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The following instances show a difference in the meaning of words reputed synonymous, and point out the use of attending, with care and strictness, to the exact import of words.
Custom, habit. Custom respects the action ; habit, the actor. By custom, we mean the frequent repetition of the same act; by habit, the effect which that repetition produces on the mind or body. By the custom of walking often in the streets, one acquires a habit of idleness.
Pride, vanity. Pride makes us esteem ourselves; vanity makes us desire the esteem of others. It is just to say, that a man is too proud to be vain.
Haughtiness, disdain. Haughtiness is founded on the high opinion we entertain of ourselves; disdain, on the low opinion we have of others.
Only, alone. Only imports, that there is no other of the same kind; alone imports being accompanied by no other. An only child is one that has neither brother nor sister; a child alone is one who is left by itself. There is a difference, therefore, in precise language, between these two phrases: “ Virtue only makes us happy ;” and “ Virtue alone makes us happy."
Wisdom, prudence. Wisdom leads us to speak and act what is most proper. Prudence prevents our speaking or acting improperly.
Entire, complete. A thing is entire when it wants none of its parts; complete when it wants none of the appendages that belong to it. A man may have an entire house to himself, and yet not have one complete apartment.
Surprised, astonished, amazed, confounded. I am surprised with what is new or unexpected; I am astonished at what is vast or great; I am amazed at what is incomprehensible; I am confounded by what is shocking or terrible.
Tranquillity, peace, calm. Tranquillity respects a situation free from trouble, considered in itself; peace, the same situation with respect to any causes that might interrupt it; calm, with regard to a disturbed situation going before or following it. A good man enjoys tranquillity, in himself; peace, with others; and calm, after a storm.
In a similar manner, differences can be pointed out in the words con quer, vanquish, subdue, overcome, and surmount. Conquer signifies to seek of try to gain an object ; vanquish implies the binding of an individual ; subdue siguifies to give or put under; overcome expresses the coming over or getting the mastery over one ; surmount signifies to mount over or to rise above any one. Persons or things are conquered or subdued ; persons, only, are vanquished. An enemy or a country is conquered ; a foe is vanquished; people are subdued ; prejudices and prepossessions are overcome; obstacles are sur. mounted. We conquer an enemy by whatever means we gain the mastery over him; we vanquish him, when by force we make him yield; we subdue him by whatever means we check in him the spirit of resistance. A Christian tries to conquer his enemies by kindness and generosity; a warrior tries to vanquish them in the field; a prudent monarch tries to subdue his rebel subjects by a due mixture of clemency and rigor. One may be vanquished in a single battle; one is subdued only by the most violent and persevering measures.
William the First conquered England by vanquishing his rival, Harold; after which he completely subdued the English."
Vanquish is used only in its proper sense; conquer and subdue are Mkewise employed figuratively, in which sense they are analogous to overcome and surmount. That is conquered and subdued which is in the mind; that is overcome and surmounted which is either internal or external. We conquer and overcome what makes no great resistance; we subdue and surmount what is violent and strong in its opposition. Dislikes, attachments, and feelings in general, either for or against, are conquered ; unruly and tumultuous passions are to be subdued : a man conquers himself, he subdues his spirit. One conquers by ordinary means and efforts, one subdues by extraordinary means. It requires determination and force to conquer and overcome; patience and perseverance to subdue and surmount. Whoever aims at Christian perfection must strive with God's assistance to conquer avarice, pride, and every inordinate propensity; to subdue wrath, anger, lust, and every carnal appetite, to overcome temptations, to vanquish the tempter, and to surmount trials and impediments, which obstruct his course.
The nice distinctions which exist among some words commonly reputed synonymous having now been pointed out, the student may proceed to the exercises of this Lesson according to the following
Example The words vision, way, formerly, weaken, unimportant, see, and think, are proposed; and it is required to find a list of words, having a meaning similar to them respectively.
Vision, apparition, phantom, spectre ghost.
