of the ten authors 
quoted above, three admit the fact of the paragraph of one sen- 
tence ; six ignore it ; one disputes it. Angus rather reluctantly 
admits that " sometimes an author makes his paragraphs little 
else than expanded sentences;'"' and, unhappily, quotes Jeremy 
Taylor by way of illustration. D. J. Hill follows Angus : " Some- 
times an expanded sentence constitutes a paragraph ; "3 and he 

^Paragraph Writing, p. i. 
^Handbook, § 735. 
"i Elements, p. 75. 



RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 23 

quotes the same passage from Taylor, the reading of which would 
be more certain to deter any student from constituting 
a sentence a paragraph than would any exhortation. The 
only whole-hearted recognition of the single sentence paragraph 
is that of A. S. Hill: "If a paragraph complies with these funda- 
mental requirements, it matters not whether it contain one 
sentence or twenty."' The fundamental requirements here 
referred to are those of unity, coherence, etc., and Hill's words 
do not imply any previous discussion as to the proper num- 
ber of sentences to the paragraph. The most recent discus- 
sion of the paragraph (and the most comprehensive), that of 
Scott and Denney, refuses to recognize the single-sentence 
paragraph; in this it follows Earle, of whom we shall speak 
separately. The words of Scott and Denney are: "No arbi- 
trary rules can be given as to the proper length of paragraphs. 
Observing the custom of some of our best writers, we may safely 
say that it is not well to extend a single paragraph beyond three 
hundred words. The advantage of at least one paragraph inden- 
tation on almost every page of a printed book is felt by every 
reader. On the other hand, as Professor Earle says (English 
Prose, p. 212), 'The term paragraph can hardly be applied to 
anything short of three sentences,' though rarely a complete and 
satisfactory effect is produced by two.'"" 

Here, then, the question is transferred from writers whose dis- 
cussion has chiefly a pedagogical purpose to one whose point of 
view is chiefly historical. It is in speaking of present-day writers 
that Earle says there must be at least two sentences to the para- 
graph in order to secure "a complete and satisfactory effect." 
These last words of Professor Earle are vague. What is "a com- 
plete and satisfactory effect," in the paragraph? Is it an effect of 
logical division or partition? or is it, for instance, a rhythmical 
effect ? In either case, or both, it is not hard to show that good 
authors of this century do not infrequently get the desired effect 
by the use of the paragraph of one sentence. 

^Foundations, p. 325. 'Paragraph Writing, p. 10. 



24 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

To be sure, the single-sentence paragraph is less used in this 
century than in the last, and much less today than in the day of 
the good bishop quoted by Angus and by D. J. Hill. It may be 
worth while to indicate rather more specifically just what the 
general course of this development has been, and how the usage 
now stands. The following lists will show a count of the per- 
centage of single-sentence paragraphs in various authors, the 
second column of figures indicating the whole number of para- 
graphs considered. In cases where the greater part of the 
indented sentences are due to dialogue, an asterisk is prefixed. 
In the other authors there is either no dialogue or not enough 
thus paragraphed to raise the percentage materially. ' In a third 
column is added, for purposes of comparison, J:he average sentence - 
length of each author, based on the paragraphs indicated in the 
second column. 

Per cent, of p i ' Average number 

Author. sinele-sentence ^ara^jap s of words in the 

i_ considered, 

paragraphs. sentence. 

Defoe: Essay oji Projects, 62 200 49-64 

*Bunyan, 61 200 31.61 

Paley, ' 58 200 37.68 

Sterne, 55 200 36.50 

Spenser, 48 200 49.80 

* Scott, 45 55 1 32.53 

♦ Dickens, - 43 300 23.78 
Stow, t. 41 200 c. 57.00 

*Kingsley, 39 200 23.72 

Fielding, 38 — 200 : 100 — 41.92 

Lord Brooke, 35 200 "c. 55-00 

Hobbes, 35 200 39.26 

*Landor, 34 200 26.18 

Lyly,- 33 221 36.83 

Bacon: Advancement, 32 no 60. 03 

*George Eliot, 27 212 22.39 

Johnson, - 27 152 3S.15 

Lord Herbert, 25 40 75.00 

Walton: Life of Hooker, 25 106 64.00 



Fuller, 20 100 



23-45 



Burton, 18 100 40.14 

Burke, 18 145 26-09 



RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 



25 



Author. 

Locke, 
Latimer, 
Cranmer, 
* Irving, 
Clarendon, 
Lamb, 
Swift, 

De Quincey, 
Temple, 
Webbe, 
Addison, 
Ruskin, 
Browne, 
Gosson, 
Dryden, 

Reginald Pecock, 
Ascham, - 
Sidne\", 
Milton. 
Coleridge, 
Tvndale, - 
Goldsmith, 
Pater, 

Jeremy Ta)dor, 
Newman, 
Bolingbroke, 
Barrett Wendell, 
Matthew Arnold, 
Cowley, 

Herbert Spencer, 
Lowell, 
Emerson, 
Jeffrey, 
Macaulay, 
Hume, 
Gibbon, 
Channing, 
Dr. Bartol, 
Abraham Lincoln, 
J. R. Green, 



Per cent, of 

single-sentence 

paragraphs. 

iS 

18 
17 

I; 
15 
IS 
15 
14 
14 
14 
14 
13 
13 
II 
II 
c. 10 
10 
lO 
ID 

8 
8 
8 

7 
6 
6 

5 
5 
5 
5 
4 
4 
3 
3 
2 
I 



Paragraphs 
considered. 

200 
Il6 

100 

129 

— 200 : IOC 

87 
200 

89 
184 

75 
200 

151 
107 

45 
180 
200 
100 

79 

33 
100 
100 
107 

37 
109 
200 
173 

55 

71 

66 

68 

75 
122 
100 
3338 
200 
200 

60 

45 

12 

200 



Average number 

of words in the 

sentence. 

49.80 

20.45 

37.22 

26.73 

74-94 
27.19 
40.00 
38.81 
5340 
50.50 

38.36 

33-31 

33-09 

60. 

38.04 

u. 61. 

43-13 
38.10 
50.70 
37.60 
31-72 

26.94 

38.40 

52-93 
41.40 
34.86 
25.65 

34-41 
25.65 
30-38 
31-47 
20.58 

50-65 
23-43 
39.81 
31.21 

25-35 
16.63 
16.25 
29.09 



2 6 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

The fact that these names are arranged in the order of the 
frequency with which the paragraph of one sentence occurs is not 
meant to imply that a consideration of larger numbers of para- 
graphs might not change the order. When not more than thirty 
or forty paragraphs are considered the only conclusion that can 
be drawn is whether the author is or is not afraid of indenting 
single sentences. It will, however, appear from the list that the 
general course of our prose development has been away from the 
paragraph of one sentence ; but that the most polished stylists of 
the last twenty-five years have returned to a certain freedom in 
its use. The reason for the decrease in the use of the single- 
sentence paragraph is to be found in the historical shortening of 
the sentence ; and the whole question will be considered in the 
next chapter. 

Meanwhile it is enough if we can interpret the fact 
that this form of the paragraph has been used by represent- 
ative prosaists of every period in English literature. The 
figures given point to the conclusion that the real test of what is 
a paragraph has always been analysis — either a logical or a 
rhetorical analysis of the parts of the whole composition. The 
final question with nearly every great writer has not been, Is 
this paragraph a group of sentences? but, Is this paragraph a 
real stadium in the thought? 

This is not saying that the stadium must always be a logical 
step. The analysis may be purely rhetorical, the thought being 
raised to the dignity of a paragraph by its artistic value in the 
general development. Matter merely .transitional from one main 
thought to another may thus form a paragraph, because it is, as 
in the old sense of the word, something important to be noticed. 

So frequent, indeed, in nineteenth century prose are the 
transitional, preliminary, and directive single-sentence para- 
graphs that some critic might question whether they do not 
constitute by far the major part of the indented sentences. A 
reading of Macaulay's single-sentence paragraphs — of which 
there are 64 in the whole History, if we include in the text the part 



RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 27 

published after the author's death — will convince anyone that 
very important logical stadia are often paragraphed in the 
indented sentence. 

Returning to Professor Earle, we find it worth noticing that 
Earle's favorite author, Dr. Johnson, uses no less than 27 per 
cent, of single-sentence paragraphs. Nay more, in the very 
book in which Earle makes the dictum we have quoted, there are 
various excellent paragraphs of less than two sentences each. 
Not every author writes better in style than on style : Professor 
Earle is one who enjoys that distinction. 

§-■ 

It is evident that there may be as many types of paragraph as 
• there are ways of developing an idea. Exhaustively to enumer- 
ate these types would be useless and would require an arbitrary 
method. There are, however, certain chief types that may serve 
as a means of distinguishing one author from another with 
reference to general methods of developing a topic. 

Genung was the first writer to assign definite names to para- 
graph types. He distinguishes first the Propositional Paragraph, 
of which he says : " This is the common and natural type ; indeed, 
the other kinds of paragraphs may perhaps be regarded merely 
as sections of an ideal structure represented by this form."' He 
proceeds to explain that in this type "the subject is expressed in 
the form of a definite assertion, and then developed, by proof or 
illustration or some form of repetition." It is indeed true, as 
Genung says, that this is the common type ; the great majority 
of English paragraphs are to some extent propositional. Whether 
it is the ideal type is a question at least open to discussion. It is 
certain that some of the best writing is such because it subtly 
avoids the massing of its main idea in a formal first sentence. 
Topic songs are not, for being such, necessarily better than other 
songs. Genung next names the Amplifying Paragraph, "whose 
office it is to particularize or amplify some statement made 
previously, or to enumerate the details of a description or 

' Practical Elements, p. 210. 



2 8 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

narrative." The name seems happy for the office described in 
the first clause of the definition, but is hardly descriptive of that 
implied in the second clause. Genung speaks also of the Pre- 
liminary Paragraph, "that gives merely the general theme of a 
chapter, essay, or section ; or lays out the plan of a succeeding 
course of thought" — and of the Transitional Paragraph. 

The fullest classification of types is that of Scott and Denney.' 
These gentlemen treat first the Isolated Paragraph. Under this 
they separate first the type that is expository and argumentative, 
secondly that which is descriptive and narrative. These two 
general types are again subdivided. The first breaks into the 
logical type and the less formal types ; the logical again shows two 
species, — the deductive and the inductive, — while the less formal 
types include paragraphs of definition, paragraphs of detail, etc. 
The authors then proceed to the Related Paragraph, which of 
course shows the same structural characteristics as the Isolated, 
and also a few special forms — introductory and concluding, tran- 
sitional and directive, and amplifying. 

For the purposes of this discussion I shall feel at liberty to 
make use of any or all of the names that have been introduced 
by the authors referred to in the last two paragraphs. I shall 
also think of paragraphs as Loose or Periodic, and would like to 
suggest these terms as quite as applicable to the paragraph as to 
the sentence. The Loose will state the subject first. When the 
main conclusion is also stated first and applied in the following 
sentences the Loose paragraph will be Deductive : often the 
proposition of a deductive paragraph will form a general rule, 
broader than the immediate particulars will justify. The Peri- 
odic will suspend the full enunciation of the subject through 
most of the sentences. When the main conclusion of the Periodic 
is suspended to the last and made to follow from the particulars 
of the paragraph, the Periodic type will also be Inductive. 

It will further be useful to distinguish the Compound Para- 
graph, where the unity of the whole depends on the union of 

■ Paragraph WiHting, p. 47 ff . 



RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 29 

several smaller sections. Such paragraphs, the parts separated 
by figures or letters, are plentiful among the analytic writers — 
De Quincey, Newman, for instance. The early editions of Herbert 
Spencer's books indicate the compound nature of a paragraph by 
a wider space between the first sentence of one subsection, and 
the last of the preceding. There is also such a thing as a Spaced 
Paragraph, the opposite of the compound ; here, in the midst of 
related paragraphs, one, seeming more important or less related 
than the others, is widely separated from them by leads. When 
a group of paragraphs is separated, by spacing, from another 
group, and is perhaps distinguished by a large initial, we may 
find it convenient to refer to such a group as a Compound Capi- 
tal Paragraph, in distinction from a section. In Anglo-Saxon 
will be found many Simple Capital Paragraphs — ordinary para- 
graphs introduced by capitals. • 

§3- 

Most of the theorizing that has been done concerning the 
paragraph as an organic unit follows the line of the "six rules" 
of Bain." These are as follows I. "The bearing of each sentence 
upon what precedes shall be explicit and unmistakable." II. 
"When several consecutive sentences iterate or illustrate the same 
idea, they should, so far as possible, be formed alike. This may 
be called the rule of Parallel Construction." III. "The opening 
sentence, unless so constructed as to be obviously preparatory, is 
expected to indicate with prominence the subject of the para- 
graph." IV. "A paragraph should be consecutive, or free from 
dislocation." V. "A paragraph should possess unity; which 
implies a definite purpose, and forbids digressions and irrelevant 
matter." VI. "As in the sentence, so in the paragraph, a due 
proportion should obtain between principal and subordinate 
statements." These six rules were illustrated and defended with 
the same acuteness and grasp that have made Bain perhaps the 
ablest writer on rhetoric since Aristotle. It is evident that the 
third rule is one of the historical causes of the widely diffused 

^English Composition and Rhetoric, § l58-§ I79' 



30 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

impression that the loose paragraph is the only right kind. Bain 
gave no examples of the periodic structure, though it is hard to 
see how he could have missed knowing plenty of good examples 
of it — especially in a day when everyone was reading Macaulay. 
Bain's six rules have indeed had a very strong influence in lead- 
ing the teachers of paragraph principles to advocate a purely 
logical structure, and particularly an expository structure. They 
have re-appeared with new names and various modifications in the 
best text-books of the last quarter-century. They constitute the 
formal criterion by which Minto judges paragraph values. They 
are quoted by McElroy and regulate his discussion. They 
appear in Genung with slight variations. Barrett Wendell evi- 
dently combines the first, second, and fourth, to get his rule of 
Coherence. The third and sixth he includes in his theory of 
Mass, with the important addition of his own idea that the close 
of a paragraph is a more prominent position than the beginning. 
Scott and Denney follow Bain with one or two variations. For 
instance, McElroy had emphasized the principle of selection 
with reference to the arrangement of the parts of a composition ; 
this principle is introduced by Scott and Denney as a paragraph 
principle. It amounts to what might be called Unity by Exclu- 
sion — exclusion of such details as do not contribute to the artistic 
effect sought. The same authors make prominent the principle 
of variety, which had been mentioned with some disparagement 
by Bain, but more fully treated by McElroy — variety in length 
of sentences, in their structure, in the ordering of details, in the 
method of building different paragraphs, and in the length of 
different paragraphs. 

The only really new phases of paragraph theory since Bain — 
and the germs of both are in Bain — are Wendell's theory of 
Mass, and Scott and Denney's theory of Proportion. 

Wendell, proceeding on his theory that the paragraph is to 
the sentence what the sentence is to the word, writes as 
follows: "We have already seen that a paragraph should possess 
unity ; we have already seen that the test of unity in a paragraph 



KHEIORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 31 

is whether we can sum up its substance in a single sentence. 
Now, clearly the chief words in a typical sentence are the subject 
and the predicate. Clear])-, then, in general, the chief. ideas in a 
paragraph are those which are summarized in the subject and the 
predicate of the sentence which summarizes the whole. Our 
question, then, proves one which, by implication, we have already 
answered. A paragraph whose unity can be demonstrated by 
summarizing its substance in a sentence whose subject shall be a 
summary of its opening sentence, and whose predicate shall be a 
summary of its closing sentence, is theoretically well massed." ' 
This is both clever and interesting ; and as a matter of theory it 
is probably more than half true and good. Historically, however, 
paragraphs as well massed as this are comparatively few ; Mr. 
Wendell gives some good illustrations from editorials in the 
Nation, and others could be found. But it may be important for 
the details of a paragraph to be kept as nearly as possible coordi- 
nate in prominence. Some descriptive paragraphs, some narra- 
tive paragraphs, are not to be arranged in climax of any sort. 

The law of Mass, however, must admit other means of promi- 
nence than placing main ideas where the eye will easily catch 
them. The relative distance between periods in a paragraph is 
one of these means, and the actual bulk of writing — the whole 
number of sentences to an idea — is another. Bain, in his section 
on the sentence, had said : "In description, and in narrative, it 
is often requisite to bring together in the same sentence several 
distinct facts. A sentence is then a smaller paragraph." He 
proceeds: "The only rule that can be observed in distinguish- 
ing the sentences, is to choose the longer breaks in the sense." ° 
This is probably the hint that led to the writing of the most 
important section in Scott and Denney's recent book.^ " The 
grammars and rhetorics, which regard the sentence as the unit of 
discourse, give rules for punctuation applying mainly to the 

^ English Composition, p. 128 ff. 

'§ 157- 

3 Paragraph Writing, p. 42. 



32 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

proper pointing of the various parts of the sentence. Consider- 
ing the paragraph, however, as the true unit of discourse, we are 
met by questions of punctuation which the rules usually given do 
not answer. The rule tells us to put a period at the close of 
every declarative sentence ; but the important question, for the 
paragraph writer, often is, what is the proper place at which to 
bring the sentence to a close ? In the paragraph, not every dis- 
tinct statement is followed by a full stop. Statements which 
standing alone would properly be independent sentences, are 
frequently united into one sentence when they become part of a 
paragraph." The next paragraph follows Bain's words. "The 
rule dictated by paragraph unity for the division of a paragraph 
into sentences is that the full stops should be placed at the close 
of the larger breaks in the thought. What the sentence divisions 
shall be will depend upon the meaning in each case ; upon the 
need of giving prominence to the chief assertion and of keeping 

the other assertions subordinate A general statement 

containing the main idea may be followed by a specific state- 
ment, with only a colon or semicolon separating the two. The 
same rule is followed when the second statement gives a short 
reason, an example, a qualification, a consequence, an explana- 
tion, or a repetition." Many other cases are adduced where the 
grouping of particulars in a sentence tends to increase their joint 
unity and reduce their individual distinction. 

The law thus formulated is so strongly operative in the best 
prose of today that it seems to me safe to proceed even farther 
and say : in general it is true that in the best modern paragraphs 
the distance between periods is inversely as the emphasis of each 
included proposition. Today the best prosaists put their 
strongest statements into short sentences. This is not exactly 
the same thing as saying that they use the short sentence to give 
prominence. Prominence they may obtain by amass of amplify- 
ing sentences, which in turn reflects prominence on the short 
general statement that usuall}' accompanies them. Again, prom- 
inence may be obtained by massing for the eye ; but it will often 



RHETORICAL THEORIES OF THE PARAGRAPH. 33 

happen that to mass at the beginning or at the end the chief idea, 
may seriously limit the method of development. 

One other point in rhetorical theory may be mentioned. 
The question was raised as far back as Campbell, whether or not 
a sentence may properly begin with a conjunction. This ques- 
tion, which, it would seem, has but one side, has been settled at 
last, and no one now doubts the propriety of beginning a sentence 
with and or hut if the new idea is really coordinate with what 
precedes. Any conjunction — if we are to accept the best litera- 
ture as evidence — may begin a sentence, though certain con- 
nectives prefer an interior position. In recent years McElroy, 
managing to make up a most vivacious case against a rather 
equivocal statement of A. S. Hill, proved beyond cavil that a 
conjunction ma}' begin a paragraph. Hill had said:' "A 
paragraph indicates, that there is a break in the sense too important 
to be bridged by a conjunction." McElroy enthusiastically 
proved that no end of good paragraphs could be cited to the 
contrary. Of course the point of the matter is, that if a para- 
graph so begins, it is to be taken as standing, in its entirety, in 
a certain relation to the preceding paragraph as a whole. We 
shall later have occasion to trace something of the course of inter- 
sentential connectives. 

•^Principles, p. 1 16. 



CHAPTER III. 

PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 

§-, 
In view of the now well-known fact" that the English sen- 
tence has decreased in average length at least one-half in three 
hundred years, the question arises whether the length of the 
paragraph has decreased, increased, or remained stationary. Set- 
ting aside for the present the O. E. and the M. E. paragraph as 
inorganic, we make a count of the average number of words to the 
sentence and to the paragraph, in representative authors since the 
middle of the fifteenth century. Considerations of time compel 
us to choose between counting a large number of paragraphs in 
a few writers, or a smaller number in a considerable list. Since 
we are not sanguine at the start that a unit so subject to the will 
of the writer as the paragraph apparently is, can be expected to 
show close rhythmical constancy, we decide to examine the larger 
list, with less pretense to scientific accuracy in the individual 
author, and with more hope of discovering the whole general line 
of the development. We arrange the results of the investigation in 
list form, as below. The name of the author is first given, then 
the number of paragraphs counted (c. being prefixed to the sub- 
sequent results in the few cases where the count is not throzighout 
word for word); following this comes the average length of the 
paragraph in words, decreasing from the author of the highest 
average ; then the average paragraph length in sentences ; then the 
average number of words in the sentence. Pains were taken to 
secure editions in which the paragraphing was probably that of 
the author's edition. In many cases first editions were fortu- 
nately secured, and when neither first edition, very early edition, 
nor facsimile could be had, the services of friends at a distance 

' The fact was definitely demonstrated by Professor L. A. Sherman, in his 
Ann ly tics of Literature, Boston, 1892. 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 



35 



were made use of, — friends who could examine and verify the para- 
graphing of the editions in question. It may be guessed that the 
hands of later editors have often so changed the original para- 
graphing as to make the process of hunting down the original 
anything but exhilarating. A list of the editions used is given in 
the Bibliography, p. i79ff. In the table of paragraph lengths an 
asterisk is placed before names where the paragraph is materially 
shortened by dialogue. 

Author and Work. 
Hooker : Ecclesiastical Polity, 
Lowell : Dante, 
Milton : Areopagitica, 
Jeremy Taylor : Liberty of Prophesying, 
J. R. Green: Hist, of the English People, 
Lowell : Carlyle, 

Burton : Anatomy of Melancholy , 
De Quincey : Opium Eater, 
Channing: Self-Culture, 
Dr. Bartol : Genius, 

Arnold : Lit. Lnfl. of Acad.-\-Func. of Crit, 
Coleridge: The Friend, 
Macaulay : History of England, 
Gosson : School of Abuse , 
Dryden : Prefaces, 

Jeffrey : Contribs. to Edinburgh Review, 
Cowley : Essays, 
Pecock : Repressour, &'c., 
Newman : Idea of a University, 
Carlyle : Richter, 
Lord Herbert : Atitobiography, 
Gibbon : Rome, 
Hume : England, 
Sidney: Defense of Poesie, 
Swift : Gulliver, 
Pater : Style, 

Goldsmith : Vicar of Wakefield, 
Clarendon : History of the Rebellion, 
Lyly : Euphiies, 
Macaulay : Essays, 
Bacon : Advancement of Learning, 
Tyndale : Obedience of a Christian Man 



Paragraphs Words per 

considered. paragraph. 

l6-Bk.Ll868.43 


Sentences 
per parag. 

45-31 


Words per 
sentence. 

41-23 


50 


668.30 







33 


543.88 


10.73 


50.70 


109 


502.63 


9-49 


52-93 


, 200 


u. 456.75 


15-74 


c. 29.04 


25 


447.84 


14.24 


31-45 


100 


380.57 


9.48 


40.14 


89 


355-42 


9.16 


38.81 


60 


316.81 


12.50 


25-35 


45 


297.44 


17-89 


16.63 


it, 7: 


293.26 


8.52 


34.41 


100 


292.41 


7-77 


37.60 


3338 


291.96 


12.44 


23-43 


45 


I.. 288.00 


c. 4.14 


c. 60.00 


180 


277-55 


7.22 


38.44 


V, 100 


276.08 


5-45 


50.65 


66 


268.27 


7.38 


48.37 


200 


c. 262.00 


4.29 


c. 61.00 


200 


254.48 


6.14 


41.44 


34 


250.62 


7-94 


31-56 


40 


249.00 


3-30 


75.60 


200 


243-74 


7-81 


31.21 


200 


238.87 


6.00 


39-81 


79 


235-30 


6.50 


38.80 


200 


234.22 


5.85 


40.00 


37 


228.37 


5-92 


38.54 


107 


218.59 


8. II 


26.94 


100 


217.32 


2.90 


74-94 


221 


211.03 


5-73 


36-83 


325 


206.67 


8.96 


23-05 


no 


204.67 


3-41 


60.03 


!, no 


204.48 


6.45 


31-72 



36 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 



Author and Work. 
Holinshed : Chronicle, 
Locke: Conduct of the Understanding, 
Emerson : Essays and Addresses, 
Bolingbroke : Letter to Wyndkam, 
Herbert Spencer : Philosophy of Style, 
Walton : Life of Hooker, 
Stow : Chronicle, 
Swift : Tale of a Tub, 
Ruskin : Sesame and Lilies^ 
Addison : Freeholder, 
Barrett Wendell : The Paragraph, 
Carlyle : Sartor Resartus, 
Lamb : Essays of Elia, 
Burke : Conciliation with America, 
Carlyle : French Revolution, 
Temple : Heroic Virtue, 
Webbe : Defense of English Poesie, 
Lord Brooke : Life of Sidney, 
Defoe : Robinson Crusoe, 
Abraham Lincoln : Letter, 
Cranmer : Answer to Gardiner, 
Ascham : Toxophilus, 
Spenser: View of State of Ireland, 
Browne : Hydriotaphia, 
Latimer : Sermons, 
Hobbes : Leviathan, 
Thos. Wilson: Art of Rhetorique, 
♦Irving : Sketch Book, 
♦Fielding : Tom Jones, 
Johnson : Rasselas and Rambler, 
♦Landor : Conversations {Statesmen^, 
Fuller: Worthies of England, 
Defoe : Essay on Projects, 
*Kingsley: Alton Locke, 
♦Scott : Ivanhoe, 
♦George Eliot : Datiiel Deronda, 
Paley : Moral and Political Philosophy, 
Selden : Table Talk, 
♦Sterne : Sentimental Journey, 
♦Bunyan : Pilgrim^s Progress, 
♦Dickens : Old Curiosity Shop, 



Paragraphs 
considered. 


Words per 
parapraph. 


Sentences 
per parag. 


Words per 
sentence. 


200 


c. 204.00 







200 


202.70 


4.07 


49.80 


122 
173 

68 


198.91 
197.68 
192.97 


9.66 
5.67 
6.35 


20.58 
34.86 
30-38 


io6 


187.19 


2.90 


64.00 


200 


u. 186.00 


c. 3-30 


c. 57.00 


100 


185.77 


4.56 


40.74 


151 


179.60 


5-39 


33-31 


200 

55 


173-25 
170.23 


4-49 
6.63 


38-58 
25.65 


100 

87 


166.90 
165-35 


4.76 
6.08 


35-05 
27.19 


145 

100 


163.71 
160.31 


6.20 
6.71 


26.09 
23-89 


184 


156.30 


2.90 


53-40 


75 


u. 154.00 


3-10 


c. 50.50 


200 


c. 150.00 


c. 2.70 


c. 55.00 


200 
12 


141.63 

138.25 


1.80 
7.60 


78.68 
16.25 


100 
100 


137-75 
135-85 


3-70 
3-15 


37.22 
43-13 


200 


125.20 


2.51 


49.80 


107 


125.08 


3-78 


33-09 


116 


117.42 


5-74 


20.45 


200 


116.40 


2.96 


39,26 


100 


iiS-35 










129 


110.23 


4.12 


26.73 


100 


101.86 


2-43 


41.92 


152 

200 
100 
200 


98.40 
88.48 
86.77 
84.89 


2.58 
3-48 
3-70 
1.70 


38.15 
25-43 
23-45 
49.64 


200 
551 


79.19 
76.77 


3-34 
2.22 


23-74 
32-14 


212 
200 


76.57 
73-85 


3-42 
1.96 


22.39 
37-68 


81 


72.90 


2.17 


33.58 


200 
200 


71-37 
62.60 


1-95 
1.98 


36.50 
31-61 


300 


50.67 


2.13 


23-78 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 37 

It is pretty clear from these figures that for relatively the same 
kinds of discourse there has been no steady decrease in the average 
word-length of the paragraph. Indeed, if we rule out Hooker's 
enormous sections as properly no paragraphs at all, we find a crit- 
ical essay of Lowell at the head of the column with a paragraph of 
668 words, while the little book that stands as in some sense the 
parent of English criticism, Sir Thomas Wilson's Art of Rhetor - 
ique, we find pretty near the end of the line, with a paragraph of 
115 words. Green's English People, 456 words, may be contrasted 
with Fuller's Worthies, 86 words. Dr. Bartol's jerky homiletic 
sentence is not a third as long as Jeremy Taylor's golden period, 
but Bartol's paragraph is two-thirds as long as Taylor's. Pecock 
and Newman differ in paragraphs only seven words, though in 
sentences, twenty. Carlyle's paragraph (in Richter) is not a 
whole word longer than Lord Herbert's, though Carlyle's sen- 
tence is much less than half Lord Herbert's. Locke and Emer- 
son, though twenty-nine words apart in sentence average, have 
practically the same paragraph. Lincoln's paragraph is wichin a 
word the same as Cranm.er's, but Lincoln's sentence is 18, Cran- 
mer's, 37. Evidently, then, the great changes in the structure of 
our prose have taken place within the paragraph, and have not, in 
four hundred years, materially affected the length of the para- 
graph. Probably no reputable English writer who wrote para- 
graphs at all has risen above an average of seven hundred words, 
nor has any fallen below fifty — the great difference being due 
chiefly to the different genres of prose ; and these extremes 
have probably been reached in each generation of English 
prosaists. 

§ 2- 

We shall hardly see the full meaning of the fact that the 
word length of the paragraph has not decreased with the decrease 
in sentence length, until we note more definitely the apparent 
increase in the number of sentences to the paragraph. It may 
be worth while to re-arrange the list of authors to exhibit the 
course of the progress. This time we may proceed from the 



38 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 



lowest number of sentences (per paragraph) to the highest. As 
before, we star names where the results are much affected by 
dialogue. We add two'or three new names. 





Average 


Average 




sentences per words in 




paragraph. 


sentence. 


Defoe : Essay on Projects,^ 


I.71 


49.64 


Defoe : Robinson Crusoe, 


1.80 


78.68 


Bunyan, 


1.98 


31.61 


* Sterne, 


1-95 


36.50 


Paley, 


1.9^ 


37.68 


* Dickens, 


2.13 


23.78 


Selden, 


2.17 


33-58 


* Scott, 


2.22 


32.14 


♦Fielding, 


243 


41.92 


Spenser, 


2.51 


49.80 


Johnson, 


2.58 


38-15 


Lord Brooke, 


2.70 


c. 55.00 


Clarendon, - 


2.90 


74-94 


Temple, 


2.90 


53-40 


Walton, 


2.90 


64.00 


Hobbes, 


2.96 


39.26 


Webbe, 


3.10 


c. 50.50 


Ascham, - 


3-15 


43-13 


Stow, 


3-30 


c. 57.00 


Lord Herbert, 


3-30 


75.60 


* Kingsley, 


3-34 


23.72 


Bacon, 


341 


60.03 


* George Eliot, 


3-42 


22.39 


* Landor, 


3-48 


25-43 


Fuller, 


3-70 


23.45 


Cranmer, 


3-70 


37.22 


Browne, 


3-78 


33-09 


Locke, 


4.07 


49.80 


* Irving, 


4.12 


26.73 


Gosson, 


4.14 


c. 60.00 


Pecock, 


4.29 


c. 61.00 


Addison, - 


4.49 


38.58 


Carlyle : Sartor Resarius, 


4.76 


35.06 


Ruskin, 


5-39 


33-31 


Jeffrey, 


5-45 


50.65 


The numerical accounts are omitted. 







PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 39 



Bolingbioke, 

Lyly. ■ 

Latimer, 

Swift, 

Pater, 

Blair, 

Hume, 

Wordsworth, - 

Lamb, 

Newman, 

Burke, 

Bentley, 

Herbert Spencer, 

Tyndale, 

Sidney, 

Barrett Wendell, 

Carlyle : French Pevohttion, 

Dryden, 

Cowley, 

Lincoln, 

Coleridge, 

Gibbon, 

Carlyle : Richter, 

Goldsmith, 

Arnold, 

Macaulay : Essays, 

De Quincey, 

Burton, 

Taylor, 

Emerson, 

Milton, 

Macaulay : England, 

Channing, 

Lowell, 

J. R. Green, 

Bartol, 

Evidently, from these figures, the number of sentences in the 
paragraph has in general increased, while the sentence length has 
decreased. There have, however, been noticeable exceptions to 



Average 
sentences per 
paragraph. 


Average 
words in 
sentence. 


5.67 


34-86 


S-73 


36-83 


5-74 


20.45 


5.85 


40.00 


5-92 


38-54 


5-93 




6.00 


39-81 


6.03 




6.08 


27.19 


6.14 


41.44 


6.20 


26.09 


6.23 




6.35 


30.38 


6.45 


31-72 


6.50 


38.80 


6.63 


25-65 


6.71 


23-89 


7.22 


38.44 


7.38 


48.37 


7.60 


18.23 


7-77 


37-60 


7.81 


31.21 


7-94 


31-56 


8.11 


26.94 


8.52 


34-41 


8.96 


23-05 


9.16 


38.81 


9.48 


40.14 


9-49 


52.93 


9.66 


20.58 


10.73 


50.70 


12.44 


23-43 


12.50 


25-35 


14.24 


31-45 


15-74 c 


. 29.04 


17.89 


16.63 



40 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 



the rule. Both rule an 
arrange the list so as 
sentence length. 

Defoe ; Crusoe, 
Lord Herbert, 
Clarendon, 
Walton, 
Pecock, 
Gosson, 

Bacon : Advancement, 
Stow, 
Brooke, 
Temple, 
Taylor, 
Jeffrey, 
Milton, 
Webbe, 
Spenser, 
Locke, 

Defoe : Projects, 
Cowley, 
Ascham, 
* Fielding, 
\ Newman, 
^ Hooker, 
Burton, 
Swift, 
Hume, 
Hobbes, 
De Quincey, 
Addison, - 
Pater, 
Dryden, 
Johnson, 

Sidney, : Defense, 
Paley, 
Coleridge, 
Cranmer, 

Lyiy> 

Sterne, 



d exceptions will be made clearer if we 
to exhibit prominently the decrease in 



Average 
words in 
sentence. 


Average 

sentence per 

paragraph. 


78.68 


1.80 


75.60 


3-30 


74-94 


2.90 


64.00 


2.90 


c. 61.00 


4.29 


c. 60.00 


c. 4.14 


60.03 


3-61 


i;. 57.00 


c- 3-30 


c. 55-00 


1.. 2.70 


53-40 


2.90 


52-93 


9-49 


50.65 


5-45 


50-70 


10-73 


c. 50.5 


c. 3-1 


49.80 


2.51 


49.80 


4.07 


49.64 


1.71 


48-37 


3-93 


43-13 


3-15 


41.92 


2-43 


41.44 


6.14 


41-23 


45-31 (§6 


40.14 


9.48 


40.00 


5-85 


39-81 


6.00 


39.26 


2.96 


38.81 


9.16 


38.58 


4-49 


38-54 


5.92 


38-44 


7.22 


38-15 


2.58 


38.10 


6.50 


37-68 


1.96 


37.60 


7-77 


37-22, 


3-70 


36-83 


5-73 


36-5 


1-95 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 



41 



Carlyle : Saiior. 
Bolingbroke, - 
Arnold, 
Selden, 
Ruskin, 
Browne, 
Scott, 
Tyndale, 
Bunyan, 

Carlyle : Richie?; 
Lowell, 
Gibbon, 

Herbert Spencer, 
J. R. Green, 
Bacon : Essays, 
Lamb, - 
Goldsmith, 
♦Irving, 
Burke, 
Barrett Wendell, 

* Landor, 
Channing, 
Carlyle : French Revolution, 

* Dickens, 

* Kingsley, 
Fuller, 
Macaulay, 

* George Eliot, 
Emerson, 
Latimer, 
Lincoln, 
Bartol, 

The rule that decrease in average sentence-length is accom- 
panied by increase in the average number of sentences to the para- 
graph, is evidently not to be stated in the form of strict propor- 
tion. The fluctuations are considerable, even when we omit all 
the authors in whom dialogue plays a great part. The most 
noticeable exceptions to the general principle are Taylor and 



Average 
words in 
sentence. 


Average 
sentence per 
paragraph. 


35.06 


4.76 


34.86 


5.67 


34-41 


8.52 


33.58 


2.17 


33-31 


5-39 


33-09 


3-78 


32.14 


2.22 


31-72 


6-45 


31.61 


1.98 


31-56 


7-94 


31-45 


14.24 


31.21 


7.81 


30-38 


6-35 


. 29.04 


15-74 


28. 




iy.ig 


6.c8 


26.94 


8.H 


26.73 


4-12 


26.09 


6-31 


25-65 


6-63 


25-43 


3-48 


25-35 


12.50 


23.89 


6.71 


23.78 


2.13 


23.72 


3-34 


23-45 


3-70 


23-43 


12.44 


22.39 


3-42 


20.58 


9.66 


20.45 


5-74 


18.23 


7.60 


16.63 


17-89 



42 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Milton, whose paragraph and whose sentence are both very long. 
Milton had no paragraph sense except of the paragraph as a 
device for occasional emphasis. At least so it seems to me ; 
though the friends of Milton's prose would probably hold that 
these great paragraphs represent immense thought units ; that 
Milton's prose moves — as Wordsworth pointed out that his blank- 
verse strophes move — in vast circles. Taylor, whether in para- 
graph or sentence, was forever conceiving a unit larger (by its 
profusion of accessory thought) than could be logically arranged 
within itself. Another noticeable exception is Paley, whose 
sentence (37.68) is about as long as Coleridge's, but whose para- 
graph (73.85) is shorter than George Eliot's. Paley is perhaps 
the most deliberate — not the most discriminating — analyzer by 
paragraphs, in the history of English prose. He sets by itself 
everything that can possibly claim to mark a step of the whole 
composition. Dr. Johnson, too, has a surprisingly short para- 
graph (98.40); and its brevity is not due to dialogue. De Quincey 
has too long a sentence for a style that numbers the same para- 
graph length in sentences as Emerson's. Sidney, Burton, Dryden, 
Latimer, Gosson, Pecock, Tyndale, all come later in the list than 
one might expect, but Latimer and Tyndale are quite as late 
proportionally in sentence-length. The fact is that Tyndale and 
Latimer belong to the Anglo-Saxon tradition that would have 
developed the modern paragraph two hundred years earlier, but 
for Latin influences in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth 
centuries. 

But we may safely conclude that the paragraph of today con- 
tains at least twice as many sentences as did that of Ascham's 
day. Indeed if we accept Macaulay's England as a present-day 
norm, the past increase in the number of sentences per paragraph 
will be far more than one hundred per cent, in three hundred 
years. 

§3- 

It is easy now to interpret that decrease, in the use of the 
single-sentence paragraph, which we noted in the preceding 



PARAGRAPH-LEiXCrH AXD SENTENCE LEKGTH. 43 

chapter; likewise the relatively stationary word-length of the 
paragraph ; likewise the decrease in sentence-length and the 
increase of the number of sentences to the group. 

