Page images

For the English are naturally fanciful, and, by that gloominess and melancholy of temper which is so frequent in our nation, are often disposed to many wild notions, &c.

A pronoun, which saves the naming a person or thing a second time, ought to be placed as near as possible to the name of that person or thing. This is a branch of the foregoing rule: and with the reason there given another concurs,-viz. That if other ideas intervene, it is difficult to recall the person or thing by reference:

If I had leave to print the Latin letters transmitted to me from foreign parts, they would fill a volume, and be a full defence against all that Mr. Partridge, or his accomplices of the Portugal inquisition, will be ever able to object; who, by the way, are the only enemies my. predictions have ever met with at home or abroad.

Better thus:

and be a full defence against all that can be objected by Mr. Partridge, or his accomplices of the Portugal inquisition; who, by the way, are, &c.

To elevate or depress an object, one method is, to join it in the expression with another that is naturally high or low.

Circumstances in a period resemble small stones in a building, employed to fill up vacuities among those of a larger size. In the arrangement of a period, such under-parts crowded together make a poor figure; and never are graceful but when interspersed among the capital parts.

Example. It is likewise urged, that there are, by computation, in this kingdom, above 10,000 parsons, whose revenues, added to those of my Lords the Bishops, would suffice to maintain, &c. Argument against abolishing Christianity. SWIFT.

Here two circumstances, viz. by computation, and in this kingdom, are crowded together unnecessarily they make a better appearance separated in the following


It is likewise urged, that in this kingdom there are, by computation, above 10,000 parsons, &c.

If there be room for a choice, the sooner a circumstance is introduced, the better; because circumstances are proper for that coolness of mind with which we

begin a period as well as a volume: in the progress, the mind warms, and has a greater relish for matters of importance. When a circumstance is placed at the beginning of the period, or near the beginning, the transition from it to the principal subject is agreeable: it is like ascending, or going upward. On the other hand, to place it late in the period has a bad effect.

Example.--And Philip the Fourth was obliged at last to conclude a peace on terms repugnant to his inclination, to that of his people, to the interest of Spain, and to that of all Europe, in the Pyrenean treaty. Letters on History, Vol. I. Let. 6. BOLINGBROKE. Better thus:

And at last, in the Pyrenean treaty, Philip the Fourth was obliged to conclude a peace, &c.

In arranging a period, it is of much importance to determine in what part of it a word makes the greatest figure; whether at the beginning, during the course, or at the close. The breaking silence rouses the attention, and prepares for a deep impression at the beginning: the beginning, however, must yield to the close; which being succeeded by a pause, affords time for a word to make its deepest impression. Hence the following rule: That to give the utmost force to a period, it ought, if possible, to be closed with that word which makes the greatest figure. The opportunity of a pause should not be thrown away upon accessories, but reserved for the principal object, in order that it may make a full impression; and the capital word should be placed in the front: as the name of a person.

The substance of what is said in this and the foregoing section, upon the method of arranging words in a period, so as to make the deepest impression with respect to sound as well as signification, is comprehended in the following observation: That order of words in a period will always be the most agreeable, where, without obscuring the sense, the most important images, the most sonorous words, and the longest members, bring up the rear.

Inversion ought not to be indulged, unless in order

to reach some beauty superior to those of a natural style. It may with great certainty be pronounced, that every inversion which is not governed by this rule, will appear harsh and strained, and be disrelished by every one of taste. Hence the beauty of inversion when happily conducted; the beauty, not of an end, but of means, as furnishing opportunity for numberless ornaments that find no place in a natural style: hence the force, the elevation, the harmony, the cadence, of some compositions; hence the manifold beauties of the Greek and Roman tongues, of which living languages afford but faint imitations.


What two things are to be regarded in every period?
What is the first rule concerning perspicuity?

What should chiefly be studied in language?

What error against perspicuity passes with some writers for a beauty?

What rule is next in importance?

What concordance is mentioned which contributes to neatness of composition?

Give examples of antithesis.

What is verbal antithesis, and by whom is it studied?

What is the opposite fault?

How should a sentence be constructed with reference to thought and expression?

How should sentences containing similies be constructed?
What is the next rule?

Give an example of a deviation from it.

When should many copulatives be used?-when avoided?

What does the next beauty consist in?

What words commonly imply no relation?

What words imply relation?

What words express relation?

Give examples of transposition.

What are the two kinds of ambiguities occasioned by a wrong arrangement?

Give an example of the first-correct it.

Give an example of wrong arrangement of members-correct it. Of doubtful sense-correct it.

What is obvious from these examples?

Will punctuation entirely remedy the defect?
What is the second rule?

Give an example of its violation-correct it.
What is a branch of the foregoing rule?
Give an example of its violation-correct it.
What is the rule respecting circumstances?

Give an example of its violation--correct it.

In what part of a sentence should a circumstance be placed?
Give an example of its violation-correct it.
What is the rule respecting the close of a sentence?

Give the substance of this and the foregoing sections in a single observation.

What is the rule concerning inversion?

What is observed of inversion in the Greek and Roman tongues? SECTION III.-Beauty of Language from a resemblance between Sound and Signification.

This beauty has escaped none of our critical writers. There being frequently a strong resemblance of one sound to another, it will not be surprising to find an articulate sound resembling one that is not articulate: thus the sound of a bow-string is imitated by the words that express it:

The string let fly,

Twang'd short and sharp, like the shrill swallow's cry. ODYSSEY, xxi. 449. On this principle, falling timber is said to crash, and wind to whistle; thus, causes that have no resemblance, may produce resembling effects; and by a number of syllables in succession, an emotion is sometimes raised similar to that caused by successive motion; as walking, galloping, running, can be imitated by a succession of long or short syllables, or by a due mixture of both. For example, slow motion may be justly imitated in a verse where long syllables prevail; especially when aided by a slow pronunciation. A line composed of monosyllables makes an impression, by the frequency of its pauses, similar to what is made by laborious, interrupted motion:

With many a weary step, and many a groan,
Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone.
ODYSSEY, xi. 736.

First march the heavy mules securely slow;
O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks, they go.
ILIAD, Xxiii. 138.

The impression made by rough sounds in succession, resembles that made by rough or tumultuous motion: on the other hand, the impression of smooth sounds


resembles that of gentle motion. The following is an example of both :

[ocr errors]

Two craggy rocks projecting to the main,
The roaring wind's tempestuous rage restrain;
Within, the waves in softer murmurs glide,
And ships secure without their halsers ride.

ODYSSEY, iii. 118. Prolonged motion is expressed in an Alexandrine line, and forcible prolonged motion in the same; and a period consisting mostly of long syllables, produces an emotion resembling faintly that which is produced by gravity and solemnity.

A slow succession of ideas is a circumstance that belongs equally to settled melancholy, and to a period composed of polysyllables pronounced slow; and hence, by similarity of emotions, the latter is imitative of the former:

In those deep solitudes, and awful cells,

Where heavenly-pensive Contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing Melancholy reigns.

POPE.-Eloisa to Abelard.

A long syllable made short, or a short syllable made long, raises, by the difficulty of pronouncing contrary to custom, a feeling similar to that of hard labor:

When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow.

Harsh or rough words pronounced with difficulty, excite a feeling similar to that which proceeds from the labor of thought to a dull writer:

Just writes to make his barrenness appear,

And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a-year.

It belongs to the present subject to observe, that when these coincide in the same passage, the concordance of sound and sense is delightful: the reader is conscious not only of pleasure from the two climaxes separately, but of an additional pleasure from their concordance, and from finding the sense so justly imitated by the sound.

The concord between sense and sound is no less

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »