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much neglect of smoothness and ease. rigidly to the strictness of a didactic manThis is reckoned the fault of some of our ner, throughout all his writings, and conearliest classics in the English language; veyed so much instruction, without the least such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis approach to ornament. With the most Bacon, Hooker, Chillingworth, Milton in profound genius, and extensive views, he his prose works, Harrington, Cudworth, writes like a pure intelligence, who adand other writers of considerable note in dresses himself solely to the understanding, the days of Queen Elizabeth, James I. and without making any use of the channel of Charles I. These writers had nerves and the imagination.
But this is a manner strength in a high degree, and are to this which deserves not to be imitated. For, day eminent for that quality in Style. But although the goodness of the matter may the language in their hands was exceed- compensate the dryness or harshness of the ingly different from what it is now, and Style, yet is that dryness a considerable was indeed entirely formed upon the idiom defect; as it fatigues attention, and conand construction of the Latin, in the ar- veys our sentiments, with disadvantage, to rangement of sentences. Hooker, for in- the reader or hearer.
Ibid. stance, begins the Preface to his celebrated work of Ecclesiastical Polity with the fol
§ 17. On the Plain Style. lowing sentences: “ Though for no other A Plain Style rises one degree above a
cause, yet for this, that posterity may Dry one. A writer of this character ein“ know we have not loosely, through si- ploys very little ornament of any kind, and “ lence, permitted things to pass away as
rests almost entirely upon his sense. But, “ in dream, there shall be, for men's' in- if he is at no pains to engage us by the em“ formation, extant this much, conceroing ployment of figures, musical arrangement, “ the present state of the church of God or any other art of writing, he studies, “ established amongst us, and their careful however, to avoid disgusting us, like a “ endeavours which would have upheld the dry and a harsh writer. Besides Perspi“ same.” Such a sentence now sounds cuity, he pursues Propriety, Purity, and harsh in our ears. Yet some advantages Precision, in his language: which form certainly attended this sort of Style; and one degree, and no inconsiderable one, of whether we have gained, or lost, upon the beauty. Liveliness too,
and force, be whole, by departing from it, may bear a consistent with a very Plain Style: and, question. By the freedom of arrangement, therefore, such an author, if his sentiwhichit permitted, it rendered the language ments be good, may be abundantly agreesusceptible of more strength, of more vari- able. The difference between a dry and ety of collocation, and more harmony of plain writer, is, that the former is incapaperiod. But however this be, such a Style ble of ornament, and seems not to know is now obsolete; and no modern writer what it is; the latter seeks not after it. could adopt it without the censure of harsh- He gives us his meaning, in good lanness and affectation. The present form guage, distinct and pure; any further orwhich the Language has assumed, has, nament he gives himself no trouble about; in some measure, sacrificed the study of either, because he thinks it unnecessary strength to that of perspicuity and ease.
to his subject; or, because his genius dous Dur arrangement of words has become less not lead him to delight in it; or, because forcible, perhaps, but more plain and na
it leads him to despise it. tural; and this is now understood to be This last was the case with Dean Swift, the genius of our Language. Blair. who may be placed at the head of those
that have employed the plain Style. Few § 16. On the Dry Style.
writers have discovered more capacity. The dry manner excludes all ornament He treats every subject which he handles, of every kind. Content with being under- whether serious or ludicrous, in a masterly stood, it has not the least aim to please either manner. He knew, almost beyond any the fancy or the ear. This is tolerable only man, the Purity, the Extent, the Preciin pure didactic writing; and even there, sion of the English language; and thereto make us bear it, great weight and soli. fore to such as wish to attain a pure and dity of matter is requisite; and entire per
correct Style, he is one of the most useful spicuity of language. Aristotle is the com
models. But we must not look for much plete example of a Dry Style. Never, per- ornainent and grace in his language. haps, was there any author who adhered so His haughty and morose genius made
him despise any embellishment of this dragging after the proper close. His kind, as beneath his dignity. He deli- cadence is varied; but not of the studied livers his sentiments in a plain, downright, musical kind. His figures, if he uses any, positive manner, like one who is sure he are short and correct; rather than bold is in the right; and is very indifferent and glowing. Such a Style as this may whether you be pleased or not.
be attained by a writer who has no great tences are commonly negligently arranged; powers of fancy or genius, by industry distinctly enough as to the sense, but merely, and careful attention to the rules without any regard to smoothness of of writing; and it is a Style always agreesound; often without much regard to able. It imprints a character of moderate compactness or elegance. If a meta- elevation on our composition, and carries phor, or any other figure, chanced to ren- a decent degree of ornament, which is not der his satire more poignant, he would, unsuitable to any subject whatever. A perhaps, vouchsafe to adopt it, when it familiar letter, or a law paper, on the came in his way; but if it tended only to driest subject, may be written with neatembellish and illustrate, he would rather ness; and a sermon, or a philosophical throw it aside. Hence, in his serious treatise, in a Neat Style, will be read with pieces, his style often borders upon the pleasure.
