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entertainment so very ill, that they will will be ever lively as the thoughts. All spoil your palate, and bring you to a vicious the danger is, that a wit too fruitful should taste. With them, as with distempered run out into unnecessary branches ; but stomachs, the finest food and noblest juices when it is matured by age, and corrected turn to nothing but crudities and indiges. by judgment, the writer will prune the tion. will have no notion of delica- xuriant boughs, and cut off the supercies, if you table with them; they are all fuous shoots of fancy, thereby giving for rank and foul feeding; and spoil the both strength and beauty to his work. best provisions in the cooking; you must Perhaps this piece of discipline is to be content to be taught parsimony in sense, young writers the greatest self-denial in and for your most inoffensive food to live the world: to confine the fancy, to stifle upon dry meat and insipid stuff, without the birth, much more to throw away

the any poignancy or relish.

beautiful offspring of the brain, is a trial, So then these gentlemen will never be that none but the most delicate and lively able to form your taste or your style: and wits can be put to. It is their praise, that those who cannot give you a true relish of they are obliged to retrench more wit than the best writers in the world, can never others have to lavish: the chippings and instruct you to write like them. Felton. filings of these jewels, could they be pre

served, are of more value than the whole $91. On forming a Style.

mass of ordinary authors; and it is a Give me leave to touch this subject, and maxim with me, that he has not wit draw out, for your use, some of the chief enough who has not a great deal to spare. strokes, some of the principal lineaments, It is by no means necessary for me to and fairest features of a just and beautiful run out into the several sorts of writing : style. There is no necessity of being me- we have general rules to judge of all, thodical, and I will not entertain you with without being particular upon any, though a dry system upon the matter, but with the style of an orator be different from that what you

will read with more pleasure, of an historian, and a poet's from both. and, I hope, with equal profit, some desul

Ibid. tory thoughts in their native order, as they

$93. On Embellishments of Style. rise in my mind, without being reduced to rules, and marshalled according to art.

The design of expression is to convey To assist you, therefore, as far as art our thoughts truly and clearly to the world, may

be an help to nature, I shall proceed in such a manner as is most probable to atto say something of what is required in a tain the end we propose, in communicafinished piece, to make it complete in all ting what we have conceived to the public; its parts, and masterly in the whole. and therefore men have not thought it

I would not lay down anyimpracticable enough to write plainly, unless they wrote schemes, nor trouble you with a dry for- agreeably, so as to engage the attention, mal method: the rule of writing, like that and work upon the affections, as well as of our duty, is perfect in its kind: but inform the understanding of their readers : we must make allowances for the for which reason, all arts have been ininfirmities of nature; and since none is vented to make their writings pleasing, as without his faults, the most that can be well as profitable; and those arts are very said is, That he is the best writer, against commendable and honest; they are no whom the fewest can be alleged.

trick, no delusion, or imposition on the “A composition is then perfect, when senses and understanding of mankind; for

A “ the matter rises out of the subject; they are found in nature, and formed

upon “ when the thoughts are agreeable to the observing her operations in all the various

matter, and the expressions suitable to passions and workings of our minds. “ the thoughts; where there is no incon- To this we owe all the beauties and em“sistency from the beginning to the end; bellishments of Style; all figures and " when the whole is perspicuous in the schemes of speech, and those several de“ beautiful order of its parts, and formed corations that are used in writing to en“ in due symmetry and proportion.”

liven and adorn the work. The flourishes Ibid. of fancy resemble the flourishes of the

pen in mechanic writers; and the illumi$ 92. Expression suited to the Thought.

nators of manuscripts, and of the press, In every sprightly genius, the expression borrowed their title perhaps from the illu


mination which a bright genius every our phrase, and way of speaking. For where gives to his work, and disperses this is to speak or write English in puthrough his composition.

rity and perfection, to let the streams run The commendation of this art of en- clear and unmixed, without taking in lightening and adorning a subject, lies in a other languages in the course; in English, right distribution of the shades and light. therefore, I would have all Gallicisms (for It is in writing, as in a picture, in which instance) avoided, that our tongue may the art is to observe where the lights will be sincere, that we may keep to our own fall, to produce the most beautiful parts to language, and not follow the French mode the day, and cast in shades what we can- in our speech, as we do in our clothes. It not hope will shine to advantage. is convenient and profitable sometimes

It were endless to pursue this subject to import a foreign word, and naturalize through all the ornaments and illustrations the phrase of another nation, but this is of speech; and yet I would not dismiss it, very sparingly to be allowed ; and every without pointing at the general rules and syllable of foreign growth ought immenecessary qualifications required in those diately to be discarded, if its use and who would attempt to shine in the pro- ornament to our language be not very ductions of their