Evidently there has been from the earliest days of our prose, 
a unit of invention much larger than the modern sentence, and 
always separated in the mind of the writer from the sentence 
unit, of whatever length. In other words, men have thought 
roughly in long stages before they have thought accurately in 
short ones. The process of composition is always relatively an 
intuitive one ; the process of writing is relatively an analytic one. 
The writer conceives his paragraph topic before he develops it, 
though of course in the process of development the associations 
of the symbols used may lead him afield. He thinks, so to speak, 
in successive nebulous masses, perceiving in each a luminous 
centre before he analyzes the whole. The size of these nebulous 
masses, or, to change the figure, the size and the complexity of 
the mental picture, is conditioned by the mental power of the 
thinker. One man thinks in longer paragraphs than another, 
though of course he may deliberately analyze his larger para- 
graph-units into smaller ones, for the benefit of his less nimble 
reader. 

Whether, now, this large unit of thought — always represented 
by the paragraph device — shall be broken into short propositions 
or not, is another question. In any case the mental unit is the 
same : the unit of the excessively long period is the unit of the 
paragraph. In Tyndale and Latimer the tendency is to analyze 
into short sentences, with a view to assisting ready comprehen- 
sion. In Spenser and Defoe and Lord Brooke, the impulse is to 
construct a single long sentence, partly in the vague hope of indi- 
cating more closely the relative value of propositions, and partly 
out of sheer garrulity. Again, though it is not the most latinized 
writers who use most freely paragraphs of one sentence, yet the 
long period brought in by the early classical influence is of course 
a prime force in restraining the tendency to resolve the para- 
graph into short sentences. 



44 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

The paragraph as we know it comes into something like 
settled shape in Sir William Temple. It was the resultant of per- 
haps five chief influences. First, the tradition that the paragraph 
mark or the indentation distinguishes a stadium in thought ; this 
tradition is fairly strong in fifteenth and sixteenth century writers, 
barring the few most completely under Latin influence. Second, 
the Latin influence, which was rather towards disregarding para- 
graph mark or indentation as a sign of anything but emphasis : 
^ the typical writer is Hooker. Third, the natural genius of the 
Anglo-Saxon structure. Fourth, the beginnings of popular 
writing — what maybe called the beginning of oral style, or con- 
sideration for a relatively uncultivated audience. Fifth, the study 
of French prose, in this respect a late influence, allied in its results 
to the third and fourth influences. 

Of these influences the second was the common enemy of all 
the rest. It tended, however, to ally itself with the first as soon 
as it found its own power unequal to the task of making Latin- 
English prose intelligible, and for a time we have the single- 
sentence paragraph of great length. The Latinists still think 
themselves bound to group many clauses in one sentence, but 
they feel the natural genius of the language conflicting with 
their wish. They cannot discard their large unit of thought — 
that would be, to them, philosophic retrogression. They cannot 
— in the uninflected language — go on indefinitely prolonging 
the period. They determine to make long sentences still, and, 
when the periodic structure fails, to secure distinction and intel- 
ligibility for the long unit by paragraphing it. Hence arises the 
interminable paragraphed sentence, not strictly periodic, by any 
means, but articulated by all the points of the periodos — (: ; , .) 
Even men as early as Ascham and Bacon are full of such amor- 
phous things. I suppose Bacon' felt that he had a rather 

' I am aware that there is ground for laying the blame of some of this punc- 
tuation upon the printer. The fact does not alter our point of view materially. 
The writers themselves used commas oftener than they did colons and periods, 
where colons and periods ought to have been. And though the printer has 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 45 

pretty unit in such paragraphs as appear on p. 69 or p. 64, of the 
first edition of the Advancement. The one on p. 69 is devoted 
exclusivel)' to Antoninus Pius. Something very symmetrical and 
satisfactory in disposing of Antoninus Pius in a single sentence 
and a single paragraph ! 

Antoninus Pius, who fucceeded him, was a Prince excellently 
learned; and had the patietit andfiibtile Wit of a Schoole-mafi : Info- 
tnuch as in common fpeech, (which leaves no virtue vntaxed) hee was 
called Cymini Sector, a Caruer, or diuider of Comine feede, which is 
one of the leaft feedes : fuch a patience hee had and felled fpirit, to 
enter into the leaft &= most exact differences of caufes : a f mite no 
doubt of the exceeding tranquillity , and ferenity of his minde : which 
being no wayes charged or incumbred, eyther with feares, remorfes, 
or fcruples, but hatting beene noted for a man of the pitreft goodneffe, 
without all fiction, or affectation, that hath raigned or lived: made 
his minde continually prefect and entyre : he likewife approached a 
degree neerer vnto Chriftianity , and became as Agrippa faid vnto St. 
Paul, Halfe a Chriftian; holding their Religion and Law in good 
opinion; and not only ceafing perfecution, but gluing way to the 
aduancement of Chriftians. 

Lord Brooke and Spenser are perhaps the two greatest 
offenders in this matter of the confusion of the period and the 
paragraph. 

At last the Latinists came to see that their units of thought 
were too large to be developed in any one sentence of an unin- 
fiected language. The later Latinists were hurried on to this 
conclusion by the excesses of certain of their own number. 
They found it impossible to read some of Clarendon's clause-heaps, 

always been something of a tyrant, it is folly to imply that our old authors, so 
scrupulous about most things, could not have controlled the punctuation of their 
printed books. The authors of the sixteenth century did make paragraphs in 
their manuscripts, for the manuscripts that we have show them. If the printer 
tampered with the paragraphing as he did with the punctuation, why then, 
there is nothing for it but to hold the author responsible for not correcting 
him. 



46 HISTOJiY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

nay, even some of Burton's defied them ; and doubtless more than 
\ one classicist began to remember passages in their own beloved 
A Hooker that had once passed for profundit}-, but now began to 
look like mere tangle. Mr. Saintsbury has applied to these 
inextricable sentences of Clarendon and Burton the name of 
"sentence-and-paragraph heap"' — a name hardly less awkward 
than the thing itself. This is not to be confused, by the way, 
with the single-sentence paragraph, which may or may not coin- 
cide with it — does so in early prose often, in modern very 
v^ rarely. A better word for what Mr. Saintsbury means is 
" clause-heap," a term that he employs in his preface to Bur- 
ton in the recent second volume of Craik.° In the " heap," 
"clause is linked on to clause till not merely the grammatical 
but the philosophical integer is hopelessly lost sight of in a 
tangle of jointings and appendages." As we said before, it is 
not the writers of the most hopeless clause-heaps that write the 
largest number of paragraphed sentences ; the " heap " belongs 
chiefly to the Latinists. When, however, one of Clarendon's 
heaps is paragraphed, the result is something disheartening. 
The first single-sentence paragraph in the edition of 1712 (p. 4) 
has 242 words; the eighth (p. 28) has 166, and the thirteenth 
(p. 45) has 195. 

As authors like these, able men, though slow to put them- 
selves in touch with the people, began to perceive the hopeless- 
ness of their self-appointed task, they began to shorten the sen- 
\j tence, retaining the paragraph. The wide popularity of the new 
school of vernacular writers — if we may speak of Bunyan as 
belonging to any school — inspired literary men with the new 
desire to reach a larger public. Authors began to put them- 
selves in the place of their readers, and write as if to an average 
man. Soon the superiority of French prose began to be felt as 
a vehicle for the expression of the clearer, more straightforward, 

' English Prose Style, in Specimens of English Prose, p. xix. History of 
Elizabethan Literature, p. 42, et al. 

"Craik's English Prose, vol ii., p. uy. 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AXD SENTENCE-LENGTH. 47 

less subtle phases of thought. From this time on, the develop- 
ment of the modern paragraph is a matter of degree of skill 
rather than of stylistic method. 

Such, in the rough, is the history of the paragraph in the 
most critical period of its history. The particulars of this 
period will be given in Chapters VI. and VII. 

§4. 

One other general question may properly receive considera- 
tion here : whether the length of the paragraph follows any 
rhythmical law, as, for instance, one that renders the average 
length a constant quantity, in successive large groups of para- 
graphs. To illustrate, will two books written in the %zxi\t genre 
of composition, by the same author, yield anything like the 
same paragraph averages ? 

This question is rendered the more interesting by the recent 
investigations of Professor Sherman and Mr. Gerwig, to the effect 
that the sentence-length, the percentage of predications to the 
period, and the percentage of simple sentences, each tends to be 
constant in successive large groups of sentences, as of 500. In 
his discussions of the constancy of the sentence-length, however. 
Professor Sherman seems to give hardly weight enough to the 
differences caused in an author's style by time. He mentions 
several instances' where the sentence-length remains unchanged 
by change of years ; and my own observations have furnished 
others equally notable, none more so than that of Swift, who 
varies not a whole word in twenty-eight years. But Sherman gives 
no exceptions. Nay, he says, " Even Carlyle showed no change 
for worse or better, in respect to sentence proportions, between 
the Edinburgh Essays and his Frederick the Great." But it should 
likewise be said that between the Essays and Frederick the average 
sank (in the Revolutioti) fully one-third. In the formative period 
of our prose similar changes are very common. Sidney's sen- 
tence dropped in five years from 75 to 38. 

' University Studies, I., No. 4, p. 349. 



48 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

We approach the general question of the constancy of the 
paragraph, with an author as far back as Browne. We find 
between the Hydrotaphia and the Religio a difference of seven 
sentences to the paragraph, making the word-length of the 
Religio nearly thrice that of the Hydrotaphia. No constancy 
here. We try Taylor's Liberty of Prophesying, comparing the sec- 
tions, beginning with the fourth. The word-averages run : 
480.75, 535-71. 788.33, 563.14, 648.66, 518.00, 450.00, 681.75, 
294.57, 418.92, 193.71. The paragraph-length by sentences runs: 
8.37,7.46, 14.16, 11.26, 10.83, 9-33. 9-i6, 14-00, 5.71, 9.76, 4-78- 
Since the sections vary from 10,000 words to 3,000, we feel that 
the sentence averages are not so bad as we expected. Such 
averages as 535, 563, 518, or 9.33, 9.16, 9.76, show at least 
interesting coincidences. We hardly get anything more to the 
purpose before Dryden. Cowley, for example, varies wildly in 
his essays. 

Dryden's Satire yields 256 words, while two combined essays. 
Translation and the Parallel between Poetry and Painting, yield 
277 words. Defoe's Essay on Projects shows 1.90 sentences, and 
Crusoe \.%-i, which is delightfully close ; but the sentence so shoots 
up in Crusoe as to make the word-length of the paragraph thrice 
as great heie as in the Essay. Swift's sentence, as we have seen, 
stays at 40, but Gulliver shows a paragraph of 234 words, 
against 185 in the Tale of a Tub. Johnson helps us in the word- 
length, showing 102 for the Rambler, 92 for Rasselas; but mean- 
time the sentence has gone down a third. Hume is not unsatis 
factory. The first 105 paragraphs of the History (26,197 words) 
yield an average of 249 words; the next 95 paragraphs (21,578 
words) yield an average of 226 words. We try the Vicar of Wake- 
field by chapters, not expecting too much. The word results, 
omitting fractions, run : 177, 183, 289, 161, 309, 302, 181, 298, 
570, 236, 106, 215, 232, 344, 209, 182, the sentence average run- 
ning, 27, 35, 28, 31, 26, 28, 25, 28, 25, 24, 25, 21, 22, 29, 26, 28. 
If we average the averages of the first eight chapters against those 
of the second eight, we shall have 237.96 words or 8.30 sentences 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 49 

for the first eight, and 262.07 words, or 10.23 sentences for the 
second eight. 

Evidently Dryden and Hume are the only men thus far on 
whom we can put much reliance. 

Coming to the present century we examine first Ivanhoe by 
chapters. The averages run: 129, 73, io6, 62, 56, 55, 98, 70, 
61, 53. The sentence average is more stable, thus: 2.92, 2.03, 
3.33, 2.19, 1.88, 2.16, 2.61, 2.25, 2.13, 2. II. Evidently Scott 
clung with some monotony to the ideal of two sentences a para- 
graph. The first five Essays of Elia yield the following results : 
171, 134, 230, 147, 125. The averages by sentences are : 7.12, 
5.00, 8.00, 5.57, 5.94. We try Irving's Sketch Book, the first five 
sketches. Result: 157, 140, 137, 83, 104. The averages by 
sentences are : 5.14, 6.25, 4.94, 3.33, 3-65. Thus far our own 
century is no improvement — if improvement it be called — on 
the eighteenth. 

We try Macaulay ; the History of England by volumes. 
Results: 258.11,251.52,325.44,336.50,306.90. This is remark ■ 
able. The averages for the first two volumes are practically the 
same. Here the writer was governed by something very like a 
rigid rhythmical law. A similar, but less strong, rhythmical 
sense, appears in the last three volumes. But why the sudden 
rise between the second and third volumes? Two reasons sug- 
gest themselves. As Mr. Stephen somewhere remarks, Macau- 
lay's fullness of knowledge began to hamper him a little in the 
later volumes. In other words, he became somewhat verbose 
from plenitude of things to say. Since, now, Macaulay wrote 
primarily with the paragraph unit, the diffuseness would naturally 

affecat unit first. He would naturally keep to his sentence 
length — or does so, at any rate — but would use more proposi- 
tions to amplify a given integral thought. Another reason, 
though perhaps rather remote, suggests itself. Volum2 two was 
finished by 1848. Four years later (July, 1852), after the mate- 
rials for the third volume were collected and partly written up, 
Macaulay broke down in health from the disease that finally ended 



so HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

his life. For months before that time there are ominous passages 
in his journal and letters, complaining that the task of composi- 
tion is a burden, that he is no longer capable of vigorous exertion. 
Now I do not wish to be understood as maintaining the existence 
of any very close connection between paragraph-length and 
heart-disease. But a tired man is likely to be loquacious, if he 
tries to talk, and when a writer has incomplete control of his brain 
he is likely to be at first diffuse in his composition, and later, 
incoherent. I am aware that Trevelyan says of Macaulay : "The 
habit of always working up to the highest standard within his 
reach was so ingrained in his nature, that, however sure and 
rapid might be the decline of his physical strength, the quality of 
his productions remained the same as ever. Instead of writing 
worse, he only wrote less. Compact in form, crisp and nervous 
in style, these five little essays are everything which an article in 
an EncyclopEedia should be." ' The five essays referred to are : 
Atterbury, 1853, Biinyan, 1856, Goldsmith, 1856, Doctor Johnson, 
1856, William Pitt, 1859. I' can hardly be granted that these 
essays are as compact and crisp in style as the earlier essays. , It 
seems to me that proof enough to invalidate Trevelyan's position 
on this point lies in the fact that Mr. Gerwig found that the per- 
centage of simple sentences in the early essays is much higher 
than in these later ones. It is worth while to quote Mr. Gerwig's 
figures, which show a steady decrease in the percentage of simple 
sentences. Now this decrease took place as Macaulay's physical 
strength failed ; the figures are therefore favorable to the theory I 
have set concerning the rise in paragraph-length. 





When 


Number 


Av. Pred. Simple 


Work. 


written. 


periods. 


per period, sent. 


■,= Royal Soc. of Literature 


1823 


100 


2.03 44 


Dante 


1824 


100 


2.15 38 


Milton 


1825 


895 


2.07 38 


Machiavelli 


1827 


693 


1.88 47 


History, Essay on 


1828 


719 


2.18 40 



^ Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, p. 664. 
^ University Studies, Vol. II., No. I, p. 22, 



When 
written. 

1828 


Number 
periods. 

100 


Av. Pred. 
per period, 

2.65 


Simple 
sent. 

29 


1843 


918 


2.31 


32 


1843 


I33I 


2.22 


32 


1853 


240 


2-35 


34 


1854 
1856 


245 

263 


2.19 
2.29 


31 
33 



PARAGRAPH-LENGTH AND SENTENCE-LENGTH. 51 

Work. 
Dryden 
UArblay 
Addison 
Atterbitry 
Bunyan 
Goldsmith 

Average 2.17 36 

We shall hardly find another author as stable in his averages 
as Macaulay. Carlyle shows pretty nearly the same average in 
two books, Sartor (166.90) and the Revolution (160.31) ; but the 
average in an early essay, Richter, 1827, is 250.62. Emerson's 
American Scholar yields 184.60, the Divinity School Address 210.91 
(10.10 sentences) and Self Reliance 201.12 (10.04 sentences). 

We may not, therefore, conclude from the small number of 
paragraphs we have been able to examine, that the paragraph- 
length is relatively as constant as the sentence-length. But in 
Macaulay and proportionately in authors of regular methods, 
there is a general tendency toward approximate uniformity in the 
paragraph- averages of different sections of work. 



CHAPTER IV. 

RECENT INVESTIGATIONS IN PROSE-FORM. THEIR BEARING 
ON THE HISTORY OF THE PARAGRAPH. 

§1- 

The recent investigations that have most bearing on the his- 
tory of the paragraph are those of Professor L. A. Sherman,' on 
the questions of literary sentence-length in English prose, . the 
coordination, subordination, and suppression of clauses, and the 
new articulation of clauses. Professor Sherman has demonstrated 
that the English sentence has dropped about one-half its length 
since Shakspere's time ; he holds that in the matter of connectives, 
our prose has passed successively through a coordinative, a subor- 
dinative, and a suppressive stage ; and that it has shown very 
great decrease in formal predication. 

Manifestly each of these lines of investigation has its bearing 
on the development of the paragraph. The relation of the short 
sentence to the paragraph is a vital one, and whatever causes have 
produced the one have doubtless affected the other. The ques- 
tion of the historical use of conjunctions — especially of inter-sen- 
tential conjunctions — bears directly upon the history of coherence 
in the paragraph. The question of the decrease of predication 
affects the paragraph quite as vitally as these preceding questions, 
though not quite so apparently. For, if an author omits many 
predications within the sentence he has a type of mind which 
will tempt him to omit predications between sentences, i. e. to 
omit transitional sentences. Clearly the omission of transi- 
tional sentences affects very emphatically the coherence of the 
paragraph. We shall therefore examine Professor Sherman's the- 
ories at some length. 

^Analytics of Literature, Chapters xix-xxvi. University Studies,\o\. I., Nos. 
2 and 4. 

52 



RECENT INVESTIGATIONS IN PROSE-FORM. 53 

First, then, regarding the origin and tendency of the short 
sentence. This sentence Sherman attributes to the introduction 
of conversational style into literature. The explanation seems 
to me correct, and the point important. Some stress, however, 
must be laid on the probability, already pointed out on pages 
44-46, that the final adoption of the short sentence and the para- 
graph was partly due to despair on the part of the periodic 
writers. These could not go on forever without seeing the 
hopelessness of trying to introduce full Latin idiom into English ; 
nay, even of thinking with logical precision in a kind of sentence 
devoid of most of the means of coherence so richly present in 
the Latin sentence. 

But Professor Sherman has also demonstrated that as the 
short sentence is introduced the average sentence-length acquires 
a very strong tendency to become a constant quantity in succes- 
sive groups of, sav, 500 periods or more. From this interesting 
fact he concludes : 

" The evidence seemed to indicate the operation of some 
kind of sentence-sense, some conception or ideal of form which 
if it could have its will, would reduce all sentences to procrustean 
regularity." ' 

But it seems to me that this statement implies rather more 
than is warranted by the mere tendency toward constancy in 
successive large groups of periods. Is this tendency finally to 
destroy the long sentence ? How are we to account for the long 
sentence in the midst of such an oral style as Macaulay's ? Is 
it due merely to a survival of classical influence ? When our 
prose has quite acquired conversational urbanity is the long sen- 
tence, whether periodic or loose, to be a thing of the past ? 

Perhaps the paragraph has something to do with the answer 
to these questions. A sentence is long or short in Macaulay 
according to its importance in the paragraph. A dozen 
clauses mav be bundled together in one period to show that 
the whole group is no more emphatic than the neighboring 

' Univei-sity Studies, Vol. I., Xo. 4, p. 353. 



54 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

proposition of half a dozen words. For the sake of this sense 
of proportion, IVfacaulay will make almost the same words a 
whole period in one paragraph, a mere clause in the next. 
In the best modern paragraphs I think it is, in general, 
true, that the distance between full stops is inversely as the 
emphasis of each included proposition. If this be the case, the 
distances between periods will not soon be reduced to approxi- 
mate uniformity, however much influence the oral tendency may 
have upon the order of words in the sentence. 

It will further on be seen that, while the English sentence- 
average has pretty steadily decreased, and while it has kept the 
tendency towards constancy that was fully developed by Swift's 
day, yet, within the limits of the given series of sentences that 
yields a given average, the degree of variability has steadily 
increased. Macaulay's long sentences are very long, as indeed 
Sherman has noted. It is perhaps a possible thing that the 
time will come when the sentence-average will no longer be a 
constant quantity in each author, but will be wholly regulated by 
the paragraph-structure. 

We are now ready to examine the bearing upon the para- 
graph of the decrease in the use of conjunctions and of 
the decrease in predications. But at the outset we find 
both of these phenomena referred to by Professor Sherman 
.as belonging to the " analytic" or " oral " style. Before we can 
make it clear whether these phenomena benefit or hurt the 
paragraph-structure, we must know the exact meaning of these 
terms "analytic"' and " oral," as applied to style. This we must 
know, even at the risk of a long and tiresome detour. 

Analysis means psychologically the process of abstraction — 
the conscious recovery of the intermediate term or terms in the 
process of association. Analytic thinking proceeds step by step, 
with full consciousness of the relation between parts ; a style that 
incarnates such thinking may be called analytic ; such a style is 
abstruse, philosophic. On the other hand a thinker may proceed 



RECENT INVESTIGATIONS IN PROSE-FORM. 55 

b)' relatively concrete terms ; he may not see the third term in 
the process of association, but may pass intuitively to his remote 
conclusion. In so far as a style reproduces this sort of thinking 
it may be called synthetic or intuitive. 

But it is possible and natural to use the terms, in criticism, 
with a force exactly opposite to the strict psychological ones. 
Sherman' speaks of an analytic style as synonymous with an 
intuitive style. He is evidently brought to this apparent paradox 
by having previously spoken of the short sentence as analytic, 
the long one as synthetic. Yet his words on this point seem also 
to have some psychological implication : — 

"The analytical principle as observed in Channing and Macau- 
lay appeared to mean, Put in a simple sentence no more than can 
be brought before the mind pictorially or symbolically in a single 
view. If this meaning be yet but potential, not yet translated 
into successive propositions, let it be realized to the mind and 
expressed by instalments in some logical order, each fact or 
judgment, since an integral part of the whole, in a sentence by 
itself. But the synthetic principle amounts to an impulse to 
develop the whole meaning in some way within the limits of a 
single sentence."^ 

In this explanation of the analytical principle Professor Sher- 
man evidently means that the analytic style tends to ratiocination 
— tends to follow the steps of the thought and express them all 
so as to conduct the reader by easy stages. But is not this 
kind of analytic manner the exact opposite of the analytic 
manner described by Sherman elsewhere ? "The analytic 
manner communicates as we have seen by points, but has 
nothing to do with making the points large or small, frequent 
or widely separated. It is the business of the reader to fill 
them out to a superficies of sense." ^ "Analytic or intuitive 
styles differ according to the leap or omission of thought 

^Analytics, p. 303. 

■'University Studies, Vol. I., No. 4, p. 355. 

^Analytics, p. 30 1. 



v^ 



56 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

between. It is the length of the leap rather than the shortness 
of the periods that makes an author seem laconic. No one is 
conscious of Bartol's staccato quality in passages where his 
thought is most sustained. Channing, when he writes sen- 
tences as short, but with lesser gaps of meaning, seems as 
smooth as Newman."" 

Evidently, then, the terms analysis and synthesis as applied 
to style are likely to create confusion. For the immediate pur- 
poses of this paper it seems better to substitute other terms, 
granting, if need be, that the new terms are not intrinsically 
better and are open to being called pedantic. 

Let us have four new terms, two corresponding to analysis 
and synthesis in form, two to analysis and synthesis in thought. 
To the style in which the sentence of maximum frequency 
is short — say twenty words or less — let us assign the name 
Segregating. The opposite of this style, then, the style that 
brings its clauses together in whole blocks (as old Thomas Fuller 
would have said) or (as Minto has improved the expression) in 
flocks, will be the Aggregating style. When a style proceeds by 
leaps, omitting the intermediate steps, we may (speaking psycho- 
logically, not metaphysically, of course) call it Intuitive ; and its 
opposite, which omits no step, we may call Redintegrating. 
Nay, if this last named manner proceeds not by real and rational 
analogies but by mere association of contiguity, we may indulge 
in so large a name for it as Impartially Redintegrative. We 
may save the word Abstr act chiefly for the style whose vocabu- 
lary is abstract ; and Concrete for the opposite style. 

According to this cumbrous, but, I hope, definite terminology, 
Macaulay's style would be at once segregating and redintegra- 
ting. Macaulay asks you to supply nothing but conjunctions ; 
nay, he often expands into a sentence of transition a relation 
that De Quincey would get rid of with a however, and that 
Emerson would leave you to guess at. Landor would be intui- 
tive, and, except in his most sustained passages, would doubtless 

^Analytics, p. 303. 



RECENT IN] -ESTJGA TIONS IN PROSE-FORM. S 7 

be segregating as well. Carlvle in the French Revolution 
would be intuitive and segregating, in Sartor Resartus intuitive 
and aggregating. De Quince}- would be redintegrating and 
aggregating, in spite of strong flashes of imagination now and 
then. 

So much for the word analytic ; now for the word oral." Pro- 
fessor Sherman speaks of the analytic sentence as belonging to 
the oral style. By analytic sentence in this sense he means pri- 
marily the short sentence. " What makes short-period styles is the 
oral sentence-sense given free play as in ordinary talk." ° This 
is easily understood and easily believed. 

But there are other characteristics of the oral style. We 
gather from one part of Professor Sherman's discussion that the 
oral style is analytic, in the psychological sense — that it tends to 
explain its subject by giving the successive steps by which the main 
conclusions are reached. "Though it is much more convenient 
to put integral thoughts in single sentences, such form manifestly 
handicaps every reader to whom the thoughts are new. What I 
may have in my mind cannot be transferred bodily to another's. 
I can only use a series of signs from which the reader recon- 
structs the fabric I have builded in my brain. But before he can 
put together a thought identical with my own, I must evidently 
take mine to pieces, and signify to him each part, and how it 
must go into place. Thus, while the attainment of the meaning 
to be expressed is a synthetic process, the first step in the act of ^, 
expression is clearly analytic." ^ In other words, the oral 
style, in order to make perfectly clear to the reade r the thought 
that has been intuitively perceived, introduces a string of inter 
mediate predications leading to a final and chief predication. 

But in another place. Professor Sherman leads us to infer 

'AH discussion of the nature of oral style must of course be inadequate 
until the psychologist and the physiologist settle by experiment certain elemen- -^ 

tary questions regarding the actual sentence of conversation, cf. p. 158. 

" University Studies, Vol. I., Xo. 4, p. 363. 

^Analytics, p. 287. 



5 8 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

apparently the opposite. He has said that the course of English 
prose reveals a great decrease in the use of verbs ; that, " If we note 
the conversation of men dexterous with language, or the style of 
writers not too formal or self-conscious, we shall observe many 
expressions like 'when a boy,' or ' if in London,' or 'because of 
the failure,' etc. Each of these stands for what would have been 
expressed in the stage just before by complete clauses : as, ' when 
I was a boy,' ' if I am or shall be in London,' ' because A or B 
failed,' and in a stage yet earlier by propositions joined by coor- 
dinate connectives." ' Now he says : " The suppression of clauses 
and economy of predication, we cannot doubt, are further man- 
ifestations of the same instinct, which, as we have seen, has 
relieved the English sentence of half its weight' since Shake- 
speare's times, and is now interposing its veto against a higher 
average than two predicates per sentence." By "weight" Pro- 
fessor Sherman means both the number of clauses or predications 
that sentences exhibit, and the number of words in their sentence- 
averages. 

In his chapter on " The Weight of Styles," Professor Sherman 
develops at some length this matter of predication-suppression ; 
the investigation has been carried still farther by the recent thesis 
of Mr. G. W. Gerwig,° On the Decrease of Predicatiou and of 
Sentence Weight in English Prose. The result of the investiga- 
tions goes to show a steady increase in percentage of simple sen- 
tences. In many authors it shows a very high per cent, of 
" clauses saved " — i. e. predications implied but not expressed. 
The means by which notions can be conveyed without formal 
predication are many : absolute constructions ; appositives ; con- 
junctions without copulas; prepositions for conjunctions, copu- 
las, or conjunctions plus copulas ; phrases for clauses ; suggestive 
words for phrases ; present and past participles. All of these 
devices, with the exception of the use of present and perfect 
active participles for temporal, conditional and concessive 

" Analytics, p. 277. 

^ University Studies, Vol. II., No. i. 



RECENT INVESTIGATIONS IN PROSE-FORM. 59 

clauses,' Professor Sherman apparently thinks of as belonging to 
the organic oral style. 

If now we revert to Professor Sherman's first reference to the 
oral style as a process of analyzing complex units into integral 
parts, and compare this view with the conception of the oral style 
as suppressive of predication, are we not conscious of a lurking con- 
tradiction — perhaps an undistributed middle in that phrase, oral 
style? In the first case we have a style that assumes comparative 
ignorance on the part of the reader, and only average acute- 
ness. In the second we have a style that assumes more 
and more knowledge, more and more intuitive power on the 
part of the reader, and if we push the theory we may 
have a style that would be possible only between imagina- 
tive geniuses. In the first kind of oral style the reader supplies 
next to nothing in the way of interpretation; in the second kind the 
reader supplies next to everything. In the first sense Macaulay, 
except for an occasional very long period, would be the typi- 
cal oral writer. In the second sense perhaps Carlyle in the 
French Revolution would be the type. The sentence-length in 
the History of England is the same to a word as that of the 
French Revolution ; but the actual meaning conveyed by Carlyle's 
sentence is certainly several times as much as that of Macaulay's. 

Now, which of these styles is the true oral style ? Macaulay's 
is far the easier to read, even if we make allowance for certain 
idiosyncrasies in Carlyle's vocabulary and structure. The simple 
fact is, indeed, that half of Carlyle's idiosyncrasy lies in the way 
he evades predication by the use of significant, though odd and 
irregular words. Since we must settle the question for ourselves, 
so far as immediate use of terms is concerned, I should say that 
Macaulay's style has the better claim to the adjective oral. He 
knew that the use of many condensed expressions — clause- 
evasions — was likely either to retard the immediate progress of 
understanding, or to vitiate seriously the comprehension of the 

' Analytics, p. 309, Footnote. Here these particular participial uses are 
referred to as for the most part inorganic and unoral. 



6o HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

thought if the rate of reading were increased. He assumed 
small literary training or appreciation on the part of his 
audience. To put it bluntly, he wrote down to them. 

For a readable style must not be heavy — i. e., must not convey 
unnecessary notions — nor, again, can it be very weighty — i. e., 
convey many new notions in each sentence. But clause-evasion, 
while it increases ease of reading when the clause suppressed can 
be instantly supplied, does not permit the slow stream of thought 
to eddy around the idea, as De Quincey would say, and so grasp 
it if new. In Macaulay the percentage of clause-evasion is not 
high ; according to Mr. Gerwig, the saving by " substitution of 
present and past participles or by the use of appositives," 
amounts in the Essays to 5.06 per cent. White, of Selborne, 
saves twice as much. Dr. Barrow nearer thrice, though both wrote 
longer sentences and used more predications than Macaulay. 
Greely, writing far fewer simple sentences than Macaulay, yet 
reaches 17 per cent, of clause-evasions. 

The oral style, then, as we shall use the term, will show the 
segregating sentence, but the redintegrating method — short sen- 
tences, closely consecutive. It will show an absolutely high 
proportion of simple sentences, but not an absolutely high pro- 
portion of clauses saved. When the short sentences omit the 
minor steps of the logical order and there is made a strong 
demand on the reader's interpretative powers, we shall speak of 
the style as intuitive, with oral sentence-length. Emerson and 
Bartol would be assigned to this style. 

It might, indeed, be maintained that it is difficult to prove the 
short sentence an absolute necessity to the oral style, even in this 
limited sense. It might with some show of reason be asserted 
that the real oral unit is the short, loose clause ; that the long, 
loose sentence, with its succession of brief propositions, repre- 
sents a very common phenomenon of conversation. In ora 
narrative, for instance, the speaker often groups together great 
numbers of clauses in this way, letting his voice fall only at the 
end of the series. This would occur at least partly in proportion 



RECLXT INVESTIGATIONS IX PROSE-FORM. 6 I 

as the apprehension of the audience was quick. With a duller 
audience it might be necessary to let the voice fall after each 
short clause, inflection thus aiding comprehension. But we may 
consider this loose sentence as a species intermediate between the 
bold oral style and the subtly subordinative literary style. 

There is still another way of defining oral style — namely, to 
make it a relative term that alters in value with the mental 
powers of the audience. For in conversation our style is 
supposedly dictated, to a large extent, by the rate of mental 
response on the part of the hearer. We predicate interme- 
diate steps — we explain, in short — or we assume such inter- 
mediate steps, according to the presence or the absence of the 
appreciative flash in the hearer's eye. Thus, in talking to 
a person as well informed as we, we proceed with lightning 
rapidity. We not only omit predicates, both immediate and 
intermediate, but we indulge in all manner of contractions and 
elisions, many of them highly unliterary, almost illiterate ; nay, 
we convey as much by stress and gesture as by word. This is 
one kind of oral style, to be sure ; if we carry the theory far 
enough we can secure an oral style that is not style at all, as, for 
instance, in talking to a superior who will guess one's meaning 
from one's first word. Thus the oral style would increase in 
intuitiveness just in proportion to the intuitive powers of the 
audience. 

In the actual case of the history of our literature the oral 
style, in this relative sense of the word, has undergone certain 
manifest changes according to the change in audience. Begin- 
ning with the change from the scholastic audience of the six- 
teenth century to what Mr. Bagehot would call the masculine, 
common-sense audience of the eighteenth, the oral style would 
be progressively analytic — /. e., segregating and redintegrating. 
Proceeding from the Augustan prose to the latest subtleties of 
what Mr. Saintsbury would call " marivaudage," the oral style 
would be progressively synthetic — i. e., intuitive and segregating 
for one species of it, intuitive and aggregating for another species. 



62 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

The most of Professor Sherman's remarks tend toward a 
definition of oral style as thus relative and elastic. He says, 
" Heaviness then is a relative term. The styles of those who, like 
Newman, address the educated exclusively, will not be heavy to 
their proper public though unintelligible to common readers.'" 
But again, exactly to the contrary of this : " To comprehend a 
style which condenses clauses to phrases requires as much literary 
preparation as to read Keats."' With these sentences compare 
his one explanation (p. 57) of the style as analytic, and his other 
explanation of it (p. 58) as clause-suppressive. But in his latest 
article on the subject he has a sentence or two which look toward 
calling a halt to the extension of the term to all intuitive styles. 
" Some of the most polished of present stylists studiously eschew 
seeming better than conversational writers. The style of the 
future is likely to be yet more informal and easy than the best 
examples of this sort now extant. It will not probably abound 
in numerical averages as low as Bartol's or Emerson's and will be 
less disjointed and staccato. An informal organic sentence need 
not be long, but must not be weighed down with predications. 
Effective individual styles not hard to find in the periodical lit- 
erature of these days will average, perhaps, as high as twenty 
words of numerical length, yet show not above 1.60 predications 
per sentence, nor less than 65 per cent, of simple sentences." ' 

This is as near as Professor Sherman comes to discussing the 
question of what percentage the oral style should show of implied 
predications and what percentage of sitnple sentences to a given 
complex thought. The passage is at least less trustful of the intui- 
tive manner being properly oral than this sentence from the 
Analytics: "Hence the ideal style will have a maximum num- 
ber of intuitive sentences ; and that style is lightest that comes 
nearest to the first impressions of the mind." In the limited 
view of the oral style taken in our own discussion, " the style that 

■ University Studies, Vol. I., No. 4, p. 363. 

^ Analytics, p. 296. 

3 University Studies, Vol. I., No. 4, p. 361. 



KECJijVT INVESTIGATIONS IN PROSE-FORM. 63 

comes nearest to the first impressions of the mind " will never be 
the lightest until the popular audience becomes one of literary 
experts. That the increasing culture of the people perhaps 
tends towards such an event may be true. But meantime the 
oral style of the future, while not sacrificing quite so much for 
clearness as Alacaulay's, will probably be very far more expansive 
than Emerson's. 

To focalize the discussion upon the question of the paragraph 
is now easy. The oral style proceeds, as we have seen, by 
expanding into short sentences a given integral thought. When, 
with Temple, the paragraph may be said to acquire unity, each 
paragraph comes to represent an integral thought thus internally 
segregated. The principle to be formulated then is : From the 
motncnt of the establishment of unity, in the development of the Eng- 
lish faragrafh, the oral sentence-structure means decreasing the 
number of predications in the period and increasing the number of 
propositions in the paragraph, in proportion to the author's conception 
of his reader's intuitive power : it being further premised that the 
intuitive power of the writer exceeds that of the reader. 

We have, therefore, found from this long and diffuse discus- 
sion, that the oral structure, /. e. a redintegrating and segrega- 
ting style, is an essential feature of the best paragraph ; though we 
shall not deny that good paragraphs may have a large number of 
intuitive statements. We have now to inquire how far the omis- 
sion of conjunctions is consistent with such a style ; whether 
coherence is hurt or helped by this omission. 

Professor Sherman says : "As there are no conjunctions in the 
mind — that is, no pictorial or symbolic representations of them 
as ideas — the style that most nearly follows thought will omit 
them when possible, or where formal merely." ' There certainly 
can be no doubt that many of the most effective recen* styles 
show a minimum of conjunctions. But is it quite sure, that 
because conjunctions do not occur to the mind as substantive 
images, they are usually formal and useless ? It is a hard thing 

^ Analytics^ p. 305. 



vX 



k- 



64 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

— some have said an impossible thing — to say how a complex 
thought " looks " in the mind. But it is probably safe to say 
that the minute we try to transfer that elusive thing, a thought, 

, into the mind's eye, it seems to take the form of a me ntal image 

in which the notions are in some way grouped or graded. We are 
conscious that some ideas are principal and some subordinate. The 
more clearly we preceive these inter-relations of ideas, the more 
analytic and logical is our thinking. To see them at all clearly 

y in their grouping requires a quiet eye, a dispassionate mind. 

The moment thought is disturbed by emotion away fly the deli- 
cate middle-shades of the picture ; we see the substantive points 
in the stream of thought, but we see them so strongly that we do 
not notice their inter-relations. Now conjunctions are the 
result of an effort to express these un-named relations. The 
sense of relation may, indeed, be so strong that a mind like De 
Quincey's will take a long sentence in the effort to capture a 
gradation that the conjunction is not equal to. But when the 
mind is impassioned the sense of proportion between ideas 
is badly disturbed. The mind cares nothing for the inter- 
relation of facts — it wants the facts themselves. Accordingly 
impassioned prose — the literature of the will — may omit con- 
junctions with good effect. There are also a fevv^ relations so 
obvious that the conjunctions which express them can safely be 
omitted in any prose. Such is the relation of cause and effect, 
which is sufficiently conveyed by juxtaposition of cause and effect 
in separate clauses. But for the most part prose cannot be 

^ accurate without the use of conjunctions. Prose that omits them 
runs the risk of over-statement or under-statement. Prose that 
can safely run this risk is limited to a field that forms but a small 
part of the best literature. 