Ibid. dry and unpleasing; in his humorous ones, the plainness of his manner sets off
$ 19. On an Elegant Style. his wit to the highest advantage. There An Elegant Style is a character, exis no froth nor affectation in it; it seems pressing a higher degree of ornament than native and unstudied; and while he hard- a neat one; and, indeed, is the term ly appears to smile himself, he makes his usually applied to Style, when possessing reader laugh heartily. To a writer of such all the virtues of ornament, without any a genius as Dean Swift, the Plain Style of its excesses or defects. From what has was most admirably fitted. Among our been formerly delivered, it will easily be philosophical writers, Mr. Locke understood, that complete Elegance imunder this class; perspicuous and pure, plies great perspicuity and propriety; but almost without any ornament what- purity in the choice of words, and care and ever. In works which admit, or require, dexterity in their harmonious and happy erer so much ornament, there are parts arrangement. It implies farther, the grace where the plain manner ought to predo- and beauty of imagination spread over minate. But we must remember, that Style, as far as the subject admits it; and when this is the character which a writer all the illustration which figurative lanaffects throughout his whole composition, guage adds, when properly employed. In great weight of matter, and great force of a word, an elegant writer is one who sentiment, are required, in order to keep pleases the fancy and the ear, while he up the reader's attention, and prevent him informs the understanding; and who gives from becoming tired of the author. us his ideas clothed with all the beauty of
Blair. expression, but not overcharged with any
of its misplaced finery. In this class, § 18. On the Neat STYLE.
therefore, we place only the first-rate What is called a Neat Style comes next writers in the language; such as Addison, in order; and here we are got into the Dryden, Pope, Temple, Bolingbroke, Atregion of ornament; but that ornament terbury, and a few more; writers who not of the highest or most sparkling kind. differ widely from one another in many of A writer of this character shews, that he the attributes of Style, whom we now class does not despise the beauty of language. together, under the denomination of EleIt is an object of his attention. But his gant, as, in the scale of Ornament, possessattention is shewn in the choice of his ing nearly the same place.
Ibid. words, and in a graceful collocation of them; rather than in any high efforts of
§ 20. On the Florid STYLE. imagination, or eloquence. His sentences When the ornaments, applied to Style, are always clear, and free from the in- are too rich and gaudy in proportion to cumbrance of superfluous words; of a mo- the subject; when they return upon us too derate length; rather inclining to brevity, fast, and strike us either with a dazzling than a swelling structure; closing with pro- lustre, or a false brilliancy, this forms what priety; without any tails, or adjections is called a Florid Style; a term commonly
used to signify the excess of ornament. I cannot help thinking, that it reflects In a young composer this is very pardon- more honour the religious and able. Perhaps, it is even a promising good dispositions of the present age, than symptom in young people, that their Style on the public taste, that Mr. Hervey's shouldincline to the Florid and Luxuriant: Meditations have had so great a currency. “ Volo se efferat ia adolescente fæcundi. The pious and benevolent heart, which is “ tas,” says Quinctilian, “multum inde always displayed in them, and the lively
decoquent anni, multum ratio limabit, fancy which, on some occasions, appears, “ aliquid velut usu ipso deteretur; sit mo- justly merited applause; but the perpetual “ do unde excidi possit quid et exculpi.- glitter of expression, the swoln imagery, “ Audeat hæc ætas plura, et inveniat et and strained description which abound in "inventis gaudeat; sint licet illa non satis them, are ornaments of a false kind. I “ interim sicca et severa.
Facile reme- would, therefore, advise students of oratory “ dium est ubertatis : sterilia nullo labore to imitate Mr. Hervey's piety, rather than “ vincuntur*.” But, although the Florid his Style; and in all compositions of a seStyle may be allowed to youth, in their rious kind, to turn their attention, as Mr. first
essays, it must not receive the same Pope says, “from sounds to things, from indulgence from writers of maturer years. fancy to the heart.” Admonitions of It is to be expected, that judgment, as it this kind I have already had occasion to ripens, should chasten imagination, and re- give, and may hereafter repeat them; as ject, as juvenile, all such ornaments as are 1 conceive nothing more incumbent on me, redundant, unsuitable to the subject, or not in this course of Lectures, than to take conducive to illustrate it. Nothing can be every opportunity of cautioning my readmore contemptible than that tinsel splen- ders against the affected and frivolous use of dour of language, which some writers per- ornament; and, instead of that slight and petually affect. It were well if this could superficial taste in writing, which I apprebe ascribed to the real overflowing of a hend to be at present too fashionable, to rich imagination. We should then have introduce, as far as my endeavours can something to amuse us, at least, if we found avail, a taste for more solid thought, and little to instruct us. But the worst is, that more manly simplicity in Style. Blair.
