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themselves, and competition fled from him as from the glance of destiny. He knew no motive but interest-he acknowledged no criterion but success -he worshipped no God but ambition, and with an eastern devotion he knelt at the shrine of his idolatry. Subsidiary to this, there was no creed which he did not promulgate; in the hope of a dynasty, he upheld the crescent; for the sake of a divorce, he bowed before the Cross: the orphan of St. Louis, he became the adopted child of the Republic: and with a parricidal ingratitude, on the rnins both of the throne and the tribune, he reared the throne of his despotism.

A professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope; a pretended patriot he impoverished the country; and in the name of Brutus, he grasped without remorse, and wore without shame the diadem of the Cæsars.

Through this pantomime of his policy, Fortune played the clown of his caprices. At his touch crowns crumbled, beggars reigned, systems vanished, the willest theories took the colour of his whim, and all that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama. Even apparent defeat assumed the appearance of victory-his flight from Egypt confirmed his destiny-ruin itself only elevated him to empire.

But if his fortune was great, his genius was transcendent; decision flashed upon his councils ; and it was the same to decide and to perform. To inferior intellects, his combinations appeared perfectly impossible, his plans perfectly impracticable; but, in his hand, simplicity marked their developement, and success vindicated their adoption.

His person partook the character of his mind if the one never yielded in the cabinet, the other never bent in the field.

Nature had no obstacles that he did not surmount-space no opposition that he did not spurn; and whether amid Alpine rocks, Arabian sands, or polar snows, he seemed proof against peril, and empowered with ubiquity. The whole continent of Europe trembled at beholding the audacity of his designs, and the miracle of their execution. Scepticism bowed to the prodigies of his performance; roinance assumed the air of history; nor was there aught too incredible for belief, or too fanciful for expectation, when the world saw a subaltern of Corsica waving his imperial flag over her most ancient capitals. All the visions of antiquity became commonplaces in his contemplation; kings were his people-nations were his outposts; and he disposed of courts, and crowns, and camps, and churches, and cabinets, as if they were the titular dignitaries of the chess-board.

HISTORICAL DISSERTATION

ON

ENGLISH STYL E.

HISTORICAL DISSERTATION

ON

EN GLISH ST Y L E.

BEFORE THE REVIVAL OF LETTERS.

[In the selection and arrangement of the Examples in this treatise, it is designed to present a brief and connected outline of the History of English Style. To carry this design into full execution, would obviously require more extended limits, than those prescribed in this volume: but it is hoped that it may prove useful to the student, as containing additional illustrations of the remarks on Style found in the text, and also as extending his acquaintance with English literature.]

There are few remains of English prose writers prior to the revival of letters, about the middle of the fifteenth century. The few productions that belong to early periods in English history, are written either in Saxon or in Latin. Indeed the origin of the English language is dated about the commencement of the fourteenth century, Sir John Mandeville being the first prose writer in the language. It is not, therefore, to be expected, that selections made from writers before the middle of the fifteenth century, will be of much interest or importance, as specimens of style. In these compositions, as in the first efforts of young writers, there is no distinctly formed style-at least no traits so well defined and so prevalent, as to give a character to the style of the age. Still it will be noticed, that many of the words and phrases are idiomatic and in common use at the present day.

To the student of the English language these early writings are highly interesting. He sees in them, as they become more and more intelligible, and bear a nearer resemblance to writings of later periods, the gradual formation of the language. He finds also an illustration of the remark that the English language is a combination of different languages, or in other words, that it is the Anglo-Saxon, with copious additions from the Norman French, Latin, Greek, Italian, and German languages. He is further led to notice, that, during the time, in which these additions and infusions were made, the language is in a state of transition, passing from the Anglo-Saxon to the English. Several causes conspired, during the fourteenth century, to bring about this change. A few distinguished poets appeared at this time, whose writings contributed much to the improvement of the language. Chaucer and Gower are especially worthy to be mentioned, the former having been styled the "father of the English language.” Many translations were also made from the French and other languages, and, in this way, new words and forms of expression were introduced. Trevisa's Translation of the Poly-chronicon, and other translations made and printed by William Caxton, the first English printer, are examples. Several Romances were also at this time either written originally in English, or translated from other languages; and this species of writing, as it called the attention of a new class of readers to the literature of the times, led to the advancement of the language. Thus poetry, history, and romance, in their rude forms, aided by the influence of a greater familiarity with foreign languages and nations, led to the gradual formation and improvement of the English language.

I have made but three extracts from writers of this

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