Accordingly we are not surprised to see that, of the men whom 
Professor Sherman quotes as illustrative of the new articulation, 
most of those who show low percentage of conjunctions are not 
the ones whom we praise most as stylists. The list includes 
Gladstone, Lowell, Emerson, Theodore Parker, Bartol, T. T- 



RECENT INVESTIGATIONS IN PROSE-FORM. 65 

Hunger, and Dr. Holmes. I am not saying that these men 
are poor stylists ; but I am saying that they could hardly 
have been able — with their sparing use of conjunctions — to 
get the exquisitely true and clear effects that Newman, Pater, 
and Arnold secure. But let us also confess that presence of con- 
junctions in quantities is no proof of subtlety ; else why should 
Donald G. Mitchell stand next, in Sherman's list, to Newman, 
and before Pater ? Nor let any man accuse me of putting down 
Lowell as a lesser critic than Arnold, simply because Lowell's 
thought is occasionally too fertile for his style to be exquisitely 
true and clear. 

We now turn to consider the oral style as affecting proportion 
in the paragraph. The hurt that the oral style has done on the 
whole to the proportion of the paragraph, is, out of all comparison, 
less than its beneficial effect. But in such writers as use the short 
sentence to a maximum degree, the emphasis of the paragraph is 
evenly spread over each proposition. The question will be dis- 
cussed with somewhat more fullness under the head of Macaulay. 
For the present it is enough to say that the asyndetic structure and 
■the exclusive use of the short sentence are " terse and intense 
forms," and as such have their dangers. It is hardly enough to 
say, with Sherman, " " We are not to write always in terse and 
intense forms. The intermediate notes are normal both to those 
who have as yet not passed beyond them, and upon occasion, to 
all of us." It is much nearer the truth to say as Sherman at last 
does : ^ " Indeed, the ideal style is either coordinative, subordina- 
tive, suppressive, asyndeton, and at times even, for a little perhaps, 
synthetic, according to selective acts of the mind that are indeter- , 
minate, or at least not yet determined." • 

Yes, man lives by many a generous idea that can never be 
put into short sentences. 

^Analytics, p. 312. 

^Analytics, p. 312. 



CHAPTER V. 
ALFRED TO TYNDALE. 

Thp related paragraph plays no structural part in Old Eng- 
lish prose. There is no conscious attempt to advance by stages. 
The chief merit of the prose is sequence — not exactly coherence, 
which assumes some logical method — but general consecutive- 
ness. In this quality and in the short sentence there are, 
however, present two prerequisites of paragraph structure. But 
this old prose is by no means utterly forrnless. In much 
of it there is a kind of instinctive sentence-grouping that reveals 
the natural tendency of the language toward the paragraph and 
away from the long period. If this seems fanciful to anyone let 
him take the unbroken text of the preface to Alfred's version of 
the Oira Pastoralis and try whether it be harder to determine the 
natural divisions of this discourse, or those of a chapter in Cap- 
grave or Malory. 

The Old English writers are, however, the originators of our 
isolated paragraph. By this I mean that many of their so-called 
chapters are so short as to illustrate the structure of the isolated 
paragraph. Chapters of 200 words, like many in Alfred's Bede, 
are not chapters in the modern sense ; they are tiny whole 
compositions, corresponding as inventional units to that particu- 
lar modern editorial paragraph which, set off by itself, is at once 
complete in itself and related to its neighbors. 

The longer pieces of prose are usually broken up by the 
paragraph- marks of the rubricator. Whether the author ever 
dictated the position of these marks it is impossible to say. 
There are certain autograph manuscripts that contain such marks, 
but the fact proves nothing. There were four distinct uses of the 
marks : (a) to note a logical section ; [b) to note an emphatic 
point; (c) formally to distinguish sacred names; {d) to orna- 

66 



ALFRED TO TYNDALE. 67 

ment and distinguish titles, colophons, etc. Of course manu- 
scripts differ in the degree of success with which these points, 
especially the first, are attained. Some are very stupidly 
divided, others very cleverly. In some the emphasis mark 
predominates, in others it is almost absent. In most manuscripts 
all four principles are apparent. 

The habit of marking for emphasis, whether at the beginning 
of a rational section or in the midst of it, was not without its 
influence in after days. The emphasis-tradition is in full play 
even in Milton. It is partly responsible for one glaring fault of 
the sixteenth century — that of beginning a paragraph one 
sentence late, so to speak ; of not noticing the turn in the dis- 
course till this arrives at an emphatic new point. 

In spite of the emphasis-principle, it is not rash to say that 
the Old English paragraph has in a general way good unity of 
subject." Coherence and proportion and mass it has not. 

ALFRED. 

Of works by Alfred there are but three contemporary manu- 
scripts, namely, the Hatton and Cotton MSS. of the translation 
of Gregory's Pastoral Care, and the Lauderdale MS. of the 
Orosius. 

The last named MS. forms the basis of Sweet's text of the 
Orosius (E. E. T. S. 79). Sweet has broken the text into para- 
graphs that make natural steps in the story. Out of curiosity I 
made a count of words, sentences, paragraphs, sentence-length 
and paragraph-length in the first book, according to the Lauder- 
dale MS. and Sweet's pointing. The result was 9862 words, 381 
sentences, 66 paragraphs ; average sentence-length, 25.8 ; para- 
graph-length in words, 151.68, in sentences, 5.8. The limits of 

' I have felt very strongly the difficulty of making other than very general 
statements concerning the presence or absence of unity in an author's para- 
graphs. It is not a very hard matter to decide whether or not a paragraph has 
digressions ; but it is a far harder task to observe and state all the principles on 
which a composition may properly be divided. In the main, I have attempted to 
distinguish but two general types of unity — the purely logical and the rhetorical 
or picturesque. 



68 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

word-length in the paragraph (34-453) show a field of variability 
less wide than Channing's or Da Quincey's. If we take the 
sentence-length as in any sense organic (as I, for one, should be 
inclined to do), the figures go to show that Alfred did not know 
enough Latin to hurt his English structure, many commentators 
to the contrary notwithstanding. To illustrate, let me quote a 
passage (Sweet's ed., p. 171). In translating, the king has para- 
phrased (rather freely) a Latin sentence of forty-six words, by a 
very fair English paragraph of four sentences or ninety- one 
words. 

Anno ab urbe condita CCCCLXXXIII, Mamertinis auxilia 
contra copias et Ap. Claudium consulem cum exercitu misere 
Romani : qui tarn celei-iter Poenos superavit, ut ipse rex ante se 
victuni quam congressum fuisse prodiderit ; qui exiri, cum pacem 
rogaret, ducentis argenti talentis niultatiis, accepit. 

^fter |)88m jie Eomeburg getimbred waes feower hunde wintrum 
7 Lxx(x)iii, sendon hie him Appius Claudius ) one consul mid 
fultume. Eft, fa hie togsedereward foron (mid heora folcum), 
|)a flugon Pane, swa he eft selfe saedon, 7 his wundredan, )i8et hie 
ser flugon ser hie togsedere genealaecten. Eor ];8em fleame Hanna, 
Pena cyning, mid eallum hio folce wearS Eomanum to gafolgil- 
dum, 7 him eelc geare gesealde twa hund talentana siolfres : on 
ffilcre anre talentan waes Lxxx punda. 

In the translation of the Pastoral Care, the paragraph -mark 
plays no part. But the preface falls naturally into excellent 
sentence-groups that show something like real coherence and 
explicitness of reference. 

The translation of the Boethius is not paragraphed in the MS. 
There are a few sections, e. g. in Otho, a. vi., before § 2, chap. 
37 ; § 4, chap. 39 ; § 2, chap. 40. The paragraphing of the 
Bohn text is entirely the work of the editor. 

The Old English version of Bede's History has until recently 
been ascribed with confidence to Alfred, on the authority of 
^Ifric and William of Malmesbury. Dr. Thomas Miller, how- 
ever, in his recent edition (E. E. T. S. 95, pp. Ivi., Ivii.) believes 



ALFRED TO TYNDALE. 69 

it to be of Anglian origin. jNIiller's text is collated from (a) the 
Tanner 10 of the Bodleian, {^h) the Corpus Christi College, 
Oxford, {c) the Cambridge — Klc. 3, 18. The Cambridge alone 
numbers the chapters. In making a count from Book I., I have 
therefore followed the chaptering of the Cambridge. I have a 
few times departed from Miller's pointing, but not to make any 
sentence shorter. The Quastiones of Augustine, placed by 
Miller in Cap. 27, I have not counted, since in the MSS. they 
stand at the end of Book III. The first book then contains 6898 
words, — since only twenty-one of the original thirty-one chap- 
ters remain in the Cambridge MSS. This gives an average 
of 222.5 words to the paragraph, the limits of fluctuation being 
49-838. There are 7.84 sentences in the paragraph. These 
figures, like those of the Orosiiis, are suggestive of nineteenth 
century lengths. 

There are few exceptions to unity in the paragraphs of the 
Bede. The style is less flexible and subordinating than that of 
the Orosius, the coordinative stage of the language being rather 
painfully evident. There are 506 ands in the first book, or one 
to every twelve words. 

WULFSTAN. 

The Homilies of Wulfstan, written in vigorous native prose, 
are extant in numerous manuscripts. None of the homilies 
shows many paragraphs — most have two or three. The general 
structure of the prose is logical. As Napier" has pointed the' 
sentences and placed the indentations, both sentence and para- 
graph are longer and yet compacter than those of the Orosius. 

jELFKIC. 

The manuscripts of ^Ifric's Lives of Saints are not para- 
graphed. The chapters of the Latin Grammar are numerically 
divided into sections, and there are a few other paragraph-marks. 
But the book is not literature and its paragraphs are not to be 
considered. 

' Wulfstan, herausgegeben von Arthur Napier, Berlin, 1883. 



Vo HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Sweet, in editing selected Homilies from the Cambridge MS. 
(unparagraphed), has broken the text into sections, which I have 
counted, again out of curiosity. The first nine homilies contain 
18,854 words, 723 sentences. The sentence-length is therefore 
25.8 words; the paragraph-length is 176.2 words, 6.75 sentences. 
Both sentence and paragraph are slightly longer than Alfred's 
(also punctuated by Sweet) ; but if we consider the increase in 
learning that occurred in the intervening century, it is surprising 
that the increase in the length of the sentence is so small. 

.^Ifric's style exhibits decided advance over his predecessors 
in power of graceful transition. One paragraph leads to another, 
and there are varied devices of explicit reference. 

THE ANCREN RIWLE. 

After a long period barren of prose, we come to the Ancren 
Riwle, 1220. Here we have an alert and cultivated style. The 
MSS. are divided systematically into books, and these into simple 
capital-paragraphs. The main fault of this style is. the abrupt 
transition between these paragraphs. 

In the Ancren Riwle, the English sentence-length is still 
untouched by Latin influence. The first 61 paragraphs (509 
sentences, i2,o-,9 words) yield a sentence of 23.67, a paragraph 
of 197.5. The sentence is the same, within a quarter of a word, 
as that of Macaulay's England. The paragraph is four words 
longer than that of Emerson's Self Relia7ice. eight words shorter 
than that of Arnold's Literary Influence of Academies. 

THE AYENBITE OF INWVT. 

Dan Michel's Ayenbite of Inwyt, 1340, is a wooden piece of 
prose. The paragraphing is systematic to the extreme, each 
section being introduced by a set phrase (usually a numerical 
one) and forming one step in the long list of virtues and vices. 
The average length of the sections is only 131 words, yet a 
quarter of them have no unity. The sentence average is low — 
only 21 words. It is noticeable that the paragraphing does not 



ALFRED TO TYNDALE. 71 

follow that of the French original, if that happens to be repre- 
sented by MS. Cleopatra Av. Fol. 17,71,^. 

MANDEVILLE. 

The Voiagc and TraraUc' v;a.i \yntte.n about 1356. The Eng- 
lish version was first printed by Pynson. The edition of 1725 
(7) based upon Cotton MS., Titus c. xvi, and collated with other 
MSS. and printed versions, is the standard edition, and was 
reprinted by Halliwell-Phillips, 1839, 1866, 1883. 

This editor in his Additional Notes says cheeringly : " The 
chapters are very differently divided in various MSS. Some 
have no divisions at all." I have, however, counted ten para- 
graphs, from Halliwell's edition of 1839, to show something of 
the sentence-length of this early and important piece of prose. 
The first ten paragraphs average 337 words, 9.5 sentences, the 
sentence-length being 35.48. Although this is a higher average 
than any we have yet found, and manifestly shows Latin influ- 
ence, it is still suspiciously short for the time and the man, and 
leads us to fear editorial tampering. 

WICLIF. 

Wiclif's Bible is divided into chapters, but not into para- 
graphs or "verses." Most of his other works are scantily 
paragraphed. In these original works his unit of composition 
was evidently large and its construction logical. So good is the 
analytic consecutiveness of his work that it would be possible to 
divide it into reasonable stadia. By modern principles of punc- 
tuation his average sentence is not excessively long ; it varies 
from 30 to 35 words in different essays. This moderate length 
is the more noticeable because the diction is freely latinized. 

CHAUCER. 

The prose works of Chaucer are four : the translation of 
Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophia. , the Meliboeus and the 
Persones Tale ; the Treatise on the Astrolabe, dedicated to his 
son. 



72 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

The ^^^^'/^/aj has been edited by Morris (E. E. T. S.) from the 
Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 10,340, and the Cambridge Univ. Lib. MS., 
I., 3, 21. In the Cambridge MS. the parallel oblique virgules 
(//) are used in place of the \ In the Additional MS. the rubri- 
cator has been so lavish with his vermilion, that but for his 
rational work in the latter part we should think him gone 
paragraph-mad. At first every sentence begins with the 
mark. Of the first 100 paragraphs only three have two sen- 
tences each, one has three, and ninety-six, one ! The average 
length of these 100 is 29.51 words. Later on, e. g., Morris, 
p. 164 ff., the paragraphing is good ; but, if we take the MS. as 
a whole, evidently most of the paragraphs are false. Some ardent 
Chaucerian monk thought every sentence worth emphasis ; and 
nine times in 100 paragraphs he puts for emphasis a second 
mark within the line. 

The two prose pieces in the Canterbury Tales are differently 
divided in (Jifferent MSS., but always somewhat arbitrarily. The 
judgment shown by the rubricators of the Melibmus is particu- 
larly bad. The paragraphing of the Persones Tale is better, 
though not uniformly so. By the Harleian MS. this tale yields 
a paragraph-average of 8.26 sentences, — about 290 words. 
Chaucer's prose sentence in this tale is only a word shorter than 
Mandeville's. On the other hand the sentence of the Boethius is 
considerably shorter than Mandeville's. 

The Astrolabe is so far from being a piece of orderly prose, 
much less literature, that I have not attempted to find in it a 
paragraph-sense so manifestly lacking even in Chaucer's best 
writing. 

PECOCK. 

Reginald Pecock's Repressour of Over Much Blaming of the 
Clergy, was edited by Churchill Babington, and published in the 
Rolls series in i860. The paragraph-marks, alternately red and 
blue, are distributed in the Canterbury MS. with no particular 
skill. The modern editor, like so many other modern editors, 
has felt free to print his text without a trace of these marks, and 



ALFRED TO TYNDALE. 73 

to substitute paragraphing of his own. The effort only assures 
us that Pecock's unit was the long period. Babington's para- 
graphs average about 262 words, and he is not able to reduce the 
sentence to less than 61. Pecock's work is one of the first exam- 
ples of purely controversial prose. His order of procedure is 
formal, and his good logic makes his work divisible into rough 
stages. 

CAPGRAVE. 

The MS. of Capgrave's Chronicle I have not been able to con- 
sult. The edition of Hingeston (Rolls series, 1858) prints a page 
of it in facsimile. Here the first letter in each sentence is marked 
bv a red stroke. For this or for some other unaccountable rea- 
son, Hingeston tends to paragraph each sentence by itself. 

MALORY. 

Caxton'sZf Mort Darthure was admirably edited and reprinted 
in 1889, thanks to the conscientiousness of Dr. Oskar Sommer. 
The most of the chapters are unbroken, as is the long preface 
of Caxton. The paragraphs in the remaining chapters are indi- 
cated sometimes by Caxton's mark [P. 11, Fig. 36] at the head of 
a line after spacing in the preceding line, sometimes by the mere 
mark in the midst of a line, sometimes by the mark and a short 
space in the midst of a line. The narrative is remarkably sequent, 
and the chapters have a certain unity. The paragraph-marks, 
delicious as their glossy thickness looks to the eye of the book- 
lover who turns the pages, are quite as likely to serve the pur- 
pose of mere emphasis as to guide the eye to a new section. But 
it is half the pleasure of reading to watch these signboards of 
Caxton's naive taste, and see how unerringly he plumps you down 
a fat mark at the exciting moment. 

FABYAN. 

Pynson's edition (15 16) of Fabyan's Concordance of Histories, 
was carefully reprinted by Henry Ellis in 181 1. In this edition 
the paragraph- mark is used only before titles, etc.; indentation 
marks the paragraphs. In the first part of the book these are 



74 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

short ; the breaks become rarer as the writer approaches the 
events of his own day, and when he moves out of his usual cold 
and formal style into some show of enthusiasm he forgets to par- 
agraph at all. In the early part of the work the unity of subject 
is almost unimpeachable ; in the latter part there is no paragraph- 
unity whatever. The sentence is ponderous, and often confused 
with the paragraph. Sherman found its average length to be 
63.02. 

MORE. 

The first English version of the Utopia was made by Ralph 
Robinson. Robinson's secolid edition (1556) has been reprinted 
by Arber. The \, in shape much like Caxton's, appears before 
each main section. Indentation is employed but sparingly, but 
always when the words are those of a new speaker in dialogue. 
The real steps are indicated by marginal notes. 

More's best English appears in the. Hisiorie of Richai-d III., 
where the idiomatic short sentences give something like propor- 
tion to the long sections. His most logical paragraphing, how- 
ever, occurs in the polemical tracts. Here the steps are short, 
the arrangement of the sentences is compact, and the whole 
effect animated. 



CHAPTER VI. 

TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 

Before Tyndale the paragraph cannot be said to have any 
structural character. Those qualities which the old English 
prose did contribute to the modern unit, namely, the qualities of 
consecutiveness and loose order of propositions, came to their 
first culmination of development in the style of Tyndale. And 
in the long period from Tyndale to Temple we have the battle- 
ground where the principles of the modern unit were victorious 
in a contest with various enemies. At the beginning of this 
period stands our first tolerable paragrapher, Tyndale ; at the end 
of it stands our first recognized organizer of the paragraph, Tem- 
ple. The old English traditions represented in Tyndale were 
perpetuated by one line of vernacular writers throughout the 
Elizabethan and Jacobean period, and opposed by another line. 
The contest has ended when we reach Temple, and the older 
tradition is victor. 

TYND.ALE. 

TAe Obedience of a Christian Man. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Average words per paragraph 204.48 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.45 

Average words per sentence 31-72 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 8 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length.... 33-45° 

In Tyndale's New Testament, 1525 (Arber's reprint), the 
Caxton mark is uniformly employed, and yet nearly always it is 
preceded by a spaced line. The index is also used, both for 
emphasis and for reference. The paragraphs are shorter than 
those of the 1611 version, and are not subdivided. 

Of the Obedience I consulted Day's edition, 1572. The para- 
graphing is admirable for Tyndale's time, and good if it is Day's 

75 



76 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

and not Tyndale's. At least 75 per cent, are loose. Each 
topic is logically expanded by illustration, defense, etc. Of 
the 347 paragraphs in the book about 25 per cent, are of the 
periodic type, and perhaps 10 per cent, follow a strictly inductive 
order. 

Parallel construction occurs frequently, owing partly to imita- 
tion of Hebrew models, partly to the writer's natural oratorical 
directness. It is often extended to groups of paragraphs — each 
being made to correspond in arrangement with its predecessor. 
The following example will give an idea of the internal parallel- 
ism ; the order of course is periodic. " Who dried up the Red 
Sea? Who slew Goliath? Who did all those wonderful deeds 
which thou readest in the Bible? Who delivered the Israelites 
evermore from thraldom and bondage, as soon as they repented 
and turned to God? Faith verily, and God's truth, and the 
trust in the promises which he had made. Read the xith of 
Hebrews for thy consolation." 

LATIMER. 

First two Sermons before Edward. (Arber reprint.) 

Whole number of paragraphs 116 

Whole number of words 1362 1 

Whole number of sentences 666 

Average words in paragraph 117.42 

Average sentences in paragraph 5.74 

Average words in sentence 20.45 

Sentence-length of first sermon 23.76 

Sentence-length of second sermon l8.-|- 

Paragraph-length of first sermon 242.68 (28 \%\ 

Paragraph-length of second sermon 77.55 (88T[s) 

Average predications per sentence f 4.75 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) -^13 

Per cent, of clauses saved ( 2.78 

Latimer's style, as appears partly from the sentence-length, 
is colloquial and vernacular. Accordingly when his paragraphs 
are good they are modern in tone and are really admirable. But 
great unevenness marks them in unity, as in length. The coher- 



TYXDALE TO TEMPLE. 77 

ence is due, not to connectives, but to tlie impassioned rusli of 
tlie thought. 

CRANMER. 

Ansiver to Gardiner, I., The Sacraiiieiit. 

Total paragraphs considered lOO 

Total words considered 13,775 

Average words per paragraph I37.75 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.70 

Average words per sentence 37-22 

Per cent, single-sentence paragraphs 17 

Cranmer is our first great master of the loose sentence. It is 
not uncommon to find in him a loose sentence of more than 100 
words, put together with much skill in avoidance of tags — a skill 
elsewhere unknown in his day — and with a sense of prose rhythm 
highly remarkable in any day. Since his paragraph is short, this 
gift at the long loose sentence is often no help to his paragraph. 
In the best sections the rhythm e.xtends to the whole, sentence 
modifying sentence as subtly as Ruskin's do. 

Cranmer's sequence is such as might be expected from a clear 
and orderly mind. The rare dislocations occur, as in the case 
of Tvndale, from unconscious reversion to certain fixed moral 
themes. The coherence is largely dependent upon modern 
devices — inversions, demonstratives, etc., rather than conjunc- 
tions. And is the one coordinate that_is abused as an initial con- 
nective. The per cent, of initial illatives is small, probably not 
over five per cent. The great majority of the paragraphs are loose. 

ASCHAM. 

Toxophilus, 1544. Arber's reprint, 1868. 

Total paragraphs considered lOO 

Total words considered 13,585 

Total sentences considered 3^5 

Average words per paragraph 135-85 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.15 

Average words per sentence 43-13' 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 9 

Limits of fluctuation in word-length of paragraph.. 10-564 

' Sherman found 49.60, for 500 periods. 



78 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Scholemaster , 1570. Arber's reprint, 1870. 

Total paragraphs 329 

Total words c. 47,250 

Average words per paragraph c. I43'62 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 18 

Per cent, of simple sentences (19 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig) / 3.49 

Percent, of clauses saved ( 4'3i 

Though the Scholemaster was not printed till Ascham had 
been dead two years, the paragraphing shows no signs of having 
been tampered with ; for the method in this book is the same as 
that in the Toxophilus, written twenty year's before, namely that of 
paragraphing the smallest possible stadia ; and the word-length 
is about the same in both books, although the first is dialogue. 
The shortness of these stadia has led Professor Sherman ' to say 
that out of 329 paragraphs in the Scholemaster Ascham admits 
148 false ones. I suppose Professor Sherman means that these 
brief paragraphs should have been grouped into larger ones. He 
further says that in at least fifty-five cases the period and the para- 
graph are wrongly treated as one. For one I should defend a 
good share of these single-sentence paragraphs as either marking 
true stadia or good transitions. Some of the others I should 
agree in assigning to bad logic. The rest may be explained by 
remembering the emphasis-tradition which we have noticed as a 
legacy from Old English rubricators. Such sentences as the fol- 
lowing Ascham paragraphed (sometimes with the obsolete ^) not 
out of logical confusion, but to make them prominent, in accord- 
ance with a use of the paragraph then perfectly understood but 
now forgotten : — 

" This he confesseth himself, this he uttereth in many places, 
as those can tell best who use to read him most." 

"The like diligence I would wish to be taken in Pindar and 
Horace, an equal match for all respects." 

" Budseus in his commentaries roughly and obscurely, after 

^ Analytics^ p. 291. 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 79 

his kind of writing ; and for tfie matter, carried somewhat out of 
the way in overmuch misliking the imitation of Tull)'. 

" Phil. Melancthon, learnedly and truly. 

" Camerarius largely with a learned judgment, but somewhat 
confusedly and with over-rough a style. 

' " Lambucus largely, with a right judgment, but somewhat a 
crooked style." 

The trouble with Ascham's style is, however, less that his par- 
agraphs are too short than that his sentences are too long. A 
sentence of nearly fifty words leaves no room for proportion in a 
paragraph of 140. 

The naivete of Ascham's manner precludes any complex 
coherence, and involves great abuse of conjunctions. Sherman ' 
has noted 'that 61 out of 329 paragraphs in the Scholemaster 
begin with atids; and that^ 24 paragraphs begin with buts, 
six with yets. If now we observe the use of sentence-con- 
nectives (not clause-connectives) in 300 sentences of the Tox- 
ophilus, we shall find that 168 of the 300 periods are connected 
by conjunctions or brief conjunctive phrases. The list is varied, 
and serves to make the reference very explicit, in spite of the 
abuse of coordinatives. Nearly all of these connectives are initial, 
as will appear from the list given below, where the internal sen- 
tence-connectives are placed in the second column. From the 
total number fi8i) 13 should be deducted for repetitions (by 
double connectives), to get the number of connected sentences. 

Sentence-Connectivk. Initial. Interior. 

But (yea but) 23 

For 30 

And 49 

In dede 4 

Also 6 

Yet 8 2 

Contrariwise I 

So 4 

Thus I 

^Analytics, p. 271. 
'Analytics, p. 427. 



8o HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Sentence-Connective. Initial. Interior. 

Now 7 

Therefore I5 ^ 

Then 3 ' 

Will 6 

First I 3 

Again 4 

Furthermore i 

Moreover 2 

Wherefore i 

At the last i 

Likewise 2 i 

Nor 2 

To be short . . i 

Ascham's rhythm in the sentence and the paragraph is monot- 
onous. He has plenty of balanced Euphuistic sentences, that 
help his coherence, but the balance is monotonous. And where 
else in the language but in the Scholemaster can be found an author 
who will write you seven consecutive paragraphs of exactly twenty- 
five sentences each, the group being followed by three paragraphs 
of just fifty sentences each ? I half suspect that Ascham (or the 
printer) told those groups off on his. fingers. 

On the whole, Ascham 's place is midway between the vernac- 
ular writers to whom the paragraph is a natural structure, and the 
Latinists, who have no paragraph-sense at all. 

HOLINSHED. 

Chronicle, 1577. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average number words per paragraph c. 204 

The marginal note is rarely used ; the old mark \ (single-stemmed) less 
rarely. 

The paragraphing of Holinshed \% monotonously regular. The 
narrative paragraphs are often good in unity and in concentra- 
tion — as for example the well-known account of Macbeth. In 
the descriptive passages there are numerous digressions, and the 
dramatic grouping of details, that marks the best narrative pas- 
sages, is lacking. 



TY.XDALE TO TEMPLE. 



STOW. 



Siifnmarie of the Chronicles of England, 1561. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average words per paragraph ^. 186 

Average sentences per paragraph c. 3.26 

Average words per sentence c. 57 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 41 

The paragraphing of Stow's Chronicle (1561) is inorganic 
and false. The author unnecessarily confounds the sentence with 
the paragraph. The best that can be said of the style is that its 
profuse use of subordinating conjunctions keeps the coherence 
tolerably good. 

LYLY. 

Euphues, B. I., Euphues and his Euphaebus, Euphices and Athos, 
Letters. 

Total paragraphs considered 279 

Total sentences considered 1600 

Average words per sentence (Sherman) 36.83 

Average words per paragraph u. 2i 1.03 

Average sentences per paragraph 5.73 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 33 

Average predications per sentence f 3'.5o 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) ■< 17 

Per cent, of clauses saved ( 10.21 

The paragraphing of Euphues, B. I., and Euphues and his 
Euphosbus, is regular, 4.87 sentences being the average in the 
first case, 4.10 sentences in the second. In Euphues and Athos 
the average rises to 5.54 sentences, and in the diffuse style of the 
Letters it mounts to 10.44 sentences. Taking Euphues as Lyly's 
typical piece of prose, we find some improvement over Ascham 
in general paragraphic structure. The sentence has shortened 
and the paragraph lengthened. Lyly's sentence, however, is still 
in bondage to the colon, and we find a very high per cent, of 
single-sentence sections. 

The unity of the paragraphs is wider than Ascham's — the 
per cent, of false sections is reduced. But there are plenty of 



82 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

digressions. Paragraphing for emphasis is rare, although the 
obsolete paragraph -mark is occasionally found in the text. A 
common violation of unity occurs in paragraphing a sentence 
that introduces a speech. In the formal manner of Euphuis7n 
such introductory sentences are felt as transitional paragraphs. 

Of Lyly's coherence a good word may be said in one partic- 
ular. If, on one hand, the balanced structure tends to make 
the flow of sequence intermittent, on the other, the habitual 
parallel construction constantly assures the reader of the general 
onward movement. Other means of coherence are slighted ; 
particularly, initial connectives. 

The less said of Lyly's proportion and massing, the better. 
His excessive illustration spoils both. His introductions are 
tedious, and, though there is usually a sentence-topic, the attempt 
to find it is sometimes to hunt for a needle in a haystack. 

GOSSON. 

Gosson's School of Abuse shows a sentence of about 60 
words and a paragraph of something like 288. The paragraph 
is the unit of division, since there are no chapters. Gosson's 
Euphuism is strong enough to keep his paragraphs good in 
parallel structure. But his divisions are mechanical, and the 
unity so defective that only the marginal notes keep the reader 
from floundering hopelessly. 

SIDNEY. 

Arcadia, 1590. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average words per paragraph c. 444 

Average sentences per paragraph 5.92 

Average words per sentence c. 75 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 10 

Defense of Poetry, 1595. 

Total paragraphs yg 

Average words per paragraph 235.30 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.05 

Average words per sentence 38.80 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 83 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 10 

Per cent, of simple sentences fio 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig) \ 3.98 

Per cent, of clauses saved ( 9.27 

Saintsburv's criticism of Sidney as one of the first authors 
of great popularity to introduce the " sentence and paragraph 
heap," is entirely just as regards the Arcadia. The sentence 
reaches enormous lengths and is endlessly jointed and rejointed 
to do the work of the paragraph. The number of paragraphed 
sentences is not high, however, — a fact noticeable in the worst 
offenders in the matter of the clause-heap. 

Unity is but indifferently observed in the Arcadia. Chapters 
are preceded by a list of subjects of the paragraphs ; these topics, 
though often felicitously put, are manifestly not matters of pre- 
vision. 

In turning from the Arcadia to the Defense, we turn to an 
utterly different structure. The sentence drops nearly one-half 
its length. Most of the tags disappear. The new style is 
incomparably better than the old. 

In his recent edition' of this work, Professor A. S. Cook 
apparently regards most of the original paragraphs as lacking 
unity. Of the original 79 paragraphs he breaks up 37 into 
several paragraphs each. He has likewise thrown together many 
others, so that the total number of paragraphs in Cook's edition 
is 93. Usually these changes do improve the unity, although 
sometimes, even when the logical unity is thus increased, a cer- 
tain loss is felt in the distribution of emphasis. 

In Sidney's edition there are 8 single-sentence paragraphs. 
It is a curious fact that in Cook's edition this number is more 
than doubled. That a modern editor should make 19 such 
sections as against an original 8 shows clearly enough how 
flexible the idea of a paragraph as a group is today, as it has 
always been. • 

Praise may be given the general sequence of Sidney's para- 
graph : there is no difficulty in following hiin, even when he 

■Sidney's Defense of Poetry, ed. A. S. Cook, Boston, 1890. 



84 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

rambles. Explicitness of reference is secured by free use of 
connectives ; in tfie Defense something like 35 per cent, of his 
sentences begin with conjunctions. Parallel construction of suc- 
cessive periods is frequent. 

WEBBE. 

A Discourse of English Poetrie, 1586. Arber reprint, 1870. 

Total paragraphs considered 75 

(Arber, pp. 21-36, 52-72) 

Average words per paragraph c 154 

Average vifords per sentence c 5° 5° 

Average sentences per paragraph 3'io 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 14 

Webbe's Discourse is paragraphed in most erratic fashion. 
The unity of the longer paragraphs is, strange to say, better than 
that of the short ones. In his task of enumerating and charac- 
terizing the English poets, Webbe abandons all paragraph 
method. A glance at the sentence-length as compared with the 
paragraph-length shows that Webbe marks no advance in general 
structure, but rather a retrogression. 

PUTTENHAM. 

The Art of English Poesie, 1589, generally ascribed to 
George Puttenham, is systematically written, but its paragraphing 
is inorganic and without significance. The unit of composition 
is the short chapter. The fourteenth chapter has but 72 words; 
in like manner, many other chapters are so short as to form 
isolated paragraphs and so are left unbroken. When Puttenham 
does paragraph he is often moved to do so for emphasis. 

SPENSER. 

View of the Present State of Ireland, written c. 1596, pub- 
lished 1633. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total sentences considered 503 

Average words per sentence (Sherman) 49.S 

Average words per paragraph c 125.20 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.51 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 4S 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 85 

Average predications per sentence f 5.44 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) \ 8 

Per cent, of clauses saved ( 6.74 

The most divergent views are held today regarding Spenser's 
prose-style. One recent writer declares his prose " practically 
unreadable ; " ' another calls Spenser's " an excellent prose 
style ; " ° says that " it is unaffected, clear, vigorous, straightfor- 
ward ; " " that it is perfectly simple and by its very simplicity 
impressive and forcible." 

As is usually the case, the truth probably lies between these 
extremes. Spenser is far easier to read than Hooker, whom 
there have always been some people to read ; he is free from 
obscurity or serious ambiguity. On the other hand, he is by no 
means perfectly simple, but often very complex ; at tiixies the 
most careful attention is necessary to keep the main idea of the 
sentence clearly in mind through the long series of clauses. 

Spenser belongs to the line of classicists who were beginning 
the experiment of extreme sentence-lengths. In this respect, 
therefore, and in the comparative shortness of his paragraph, 
he makes no advance. On the other hand, we are surprised 
to find how few of his very long periods are really periodic. 
Evidently a punctuation by strict modern standards would reduce 
the sentence very greatly without hurting the syntax at all. 

It surprises one to see how straightforward and close-knit is the 
development of topic. The sequence is admirable. It is assisted 
by a very large proportion of conjunctions and by many initial 
relatives. Out of 300 sentences, 164 are connected by conjunc- 
tions or conjunctive phrases. The list is as follows, the number 
of connected sentences being found by deducting from the total 
number (181) 17 for repetitions (due to use of double-connectives) : 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

But 39 

So 12 10 

And 30 

' Sherman, Analytics, p. 274. 

^ John W. Hales, in Craik's English Prose, Vol. I., p. 455. 



86 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

Then 5 " 

Therefore 5 3 

For 1.3 

Indeed i 4 

True it is i 

Also 9 

Neither 2 i 

Yet 3 2 

Thus 2 I 

Yea : I 

Besides 2 2 

Lastly, etc 2 3 

Notwithstanding I 

And yet 3 

Nevertheless 3 

Now 5 I 

Now then i 

Again . . i 

Or I 

Thus far . . I 

From what has been said it is easy to infer that there is little 
proportion in Spenser's prose. There is no skillful varying of 
short sentences with long. The frequent use of illatives and of 
subordinating conjunctives proper does, indeed, convey some 
sense of logical prominence given to the main proposition ; but, 
on the other hand, the very frequent use of initial relatives 
(Spenser's besetting fault) goes far to destroy the proportion 
thus obtained. 

In sequence alone, then, and in the looseness of his sentence- 
structure, is Spenser in the line of paragraph development. 

HOOKER. 

Ecclesiastical Polity, 1594-1618. 
(Gerwig.) 

Average predications per sentence 4.12 

Per cent, of simple sentences 12 

Per cent, of clauses saved g.73 

Mr. Vernon Blackburn, in the first volume of Craik's Em^lish 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 87 

Prose, refers to Hooker as a man who " perpended every para- 
graph."' I cannot possibly make out what this means. It 
seems to me that of all cultivated men who ever wrote English, 
Hooker perpended paragraphs the least. The early editions of 
the Ecclesiastical Polity are, so far as I know, quite without 
indented paragraphs. The Stansbye edition in the Astor library 
(1639 ?) shows sixteen main sections in the first book, but no 
sub-sections. These sections average 1875 words each. Mani- 
festly a related paragraph of 45.31 sentences, the sentences being 
on the average 41.23 words long, is no paragraph at all. The 
paragraph-length — section-length — is a little shorter in the 
second, third, and fourth books, and decidedly shorter in the 
fifth — the one in which Hooker's hand is least evident. Keble, 
finding himself lost in these wastes of words, broke up the whole 
text in his edition of 1836; the paragraphs thus formed average 
about 260 words. Can it be that Mr. Vernon Blackburn is 
referring to these paragraphs when he says that Hooker per- 
pended each ? 

The real truth about Hooker's paragraphs is that he made 
none; that, as Minto puts it, "each sentence stands on its own 
bottom." ° Not that there are no short sentences ; there are as 
many as in Cardinal Newman.^ But the long sentences are 
exceedingly periodic, complex and involved. Hooker's Polity 
stands as the most deliberate attempt to abandon the paragraphic 
tendencies of the vernacular and mold English prose to the syn- 
tax of the Ciceronian period. 

HAKLUYT. 

Principal Navigations, 1598. 

Average predications per sentence ( 4.22 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) - 12 

Per cent, of clfiuses saved ' 17-54 

In Hakluyf^ Principal Navigations, (re, of the English Nation 

'P. 467. 

- J/rtK«B/, p. 220. Minto speaks, however, as if Hooker made paragraphs. 

3 Cf. Sherman, University Studies, Vol. I., No. 4, p. 363. 



88 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

(ed. of 1599) the paragraphing is as mechanical as in Stow or 
the early chroniclers. The voyages are usually reported in the 
form of a ship's log, each day's record paragraphed by itself. 
Again, in some parts of the book the habit of " itemizing " reduces 
paragraphs on the one hand to a few words ; while in other parts 
there are frequent long sections, broken only by the marginal 
note. 

GREENE. 

The Elizabethans were perplexed as to the right way of para- 
graphing conversation. Sidney relapsed into hopeless confusion 
on the subject. Greene in his earlier work observes no distinct 
method except now and then to make a transitional step between 
the stadia that contain dialogue. But in Menaphon (1589), the 
book that marks the change from Greene's exaggerated Euphu- 
ism to his more truly individual manner, the author holds before 
himself the rule of paragraphing each successive speech. Accord- 
ingly in this book the paragraph-length is much lowered : the 
average is hardly over 70 words, while in the first part oiMamil- 
lia (1583) it had been about 240, and as late as Pa?idosto (1588), 
had approached 200. Though the paragraph-length does not 
much rise in the pamphlets written after Menaphon, neither does 
it decrease. There is no steady improvement after Menaphon , in 
the paragraphing of dialogue. 