Formerly, in times past, in old times, in days of yore, anciently, in ancient times.
Weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, enervate, invalidate.
See, perceive, observe, behold, look at.
Think, reflect, ponder, muse, imagine, suppose, believe deem, consider. *
In the sentences which follow, it is required to change the words as in the following examples. The student will notice that every change of words will, in most cases, produce some corresponding change in the idea ; but, as the object of the exercise is to give him a command of language, it is not
* It may here be remarked that phrases, as well as words, may be expressed by appropriate synonymes. Technically speaking, the term synonyme is generally applied to simple terms. But a compound term or phras
e sometimes expressed by a synonymous word; and a simple term may be also expressed by a synonymous phrase. It will be unneces. sary to present in this place, any list of words for the pupil to be exercised upon, as the living teacher, or the pupil himself, may easily select them from any volume at hand. But it may here be remarked that exercises on synonymous phrases may be considered as more valuable than those on simple terms, because they may generally be expressed with greater precision. But the value of exercises of both kinds is clearly and forcibly set forth by Mr. Murray, in the • Exercises' appended to his larger Grammar, in the following language:
On variety of Expression. Besides the practice of transposing the parts of sentences, the compiler recommends to tutors, frequently to exercise their pupils, in exhibiting some of the various modes in which the same sentiment may be properly expressed. This practice will extend their knowledge of the language, afford a variety of expression, and habituate them to deliver their sentiments with clearness, ease, and propriety. It will likewise enable those who may be engaged in studying other languages, not only to construe them with more facility in
it also to observe and apply more readily, many of the turns and phrases, which are best adapted to the genius of those languages.'
A few examples of this kind of exercise, will be sufficient to explain the nature of it, and to show its utility.
The brother deserved censure more than his sister.
If it can be done without inconvenience, I shall not fail to attend the con ference.
I shall not absent myself from the conference, unless circumstances ren. der it necessary.
I propose to be present at the conference, if I can do so consistently with my other engagements.
I purpose to be at the conference, unless I am prevented by other avoca tions.
Unless I am restrained by other imperative duties, I shall certainly be a. the conference.
I will be at the conference if nothing unforeseen prevents.
I shall by no means absent myself from the conference if I can possibly attend it.
deemed important in these Exercises to exact strict verbal accuracy.
I found that he was an enemy.
Exercises. Law and order are not remembered.
On that elevated ground where the verdant turf looks dark with fire, yery terday stood a noble house.
Thinking deeply on the nature of my existence, the contradictions I hud suffered filled me with humbleness.
"I began to think that there was some deception in the sensation conveyed by my eyes.
How loved, how valued once avails thee not,
'Tis all thou art and all the great shall be. The boy translated the book to my lodgings, and conveyed a chair to the table; and I sat down with the intention of bringing the first chapter, which holds a very interesting story from the French into the English language, in a style suitable to fetch the author's mcaning clearly to every intellect.
We get up from our thinkings with hearts softened and conquered and we come back into life as into a shadowy vista where we have “disquieted ourselves in vain.”
Thus he went on until the sun drew near to his mid-day and the augmented heat, preyed upon his force. He then cast round about him, for some more commodious path.
Charity, like the sun, rubs up every obiect on which it shines.
He who is used to turn aside from the world, and hold communication with himself in retirement will sometimes at least hear the veracities which the world do not speak of to him. A more sound teacher will elevate his voice and rouse up within the heart those hidden suggestions which the world had overpowered and put dowri.
Among all our bad passions there is a strong and intimate joining. When any one of them is taken as a child into our family it seldom for sakes us until it has fathered upon us all its relations.
The Creator endowed man witi a lofty countenance and directed him to look up to heaven.
In the following extracts the student may alter the words in Italic, so as to complete the rhymes ; as in the following
Did sweeter sounds adorn my flowing tongue,
Says Ren'ard, “T is a cruel case,
Thus slander tries, whate'er it can,