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uncommon, or used in a sense differing in any respect from common usage.
2. By stating the proposition in different ways, at the same time shewing what limitations are designed to apply to it, and wherein there is danger of mistakes, which it is necessary to guard against. This we often do in conversation, when we fear that an assertion we have made, is not fully and rightly understood.
3. By stating a particular case, or individual instance, and thus shewing what is meant by a general proposition.
4. By illustrations, especially by formal comparisons and historical allusions. What is familiar to our minds, is thus made to aid us in understanding what is less obvious and less easily discerned.
A second object of amplification is to support by argument the proposition or assertion advanced. Here, of course, the amplification will vary with the nature of the argument used. The more common forms are,
1. When the proposition to be established, is of the nature of a general truth, and the writer supports it by an enumeration of the particular instances, on which it ia founded, or from which it has been inferred. This is wailed Induction.—Dr. Paley, when treating on the goodness of the Deity, lays down the proposition, “that in a vast plurality of instances, in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial.” To sustain this proposition, he directs the attention of his readers to various orders of animal existence, and shews, that the different parts of animals are subservient to the uses of the animal in each case. Particular instances are thus brought in support of a general assertion, which is inductive reasoning.
2. When a proposition is established by a statement of facts, or an appeal to acknowledged authorities, This is an argument from Testimony.
3. When similar cases are stated, and the inference is made, that what is proved or acknowledged to hold true in the one case, is true also in the corresponding case. This is an argument from Analogy.--The transition of the chrysalis to the butterfly, and of the bird from the shell to its full-fledged state, shews us the same animal with different properties and under different modes of existence. Bishop Butler hence infers, that man may exist in states, and with properties, equally diverse. This is an argument from analogy in support of a future life.
Other forms of argument are occasionally resorted to, in proof of propositions and assertions. Those which have been mentioned, are in most frequent use: and we learn from them the nature of amplification, so far as it is of an argumentative kind.
A third object of amplification is to persuade. A writer would recommend, or enforce, what he advances. He would induce his readers to think that what he proposes to them, is desirable, and further, that the course which he recommends for its attainment is practicable and will be successful. Here then the amplification becomes in part hortatory, and in part argumentative.
So far as the amplification is hortatory, it consists of appeals to some leading principles in the constitution of man-to his conscience, or his sense of what is morally right and wrong—to his selfish propensities, or the desire for his own welfare and happiness, and to his feelings of benevolence. Other passions are also appealed to in particular cases. In making these appeals to the sense of justice, and the selfish and social principles of our nature, there is frequent occasion to view one proposition in its connexion with others, to make inferences from what is felt and acknowledged to he true in cases of frequent occurrence, to that which is more rarely witnessed.
Appeals are also often made in this kind of amplification to common sense. By this it is meant, that the writer endeavours to recommend and enforce his
proposition by accounting for it, that is by assigning the causes or reasons on which it rests. It is asserted, for example, that men profoundly versed in science are usually negligent in attending to the common transactions of life; and in supporting this proposition, the writer dwells on the nature of habits of abstraction, and assigns the existence of these habits as a cause of the negligence referred to. Thus he accounts for what is asserted in his proposition, and every man of common sense perceives the reasonableness of the cause assigned. Appeals of this kind to the common sense of readers which are sometimes called arguments from cause to effect, are more frequently used to instruct and influence those of candid minds, than to convince opposers. They gratify also the strong propensity of man to know the causes of things, and thus dispose the mind to the reception of any proposition which they are brought to support. The student is referred to " Remarks" in Exercise II.
The inquiry may here arise, what kinds of composition, and what circumstances, require a brief, and what, an extended amplification? In reply, it may be said generally, that writings designed to excite emotion, and to influence the will, require a more extended amplification, than those which are argumentative, or those addressed directly to the understanding. In the former case, it is desirable, that the inind should be led to dwell on what is presented to it, and to notice whatever is fitted and designed to excite the desired emotion. Hence copiousness of detail, and a full and minute statement of attending circumstances, are required. On the other hand, an argument should be stated concisely and simply; in this way it offers itself in a form most striking and convincing to the mind. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to modify these general directions. An argument may be abstruse and complex, and hence may require to be stated at greater length ; or those, for whom the production is designed, may be men of uncultivated minds, and unaccustomed to connected reasonings. In these instances, it may be well to depart from the general rule, and to expand and repeat the argument stated.
The nature and object of amplification may be learned from what has been stated. The inquiry remains,How is this power of enlarging upon a topic attained ? or rather, upon what intellectual habits and qualifications, does the successful exercise of it depend? And here I mention,
1. Extent and command of knowledge.
It was stated at the commencement of this chapter, that extent of knowledge is essential to the good writer. But it is not sufficient, that the mind be well stored with facts.-Our thoughts must be at command. They must come at our bidding, and be made to effect the purposes for which they are needed. This power of producing and applying our knowledge as occasion demands, evidently depends on the intellectual habits, especially on the retentiveness and readiness of the memory.
2. Closely connected with the command of the thoughts, is the power of illustration. Successfully to perform this part of amplification, the writer needs to be familiar with objects and scenes in the natural world, with passing events, and with the whole circle of science and literature. He needs also an active imagination. Liveliness of fancy is no less conducive to the clear and striking exhibition of the thoughts, than to ornaments of style. Hence the cultivation of this class of the powers is equally important to the practical and to the elegant writer; to him who aims to enlighten the mind and improve the heart, and to him who would gratify the taste and please the fancy of his readers.
3. Another requisite for success in amplification, is definiteness of thought in our reasonings. There are men of strong minds, who reason ably, and, if we look at the conclusions to which they arrive, correctly, but who are unable to follow out in their own minds, or to state to others, the train of argument they have pursued. To do this, requires a mental discipline, to which their intellectual powers have not been subjected. On the contrary, those who are accustomed to reflect upon the operations of their own minds, and to think with precision and accuracy, are able to state their reasonings definitely and fully to others; and this, as it has been said, is the kind of amplification, which is required in argumentative writings.
4. Another requisite for success in amplification, is copiousness of expression. This phrase includes both a command of words and of construction, and he who excels in this particular, has one important qualification for enlarging upon the topics on which he writes, especially when joined with the other qualifications that have been mentioned. Copiousness of expression, is acquired by a familiarity with good authors; and the differences, which in this respect are found among writers, are principally to be traced to some diversities in their literary advantages and habits. Those, who in their early years are familiar with books, and accustomed to listen to the conversation of literary men, usually acquire copiousness of expression with little effort. Much advantage is also derived from exercising ourselves in translations, either written or oral, from foreign languages into our own.