The reader soon learns to expect little in point of unity in 
Greene's paragraphs. Each begins a new step, but too frequently 
the writer fails to see when the step ends. Again, over-illustra- 
tion hurts both the unity and the proportion. 

The coherence of Greene's paragraphs is fairly good. The 
movement is light and sometimes rapid, and the Euphuistic 
parallelism does not retard the general progress. Proportion, 
however, is wholly missing. Greene was guilty of numerous 
clause-heaps, and of unnecessary single-sentence sections. The 
general loose structure of his sentence does not save him from 
the bane of his day — the excessive use of intermediate punctu- 
ation. 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 



NASH. 



Nash is in nearly every point a better paragrapher than 
Greene — faint as this praise may be. The proportion of wholly 
amorphous paragraphs is small in the History of Jack Wilton. 
Nash's pamphlets are arranged with something like real orderli- 
ness. The units are tolerably long in most of his work : from 
about 260 words in the Anatomy of Absurdity the paragraph 
descends in the introduction to Greene's Menaphon to about 250, 
falls still nearer the 200 mark in Pierce Peiiiless, and reaches its 
lowest point, sav 160 words, in Ha'oe With You to Saffron Waldeii. 
There are more short sentences than in Greene, and the transition 
between them is more accurate. 

LODGE. 

Lodge's sentences are short, and the sequence between theqi is 
good. But the writer is utterly without paragraph-method. 
There is no unity in the sections of the Defense of Poetry, Music 
and Stage Plays. Those of the Alarum against Usurers are short 
and often false. The Historie of Forbonius and Prisceria has one 
only merit — it paragraphs long speeches by themselves, placing 
between each a short transitional paragraph. In Rosalynde the 
story runs wild — freshest and brightest of narratives running on 
heedless of whither away. Dialogue makes no difference. Para- 
graphs come only when the pen gives out. 

RALEGH. 

In the 1666 edition of the History, the mark §, in its early 
type form, divides chapters into long sections, called by Ralegh 
paragraphs. Each of these is subdivided by indentation. But 
curiously enough, Ralegh often subdivides a paragraph into what 
he calls sections, indicating each by reference marks, as [| or f . 
Thus he leaves no name for the indented paragraph, and exactly 
reverses the modern meaning of the words paragraph and section. 

Ralegh makes amazing show of systematic arrangement ; but 
the analysis is often arbitrary and inexact. On the one hand 



90 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

this poor analysis, on the other his utterly unwieldy and elephan- 
tine periods, make him an exceedingly bad paragraphist. 

THE AUTHORIZED VERSION. 

No English version of the Bible was broken into "verses" 
until 1551, when Robert Stephens of Paris printed an edition 
with paragraphs similar to Tyndale's (already mentioned), and 
marginal figures indicating sub-sections of the paragraphs. The 
Geneva Bible, c. 1560, was the first to indent these sub-sections. 
The Authorized, 161 1, followed the Geneva in this respect. The 
main sections in the chapters were indicated by the mark ^, 
which, oddly enough, does not occur after the twentieth chapter 
of Acts. This last named fact prevents me from giving exact 
averages for the length of these paragraphs, for while the whole 
number of words in both Testaments has long ago been counted 
by patient hands, I have not been able to get the statistics of the 
text minus the unparagraphed portion; and it goes without 
saying that there is nothing to gain by making a count. The 
paragraphs of the New Testament average, I should say, not far 
from 560 words, 7 verses, each. There is nothing necessary in 
these divisions, and they have been departed from by other edi- 
tions, such as the Cambridge Paragraph Bible of Dr. Scrivener, 
and by the Revised Version. 

BACON. 

The Advancement of Learning, 1605. 

Total paragraphs considered no 

Average words per paragraph 204.67 (Ed. of 1633.) 

Average words per sentence 60.03 (Ed. of Aldis Wright.) 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.41 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 32 (Ed. of 1633.) 

Essays. 

Average words per sentence (Sherman) 28+ 

Average predications per sentence { 3.12 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) \ 19 

Per cent, of clauses saved ( 2.87 

It is an immense pleasure to emerge from the mistiness of 



TYXDALE TO TEMPLE. 91 

early Elizabethan prose into the lumen siccum of the Advaiiconcnt. 
Although it is evident that the sentences are latinized and 
excessively long, yet there is a very remarkable skill evident in 
the grouping of them. Whether consciously or not, Bacon 
employed all the power of a great rhetorician to reconcile the 
period and the paragraph. The intellectual style of the Advance- 
ment was favorable to the experiment ; there was no need of short 
sentences appealing to the will or to the picturesque imagination ; 
the experiment succeeded as far as it could ever succeed. 
The paragraphs are not too short; they are methodical and 
orderly ; the sequence is secured by explicit reference in the 
shape of demonstratives and conjunctions, and above all by the 
logic of a great dialectician. Not a paragraph lacks unity. But 
with it all we are conscious that the transitions are painfully 
formal and mechanical ; and that there is a lack of variety in 
structure not compensated for by brilliant rhetoric. There is no 
living web of discourse. The period and the paragraph have 
come into conflict as units, and their antagonism has for the 
nonce been frozen by logic into stony civility. There is a stiff 
monotony in Bacon's way of opening a paragraph with, "Now as 
to the first point," and closing it with, "Thus much for the first 
point." 

When we turn to the Essays, we find the spell broken and 
the period driven off the field. The average sentence has 28 
words ; a sentence epigrammatic, of course, made of mere glints 
and gleams of truth, but still capable of arrangement in the 
paragraph. The author is not, however, aiming at sequence, or 
even at lucidity. The changes are abrupt. Bacon felt this, and, 
to show the relatively isolated nature of many of the paragraphs, 
placed the old ^ before each when the lack of coherence 
between paragraphs was particularly noticeable. 

THE CHARACTER-WRITERS. JONSON. 

In our speaking of the history of the isolated paragraph, the 
character-writers. Hall, Earle, Overbury, Breton, etc., must not 
be left out of account. In some of them, particularly Breton, 



92 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

much method is manifested in these short paragraphs that char- 
acterize various worthies and unworthies. Breton's habit is to 
begin each character in the same way as every other, with a bold 
sentence summing up the main vice or virtue of the subject. 
This topic is then emphasized in several short sentences, by no 
means necessarily in logical progression. In all these writers the 
sentence is short, and affects the apothegmatic, Theophrastian 
tone. The sequence is accordingly such as might be expected 
between apothegms. In some of the writers Euphuistic parallel- 
ism is prominent. This is especially true of Overbury ; but Over- 
bury's general structure is stiff and sometimes incoherent. I do 
not take it that the early journalistic isolated paragraph owed 
much to these writers, though the satiric paragraph of Pope's day 
was not without its resemblance to these earlier, but less per- 
sonal pasquinades. 

In speaking of the isolated paragraph we must rank Ben 
Jonson as a really important author, though one whose influence 
on contemporary prose was small. Many of the detached frag- 
ments of the Timber are complete whole compositions in minia- 
ture. The sentence is short, and its structure is surprisingly 
simple and direct. The paragraph coherence is nearly always 
admirable, notwithstanding Jonson's tendency toward epigram. 

LORD BROOKE. 

Life of Sir Philip Sidney, 1652. (Brooke died, 1628.) 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average words per paragraph c. 150 

Average sentences per paragraph u. 2.7 

Average words per sentence c. 55.53 

Average words per paragraph in first 35 paragraphs. 158.66 
Average words per sentence in first 35 paragraphs. . 55-53 
Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs in 200 para- 
graphs ' 35 

Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, is one of the worst offenders in 
the matter of inorganic single-sentence paragraphs. His actual 
percentage of such is not so high as that of certain other authors, 
but Brooke's paragraphed sentence is a heap of clauses extremely 



TYiYDALE TO TEMPLE. 93 

awkward and involved. In the matter of unity Brooke is better 
than Sidney, and worse, though less formal, than Bacon. Really 
false paragraphs are rare, but transitional sentences properly 
introductory of a new section are often given in the preceding. 
All in all, Brooke's style, like Bacon's, is an illustration of the 
futility of any compromise between the paragraph and the long 
period as units of discourse. 

BURTON. 

Anatomy of Melancholy, 1 6 2 1 . 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 38,057 

Total sentences considered 948 

Average words per paragraph 380.57 

Average sentences per paragraph 9.48 

Average words per sentence 40.14 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 18 

If excessive variability in stylistic averages goes to show men- 
tal irregularity, then Burton's paragraph -length would prove him 
mad. The word-length of the Anatomy varies from 39 to 2529. 
Evidently there is little system here. When quotations press for- 
ward to Burton's pen, paragraph-method is a dead letter. On 
the other hand, when he is framing at leisure a section of orig- 
inal discourse, there is visible a stylistic spirit really new. 
Burton's sentence average is not greater than Swift's, and as Bur- 
ton's long sentences are exceedingly long, it is plain that he 
uses counterbalancing short propositions to an extent elsewhere 
unknown among scholars of his day. It is indeed not far from" 
the truth to say, with Mr. Saintsbury," in his latest utterance, 
that the arrangement of Burton's sentences is often "distinctly 
terse and crisp." 

In his long sentences Burton takes minute pains to subor- 
dinate, by conjunctions and demonstratives, the lesser clauses : 
often, however, with poor success. But the number of initial 
connectives is moderate. Out of 300 sentences, 64 begin 
with conjunctives, and there are 15 interior sentence-connectives : 

'Craik's Englisli Prose, Vol. II., p. 117. 



94 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 



in Ascham there were i68 sentence-connectives in 306 sentences. 
The list in Burton is given below. To get the number of con- 
nected sentences 15 is to be deducted from a total 79, for repeti- 
tions. 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

And 

Besides 

But 

For 

First 

However 

In a word 

In conclusion 

In like sort 

Nay 

On the otiier 

Otherwise 

Or 

Thus 

So 

Then . . i 

Therefore . . 7 

Yea I ^ . 

Yet 3 I 

We may say, therefore, that while Burton's paragraph-struc- 
ture is variable in merit, and while he is guilty of many amor- 
phous clause-heaps, he marks an advance toward one secret of 
proportion (the short sentence), and toward the modern method 
of sentence-connection. 

MILTON. 

Areopagitica, 1644. 

Total paragraphs considered 33 

Total words considered 17,948 



Initial. 
19 

4 
13 

6 

2 
I 
I 



Total sentences considered 

Average words per paragraph 

Average sentences per paragraph 

Average words per sentence 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 

Average predications per sentence 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) 

Per cent, of clauses saved 



354 
543-88 
10-73 
50.70 
10 
4.87 
6 
9-31 



TV. WALK TO TEMPLE. 95 

Milton ridiculed the short sentence and despised the loose 
order. His own sentence is highly periodic and involved : he 
stands with Hooker and Clarendon at the extreme of the clas- 
sical movement. Some of his prose works, as the Defense of the 
People of England, are practically without paragraphs. Others, as 
tht Eikonoklastes, have a mechanical paragraph — used for formal 
enumeration of points in an argument. Such paragraphs are 
likely to be of one sentence, and amorphous. The Arcopagitica 
is the best paragraphed of all the works, though not so freely 
paragraphed as the Reformation in England; yet few even of the 
sections of the Areopagitica are really units. 

It must be noted, however, that Milton is distinctly subject 
to one tradition, that of paragraphing for emphasis. Thus, in 
the Eikonoklastes (ed. of 1649, p. 200) there is one sentence that 
is broken into twelve paragraphs. These mark the various 
"articles" that state the conditions on which the king, Milton 
asserts, is ready to capitulate with God. 

CLARENDON. 

History of the Great Rebellion, published 1 704-1 707. (Clar- 
endon died, 1674.) 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 21,732 

Total sentences considered 290 

Average worcjs per paragraph 217.32 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.50 

Average words per sentence 74.94 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 28 

In Clarendon the classical experiment is wrecked. Other 
men had written long sentences — Spenser, for instance. But 
Spenser's clauses follow each other like cars in a railroad train ; 
each could be uncoupled and sent singly on its way. Claren- 
don's long sentence may be likened to the same train "tele- 
scoped ;" where framework and ornament, ribs of wood and rods 
of iron, are jammed together and inextricably twisted out of all 
resemblance to any orderly thing. 

Clarendon, however, did not, like Milton, utterly disregard 



96 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the paragraph. He repeated the rash compromise of Bacon and 
Brooke, and failed signally. After his day the experiment was 
never fully repeated. Clarendon's paragraph-length is 217 
words, his sentence 74 ; manifestly a paragraph of this length 
could not coexist with a formless sentence of 74 words. 

JEREMY TAYLOR. 

The Liberty of Pi'ophesying, 1647. 

Total paragraphs considered 109 

Total words considered 54i787 

Total sentences considered 1035 

Average words per paragraph 5°2.63 

Average words per sentence S2.93 

Average sentences per paragraph 949 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 6 

It was good service that Coleridge rendered the fame of 
Taylor by showing the great bishop to be not half so unintelli- 
gible as some rhetoricians had held. But Coleridge, who 
admired Milton's prose almost as extravagantly as Lander did, 
would have it that Milton is clear enough ; he fails to show how 
much more lucid Taylor is than Milton. 

Taylor's sentence is less periodic than Milton's and far less 
involved than Clarendon's. But his sentences are long and 
there is the wildest abuse of conjunctions. Often the orator 
himself sees that the sentence is inadequate to his unit of 
thought, and leaves the period in hopelessly incomplete syntac- 
tical shape. Taylor's chosen unit is the period, but he does not 
try to reconcile it with the paragraph, and is himself conscious 
that he is in confusion on the whole question of structure. 

SIR THOMAS BROWNE. 

Religio Medici, 1643. 

Average words per paragraph c. 340 

Average sentences per paragraph io-|- 

Hydriotaphia, 1658. 

Total paragraphs considered 107 

Average words per paragraph 125.08 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.78 

Average words per sentence 33.09 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 97 

The paragraphs in both the Religio and the Hydriotaphia are 
numbered as "sections." The Religio has a comparatively diffuse 
flow, natural in an autobiographical work jirst written for the eyes 
of friends only. The Hydriotaphia, written nearly a quarter of a cen- 
tury later, shows more of curious care, and the condensed language 
of a maturer mind. The change in the style is accompanied by a 
shortening of the paragraph from about 340 words to 125. 

Browne is often assailed as a Latinizer, and in one sense 
the criticism is true of his syntax as it is of his vocabulary. 
Browne used every Latin construction to which English would 
lend itself ; but he knew the limits, as Milton and Taylor and 
Hooker did not. He almost never spun a web of involutions. 
He knew when both sense and rhythm required a full stop. 
Consequently his sentence is not long, not so long even as 
De Quincey's ; it may be added that there are in it far fewer 
unnecessary connectives than in De Quincey's. 

The sections of the Hydriotaphia have better unity than can be 
found in Elizabethan prose outside of Bacon. The sequence and 
coherence are not relatively so good. Yet it may be questioned 
whether any other writer so aphoristic has so well succeeded in 
keeping logical articulation between sentences. Each group of 
Browne's strange gems has a general hue and harmony of its own. 

In point, then, of unity, of sentence-length, and of logical 
rather than formal articulation between sentences, Browne marks 
an immense advance over the men with whom Coleridge classed 
him as a corrupter of English. In one other respect he marks 
advance ; namely, in the rhythm of successive clauses, and, to 
a less extent, of successive sentences. Milton had a dawning 
sense of the necessity of an occasional short sentence as a rhyth- 
mical relief from the roll of the period. Browne carried 
this principle of variety still farther, uniting with it a sense of 
tone-color that has never been surpassed. 

HOBBES. 

Leviathan, 1651. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average words per paragraph c. 116.40 



98 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Average sentences per paragraph c. 2.96 

Average words per sentence c. 39.26 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 35 

Hobbes marks no improvement in the matter of sentence- 
length as related to the paragraph. His sentence, indeed, is only 
39, but his paragraph is not large enough to hold a unit of this 
size. It must nevertheless be admitted that the sense of unity in 
Hobbes's sentence is highly developed for the time, and that the 
paragraphs are usually units, though not always properly amplified. 
But the chief virtue of these paragraphs is their precision of artic- 
ulation, both internal and external. The coherence is eminently 
good, though the massing is so poor and the formal predications 
so awlcwardly numerous that the reader's progress is but slow. 

LORD HERBERT. 

Autobiography , written c. 1643. 

Total paragraphs considered 40 

Total vifords considered 9983 

Total sentences considered 132 

Average words per paragraph 249-f- 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.30 

Average words per sentence 75. 60 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 25 

Lord Herbert's Autobiography was not published till 1764, 
"when Walpole edited and printed it. How closely the paragraph- 
ing follows the MS. I do not know. 

Mr. Saintsbury has said of Lord Herbert, "The writer dis- 
plays an art, very uncommon in his time, in the alternation of 
short and long sentences, and the general adjustrnent of the 
paragraph." Mr. Saintsbury is usually not far from the truth in 
his comments on prose structure, but surely in the present 
case he has overestimated Lord Herbert's paragraphic tend- 
dency. Out of the first 132 sentences in the Autobiography 
only seven fall below 20 words, and the average is 75 words, 
a length reached but once in the worst days of the paragraph, 
hitherto. These figures are enough to limit seriously the force 

^ History of Elizabethan Literature^ p. 439. 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 99 

of Air. Saintsburv's dictum. It may, however, be granted that 
this dictum is not without some foundation ; for Lord Herbert 
has a knack of making a paragraph of two or three sentences, 
the first very long, the second moderately short. There is an 
exceptional example of this in the sixth paragraph ; here the first 
of the two periods has 329 words, the second but 27. In the 
thirty-sixth paragraph there is another exceptional example, 
where the introductory sentence has 20 words, the second and 
only other has 552. Here therefore we find a nascent sense of 
paragraph rhythm, and this is really Lord Herbert's contribution 
to the development. In other respects he marks no advance ; 
his monotonously ponderous periods and enormous para- 
graphed sentences belong to the conflict between period and 
paragraph. 

WALTON. 

Life of Hooker, 1665. 

Total paragraphs considered 106 

Total words considered 19,842 

Average words per paragraph 187.19 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.9 

Average words per sentence 64 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 25 

Complete Angler, 1653. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average sentences per paragraph 1.5 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 73 (dialogue) 

In spite of his colloquial tone, garrulous Isaac Walton belongs 
only too evidently to the older prose. He is not one of the 
Latinists, but his sentences are very long and guileless of unity. 
His numerous single-sentence paragraphs are nearly all clause- 
heaps, except in the Angler, when conversation controls them. 

Walton's style is childlike in its abuse of coordinating con- 
junctions ; it belongs in this respect almost as far back as Mande- 
ville ; 80 sentences out of 300 begin with and. The list of sen- 
tence-connectives from the Angler is as follows : The number 
of sentences connected (out of 300) is 130, or 16 less than the 
whole number of sentence-connectives. 



lOO HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

And 80 

But 25 

Nay 5 

Thus 2 

First 3 8 

Also . . 6 

Well _ 5 

Hence _ I 

However . . i 

Therefore . . 2 

Then I 2 

On the contrary i i 

Indeed i 

So .. I 

Now I 

111 the matter of unity, Walton's paragraphs are hardly 
defensible. Mr. Lowell's remark on Walton's poetic style, that 
he has "a habit of leaving the direct track of narrative on the 
suggestion of the first inviting by-path,'" is equally true of Walton 
in his prose. 

FULLER. 

Worthies of England, 1662. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 8677 

Total sentences considered 370 

Average words per paragraph 86.77 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.70 

Average words per sentence 23.45 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 20 

Fuller's paragraphs are light and short, but mechanical rather 
than literary. He advances with regularity and order, complet- 
ing each step with a satisfied air of precision. But not half the 
paragraphs are built of fully developed sentences ; verbs are 
omitted with the utmost nonchalance, and the section often 
degenerates into a mere list of particulars. Fuller's sentence is 
short and pointed, though he exhibits no great skill in its adjust- 
ment in the paragraph. 

' 'Lowell, Latest Literary Essays, Boston, 1892. 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 10 1 

Fuller is not free from digressions, but, as Minto observes, 
he is ahva3's conscious of his digression, and takes care to return 
explicitly to the original topic. By far the larger number of 
sections state the topic first. Fuller's regularity in the use of the 
deductive order makes him the precursor of Johnson and 
INIacaulay. 

On the whole, Fuller is distinctly in the new line of paragraph 
development. In sentence-length and in general method he is 
the most modern man of his time. 

SELDEN. 

Table Talk, 1689. (Selden died, 1654.) 

Total paragraphs considered 81 

Average words per paragraph T^.qj 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.17 

Average words per sentence 33 • S8 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 43 

Selden's Table Talk was published thirty-five' years after the 
author's death. The arrangement of the dicta was made by 
Selden's amanuensis, Milward. Milward usually groups under 
one heading several related remarks, something in the style of 
Bacon's £ssays. All Selden's paragraphs are indeed relatively 
isolated. They are not often organic wholes, but are mentioned 
here as being in the line of general sentential development, the 
sentence being 33 words. 

HOWELL. 

Mr. Joseph Jacobs, in his recent edition of James Howell's 
Familiar Letters, regards Howell, rather than Dryden, as the 
father of the short sentence. It may be admitted that Howell 
had a knack, more pronounced than that of Lord Herbert, of 
occasionally alternating an exceedingly long sentence with a short 
one. But as for Howell's being the father of the short sentence 
it is enough to say that in the original edition of the pamphlet, 
England's Tears for the Present Wars, the sentence average is 
actually 77 words, one of the very highest in the history of our 
prose. Nor yet had Howell advanced otherwise to the modern 



102 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

conception of the paragraph. He had no proper sense of unity 
or proportion. 

COWLEY. 

Essays, from sixth edition, 1680. 
Cromwell has 14 paragraphs, 12,574 words. 
Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy 
has 51 paragraphs, 5132 words. 

Average words per paragraph — Croviweil 898.14 

Average words per paragraph — Philosophy 100.62 

Average words per sentence (two essays) u. 48.37 

Average words per sentence — Cromwell c. 38.01 

Average words per sentence — Philosophy c. 54.43 

Cowley's prose is transitional ; his early sentence is long and 
unmethodical ; his later much shorter and more homogeneous. 
The sections in the earlier editions (for the paragraphing in 
the later ones, even Grosart's, cannot be trusted) are very irreg- 
ular and inorganic. Cowley is not actually disorderly, but he 
has no proper «ense of paragraph method. He will in one 
chapter paragraph a single sentence for emphasis (e. g. Essay on 
Liberty, ed. of 1680, p. 82 ; Essay on Solitude, p. 92) ; in the 
next chapter he will allow a paragraph to run on for six pages. 
Cowley is in the line of advance, but distinctly so in one par- 
ticular only. He spares initial connectives and depends for 
sequence on logical succession. Of the 57 sentences (Lumby's 
ed.) in the Essay on Greatness, not one begins with and, only two 
begin with but, and only seven with subordinating connectives, 
including relative adverbs. 

BUNYAN. 

The Pilgrim'' s Progress, 167 8- 1684. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered 12,520 

Average words per paragraph 62.60 

Average sentences per paragraph i.gS 

Average words per sentence 31.61 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 61 

Average predications per sentence ( 3.91 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig) \ 10 

Per cent, of clauses saved ( 5.92 



TYNDALE TO TEMPLE. 1 03 

The dialogue form of the Pilgrim's Progress of course deter- 
mines in a large measure the length of the paragraph in this 
work. We have in Grace Abounding an example of Bunyan's 
sustained prose ; but the paragraph of Grace Abounding I have not 
been able to examine in any early edition. 

We find at last in the Pilgrim's Progress a sentence which 
belongs to the essential paragraph structure. Bunyan has mastered 
the short sentence. He can vary it with longer ones — not very 
periodic ones — and produce effects of severe variety and of sober 
rhythm. The most important outcome of the age that ends with 
Bunyan is this short sentence. The vernacular stream that has 
found its way through the obstacles of the age emerges bright and 
strong in Bunyan. When the next period of development sets 
in the writers gradually bring this short sentence into the serv- 
ice of the longer thought-integer, and so the new unit of style 
is evolved. 



CHAPTER VII. 

TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEY, 
TEMPLE. 

Heroic Vb-tue, 1692. 

Total paragraphs considered 184. 

Total words considered 28,775- 

Total sentences considered 538. 

Average words per paragraph 1 56.30 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.90 

Average words per sentence 53-40 

Advancement of Trade in Ireiand, 1692. 

Total paragraphs considered 40 

Average words per paragraph 226 -\- 

Average words per sentence 54 4" 

It is probably useless to dispute whether, as Mr. Saintsbury 
says, Temple was a follower of Dryden, or whether, as Mr. C. D. 
Yonge thinks, Dryden imitated Sir William.^ Both men were 
probably indebted to Jonson, Cowley, and even Bunyan, though 
from Sir William's sentence-length one would hardly think so. 
What is certain for our purposes is that Temple's first important 
work, the Observations on the Netherlands (1672), is far more care- 
fully paragraphed than the Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1667) ; and 
again that in ordering of matter Dryden's best work cannot 
compare with Temple's best. 

Temple's sentence is indeed too long ; it is longer than Dry- 
den's and more than twice as long as Fuller's. But the clauses 
follow the simple oral form, and for the first time in our prose 
we have a balance and a cadence that are not manifestly artificial. 
This unobtrusive balance and the parallel construction of sen- 
tences are an immense help structurally to the coherence of the 
paragraph. Of course the balance will now and then degenerate 

into an artificial pointedness that, by tending toward epigram, hurts 

104 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEV. 105 

the sequence. But the predominating effect is that of close-knit 
prose. Another virtue, most important historically, marks Sir 
William's sentences. Though long, they rarely lack unity. 

Temple's coherence depends very largely on structure. Of 
300 sentences in the Heroic I'irttie only 51 are joined by con- 
junctions. The list follows ; it will be seen that double con- 
nectives are not used, for the whole number of connectives is the 
same, within one, as the whole number of connected sentences. 
It is perhaps true that the brevity of the list shows French 
influence. 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

And 13 

Besides i i 

But 12 

Also I 

For 6 

In short i 

It is true i 

Likewise ■ . 2 

Finally • . i 

Nor I 

On the other side 2 

So : 3 

Therefore ■ • i 

Thus 3 

Yet 2 

Sir William's contribution may be described as an increase of 
coherence by structure ; and of skill in transition between para- 
graphs. 

DRYDEN. 

Translation, 1685. Satire, 1693. Parallel between Poetry and 
Painting, 1695. 

Average words per paragraph in Essay on Satire. . . 256 + 

Average words per paragraph in Trayislation -\- Par- 

altel between Poetry and Painting 261 + 

Whole number words in Satire -\- Transtation -\- 

Paraltel 49,969 

Whole number sentences in Satire + Translation + 

Paraltet 1300 



io6 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Whole number paragraphs in Satire -\- Translation 

+ Parallel l8o 

Average words per paragraph in Satire ■\- Transla- 
tion + Parallel 277.55 

Average sentences per paragraph in Satire -\- Trans- 
lation + Parallel 7'22 

Average words per sentence in Satire -\- Translation 

+ Parallel 38.44 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs in Satire -\- 

Translation -\- Parallel Il~r 

Dramatic Poesy, 1667. 

(Gerwig, for 521 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 4'89 

Per cent, of simple sentences 6 

Per cent, of clauses saved 4.88 

The fame of Dryden as our first great prosaist is not enduring 
witliout challenge. Mr. Saintsbury' and Mr. Gosse° credit Dry- 
den w\X\\ full mastery of English prose ; on the other hand Mr. 
Minto' referred to his genius as the reverse of methodical, and 
Mr. Sherman' calls him almost as formless as Spenser. 

It is true that Dryden brought to the writing of prose a vigor 
unknown before ; that he exhibited a rich vocabulary of simple 
speech, and a general felicity of diction ; that he was not equaled 
in his day in power of varying the structure of the sentence 
and giving it flexibility and balance. On the other hand, it is 
not -quite the whole truth to say with Saintsbury that his slovenli- 
ness in sentence-structure is only occasional. Dryden was singu- 
larly uneven in his sentence-writing, and it is safe to say that no 
single piece of his prose is free from impossible periods. 

With every deduction Dryden nevertheless remains the most 
potent individuality in modifying the sentence to reasonable pro- 
portions. He stands as a dividing line between the old sentence 
and the new. But as a paragraphist he is inferior to Temple. 
His genius is a vagrant one, and he sins incessantly against the 

^Specimens of English Prose, p. xxii. 

^History of Eighteenth Century Literature, p. 91. 

'^ Manual, p. 334. 

* Analytics, p. 292. 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEY. 107 

cardinal law of unity. There are indeed plenty of good para- 
graphs in Dryden, but the good ones are nearly always short. 

It is a curious fact that in spite of lack of logical severity in 
the analysis of the whole composition, and in spite of the very 
great fluctuation in his paragraph-lengths, Dryden had some sense 
of rhythmical proportion in distributing his matter by paragraphs. 
The word-length of the paragraph in Satire' is the same within 
five words, as in the combined essays. Translation -\- Parallel. 
Dryden had indeed, as everyone knows, a distinct feeling for 
"the other harmony of prose." This rhythmical sense gives us, 
along with the cadence of the sentence, a feeling for parallel 
construction. To this his paragraphs often owe a coherence that 
goes far to make up for his digressiveness. He depends for coher- 
ence largely on the order of words, and this regard for order of 
words helps to make him the most forcible of the early prosaists. 
He does not rely on initial sentence-connectives. Out of three 
hundred sentences, only twelve begin with a/z</, eighteen with but ; 
while subordinatives are still more sparingly employed. 

His sentences '^ improve as his style matures; few authors 
show so much change. The improvement is not so marked in 
the matter of paragraph unity ; the sound thinking of later 
life does not seem much to check his fits of irrelevance. 

LOCKE. 

Essay on Human Understanding, 1690. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Whole number words 40)545 

Whole number sentences 814 

Average words per sentence 49.8 

Average words per paragraph 202.7 

' Average sentences per paragraph 4.07 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs i8-|- 

It must be admitted, even by those who think that Locke 
crossed the line where writing ceases to be Jiterature, that he 

• I choose late essays as exhibiting Dryden's matured style. 
= Sherman puts Dryden's sentence at 45+ ; it seems to me this must be an 
average from the early prefaces. 



lo8 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

is the most orderly writer of his day, though his method is 
purely formal. The early editions of his works are very carefully 
analyzed by chapters and sections, the latter being marked §. 
The section usually coincides with the paragraph, but not always. 
Many editions have marginal summaries of sections, and tabular 
summaries in the table of contents. 

In general the paragraphs have good unity. The paragraph 
is short relatively to the sentence, but Locke does not, like 
Hobbes, paragraph tiny stadia for emphasis. His failure to 
reach the rhetorical paragraph lies largely in the fact that his 
paragraph lacks proportion. He dwells on the unimportant at 
the expense of the important. Half his introductions are too 
long. Nor is his coherence so good as might be expected in 
a writer who has so much to say about the value of consecutive- 
ness in thought. He often brings illustrations from a distance 
and introduces them abruptly. 

DEFOE. 

Essay on Projects (1697), omitting numerical accounts. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Whole number words 16,978 

Whole number sentences 342 

Average words per sentence 49.64 

Average words per paragraph 84.89 

Average sentences per paragraph 1.71 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 62 

Robinson Crusoe (17 19), 200 paragraphs. 

Total words 28,327 

Total sentences 360 

Average words per sentence 78.68 

Average words per paragraph 141.63 

Average sentences per paragraph 1.S7 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 60 

If Locke is, in certain formal respects, the best paragrapher 
of his day, Defoe is in all respects the worst. He really knows 
no difference between the sentence and the paragraph ; he para- 
graphs for emphasis only. The sentence of Robinson Crusoe is 
nearly as long as the paragraph of the Essay on Projects. It 



TEMPLE TO BE QUEYCEY. log 

would be hard to find another writer of such irregularities in 
sentence-length. 

Defoe's coherence in narrative is good, for his pictorial 
imagination is exceedingly vivid, and his diction and method 
thosi of swift, lucid conversation. But in argument all this is 
changed. Here he neglects every device of transition and pours 
out his ideas in the most haphazard way. In argument he is vigor- 
ous enough, but his vigor is wasted by utter disregard of method. 

SWIFT. 

The Battle of the Books, 1704 (written 1698). 

Total paragraphs 31 

Total words 9234 

Total sentences 232 

Average words per sentence 39-8o 

Average'words per paragraph 297.86 

Average sentences per paragraph 7.48 

The Tale of a Tub, 1704 (written 1698). 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 18, 577 

Total sentences considered 456 

Average words per sentence 40'74 

Average words per paragraph 185.77 

Average sentences per paragraph 4.56 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 15 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, \ 3.69 

Per cent, of simple sentences for 500 V 13 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ^ 9.23 

Travels of Lemuel Gulliver, 1726. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered 46,844 

Total sentences considered 1171 

Average words per sentence 40.00 

Average words per paragraph 234.22 

Average sentences per paragraph 5-85 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 15 

The unity of Swift's paragraphs is usually all that could 
be desired. Now and then, however, a paragraph will be so long 
as to obliterate, apparently, any sign of topic. These rare para- 



1 10 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

graphs are almost inexplicable when compared with his usual 
sections. Professor Cesare Lombroso would, I fear, find the 
eccentricity of madness in them, as he did in the inversions 
of the Dean's conversation. 

Swift's command of proportion by paragraph-punctuation is 
small. It is noticeable that the proportion of very short sen- 
tences (sentences under 15 words) is not large — 6.3 per cent, in 
the Tale of a Tub, 6.4 per cent, in Gulliver. The average of the 
sentence is constant, in works separated even by 28 years: the 
three books mentioned show a variation of less than a whole 
word in sentence average, though the paragraph-averages of dif- 
ferent books differ enormously. 

The superb coherence and emphasis of Swift's style are due 
largely to the straightforward, logical order of the thought, and 
the skillful placing of important words at the end of a sentence 
or paragraph. Swift is the first author to show in the paragraph 
much of what Wendell calls Mass. His sentences often fall at 
the close like taps of a steam-hammer, and sometimes the taps 
seem concentrated in one great blow at the end of the paragraph. 

Connectives he uses less than does any of his predecessors. 
The list from Gulliver is as follows — showing only 39 formally 
connected sentences out of a total of 300. 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

But 14 

Therefore . . 2 

Likewise . . 4 

However 6 i 

Whereupon 2 

Besides i 

Also . . I 

Thus . . I 

So . . I 

Now 3 

For 2 

Indeed . . i 

ADDISON. 
The Freeholder, 1715-1716. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEY. ill 

Total words considered 34,651 

Total sentences considered 898 

Average words per paragraph 173-25 

Average sentences per paragraph 4.49 

Average words per sentence 38.58 

Per cent, of single-senteiice paragraphs 14 

Spectator. 

(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 3.67 

Per cent, of simple sentences 12 

Per cent, of clauses saved 3.72 

Addison's unity is usualh' faultless. His coherence depends 
largely upon word-order and sentence-structure ; of 300 sentences 
only 13 begin with and, 16 with but. His massing, when com- 
pared with Swift's, is defective. In brief, the paragraph structure 
is easy and flowing, correct in unity, defective in emphasis. 

Addison's favorite paragraph is loose, with one or two 
introductory sentences. Deductive specimens are not infre- 
quent. The topic is often developed by repetition from changing 
points of view, — what Scott and Denney have termed the alter- 
nating method. The method is frequently overdone. 

Addison had little sense of the value of the short sentence, 
either as a means of emphasis, or as a way of varying paragraph 
rhythm. His rhythm remained a somewhat monotonous sen- 
tence-rhythm. Less than 4 per cent, of his sentences fall below 
15 words. There is no wide variation in the number of sentences 
to the paragraph : thus, 44 out of 200 paragraphs have three sen- 
tences each. 

SHAFTESBURY. 

Characteristics, 1 7 1 1 . 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 15,49° 

Total sentences considered 578 

Average words per paragraph I54''50 

Average sentences per paragraph 5,78 

Average words per sentence 26.80 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 3 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length .... 44-341 



1 1 2 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 26 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig, ) 28 

Average predications per sentence for 650 S- 2.61 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ) 4.02 

Had he chosen, Addison might have learned much from the 
well-bred style of his contemporary, Anthony Ashley Cooper; 
and particularly he might have learned variety. Shaftesbury used 
the short sentence without stint, and often with fine effect. His 
percentage of sentences falling under the length of 15 words 
is the highest before Burke. His sentence is more variable 
than that of any author of his own time ; and he much sur- 
passes in this even Bolingbroke. It is to be admitted, never- 
theless, that Shaftesbury was not fully master of the short sen- 
tence. Many of his sentences are so brief that they utterly lack 
unity. 

In several other paragraphic virtues Shaftesbury is correct, 
though never firmly and surely so. His unity is good, the para- 
graph being very short. He follows the loose order definitely 
enough to give his topic in the course of the first two sentences. 
He is coherent, making one sentence follow, without need of 
connective, from the preceding. 

He has his faults, however. His massing is such as to obscure 
the emphatic words. Though his sentences do not need connec- 
tives, there is an abuse of initial coordinatives. His list of initial 
connectives is as follows, showing 79 initially connected sentences 
out of 300; the .list would not be much increased if the interior 
sentence-connectives were added : 



For 


20 

26 

21 

2 


However 




But 


Thus 




And 






Yet 


Nor 




Nor 


2 


Or 




So that 


2 


On the other side 





All in all Shaftesbury may be regarded as contributing the ele 
ment of variety in sentence-length. His paragraph-length is not 
so variable. 



TE.VPLE TO DE QUINCEY. 1 13 

BOLINGBROKE. 

Letter to Sir William llyndham, 1753. 

Total paragraphs considered 173 

Total words considered 34,1915 

Total sentences considered 981 

Average words per paragraph 197.68 

Average sentences per paragraph 5.67 

Average words per sentence 34.86 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 5 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 13 

Study of History. 

(Gerwig, for 977 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 3.65 

Per cent, of simple sentences 14 

Per cent, of clauses saved 3.72 

It may freely be granted that Bolingbroke's style is in some 
respects vicious; that, as Mr. Gosse says, it is "grandiloquent, 
and yet ineffectual." " These faults affect unfavorably the empha- 
sis of his paragraph ; and yet, after every deduction, Bolingbroke 
is distinctly a modern paragrapher. 

He knows the value of the short sentence, though he does 
not use it freely enough. Only 13 per cent, of his sentences fall 
below the length of 15 words; yet he alternates long propositions 
and short ones, with telling effect. 

The unity of his paragraphs is generally unassailable. He 
looks to the transition between sentences, and, what was then 
more rare, to the transition between paragraphs. He balances 
sentences, sometimes to windy lengths, but does not let the coher- 
ence seriously suffer. He carefully eschews connectives, indeed 
rather too carefully. 

Above all he depends more on the paragraph than do his pred- 
ecessors. He is always making sentences that are unintelligible 
except in the light of the larger unit. He delights, as Macaulay 
does, in a preliminary generalization so sweeping and so indefinite 
as to require a multitude of subsequent propositions to unravel 

•^ History of Eighteenth Century Literature, p. 174. 