And therefore you

Ibid. must pardon me if I seem to go back, for

§ 95. On the Purity and Idiom of we cannot raise any regular and durable pile of building, without laying a firm

Language. foundation,

Felton, While the Romans studied and used the $94. On the first Requisite, a Mastery of their own, the Latin flourished, and grew

Greek tongue, only to improve and adorn Language.

every year more copious, more elegant, The first thing requisite to a just style, and expressive: but in a few years after is a perfect mastery in the language we the ladies and beaux of Rome affected to write in; this is not so easily attained as is speak Greek, and regarding nothing but commonly imagined, and depends upon a the softness and effeminacy of that noble competent knowledge of the force and language, they weakened and corrupted propriety of words, a good natural taste of their native tongue: and the monstrous strength and delicacy, and all the beauties affectation of our travelled ladies and genof expression. It is my own opinion, that tlemen to speak in the French air, French all the rules and critical observations in tone, French terms, to dress, to cook, to the world will never bring a man to a just write, to court in French, corrupted at style, who has not of himself a natural once our language and our manners, and easy way of writing; but they will im- introduced an abominable gallimaufry of prove a good genius, where nature leads French and English mixed together, that the way, provided he is not too scrupu- made the innovators ridiculous to all men lous, and does not make himself a slave of sense. The French tongue hath une to his rules; for that will introduce a stiff- doubtedly its graces and beauties, and I ness and affectation, which are utterly am not against any real improvement of abhorrent from all good writing. our own language from that or any other :

By a perfect mastery in any language, I but we are always so foolish, or unfortuunderstand not only a ready command of nate, as never to make any advantage of our words, upon every occasion, not only the neighbours. We affect nothing of theirs, force and propriety of words as to their but what is silly and ridiculous; and by sense and signification, but more espe- neglecting the substantial use of their lancially the purity and idiom of the lan- guage, we only enervate and spoil our guage; for in this a perfect mastery does consist. It is to know what is English, Languages, like our bodies, are in a and what is Latin, what is French, Spa- perpetual flux, and stand in need of recruits nish, or Italian; to be able to mark the to supply the place of those words that are bounds of each language we write in; to continually falling off through disuse: and point out the distinguishing characters, since it is so, I think 'tis better to raise and the peculiar phrases of each tongue; them at home than abroad. We had betwhat expressions or manner of expressing ter rely on our own troops than foreign is common to any language besides our forces, and I believe we have sufficient own, and what is properly and peculiarly strength and numbers within ourselves :





there is a vast treasure, an inexhaustible be his style never so plain as to the words fund in the old English, from whence au. he uses, it never can be clear; and if his thors may draw constant supplies, as our thoughts upon this subject be never so just officers make their surest recruits from the and distinct, unless he has a ready comcoal-works, and the mines. The weight, mand of words, and a faculty of easy the strength and significancy of many an- writing in plain obvious expressions, the tiquated words, should recommend them words will perplex the sense, and cloud to use again. 'Tis only wiping off the the clearness of his thoughts. rust they have contracted, and separating It is the unhappiness of some, that they them from the dross they lie mingled with, are not able to express themselves clearly: and both in value and beauty they will their heads are crowded with a multiplicity rise above the standard, rather than fall of undigested knowledge, which lies conbelow it.

fused in the brain, without any order or Perhaps our tongue is not so musical to distinction. It is the vice of others, to afthe ear, por so abundant in multiplicity of fect obscurity in their thoughts and lanwords; but its strength is real, and its guage, to write in a difficult crabbed style, words are therefore the more expressive: and perplex the reader with an intricate the peculiar character of our language is, meaning in more intricate words. that it is close, compact, and full: and The common way of offending against our writings (if you will excuse two Latin plainness and perspicuity of style, is an afwords) come nearest to what Tully means fectation of hard unusual words, and of by his Pressa Oratio. They are all weight close contracted periods: the faults of poand substance, good measure pressed 10. dants and sententious writers, that are gether, and running over in a redundancy vainly ostentatious of their learning, or of sense, and not of words. And there their wisdom. Hard words and quaint fore the purity of our language consists in expressions are abominable: wherever preserving this character, in writing with you meet such a writer throw him aside the English strength and spirit: let us not for a coxcomb. Some authors of reputaenvy others, that they are more soft, and tion have used a short and concise


of diffuse, and rarefied; be it our commen- expression, I must own; and if they are dation to write as we pay, in true Sterling; not so clear as others, the fault is to be if we want supplies, we had better revive laid on the brevity they labour after: for old words, than create new ones. I look while we study to be concise, we can upon our language as good bullion, if we hardly avoid being obscure. We crowd do not debase it with too much alloy; and our thoughts into too small a compass, and let me leave this censure with


