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as the first, and the third as large as the fecond; which in appearance magnifies every object of the feries except the firft. On the other hand, in a series varying by great differences, where contraft prevails, the effects are directly oppofite: a large object fucceeding a small one of the fame kind, appears by the oppofition larger than ufual; and a small object, for the fame reason, fucceeding one that is large, appears lefs than ufual *. Hence a remarkable pleasure in viewing a series afcend. ing by large differences; directly oppofite to what we feel when the differences are finall. The smallest object of a feries afcending by large differences has the fame effect upon the mind as if it flood fingle without making a part of the feries: but the fecond object, by means of contraft, makes a much greater figure than when viewed fingly and apart; and the fame effect is perceived in afcending progreffively, till we arrive at the laft object. The oppofite effect is produced in defcending; for in this direction, every object, except the firft, makes a lefs figure than when viewed feparately and independent of the feries. We may then lay down as a maxin, which will hold in the compofition of language as well as of other fubjects, That a ftrong impulfe fucceeding a weak, makes a double impreffion on the mind; and that a weak impulfe fucceeding a strong, makes fcarce any impreffion.


After eftablishing this maxim, we can be at no lofs about its application to the fubject in hand. The following rule is laid down by Diomedes +. "In verbis obfervandum eft, ne a majoribus ad minora defcendat "oratio; melius enim dicitur, Vir eft optimus, quam, "Vir optimus eft." This rule is alfo applicable to entire members of a period, which, according to our author's expreffion, ought not, more than fingle words, to proceed from the greater to the lefs, but from the less to the greater t. In arranging the members of a period, no writer equals Cicero: the beauty of the follow


See the reafon, chap. 8.

↑ De ftructura perfectæ orationis, 1, 2.

See Demetrius Phalereus of Elocution, fect. 18.

ing examples out of many, will not fuffer me to flur them over by a reference."

Quicum quæftor fueram,

Quicum me fors confuetudoque majorum,

Quicum me deorum hominumque judicium conjunx



Habet honorem quem petimus,

Habet fpem quam præpofitam nobis habemus, Habet exiftimationem, multo fudore, labore, vigiliifque, collectam.


Eripite nos ex miferiis,

Eripite nos ex faucibus eorum,

Quorum crudelitas noftro fanguine non poteft expleri. De oratore, l. 1. §. 52. This order of words or members gradually increafing in length, may, fo far as concerns the pleasure of found fingly, be denominated a climax in found.

The laft article is the mufic of periods as united in a difcourfe; which fhall be difpatched in a very few words. By no other human means is it poffible to prefent to the mind, fuch a number of objects and in fo fwift a fucceffion, as by fpeaking or writing: and for that reason, variety ought more to be ftudied in these, than in any other fort of compofition. Hence a rule regarding the arrangement of the members of different periods with relation to each other, That to avoid a tedious uniformity of found and cadence, the arrangement, the cadence, and the length of thefe members, ought to be diverfified as much as poffible: and if the members of different periods be fufficiently diverfified, the periods themfelves will be equally fo.


Beauty of language with respect to fignification.


T is well faid by a noted writer*, "That by means "of speech we can dive.t our forrows, mingle our


* Scot's Christian life.

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mirth, impart our fecrets, communicate our counfels, "and make mutual compacts and agreements to fupply "and affist each other." Confidering speech as contributing to fo many good purposes, words that convey clear and diftin&t ideas, must be one of its capital beauties. This caufe of beauty, is too extenfive to be handled as a branch of any other subject: for to ascertain with accuracy even the proper meaning of words, not to talk of their figurative power, would require a large volume; an ufeful work indeed, but not to be attempted without a large ftock of time, fludy, and reflection. This branch therefore of the fubject I humbly decline. Nor do I propofe to exhaust all the other beauties of language with refpect to fignification: the reader, in a work like the prefent, cannot fairly expect more than a flight sketch of those that make the greateft figure. This talk I attempt the more willingly, as being connected with certain principles in human nature; and the rules I fhall have occafion to lay down, will, if I judge rightly, be agreeable illuftrations of these principles. Every fubject must be of importance that tends to unfold the human heart; for what other fcience is of greater use to human beings?

