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varied harmony, which Lord Shaftesbury's style possesses. This will appear from the following sentences of his Inquiry into Virtue; where all the words are placed, not strictly in the natural order, but with that artificial construction, which may give the period most emphasis and grace. He is speaking of the misery of vice. “This, as to the complete immoral state, is, what of their own accord men readily remark. Where there is this absolute degeneracy, this total apostacy from all candour, trust, or equity, there are few who do not see and acknowledge the misery which is consequent. Seldom is the case misconstrued, when at worst. The misfortune is, that we look not on this depravity, nor consider how it stands, in less degrees. As if, to be absolutely immoral, were, indeed, the greatest misery; but, to be so in a little degree, should be no misery or harm at all. Which to allow, is just as reasonable as to own, that 'tis the greatest ill of a body to be in the utmost manner maimed or distorted; but that to lose the use only of one limb, or to be impaired in some single organ or member, is no ill worthy the least notice.' (Vol. ii. p. 82.) Here is no violence done to the language, though there are many inversions. All is stately and arranged with art; which is the great characteristic of this author's style.
We need only open any page of Mr. Addison, to see quite a different order in the construction of sentences. Our sight is the most perfect, and most delightful of all our senses. It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas, converses with its objects at the greatest distance, and continues the longest in action, without being tired, or satiated with its proper enjoyments. The sense of feeling can, indeed, give us a notion of extension, shape, and all other ideas that enter at the eye, except colours; but at the same time, it is very much straitened and confined in its operations,' &c. (Spectator, No. 411.) In this strain he always proceeds, following the most natural and obvious order of the language: and if, by this means, he has less pomp and majesty than Shaftesbury, he has, in return, more nature, more ease and simplicity; which are beauties of a higher order.
But whether we practise inversion or not, and in whatever part of the sentence we dispose of the capital words, it is always a point of great moment, that these capital words shall stand clear and disentangled from any other words that would clog them. Thus, when there are any circumstances of time, place, or other limitations, which the principal object of our sentence requires to have connected with it, we must take especial care to dispose of them, so as not to cloud that principal object, nor to bury it under a load of circumstances. This will be made clearer by an example. Observe the arrangement of the following sentence in Lord Shaftesbury's Advice to an Author. He is speaking of modern poets, as compared with the ancient: 'If, whilst they profess only to please, they secretly advise, and give instruction, they may now, perhaps, as well as formerly, be esteemed, with justice, the best and most honourable among authors. This is a well constructed sentence. It contains a great many circumstances and adverbs, necessary to qualify the meaning; only, secretly, as well, perhaps, now, with justice, formerly; yet these are placed with so much art, as neither to embarrass nor weaken the sentence; while that which is the capital object in it, viz. “Poets being justly esteemed the best and most honourable among authors,' comes out in the conclusion clear and detached, and possesses its proper place. See, now, what would have been the effect of a different arrangement. Suppose him to have placed the members of the sentence thus : 'If, whilst they profess to please only, they advise and give instruction secretly, they may be esteemed the best and most honourable among authors, with justice, perhaps, now as well as formerly.' Here we have precisely the same words and the same sense : but, by means of the circumstances being so intermingled as to clog the capital words, the whole becomes perplexed, without grace, and without strength.
