« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
casting his cold and unwelcome look at the specious plausibility, he rebuked it from his presence. The strength of his philosophy lay as much in refusing admittance to that which wanted evidence, as in giving a place and an occupancy to that which possessed it. In that march of intellect, which led him onwards through the rich and magnificent field of his discoveries, he pondered every step; and while he advanced with a firm and assured moveinent, wherever the light of evidence carried him, he never suffered any glare of imagination or of prejudice to seduce him from his path.” pp. 36–38.
But to proceed to a few more particulars. Here follow some examples of pleonasm, arising from an attempt to write better than well. “ Unpeopled solitude.” p. 15. “ All the establishment of a conclusive demonstration," 36. “There lies the profoundness of an unsearchable latency.” 76.“ Practical doing" 138. The list were easily extended.
We have said that the style though inflated is not sustained. A few examples may make our meaning plain. A long series of turgid phrases is intermingled wild some colloquial or mean expression. The use of the word “ Aye" (ay) is the common bond of union to the almost interminable sentences, and has sometimes a ludicrous effect. Such expressions too as the following are any thing but dignified. “All should be above boards" p. 72. fell on the moral destinies of mankind,” in the sense of operate on, p. 100. “ blow the argument to pieces,” p. 91. “Tack our faith.” 76. “ Looking with half an eye.” i All heaven in a stir.” 98. “biggest outrage." 102. - text looks hard upon him." 129. “ blink a question." 71. “ mince ambiguous scepticism," 86. " would not recede by a single jota” 89.
Tbe obscurity is sometimes very dense. Amidst the cloud of words, the glimmering of the idea is bardly perceptible. This results sometimes froin loose thinking, but cbiefly from a redundancy of words. We have room for only single sentences. “ Now the question is not how these would conduct themselves in such circumstances ? but how should they do it?" p. 11. What?-_"Oh had the philosophers of the day known as well as their great master, how to draw the vigorous landmark which verges the field of legitimate discovery, they should (would)
&c. 77. “a gleam of malignant joy shot athwart him as he conceived bis project för hemming our unfortunate species within the bound of an irrecoverable dilemma," 119, meaning, by interpretation, probably, a dilemma from which recovery was impossible.
Aye, and it would put them on the stretch of all their faculties, when they saw rebellion lifting up its standard against the Majesty of heaven, and the truth and justice of God embarked on the threatenings he bad uttered against all the doers of iniquity, and the honours of that august throne, which has the firm pillars of immutability to rest upon, linked with the fallilment of the law that had come out of it.” pp. 81, 82.
Sometimes we may not hope to find a meaning. “It wust bave poured a tide of exuberancy (of what is not said) through all its provinces.” 94. “ Man feels bimself treading on the limits of his helplessness." p. 147. "He is told of the multitude of worlds, and he feels a kindling magnificence in the conception, and he is seduced by an elevation which he cannot curry, and from this airy summit (we suppose of the elevation by wbich he is seduced and cannot carry) does he look down on the insig. nificance of the world we occupy.” p. 96.
We give one or two specimens of what we have called artizanship of style. A tenperale use of these forms of phrase, may not be very objectionable, but become wearisome when they occur on every page. A thought, which in an unbroken state, and simply expressed might have some force and effect is frittered into as many parts as possible, and each supplied with an epithet.
“But is it not adding to the bright catalogue of his other attributes, to say, that, while magnitude does not overpower him, minuteness canoot escape him, and variety cannot bewilder him; and that, at the very time while the mind of the Deity is abroad over the whole vastness of creaiion, there is not one particle of matter, there is not one individnal principle of rational or of animal existence, there is not one single world in that expanse which teems with them, that his eye does not discern as constantly, and his hand does not guide as uberringly, and his spirit does not watch and care for us as vigilantly, as if it formed the one and exclusive object of his attention. pp. 59, 60.
• He can attend as fully and provide as richly, and manifest bis attributes as illustriously on every one of these objects." p 61.
- he may be made to feel with such an emotion, and to weep with such a tenderness, and to kindle with such a transport, and to glow with such an elevation, as may one and all carry upon them the semblance of sacredness." p. 127.
Another process of making sentences, which is equally a favorite one with Dr. C. is to change the epithet into a substantive, and put the substantive in regimen. “ Earnestness of regards." “ totality of existence" " preciousness of application" and ma. ny more.
Here follow some specimens of grammatical solecisms and offences against English. “ Images dazzle upon the eye.” “ Heaven rings jubilee.” “I cannot tell wbat the battle that he fought.” “He strires a penetrating vision.” “ It looks in the sense of appears) to the man of science." " It looks another to the voluptuary.” “condescend upon.” “go to aliment." New York edition. p. 242.
A rythmical termination like the esse videatur of Cicero, is given to the sentences very often, as for example by such combinations as the following. “Joveliness of the song." pp. 128, 132, 143, 146. And“ busy population”“ mighty popu- . lation" "guilly population” “world's population" (very often repeated) “ repentant population” “teeming population” “neglected population.”
Passing, without more particular notice, the Scotch use of the word just used for only, or increly, for example “ to theorize is just making a departure,” &c. the frequent use of the words should for would, and shull for will, which is not peculiar to Scotland, and the unnecessary use of tbe words every, and the misuse of one and alone for only, as in these expressions "it forned the one object of his attention," “ Truth is the alone idol of his reverence ;” and passing by also the tedious affixes to common words, we offer a few specimens of words of a new coinage : such as residenter, honesties, integrities, rebelliousness, baselessness, exhaustlessness, profoundness, untaintedness, defencelessness, strenitousness, preciousness, powerlessness, virtuousness, versant, argumentable, unfalien, disposited, charioted. But we are weary of this work-ly the words of Persius
"unde bæc sartago loquendi, Venerit in linquas ? We have dwelt longer on the literary character of these writings, than, with regard to common discourses from the pulpit, would be either expedient or allowable. A spirit of criticism on thissubject is ever in danger of excess. But these discourses have gained a popularity unprecedented in late years ; and certainly ibey are remarkable for nothing but their style. On this account it seemed to demand of us unusual attention. Examples of gross faults might easily have been multiplied, and those who bave read these volumes, will not think that we have been Javish of reprehension.
