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INTELLECTUAL ELEMENTS OF STYLE
ALEXANDER BAIN, LL. D.
EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN
IN re-modelling the Manual of English Composition and Rhetoric, after twenty years' experience of teaching, I have seen fit to narrow its scope, so as to do more ample justice to certain portions of the work chosen for their general utility.
The subject as thus modified has been much enlarged both in exposition and in illustration, and is made to fall under two divisions; a separate volume being given to each. With certain reservations, it may be said, that the first division is occupied with the Elements of Style that concern the Understanding; while the second division, without any reservation, is to comprise the Emotional Qualities.
The topics of the present volume are the following :- Order of Words; Number of Words; the Sentence; the Paragraph ; Figures of Speech; and finally, the Qualities of Style named respectively Clearness, Simplicity, Impressiveness and Picturesqueness. Every one of these topics is fully expounded, exemplified, and applied to the arts of criticism and composition.
In further explanation of the mode of treatment, I may refer to the department of Figures of Speech, occupying nearly one-third of the volume. Never before has that branch received so large a share of attention. Under the designation of Figures, the ancient authors of the Rhetorical art not only originated a considerable part of our critical vocabulary, but discussed many of the fundamentals of style and com
position. Their enumeration of Figures in detail was voluminous, while the classification of them was imperfect. Still, the place of these Figures in Rhetoric is now established beyond recall. Under such circumstances, the best thing to do is to select and methodize all such as disclose any capital or leading features of style. This has been my first object. Next, in expounding the kinds so selected, I have steadily endeavoured to prescribe the conditions regulating the efficiency of the several varieties of figure, and to apply these conditions in particular testing examples. This is necessarily a hazardous proceeding; but it cannot be evaded by whoever aims at expounding the Rhetorical art with any degree of thoroughness.
It is under the Figures, that the Intellectual and Emotional Elements are unavoidably mingled; so that special precautions have to be taken to obviate the risk of confusing the learner. While the applications to the Understanding are fully stated, the amount of attention given to the aspects that relate to Feeling is such, as to make it necessary to lay down briefly the principles that regulate this department; the complete handling being reserved for the Second Part.
The rest of the volume bears almost exclusively on the species of composition addressed to the Understanding. As regards this particular aim, the new work differs from the existing one in omitting to handle, under express headings, the so-called KINDS of Composition—namely, Description, Narration, Exposition, Oratory. Much of what was included under those designations is here reproduced in other connexions : the laws of Description are exhaustively treated in the discussion of Picturesqueness; and a considerable part