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from forced inversions in the construction of a sentence, and from neglect of smoothness and case. This is reckoned the fault of some of our earliest classicks ; such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Bacon, Hooker, Herrington, Cudworth, and other writers of considerable reputation in the days of queen Elizabeth, James the first and Charles the first. These writers had nerves and strength in a high degree ; and are to this day distinguished by this quality in style. But the language in their hands was very different from what it is now, and was indeed entirely formed upon the idiom and construction of the Latin in the arrangement of sentences. The present form of our language has in some degree sacrificed the study of strength to that of ease and perspicuity. Our arrangement is less forci. ble, but more plain and natural ; and this is now considered as the genius of our tongue.
Hitkerto siyle has been considered under those char. acters which regard its expressiveness of an author's meaning. We shall now consider it with respect to the degree of ornament employed to embellish it. Here the siyle of different authors seems to rise in the following gradation : a dry, a plain, a neat, an elegant, a flowery manner.
A dry manner excludes every kind of ornament. Content with being understood, it aims not to please either the fancy or the ear. This is tolerable only in pure didactic writing; and even there, to make us bear it, great solidity of matter and entire perspicuily of language are required.
A plain style rises one degree above a dry one. A writer of this character employs very little ornament of any kind, and rests almost entirely upon his sense. But though he does not engage us by the arts of composition, he avoids disgusting us like a dry and harsh writer. Beside perspicuity, he observes propriety, pu. rity and precision in his language, which form no inconsiderable degree of beauty. Liveliness and force are also compatible with a plain style ; and therefore such an author, if his sentiments be good, may be sufSiciently agreeable. The difference between a dry and a plain writer is this: the former is incapable of ornament; the latter goes not in pursuit of it. Of those who have employed the plain style, Dean Swift is an eminent example.
A neat style is next in order ; and here we are ad. vanced into the region of ornament; but not of the most sparkling kind. A writer of this character shows by his attention to the choice of words, and to their graceful collocation, that he does not despise the beauty of language. His sentences are always free from the incumbrance of superfluous words ; of a moderate length; inclining rather to brevity, than a swelling structure ; and closing with propriety. There is vari. ety in his cadence ; but no appearance of studied har. mony. His figures, if he use any, are short and accurate, rather than bold and glowing. Such a style may be attained by a writer, whose powers of fancy or genius are not great, by industry and attention. This sort of style is not unsuitable to any subject whatever. A familiar epistle, or a law paper on the driest subject, may be written with neatness; and a sermon, or a philosophical treatise, in a neat style, is read with satisfaction.
An elegant style implies a higher degree of ornament than a neat one ; possessing all the virtues of ornament, without any of its excesses or defects: Complete elegance implies great perspicuity and propriety; purity in the choice of words ; and care and skill in their arrangement. It implies farther, the beauties of imagination spread over style as far as the subject permits; and all the illustration which figurative language adds, when properly employed. An elegant writer, in short, is one who delights the fancy and the ear, while he informs the understanding ; who clothes his ideas in all the beauty of expression, but does not overload them with any of its misplaced finery.
A florid style implies excess of ornament. young composer it is not only pardonable, but often a promising symptom. But, although it may be allowed to youth in their first essays, it must not receive the same indulgence from writers of more experience. Ja
them, judgment should chasten imagination, and reject every ornament which is unsuitable or redundant. That tinsel splendour of language which some writers perpetually affect, is truly contemptible. With such it is a luxuriancy of words, not of fancy. They forget that unless founded on good sense and solid thought, the most florid style is but a childish imposition on the public.
STYLE...SIMPLE, AFFECTED, VEHEMENT....DIRECTIONS
FOR FORMING A PROPER STYLE.
SIMPLICITY, applied to writing, is a term very commonly used; but like many other critical terms, often used without precision. The different meanings of the word simplicity are the chief cause of this inaccu. racy. It is therefore necessary to show in what sense simplicity is a proper attribute of style: There are four different acceptations, in which this term is taken.