. with those frothy writers, it is a luxuriancy of words, not of fancy. We see a la- $ 21. On the different Kinds of Simboured attempt to rise to a splendour of composition, of which they have formed to themselves some loose idea; but having no The first is, Simplicity of Composition, strength of genius for attaining it, they as opposed to too great a variety of parts. endeavour to supply the defect by poetical Horace's precept refers to this : words, by cold exclamations, by commonplace figures, and every thing that has the Denique sit quod vis simplex duntaxat et unumt. appearance of pomp and magnificence. It This is the simplicity of plan in a trahas escaped these writers, that sobriety in gedy, as distinguished from double plots, ornament is one great secret for rendering and crowded incidents; the Simplicity of it pleasing; and that without a foundation the Iliad, or Æneid, in opposition to the of good sense and solid thought, the most digressions of Lucan, and the scattered Florid Style is but a childish imposition tales of Ariosto; the Simplicity of Grecian on the public. The public, however, are architecture, in opposition to the irregular but too apt to be so imposed on; at least, variety of the Gothic. In this sense, Simthe mob of readers; who are very ready plicity is the same with Unity. to be caught, at first, with whatever is The second sense is, Simplicity of dazzling and gaudy.
Thought, as opposed to refinement. Sim
* “In youth, I wish to see luxuriancy of fancy appear. Much of it will be diminished by years ; “much will be corrected by ripening judgment; some of it, hy the mere practice of composition, will "be worn away. Let there be only sufficient matter, at first, that can bear some pruning and lopping “off. At this time of life, let genius be bold and inventive, and pride itself in its efforts, though “ these should not, as yet, be correct. Luxuriancy can easily be cured; but for barrenness there is " no remedy."
p" Then learn the wand'ring humour to controul,
ple thoughts are what arise naturally; $ 22. Simplicity appears easy. what the occasion or the subject suggest A writer of Simplicity expresses himself unsought; and what, when once suggested, in such a manner, that every one thinks are easily apprehended by all. Refine- he could have written in the same way; ment in writing, expresses a less natu- Horace descri it, ral and obvious train of thought, and
-ut sibi quivis which it required a peculiar turn of genius
Speret idem, sudet multum, frustraque laboret to pursue; within certain bounds very Ausus idem*. beautiful; but when carried too far, ap- There are no marks of art in his expresproaching to intricacy, and hurting us by sion; it seems the very language of nature; the appearance of being recherché, or far
you see in the Style, not the writer and sought. Thus, we would naturally say, his labour, but the man, in his own natural that Mr. Parnell is a poet of far greater character. He may be rich in his expressimplicity, in his turn of thought, than sion; he may be full of figures, and of Mr. Cowley: Cicero's thoughts on moral fancy; but these flow from him without subjects are natural; Seneca's too refined effort; and he appears to write in this and laboured. In these two senses of Sim
manner, not because he has studied it, but plicity, when it is opposed either to va
because it is the manner of expression most riety of parts, or to refinement of thought, natural to him. A certain degree of negit has no proper relation to Style.
ligence, also, is not inconsistent with this There is a third sense of Simplicity, in character of style, and even not ungraceful which it has respect to Style; and stands in it; for too minute an attention to words opposed to too much ornament, or pomp is foreign to it: “ Habeat ille,” says
Ciof language; as when we say, Mr. Locke
cero, (Orat. No. 77.) “molle quiddam, et is a simple, Mr. Hervey a florid writer; “quod indicet non ingratam negligentiam and it is in this sense, that the " simplex,"
hominis, de re magis quàm de verbo the “ tenue," or “ subtile
“ laborantist.” This is the great advan
. The simple style, in this sense, coincides plicity of manners, it shows us a man's The simple style, in this sense, coincides tage of Simplicity of Style, that, like simwith the plain or the neat style, which I sentiments and turn of mind laid open withbefore mentioned ; and, therefore, requires out disguise. More studied and artificial no farther illustration.
manners of writing, however beautiful, But there is a fourth sense of Simplicity, have always this disadvantage, that they also respecting Style; but not respecting exhibit an author in form, like a man at. the degree of ornament employed, so much
court, where the splendour of dress, and as the easy and natural manner in which the ceremonial of behaviour, conceal those our language expresses our thoughts. This peculiarities which distinguish one man is quite different from the former sense of from another. But reading an author of the word just now mentioned, in which
Simplicity, is like conversing with a perSimplicity was equivalent to Plainness :
son of distinction at home, and with ease, whereas, in this sense, it is compatible where we find natural manners, and a with the highest ornament. Homer, for
Ibid. instance, possesses this Simplicity in the
$ 23. On Naïveté. greatest perfection; and yet no writer has more ornament and beauty. This Sim- The highest degree of this simplicity plicity, which is what we are now to con- is expressed by a French term to which sider, stands opposed, not to ornament, we have none that fully answers in our but to affectation of ornament, or appear- language, Naïveté. It is not easy to give ance of labour about our Style; and it is a precise idea of the import of this word. a distinguishing excellency in writing. It always expresses a discovery of charac
Blair. ter. I believe the best account of it is
* “From well-known tales such fictions would I raise,
“ As all might hope to imitate with ease;
+ “Let this Style have a certain softness and ease, which shall characterize a negligence, not un“pleasing in an author who appears to be more solicitous about the thought than the expression."