The prefent fubject is too extenfive to be difcuffed without dividing it into parts; and what follows fuggefts a divifion into two parts. In every period, two things are to be regarded: firft, the words of which it is compofed; next, the arrangement of these words; the former resembling the ftones that compofe a building, and the latter refembling the order in which they are placed. Hence the beauties of language with refpect to its meaning, may not improperly be diftinguished into two kinds: first, the beauties that arife from a right choice of words or materials for conftructing the period; and next, the beauties that arife from a due arrangement of thefe words or materials. begin with rules that direct us to a right choice of words, and then proceed to rules that concern their arrangement.

And with refpect to the former, communication of thought being the principal end of language, it is a rule, That perfpicuity ought not to be facrificed to any other beauty whatever; if it should be doubted whether per



fpicuity be a pofitive beauty, it cannot be doubted, that the want of it is the greatest defect. Nothing therefore in language ought more to be ftudied, than to prevent all obfcurity in the expreffion; for to have no meaning, is but one degree worse than to have a meaning that is not understood. Want of perfpicuity from a wrong arrangement, belongs to the next branch. I thall here give a few examples where the obfcurity arifes from a wrong choice of words; and as this defect is too cominon in the ordinary herd of writers to make examples from them neceffary, I confine myself to the moft celebrated authors.

Livy, fpeaking of a rout after a battle,

Multique in ruina majore quam fuga oppreffi obtruncatique. L. 4. § 46.

This author is frequently obfcure by expreffing but part of his thought, leaving it to be completed by his reader. His defcription of the fea-fight, l. 28. cap. 30. is extremely perplexed.

Unde tibi reditum certo fubtemine Parcæ

[Horace, epod. xiii. 22.

Qui perfæpe cava teftudine flevit amorem,
Non elaboratum ad pedem. [Horace, epod. xiv. 11.

Me fabulofa Vulture in Appulo,
Altricis extra linen Apuliæ,
Ludo, fatigatuinque fomno,
Fronde nova puerum palumbes
[Horace, Carm. 1. 3. ode 4.

Pure rivus aquæ, filvaque jugerum
Paucorum, et fegetis certa fides meæ,
Fulgentem imperio fertilis Africa

Fallit forte beatior. [Horace, Carm. I. 3. ode 16.

Cum fas atque nefas exiguo fine libidinum
Difcernunt avidi.

[Horace, Carm. I. 1. ode 18.

Ac fpem fronte ferenat.

[Æneid. iv. 477.

I am in greater pain about the foregoing paffages than about any I have ventured to criticife, being aware that

a vague

a vague or obfcure expreffion, is apt to gain favour with thole who neglect to examine it with a critical eye: to fome it carries that fenfe which they relish the most; and by fuggesting various meanings at once, it is admired by others as concise and comprehenfive: which by the way fairly accounts for the opinion generally entertained with refpect to moft languages in their infant ftate, of their expreffing much in few words. This obfervation cannot be better illuftrated than by a paffage from Quintilian, transcribed in the first volume for a different purpofe, and which is in the following words.

At quæ Polycleto defuerunt, Phidiæ atque Alcameni dantur. Phidias tamen diis quam hominibus efficiendis melior artifex traditur: in ebore vero, longe citra æmu lum, vel fi nihil nifi Minervam Athenis, aut Olympium in Elide Jovem feciffet, cujus pulchritudo adjeciffe aliquid etiam receptæ religioni videtur; adeo majeftas operis ̧ Deum æquavit.

The fentence in the Italic characters appeared always to ine extremely expreffive, before I gave it peculiar attention. And yet if one examine it independent of the context, its proper meaning, is not what is intended: the words naturally import, that the beauty of the ftatues mentioned, appears to add fome new tenet or rite to the eftablished religion, or appears to add new dignity to it; and we must confult the context before we can gather the true meaning; which is, that the Greeks were confirmed in the belief of their established religion by these majeftic ftatues, fo like real divinities.

There is want of neatness even in an ambiguity fo flight as what arifes from the conftruction merely; as where the period commences with a member conceived to be in the nominative cafe, and which afterward is found to be in the accufative. Example: "Some e"motions more peculiarly connected with the fine arts, "I propose to handle in feparate chapters." Better thus: Some emotions more peculiarly connected with "the fine arts, are propofed to be handled in feparate "chapters."

I add

Elements of Criticism, vol. 1. p. 43. edit...

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