'The dash is frequently employed in a very capricious and arbitrary manner, as a substitute for all sorts of points, by writers whose thoughts, although, it may be, sometimes striking and profound, are thrown together without order or dependence; also by some others, who think that they thereby give prominence and emphasis to expressions which in themselves are very commonplace, and would, without this fictitious assistance, escape the observation of the reader, or be deemed by him hardly worthy of notice.'
—Observe, I determine nothing upon this.—My way is ever to point out to the curious, different tracts of investigation, to come at the first springs of the events I tell;—not with a pedantic fescue,—or in the decisive manner of Tacitus, who outwits himself and his reader;—but with the officious humility of a heart devoted to the assistance merely of the inquisitive;—to them I write,—and by them I shall be read,—if any such reading as this could be supposed to hold out so long,—to the very end of the world.—Sterne.
There are also a great number of people—many of them not in the least tainted by militarism—who go further and who feel that a man in order to be a complete man—that is, one capable of protecting his life, his country, and his civil and political rights—should acquire as a boy and youth the elements of military training,—that is, should be given a physical training of a military character, including...—Spectator.
1. Nicholas Copernicus was instructed in that seminary where it is always happy when any one can be well taught,—the family circle.—B. (Omit the comma) 2. Anybody might be an accuser,—a personal enemy, an infamous person, a child, parent, brother, or sister.—Lowell. (Omit the comma) 3. That the girls were really possessed seemed to Stoughton and his colleagues the most rational theory,—a theory in harmony with the rest of their creed.—Lowell. (Omit the comma)
4. To write imaginatively a man should have—imagination.—Lowell.
5. Misfortune in various forms had overtaken the county families, from high farming to a taste for the junior stage, and—the proprietors lived anywhere else except on their own proper estates.—Crockett.
6. As soon as the queen shall come to London, and the houses of Parliament shall be opened, and the speech from the throne be delivered,—then will begin the great struggle of the contending factions.—B.
7. It is now idle to attempt to hide the fact that never was the Russian lack of science, of the modern spirit, or, to speak frankly, of intelligence—never was the absence of training or of enthusiasm which retards the efforts of the whole Empire displayed in a more melancholy fashion than in the Sea of Japan.—Times. (Add a comma after intelligence)
8. As they parted, she insisted on his giving the most solemn promises that he would not expose himself to danger—which was quite unnecessary.
9. Who created you?—God.—B. 10. ...And lose the name of action.—Soft you now! The fair Ophelia!
11. Hear Milton:—How charming is divine Philosophy! 12. What says Bacon?—Revenge is a kind of wild justice.
13. The four greatest names in English literature are almost the first we come to,—Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton.—B. (Omit the comma before the dash)
14. Then the eye of a child,—who can look unmoved into that well undefiled, in which heaven itself seems to be reflected?—Bigelow. (Omit the comma)
15. Oh, how I wish—! But what is the use of wishing?
16. In every well regulated community—such as that of England,—the laws own no superior.—B. (The comma should either be omitted or placed after instead of before the second dash)
17. Garinet cites the case of a girl near Amiens possessed by three demons,—Mimi, Zozo, and Crapoulet,—in 1816.—Lowell. (Omit both commas; the first is indeed just possible, though not required, in the principal sentence; the last is absolutely meaningless in the parenthesis) 18. Its visions and its delights are too penetrating,—too living,—for any white-washed object or shallow fountain long to endure or to supply.—Ruskin. (Omit both commas; this time the first is as impossible in the principal sentence as the second is meaningless in the parenthesis) 19. The second carries us on from 1625 to 1714—less than a century—yet the walls of the big hall in the Examination Schools are not only well covered...—Times. (Insert a comma, as necessary to the principal sentence, outside the dashes; whether before the first or after the last will be explained in our answer to the third question)
20. The Moral Nature, that Law of laws, whose revelations introduce greatness—yea, God himself, into the open soul, is not explored.—Emerson. (Substitute a dash for the comma after himself. Here, however, Emerson expects us to terminate the authority at the right comma rather than at the first that comes, making things worse) 21. I ... there complained of the common notions of the special virtues—justice, &c., as too vague to furnish exact determinations of the actions enjoined under them.—H. Sidgwick. (Substitute a dash for the comma after &c.) 22. There are vicars and vicars, and of all sorts I love an innovating vicar—a piebald progressive professional reactionary, the least.—H. G. Wells. (Substitute a dash for the comma after reactionary)
23. It is a forlorn hope, however excellent the translation—and Mr. Hankin's could not be bettered; or however careful the playing—and the playing at the Stage Society performance was meticulously careful.—Times. (Insert a dash between bettered and the semicolon, which then need not be more than a comma)
24. There may be differences of opinion on the degrees—no one takes white for black: most people sometimes take blackish for black—, but that is not fatal to my argument.
25. Throughout the parts which they are intended to make most personally their own, (the Psalms,) it is always the Law which is spoken of with chief joy.—Ruskin. (Remove both commas, and use according to taste either none at all, or one after the second bracket) 26. What is the difference, whether land and sea interact, and worlds revolve and intermingle without number or end,—deep yawning under deep, and galaxy balancing galaxy, throughout absolute space,—or, whether...—Emerson. (Remove both commas, and place one after the second dash)
27. When I last saw him, (a singular fact) his nose was pea-green.
Then there is also Miss Euphemia, long deposed from her office of governess, but pensioned and so driven to good works and the manufacture of the most wonderful crazy quilts—for which, to her credit be it said, she shows a remarkable aptitude—as I should have supposed.—Crockett. The English came mainly from the Germans, whom Rome found hard to conquer in 210 years—say, impossible to conquer—when one remembers the long sequel.—Emerson. As for Anne—well, Anne was Anne—never more calm than when others were tempestuous.—Crockett.
How much would I give to have my mother—(though both my wife and I have of late times lived wholly for her, and had much to endure on her account)—how much would I give to have her back to me.—Carlyle.
Here she is perhaps at her best—and in the best sense—her most feminine, as a woman sympathizing with the sorrows peculiar to women.—Times. The girl he had dreamed about—the girl with the smile was there—near him, in his hut.—Crockett.
Shakespeare found a language already to a certain extent established, but not yet fetlocked by dictionary and grammar mongers,—a versification harmonized, but which had not yet...—Lowell. While I believe that our language had two periods of culmination in poetic beauty,—one of nature, simplicity, and truth, in the ballads, which deal only with narrative and feeling,—another of Art...—Lowell. We were shown in,—and Mavis, who had expected our visit did not keep us waiting long.—Corelli.