A fourth rule, for constructing sentences with proper strength, is, to make the members of them go on rising and growing in their importance above one another. This sort of arrangement is called a climax, and is always considered as a beauty in composition. From what cause it pleases, is abundantly evident. In all things, we naturally love to ascend to what is more and more beautiful, rather than to follow the retrograde order. Having had once some considerable object set before us, it is with pain we are pulled back to attend to an inferior circumstance. «Cavendum est,' says Quintilian, whose authority I always willingly quote, “ne decrescat oratio, et fortiori subjungatur aliquid infirmius; sicut, sacrilego, fur; aut latroni petulans. Augeri enim debent sententiæ et insurgere.'* Of this beauty, in the construction of sentences, the orations of Cicero furnish many examples. His pompous manner naturally led him to study it; and, generally, in order to render the climax perfect, he makes both the sense and the sound rise together, with a very magnificent swell. So, in his oration for Milo, speaking of a design of Clodius's for assassinating Pompey: Atqui si res, si vir, si tempus ullum dignum fuit, certè hæc in illâ causâ summa omnia fuerunt. Insidiator erat in Foro collocatus, atque in vestibulo ipso Senatûs ; ei viro autem mors parabatur, cujus in vitâ nitebatur salus civitatis; eo porrò reipublicæ tempore,quo si unus ille occidisset, non hæc solùm civitas, sed gentes omnes concidissent.' The following instance, from Lord Bolingbroke, is also beautiful: "This decency, this grace, this propriety of manners to character, is so essential to princes in particular, that, whenever it is neglected, their virtues lose a great degree of lustre, and their defects acquire much aggravation. Nay, more; by neglecting this decency and this grace, and for want of a sufficient regard to appearances, even their virtues may betray them into failings, their failings into vices, and their vices into habits unworthy of princes, and unworthy of men.' (Idea of a Patriot King.) I must observe, however, that this sort of full and oratorical climax, can neither be always obtained, nor ought to be always sought after. Only some kinds of writing admit such sentences; and, to study them too frequently, especially if the subject require not so much pomp, is affected and disagreeable. But there is something approaching to a climax, which it is a general rule to study;
**Care must be taken, that our composition shall not fall off, and that a weaker ex pression shall not follow one of inore strength; as if, after sacrilege we should bring in theft; or, having mentioned a robbery, we should suhjoin petulance. Sentences ought always to rise and grow.'
ne decrescat oratio,' as Quintilian speaks, et ne fortiori subjungatur aliquid infirmius. A weaker assertion or proposition should never come after a stronger one; and when our sentence consists of two members, the longest should, generally, be the concluding one. There is a twofold reason for this last direction. Periods, thus divided, are pronounced more easily; and the shortest member being placed first, we carry it more readily in our memory as we proceed to the second, and see the connexion of the two more clearly. Thus to say, 'when our passions have forsaken us, we flatter ourselves with the belief that we have forsaken them,' is both more graceful and more clear, than to begin with the longest part of the proposition: 'we flatter ourselves with the belief that we have forsaken our passions, when they have forsaken us.' In general, it is always 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, or unseasonable pomp. • If we rise yet higher,' says Mr. Addison, very beautifully, “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 æther; we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns and worlds, and confounded with the magnificence and immensity of Nature.' (Spect. No. 420.) Hence follows clearly,
A fifth rule for the strength of sentences, which is, to avoid concluding them with an adverb, a preposition, or any inconsiderable word. Such conclusions are always enfeebling and degrading. There are sentences, indeed, where the stress and significancy rest chiefly upon some words of this kind. In this case, they are not to be considered as circumstances, but as the capital figures; and ought, in propriety, to have the principal place allotted them. No fault, for instance, can be found with this sentence of Bolingbroke's: • In their prosperity, my friends shall never hear of me; in their adversity, always. Where never and always, being emphatical words, were to be so placed, as to make a strong impression. But I speak now of those inferior parts of speech, when introduced as circumstances, or as qualifications of more important words. In such case, they should always be disposed of in the least conspicuous parts of the period; and so classed with other words of greater dignity, as to be kept in their proper secondary station.
Agreeably to this rule, we should always avoid concluding with any of those particles, which mark the cases of nouns, 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 besides the want of dignity which arises from those monosyllables at the end, the imagination cannot avoid resting, for a little, on the import of the word which closes the sentence: and, as those prepositions have no import of their own, but only serve to point out the relations of other words, it is disagreeable for the mind to be left pausing on a word, which does not, by itself, produce any idea, nor form any picture in the fancy.