That are so sparing of our words, that we will he who corrupteth the purity of the Eng- not afford enow to express our meaning. lish tongue with the most specious foreigo There is another extreme in obscure words and phrases, is just as wise as those writers, not much taken notice of, which modish ladies that change their plate for some empty conceited heads are apt to run zbina ; for which I think the laudable into out of a prodigality of words, and a traffio of old clothes is much the fairest want of sense. This is the extļavagance barter,

Felton, of your copious writers, who lose their 06. On Plainness and Perspicuity,

meaning in a multitude of words, and

bury their sense under heaps of phrases. After this regard to the purity of our Their understanding is rather rarefied than language, the next quality of a just style, condensed: their meaning, we cannot say, is its plainness and perspicuity. This is is dark and thick; it is too light and subthe greatest commendation we can give an tle to be discerned: it is spread so thin, author, and the best argument that he is and diffused so wide, that it is hard to be master of the language he writes in, and collected. Two lines would express all the subject he writes upon, when we un- they say in two pages: 'tis nothing but derstand him, and see into the scope and whipe syllabub and froth, a little varnish tendency of his thoughts, as we read him. and gilding, without any solidity or subAll obscurity of expression, and darkness stance.

Ibid. of sense, do arise from the confusion of the writer's thoughts, and his want of proper S 97. On the Decorations and Ornaments words. If a man hath not a clear percep

of Style. dion of the matter he undertakes to treat of, The deepest rivers have the plainest

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surface, and the purest waters are always sion, anger, and resentment, by representclearest. Crystal is not the less solid for ing something very affectionate or very being transparent: the value of a style rises dreadful, very astonishing, very miserable, , like the value of precious stones. If it be or very provoking, to our thoughts. They dark and cloudy, it is in vain to polish it: give a wonderful force and beauty to the

: it bears its worth in its native looks, and subject, where they are painted by a masthe same art which enhances its price when terly hand; but if they are either weakly it is clear, only debases it if it be dull. drawn, or unskilfully placed, they raise

You see I have borrowed some meta- no passion but indignation in the reader. phors to explain my thoughts; and it is,

Felton. I believe, impossible to describe the plainness and clearness of style, without some

$ 98. On Metaphors and Similitules. expressions clearer than the terms I am The most common ornaments are Meta. otherwise bound up to use.

phor and Similitude. One is an allusion You must give me leave to go on with to words, the other to things; and both you to the decorations and ornaments of have their beauties, if properly applied. style; there is no inconsistency between Similitudes ought to be drawn from the the plainness and perspicuity, and the or- most familiar and best known particulars nament of writing. A style resembleth in the world: if any thing is dark and obbeauty, where the face is clear and plain scure in them, the purpose of using them as to symmetry and proportion, but is ca- is defeated ; and that which is not clear pable of wonderful improvements as to itself, can never give light to any thing features and complexion. If I may trans- that wants it. It is the idle fancy of some gress in too frequent allusions, because I poor brains, to run out perpetually into a would make every thing plain to you, I course of similitudes, confounding their would pass on from painters to statuaries, subject by the multitude of likenesses; and whose excellence it is at first to form true making it like so many things, that it is and just proportions, and afterwards to like nothing at all. This trifling humour give them that softness, that expression, is good for nothing, but to convince us, that strength and delicacy, which make that the author is in the dark himself; and them almost breathe and live.

while he is likening his subject to every The decorations of style are formed out thing, he knoweth not what it is like. of those several schemes and figures, which There is another tedious fault in some are contrived to express the passions and simile men : which is, drawing their commotions of our minds in our speech; to parisons into a great length and minute give life and ornament, grace and beauty, particulars, where it is of no inportance to our expressions. I shall not undertake whether the resemblance holds or not. the rhetorician's province, in giving you But the true art of illustrating any subject an account of all the figures they have by similitude, is, first to pitch on such a invented, and those several ornaments of resemblance as all the world will agree in: writing, whose grace and commendation and then, without being careful to have it lie in being used with judgment and pro- run on all four, to touch it only in the priety. It were endless to pursue this sub- strongest lines, and the nearest likeness. ject through all the schemes and illustra. And this will secure us from all stiffness tions of speech: but there are some com- and formality in similitude, and deliver us mon forms, which


writer upon every from the nauseous repetition of as and so, subject may use, to enliven and adorn his which some so-30 writers, if I may beg work.