114 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the puzzle. He has deliberately adopted the paragraph unit, 
and it is evident that from the study of him some of the best 
English paragraphists, notably Burke and Macaulay, have their 
cue, slight as that cue is. 

RICHARDSON AND FIELDING. 

We saw that the Elizabethans developed no fixed method of 
paragraphing dialogue, though Greene and Nash tend irregularly 
toward the modern method of setting off each speech. In 
eighteenth-century novels the question is still in dispute, though 
not in utter confusion. 

Richardson in general paragraphs each speech. He does not 
use quotation marks. Rarely he gives the dialogue in dramatic 
form, prefacing each speech merely with the speaker's name. 
Some of the paragraphs are exceedingly short, even when they 
form part of a monologue. Though it is asserted that Richard- 
son did not read French, it is hard to believe that he was not 
influenced by French models in paragraphing. Else how could 
he, a practical printer, bring himself, say, to a series of 13 para- 
graphs, averaging 28.38 words (as in Clarissa, Vol. 2, Letter 
xxiii.) ? This is certainly Marivaudage in structure, even if 
Pamela be not indebted to La Vie de Marianne for its plot. 

But Richardson wrote in letter-form, a style that seems always 
to produce degeneration in the paragraph-conscience. Fielding, 
writing under no such artificial scheme, is a better paragrapher 
than his predecessor. The paragraph word-length in Tom Jones 
is 101.86, or 2.43 sentences of 41.92 words. The percentage of 
paragraphed sentences is high (38 per cent.), but this fact is not 
due principally to dialogue ; the great novelist studied carefully 
the unity of his narrative paragraphs. His principle in dialogue 
is, I think, something like this : paragraph primarily for unity, 
breaking up monologue or massing dialogue if the speeches are 
short and the movement rapid ; when the dialogue is leisurely, 
paragraph each speech. An example of breaking up monologue 
may be seen in Mr. AUworthy's Homily to Jenny, chap, vii.. 
Book i. Examples of the massing together of short speeches 



TEMPLE TO DE QUIA'CEY. 115 

when the movement is impassioned or hurried, may frequently 

be found. Thus, B. iv., chap. 14, paragraphs 12, 13; B. v., 
chap. 4, paragraph 2 ; B. v., chap. 6, paragraph 17 ; B. vi., chap. 
6, paragraph 1. 

JOHNSON. 

Rambler, 1 750-1 752. 

Total paragraphs considered 94 

Total words considered 9600 

Total sentences considered , 218 

Average words per paragraph 102.13 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.32 

Average words per sentence 44.03 

Rasselas, r759. 

Total paragraphs considered 58 

Total words considered 5357 

Total sentences considered 174 

Average word^ per paragraph 92.36 

Average sentences per paragraph 3 

Average words per sentence 30.78 

Rasselas -\- Rambler. 

Total paragraphs considered 152 

Total words considered 14,957 

Total sentences considered 392 

Average words per paragraph 98.40 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.58 

Average words per sentence 38.15 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 27 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 9 

Lives of the Poets, 17 79-1 781. 
(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 3.23 

Per cent, of simple sentences 16 

Per cent, of clauses saved 7.09 

Everybody knows that Johnson's style varies in different 
works. This variation follows a steady chronological develop- 
ment toward the vernacular: the Ramble}-, 1750-1752, is the 
most latinized of his works; the Lives, 1779-1781, is the 

least latinized. Rasselas, 1759, stands midway in development. 



Ii6 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

The sentence drops one-third of its length between the Rambler 
'and Rasselas, but the paragraph drops only~ one-tenth. I have 
no complete count for the Lives, but should guess that the sen- 
tence still grows considerably shorter, and that the paragraph 
remains approximately in statu quo. 

Johnson's paragraph is remarkably short. In the Rambler 
there are but 2.32 sentences to the paragraph ; the two rises to 
three in Rasselas. The fewness of the sentences per paragraph 
and the high percentage (27 per cent.) of paragraphed sentences 
are phenomena not due in either case to dialogue. Johnson was 
exceedingly particular that each paragraph should form an 
integer ; beyond this he cared not how few the sentences. 

His favorite order is loose, with a large share of deductive 
paragraphs. He loves a short introductory sentence, and when 
the chance permits he likes to make this sentence a generalization 
far wider than can be substantiated from the subsequent details. 

In the matter of proportion by varying short sentences with 
long Johnson in his later work is by no means weak. Even in 
the earlier works the percentage of sentences of less than 15 
words is considerable — 9 per cent, in Rambler and Rasselas, 
while the Lives shows 16 per cent, of simple sentences. 

As to coherence, it is common to accuse Johnson, as De 
Quincey did, of " plethoric and tautologic tympany of sentence ;" ' 
or to say with Coleridge that his antitheses are usually verbal 
only.' But, at least in Rasselas and the Lives, the style is after 
all highly coherent. The antithe.sis is of course elaborate, but 
it has the effect of parallel construction and is not seriously 
retarding. The directness of the thought and the skill of the 
balance do away with the necessity of formal connectives. Few 
men have used initial connectives less than Johnson did, and 
none has depended less upon them. Of 300 sentences in Ras- 
selas 25 only are joined by formal conjunctives, whether initially 
or internally. The list is short. And occurs but once. 

^ Works, X., 128. 

= Table Talk, Nov. i, 1833. 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEY. 117 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

Thus 3 I 

But 10 

However i i 

So I I 

Yet 3 I 

Therefore . . ^ 

And yet I 

Johnson's chief contribution to the development is this man- 
agement of coherence without the use of connectives. Contrast 
the day when Walton showed eight}' initial ands to 300 sen- 
tences, and the time when Johnson wrote but one and to the same 
number — 300. When Johnson did use connectives, they were 
never formal. As Coleridge said, " You cannot alter one of them 
without spoiling the sense." ' Johnson likewise fixed permanently 
as a model the loose order, with a preference for the deductive 
type. 

JOSEPH BUTLER. 

The involutions of the sentence in the Analogy are often 
impassable, as Emerson would say, and utterly opposed to par- 
agraph structure. Butler is mentioned here merely for the fact 
that he has a larger percentage of strictly inductive paragraphs 
than almost any other writer in the language. It may be added 
that when his sentences are short they usually need the light of 
the whole section to make their bearing plain. 

HUME. 

History of England, 'Vol. I., 1754. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered 47.775 

Total sentences considered 1 200 

Average words per paragraph 238-87 

Average sentences per paragraph 6 

Average words per sentence 39-8 1 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs I 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length .... 48-697 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 5 

■ Table Talk, July 3, 1833. 



1 18 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Per cent, of simple sentences ( 12 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig) \ 3.29 

Per cent, of clauses saved / I4-7I 

Dr. Johnson declared that Hume's style was not English, but 
French. If he meant by this that Hume was careful to use le mot 
propre, and that the study of French models had taught him more 
sententiousness than was then common in an English writer, and 
again that Hume aimed always at lucidity, why, then. Dr. 
Johnson was right. But in general structure Hume is not 
French : his sentences and- paragraphs are too long, too 
monotonous. Johnson's own sentence was nearer French 
models, in the one point of length, than Hume's was. John- 
son's paragraph is but half the length of Hume's. Johnson's 
own use of the very short sentence was better and more Gallic 
than Hume's : Hume shows but 5 per cent, of sentences fall 
ing below the length of fifteen words, while Johnson shows 9 
per cent. Hume has French lucidity, but he is stately, meas- 
ured, cold. Johnson, unconsciously following Gallic precedent, 
delights in short single-sentence sections, even to the extent of 27 
per cent, of his whole number. Hume disdains a paragraph of 
less than five sentences, and writes but one per cent, of paragraphed 
periods. Johnson, out of 152 paragraphs, shows many successive 
paragraphs of one sentence, many of two, but none of five. 
Hume, out of 200 paragraphs, shows many successive groups of 
five sentences, but none of one, none of two. Johnson shows no 
successive groups of more than six sentences each ; but Hume 
shows such groups of seven, of eight, of nine. As regards 
structure, therefore. Dr. Johnson's dictum hardly holds ; though 
no one could dispute that dictum in the matter of Hume's vocab- 
ulary. 

Hume is impeccable in paragraph unity from the point of 
view of subject analysis. His unity depends on the philosophic 
scheme, the previsedly careful articulation of framework. It is 
not the picturesque unity of Macaulay. 

In spite of occasional extreme sententiousness, and his very 
sparing use of sentence-connectives, Hume's coherence is always 



TEMPLE TO DE QVINCEY. 119 

good. The sententioiisness is never left unexplained. If the 
reader is ever delayed it is by the balance of the sentence, but he 
is never seriously checked by this. In Hume the formal balance 
breaks in upon the sequence as waves pass beneath a boat and lap 
it sharply, but only to drive it onward. 

Hume's favorite order is loose, with a tendency to eschew 
initiatory sentences. The topic sentence is likely to be somewhat 
indefinite, becoming clear with the first amplifying sentences. 

To sum up : Hume represents the long paragraph adapting 
itself to the Johnsonian balanced sentence. His integers of style 
are larger than Johnson's, but less unwieldy than Gibbon's. He 
is retrogressive in percentage of very short sentences. 

STERNE. 

A Sentimental Joiir)iey, 1768. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average words per paragraph 71.37 

Average sentences per paragraph 1.95 

Average words per sentence ,16.50 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 55 

Limits of fluctuation in word-length of paragraph. . . 5-208 

Sterne is in many respects the most eccentric of our prosaists. 
M. Scherer would have it that he is wilfully sensational and 
meretricious — a literary mountebank. I should like to find some 
method in his madness, even at a point where he seems maddest : 
i. e. his habit of making a chapter of a few words. Chapter xiii., 
vol. ii., of Tristram, contains one paragraph, three sentences (in 
dialogue) — a total of 29 words. Chapter xxvii., vol. iii., has two 
paragraphs, four sentences, 83 words. Chapter v., vol. v., has 
one paragraph, one sentence, 16 words. Chapter xxxix., vol. v., 
contains one paragraph, two sentences, 30 words. There are a 
dozen other chapters similar in length to these. All this is freak- 
ish enough, but is not so very odd in view of Sterne's long study 
of French models, from which he had learned the trick of the 
tiny paragraph. He chose to emphasize a thought by paragraph- 
ing it, as Anglo-Saxon scribes had done, long before — and it 
was but one bold step further, in the process of emphasis by 



120 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

mechanical means, to make a chapter of the paragraph as he had 
made a paragraph of the sentence.' It is hardly, to the point 
for a critic to complain that these chapters are logically incom- 
plete. Sterne was analyzing, not logically, but rhetorically ; 
fastening attention on these small stadia simply for the imagina- 
tive suggestions involved in their pregnant brevity. I must, for 
one, confess to thinking the thing sometimes shrewdly done. 
Sterne is a lawless wight, but his recusancy has given us some 
things both quaint and good. 

There is little else of importance to note of Sterne's para- 
graphs. In managing dialogue he follows Fielding. 

HUGH BLAIR. 

The only reason for mentioning Blair amid so many of 
his betters is that he wrote popular lectures on rhetoric, in 
which he said a deal about proportioning the sentence, but noth- 
ing about the paragraph ; and one is curious to see if such men 
as Blair, Campbell, and Kames, personally followed paragraph law. 
Blair's smooth Shaftesburian style leads him securely from sen- 
tence to sentence ; he writes nearly six monotonous sentences to 
the paragraph ; he follows the loose order of procedure in the 
paragraph, and observes the law of unity. In brief, it is strange 
that such mildly correct rhetoricians as he, wrote respectable par- 
agraphs, but, amid the multitude of their stylistic theories, had no 
theory of the process. 

GOLDSMITH. 

Vicar of Wakefield, 1766. 

Total paragraphs considered 107 

Total words considered 23,390 

Total sentences considered 868 

Average words per paragraph 218.59 

Average sentences per paragraph 8.1 1 

Average words per sentence . , 26.94 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 8 

Limits of fluctuation in word-length of paragraphs . . 25-976 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 15 



TEMPLE TO DE QUIA'CEY. 121 

The Bee, and The Citizen of the World. 
(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Average predications, per sentence 2.95 

Per cent, of simple sentences 18 

Per cent, of clauses saved 6.35 

In Goldsmith vs^e have a respectable degree of variability in 
sentence-length, and therefore of one chief element of propor- 
tion — though other sense of paragraphic proportion Gold- 
smith had none. The general sentence-length is low, and 15 
per cent, of the sentences fall below 15 words; on the other 
hand there are a few periods of more than 100 words. , 

Goldsmith's narrative sequence is perfect, little needing nor 
much using connectives. He has not such unity as some descrip- 
tive and narrative writers of the day, Fielding, for instance. He 
follows Fielding carelessly in the handling of dialogue. 

BURKE. 

On Conciliation with America, 1775. 

Total paragraphs considered 145 

Total words considered 23,907 

Total sentences considered 916 

Average words per paragraph 164.87 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.31 

Average words per sentence 26.09 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 18 

Limits of fluctuation in word-length of paragraph. . . 16-559 

On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756. 

Total paragraphs lOl 

Average sentences per paragraph 1 1 .68 

Burke's Sublime and Beautiful is divided into parts headed as 
sections. These are rarely broken by indentation and are so 
short as to constitute relatively isolated paragraphs. Relatively, 
because it happens that one section may grow out of another, and 
accordingly begin with such a word as but {e.g., part 3, § 15, 
part 4, § 12) or hence {e. g., part 5, § 6). In length the sections 
vary from five lines to as many pages, the average number of 
sentences being eleven. 



122 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

But it is in his oratory that Burke's paragraphs are remark- 
able. He exhibits here such qualities as make him the best 
paragrapher our literature produced before the present century. 

His unity is simple (as opposed to that of compound para- 
graphs) and organic. His paragraph bears the test, as Wendell 
has pointed out, ' of having its substance expressed in one organic 
sentence. 

For purposes of oratorical emphasis and oratorical rhythm, 
he has completely mastered the short sentence. His percentage 
of sentences of less than fifteen words is higher than the highest 
yet reached. Shaftesbury's was 26 per cent., Burke's is 29 per 
cent. " Blithe, crisp sentences" Burke is fond of using at the 
beginning and the end of a paragraph. Of 145 paragraphs in 
Conciliation, 22 per cent, begin with a sentence of less than 15 
words; 11 per cent, with a sentence of less than 10 words. 
The effect is striking. Here are certain such terse introductions : 
" The proposition is peace." " My idea is nothing more." " My 
next objection is its uncertainty." " First, the people of the 
colonies are descendants of Englishmen." "The march of the 
human mind is slow." " My next example is Wales." " This is 
an assertion of fact." Genung, a good observer, has noted ° in 
Burke the fine effect produced by putting last in a paragraph a sin- 
gle terse, summarizing sentence. It is in the body of the para- 
graph that Burke introduces his shortest periods — those of 
one, two, three, four, five, six words each. These come in some- 
times like veritable thunder-claps, enforcing the long, preceding 
propositions or forcing attention to those about to come. 

We inspect Burke's coherence. This he owes but little to 
formal contrivances. But is the only initial connective that 
appears frequently ; the oratorical mood is, perhaps, inclined to 
exaggerate the prominence of adversative ideas. Burke gives 
small heed to conjunctions, but he is explicit in his refer- 
ence, usually making each sentence contain some word that refers 
closely to the preceding sentence ; this word is very often one 

^English Composition, p. 124. ' Practical Rhetoric, p. 209. 



TEAfPLE TO DE QUIKCEY. 123 

repeated from that preceding sentence. Again, he secures coher- 
ence by regular construction. His sentences rarely contain 
sudden and awkward change of method. No contemporary author 
employed parallel construction with such freedom, such variety, 
such subtlety of effect. At its best, the tide of his style moves 
with most rapid sweep, each thought starting in the same line as 
its neighbor, each sentence pushed on by the preceding, each 
falling to the point in swift succession, like waves on the beach. 
Now and then there is a redundance of words that quiets the 
movement, but does not alter its method. In this movement 
there is no conflict of unmanaged masses of thought, as in Tay- 
lor, no choppy sea of antithesis, as in Johnson at his worst. 
Angus speaks of sentences " each a complete thought, easily 
separable from the rest of the paragraph," ' as common in John- 
son and Burke ; but the remark is hardly just to Burke. Burke's 
coherence, again, is enhanced by the order of his sentences and 
words. The great orator had, to a degree uncommon even in 
the most eminent orators, the power of marshalling his proposi- 
tions in a specious order. His emotion never ran away with 
him ; he drove straight at his hearer's intellect — did so too con- 
stantly for his highest immediate success. There is always the 
impression of a convincing chain of logic. 

In short, Burke is the earliest great master of the paragraph, 
and in impassioned prose he still remains a master of the para- 
graph. But for his lingering sense of the prime importance of 
balancing and rounding the sentence he is a nineteenth-century 
paragrapher, and one of the best. 

GIBBON. 

Jiome,Vo\. I., 1776. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered 48>74S 

Total sentences considered 1562 

Average words per paragraph 243.74 

Average sentences per paragraph 7'°l 

Average words per sentence 31 -21 

' Handbook of the English Tongue, § 736. 



I 24 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PAKAGRAPH. 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 

Per cent, of paragraphs of two sentences 25 

Limits of fluctuation in word-length of paragraph.. . 49-484 

Per cent, of sentences of less than fifteen words 10 

Gibbon's paragraphs may be said to have , unity, if we admit 
that historical narrative tends toward a compound unit. Gibbon 
not infrequently subdivides his paragraphs by numerals, and 
often we feel that the undivided long sections contain subordinate 
stadia. 

He is retrogressive in the matter of sentence-length. Only 
10 per cent, of his sentences fall below the 15-mark. His 
stately and sonorous periods have a harmony of their own, but it 
is not paragraph harmony. His sentences have much propor- 
tion, his paragraphs little. We admire the comprehensive analy- 
sis of the discourse into chapters and paragraphs, but we do not 
quite feel that the paragraph is an organism. It is a well-defined 
cage in which the splendid sentence is confined. 

His movement is not rapid, but the sequence is in general sure. 
Demonstratives are numerous. When an introductory pronoun 
would be ambiguous he adds a noun, seldom a repeated one, 
but rather a synonym. 

Inversions, so frequent in Burke, are infrequent here. Con- 
junctions the author utterly despises, depending on the sheer 
inertia of his rolling sentences to carry the thought ahead. No 
other writer examined shows so small a list of sentence- 
connectives. The abandonment of them is Gibbon's only con- 
tribution to the development ; and it may be questioned if the 
contribution is a real or a permanent one, depending as it does 
on balance in the sentence. Here is the list — showing but 
17 connected sentences out of 300 : 

Connectives. Initial. Interior. 

But 9 

Yet 3 

However . . 2 

And yet i 

Nor I 

And thus i 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEY. 125 

It luay be added that Gibbon's usual order is loose, but that 
a really deductive paragraph is rare. It is a mistake to suppose 
that Gibbon abounds in abstract general statements. He is, 
indeed, fond of the abstract noun, as Minto ' has remarked ; but 
he does not make sweeping generalizations in the Johnsonian 
manner. 

PALEY. 

Moral and Political Philosophy, 1785. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered I4,77i 

Total sentences considered , 392 

Average words per paragraph 73-85 

Average sentences per paragraph 1.96 

Average words per sentence 37.68 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 58 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length 6^575 

The averages given above from Paley are lower in paragraph- 
length than many parts of Paley would yield. The paragraph- 
length would, nevertheless, have been reduced still further but for a 
few cases where a single sentence, broken by Paley into several 
paragraphs, was counted as a single compound one. 

Paley is the most prominent instance among modern writers 
of a man who paragraphed on the theory of emphasis. His 
mechanical devices for securing prominence were numerous — 
different kinds of type, numerals, etc. But the man that takes 
up only mechanical means for securing emphasis, usually perishes 
by the same means : he loses in proportion what he g'ains in 
emphasis. Paley is a shining illustration of this fact. Minto, 
by the way, who has written about Paley's method of analysis, 
does not, I believe, note all of his mechanical devices. Paley 
used double spacing to separate groups of paragraphs. Thus B. 
1., chap. 7, B. ii., chaps. 4, 7, 12. Another device is the very 
short chapter, as B. i., chap, i, which has three paragraphs, three 
sentences, 76 words. 

Paley's coherence depends upon conjunctions more than one 

' Manual, p. 484. 



126 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

would expect from so great a logician. The construction of his 
sentences and the order of words helps his coherence little or 
nothing. 

SCOTT. 

Ivanhoe, 1820. 

Total paragraphs considered 55' 

Total words considered 39'340 

Total sentences considered 1224 

Average words per paragraph 71-39 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.22 

Average words per sentence 32-14 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 45 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length 3^33^ 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 14 

Hazlitt was not far wrong when, in criticising the early style 
of the author of Waverley, he said: "There is neither momentum 
nor elasticity in it ; I mean as to the score, or effect upon the ear."' 
That style gained in vigor as years went by, but, except in the 
most impassioned passages, the sentences continue to ramble to 
the last. Even the dialogue is not equal to checking the diffuse- 
ness. An average of 31 words to the sentence, with only 14 per 
cent, of sentences under ij words, is no help to the popularity of 
a novelist. 

In Scott the paragraphing of conversation proceeds by the 
modern method uniformly. 

His narrative and descriptive paragraphs have a certain unity 
always, and at times reveal a very high degree of picturesque 
grouping. The general straightforward coherence of his para- 
graphs is not to be disputed. 

COLERIDGE. 

The Friend, 1809. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 29,241 

Total sentences considered 777 

Average words per paragraph 292.41 

Average sentences per paragraph 7.77 

Average words per sentence 37.6 

' On the Prose Style of Poets, ^ 2. 



TEMPLE TO DE QUIiXCEY. 127 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 8 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-lengtli 45-758 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 1 5 words 17 

Poetry, Drama, Shakespeare. 
(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 3.33 

Per cent, of simple sentences 19 

Per cent, of clauses saved 1 1 . 1 

At the beginning of the present century the journalistic 
short sentence was becoming popular. It had not, however, 
crept into the work of the literary dictators, and it is a little sur- 
prising that Coleridge should attack with such severity as he 
did, in the third issue of the Friend, a form of sentence that 
was not influencing the great reviews. Jeffrey was writing a sen- 
tence of Elizabethan proportions ; De Quincey's sentence could 
hardly be spoken of as having anything in common with the 
"fashionable Anglo-Gallican taste" that Coleridge hated and 
that De Quincey, on the unconscious principle of elective affinity, 
praised. How little real hold the very short sentence acquired 
maybe seen later — considerably later, to be sure — when in 1840 
De Quincey was uttering his lament that "the too general tend- 
ency of our sentences is toward hyperbolical length."' 

At any rate, Coleridge resolved not to cater much to French 
models. In the third essay of the Friend he admits that he 
may have injured his own style by solitary, inarticulate medita- 
tion, and by over-admiration for the Jacobean prosaists : but he 
then turns to attack the short sentence. "It is true that these 
short and unconnected sentences are easily and instantly under- 
stood : but it is equally true that wanting all the cement of 
thought as well as of style, all the connections, and ( if you will 
forgive so trivial a metaphor) all the hooks-and-eyes of the 
memory, they are easily forgotten ; or rather, it is equally impos- 
sible that they should be remembered." 

The practical — or impractical — result of this philosophizing 
appears in the style of the Friend. Here is Brandl's com- 

^ Essay on Style. 



128 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

ment. " He reveled also in abstract expressions, and built up 
the most involved periods in the attempt to forestall every 
variety of objection. The paragraphs are so perversely arranged 
that the point is difficult to find ; and the arrangement of 
chapters lacks all order."" The perverseness of the paragraphs 
comes from an attempt — not a victorious attempt — to follow the 
intricate order of the thought as it occurred in the writer's mind : 
hence also the large percentage of imperfectly developed induc- 
tive paragraphs. 

Some qualification must be made of the statement that Cole- 
ridge's sentences are involved. There are splendid exceptions in 
quantities, where he actually succeeds in performing difficult evolu- 
tions without ambiguity or obscurity. Again, Coleridge is not 
without some command of the short sentence. Of 777 sentences, 
17 per cent, average less than 15 words. He can, when he needs 
it as a foil to a long and difficult period, use the disintegrating 
sentence with an oral force and directness like Emerson's. He 
tends, indeed, to put his paragraph-topic in a short sentence, for 
emphasis. 

Coleridge is " sequacious," even when he rambles ; seer though 
he is, he omits no step; his style is not only redintegrating, but, 
at times, almost impartially so — as if narcotism had touched his 
selective faculty. He uses more "hooks-and-eyes" than any 
writer of his time, more, I presume, than any great English lit- 
terateur of the century. Of 300 sentences in the Friend, 100 are 
formally connected — up to that day a higher proportion than 
that of any man after Walton. The list of formal connectives is 
as follows, the initial connectives being double the interior in 
number : 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

For 12 

Again 2 

Therefore . , 1 1 

But 26 

In short I 



Then 



5 



' Life of Coleridge, trans. Lady Eastlake, p. 300. 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCEY. 



129 



Connective. 

At least 

And 

And vet 

Now 

Too 

Indeed 

Thus 

Accordingly 

It is true 

Nor 

On the contrary . . . 
On the other hand . 

Hitherto 

Vet 

Consequently 

In other words . . . . 

Lastly 

However 

Add to 

So 

Moreover 

Likewise 

First (etc.) 

Further 



Initial. 

5 
I 

3 



Interior. 
2 



JEFFREY. 

Alison on Taste . revised form, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1824. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 27,608 

Total sentences considered 54S 

Average words per paragraph 276.08 

Average sentences per paragraph 5.45 

Average words per sentence S°'6S 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 3 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length S4-665 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 6 

In spite of its undeniable verboseness, Jeffrey's style was con- 
sidered brilliant and sprightly. How such a verdict could be 
passed on a style whose average sentence is fifty words, with 
only 6 per cent, of very short sentences to vary the monotony, is 



13° HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

hard for a modern reader to see. The secret lies in the compar- 
ative absence of periodicity. Jeffrey's huge sentences are mere 
groups of clauses. Many clauses are oppositional ; these are often 
set off by dashes. Jeffrey went as far in the direction of aggre- 
gating loose clauses as IVIacaulay went in the direction of segre- 
gating them. Otherwise, in the case of these two men, one style 
is almost as modern as the other. Jeffrey's length of paragraph 
is not far from IVIacaulay's. As a structural unit Jeffrey's lacks 
emphasis, from neglect of the short period : Macaulay's lacks 
gradation of emphasis, from his neglect of the moderately long 
period. Jeffrey makes clauses out of periods ; Macaulay makes 
periods out of clauses. 

Jeffrey's usual paragraph order is loose. His subject is often 
delayed, however, by verbose introductions. He has no sense of 
the importance of the first sentence and the last. His coherence 
is good but not graceful. There is occasional abuse of coordinate 
conjunctions. 

LAMB. 

Essays of Elia, 1822. 

Total paragraphs considered 87 

Total words considered 14,386 

Total sentences considered 529 

Average words per paragraph l6S.35 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.08 

Average words per sentence 27.19 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 15 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length 15-726 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words. 41 

The gentle Elia was in his own day the uncomplaining target 
of much windy criticism as to his mechanology. Lamb's sentence 
and Lamb's paragraph were short, and therefore a source of worry 
to De Quincey, who complained that "the most felicitous passages 
always accomplished their circuit in a few sentences ;'" and again 
that Lamb had no proper sense of the epic; — that "the solemn 
planetary wheelings of the Paradise Lost were not to his taste.'"' 
Though this could hardly be denied, a few essays of Lamb 

I Works, v., p. 234. » Works, V., p. 236. 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCE Y. 131 

show that he realh' had some command of the long paragraph , 
such are, " Tin- Sanity of True Genius,'" and, " On the Genteel Style 
of Writing" But still, Lamb is likely to digress when he 
attempts a long section. Indeed, he usually avoids the long 
section, preferring to digress by paragraphs, — and so charmingly 
that we would not have him do otherwise. 

The unity of the short paragraphs is usually a rhetorical 
unity. He sometimes uses the short section purely for emphasis, 
and in all cases he is shy of logical division. Indeed, Professor 
Hunt represents Taine as maintaining that "Lamb aimed to 
destroy the great aristocratical style as it sprang from methodical 
analyses and court conventions."" If this remark refers to the 
passage given below,° from the Histoire, it is not quite exact. These 
words of Taine about the grand aristocratic style were written of 
the romantic school, and vvith reference to poetry. Lamb's name 
happens to stand near in the context, but it is J^amb the author 
of John U'oodvil, Lamb the devotee of the sixteenth century. 

^English Prose and Prose Jl'ritt'rs, p. 367. 

" Speaking of " I'^cole romantique anglaise," Taine says : lis avaient rompu 
violemnient avec la tradition, et sautaient par-dessus toute la culture classique 
pour aller prendre leurs modules dans la Renaissance et le moyen age. L'un 
d'eu.x, Charles Lamb, comme Sainte-Beuve, avait d^couvert et restaur^ le seizi- 
eme siecle. Les dramatistes les plus incultes, Marlowe par example, leur 
paraissaient admirables, et lis allaient chercher dans les recueils de Percy et de 
Warton, dans les vieilles ballades nationales et dans les anciennes podsies 
«trangeres, I'accent naif et primitif qui avait manqug a la litterature classique, 
et dont la presence leur semblait la marque de la verity et de la beaute. Par- 
dessus toute reforme, ils travaillaient a briser le grand style aristocratique et 
oratoire, tel qu'il etait nc.' de I'analyse mdthodique et des convenances de cour. 
lis se proposaient "d'adapter aux usages de la po^sie le langage ordinaire de 
la conversation, tel qu'il est employe dans la moyenne et la basse classe," et de 
remplacer les phrases ^tudi^es et la vocabulaire noble par les tons naturels et 
les mots pl^beiens. A la place de I'ancien moule, ils essayaient la stance, le 
sonnet, la ballade, le vers Wane, avec les rudesses et les cassures des poetes 
primitifs. lis reprenaient ou arrangeaient les mfetres et la diction du treizieme 
et du seizifeme sifecle. Charles Lamb dcrivait une trag^die d'archgologue qu'on 
eut pu croire contemporaine du rfegne d'Elisabeth, etc. 

'' Histoin de la LitlLrature Anglaise, Paris, 1887. Tome quatri&me, p. 286. 



132 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

For all this, it is entirely true that Lamb was not devoted to 
logical analysis in prose. •■ 

Lamb's use of the short sentence was incomparably freer, and 
as Mr. Pater might have said, "blither," than that of any of his 
predecessors. In sentence-length, indeed, he exhibits all the 
variability of insanity. His sentences fretted De Quincey : 
"Lamb had no sense of the rhythmical in prose composition. 
Rhythmus, or pomp of cadence, or sonorous ascent of clauses, in 
the structure of sentences, were effects of art as much thrown 
away upon him as the voice of the charmer upon the deaf adder."" 
Some of Lamb's "sentences and periods" made the author of the 
English Mail Coach " shriek with anguish of recoil." Doubtless 
to De Quincey the most abhorrent of these " sentences and 
periods " were those of two or three words, verb to be supplied 
from the reader's store of predicates. One can imagine the 
Opium Eater thrown into hysteria by Lamb's way of setting forth 
the bachelors of the South Sea House : " Hence they formed a 
sort of Noah's ark. Odd fishes. A large monastery. Domestic 
retainers in a great house, kept more for show than use." For 
my own part, I confess to being, just at this minute, in the mood 
to like this indefensible sentenccTmaking. How the device 
flashes the conceits upon us ! We catch the first delicious over- 
emphasis of discovery — the very conception and birth of quaint 
fancies in the mind of a humorous genius. 

In spite of now and then a long but harmless parenthesis. Lamb 
knew the value of the paragraph structure — knew it better than 
Coleridge did, or De Quincey. Hardly one of his shorter sections 
but is an artistic whole. The order is loose. The mass is often 
perfect — the topic striking the eye instantly, and the paragraph 
ending with words that deserve emphasis. 

What shall we say of his coherence ? Coleridge, speaking in 
1833, doubtless thought oi Elia as one of "those modern books in 
which, for the most part, the sentences in a page have the same 
connection with each other that marbles have in a bag; they 

" Works, v., 235. 



TEMPLE TO DE QUINCE Y. 133 

touch without adhering.'" But where would be Lamb's charm if 
his sentences were a third longer, and thick with "hooks-and- 
eyes " ? The fact is that Lamb's style, on any subject Lamb 
would have been willing to touch, would be easier to follow than 
Coleridge's, no matter how far afield the whimsical Elia might 
wander. For there are no long intervals between Lamb's' propo- 
sitions, no involved restrictions of those propositions, no neces- 
sity of supplying anything except a few obvious verbs and the 
sense of a few freakish vocables. 

LANDOR. 

Imaginary Conversations {Sovereigns and Statesmen). 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered 17,697 

Total sentences considered 696 

Average words per paragraph 88.48 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.48 

Average words per sentence 25.43 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 34 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 22 

Anv statistics drawn from the Conversations are of course 
modified by the dialogue form. This explains the large number 
of paragraphed sentences, and the brevity of the paragraph. 
Though the Conversations yield Landor's most brilliant style, we 
shall base what we have to say of the structure more upon the 
pieces of continuous prose than upon these dialogues, which are 
so good in dramatic 7J60S as sometimes to seem anything but 
characteristically Landorian. 

Landor is uneven in the matter of unity. He can keep severely 
to one topic, but he often forgets. He will begin an important 
paragraph on, say, Laura's decreasing coldness towards Petrarca, 
and, after illustrating this point by a remarkably inapposite 
account of the lady being kissed at a ball by Charles of Luxem- 
burg, will proceed to tell you in the same paragraph of Petrarca's 
travels and visits in the following summer.' Generally, however, 
Landor's frequent digressions proceed by whole paragraphs. 

■ Table Talk, July 3, 1833. =See Works, VIII., 438. 



134 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

In the matter of proportion Landor has very considerable 
merits, though by no means the highest. He pays little attention 
to proportion by bulk ; but he uses the semicolon and the period 
with great skill to secure right distribution of emphasis. Here, 
however, the principle of euphony often interferes. No author 
ever surpassed Landor in such tricks of melody as introducing at 
the end of a resounding period a very brief colon clause for 
cadence.' These skillful variations sometimes misplace the thought 
emphasis. When, however, the two principles coincide in the 
application, the effect is perfect. The felicitous combination 
occurs oftener in the short than in the long paragraphs. In the 
longer ones we sometimes feel that the writer is caring nothing 
for precision — only for the infinite variety of prose modulation 
which he himself describes — that "amplification of harmonies, 
of which even the best and most varied poetry admits but few." 

Landor's style is intuitive and segregating ; the incoherence 
of it is its weakest point. Mr. Sidney Colvin somewhat, but not 
greatly, over-states the case when he says : " The best skeleton 
type of a Landorian sentence is that which we quoted some pages 
back on Lord Byron : ' I had avoided him ; I had slighted him ; 
he knew it ; he did not love me ; he could not.' No conjunctions, 
no transitions ; each statement made by itself, and their- \sic\ 
connection left to be discovered by the reader . . . But whether 
to the sequence of proposition's in an argument, or the sequence 
of incidents in a narrative, Landor's style is less adapted."' Mr. 
Leslie Stephen^ speaks of Landor rounding off transitions grace- 
fully. I cannot quite make out what this means, unless it means 
transition in melody. The rest of the passage in Stephen forms 
a good comment on Landor's coherence, and not less directly 
on his unity : " He is so desirous to round off his transitions 
gracefully, that he obliterates the necessary indications of the 
main divisions of the subject. When criticising Milton or Dante, 

» A friend reminds me, in this connection, of Swinburne's fondness for end- 
ing a stanza with a short line. 

^ La}i(ior, English Meti of Letters, p. 223. 

^ Hours in a Library, 3d series, p. 245, London, 1879. 



TEMPLE TO DE QLIXCEY. 135 

he can hardly keep his hand off the finest passages in his desire 
to pare away superfluities. Treating himself in the same fashion, 
he leaves none of those little signs, which, like the typographical 
hand prefixed to a notice, are extremely convenient, though 
strictly superfluous. It is doubtless unpleasant to have the hard 
framework of logical divisions showing too distinctly in an argu- 
ment, or to have a too elaborate statement of dates and places and 
external relations in a romance. But such aids to the memory 
may be removed too freely. The building may be injured by 
taking away the scaffolding." 

His coherence is often helped by parallel construction ; but, 
again, the movement is a little retarded by the perfect balance of 
the sentences, as we have seen in older authors. In his later 
reading of Landor, !Mr. Lowell " began to be not quite sure 
whether the balance of his sentences, each so admirable by itself, 
did not grow wearisome in continuous reading, — whether it did 
not hamper his freedom of movement, as when a man poises a 
pole upon his chin."' 

The minor breaks in Landor's coherence are usually due, not 
to false logic, but to a habit of vague reference and allusion. 
Landor assumed a high degree of literary information and 
appreciation on the part of his audience. He felt himself to be 
writing for the few. The chosen guests who were to "sup late " 
at his feast would be willing, for the sake of the elect camaraderie, 
to dispense with overmuch table-service. 

IRVING. 

Sketch Book, 1820. 

Total paragraphs considered 129 

Total words considered 14,220 

Total sentences considered 53^ 

Average words per paragraph 110.23 

Average sentences per paragraph 4.12 

Average words per sentence 26.73 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 17 

Irving is in his way a skillful paragrapher. No matter how 
■ Latest Literary Essays, p. 45; Works, Boston, 1892. 



136 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

great the license of his subject, he always gives an impression of 
unity. He follows the loose order almost exclusively, keeping 
his statement of details' closely within the limits prescribed by his 
opening sentence. His transitions are faultless, the number of 
connectives being greater, however, than the placing of words 
requires. 

About one-quarter of his sentences are shorter than 15 words, 
and nearly one-half (41 per cent.) are under 20 words. He 
adapts the short sentence to the smooth and graceful manner of 
Addison. He does not, indeed, ever succeed in flashing out a 
complex thought in a telling and emphatic way; but as a type of 
the urbane, leisurely, correct manner, he is exemplary. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

DE QUINCEV TO HOLMES. 

Although we have included in the preceding chapter several 
writers of the nineteenth century, all of these, with the possible 
exception of Landor, belong properly, in structure, to the eight- 
eenth. De Quincey's stands as a dividing style between the two 
periods. The new period differs from the old, not in kind but 
in degree. In the nineteenth century the paragraph is organized 
as in the eighteenth, but acquires greater concentration. The 
emphasis of the short sentence is more keenly felt and more 
effectually employed. The unity is more organic. The coher- 
ence depends less and less on formal connectives. The question 
of mass receives its first serious attention. 

DE QUINCEY. 

opium Eater, 1822. 

Total paragraphs considered 89 

Total words considered 31,634 

Total sentences considered 815 

Average words per paragraph 35542 

Average sentences per paragraph 9.16 

Average words per sentence 38.8 1 ' 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 14 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 13 

Limits of fluctuation m paragraph word-length ... . 13-1441 

Average predications per sentence ( Gerwig, ) 3.69 

Per cent, of simple sentences for 500 . j- 14 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ) 5.49 

When we ask ourselves whether De Quincey's paragraphs are 
units we find it necessary to limit the word unity more closely 
than usual. Classical unity, severe, selective, exclusive, he rarely 
shows. On the other hand his essays were preceded by the most 

' Sherman finds 33+. My own count is from the second American 
edition, purporting to give the original text. 