The first is simplicity of composition, as opposed to too great a variety of parts. This is the simplicity of plan in tragedy, as distinguished from double plots and crowded incidents ; the simplicity of the Iliad in opposition to the digressions of Lucan ; the simplicity of Grecian architecture in opposition to the irregular variety of the Gothic. Simplicity in this case is the same with unity,
The second sense is simplicity of thought, in oppor sition to refinement. Simple thoughts are those which flow naturally ; which are suggested by the subject or occasion ; and which, when once suggested, are easily understood by all. Refinement in writing means a less obvious and natural train of thought, which, when carried too far, approaches to intricacy, and displeases us by the appearance of being far sought. Thus Para nel is a poet of much greater simplicity in his turn of thought than Cowley. In these two senses simplicity has no relation to style.
The third sense of simplicity regards style, and is
opposed to too much ornament, or pomp of language. Thus we say Mr. Locke is a simple, Mr. Hervey a fcrid writer. A simple style, in this sense, coincides with a plain or neat style.
The fourth sense of simplicity also respects style ; but it regards not so much the degree of ornament employed, as the easy and natural manner, in which our language expresses our thoughts. In this sense simplicity is compatible with the highest ornament. Homer, for example, possesses this simplicity in the greatest perfection ; and get no '
writer has more ornament and beauty. This simplicity is opposed not to ornament, but to affectation of ornament; and is a su. perior excellence in composition.
A simple writer has no marks of art in his expression ; it appears the very language of nature. We see not the writer and his labour, but the man in his own natural character. He may be rich in expression; he may be full of figures and of fancy; but these flow from him without effort ; and he seems to write in this manner, not because he had studied it, but because it is the mode of expression most natural to him. With this character of style a certain degree of negligence is not inconsistent ; for too accurate an attention 10 words is foreign to it. Simplicity of style, like simplicity of manners, shows a man's sentiments and turn of mind without disguise. A more studied and artificial mode of writing, however beautiful, has always this disadvantage, that it exhibits an author in form, like a man at court, where splendour of dress, and the ceremonial of behaviour conceal those peculiarities which distinguish one man from another.
But reading an author of simplicity is like convereing with a person of rank at home and with ease, where we see his natural manners and his real character.
With regard to simplicity in general, we may observe, that the ancient original writers are always most eminent for it. This proceeds from a very obvious cause ; they wrote from the dictates of genius, and were not formed upon the labours and writings of others.
Of affectation, which is opposed to simplicity of style, we have a remarkable example in Lord Shaftsbury. Though an author of considerable merit, he expresses nothing with simplicity. He seems to have thought it vulgar, and beneath the dignity of a man of quality, to speak like other men. Hence he is ever in buskins ; full of circumlocutions and artificial elegance, In every sentence we see marks of labour and art ; nothing of that ease which expresses a sentiment coming natural and warm from the heart. He abounds with figures and ornament of every kind ; is sometimes happy in them ; but his fondness for them is too visible; and, having once seized some metaphor, or allusion, that pleased him, he knows not how to part with it. He possessed delicacy and refinement of taste in a degree that may be called excessive and sickly ; but he had little warmth of passion ; and the coldness of his character suggested that artificial and stately manner which appears in his writings. No author is more dangerous to the tribe of imitators than Shaftsbury; who, amid several very considerable blemishes, has many dazzling and imposing beaulies.
It is very possible, however, for an author to write with simplicity, and yet without beauty. He may be free from affectation, and not have merit. Beautiful simplicity supposes an author to possess real genius ; and to write with solidity, purity, and brilliancy of imagination. In this case the simplicity of his manner is the crowning ornament; it heightens every other beauty ; it is the dress of nature, without which all beauties are imperfect. But if mere absence of affectation were sufficient to constitute beauty of style, weak and dull writers might often lay claim to it. A distinciion, therefore, must be made between that simplicity which accompanies true genius and is entirely compatible with every proper ornament of style, and that which is the effect of carelessness.
Another character of style, different from those already mentioned, is vehemence. This always implies strength ; and is not in any respect incompatible with