leave to call thein so, are continually These are metaphor and similitude: and sounding in our ears. those images and representations, that are I have nothing to say to those gentledrawn in the strongest and most lively co- men who bring similitudes and forget the lours, to imprint what the writer would resemblance. All the pleasure we can take have his readers conceive, more deeply on when we meet these promising sparks, is their minds. In the choice, and in the use in the disappointment, where we find their of these, your ordinary writers are most fancy is so like their subject, that it is not apt to offend. Images are very sparingly like at all.

Ibid. to be introduced: their proper place is in

$99. On Melaphors. poems and orations; and their use is to move pity or terror, admiration, compas

Metaphors require great judgment and


consideration in the use of them. They judgment should direct us to say what is are a shorter similitude, where the likeness proper at least; but it is parts and fire is rather implied than expressed. The ihat will prompt us to the most lively and signification of one word, in metaphors, is most forcible epithets that can be applied; transferred to another, and we talk of one and 'tis in their energy and propriety their thing in the terms and propriety of ano- beauty lies.

Ibid. ther. But there must be a common resemblance, some original likeness in nature,

$ 101. On Allegories. some correspondence and easy transition, Allegories I need not mention, because or metaphors are shocking and confused. they are not so much any ornament of

The beauty of them displays itself in style, as an artful way of recommending their easiness and propriety, where they truth to the world in a borrowed shape, are naturally introduced; but where they and a dress more agreeable to the fancy, are forced and crowded, too frequent and than naked truth herself can be. Truth various, and do not rise out of the course is ever most beautiful and evident in her of thought, but are constrained and pressed native dress : and the arts that are used into the service, instead of making the dis- to convey her to our minds, are no argucourse more lively and cheerful, they make ment that she is deficient, but so many it sullen, dull, and gloomy.

testimonies of the corruption of our naYou must form your judgment upon the ture, when truth, of all things the plainest best models and the most celebrated pens, and sincerest, is forced to gain admitwhere you will find the metaphor in all tance to us in disguise, and court us in its grace and strength, shedding a lustre masquerade.

Ibid. and beauty on the work. For it ought never to be used but when it gives greater

102. On the Sublime. force to the sentence, an illustration to the There is one ingredient more required thought, and insinuates a silent argument to the perfection of style, which I have in the allusion. The use of metaphors is partly mentioned already, in speaking of not only to convey the thought in a more the suitableness of the thoughts to the subpleasing manner, but to give it a stronger ject, and of the words to the thoughts; impression, and enforce it on the mind. but you will give me leave to consider ić Where this is not regarded, they are vain in another light, with regard to the maand trifling trash; and in a due obser- jesty and dignity of the subject. vance of this, in a pure, chaste, natural It is fit, as we have said already, that expression, consist the justness, beauty, the thoughts and expressions should be and delicacy of style.

Felton. suited to the matter on all occasions ; but

in nobler and greater subjects, especially $ 100. On Epilhels.

where the theme is sacred and divine, it I have said nothing of Epithets. Their must be our care to think and write up to business is to express the nature of the the dignity and majesty of the things we things they are applied to: and the choice presume to treat of: nothing little, mean, of them depends upon a good judgment, or low, no childish thoughts, or boyish to distinguish what are the most proper expressions, will be endured: all must be titles to be given op all occasions, and a awful and grave, and great and solemn. complete knowledge in the accidents, qua- The noblest sentiments must be conveyed lities, and affections of every thing in the in the weightiest words: all ornaments world. They are of most ornament when and illustrations must be borrowed from they are of use: they are to determine the the richest parts of universal nature; and character of every person, and decide the in divine subjects, especially when we atmerits of every cause; conscience and jus- tempt to speak of God, of his wisdom, tice are to be regarded, and great skill and goodness, and power, of his mercy and exactness are required in the use of them. justice, of his dispensations and providence For it is of great importance to call things (by all which he is pleased to manifest by their right names; the points of satire, himself to the sons of men) we must raise and strains of compliment, depend upon our thoughts, and enlarge our minds, and it: otherwise we may make an ass of a search all the treasures of knowledge for lion, commend a man in satire, and lam- every thing that is great, wonderful, and poon him in panegyric. Here also there magnificent; we can only express our is room for genius: common justice and thoughts of the Creator in the works of

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