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A BEAUTIFUL work‘of genius may be aptly compared to a beautiful woman. Good fenfe may be called its health, without which it cannot live, charming as its other powers may be. But tho a woman has good health, it does not follow that she is fair; nay we often applaud a morbidezza, or an appearance of fickly delicacy, as an improver of female beauty; and in this the comparison fails. A work, as well as its present parallel, must have the bloom and the features of beauty, with grace and elegance in its motions, to attract admiration. The bloom and fine features, the grace and elegance, of a work consist in its style; which is the part that is most recommendatory of it, as outward beauty and grace are of a woman considered as an object of sight.
The bloom and the features of composition. lie in the verbage and figures of its style; the grace in the manner and movement of that style.
A WORK, immoral and unwise, has
been found to live by its style, in spite of these defects. Style is therefore a quality of writing 3
equal, if not superior, to good fense: for the latter without the former will by no means preserve a work, tho the reverse of the rule is
Iudeed a fine style is commonly joined with good sense ; both being the offspring of the same luminous mind.
Can a work live long which is defective in style? Impossible. Homer's style is the richest in the Greek language. Style has preserved Herodotus in spite of his absurdities. Every ancient, who has reached us, has an eminent style in his respective walk and manner. Style has saved all the Latin writers, who are only good imitators of the Greeks. Terence is only the translator of Menander; Sallust an imitator of Thucydides; Horace is an imitator and almost a translator in all his odes, as we may boldly pronounce on comparing them with such very minute fragments of Grecian lyric poetry as have reached us. Yet it was he who exclaimed
O imitatores servum pecus ! Style has saved Virgil entirely, who has not the most distant pretence to any other attribute
of a poet.
Good sense I have called the health of a work without which it cannot live ; but a work may live without much applause: and the first quality of writing that attracts univerfal and permanent fame was the subject of the present discussion. This we have found to be STYLE.
O your observations on the barbarism of
some modern customs, may be added those which arise from the following lines of Juvenal, in his thirteenth satire;
Cærula quis ftupuit Germani lumina, flavam
Cæsariem madido torquentem cornua cirro? Who would have thought that our side-curls and frizzled toupee had such antiquity, but along with that such barbarism, as to be the fashion of the Germans ere they left their native woods? Tacitus in his excellent book of the manners of the Germans, mentions their twilting their locks into horns and rings, as he calls them. It is curious to observe that a custom invented in the most barbarous times should again be brought into vogue at the most polite period.
We see that both Juvenal and Tacitus have chanced on the same appellation, in mentioning this strange piece of dress: the curls bearing indeed a very strong resemblance to the horns of animals. Happy Germans, will fome modern husbands be tempted to cry, whose horns were only of hair! How would Juvenal stare if he came into a modern assembly, and saw every man in the company have his horns, non fine cauda.
PERHAPS it has escaped you that the invention of hair-powder did not arise in the country of the plica Polonica, as some malicious antiquaries affirm. Fauchet, in his Antiquités Gaulloises, tells us that the kings of the Merovingian race were in use to powder the hair of their heads and beards with gold dust; an extravagance to which our beaux and belles may arrive in time.
Fashions may be laughed at, but must be followed to avoid greater evils.