137 



138 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

careful analysis, and there is no doubt that he considered each 
paragraph with regard to unity. We may say of his longer para- 
graphs that the best show unity in somewhat wide variety, while in 
all cases he returns consciously, from digressions within the para- 
graph, to the topic. As a rule his long and numerous digres- 
sions proceed by whole pai:agraphs. 

In the matter of proportion he is deficient. He expands the 
unimportant at the expense of the important. His use of the 
short sentence is usually half-hearted. No author who writes but 
14 per cent, of simple sentences can obtain the highest effects in 
paragraph-structure. De Quincey, for purposes of rhythm, will 
give you numerous terse clauses within the sentence, but he fails 
to distribute the emphasis of his paragraph justly by means of 
the terse period. There are some exceptions to this general 
dictum, however. In Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow we have 
most effective emphasis-proportion; nothing could be finer. 

De Quincey's coherence is notoriously good. Mr. Stephen 
puts the general verdict thus ; '" He is careful to show you the 
minutest details of his argumentative mechanism. Each step in 
the process is elaboratelv and separately set forth ; you are not 
assumed to know anything, or to be capable of supplying any 
links for yourself; it shall not even be taken for granted without 
due notice that things which are equal to a third thing are equal 
to each otner ; and the consequence is, that few people venture 
to question processes which seem to be so plainly set forth, and 
to advance by such careful development." ' 

Few authors are so redintegrating. The criticism which De 
Quincey applies to a certain style, quoting a French expression 
from Archbishop Huet, is applicable to his own style ; he had that 
flux de bouche which "places the reader at the mercy of a man's 
tritest remembrances from his own school-boy reading."' Let 
me again quote Mr. Stephen, from the same page as before. 
" He is utterly incapable of concentration. He is, from the 

^ Hours in a Library^ p. 364, London, 1874. 
" Works, X., 236-237 (Edinburgh ed.). 



DE QVINCEY TO HOLMES. 139 

very principles on which his style is constructed, the most diffuse 
of writers. Other men will pack half-a-dozen distinct proposi- 
tions into a sentence, and care little if they are somewhat crushed 
and distorted in the process. De Quincey insists upon putting- 
each of them separately, smoothing them out elaborately, till not 
a wrinkle disturbs their uniform surface, and then presenting each 
of them for our acceptance with a placid smile. His very credit- 
able desire for lucidity of expression makes him nervously anxious 
to avoid any complexity of thought. Each step of his argument, 
each shade of meaning, and each fact in his narrative, must have 
its own separate embodiment ; and every joint and connecting 
link must be carefully and accurately defined. The clearness is 
won at a heavy price." 

The means by which this unusual "sequaciousness" is secured 
are many. First, of course, De Quincey rarely states a truth in 
its intuitive form, or at any rate rarely without explaining that 
form afterwards. Thus he uses a large number of clauses to 
elaborate a given idea. Then he employs with great art the 
devices of sentence-structure that lend coherence. No author 
uses parallel structure more freely and subtilely, shifting the 
mode just before it becomes mannerism. He inverts sentences and 
clauses constantly — hardly any writer more. Besides having at 
command all these structural contrivances he is opulent in con- 
nectives. Of 300 sentences in the Opium Eater 75 are formally 
joined. The list is as follows : 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

For 6 

However 4 24 

True it is i 

Accordingly i i 

Xay I 

Therefore . . 3 

Hence i 

And 3 

Thus I 

But 12 

Or I 



I4C' HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Connective, Initial. Interior. 

Yet I I 

Also I 

On the contrary . . I 

So I I 

Moreover 

Nevertheless 

Now then 

Thereupon 

Indeed i 5 

Everyone knows that De Quincey had much to say about 
prose rhythm. His theory stands midway between a theory of 
rhythm in the period and a theory of rhythm in the paragraph 
as a whole. To his remarks about the cumulative effect of the 
rhythmus of succeeding clauses (quoted in our section on Lamb) 
may be added the following, in which the writer is thinking of 
melody, quite as much as of sequence in thought : " It is in the 
relation of sentences, in what Horace terms their 'juncfura,' that 
the true life of composition resides. The mode of their nexus — 
the way in which one sentence is made to arise out of another, 
and to prepare the opening for a third, — this is the great loom 
in which the textile process of the moving intellect reveals itself 
and prospers.'" Again, speaking of Kant's elephantine period : 
"Parts so remote as the beginning and end of such a sentence 
can have no sensible relation to each other : not much as regards 
their logic, but none at all as regards their more sensuous 
qualities, — rhythmus, for instance, or the continuity of meta- 
phor." = 

De Quincey himself exemplified his own theories of melody. 
In the short paragraph of his impassioned prose he has some- 
thing that may be called an organic paragraph rhythm. Such a 
paragraph will begin with a short cadence or two, followed by a 
longer one, and will end in a reverberating roll of dactyls, cretics, 
tribrachs, anapaests, what not. Much more rarely it will begin 
with a long, swinging cadence, followed by a shorter and a 
shorter, till the whole movement comes down to a short stop as 

• Works, X., 258. = Works, X., 259. 



DE QVINCEY TO HOLMES. 141 

with a clash of cymbals. The first movement may be illustrated 
by the following paragraph, from the llsion of Sudden Death: 

" The moments were numb-ered ; the strife was finished; the 
vision was closed. In the twinkling of an eye our flying horses 
had carried us to the termination of the umbrageous aisle ; at the 
right angles we wheeled into our former direction ; the turn of 
the road carried the scene out of my eyes in an instant, and 
swept it into my dreams forever." 

In the longer paragraphs — the best ones of the impassioned 
style — there is most dexterous variation of cadence, the altei- 
nation of long and short going on till the music merges in 
one long rolling surge, only to emerge at the end as in lapping 
waves. Such is the harmony in the description of Our Lady of 
Sighs. On the whole, however, there is no deliberate harmonic 
organization of the long paragraph as a paragraph. 

De Quincey's finest effects of melody, as indeed of his thought, 
are effects of suspense. He is never really rapid in mental move- 
ment, or at least not forcibly rapid ; but he delights in the evoca- 
tion of a vivid train of images (face to face with an impending 
conclusion) in a way to reproduce the lightning-like, multiform 
impressions of the mind when under excitement. Similarly his 
rhythm may be held back. Thus, in one of the last paragraphs 
of the Vision of Sudden Death, he gets a peculiar effect of sus- 
pense by ending thus, " But the lady — " and beginning the next 
paragraph with a repetition of the same words. In the second 
section of the Dream Fugue — the section ends in the midst of a 
sentence — the last sentence advances by soft monosyllables — on 
tiptoe, so to speak ; it stops with a comma, and the next section 
drops into the swinging rhythm once more. Thus: — "and 
afterwards, but when I know not, nor how. 

Sweet funeral bells from some incalculable distance," etc. 

One other witness to De Quincey's rhythmical sense should 
be mentioned. He studiously avoids repeating the same number 
of sentences 'in succeeding paragraphs. Thus he has no succes- 
sive groups of three, or four, or five, or six sentences ; and there 



142 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

is in the Ophim Eater only one case of a succession of (two) 
groups of seven and one case of a succession of (tliree) single- 
sentence paragraphs. 

MACAULAY. 

Essays . Milton, Machiavelli, Dryden, History.' 

Total paragraphs considered 3^5 

Total words considered 67>i5^ 

Average words per paragraph 206.67 

Average words per sentence c. 23 . 05 

Average sentences per paragraph c. 8 . 96 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, \ 2.17 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs from (_ I 

Per cent of simple sentences 5604 ( 3^ 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) / 5.06 

Histoj-y of Englatid. 

Total paragraphs 333S 

Total words 974>550 

Average words per paragraph 291 .96 

Average sentences per paragraph 12.44 

Average words per sentence (Sherman) 23 . 43 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraplrs 2 

Per cent, of simple sentences (Gerwig, from ) 34 

Average predications, per sentence 40,000 periods.) \ 2.30 

The popular impression that Macaulay is the best of para- 
graphers is probably not far from the truth. The great rhetori- 
cian bestowed unlimited pains upon his paragraphs, and no pre- 
ceding writer began to equal him in conscious appreciation of 
the importance of that structure.' 

His unity is rhetorical, rather than logical ; but as such it is 
nearly always unimpeachable. The sections that contain real 
digressions are few indeed. 

In the matter of proportion by bulk he is nearly always 
admirable. He knows his principal point, and it is on this that 
he enlarges. His emphasis-proportion is consciously paragraphic. 

■ for the total number of words in the Essays (except History) aird in the 
History of England I am indebted to Professor Sherman. 

= Cf. Trevelyan's account of Macaulay's laboriousness. Life and Letters of 
Lord Macaulay, London, 1S86, p. 502. 



DE QUIXCEY TO HOLMES. 143 

He reveals \-ery great variability in sentence-length," and drives 
home his main topic and his main conclusion in simple sentences. 
When he masses clauses it is to relieve each of emphasis and 
show the unity of the group as amplifying some previous terse 
generalization. He shows such deliberate observance of this 
principle that he forms the first basis for the generalization made 
in a former chapter : in the best modern paragraphs the distance 
between periods is inversely as the emphasis of each included 
proposition. 

Nevertheless, in this matter of distribution of emphasis, 
Macaulav is not faultless. It has been the general verdict of 
critics that he not infrequently over-emphasizes ; that he magni- 
fies clauses into sentences. On the other hand, a writer so well 
able to give a reason for his faith as Professor Sherman, defends 
Macaulay's short sentence at a point where most critics would 
consider it least happy. Thus : 

" This impulse to analyze and energize, — to keep the author's 
meaning out of the reach of the reader save one notion at a 
time, leads Macaulay in his earlier compositions to go against 
the fashion of his da}* and fall foul of the semicolon as a help to 
thought. Hence such sentences as these are not infrequent : 
'Like the former he was timid and pliable, artful and mean. 
But like the latter he had a country.' — ' Shallow is a fool. But 
his animal spirits supply, to a certain degree, the place of clever- 
ness.' — 'There are errors in these works. But they are errors 
which a writer, situated like Machiavelli, could scarcely avoid.' 
Professor Sherman adds in a footnote; "This method of punc- 
tuation is manifestly truer to the thought, and will perhaps pre- 
vail in time. We are naturally about as loath to give up the 
eighteenth-century punctuation as its natural spelling. As to 

■Sherman {University Studies, I., 4., p. 348) has noted Macaulay's fond- 
ness tor groups of sentences of 17 words each. But Sherman also notes 
(Analytics, 284) that Macaulay's commonest sentence-lengths are those of 11, 
13, 14, 15 ; and that in the essay on History the sentence of maximum frequency 
is 14 words (University Studies, I., 4., p. 360). Macaulay has, on the other hand, 
a good many sentences of more than 100 wurds. 



144 HIS'lORY OF THK ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the excuse of subordinate conjunctions for making semicolon 
clauses, we can go back and learn something from old Homer. 
When a sentence is to follow as the explanation of the preceding 
statement, it is his favorite practice to introduce it without a 
'because' or 'since,' and thus allow the reader the satisfaction of 
perceiving the relation for himself. Still Homer does not slight 
conjunctions: he merely avoids abusing them."' 

For one, I do not see how the punctuation in these passages 
from Macaulay is manifestly truer to the thought than semi- 
colons would have been. I can hardly believe that in Macaulay's 
rapid antithetic thinking these contrasts could possibly have 
been segregated before pen touched paper. Only the habit of 
exaggerating contrasts for stimulus to the reader's mind, could 
have permitted the dropping of the semicolon in a connection 
where the act throws a relatively unimportant clause into the same 
importance as the short topic sentence. The point about Homer 
must be admitted; but though Homer is fond of asyndeton for 
explanatory purposes, we are not sure that he could have borne 
it to hear one of his rhapsodes drop his voice wherever a conjunc- 
tion was omitted. 

Macaulay's coherence is dependent upon structural devices. 
The paragraph once accepted by the reader as a unit in the 
light of whose topic each sentence is to be read, Macaulay's style 
is indisputably sequent. True, there is no blending of colors in 
the picture : the sentences lie like stones in a mosaic, as Mr. 
Stephen puts it, or like marbles in a bag, as Coleridge would have 
put it. But there are no gaps in the mosaic, and though the 
pieces are distinct, they are numerous and rightly set. Parallel 
construction is almost the rule with Macaulay, and it is often 
mechanical and noticeable. Inversion is frequent. Connectives 
ar^ few — fewer by far than in any man hitherto who has not 
been enslaved to the balanced sentence. The list runs thus, 
showing but 47 formally connected sentences in a total of 300. 

'"Some Observations on the Sentence-Length in English Prose," Univer- 
sity Studies, Vol. I., No. 2, p. 126. 



DE QUINCE Y TO HOLMES. 



I4S 



Connective. 

Nor 

Yet 

For 

Therefore 

But 

It is true 

Also 

Thus 

On the other hand . 

Too 

However 

At length ) 

At last 5 

Indeed 



Initial. 

3 
7 
3 

15 

2 

I 
I 



Interior. 



His coherence is impaired at times by one of his methods of 
organization. Most of his paragraphs are loose ; but occasion- 
ally in the midst of one he will abruptly introduce an intuitive 
statement or a generalization, proceeding afterward to resolve 
this in redintegrating manner. Sometimes, indeed, the riddle is 
left unresolved : Mr. Leslie Stephen's sensibilities were much 
jarred by Macaulay's abrupt and unexplained contrast, to the 
effect that Boswell was the greatest of fools and the best of biog- 
raphers. 

This habit of introducing an enigma and then resolving it 
step by step gives us a type of paragraph that is pseudo-deduc- 
tive yet really periodic. It is a common type in the Essays. In 
the History we find a comparatively large number of truly 
periodic structures, where the writer begins his paragraph 
remotely and proceeds by the natural order of development to a 
new conclusion. Whether the order is deductive or inductive, it 
often happens that the very first sentence is a summary of the 
preceding paragraph, the transition being greatly expanded.' 

Macaulay had a very definite sense of paragraph rhythm, 
though his movement is too much staccato. He has also a keen 
sense of the importance of variety in paragraph-length. Here he 

' On this point and that of the abrupt introduction of a general statement, 
see Minto's admirable analysis of Macaulay's style, Manual, p. 89 ff. 



146 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

is perhaps the most intelligently variable of all our prosaists. He 
knows how to relieve the attention by variety, and to drive home 
in a short paragraph the details accumulated in a preceding long 
one. His percentage of paragraphed sentences is low, but he 
does not hesitate to use this device to mark a brief but emphatic 
stadium. 

The question of constancy in paragraph-length has already 
been discussed (pp. 49, 50) with reference to Macaulay, the author 
who in stylistic averages is perhaps the most stable of all who 
have written English prose. 

CWRLYLE. 

Jean Paul Richter, 1827. 

Total paragraphs considered 34 

Total words considered 8521 

Total sentences considered 270 

Average words per paragraph 250.62 

Average sentences per paragraph 7.94 

Average words per sentence 31.56 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 5 

£ssays. 

(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Per cent, of simple sentences iS 

Average predications per sentence 3.12 

Per cent, of clauses saved 7.08 

Sartor Re sart us, 183 3- 1834. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 1 6,690 

Total sentences considered 476 

Average words per paragraph 166.90 

Average sentences per paragraph 4,76 

Average words per sentence 35-o6 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 12 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length .... 27-488 

French Revolution, 1837. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Total words considered 16,031 

Total sentences considered 671 

Average words per paragraph 160.^1 



DE QUIXCEY TO I/OLMES. 147 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.71 

Average words per sentence 23,89 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 3 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 28 

Limits of fluctuation in paragraph word-length 24-374 

Carlyle's most orderly paragraphs belong to the period of his 
life when Goethe's influence over him was freshest and strongest. 
For order in the paragraph is due largely to an ascendency of 
the intellectual element over the emotional ; and Carlyle's emo- 
tions were never so well-tempered — or least ill-tempered — as 
when he saw most clearly the mastery that Goethe had of his 
own nature.' Thus the Life of Schiller is sequent and orderly in 
a degree surprising to the reader who has of late fed on the 
French Revolution. In this early time Carlyle saw life steadily 
and achromatically. But as his egotism waxed strong with his 
days, as his impatience of the world increased and his hopes of 
reforming it decreased, he became subject to starts of the wildest 
incoherence. In such papers as the Latter Day Pamphlets he is 
wholly under the influence of his habitually strongest emotions ; 
he raves. As Minto says, "Some pages remind us of his vivid 
descriptions of chaotic inundations, that hide or sweep away all 
guiding posts. Very seldom can we gather from the beginning 
of a paragraph what is to be its purport. No attempt is made to 
keep a main subject prominent."^ 

Minto finds that in Carlyle's writing of history, the case is 
very different. "The arrangement is almost the perfection of 
clearness. When the bearing of a statement is not apparent, he 
is careful to make it explicit. In each paragraph the main subject 
is for the most part kept prominent, — his defiance of ordinary 
syntax giving him great facilities for a distinct foreground and 
background. He begins his paragraphs with some indication of 
their contents. Further, he is consecutive, and keeps rigidly to 

■ Somewhere, (I think in a letter) Carlyle likens Goethe's emotions in their 
number and variety to the hues of the landscape, but his intellect to the sun 
that irradiates and controls them all. 

''Manual, p. 152. 



148 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the point." It may be said that this is high praise, and that in 
the case of the Revolution nearly every point that Minto makes 
should be slightly modified. 

The sentence-length of the early essays is moderately long — 
in Richter, 31.56. Between 1827 and 1833 Carlyle was develop- 
ing his own peculiar ideas of emphasis ; and the study of German 
models increased his sentence, which appears in Sartor as 35.06. 
The sentences of Sartor are full of parentheses and involutions. 
Of Teufelsdrock's periods the writer himself said, " Perhaps not 
more than nine-tenths stand straight on their legs ; the remainder 
are in quite angular attitudes ; a few even sprawl out helplessly 
on all sides, quite broken-backed and dismembered." Between 
1834 and 1837 Carlyle came under a new influence, the French. 
Though his style, in the Revolution cannot be called in any sense 
Gallic, he had at least profited by his studies ; the sentence of the 
Revolution is a third shorter than that of Sartor ; to be exact, it 
stands at 23.89. I regret that I have no figures from the Fried- 
rich. Sherman, as we have noted in § 4 of Chapter 3, says that 
" Carlyle showed no change for worse or better, in respect to 
sentence proportions, between the Edinburgh Essays and his 
Frederick the Great." In this case the average of Carlyle's sen- 
tence has again risen under study of German models ; but the 
sentence of the Frederick is surely a different and far better sen- 
tence in point of carrying power than the somewhat Johnsonian 
sentence of the Essays. 

The word-length of Carlyle's paragraph follows just the 
course that might be expected. In 1827 it is 250.62. In Sartor 
the long period becomes temporarily as prominent a unit as the 
paragraph, and the latter sinks toi66.9o. The ensuing study of 
French reduces the sentence but leaves the paragraph about in 
statu quo (160.31). It should be added that the increase in the 
impassioned quality of the prose would be another reason why 
the early length of the paragraph would decrease. Impassioned 
prose cultivates short units; De Quincey's new "impassioned 
prose," with its long sentence and paragraph, was merely imagi- 



DE QUINCEY TO HOLMES. 149 

native prose. The course of the single-sentence paragraph 
corresponds roughly with the movement of the sentence-length, 
increasing from 5 per cent, in Richter to 12 per cent, in Sartor, 
and in the Revolution dropping to 3 per cent. 

iMinto's general remarks on the structure of Carlyle's sentence 
are just — as that the sentence is an exaggeration of the loose 
style, — ■' consisting, for the most part, of two or three coordinate 
statements, eked out by explanatory clauses either in apposition 
or in the 'nominative absolute' construction." But it is a most 
striking fact that, bv the use of these devices and an enormous 
number of significant phrases and words, Carlyle's later style is 
perhaps the weightiest in the language. The amount of sup- 
pressed intermediate predication is unprecedented ; and when we 
take into account the subjects that Carlyle treated, the number of 
facts he was bound as an historian to express, all other intuitive 
styles, it seems to me, will appear in comparison with his, 
diffuse. 

It is a curious fact that Carlyle's coherence seems at first blush 
to depend as much on connectives as De Quincey's. The fact is, 
however, that Carlyle in his later works conveys several times as 
many notions to the sentence as De Quincey does," and saves 
clauses in ways that De Quincey never dreamed of — no, not in 
his wildest opium dream after an evening with the "sentences and 
periods" of poor Lamb. Carlyle's connectives, again, are far 
more vital than De Quincey's, and sometimes represent relations 
that De Quincey might have spun into clauses, and that Macaulay 
surely would so have treated. The list is from the Revolution, 
showing 75 formally connected sentences in 300. 

Connectives. Initial. Interior. 

So 4 2 

But 10 

Indeed ■ • 5 

For II 

Thus 3 1 

However 2 2 

• I wish .Mr. Gerwig had given us the per cent, of clauses saved in the 
.Revolution. The per cent, in the Essays is only 7.0S, while De Quincey's is 5^49. 



ISO 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 



Connective. Initial. Interior. 

And 5 

Likewise i 

Too • • 4 

Or 

Nevertheless 

Moreover 

Neitlier 

And yet 

Nay 

Also 

Accordingly 

In lilce manner ^ — 

Lastly 

Then 

On the whole 

At least : I 

Again . . I 

Whereupon 

Carlyle has on the whole a wide variety of means for articula- 
tion, notably that of massing significant words at the beginning 
and end of sentences. He seldom repeats a word for coherence, 
as Macaulay and Arnold and a host of others do ; by ordering 
his words he makes repetition unnecessary. 

In his historical writing Carlyle is a great master of the law 
of proportion, as concerns both the paragraph and the whole 
composition. He combines Hume's power of making a para- 
graph illustrate a given philosophical idea, and Macaulay's power 
of heightening that impression by pictorial means. He moulds 
his material, fuses his facts, emphasizes the salient, subordinates 
the unimportant. In elaborating large plans, he constantly 
reduces his macrocosm to microcosm to be sure of making his 
point ; he reiterates his central truth ; he does not disdain numer- 
ous formal but living summaries. 

In the matter of distribution of emphasis by varying sen- 
tence-length he improved steadily. His earliest work shows 
about the same percentage of simple sentences as De Quin- 
cey's. The Revolution, on the other hand, shows nearly 28 
per cent, of sentences under fifteen words, with an unusual 



DE QUIKCEY TO HOLMES. 151 

tendency toward sentences of less than 8 words. With a per- 
centage of short sentences no greater than Burke's, Carlyle man- 
ages to distribute his emphasis with masterful effect. 

NEWMAN. 

Idea of a University, 1854. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Total words considered 50,896 

Total sentences considered 1228 

Average words per paragraph 254.48 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.14 

Average words per sentence 41-44 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 6 

Apologia. 

(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Per cent, of simple sentences 16 

Average predications per sentence 2.97 

Per cent, of clauses saved 4.50 

Newman's paragraphs are the result of the most careful 
analysis on the part of their writer. In them unity, usually 
philosophical, often complex, is severely observed. 

The style is highly redintegrating, in spite of the aggrega- 
ting sentence and bookish vocabulary. But it can never be 
called impartially redintegrating, as one is sometimes tempted to 
call De Quincey's. The most careful selection of thought is 
made, and whatever subsidiary matter may have been generated 
in the act of composition is sternly repressed in the writing. 
In this matter we may compare Newman and De Quincey — both 
artistic minds. Both men are interested in the various phases 
of the material thev use for any given purpose, though of 
course Newman less than De Ouincey in the sensuous qualities. 
But De Quincey cannot express one phase of his interest at a 
time ; Newman can. 

We find Newman not indeed depending upon connectives 
for coherence, but using them freely for increased accuracy. 
Thus Sherman found 131 initial connectives in 500 sentences' 

^Analytics, p. 304. 



152 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

— a proportion higher than Coleridge's, indeed perhaps the 
highest of our time. Newman's proportion by bulk is all that 
could be desired. His distribution of emphasis by sentence- 
length is faulty ; but it must be remembered that he is appeal- 
ing to the intellect rather than the emotions. 

EMERSON. 

Divinity School Address -\- American Scholar -\- Self -Reliance. 

Total paragraphs considered 122 

Total words considered 24,267 

Total sentences considered I,I79 

Average words per paragraph 198.91 

Average sentences per paragraph 9.66 

Average words per sentence 20.58 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 3 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, \ 2.23 

Per cent, of simple sentences for 1438 \ s,\ 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ) 3.01 

English Traits. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.74 

If we hold ourselves, in a definition of unity, to meaning by 
the word oneness of subject, we may admit Emerson's paragraphs 
to have unity. More than half the time, at least, every sentence 
bears on the point concerned. 

Sequence in the analytic (/. e. redintegrating) sense he had 
none. There is no tracking him. You are conscious that he has 
arrived, and from a place worth coming from, for his hands are 
full of gems; but no other man can find out his way, nor can he. 
He was always complaining that he had no system ; speaks of his 
own " impassable paragraphs, each sentence an infinitely repellent 
particle." He has little close ordering of words for coherence 
few inversions, few parallelisms of structure. Out of a desperate 
desire to indicate relations, he uses 49 sentence-connectives to 
300 periods ; but not always do they catch and hold the true rela- 
tion. Here is the list: 



DE QUINCEY 10 llOLMl-.S. 



153 



Connective. 

Thus far 

But 

Thus 

Indeed 

And 

Finally 

Too 

Yet 

In fine 

Or 

Hence 

On the other part . 

Then 

So 

Therefore 

For 

First 

However 



Initial. 

I 

14 



Interior. 



How then, without sequence, does our author make himself 
clear ? His statements are intuitive ; but we shall find that he 
has a curious alternating method of intuitive statement which 
amounts to resolution of the main idea. The paragraph con- 
tains a half-dozen intuitive sentences, each stating the main idea 
from a different point of view ; so that perforce some of the steps 
omitted in one statement are supplied in another, if only by the 
great variety of associations. Emerson must state the point 
intuitively ; but he does so under so many metaphors that he 
is sure somewhere to hit your experiences, your quickest road 
to apprehension. 

What of his proportion ? There is little of it, whether by 
bulk or by sentence-variation. He has 41 per cent, of simple 
sentences, and something is sure to be over-emphasized. But in 
the intuitive manner the lack of proportion is not so keenly felt 
as elsewhere. 

CHANNING. 

Self-Cidtiifc, 1838. 

Total paragraphs considered 60 

Total words (Sherman) 19,009 



154 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Total sentences (Sherman) 750 

Average words per paragraph 316.81 

Average sentences per paragraph 12.50 

Average words per sentence 25.35 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 

Lenox, Napoleon, Milton. 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, f ii.47 

Per cent, of simple sentences 2000 -j 34 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) { 6.55 

Sherman has noted that Channing began the use of the short 
sentence at about the same time as Macaulay, and in nearly as 
great proportion. But to my mind Channing's emphasis-propor- 
tion in the paragraph is more rational, though less brilliant, than 
Macaulay's. Channing knew the worth of the semicolon ; Macau- 
lay did not. On the other hand Channing's paragraphs are too 
long to be well massed. Nor is the right bulk always assigned 
to the main ideas. We can find little fault with Channing's unity, 
and little with his coherence. The latter quality depends largely 
upon logical redintegration and upon the ordering of words. 
Connectives are used but sparingly. 

BARTOL. 

Radicalism and Genius: Father Taylor. 

Total paragraphs (Sherman) 45 

Total words (Sherman) 13,385 

Total sentences (Sherman) 805 

Average words per paragraph 297.44 

Average words per sentence 16.63 

Average sentences per paragraph 17.89 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 

Radical Problems. 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, 1 2.10 

Per cent, of simple sentences 1 500 > 44 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ) 7.60 

Radicalism. 

' Words per paragraph 231.64 

Genius: Father Taylor. 

Words per paragraph 360.38 



DE QUINCE Y TO HOLMES. 155 

I have included Dr. Bartol because he is one of the extreme 
examples, among reputable writers, of the frequent use of simple 
sentences.' His percentage of simple sentences is indeed so high 
in proportion to the whole number in the paragraph, that I can 
hardly admit that there is any right distribution of emphasis. 
Nor is there any proportion by bulk : the writer is as likely to 
pour out six sentences on an unimportant point as six on an 
important one. Nor have his paragraphs any necessary unity- 
Many are manifestly heterogeneous ; some indeed seem merely 
mechanical. Nor, again, can we praise the general coherence 
of Bartol's style. Granted that now and then, when he is driv- 
ing home a series of coordinate statements bearing on one sub- 
ject, he runs smoothly along ; at other times he proceeds by 
leaps and in no particular direction, like a boy from tuft to tuft 
in a marsh, — forever jumping, but never arriving. 

LINCOLN. 

Letter, 1863, published Century Magazine, May, 1889. 

Total paragraphs 12 

Total words 1659 

Total sentences 91 

Average words per paragraph 138.25 

Average sentences per paragraph 7.60 

Average words per sentence 18.23 

I consider a passage from Abraham Lincoln merely to show 
the proper use of the very short sentence. The letter is quoted 
and praised by Earle, and it forms a good contrast, in point of 
method, to the work of the last author considered. 

The sentence is a little longer than Bartol's ; but the para- 
graph is 138 words as against Bartol's 297. Each of Lincoln's 
paragraphs is an organism. Each is knit together by perfect 
logical sequence, perfect unity. There is no modulation of 
emphasis, for by the nature of the subject there can be none. 
The letter is a challenge. Each sentence is meant to go home 

■The highest average given by Mr. Gerwig is 58 per cent, of simple sen- 
tences—in Mr. J. A Symonds's Greek Poets. It is most extraordinary that 
Symonds should also show 10 per cent, of clauses saved. 



IS6 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

like a shot. The whole appeal is to the will, and in cases of this 
sort it may be of the very essence of style to eschew the fine 
shades of meaning that should exist in an intellectual type of 
discourse. 

DICKENS. 

Old Curiosity Shop. 

Total paragraphs considered 3°° 

Total words considered I'^fioi 

Total sentences considered 639 

Average words per paragraph 50-^7 

Average sentences per paragraph 2.13 

Average words per sentence 23.78 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 43 

Dickens has more than once been criticised for lack of powers 
of construction and arrangement. Such criticisms apply often 
to his large plans ; but they are not just to his powers of analysis 
within the chapter. The unity of his narrative and descriptive 
paragraphs is organic and highly picturesque. There are slips at 
times, but again, there are whole chapters of the most subtle par- 
agraph-unity — of a kind that none but the great novelists can 
secure, a kind that no essayist dreams of. 

His coherence is the coherence of oral style. There are very 
few connectives ; their place is taken by explanatory clauses and 
sentences. Occasionally we feel that the style is diffuse, but 
obscure never — some bad grammar notwithstanding. 

Next to his coherence the best paragraphic quality of Dickens 
is his emphasis. This arises largely from his skillful ordering of 
words and a keen eye for the point where he should stop his sen- 
tence. He rambles when rambling is in order ; but no man can 
make a shorter cut. The extent to which he uses the short sen- 
tence is not excessive for a novelist : in the Old Curiosity Shop, with 
all the conversation included, the percentage of sentences of less 
than 15 words is 40 per cent. 

The melody of Dickens's prose is equable and flowing, with a 
tendency to metre now and then. He has no right feeling for 
the paragraph as a rhythmic whole. 



BE QUmCEY TO HOLMES. 157 

GEORGE ELIOT. 

Daniel Deronda. 

Total paragraphs considered 212 

Total words considered 1 6,2-^3 

Total sentences considered 725 

Average words per paragraph 76.57 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.42 

Average words per sentence 22.39 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 27 

In its averages George Eliot's style approaches that of 
Dickens, except that the less elaborate philosophizing of the 
latter keeps the word-average of his paragraph down. But the 
sentence of the two writers is nearly the same, and George Eliot's 
percentage of sentences of less than 15 words is the same, within 
3 per cent., as Dickens's. Of the two writers the balance in the 
matter of the short sentence is in favor of the woman, who has 43 
per cent. Evidently there is here quite as much variability in 
the female style as in the masculine.' It should be noted, how- 
ever, that George Eliot's short sentences tend to occur together ; 
the same is true of her long sentences. In the dialogue the sen- 
tence is short ; in the narrative it is long. 

We may say that George Eliot's paragraphs have unity, 
barring an occasional philosophical digression. We may say 
that they show logical coherence, excepting now and then one 
where a remote conclusion is introduced before it is analyzed. 

KINGSLEY. 

Alton Locke. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average words per paragraph 79-19 

Average sentences per paragraph 3.34 

Average words per sentence 23.72 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 39 

It is curious that the sentences of Kingsley and Dickens 
should differ but a small fraction of a word and that George 

' In view of Mr. Havelock Ellis's recent thesis that greater variability in mental 
power is shown by the male sex than by the female, it would be an interesting 
study to investigate the comparative variability of masculine and feminine styles^ 



IS8 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Eliot's should vary but a single word from these two. It will be 
remembered that likewise Macaulay coincides, within a word, with 
these writers in sentence length. Again, Kingsley and George 
Eliot differ but three words in paragraph-length. Evidently the 
style of popular narrative and description finds 23 a favorite sen- 
tence ; ' while the same style when broken by conversation tends 
today to a paragraph of more than 50 and less than 100 words. 
I say today : but in the immediate present many good popular 
narrative styles are falling below the 23-mark. 

LOWELL. 

Carlyle. 

Total paragraphs 

Total words 

Total sentences 

Average words per paragraph 

Average sentences per paragraph 

Average sentence-length 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 

Dante. 

Total paragraphs considered 

Average words per paragraph 

Lessing. 

Total sentences 683 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, ) 2,54 

Per cent, of simple sentences for 683 \ 21, 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ) 4.76 

When we come to read Lowell's noble essay on Dante we are 
tempted to acknowledge in his paragraphs a certain colossal 
unity ; at a little distance from the charm of the style we dare to 
speak of that unity as prolix ; later, we begin to wonder whether 
there is any unity at all in a paragraph of, say, 2183 words. It is 
hard to make out Lowell's theory of the paragraph. Apparently 
he had a most elastic idea of the elasticity of that unit, and felt 

'Why this is so remains to be determined. Indeed, the whole question 
of literary sentence-length must soon be minutely discussed from the point of 
view of the psychologist and the physiologist, as well as from that of the 
rhetorician. 



25 


11,196 


356 


447.84 


14.24 


3I4S 


4 


50 


668.30 



DE QUIXCEY TO HOLMES. 159 

that if he looked to a proper alternation of emphasis by sentence- 
variation and kept up a general flow of coherence, his paragraphic 
duty was done. 

At any rate, it is easy to praise his emphasis, varied by 23 per 
cent, of simple sentences and by skillful inversions that put the 
main idea first. And we may praise his coherence, depending 
as it does upon closeness of logical relation, and eschewing 
formal connectives. Sherman found but 59 initial conjunctions 
in 500 periods. For all our author's general orderliness, however, 
the reader must be well equipped to get the pith of Lowell's finer 
prose. His words are meaning-crammed, and there is no pains 
taken to elaborate in short oral sentences that which a college-bred 
man should remember or understand. Once more, we must 
admit that Lowell loves a digression, and will take it when the 
material he handles is suggestive; he carries us with him, to be 
sure, but we feel that the principle of logical sequence is for the 
time set aside for mere association by contiguity. 

RUSKIN. 

Sesame and Lilies. 

Total paragraphs I?! 

Total words 27,120 

Total sentences 814 

Average words per paragraph 179.60 

Average sentences per paragraph 5-39 

Average words per sentence ■ 33-31 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 13 

Average predications per sentence (Gerwig, I 3.50 

Per cent, of simple sentences for 718 V 18 

Per cent, of clauses saved periods.) ^ 6.63 

Ruskin early began to boast of his analytic powers, and not 
without reason. His works are divided and subdivided with 
great elaboration, the later ones more intelligently but less elabor- 
ately than the earlier. He usually employs the words paj-agraph 
and seciion synonymously, preferring, however, the former term: 
The section-mark § he often places before divisions that he calls- 
paragraphs. He is fond of compound paragraphs, numbering 



l6o HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the main paragraph and indicating by indentation the subdivi- 
sions. In his first edition of collected works he divided the text 
into "paragraphs," numbering these consecutively through the 
volumes. 

The paragraphs, even of the Modern Painters, are almost never 
heterogeneous, although Ruskin's later changes in these early 
works result in breaking up a few of the sections. In the Modern 
Painters the sections are longer than in the Sesame and Lilies and 
later works. 

The sequence of Ruskin's early work is marred by dislocations 
rather than by digressions. Many paragraphs in the Modern 
Painters would be bettered much by mere re-arrangement of the 
sentences or groups of sentences. In the comments made in the 
Brantwood edition (1891), on his early works, Ruskin appreciates 
the bad arrangement of some of the paragraphs, and even goes so 
far as to declare the "terrible confusion" of others. For his 
coherence Ruskin relies in his earlier works much on connect- 
ives, but in his later works less and less. He was never afraid 
of and, however, and does not hesitate to begin a sentence or a 
paragraph with a coordinate conjunction. I doubt if any other 
writer uses conjunctions less conventionally and more effectively. 
Other means of coherence Ruskin employs with very great variety 
and freedom from mannerism : notably parallel structure, veiled 
beneath changing phrases of introduction. 

Of emphasis-distribution the paragraphs of the Modern Paint- 
ers show but little. Ruskin had an early 'notion of returning as 
far as he could to what he thought the better style of old English 
literature, especially to that of his then favorite, in prose, Richard 
Hooker.' ' Such a notion was hardly favorable to the develop- 
ment of proportion in the paragraph. I have no count for the 
Modern Painters, but dare estimate that the percentage of simple 
sentences is less than 15 per cent. In Sesame and Lilies, indeed, 
it is but 18 per cent. Some of the sentences of the Modern 
Painters, particularly in the second volume, were inexcusably 

' Preface to Sesame and Lilies, collected works, 1871. 



DE QUINCEY TO HOLMES. l6l 

long, and destructive to proportion. Thus Ruskin, comment- 
ing on the original sentence in which he enunciated the chief 
types of unity in art, says : " Yes, I should rather think so [that 
the types should be considered separately]; and they ought to have 
been named separately, too, and very slowly ; and not upset in a 
heap on the floor, as they are in this terrific two-pages entence."' 
In another place there is lack of proportion caused by the non- 
chalant introduction of an important theory as a subordinate part 
of a sentence. The fact does not escape the reviser's eye ; he 
says : " This rather astounding paragraph was anciently parted 
from the preceding text only by a semicolon. I have fenced it, 
at least, with two full stops ; for it is in fact the radical theorem 
not only of this book, but of all my writings on art.'" The 
same critical and artistic discrimination that made these com- 
ments possible, largely removes the necessity of any such com- 
ments hereafter upon Ruskin's later books. In these, the units of 
presentation — both sentence and paragraph — are not long, are 
not confused, are not lacking in emphasis. At his best he is one 
of the very best paragraph writers of this or any day. No author 
would better repay a minute investigation. He has not been 
surpassed in the art of concentrating "victoriously intricate" 
periods in artistic wholes ; or, to speak more accurately, of 
amplifying a given topic in a paragraph whose interior arrange- 
ment reveals the most complex proportion. 

