THE SPLIT INFINITIVE
Even the best speakers and writers are in the habit of
placing a modifying word or words between the to and the remaining part
of the infinitive. It is possible that such will come to be looked upon in time
as the proper form but at present the splitting of the infinitive is decidedly
wrong. "He was scarcely able to even talk" "She commenced
to rapidly walk around the room." "To have really
loved is better than not to have at all loved." In these
constructions it is much better not to split the infinitive. In every-day
speech the best speakers sin against this observance.
In New York City there is a certain magistrate, a member
of "the 400," who prides himself on his diction in language. He tells this
story: A prisoner, a faded, battered specimen of mankind, on whose haggard
face, deeply lined with the marks of dissipation, there still lingered faint
reminders of better days long past, stood dejected before the judge. "Where are
you from?" asked the magistrate. "From Boston," answered the accused. "Indeed,"
said the judge, "indeed, yours is a sad case, and yet you don't seem to
thoroughly realise how low you have sunk." The man stared as if struck.
"Your honor does me an injustice," he said bitterly. "The disgrace of arrest
for drunkenness, the mortification of being thrust into a noisome dungeon, the
publicity and humiliation of trial in a crowded and dingy courtroom I can bear,
but to be sentenced by a Police Magistrate who splits his
infinitives—that is indeed the last blow."