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There are few words in the English language which are employed in a more loose and uncircumscribed sense, than those of the fancy and the imagination.
I intend to make use of these words in the thread of my following speculations, that the reader may conceive rightly what is the subject upon which I proceed.
How many are there, by whom these tidings of good news were never heard !
These points have been illustrated in so plain and evident a manner, that the perusal of the book has given me pleasure and satisfaction.
I was much moved on this occasion, and left the place full of a great many serious reflections.
This measure may afford some profit and furnish some amusement.
Although he was closely occupied with the affairs of the nation, nevertheless he did not neglect the concerns of his friends.
The combatants encountered each other with such rage, that, being eager only to assail, and thoughtless of making any defence, they both fell dead upon the field together.
I shall, in the first place, begin with remarking the defects, and shall then proceed afterwards to describe the excellencier, of this plan of education.
Thought and language act and re-act upon each other mutually.
In the following sentences the second rule of strength is violated.*
319. The enemy said, I will pursue, and I will overtake, and I will divide the spoil.
While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, cold, heat, summer, winter, day and night, shall not cease.
The body of this animal was strong, and proportionable, and beautiful.
Though virtue borrows no assistance from, yet it may often be accompanied by, the advantages of fortune.
The knowledge he has acquired, and the habits of application he possesses, will probably render him very useful.
* These little words, but, and, or, which, whose, where, then, therefore, because, &c. are frequently, the most important words in the sentence they are the joints or hinges upon which all sentences turn; and, of course, much of the strength of the sentence must depend upon such parti. cles. The varieties in using them are, indeed, so many that no particular system of rules respectingthem can be given.
Their idleness, and their luxury and pleasures, their criminal deeds, and their immoderate passions, and their timidity and baseness of mind, have dejected them to such a degree, as to make them weary of life.
I strenuously opposed those measures, and it was not in my power to prevent them.
For the wisest purposes, Providence has designed our state to be checkered with pleasure and pain. In this manner let us receive it, and make the best of what is appointed to be our lot.
In the time of prosperity, he had stored his mind with useful knowledge, with good principles, and virtuous dispositions. And therefore they remain entire, when the days of trouble
In the following sentences the third rule of strength is violated.*
320. I have considered the subject with a good deal of attention, upon which I was desired to communicate my thoughts.
Whether a choice altogether unexceptionable has, in any country, been made, seems doubtful.
Virgil, who has cast the whole system of Platonic philosophy, so far as it relates to the soul of man, into beautiful allegories, in the sixth book of his Æneid, gives us the punishment, &c.
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.
It appears that there are, by a late calculation, upwards of fifteen millions of inhabitants, in Great Britain and Ireland.
And although persons of a virtuous and learned education, may be, and too often are, drawn by the temptations of youth, and the opportunities of a large fortune, into some irregularities, when they come forward into the great world, it is ever
* That there are, in every sentence, such capital words on which the meaning principally rests, every one must see; and that these words should possess a conspicuous and distinguished place, is equally plain. For the inost part, the important words are placed in the beginning of the sentence; as, *« Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I unto thee,” &c. “ Your fathers, where are they?”
Sometimes, however, when we intend to give weight to a sentence, it is of advantage to suspend the meaning for a little, and then bring it out full at the close. “ Thus," says an author, “ on whatever side we contemplate this ancient writer, what principally strikes us, is his wonderful invention.”
Some authors greatly invert the natural order of sentences; others write mostly in a natural style. Each method has its advantages. The inverted possesses strength, dignity, and variety: the other, more nature, ease, and simplicity.
with reluctance and compunction of mind, because their bias to virtue still continues.
Men of the best sense have been touched, more or less, with these groundless horrors and presages, of futurity, upon surveying the most indifferent works of nature,
Where are your fathers ? and do the prophets live forever?
We came to our journey's end at last with no small diffi culty, after much fatigue, through deep roads and bad weather.
Let us employ our criticism on ourselves, instead of being critics on others.
In the following sentences, the fourth rule of strength is violated. *
321. Charity breathes long-suffering to enemies, courtesy to strangers, habitual kindness towards friends.
Gentleness ought to diffuse itself over our whole behavior, to form our address, and regulate our speech.
The regular tenor of a virtuous and pious life, will prove the best preparation for immortality, for old age, and death.
These rules are intended to teach young persons to write with propriety, elegance, and perspicuity.
In this state of mind, every employment of life becomes an oppressive burden, and every object appears gloomy.
By the perpetual course of dissipation, in which sensualists are engaged; by the riotous revel, and the midnight, or rather morning hours, to which they prolong their festivity ; by the excesses which they indulge; they debilitate their bodies, cut themselves off from the comforts and duties of life, and wear out their spirits.