HERBERT SPENCER. 

Philosophy of Style. 

Total paragraphs 6** 

Total words 1 1.983 

Total sentences 404 

Average words per paragraph 176.22 

Average sentences per paragraph 5-94 

Average words per sentence 29.66 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 4 

Per cent, of sentences of less than 15 words 17 

■Brantwood ed., II., 129. 'Brantwood ed., 11., 49. 



1 62 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Spencer's averages are interesting as belonging to a scientific 
manner, — the manner, moreover, of the author to whom is due 
the theory that economy of attention is the governing principle 
of style. We find the discourse carefully analyzed into short 
paragraphs. These are mostly loose in structure," a definite con- 
clusion being offered in the first sentence and defended in those 
following. Evidently Spencer's theory of periodic structure as 
the more economical, stops short of the paragraph. 

It is interesting, again, to note that, while Spencer's sentences 
rather favor the periodic type, they are not long; like the short 
paragraphs, they are for the untechnical reader, if not for the 
popular one. The variability in sentence-length is quite as great 
as could be expected from a style appealing so little to the 
emotions: the percentage of sentences of less than 15 words 
is 17 per cent. 

The coherence and sequence of Mr. Spencer's prose are 
philosophical and correct. The use of connectives is less than 
might be supposed. Of the connectives that he does employ 
Mr. Bain'' pointed out as characteristic the phrases. Yet another, 
Once more, for adding to a cumulation already very much 
extended. 

MATTHEW ARNOLD. 

The Function of Criticism at the Present Time. 

Total paragraphs 343 

Total words 10,939 

Total sentences 324 

Average words per paragraph 321.73 

Average sentences per paragraph g.55 

Average words per sentence 33.76 

'Of Spencer's use of the compound type we have spoken, chap. II., §3. 
-Rhetoric, § 161. 

3 In this case, as hitherto, quotations are considered as belonging to the 
paragraph in which they are introduced, and not as separate paragraphs, even 
when indented. This, of course, only when they are introduced as an integral 
part of the paragraph. Arnold usually indicates such a relation by preceding 
he quotation with the colon and dash (: — ). 



DE QUINCE Y TO HOLMES. 163 

Literary Influence of Academies. 

Total paragraphs 37 

Total words 9,883 

Total sentences 28 1 

Average words per paragraph 267. 10' 

Average sentences per paragraph 7.S8 

Average words per sentence 35.I7' 

Function of Criticism-^- Liter ary Influence. 

Total paragraphs 71 

Total words 20,822 

Total sentences 605 

Average words per paragraph 293.26 

Average sentences per paragraph 8.52 

Average words per sentence 34.4I 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 5 

Culture and Anarchy. 

Total paragraphs considered 100 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.68 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs. 4 

Essays, 500 periods. 

(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 2.77 

Per cent, of simple sentences 20 

Per cent, of clauses saved 4.51 

It is a pleasant task to re-read the Essays in Criticism to see 
whether the measure and proportion that Arnold found his chief 
delight in praising extends in his own prose to the organization 
of the paragraph. The result of our reading is, on the whole, 
satisfactory. Arnold's paragraphs, while they have not the very 
highest variety in unity, do have admirable measure and propor- 
tion. 

The paragraph is usually loose, with an introductory sentence 
of transition. A large proportion are deductive : Arnold loved 
to regard the paragraph as a means of illustrating a general rule 
— he was not particular to advance a large body of particulars 
and base an induction upon these. We may quote on this point 
his own words about another matter : "Here, as everywhere else, 



1 64 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the rule, the idea, if true, comrrtends itself to the judicious, and 
then the examples make it clearer still to them. This is the real 
use of examples, and this alone is the purpose which I have 
meant mine to serve." ' 

The coherence of Arnold's paragraphs is well-nigh perfect in 
its way. It arises primarily from an oral structure — a close 
logical method, redintegrating in idea, slightly aggregating in 
sentence. It is true that Sherman found 137 formally connected' 
sentences in a total of 500 ; though some of Arnold's initial con- 
nectives are deliberately superfluous, used to give conversational 
tone — I refer to such words as " well," "now." But the fact is 
that Arnold uses not only a goodly number of conjunctions, but 
also a very great variety of transitional phrases and clauses. He 
is always aiming at the relations of things : he would rather paint 
no picture at all than one without the significant half-tones, the 
shadings that by their cool gradations make apparent the truth 
of the landscape. He will not even trust you to remember, under 
the mere stimulus of a pronominal word, exactly what a given 
substantive meant; he must explicitly repeat the substantive. 
Then another phase of his orderly, redintegrating method should 
be mentioned : I remember no other English prosaist who has so 
mastered the art of placing words in a way to secure sentence 
emphasis without hurting either the just order of the thought, 
the just proportion of the thought, or the just idiom of the 
language. To be sure, he is often reduced to the device of gentle 
■exclamation ; but with what accuracy he puts the important words 
first and last in the sentence ! yet with how few breaks between 
propositions, how little exaggeration of the inconsequential, how 
little violence of normal English structure ! He is not, however, 
quite successful in so arranging the parts of the paragraph that 
the chief things shall be seen first. One other method of coher- 
ence Arnold affects, that of parallel construction. Few writers 
use it more extensively. Others, as De Quincey, keep the 
reader less aware of its presence ; still others, as Macaulay, 

' Literary Influence of Academies, p. 77. 



DE QUINCEY TO HOLMES. 165 

thrust it more prominently before the reader's eye. Arnold 
usually exhibits with it his habit of repeating words for explicit- 
ness of reference. 

The Hellenists will have it that the finest measure and pro- 
portion are not visible, when they really exist, except on the 
closest scrutiny. Arnold's distribution of emphasis by sentence- 
length may perhaps claim some such praise in this respect as 
would be given to a good picture. For one, I should not guess 
before counting that Arnold writes 20 per cent, of simple sen- 
tences. His brief propositions do not come in series : the 
nature of his subjects and of his method never makes them 
superfluously emphatic and conspicuous ; and so one is likely, in 
a general reading, to underestimate their number and impor- 
tance. But they are used with the greatest discretion. Again, it 
should be noticed that Arnold is hardly surpassed in the art of 
varying emphasis within the sentence itself. Here, long periodic 
clauses are succeeded by short loose ones ; or, a long period may 
consist of a half-dozen loose propositions that a less discrimina- 
ting man would have signalized by full stops. 

<j., , WALTER PATER. 

Total paragraphs 37 

Total words . ; 845° 

Total sentences 219 

Average words per paragraph 228.37 

Average sentences per paragraph 5.97 

Average words per sentence 3S'54 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs i 

Appreciations, 500 periods. 
(Gerwig, for 500 periods.) 

Average predications per sentence 2.74 

Per cent, of simple sentences 26 

Per cent, of clauses saved 13-74 

In Ruskin, Newman, and certain other writers, there is to 
be noted a decided reaction toward the long sentence. This 
movement reaches in Mr. Walter Pater perhaps the limit at which 
the paragraph and the long period can be reconciled. Mr. Pater 



i66 



HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 



is conscious of the tendency of his style towards complexity and 
minute qualification, and he therefore conscientiously keeps to the 
unity of the paragraph. What is even more noticeable, he uses 
a large percentage of appositional clauses and phrases, that) 
while they have partly the effect of parentheses, yet avoid the 
multiplication of predications and connectives. It is a weighty 
style, a correct style, a beautiful style in its fitting of word 
to notion ; but it has a wholly different order of procedure from 
that introduced by Macaulay. 

The coherence, always present, but seen by the reader at some 
expense to his attention, depends equally upon order of words 
and upon connectives ; very little indeed upon parallel structure. 
Of 300 sentences in the Appreciations, 66 are formally connected. 
The proportion of ands is startling. Thus : 

Connective. 

On the other hand 

Then 

And 

Yet 

So 

For 

Further 

Again 

Hence 

Well 

But 

Still 

So far 

Too 

Also 

At least 

Indeed 

Now 

Thus . 2 

The percentage of simple sentences is such that the distri- 
bution of emphasis is provided for mechanically, and a tribute 
should be paid to the often exquisite precision with which 
the right clause is made to bear the paragraph stress. 



Initial. 


Interior. 


I 


I 




4 


21 




3 




2 




7 








I 




I 




3 




12 




2 






2 




2 




I 



DE QCIA'CEY TO HOLMES. 167 

J. R. GREEN. 

History of the E/iglish People. 

Total paragraphs considered 200 

Average sentence-length for 200 sentences 29.04 

Average words per paragraph i;. 456.75 

Average sentences per paragraph I5.75 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 

I have included some statistics for the style of Mr. J. R. 
Green, to illustrate one of the newer types of historical writing. 
The sentence is much longer than Macaulay's, the paragraph 
very much longer than jSIacaulay's. The single-sentence para- 
graph is abolished. The varietv that Macaulay secured by vary- 
ing the length of the paragraph and its structure is lacking 
here. The paragraphs are not well massed. The element of 
variety being made little of, an attempt is made to supply its 
place with that of intensity and weight. There are no waste sen- 
tences. The short sentences are sententious, and the long ones, 
while admirable in accuracy, are sometitTies a little heavy. The 
coherence is good, but it is the coherence of severe method, 
and depends neither on connectives nor on transitional clauses. 
After all, it is a noble style, though not an easy one. 

BARRETT WENDELL. 

Paragraphs (chap, iv., in English Composition). 

Total paragraphs considered 55 

Total words considered 9363 

Total sentences considered 3^5 

Average words per paragraph 170-23 

Average sentences per paragraph 6.63 

Average words per sentence 25.65 

Per cent, of single-sentence paragraphs 5 

We have spoken of Professor Wendell as a recent theorizer 
on the paragraph. Since he has treated the subject in a literary 
way, shunning the pedantry of technicalities, and since he mani- 
festly aims at producing superior massing and .emphasis, let us 
see what numerical results his practice gives. The chapter on 
the paragraph yields a sentence of 25. Nearly 24 per cent, of all 



1 68 HISTORY OF THE EN'GLISH PARAGRAPH. 

the sentences fall beneath the length of 15 words. The para- 
graph reaches but 170 words. Evidently the theory of Mass, 
when put in practice, tends toward keeping the paragraph to 
very moderate length. To mass well a long paragraph is a most 
difficult task. 

HOLMES. 

The style of Dr. Holmes is typical of certain popular writing, 
which, though not properly intuitive, omits formal predication as 
often as possible, and since it is not concerned with the finer 
restrictions of thought, omits connectives with the greatest free- 
dom. Holmes delights in appositive phrases and clauses, and 
in verbless sentences. In 500 periods Sherman found but 5 
initial connectives. My own count, from 300 sentences in the 
^«^^(?c;'a/, yields a percentage very much higher — 27 initial con- 
nectives in 300 periods. The list runs thus : 

Connective. Initial. Interior. 

But 8 

However . . i 

And 4 

So I I 

First, secondly 4 

Or 3 

Thus 2 

Yet I 

On the contrary I 

In short I 

Once more . . i 

On the whole i 

Too . . I 

At length i 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE PROSE PARAGRAPH: SUMMARY. 

It is the object of this chapter, not to state in essay form, 
woven together of all the judgments hitherto expressed, a com- 
plete view of the history of the prose paragraph, but to arrange 
in a somewhat mechanical way the more important of the theses 
that I propose. 

CHAPTER I. 

1. (Page 12.) The modern reference-mark, ^, (sixth in the 
printer's list of reference-marks) is probably descended, not, as 
held by Mr. jMaunde Thompson, from the original Greek gamma, 
but from the Latin mark P. 

2. (Page 15.) The modern so-called section-mark, §, is prob- 
ably derived, not from the original gamma, as held by Blass, but 
from the Latin P ; surely not from the combination of two ff, 
as taught bv certain text-books. The type of this mark is prob- 
ablv of Italian origin, 1467-1473. 

3. (Page 14.) Indentation is probably not due, as the popular 
bibliophilic tradition asserts, to the omission of printed capitals 
to permit the insertion of rubricated ones, but to the example of 
those manuscripts where it is used without reference to rubrica- 
tion. 

CHAPTER II. 

4. (Page 22ff.) While, for purposes of pedagogy, the writing 
of single-sentence paragraphs should largely be discouraged, in 
view of the natural tendency of students toward impartial 
analysis, it is nevertheless not correct to say, with Earle, " that 
the term paragraph can hardly be applied to anything short of 
three sentences, though rarely a complete and satisfactory effect 
is produced by two." For, although there has been a pretty 
steady decrease, in 300 years, in the use of the paragraphed 

i6g 



1 7° HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

sentence, most of the eminent writers of English prose have not 
hesitated to use this device, not merely to mark a transition but 
to signalize a stadium. 

5- (P. 3off.) The only really new phases of rhetorical 
theory since Bain's " six rules," are Wendell's theory of Mass, 
and Scott and Denney's theory of Proportion. Wendell's theory 
of Mass is : "A paragraph whose unity can be demonstrated by 
summarizing its substance in a sentence whose subject shall be a 
summary of its opening sentence, and whose predicate shall be a 
summary of its closing sentence, is theoretically well massed." 
Scott and Denney's theory of proportion is perhaps sufficiently 
implied in the following sentence : " Statements which standing 
alone would properly be independent sentences, are frequently 
united into one sentence when they become part of a paragraph." 
The theory implies also the converse of this statement. 

6. (P. 30-32, 167.) (a) Wendell's theory of Mass is not 
applicable to any large proportion of existing paragraphs, and is 
difficult of application except in short paragraphs. Scott and 
Denney's theory of Proportion is true of those writers who have 
a conception of the paragraph as an organic whole, — Burke, 
Macaulay, Arnold, for example. The principle is so strongly 
operative in the best prose of today that we may probably go so 
far as to say : in general it is true that in the best modern para- 
graphs the distance between periods is inversely as the emphasis 
of each included proposition, (b) It will follow as a corollary 
from the principle last enunciated, that the tendency (noted by 
Professor Sherman) of English prose to reduce the sentence to 
Procrustean regularity of length, cannot indefinitely persist. 

CHAPTER in. 

7. (P. 37ff.) In the history of English prose there has 
been, for relatively the same kinds of discourse, no pronounced 
increase or decrease of the average total number of words per 
paragraph. 

8. (P. 42.) The paragraph of today contains more than 
twice as many sentences as did that of Ascham's day. Indeed, if 



SUA/J/A/^y. 171 

we accept Macaulay's England as a present-day norm, the past 
increase in sentences per paragraph in three hundred years has 
been far more than one hundred per cent. 

9. (P. 35ff.) In a list of 73 representative English prosaists, 
the average word-length of the paragraph falls in the case of each 
of 52 authors between the limits of 100 words and 300 words. 
Of these 52 authors, 25 show each an average falling between the 
limits of 200 words and 300 words ; while 27 show each an average 
falling between the limits of 100 and 200 words. Of these two 
groups it would be unwarrantable to say that either is superior to 
the other in paragraph structure. The first includes many 
authors who are superior in delicacy and variety of proportion — 
Arnold, Newman, Pater ; the second includes many who are 
superior in terse emphasis — Bolingbroke, Swift, Carlyle, Lamb. 
But one of the greatest masters of terse emphasis, Macaulay, 
belongs in the first group, and one of the greatest masters of 
delicate and varied proportion, Ruskin, belongs in the second. 
Most of the writers whose average rises above 300 words are poor 
paragraphers, De Quincey and Channing being exceptions. 
Most of those whose average falls below 100 words are writers in 
whom dialogue predominates. Fuller, Defoe, and Paley being 
exceptions. 

10. (P. 3Sff.) In a list of 71 representative English pro- 
saists, 5 show an average number of less than 2 sentences to the 
paragraph ; 11 show an average of more than 2 and less than 3 
sentences ; 11 show an average of more than 3 and less than 4 
sentences ; 6 show an average of more than 4 and less than 5 
sentences ; 9 show an average of more than 5 and less than 6 
sentences; 10 show an average of more than 6 and less than 7 
sentences ; 6 show an average of more than 7 and less than 8 
sentences ; 3 show an average of more than 8 and less than 9 ; 
4 show an average of more than 9 and less than 10 ; one averages 
10 + ; two average 12 + ; one averages 14 + ; one 15 +, one 
17 -|-. The favorite numbers of sentences are therefore 2 + and 
3 -f-, each of which occurs 1 1 times. Then, in order of frequency, 



172 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

come 6+, 5 +, 4+, and 7 +, 9+, 8 +, 12 +, 14 +, and 15 + 
and 17 +. Dialogue-writing affects this list but very little. Of 
the romancers, Irving shows the highest average of sentences, 4.12. 

11. (P. 43.) There has been from the earliest days of our 
prose a unit of invention much larger than the modern sentence, 
and always separated, in the mind of the writer, from the sen- 
tence-unit, of whatever length. In other words English writers 
have thought roughly in long stages before they have analyzed 
such stages into smaller steps. 

12. (P. 44ff.) The paragraph as we know it comes into some- 
thing like settled shape in Sir William Temple. It was the 
product of perhaps five chief influences. First, the tradition, 
derived from the authors and scribes of the Middle Ages, that the 
paragraph-mark distinguishes a stadium of thought. Second, the 
Latin influence, which was rather towards disregarding the para- 
graph as the sign of anything but emphasis — the emphasis-tradi- 
tion being also of medieval origin ; the typical writers of the 
Latin influence are Hooker and Milton. Third, the natural 
genius of the Anglo-Saxon structure, favorable to the paragraph. 
Fourth, the beginnings of popular writing — of what maybe called 
the oral style, or consideration for a relatively uncultivated audi- 
ence. Fifth, the study of French prose, in this respect a late 
influence, allied in its results with the third and fourth influences. 
The course taken by the conflict of the second principle with 
the rest, resulting in the intermediate unit of the amorphous par- 
agraphed sentence, is summarized, pp. 44-47. 

13. (P. 47ff.) Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries, there is, in authors of regular methods, such as Hume 
and Macaulay, a perceptible but not a strong tendency towards 
reducing the average length of the paragraph to approximate 
constancy, in successive large groups of paragraphs. The author 
in whom the tendency is most pronounced is Macaulay. Here the 
tendency is so strong as to give a difference of only six words in 
the average paragraph word-length of the first and second vol- 
umes of the History of Engla)id. 



SUMMARY. 173 



CHAPTER IV. 



14. (P. 52ff.) (a) The recent investigations of Professor L. 
A. Sherman, in the development of the short sentence in English 
prose, are of much importance in their bearing upon the history 
of paragraph structure ; but by referring to the short sentence as 
" analytic," and again, in following the course of the development, 
by referring to the style of such intuitive (or synthetic) authors 
as Emerson as "analytic,"' the writer leads us into temporary con- 
fusion. From this it seems best, for the purposes of our discus- 
sion, to escape by the invention of certain new terms, as . 
segregating, applied to a style where the sentence of maximum 
occurrence is short, sa_y, twenty words or less ; aggregating, to 
a style where the favorite sentence is long ; redintegrating, where 
the method of procedure is psychologically analytic ; intuitive, 
where the method is psychologically synthetic — omitting the 
steps of approach, the intermediate predications. (1^) (p. S7ff.) 
The value of Professor Sherman's conclusions regarding the ^ oral' 
style are slightly impaired for us by the confused terminology 
mentioned in (12). The consequence of his theory concerning 
the decrease of predication is the application of the term 'oral' 
alike to styles redintegrating and intuitive. It seems better to 
limit the term 'oral style' to one in which the short sentence is 
employed, but the thought is psychologically redintegrating. 

15. {a) The oral style as we now understand it — produced by 
the expression of redintegrating thought in a segregating sentence 
— is the style most favorable to the paragraph structure. (/^) 
We may indeed almost define the oral style in terms of the para- 
graph. Thus : From the moment of the establishment of unity, 
in the development of the English paragraph, the oral sentence- 
sense means decreasing the number of predications in the period 
and increasing the number of propositions in the paragraph, in 
proportion to the author's conception of his reader's power of 
interpretation. 

16. (P. 63ff.) The articulation of clauses without connectives 
is a help to the coherence of the paragraph in only one of two 



174 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

cases : (a) where the style is impassioned ; (V) where the place of 
connectives is supplied by transitional phrases or clauses. There- 
ore it is not likely that the decrease in the use of connectives — a 
decrease explained by Professor Sherman in his Analytics of Lit- 
erature, chapter 26, — will continue indefinitely in prose that 
expresses proportioned and modulated thought. 

CHAPTER V. 

17. (P. 67.) Though the paragraph plays no structural 
part in Anglo-Saxon, it is not rash to say that the paragraphs 
indicated by the rubricator have, in general, unity of subject, the 
exceptions being due to causes explained in (18). 

18. (P. 66.) There were four distinct uses of the paragraph- 
mark, in Anglo-Saxon prose : (a) to mark a logical section ; {b) 
to note any emphatic point ; (c) to distinguish formally sacred 
names ; (d) to ornament and distinguish titles, colophons, etc. 

19. (P. 7off.) {fi) The Anglo-Saxon prose sentence corre- 
sponds in length roughly with the sentence of the nineteenth 
century. (S) The Anglo-Saxon prose sentence increases slowly 
in length, and when it becomes the Middle-English sentence, 
reaches, under Latin influence, a length nearly as great as that 
attained by the latinized sentence of Jacobean times. 

20. No English writer before Tyndale has any sense of the 
paragraph as a subject of internal arrangement. 

CHAPTER VI. 

21. (P. 7sff.) In Tyndale we find the earliest writer who 
can be said to be in any sense a good paragrapher. 

22. The most important men after Tyndale in the period 
from Tyndale to Temple, are Bacon, Hobbes, Browne, and Fuller, 
in respect of unity ; Lord Herbert, Burton, and Bunyan, in 
distribution of emphasis by variability of sentence-length ; Bur- 
ton in the matter of coherence without formal connectives; 
Fuller in the establishment of the deductive paragraph order. 

CHAPTERS VII-IX. 

23. The unity of the paragraph becomes nearly unimpeacha- 



SUMMAJiY. 17s 

ble in such men as Addison, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, Johnson, 
Hume, Burke. Only the best paragraphers of the nineteenth 
century, Macaulay, for example, surpass these authors in this 
respect. 

24. Proportion in the paragraph pretty steadily increases 
from Temple to Arnold, both in the way of assigning due bulk 
to the amplification of important ideas, and in the way of dis- 
tributing emphasis by varying sentence-length. The following 
list will illustrate the latter point, by showing in the first column 
the percentage of each author in the use of sentences of less than 
fifteen words, in the second the average sentence-length. In 
starred authors the percentage' of simple sentences, usually one 
or two points higher than the per cent, of sentences under fif- 
teen words, is substituted in the first column. 





±'er cent. 01 


Sentences 


Sentence- 


Sentences 




sentences of less 
than 15 words. 


considered. 


length. 


considered 


Temple 


2 


704 


53-40 


538 


* Dryden 


6 


521 


3844 


1300 


Locke 


8 


814 


49.80 


814 


Defoe 


8 


360 


38.68 


360 


* Swift 


13 


50|0 


40.00 


1171 


* Addison 


12 


500 


38.58 


898 


* Shaftesbun,' 


28 


650 


26.80 


578 


* Bolingbroke 


14 


977 


34.86 


981 


Johnson 


9 


218 


38.15 


2l8 


* Hume 


12 


500 


39-81 


1200 


* Goldsmith 


18 


500 


26.94 


868 


Burke 


29 


916 


26.09 


916 


Gibbon 


10 


1562 


31.21 


1562 


Paley 


17 


392 


37.68 


392 


Scott 


14 


1224 


32-14 


1224 


* Coleridge 


19 


500 


37.60 


777 


Jeffrey - 


6 


545 


50.65 


545 


Lamb 


41 


529 


27.19 


529 


Landor 


22 


696 


25-43 


696 


Irving 


24 


532 


26.73 


532 


* De Quincey 


14 


500 


38.81 


815 


* Macaulay 


34 


40,000 


23-43 


41,579 


' Mr. Gerwig's 


figures. 









Sentences 
considered. 


Sentence - 
length. 


Sentences 
considered. 


500 


.31-56 


270 


500 


41.44 


1228 


1438 


20.58 


II79 


2000 


25-35 


750 


1500 


16.63 


80s 


683 


31-45 


356 


718 


33-31 


814 


500 


34-41 


605 


500 


38-54 


219 



176 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Per cent, of 

sentences of less 

than 15 words. 

* Carlyle 18 

* Newman - 16 

* Emerson 41 

* Channing 34 

* Bartol 44 

* Lowell 23 

* Ruskin 18 

* Arnold 20 

* Pater 26 

25. Coherence by parallel construction of sentences, begin- 
ning in crude form in the paragraphs of the sixteenth century 
Euphuists — Lyly, Nash, Lodge, and their fellows — is reduced 
to a flexible and strong principle in Temple, Swift, Shaftesbury. 
Bolingbroke, Johnson, Hume, Gibbon, and Burke. It is weak in 
Dryden, Locke, Defoe, Sterne, Goldsmith, Paley. In the next 
century it continues weak in Scott, Coleridge, Jeffrey, Irving, 
Emerson, Carlyle ; reviving in De Quincey, Macaulay, Arnold. 
It is neglected by many popular writers of the present day. 

26. Coherence secured by so ordering words in the sentence 
that the mind shall pass from one sentence to another without 
check, is an art little observed in the sixteenth century. In the 
seventeenth it is perhaps strongest in Fuller and Burton. In the 
eighteenth century this principle is tolerably strong in Temple, 
Defoe, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, Fielding, Sterne, Goldsmith. It 
is very strong in Swift and Burke. It is relatively weak in John- 
son, Gibbon. In the nineteenth century the principle is rela- 
tively active in Lamb, Macaulay, Newman, and is at its best in 
Carlyle, for one type, and in Arnold, for another. 

27. Coherence secured by the use of connectives is in most 
active force in the earliest periods of our prose. From the six- 
teenth century till the opening of the nineteenth it declines, 
reaching it^ ebb in the balanced sentences of Gibbon. At the 
beginning of the nineteenth century the principle became strongly 
operative in the reactionary prose of Coleridge, but has again 
declined. Today there are two tendencies, one continuing the 



SUMMARY. 177 

decline, the other emphatically but intelligently reacting. The 
popular prose of the last twenty years tends to drop sentence- 
connectives. Another stream of writing, represented by the 
classical prose of Arnold, uses connectives freely but vitally. The 
present discussion holds that the dropping cf inter- sentential 
connectives cannot successfully be accomplished without danger 
to one essential prose merit — the merit of reproducing the restric- 
tions and modulations which must characterize good prose 
of the intellectual type. The table on page 178 presents in outline 
the progress of the usage regarding inter-sentential connectives. 
The table shows certain interesting facts respecting the rela- 
tive use of different conjunctions by different authors. Walton 
uses the highest number of ands. Swift, Johnson, Macaulay use no 
ands at all ; Gibbon uses but one. Pater curiously exhibits more 
ands than any other man since Walton ; but his use of them is 
not formal merely. Coleridge registers the highest percentage 
of buts since Spenser, while De Quincey practically eschews this 
word and exhibits about as large a number of interior howevers 
as Coleridge of initial buts. Initial therefore is little used since 
Ascham, and interior therefore not extensively — Coleridge head- 
ing the list with eleven. 

28. The favorite type of paragraph in the history of our prose 
has been the loose type, although certain writers, as Butler in the 
eighteenth and Macaulay in the nineteenth, have shown some 
facility in the periodic type. 

29. There has been, during the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries, a general tendency to make the topic-sentence of the 
paragraph short, but not to reduce it to laconic brevity. 

30. The better paragraphs of the nineteenth century are far 
more organic, far more highly organized, than the better ones of 
the eighteenth. 

31. The paragraph structure is, in proportion to the com- 
pljxity and size of the thought conveyed, more economical of 
attention than the long periodic sentence; and the rise of the 
paragraph structure is in no small degree due to this fact. 



The first column under each author sho\= 



second column, the number of connectives that, though standing within the sentence, connect sen- 
tences, not clauses. The basis of computation in each author is 300 sentences. 





n 
< 


1 


c 


1 


e 






c 


3 


4J 




s 
"5 
C 

P 


— 






S 

u 

E 
W 


2 
<2 


1 




I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


I 2 


1 2 


I 2 


I 2 




49 


6 


30 

13 

I 


9 


19 

"e 

I 
I 




80 


6 


13 












I 




5 




3 








5 
II 


3 


7 

2 




21 
7 


2 


4 
*" 






I 




I 






I 


3 


I 




for 


30 










12 




6 


... 


vea 




























5 
























I 








S 

I 

4 












' 


••> 




2 
4 


I 










2 




4 

I 












I 






















so, so that 


12 


10 


7 


2 

I 




I 


3 


I 


I 






2 


I 


I 






2 
I 


3 




2 




I 


... 








: 


3 








3 


8 




















2 












I 








4 






2 

5 


I 

2 

II 




















2 












I 




I 


2 




besides 


4 
... 








I 


I 






























3 


I 


I 


I 


2 














5 
3 
I 










I 


3 
4 




3 

3 




4 
2 

I 
































I 


I 










































2 
I 






















1 








I 


I 










I 






























































































I 

I 






























... 


I 














I 
































I 






I 










I 








































on the whole 












































I 












I 

I 




f contrariwise 

\on the contrary 

on the other (hand) 
(side) 


I 












I 


I 


















I 

I 

I 


I 




I 


























I 


2 


1 












I 








± 




I 


I 




hitherto 












! 












1 






so far '. 




















1 


















1 










I 
















I 












1 




























I 




... 


in other words 
































I 
































I 

2 


I 


3 


























I 








I 
2 




I 








3 




neither 








































... 






nor 


2 
23 

8 


I 
2 










I 

12 
2 












I 
9 




I 
26 
4 








3 

15 
7 








39 
3 


2 


13 
3 


I 


25 






14 




10 

3 


I 




12 

I 


I 




10 




14 
2 




12 
3 




8 

I 




yet 




once more 










T 


nevertheless 






3 


















t 












I 






I 


2 














still 






































2 


I 




... 


however 










2 






I 






6 1 


I 


I 


... 2 




2 


424 




I 


2 


2 




I 


T 


notwithstanding 






I 
I 












it is true 
















I 












I 


2 
II 






















at least 
























, 


'' 






I 




I 

I 










'finally 

■ lastly (at last) 
at length 




I 
2 


2 

5 


3 
3 












I 
I 














I 




3 


2 


2 

I 


I 






I 




therefore 


15 
I 
I 




7 




2 




...1 2 
1 




3 






wherefore 








.•• 






thus 




2 

3 


I 


2 


2 


2 




3 






I 


3 


I 


I 




2 

I 
1 


2 


I 




I 




3 

2 

I 


I 


I 


I 




2 


2 




/and still 

\and yet 




accordingly 






























I 
I 


I 






I 












hence ...., 














I 

5 
I 
I 




















3 


I 


I 

3 

I 








well 


6 
7 

4 


















































now 




6 
I 


4 
























3 

I 


5 


I 
I 
I 












1 .> 


I 


I 






indeed 








I 










S 




7 




5 






thereupon 


















"* 


whereupon 












































I 














consequently 


































I 
















...j... 






' 


otherwise 










I 












t 






























... 
























"'I"" 




































Total sentences foi-m- 
ally "connected 


168 


164 


1 


4 


I 


30 


SI 


39 


25 


17 


IC 


)o 


75 


47 


7 


S 


47 


6 


6 


3 


I 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. i 7 9 

BIBLIOGRAPHY. 

Note. — Most of the works used in preparing Chapter I., having been 
given at the end of that chapter to facilitate the reading of the cut, are not here 
repeated. " 

I. 

CRITICAL WORKS QUOTED. 

Angus, Joseph : Handbook of the English Tongue. London. 

Aristotle : Rhetoric, translated by J. E. C. Welldon. London, 1886. 

Arnold, Matthew: Essays in Criticism. London, 1893. 

Bain, Alexander : English Composition and Rhetoric. New York, 
1869. 

Blades, William : Life and Typography of William Caxion. Lon- 
don, 1 861-1863. 

Brandl, Alois : Life of Coleridge, translated by Lady Eastlake. Lon- 
don, 1887. 

Carpenter, G. R. : Exercises in Rhetoric and Composition (Advanced 
Course). Boston, 1893. 

Colvin, Sidney: Zawrfcr (English Men of Letters). New York. 

De Quincey, Thomas: Works, ed. Masson. Edinburgh, 1889. 

Earle, John: English Prose. New York, 1890. 

Genung, J. F. : Lhe Practical Elements of Rhetoric. Boston, 1893. 

Gerwig, G. W. . On the Decrease of Predication and of Sentence 
Weight in English Prose. University Studies, published by the Univer- 
sity of Nebraska, Vol. II., No. i. 

Gosse, Edmund : History of Eighteenth Century Literature. Lon- 
don, 1 89 1. 

Hazlitt, William : Essays, ed. Carr. London. 

Hill. A. S. : Principles of Rhetoric . New York, 1883. 
Foundations of Rhetoric. New York, 1893. 

Hill, D. J. : Elements of Rhetoric. New York. 

Hunt, T. W. : The Principles of Written Discourse. New York, 

1891. 

Hunt, T. W. : English Prose and Prose Writers. New York, 1 891. 

Landor, W. S. : Works. London, 1876. 

Lowell, J. R. : Latest Literary Essays, Boston, 1892. 

McElroy, J. G. R. : The Structure of English Prose. New York, 

1887. 

Minto, William : Manual of English Prose. Boston, 1892. 



l8o HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Miiller, Ivan von ; Handbuch der Klassischen Alterthumswissenschaft. 
Munchen, 1892. 

Nichol, John : Primer of English Coinposition. London, 1891. 

Quackenbos, G. P. : Course of Composition and Rhetoric. New York. 

Roberts, E. S. : An Introduction to Greek Epigraphy. Cambridge 
University Press, 1887. 

Ruskin, John : Works, Brantwood ed. London and New York, 1 891. 

Saintsbury, George : History of Elizabethan Literature. London, 
1891. 

Specimens of English Prose. London, 1885. 

Scott, F. N. and Denney, J. V. : Paragraph- Writing. Boston, 1893. 
Sherman, L. A.: Analytics of Literature. Boston, 1893. 

So7ne Observations on the Sentence-Length in English 

Prose. University Studies, published by the University of Nebraska, 
Vol. I., No. 2. 

On Certain Fads and Principles in the Developm.ent of Form 

in Literature. University Studies, Vol. L, No. 4. 

Sidney, Sir Philip: Defense of Poetry. Arber Reprint, 1868. 

The Same, ed. Cook. Boston, 1 890. 

The Countess of Pembroke' s Arcadia. Facsimile of editio 

princeps, ed. Sommer. London, 1891. 

Stephen, Leslie: Hours in a Library, ist Series, London, 1874. 
3d Series, London, 1879. 

Taine, H. A. : Histoire de la Littirature Aiiglaise . Paris, 1887. 

Thompson, E. Maunde : Handbook of Greek and Latin Palceography. 
London, 1893. 

Trevelyan, G. O. : Life and Letters of Macaulay. London, 1886. 

Wattenbach, Wilhelm : Anleitung zur Latehiischen Palceographie. 
Leipzig, 1886. 

IL 
Editions Employed in the Study of the Prose Paragraph. 

Addison, Joseph : Works. London, 1 72 1 . 
vElfric: Selected Homilies. Ed. Sweet. Oxford, 1885. 
Alfred: Orosius. E. E. T. S. 1879. Ed. Sweet. 
Ancren Riwle. Camden Society. Ed. Morton. London, 1853. 
Arnold, Matthew: Works. London, 1891. 
Ascham, Roger: Toxophilus. Arber reprint, 1868. 
Scholemaster. Arber reprint, 1870. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. l8l 

Bacon, Francis: Advancement of Learning. Oxford, 1633. 

The Same, ed. Aldis Wright. Oxford, l8gl. 

Bartol, C. A. : Radical Problems. Boston, 1874. 

^t^Ts.: Ecclesiastical History. E. E. T. S. 45. Ed. Miller. 
Bentley, Richard : .ff/ir^/i?j o/P/za/ariy. 2nd ed. London, i6gg. 
Blair, Hugh: Lectures on Rhetoric. London, 18 19. 
Browne, Sir Thomas : Works. Bohn ed. London, 1853. 
Bunyan, John : The Pilgrim's Progress. Facsimile of editio princeps, 
London : Elliot Stock. 

Burke, Edmund : Works. Boston, i88g. 

Burton, Robert : Anatomy of Melancholy. London, 1676. 

Butler, Joseph : Works. Edinburgh, 1804. 

Carlyle, Thomas : Sartor Resartus. London : Chapman & Hall. 

French Revolution. London, 1837. 

Essays. Boston, 1881. 

Channing, W. E. . Works. Boston, 1886. 

Chaucer, Geoffrey : Prose Works: E. E. T. S. Extra Series, v. and 
xvi. Ed. Morris and Skeat. 

Coleridge, S. T. : The Friend. Bohn ed. London, 1867. 

Cooper, Anthony : Second Earl of Shaftesbury : Characteristics. 
London, 1757. 

Cowley, Abraham: Essays. London, 1680. 

Essays. Ed. Lumby. Cambridge, 1887. 

Cranmer, Thomas : Works. Parker Society. Ed. Cox, from ed. 
of 1580. 

Defoe, Daniel : Robinson Crusoe. Facsimile of editio princeps. 
London, 1883. 

Defoe, Daniel : Essay on Projects. Ed. H. Morley. London. 

De Quincey, Thomas : OpiuTn Eater. Boston, 185 1. 

Works. Boston, 1874. 

Dickens, Charles ; Works. New York, 188 1. 

Dryden, John : 0« 5a/'2y«', in Translation of Juvenal. London, 1726. 

Works. Ed. Scott, Saintsbury. Edinburgh, 1882. 

Eliot, Sir John : Works. Ed. Grosart (from MS.), 1879. 
Eliot, George : Daniel Deronda. New York. 

Emerson, R. W. : Miscellanies. Boston, 1883. 
Fabyan, Robert : Concordance of Histories. Ed. Ellis. London, 
1811. 

Fielding, Henry: Tom Jones. Ed. L. Stephen. London, 1882. 



1 82 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Fuller, Thomas ; Worthies of England. Editio princeps. London, 
1662. 

Gibbon, Edward: History of the Roman Empire. Oxford, 1827. 

Goldsmith, Oliver : Vicar of Wakefield. Ed. Gibbs. London, 1885. 

Gosson, Stephen : School of Abuse. Arber reprint, 1868. 

Green, J. R. : History of the English People. New York, 1885. 

Greene, Robert: Works, ed. Grosart (Huth Library, 1881-86). 

Greville, Fulke, Lord Brooke: Life of Sidney. Ed. Grosart, 1870. 

Herbert, Edward, Lord : Autobiography. Ed. Dircks. London, 
1888. 

Hobbes, Thomas : Leviathan. Ed. Molesworth. London, 1839. 

Holinshed, Ralph : Chronicles. London, 1574. 

Hooker, Richard : Ecclesiastical Polity. London, 1639 (') 

Howell, James ; England's Tears for the Present Wars. Editio 
princeps, 1644. 

Hume, David : History of England. Oxford, 1826. 

Hyde, Edward, Lord Clarendon : History of the Great Rebellion. 
Oxford, 1 71 2. 

Irving, Washington: Sketch Book. New York, 189 1. 