But we have been induced to indulge in these remarks by other considerations. We consider such gorgeous declamation as this, particularly reprehensible when it is delivered from the sacred desk. To use the empbatic language of Dr. C. with a slight alteration, “it is a piece of parading insignificance altogether-the minister playing on his favourite instrument, and the people dissipating away their time on the charm and idle luxury of a theatrical emotion." How are the great objects of christian preaching to be effected ? not, surely, by mere splendid diction, rhetorical flourish, parade of language, or by any or all of the artifices of style :-ihese are but soundin brass and tinkling cymbal:--but by plain expositions of duty, by direct, close, serious, bortatory and pathetic sermons—which will strike directly on the heart and pierce and melt it. lo making these remarks, we do not mean to express a doubt either of the talents or sincerity of Dr. C. He is a writer of very consideNero Series - vol. 1.
rable endowments, and of such a character as is likely to make him an example to many. We have therefore thought it the more necessary to point out distinctly his errors. For it is to be feared that the race of imitators, " qui aut ea, quæ facilia sunt, aut etiam illa, quæ insignia ac pene vitiosa, consectantur, imitando,” may content themselves with the imperfections of their model, and mistake the pomp of words for the patural language of a raised and excited mind.
But wbile we consider the general style of these discourses as almost the worst, which we have read, we are not unconscious that there are some exceptions. Amid their tinsel and gaudiness, there is sometimes to be found a gem of price :in the intervals of a lumbering sonorousness of phrase the voice of real eloquence may sometimes be heard. This seems to rerify the remark of Quinctilian—"inde evenit nonnunquam, ut aliquod grande inveniat qui semper quærit quod nimium est." But it is a dangerous method, for, as ihe same great critic adds,
verum raro evenit et certa vilia non pensat." We do not remember a better example than the following, in wbich the language, though rather swelling, is balanced and kept steady by the weight of the thought.
“ The contemplation has no limits. If we ask 'the number of suns and of systems, the unassisted eye of man can take in a thousand, and the best telescope wbich the genius of man has constructed can take in eighty milJions. But why subject the dominions of the universe to the eye of man, or to the powers of his genius ? Fancy may take its flight far beyond the ken of eye or of telescope. It may expatiate in the outer regions of all that is visible and shall we have the boldness to say, that there is nothing there ? that the wonders of the Almighty are at an end, because we can no longer trace his footsteps ? that bis omnipotence is exhausted, becanse human art can no longer follow him ? that the creative energy of God has sunk into repose, because the imagination is enfeebled by the magnitude of its efforts, and can keep no longer on the wing through those mighty tracts, which shoot far beyond what eye hath seen, or the heart of man hath conceived-wbich sweep endlessly along, and merge into an awful and mysteous infinity ?" pp. 23, 24.
Wbat, it may be asked, if the style of these discourses is so objectionable, constituted their remarkable fascination ? We answer, that we do not know. So far as immediate effect is concerned, some of those very faults of style to which we have adverted, its sounding words, its boldness and contempt of the common forms and rules of speech, may have had an influence. Something too should be attributed to ihose specimens of real eloquence, which are found at long intervals in these performances, like clear and grassy resting places in a tangled wilderness ;-something to the religious dogmas insisted upon which, though in our opinion, unsound to the very core, are susceptible of being stated in an imposing manner, and must have an awful effect on those who believe them to be true. But probably the chief effect of these sermons de. pended on the peculiar elocution of the speaker, and particularly on his earnestness, self-conviction, and teinporary enthusiasm. God has set his mark upon sincerity, and the language of the heart never yet fell cold and dead upon
Real feeling has a persuasiveness above all power of words, and which even gross faults of style cannot wholly stifle. It is heard in the tone, it is seen in the listing of a finger, in the glance of the eye, in the trembling of a muscle, in the irradiation of the face. Deep emotion will always radiate, and sympathy will kindle and spread in every heart like wildfire.
On Doing Good to the Poor. A Sermon preached at Pitts
field, (Mass.) on the day of the annual fast April 4, 1818. By HEMAN' HumphREY, Pastor of the congregational
Church in that town. Pittsfield : Phineas Allen. pp. 46. 1818. A Discourse delivered at the opening of the new Almshouse in
Cambridge, 17th September, 1818. By ABIEL HOLMES, D. D. Pastor of the First Church in Cambridge. Cambridge; Hilliard and Metcalf, 1819. pp. 40.
There is nothing which so clearly denotes the admirable influence of the Christian religion in cherishing and developing the most amiable traits of the human character, as the extent and variety of the charitable institutions, which exist in all Christian countries ; and more particularly in those where the moral principles of the religion are properly understood, and fully valued." There is no form of poverty or disease, no shape in which human inisery can appear, but a hand is stretched out 10 support, and a home provided to receive and shelter. There seems in fact to be almost an exuberance of these benevolent feelings; the means of charity, especially among us, exceed the necessities of ibose upon whom they might be worthily and judiciously expended; the suffering often have hardly to seek relief, but are rather sought out as the subjects for the exercise of the feelings of the benevolent.
Not that we consider this as the most desirable channel in which these affections should be made to flow. The good that is done in this way, is by no means in proportion to the good that is intended. Injudicious charity has probably been productive of far more ultimate evil, tban the coldest and most in