* In general, it is agreeable to find a sentence rising upon us, and growing in its importance, to the very last word, when this construction can be managed without affectation. “If we rise yet bigher,” says Addison, “ and consider the fixed stars as so many oceans of flame, that are each of them attended with a different set of planets; and still discover new firmaments and new lights, that are sunk farther in those unfathomable depths of ether; we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns and worlds, and confounded with the magnificence and immensity of nature.
This sentence is a beautiful illustration of the rule; the members, as they succeed one another, rise in importance, until the reader finds himself lost in “ the magnificence and immensity of nature.
But in the following sentence the arrangement is bad. “We flatter ourselves with the belief that we have forsaken our passions, when they have forsaken us." It would be better thus : “When our passions have forsaken us we flatter ourselves with the belief that we have forsaken
In the following sentences the fifth rule of strength is violated. *
322. By what I have already expressed, the reader will perceive the business which I am to proceed upon.
May the happy message be applied to us, in all the virtue, strength, and comfort of it.
Generosity is a showy virtue, which many persons are very fond of.
It is proper to be long in deliberating; but we should speedily execute.
With Cicero's writings, these persons are more conversant, than with those of Demosthenes, who, by many degrees, excelled the other; at least, as an orator.
Sentences in which the sixth rule of strength is violated. f
323. Our British gardeners instead of humoring nature, love to deviate from it as much as possible.
I have observed of late the style of some great ministers, very much to exceed that of any other productions.
The account is generally balanced : for what we are losers on the one hand, we gain on the other.
He can bribe, but he is not able to seduce. He can buy, but he has not the power of gaining. He can lie, but no one is deceived by him.
* Agreeably to this rule, we should not conclude with any of the particles, of, to, from, with, by. For instance, it is a great deal better to say, “ Avarice is a crime of which wise men are often guilty,” than to say, “ Avarice is a crime which wise men are often guilty of.'
This is a phraseology which all correct writers shun, and with reason. For as the mind cannot help resting a little, on the import of the word which closes the sentence, it must be disagreeable to be left pausing on a word, which produces by itself no idea. See Part 2, No. 47.
+ The following passage from Pope's Preface to his Homer, fully exemplifies the rule just given : “ Homer was the greater genius ; Virgil, the better artist : in the one, we most admire the man : in the other, the work. Homer hurries us with a commanding impetuosity ; Virgil leads us with an attractive majesty. Homer scatters with a generous profusion ; Virgil bestows with a careful magnificence. Homer, like the Nile, pours out his riches with a sudden overflow; Virgil like a river in its banks, with a constant stream." — Periods thus constructed, when introduced with propriety, and not returning too often, have a sensible beauty. But we must beware of carrying our attention to this beauty too far. It ought only to be occasionally studied, when comparison or opposition of objects naturally leads to it.
If such a construction as this be aimed at, in all our sentences, it leads to a disagreeable uniformity; produces a regularly returning clink in the period, which tires the ear; and plainly discovers affectation.
He embraced the cause of liberty faintly, and pursued it without resolution; he grew tired of it, when he had much to hope ; and gave it up, when there was no ground for apprehension.
There may remain a suspicion that we overrate the greatness of his genius, in the same manner as bodies appear more gigantic, on account of their being disproportioned and misshapen.
OF THE HARMONY OF A SENTENCE.
324. Sound is a quality much inferior to sense ; yet it must not be disregarded. Pleasing ideas, and forcible reasoning, lose much by being communicated to the mind by harsh and disagreeable sounds. For this reason, a sentence, besides the qualities already enumerated, under the heads of Clearness, Unity and Strength, should likewise, if possible, express the quality of Harmony.
RULES FOR RENDERING SENTENCES HARMONIOUS.
325. 1. Whatever is easy to the organs of speech, is generally agreeable to the ear; therefore, such words should be preferred, and such an arrangement of the members of the sentence adopted, as can be pronounced without difficulty.
2. Long words and those which are composed of a due intermixture of long and short sylla are more harmonious than short ones; and less fatiguing to the ear than those which are wholly composed of long, or of short syllables,
3. The harmony or melody of the different periods should be varied ;
and a proper succession of long and short sentences
4. The longest members of a period, and the fullest and most sonorous words, should generally be reserved for the conclusion of the sentence.
5. The sound should in all cases where it can be done, be adapted to the sense.
6. The hissing sound of the letter s, should be avoided.
* The rules of harmony relate to the choice of words; their arrangement, the order and disposition of the members, and the cadence, or close of sentences.
If we would speak forcibly and effectually, we must avoid the use of sueh words as the following: 1. Such as are composed of words already compounded, the several parts of which are not easily, and therefore not