Jeffrey, Francis : Contributions to the Edinburgh Review. New 
York, 1879. 

Johnson, Samuel : Works. Oxford, 1825. 

Jonson, Benjamin : Tim.ber, or Discoveries made upon Men and 
Matter. Ed. Schelling. Boston, 1892. 

Kingsley, Charles: Alton Locke. New York, 1887. 

Lamb, Charles : Essays of Elia. Ed. Rhys. London, 1890. 

Landor, W. S.: Imaginary Conversations. Boston, 1876. 

Latimer, Hugh ; Seven Sermons. Arber reprint, 1 869. 

Lincoln, Abraham: Letter. Century Magazine, May, 1889. 

Locke, John : Essay on Human Understanding. Oxford, 1824. 

Lowell, J. R.: A^nong my Books. Boston, 1881. 

Lyly, John : Euphues. Arber reprint, 1868. 

Macaulay, T. B.: History of England. London, 1879. 

Essays. New York. 

Dr. fohnson. Encyc. Brit., 8th ed. 

Mandeville, John : Voiage and Travaile. Ed. Halliwell London 
1839. 

Michel of Northgate : Ayenbite of Inwyt. E. E. T. S. 23. Ed. Morris. 

Milton, John : Areopagitica. Arber reprint, 1 868. 



BIBLIOGRAPH Y. 183 

Xash, Thos.: Works, Huth Library, ed. Grosart, 1883-4. 
Xewman, Cardinal J. H.: Idea of a University . London, 189 1. 
Overbury, Sir Thomas : Characters. 

Pater, Walter: Appreciations, with A)i Essay 011 Style. London, 
1S90. 

Plato and Platonism. London, 1893. 

Paley, William : Moral a7id Political Philosophy. Philadelphia, 
1S31. 

Pecock, Reginald : The Reprcssour of Overmuch Blaming of the 
'^^''>'S>'- Ed. Churchill Babington. London, i860. 

Puttenham, George: The Arte of English Poesie. Arber reprint, 
1869. 

Richardson, Samuel: Pamela. Ed. L. Stephen. London, 1883. 

Ruskin, John: Sesame and Lilies. London, 1891. 

St. John, Henry, \'iscount Bolingbroke : Letter to Sir William 
Wyndham. London, 1777. 

Scott, Sir Walter : Ivanhoe. Edinburgh, 1871. 

Selden, John : Table Talk. Ed. H. Morley. London. 

Sidney, Sir Philip : Arcadia. Facsimile of original quarto. Ed. 
Sommer. London, i8gi. 

Defense of Poesy. Arber reprint, 1868. 

Spencer, Herbert: Philosophy of Style. Ed. Scott. Boston, 1892. 

Spenser, Edmund : View of the Present State of Ireland. Ed. Gro- 
sart, 1882. 

Sterne, Laurence: A Sentimental fourtiey. London, 1783. 

Stow, John : Chronicle. London, 1575. 

Swift, Jonathan : A Tale of a Tub and Battle of the Books. Editio 
princeps. London, 1704. 

Gulliver s Travels. Ed. Sheridan and Nichols. London, 

1803. 

Taylor, Jeremy : The Liberty of Prophesying. Ed. Heber. London, 
1828. 

Temple, Sir William : Works. London, 1814. 

Thoreau, Henry D.. Excursions. Boston. 

Tyndale, William : The Obedience of a Christian Man. Parker Soc, 
Ed. Walter. Cambridge, 1848. 

The Same. Day's ed., 1572. 

Walton, Sir Isaac : The Complete Angler. Facsimile of editio 
princeps. London, 1876. 

Life of Hooker. Editio princeps. London, 1665. 



1 84 HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PARAGRAPH. 

Webbe, William ; A Discourse of English Poetrie. Arber reprint, 
1870. 

Wendell, Barrett: English Composition. New York, 1892. 

Wilson, Sir Thomas : The Arte of Rhetoriqve. Editio princeps. 
London, 1553. Owned by F. I. Carpenter, Esq. 

Wiclif, John : The English Works of Wiclif Hitherto Unpublished. 
E. E. T. S. 74. Ed. Matthew. 

Wordsworth, William : Prefaces. Ed. George. Boston, 1892. 



APPENDIX. 
NOTES ON THE VERSE PARAGRAPH IN MIDDLE ENGLISH. 

In this dissertation as presented in June, 1894, was included a final 
chapter of notes on the development of the paragraph in English verse. 
The following pages give such of those notes as pertained to the Mid- 
dle-English period. The rest of the original chapter is not printed, but 
reserved to form the basis of a fuller treatment at a later day. This 
unprinted material includes statistics of the paragraph-length of the 
blank verse of Alilton, Cowper, Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Browning ; 
but the statistics would be but mere lumber here without a more adequate 
discussion of the aesthetic question involved than was possible for me to 
make. What Professor Corson has done for the "stanza" of Milton's 
blank verse should be done for the long poems of all the authors just 
mentioned. Careful consideration ought also to be given to the funda- 
mental question whether originally the logical unit, the sense unit, had 
in literature any strong influence in the development of the rhythmical 
unit, the stanza. As a preliminary study I have tried to learn whether 
the paragraph-mark had any metrical significance in our older poetry. 

The paragraph-mark does not occur in the oldest Anglo-Saxon 
poems. Neither is its place supplied by the colored initial, although 
colored initials do occur at the beginning of the main divisions. With 
the close of the twelfth century, however, we find both initial and mark 
used evidently with some metrical significance. To learn how far the 
use extends we examine about twenty authors, noting just where the 
scribes put paragraph-marks in the MSB. 

The Poema Alorale. 

The Poema Morale (l 170 A. D., Zupitza ; 1200-1225, Ten Brink) is 
written in rhymed septenars. These fall into strophes of four lines 
each, each strophe being introduced by a rubricated initial. At least this 
is strictly true of the Digby MS. (Bodleian A. 4.) ; the same regularity 
does not characterize the Trinity College MS. used by Morris, for here a 
rubricated letter often appears, apparently without significance, in the 
midst of a strophe. 

185 



1 86 APPENDIX. 

The Ormuluni, c. 1200. 

The fifteen-syllable lines of the Onnuluyn are written in the MS. 
continuously as in prose, the metrical point being placed at the end of 
the fourth foot of each verse. The Ortnulwn has, however, the para- 
graph-mark (see cut, p. n, Fig. 12). The length of the paragraph is 
exceedingly variable, depending entirely upon the scribe's rather arbitrary 
ideas of the logical divisions and of the emphatic points. The Holt- 
White edition gives only the longer logical divisions, disregarding very 
many of the MS. marks. In the Holt- White edition, beginning with 
the "Dedication," the first 60 paragraphs run as follows with respect to 
number of short lines:' 156, 28, 66, 30, 55, 8, 106, 30, 58, 20, 88, 58, 
206, 162, 168, 12, 34, 16, 46, ig, 36, 8, 26, 148, 188, 343, 52, 200, 48, 54, 
82, 56, 352, 172, 46. 56, 93, 80, 82, 20, 116, 92, 156, 68, 114, 54, 90. 124, 
102, 32, 144, 148, 82, 152, 456, 158, 328, 612, 200, 228. 

Nothing in these figures points to a strophic grouping ; nor does any- 
thing in the verses themselves, although occasionally short passages 
are repeated with studied effort at musical effect. 

Layamon's Brut, c. 1205. 
Layamon's Brut is, in all MSS., almost without paragraphing. Both 
MSS. used by Madden muster together 14 marks, for the whole 30,000 
lines. The signs occur too rarely to have either metrical or structural 
meaning, and are merely equivalent to marginal index-figures, pointing 
out important things. In MS. Cott. Otho, c. xiii., initials are used to 
mark divisions, but the divisions are too long to be considered as para- 
graphs. 

The Story of Genesis and Exodits, c. 1250. 

The song known as the Story of Genesis a?id Exodtis is preserved in 
a unique MS. in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The 
MS. is divided by red initials into loi short paragraphs, the brevity of 
which is in keeping with the light and easy movement of the poem. 
The average number of lines in the paragraph is 40.4, but there is 
great variability in the individual sections. I can see no signs of any 
strophic arrangement in the rhymed couplets of this poem. The same 
rhyme is, however, occasionally continued through several verses. 

The paragraphs are respectively of the following numbers of lines : 
12, 16, 6, 58, 20, 16, 28, 8, 34, 14, 14, 4, 14, 14, 10, 50, 14, 22, 14, 8, 12, 20, 
20, 12, 14, 10, 6, 22, 24, ID, 4, 4, 4, 16, 6, 16, 16, 2, 2, 4, 12, 6, 40, 16, 22, 

' Ormin's long line is printed by White as a couplet. 



APPENDIX. 187 

8, 104, 12, lo, 6, 72, 13, 42, 42, 28, 86, 14, 26, 36, 12, 58, 16, 34, 8, 24, 8 
4, i6, 18, 60, 6, 20, 34, 20, 46, 1 16, 14, 26, 6, 8. 24, 26, 4, 10, 6, 28, 16, 26 
14, 4, 52, 36, 14, 28, 22, 8, 10, 8, 10, 62, 26, 28, 26, 40, 80, 54, 80, 46, 14 
18, 14, 4, 16, 12, 18, 10, 66, 26, 14, 82, 8, 42, 6, 6, 4, 12, 6, 18, 30, 32, 16 
14, 8, 10, 30, 8, 12, 18, 30, 13, 26. 20, 34, 8, 16, 34, 10, 10, 4, 8, 6, 42, 18 
30, 38, 24, 32, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, i8, 16, 4, 38, 44, 16, 16, 4, 13 
8, 30, 16, 6, i8, i6, 10, 16, 26, 44, 16, 14, 12, 76, 36, 12, 28, 14, 14, 10, 8 
28, 10, 8. 

King Horn, c. 1280. 

King Horn, according to the Cambridge University Library MS. 
(Gg. 4.27.2) used by Lumby (E. E, T. S.) falls into seven divisions, 
separated by rubrical initials. These divisions are again broken by 
paragraph-marks, colored red. The following table exhibits the length 
of each paragraph in lines, the paragraphs being grouped in capital 
paragraphs, represented here by Roman numerals : 



I. 


II. 


III. 


IV. 


V. 


VI. 


VII. 


24 


16 


18 


14 


3S 


20 


20 






52 


12 


20 
28 
IS 

44 

24 

12 
12 
20 
14 
32 
12 

14 

4 

14 

20 

8 

12 
22 
12 

*4 
20 
16 

6 
18 

44 


20 

18 
12 
40 

34 
10 


8 
10 
18 
12 
26 
12 
18 

58 
70 
16 

38 
16 
70 
20 
10 
8 
32 
28 
58 
16 
26 
28 
42 
10 
30 
32 



Of the 66 paragraphs only 26 are indivisible by four. This fact, 
taken as a hint, leads us to read the text with a view to seeing whether 



1 88 APPENDIX. 

or not every four lines makes a stadium. The result of our reading helps 
us to accept as at least probable the conjecture of the late Dr. Wissman, 
that there was an original strophic arrangement by fours. This arrange- 
ment seems to have been suggested to Wissman' by the occasional 
recurrenceof the same rhyme in groups of four : c.^., 127-130 ; 227-230, 
etc. 

Havelok the Dane, c. 1280. 

Havelok the Dane (Skeat, E. E. T. S., from the unique MS., Laud. 
Misc. 108 Bodl. Lib.) has, if we omit Skeat's conjectured v. 46, 3000 
verses, which fall into paragraphs by 96 rubrical initials. The para- 
graph-mark is used but once, then introducing the third section, and 
employed, I fancy, to avoid a capital thorn. So far as unity of subject 
is concerned, the paragraphing is excellently done. The paragraphs are 
respectively of the following numbers of lines: 26, 78,° 28, i6-, 12, 22 
20, 6, 16, 14, 20, 20, 6, 26, 16, 10, 20, 6, 34, 10, 3g,° 18, 80, 20, 84 
42, 42, 16, 36, 26, 46, 22, 30, 18, 176, 14, 64, 66, 18, 10, '10, 68, 32 
7, 250, 26, 14, 32, 52, 94, 8, 10, 36, 6, 34, 48, 6, 44, 4, 30, 10, 10 
14, 38, 10, 20, 12, 20, 14, 18, 4, 10, 24, 22, 42, 24, 26, 6, 20, 58,24 
54, 54, 16, 118, 24, 10, 20, 30, 12, 6, 72, 14, 6, 14, 16, 24. 

Although the large number of sections divisible by four might sug- 
gest the presence of strophic arrangement, none such appears on 
examination. The poem was not, like Horn, fitted for musical recita- 
tion. 

Guy of Warwick, 1300-1325. 

The various MSS. of Guy of Warwick differ widely in the length of 
their main divisions. In the Auchinleck MS. the twelve-line stanzas are 
usually introduced by the paragraph-mark. The mark occurs only 
three times in the Cambridge Paper MS., namely at lines 7487, 11,267, 
11,337. Zupitza, however, in his edition from the MS. last named, 
inserts the paragraph-mark many times, in order to break up the long 
divisions. 

Sir Bevis of Hamtoun, 1 300-1 325. 

In the Romance of Sir Bevis of Hamtomt (Auchinleck MS.), the par- 
agraph-mark is placed before the third and sixth lines of the six-line 

' King Horn. Unierszichungen zur Mittelenglischen Sprach- und Littera- 
tnrgeschichte. Strassburg, 1876. P. 63. 

= Skeat's conjectured line 46 is omitted. At 410, 411, the lines are perhaps 
corrupt, for they do not rhyme. This fact may account for the odd number of 
lines, 39. 



APPENDIX. 189 

Stanzas, for the first 474. lines. With the 475th line the metre changes 
to the couplet, and hereafter the mark subdivides the main sections. 
which are marked by initials. I cannot discover that the mark has any 
metrical import after 474. 

The real paragraphs of the poem are the capital paragraphs (cf. p. 
29). The first of these consists of nine six-line stanzas ; the second, of 
nine ; the third, of fourteen ; the fourth, of seventeen ; the fifth, of four- 
teen ; the sixth, of sixteen. Each group has a certain unity of its own- 
The rest of the paragraphs are of varied length and indifferent unity. 
They indicate no strophic tendency. The count runs as follows, by 
lines: 54, 54, 84, 102, 84, 96, 110, 60, 94, 32, 66, 72, 80, 52, 28, 68, 82, 
44, 82, 88, 50, 52, 40, 60, no, 136, 78, 188, 62, 42, 30, 184, 68, 64, 206- 
108, 40, 72, 94, 10. 

The Bruce, ^ z. 1376. 

Both the two important MSS. of the Bruce, the Cambridge and the 
Edinburgh, show the paragraph-mark ; but the paragraphing does not 
agree closely in the two. I cannot see that the mark has any metrical 
import in either ^IS. Pinkerton, who edited the Bruce in 1790, divided 
it into twenty books, instead of the long and irregular paragraphs. 
Jamieson, 1820, preferred a division into fourteen books; while Inness, 
1866, following the MSS., divided his text into paragraphs, 150 in all. 

Cursor Mundi,- 1 4th c. 
There is no meaning in the paragraphing of the various MSS. of the 
Cursor Mu7idi. Each successive scribe was positive that the unity of 
his predecessors' paragraphs was faulty, and so each placed the marks 
differently. Thus, Fairfax MS., 14 Bodleian, has, in the first 1000 
verses, twelve capital paragraphs, seventy-one paragraphs. Cotton 
Vesp. A iii. Brit. Mus., has, in the first 1000 verses, two capital para- 
graphs and five paragraphs. Gottingen MS., theol. 107, has in the first 
1000 lines no capital paragraphs, sixteen paragraphs. MS. R. 3. 8. 
Trin. Col., Cam., has in the first looo lines seven capital paragraphs, 

fifty paragraphs. 

The Legend of Celestin, c. 1360 (?) 

The Legend of Celestin'^ (MS. Laud. L 70, fol. 118 b) is written in 

' The Bruce, or The Book of the Most Excellent and Noble Prince, Robert de 
Broyss, Kins of Scots. Ed. Skeat, E. E. T. S. 
"^ Cursor Mundi. Ed. Morris, E. E. T. S. 
3 Ed. Horstmann, Auglia, I., p. 67. 



1 90 APPENDIX. 

strophes of five lines, rhyming a a a b b. The paragraph-mark occurs 
only at the beginning of a strophe, thus serving as a metrical index. 
But it does not begin every strophe. In the companion piece, Susanna, 
the mark introduces each thirteen-line strophe. The capital para- 
graphs of the Celestin include respectively the following numbers of 
strophes : 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 3, I, 3, 2, 2, 2, 
2, I, 3. 2, 3, 3, I, 3, 3, 3. 3. 3. 3. 2, 3, I, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 3, I, 2, 3, I, 3, 2, 3, 
2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 2. 

Joseph of Arimathie,^ z. 1350. 

In Joseph of Arimathie (Vernon MS. fol. 403) the alliterative verse 
is written like prose. The whole poem is, however, marked off into 
lines and half-lines by three devices : {a) small capitals ; (3) para- 
graph-marks ; (c) metrical dots. 

The paragraphs are indicated by capitals. The paragraph-mark 
serves two purposes, namely, that of a metrical sign, and that of an 
emphasis mark, or index. It is noticeable that these two uses usually 
coincide in result, /. c, each paragraph-mark usually notes the beginning 
of a line, and at the same time calls attention to something important. 
The length of the capital paragraphs is successively as follows, no 
strophic tendency appearing: 3,= 16, 17, 16, 11, 10, 14, 20, 8, 20, 38, 6, 
31, 16, 30, 19, 18, 18, 21, 2g, 19, 32, 36, 22, 17, 29, 37, 51, 9, 41, 12, 10 
12, 20. 

The Wars of Alexander? 

The Wars of Alexander 'has 27 passus, the last incomplete. Skeat 
reckons a total of 5677 vv. The number of verses to the passus runs 
thus: 213, 311, 198, 158, 240, 336, 263, 286, 313, 288, 239, 167, igi, 
264, 192, 120, 239, 240, 119, 192, 145, 191, 169, 216, 192, 144, 51 
(incomplete). But it must be remembered that in all the alliterative 
poems lines were frequently lost in the copying ; thus the following lines 
appear in the Dublin MS., but not in the Ashmole : 1633, 1766, 1767, 
2168, 2724, 2842, 2980, 3167, 3267, 4002. If we add these missing 
lines, our count of verses in the successive passus will stand : 213, 311, 
198, 158, 240, 336, 264, 288, 314, 288, 241, 168, 192, 265, 192, 120, 240, 

'Joseph of Arimathie, otherwise called the Romance of the Seint Graal, ed 
Skeat, E.E.T.S. 

= The MS. is imperfect before this \ 

3 The Wars of Alexander, an alliterative romance, translated chiefly from the 
Historia Alexandri Magni de Pro;liis, ed. Skeat, E.E.T.S. 



APPENDIX. 1 9 1 

240, iig, 192, 145, 191, 169, 216, 192, 144, 51 (incomplete). Although 
this change has made one of the even numbers odd (264-265) it has 
greatly raised the sum of evens, which (omitting the incomplete last 
passus) now stands 18 out of 26, or 69 per cent. This is a curious 
thing in verse supposed to be alliterative merely, and not strophic. We 
look farther — to the paragraph-marks. 

The paragraph-marks are distributed as follows in the Ashmole MS., 
the Roman numeral indicating the passus, the Arabic the number of the 
line in the Skeat text : 
I. 23, 95, 190. 
II. 214, 334, 406, 478. 
III. 525. 
IV. 
\'. S81, 905, 1024. 

VI. II2I. 

VII. 1505. 
VIII. 1958. 
IX. 

X. 2415, 2439, 2463. 
XI. 2727, 2755, 2775, 2799, 2823. 
XII. 2894. 

XIII. 3037, 3085,3180. 

XIV. 3252, 3299, 3420. 
XV. 3540, 3564, 3576. 

XVI. 3762. 
XVII. 3780. 

XVIII. 4163, 4211, 4235. 
XIX. 4259. 
XX. 4378. 
XXI. 4644, 4692. 

XXII. 4715- 

XXIII. 4906. 

XXIV. 5075, 5103. 
XXV. 5291. 

XXVI. 
XXVII. 5656. 

Therefore the numbers of lines per paragraph, by the marks of the 
Ashmole, are: 22, 72, 95, 24, 120, 72, 72, 47, 356, 24, 119, 97, 384, 453, 
457, 24, 24, 264, 28, 20, 24, 24, 71, 143, 48, 95, 72, 47. 121, 120, 24, 12, 
186, 18, 383, 48, 24, 24, 119, 266, 48, 23, 191, 169, 128, 188, 365. If 
now we count the initial at the beginning of each passus as taking the 



192 APPENDIX. 

place of the mark, when that is lacking, and if we add in their proper 
places the ten extra lines found in the Dublin MS. but lacking in the Ash- 
mole, the list just given will stand thus : 22, 72, 95, 24, 120, 72, 72, 47, 198, 
158, 24, 120, 97, 336, 48, 216, 240, 48, 314, 96, 24, 24, 144, 121, 28, 20, 
24, 24, 24, 48, 120, 24, 48, 96, 24, 48, 48, 121, 48, 72, 24, 12, 84, 102, 
18, 240, 144, 48, 24, 24, 119, 192, 74, 48, 23, 191, 169, 28, 188, 192, 
144, 29. 

The merest glance at these numbers shows that the even ones greatly 
predominate. This predominance suggests a possible strophic arrange- 
ment. The suggestion is strengthened by several curious things notice- 
able in the Ashmole MS. First, of the twenty-seven passus, only ten 
begin with the paragraph-mark. These ten are passus ii., iii., v., vi, 
xix., XX., xxii., xxiii., xxiv., xxv. Why only ten so begin is not plain ; 
of course it may be a matter of chance, but, again, there are three 
passus, iv., ix., xxvi., that contain no paragraph-mark at all. I cannot 
understand the reason of this, unless it be that the mark was 
inserted now and then merely as a metrical regtilator ; and I grant 
this to be but a poor reason for the omissions. 

But at any rate, on the suspicion that the mark means something 
metrically, as it did in Joseph of Ari7nathie, we look for the smallest 
paragraph. It turns out to be one of four lines, Dublin, 2795-2799. 
No paragraph smaller than twelve lines occurs in the Ashmole. Using 
four as a divisor we discover that 73 per cent, of the paragraphs in the 
revised list given above, are divisible. Immediately we begin to read 
to see if each four lines form anything like a stadium. 

The first paragraph contains twenty-four lines. Its natural subdi- 
visions seem to be 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-18. 19-23. So far, so 
good. This paragraph breaks into six divisions of respectively 3, 4, 3, 
4, 4, 4, lines. We further discover that the first three lines have /as 
the letter of alliteration, the next four have /, the next three have c (k), 
the next four w, the last four r. It would be easy here to say that the 
first and third divisions have lost each a line, but the sense is perfect as 
the text now stands. We find no other groups of lines with the same 
alliteration. As we continue the reading we find that by no means does 
every fourth line mark a stadium. We therefore double the number, 
and read for groups of eight. The result is surprisingly persuasive that 
there is a genuine strophic arrangement by eights. There are indeed 
cases where the eighth line does not end a sentence, but the great 
majority of these groups of eight do mark real stadia. We may at 



APPENDIX. 193 

least conclude that there is a strong tendency in this poem to write 
alliterative verses in strophes of eight ; but that the rule is not without 
many exceptions. 

I have tried to test this hypothesis still further by considering the 
whole text as divided both by the paragraph-marks of the Ashmole, 
and by the initials of the Dublin. The result, however, is not so assur- 
ing as the paragraphing of the Ashmole alone. It is entirely possible 
that the original poem was divided regularly into eight-line groups, 
but in the present state of our knowledge it seems rash to reject so 
many good verses and add so many conjectural ones as would be nec- 
essary to render all the passus divisible hy eight.' 

William of Palcnif, c. 1350. 

The Roinanct' of William of Paleme is preserved in a unique MS. 
in the library of King's College, Cambridge. The paragraphing in this 
MS. is done b)- the use of small blue and red initials. A quire is miss- 
ing at the very beginning of the poem, and although Skeat in his E. E. 
T. S. reprint of Madden's edition substitutes for the lost lines the original 
French, I have begun my count at the first of the English divisions. 
The paragraphs run as follows as to number of lines : 

78, 29, 52, 9,° 28, 34, 113, 39, 49 (folio 10 lost) 54 (folio 10 lost) 
52,3 42, 49, 102, 119, 38, 79, 74, 26, 24, 27, 61, 75, 162, 20, 100, 53, 49, 
66, 60, loi, 65, 122, 91, 72, 63, 36, 51, 84, 119, 29, 21, 95, 92, 25, 26, 
61, 51, 35, 56, 73, 61, 32, 36, 54, 93, 42, 63, 64, 75, 40, 39, 35, 21, 
44, 46, 45, 40, 45, 47. 65, 32, 34, 99. 43. 48, 38, 45, 137, 65, 44, 63, 
40, 43, 30, 43. 99. 84. 64, 32. 32, 54. 64, 46, 70, 39, 14, 20.= 

Only 55 per cent, of these numbers are even, a proportion not large 

' After writing this account in August, 1893, I learned that in Englische 
Studien (1892) Max Kaluza has discussed Strophische Cliederung in der Mit- 
telenglischen rein alliterirenden Dichlung. Kaluza, proceeding from a different 
point of view from my own, arrives at the conclusion that the ffarawas written 
in strophes of 24 ! To reach this conclusion he has to add 83 verses to Skeat's 
(and Stevenson's) 5677 verses. This process gives 5760 lines, which is indeed 
a multiple of 24, and not only of 24 but of 48 and 72, for that matter. Kaluza 
does not utterly ignore the paragraph-mark, though he does ignore the initials 
of Dublin. He merely says that the mark stands only tour times in the 
midst of a strophe (of 24) : 3576, 3762, 5103, 5655. Surely he must have over- 
ooked 2755, to say nothing of many cases in Dublin. 

''These two paragraphs begin with small letters. 

3 1 restore a line which Skeat thinks may be lo.st, at 500. 



194 APPENDIX. 

enough to point to any regular slrophic arrangement. The text reveals 
here and there a logical unit of four lines, but the grouping was hardly 
a conscious one. 

The Destruction of Jerusalem. 

The Destruction of Jerusalem, another of the alliterative poems of 
this period, is preserved in various MSS. Cotton Caligula A II, is 
divided into quatrains by the paragraph-mark, which here becomes 
chiefly a metrical sign. The poem is broken into sections by four 
divine invocations (vv. 438, 888, 1104, 1332). 

The Bake of Curtasye. 
The Bake of Curtasye (Sloane MS. ig86, Brit. Mus.) is written in 
rhymed couplets. The paragraph-mark indicates a predominating 
strophic arrangement in four-line groups. In the third main section, 
however, the paragraphing is irregular. The number of lines in. the 
successive strophes of the whole poem runs as follows : I. 8, 4, 4, 4, 4, 
4. 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4> 4> 4. 4, 4, 4, 4, 4. 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4. 4, 4, 
4, 4, 4, 4, I. II. 8, 4, 4. 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 8, 6, 6, 4, 6, 
6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 8, 4, 4, 10, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4. 4, 4. 4. 6, 4, 8, 4, 6. III. 10, 
18, 16, ID, 6, 12, 8, 4, 12, 7, II, 14, 8, 6, 7, 7, 14, 20, 4, 8, 10, ID, 22, 
10, 18, 6, 10, 6, 22, 8, 54, 20, 12, 19, 43, 26. 

The Vision of William concerning Piers the Plotuman, 1363. 

The mark is occasionally used in the IVISS. of Piers the Plowman 
with purely metrical meaning. In such cases it is employed, as in 
Joseph of Arimathie, to divide a long line into two short ones. 

The mark is also used in all the MSS. with its usual force, but 
without any strophic significance. The paragraphing of the various 
MSS. differs. To illustrate : the Vernon MS. has 28 paragraphs in 
the second passus (208 lines) while the MS. Phillips 8321 has 10 para- 
graphs for the same passus (252 lines). In the third passus (281 lines) 
Vernon has 55 paragraphs. For the same passus (349 lines) Laud. 851 
has 58 paragraphs. Of the three MSS. mentioned, the Vernon is the 
most justly divided, the Phillips least. The MS. of Trin. Col. Cam. 
(1315.17) has perhaps the shortest paragraphs of all. Laud., Rawlin- 
son (Poet. 38. Bodl.), Trin. Col., and others, have breaks between para- 
graphs, a device which of course adds to the beauty and legibility of 
the page. MS. Bodley 814, Oxford, is of early date, but shows no inter- 
paragraphic breaks. 



.4 /'/'/■:. v/v.v. 



J 95 



T/ic- Dcsfntitioi of Troy. 

The alliterative romance of the l^cslnictioii of Troy (E. E. T. S. 39 
and 36, Panton & Donaldson) is from a unique MS. in the Hunterian 
Museum of the University of Glasgow. The paragraph-mark is not 
used in this MS. and the divisions indicated b>- initials are rather too 
long to be called paragraphs. These divisions are however often 
broken up into paragraphs by spacing and the insertion of an explana- 
tory phrase, 1. ^^ "The Onsuare of Jason to Medea." 

Tlie StacioiDis of Rome, c. 1460. 
In the Staciouns of Roiiu- the real paragraphs are indicated b\- rubrical 
initials. About one-half of these capital paragraphs are subdivided, 
and verv skillfully, by the marks — alternately red and blue. I fail to 
discover any strophic arrangement beyond the rhymed couplet. The 
following table exhibits the length, in lines, of the sub-jjaragraphs, each 
brace equaling a capital paragraph. 

iS \ \i \ 22 \ 12 ( 20 \ 16 ( 16 



\ 6 f 10 \ 6 ( 6 I S \ 10 \ iS J I 
^ 10 S ? 6 ) 6 - S I 14 I { 
2 (6 



2 \ : 



I 2 



\ 16 f 



\ 16 \ 

■/ ■/ 



12 \ 



\S, 



\ 10 \ 12 

) 14 \ 



14 <; 10 \ 

\ 12 ■/ 



4 \ 12 \ 8 
"/ ■/ 2 



4 \ 14 ( 12 \ 4 \ 24 ( 18 \ 6 
) "/ 10 ■/ "/ ( "/ 



16 

4 

4 
4 
2 
22 
6 



S ( 10 ( 10 ( 8 (, 8 



12 \ 10 \ 8 



Morte ^Irthure. 
In the Thornton MS. the Morte Arthure is broken into 80 para- 
graphs by initials. The length of these paragraphs by lines is respec- 
tively as follows : 25,52,3,8,50,65, 57,16,33.-15.25, 108,7,32,16, 



196 APPENDIX. 

40, 15, 54, 14, 43, 486, 3g5, 20, 8, 42, 37, 14, 92, 14, 26, 22, 20, 8, 26, 
27, 33, 26, 63, 28, 167, 40, 12, 2g, 45, 48, 37, 24, 143, 84, 73, 26, 65, 
46, 27, 12, 31, 52, 44, 22, 26, 30, 132, 118, 31, 16, 88, 189, 33, 27, 24, 
55, 13, 17, 26, 22, 28, 35, 53, 42, 107, 85. 

Although the 80 ffaragraphs average 54.3 lines, there is wide fluctua- 
tion in length — 8-4^6. Of the 80 paragraphs 24 are numerically divisible 
into strophes of four lines. We examine these to see if the division is 
anything more than a numerical one. By altering occasionally the 
punctuation of Perry (E. E. T. S.) we reach the following subdivisions, 
each of which may be said to form a minor stadium. 

\ V. 62-v. 77 = 52=8+8+4+4+4+8+8+4+4- 
U v. 288-v. 308 = 16=4+4+4+4. 

If V. 522-V. 553 = 32 = 8+8+4+8+4. 

H V. 554-v. 569=16=4+8+4. 

\ V. 570-v. 609 = 40 = 8+4+4+4+8+4+4+4, 

\ V. 1617-V. 1636 = 20 = 4+12+4. 

\ V. 1637-V. 1644 = 8 = 8. 

^ V. I9I2-V. 1919 = 8 = 4+4. 

H v. 2290-V. 2329=40 = 4+4+4+4+8+6+4+6. 

K V. 2330-V. 2341=12=8+4. 

If V. 24I6-V. 2463 = 48^4 + 4+4+4+6+10+8+8. 

If V. 2525-v. 2668=143=4+4+4+4+4+4+4+4+8+4+10+6+4+6 

+7+4+8+6+4+4+4+4+10+4+8+4+6. 
If V. 2669-v. 2752 = 84=4-1-6+4+4+6+6+4+8+4+6+5+10+12+5. 

Tf v. 2990-v. 3001 = 12=12. 

If V. 3033-v. 3084 = 52=4+4+4+4+6+8+4+4+6+8. 
If V. 3085-v. 3128=44=4+4+4+4+6+4+8+6+4. 
If V. 3488-v. 3503 = 16 = 16. 

If V. 3504-y. 3591=88 = 6+6+8+4+8+8+6+8+4+4+4+6+4+4+4 
+4- 

If V. 384I-V. 3864 = 24 = 4+4+4+4+4+4. 

Tf V. 3998-v. 4025=28=12+4+12. 

If v. 4263-v. 4348 = 85 = 13+16+4+4+4+4+4+3+12+6+10+5. 

It is evident hat there is a strong tendency toward a strophe of 
four lines. But the poet does not hesitate to alternate with this 
quatrain groups of six, or eight, or even sixteen verses, or again certain 
irregular groups of odd numbers. The paragraphs that are not evenly 
divisible by four show about the same proportion of four-line groups. 
For example the ^ 2525-2668 = 144 — i '= 143 gives the following 

' Perry has unquestionably missed his count at 2592. 



APPENDIX. 197 

Sioups : 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 8, 4, 10, 6, 4, 6, 7, 4, 8, 6. 4, 4, 4, 4, 10, 
4, 8, 4, 6. 

Chaucer. 

The MSS. of Chaucer vary greatly in their paragraphing. The 
Ellesmere MS. uses both initials and paragraph-marks. In the Pro- 
logue the initials are used almost exclusively. Later on the initial 
seems to be used as marking a more important division than the ^, but 
it is not plain that the capital paragraphs form organized wholes of 
which the ^ marks subdivisions. The Petworth MS. likewise shows 
both initial and \, the former less rarely than the latter, and less rarely 
than the initial in Ellesmere. On the other hand the Hengwrt, Cam- 
bridge, Corpus, and Lansdowne MSS. use the ^f regularly and the 
initial rarely. In Ellesmere it often happens that where an initial 
stands in the text, the \ occurs opposite to the initial in the margin, 
and precedes a marginal note. 

The following table shows the distribution of paragraph-marks and 
initials, in the Prologue and the Knight's Tale, for the three MSS., 
Ellesworth, Petworth, and Lansdowne. No particular value is 
claimed for the table, except as it shows how nearly all the scribes 
pitched on the important points, while differing widely concerning 
the minor subdivisions. Except in the case of Ellesmere, where 
initials are marked C, I have not distinguished between capital 
and • The figures are the numbers of lines in the Furnivall six-text 
edition. 



Ellesmere. 


Petworth. 


Lansdowne. 


Ellesmere. 


Petwokth. 


Lansdowne. 


C I 


I 




c 


331 


331 


331 


c 19 






c 


361 


361 


361 


c 35 






c 


379 


379 


379 


c 43 


43 


43 


c 


388 


388 


388 


51 


51 




c 


411 


411 


411 


73 






c 


445 


445 


445 


c 79 


79 




c 


477 


477 


477 


c loi 


lOI 


lOI 


c 


529 


529 


529 


c 118 


118 


118 


c 


542 


542 


542 


c 16s 


16S 


163 




545 


545 




c 208 


208 


208 


c 


567 


567 




c 270 


270 


270 


c 


587 


587 


587 


c 28s 


28S 


285 


c 


623 


623 


623 


c 309 


309 


309 


c 


669 


669 


669 



igs 




APPE 


NDIX. 






Ellesmere. 


Petworth. 


Lansdowne. 


Ellesmere. 


Petworth. 


Lansdowne 


,c 715 


715 


7IS 


1337 






747 


747 


743 


c 1347 


1347 


1347 


769 


769 


769 


c 1355 


1355 


1355 


783 




784 




1361 




788 




788 


1380 




1380 


810 




810 


1399 




1393 


817 






c 1451 


I451 


I451 


829 






1459 








837 


S37 


1462 


1462 


1462 


859 


859 


859 


1469 






875 






1475 


1475 




c 893 


893 


893 


1488 


1488 


1488. 


90s 






c 1491 






912 




915 




1497 




931 








1519 




952 


952 


952 


1528 






c 975 




975 


1540 


1540 


1540 


981 








1559 




lOOI 






1574 


1577 


1574 


1005 




1025 


1596 

1620 


1596 


1596 


1033 






c 1623 


1623 


1624 


■ ■ 


1049 


1049 
1056 


1649 

1 66 1 






1092 




1092 * 


c 1663 


1663 




1123 




1112 


1673 






1 1 26 






1683 






1128 






1696 




1690 


1152 




1152 


1714 


1713 


1714 






1 162 


1742 




1742 


c 1187 




1187 


1748 






1209 






1785 




1 78s 


I2I9 






1799 










1234 


c 1829 




, 1829 


I25I 






c 1845 


1845 


1845 


1275 




1275 
1295 


1853 

1870 






1303 




1303 


I88I 


1881 




I3I3 


1325 


1313 


1893 
1895 






1334 




1334 


I9I4 











APPENDIX. 


199 


Ellesmere. 


Petworth. 


Lansdow.me. 


1 

Ellesmere. Petworth. Lansdowne 


I9I8 






c 2373 2373 


2373 


1943 






2375 


/ • • 


^ 1955 


1951 




c 2421 


2421 


1967 


1967 


1967 


243S 




1975 


197 5 




2453 




199s 






2479 




2005 






c 24S3 


2483 


20 I I 






c 2523 




2017 






2533 




2021 






2537 


2537 


2024 






2543 




2027 






2555 




2031 






L 2561 




L 2041 




2041 


2569 




c 2051 


2051 


2051 




2577 


2056 






2584 




2062 






2595 


2595 


206 f. 




2065 


2599 




2069 






2621 


2623 


2073 






2636 




2075 




2075 


2652 




2OS3 






2657 




c 20S9 


2o8g 




c 2663 


2663 


-2095 






2668 




2II7 






c 2671 


2671 


c 2155 


2155 


2155 


2676 




2190 




2187 


2684 




2197 






2700 




c 2209 


2209 


2209 


2707 




C 2221 


2221 


2221 


2731 




2251 




2251 


274 


I 2743 


2261 


2261 


2261 


c 2743 




2271 


2271 




c 2765 


2764 


2281 






c 2783 




22S9 






c 2817 


28 1 6 


2297 


2297 


2297 


2827 




2331 


2^39 




2837 

c 2843 




2349 






c 2853 


2853 






2357 


2882 


2882 


c 2307 




-\3b7 


c 2913 





200 






APPENDIX 










Ullesmere. 


Petworth. 


Lands OWN E. 


Ellesmere. 


Petworth. 


Lansdowne 


2947 










3041 








2963 










3043 








c 2967 






2967 




3057 








c 2987 






2987 




3067 








c 3017 










3075 






307 s 


3021 










3090 








3027 










3097 








3035