given by a French critic, M. Marmontel, and uplaboured. Let us next consider who explains it thus: That sort of amiable some English writers who come under ingenuity, or undisguised openness, which this class.
Ibid. seems to give us some degree of superiority over the person who shews it; a certain 25. Simplicity the characteristic of infantine Simplicity, which we love in our
Tillotson's Style. hearts, but which displays some features of the character that we think we could have
Simplicity is the great beauty of Archart enough to hide ; and which, therefore, long been admired as an eloquent writer,
bishop Tillotson's manner. Tillotson has always leads us to smile at the person who discovers this character. La Fontaine, in and a model for preaching. But his elohis Fables, is given as the great example quence, if we can call it such, has been
often misunderstood. For if we include of such Naïveté. This, however, is to be understood, as descriptive of a particular strength, picturesque description, glowing
in the idea of eloquence, vehemence, and species only of Simplicity. Blair.
figures, or correct arrangement of sen24. Ancients eminent for Simplicity. tences, in all these parts of oratory the With respect to Simplicity, in general, Archbishop is exceedingly deficient. His
, we may remark, that the ancient original Style is always pure, indeed, and perspiwriters are always the most eminent for cuous, but careless and remiss, too often it. This happens from a plain reason, that feeble and languid; little beauty in' the
construction of his sentences, which are they wrote from the dictates of natural
genius, and were not formed upon the la- frequently suffered to drag unharmoniousbours and writings of others, which is ala ly; seldom any attempt towards strength ways in hazard of producing affectation.
or sublimity. But, notwithstanding these Hence, among the Greek writers, we have defects, such a constant vein of good sense more models of a beautiful simplicity than and piety runs through his work, such an among the Roman. Homer, Hesiod, Ana- earnest and serious manner, and so much creon, Theocritus, Herodotus, and Xeno- useful instruction, conveyed in a Style so phon, are all distinguished for it. Among pure, natural, and unaffected, as will justthe Romans, also, we have some writers ly recommend him to high regard, as long of this character ; particularly Terence,
as the English language remains; not, inLucretius, Phædrus, and Julius Cæsar. deed, as a model of the highest eloquence, The following passage of Terence's An- but as a simple and amiable writer, whose dria, is a beautiful instance of Simplicity goodness and worth. Í observed before,
manner is strongly expressive of great of manner in description:
that Simplicity of manner may be consisFunus interim Procedit; sequimur; ad sepulchrum venimus;
tent with some degree of negligence in In ignem impo-ita est ; fletur ; interea hæc soror Style; and it is only the beauty of that Quam dixi, ad Hammam accessit imprudentiùs Simplicity which makes the negligence of Satis' cum periculo. lbi tum exanimatus Pam- such writers seem graceful. But, as ap
philus Bepe dissimulatum amorem & celatum indicat;
pears in the Archbishop, negligence may Occurrit præceps, mulierem ab igne retrahit,
sometimes be carried so far as to impair Mea Glycerium, inquit, quid agis? Cur te is the beauty of Simplicity, and make it borperditum?
der on a flat and languid manner. Blair. Tum illa, ut consuetut facilè amorem cerneres, Rejicit se in eum, flens, quam familiariter*.
Act. 1. Sc. 1. $26. Simplicity of Sir William Teme All the words here are remarkably happy
PLE's Style. and elegant: and convey a most lively pic. Sir William Temple is another remarkture of the scene described; while, at the able writer in the Style of Simplicity. In same time, the Style appears wholly artless point of ornament and correctness, he rises *« Meanwhile the funeral proceeds; we fol- “ Runs up, and takes her round the waist, and
cries, “ Come to the sepulchre: the body's plac'd “ Oh! my Glycerium! what is it you do? “ Upon the pile; lamented; whereupon “ Why, why endeavour to destroy yourself? * This sister I was speaking of, all wild, “ Then she, in such a manner that you thence “ Ran to the flames with peril of her life. “Might easily perceive their long, long love, " There ! there! the frighted Pamphilus be- “ Threw herself back into his arms, and wept.
“Oh! how familiarly !" COLMAN. 66 His well-dissembled and long-hidden love;