For the same reason, verbs which are used in a compound sense, with some of these prepositions, are, though not so bad, yet still not so beautiful conclusions of a period; such as, bring about, lay hold of, come over to, clear up, and many other of this kind; instead of which, if we can employ a simple verb, it always terminates the sentence with more strength. Even the pronoun it, though it has the import of a substantive noun, and indeed often forces itself upon us unavoidably, yet, when we want to give dignity to a sentence, should, if possible, be avoided in the conclusion; more especially, when it is joined with some of the prepositions, as, with it, in it, to it. In the following sentence of the Spectator, which otherwise is abundantly noble, the bad effect of this close is sensible: “There is not in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion, than this, of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it.' (No. 111.) How much more graceful the sentence, if it had been so constructed as to close with the word period.
Besides particles and pronouns, any phrase which expresses a circumstance only, always brings up the rear of a sentence with a bad grace. We may judge of this, by the following sentence from Lord Bolingbroke: (Letter on the State of Parties at the Accession of King George I.) "Let me, therefore, conclude by repeating, that division has caused all the mischief we lament; that union alone can retrieve it; and that a great advance towards this union, was the coalition of parties, so happily begun, so successfully carried on, and of late so unaccountably neglected; to say no worse.' This last phrase, to say no worse, occasions a sad falling off at the end; so much the more unhappy, as the rest of the period is conducted after the manner of a climax, which we expect to find growing to the last.
The proper disposition of such circumstances in a sentence, is often attended with considerable trouble, in order to adjust them so, as shali consist equally with the perspicuity and the grace of the period. Though necessary parts, they are, however, like unshapely stones in a building, which try the skill of an artist, where to place them with the least offence. "Jungantur,' says Quintilian, quo congruunt maximè; sicut in structurâ saxorum rudium, etiam ipsa enormitas invenit cui applicari, et in quo possit insistere.'*
* Let them be inserted wherever the happiest place for them can be found; as in a structure composed of rough stones, there are always places where the most irregular and unshapely may find some adjacent one to which it can be joined, and some basis on which it may rest.'
The close is always an unsuitable place for them. When the sense admits it, the sooner they are despatched, generally speaking, the better; that the more important and significant words may possess the last place, quite disencumbered. It is a rule, too, never to crowd too many circumstances together, but rather to intersperse them in different parts of the sentence, joined with the capital words on which they depend; provided that care be taken, as I before directed, not to clog those capital words with them. For instance, when Dean Swift says, “What I had the honour of mentioning to your Lordship, some time ago, in conversation, was not a new thought.' (Letter to the Earl of Oxford.) These two circumstances, some time ago, and in conversation, which are here put together, would have had a better effect disjoined thus: “What I had the honour, sometime ago, of mentioning to your Lordship in conversation.' And in the following sentence of Lord Bolingbroke's: (Remarks on the History of England.) "A monarchy, limited like ours, may be placed, for aught I know, as it has been often represented, just in the middle point, from whence a deviation leads, on the one hand, to tyranny, and on the other, to anarchy. The arrangement would have been happier thus: 'A monarchy, limited like ours, may, for aught I know, be placed, as it has often been represented, just in the middle point,' &c. .
I shall give only one rule more, relating to the strength of a sentence, which is, that in the members of a sentence, where two things are compared or contrasted to each other; where either a resemblance or an opposition is intended to be expressed; some resemblance, in the language and construction, should be preserved. For when the things themselves correspond to each other, we naturally expect to find the words corresponding too. We are disappointed when it is otherwise; and the comparison, or contrast, appears more imperfect. Thus, when Lord Bolingbroke says, • The laughers will be for those who have most wit; the serious part of mankind, for those who have most reason on their side;' (Õissert. on Parties, Pref.) the opposition would have been more complete, if he had said, “The laughers will be for those who have most wit; the serious, for those who have most reason on their side.' The following passage from Mr. Pope's preface to his Homer, fully exemplifies the rule I am now giving: "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. And when we look upon their machines, Homer seems like his own Jupiter, in his terrors, shaking Olympus, scattering the lightnings, and firing the heavens; Virgil, like the same power, in his benevolence, counselling with the gods, laying plans for empires, and ordering his whole creation. Periods thus constructed, when introduced with propriety, and not returning too often, have a sen