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for some little time, till the ardour of composition be past, till the fondness for the expressions we have used be worn off, and the expressions themselves be forgotten; and then, reviewing our work with a cool and critical eye, as if it were the performance of another, we shall discern many imperfections which at first escaped us. Then is the season for pruning redundances; for weighing the arrangement of sentences; for attending to the juncture and connecting particles; and bringing style into a regular, correct, and supported form. This · Limæ Labor,' must be submitted to by all who would communicate their thoughts with proper advantage to others; and some practice in it will soon sharpen their eye to the most necessary objects of attention, and render it a much more easy and practicable work than might at first be imagined.
In the third place, with respect to the assistance that is to be gained from the writings of others, it is obvious, that we ought to render ourselves well acquainted with the style of the best authors. This is requisite both in order to form a just taste in style, and to supply us with a full stock of words on every subject. In reading authors with a view to style, attention should be given to the peculiarities of their different manners; and in this, and former lectures, I have endeavoured to suggest several things that may be useful in this view. I know no exercise that will be found more useful for acquiring a proper style, than to translate some passages from an eminent English author, into our own words. What I mean is, to take, for instance, some page of one of Mr. Addison's Spectators, and read it carefully over two or three times, till we have got a firm hold of the thoughts contained in it; then to lay aside the book; to attempt to write out the passage from memory, in the best way we can; and having done so, next to open the book, and compare what we have written with the style of the author. Such an exercise will, by comparison, show us where the defects of our style lie; will lead us to the proper attentions for rectifying them; and, among the different ways in which the same thought may be expressed, will make us perceive that which is the most beautiful. But,
In the fourth place, I must caution, at the same time, against a servile imitation of any author whatever. This is always dangerous. It hampers genius; it is likely to produce a stiff manner; and those who are given to close imitation, generally imitate an author's faults as well as his beauties. No man will ever become a good writer or speaker, who has not some degree of confidence to follow his own genius. We ought to beware, in particular, of adopting any author's noted phrases, or transcribing passages from him. Such a habit will prove fatal to all genuine composition. Infinitely better it is to have something that is our own, though of moderate beauty, than to affect to shine in borrowed ornaments, which will, at last, betray the utter poverty of our genius. On these heads of composing, correcting, reading, and imitating, I advise every student of oratory to consult what Quintilian has delivered in the tenth book of his Institutions, where he will find a variety of excellent observations and directions, that well deserve attention.
In the fifth place, it is an obvious, but material rule, with respect to style, that we always study to adapt it to the subject, and also to the capacity of our hearers, if we are to speak in public. Nothing merits the name of eloquent or beautiful, which is not suited to the occasion, and to the persons to whom it is addressed. It is to the last degree awkward and absurd, to attempt a poetical florid style, on occasions when it should be our business only to argue and reason; or to speak with elaborate pomp of expression, before persons who comprehend nothing of it, and who can only stare at our unseasonable magnificence. These are defects not so much in point of style, as, what is much worse, in point of common sense. When we begin to write or speak, we ought previously to fix in our minds a clear conception of the end to be aimed at; to keep this steadily in our view, and to suit our style to it. If we do not sacrifice to this great object every ill-timed ornament that may occur to our fancy, we are unpardonable; and though children and fools may admire, men of sense will laugh at us and our style.
In the last place, I cannot conclude the sı:bject without this admonition, that in any case, and on any occasion, attention to style must not engross us so much, as to detract from a higher degree of attention to the thoughts. "Curam verborum,' says the great Roman critic, 'rerum volo esse solicitudinem."* A direction the more necessary, as the present taste of the age in writing, seems to lean more to style than to thought. It is much easier to dress up trivial and common sentiments with some beauty of expression, than to afford a fund of vigorous, ingenious, and useful thoughts. The latter, requires true genius; the former may be attained by industry, with the help of very superficial parts. Hence, we find so many writers frivolously rich in style, but wretchedly poor in sentiment. The public ear is now so much accustomed to a correct and ornamented style, that no writer can, with safety, neglect the study of it. But he is a contemptible one who does not look to something beyond it; who does not lay the chief stress upon his matter, and employ such ornaments of style to recommend it, as are manly, not foppish : •Majore animo,' says the writer whom I have so often quoted, 'aggredienda est eloquentia; quæ si toto corpore valet, ungues polire, et capillum componere, non existimabit ad curam suam pertinere. Ornatus et virilis et fortis et sanctus sit; nec effeminatam levitatem, et fuco ementitum colorem amet; sanguine et viribus niteat.'+
**To your expressions be attentive: but about your matter be solicitous.'
T'A higher spirit ought to animate those who study eloquence. They ought to consult the health and soundness of the whole body, rather than bend their attention to such trifling objects as paring the nails, and dressing the hair. Let ornament be manly and chaste, without effeminate gayety, or artificial colouring ; let it shine with the glow of health and strength.'
QUESTIONS. Of what kinds of style did our au- ner; and how has he long been ad. thor treat in the last lecture? With mired? Of his eloquence, what is obrelation to what, was style also consi- served; and why? What is said of his dered ? Under what other character style ? But notwithstanding these de is he next to consider atyle? Of simpli- fects, what will ever recommend him city, when applied to writing, what is to high regard; and as what? What observed? To what, chiefly, has this was before observed on simplicity of been owing; and what is, consequent-manner? But how far may this sim ly, necessary ? How many different ac- plicity sometimes be carried ? In siniceptations of it may we remark; and plicity, how does Sir William Temple what is the first ? Repeat the precept compare with Tillotson? Of his style of Horace, in reference to this. By and manner, what is observed; and on what examples is the nature of this his style, what is stamped ? What efsimplicity illustrated ? In this sense, it fect is produced in reading his works? is the same with what? What is the How may he be classed ? Of Mr. Adsecond acceptation in which simplicity dison's style, what is observed; and, is taken ? What are simple thoughts? therefore, what follows ? Of his perspiOf refinement in writing, what is ob- cuity, purity, and precision, and also of served ? Thus, what should we natu- the construction of his sentences, what rally say ? In these two senses, to what is remarked ? How is he in figurahas simplicity no proper relation? To tive language; and what is said of what does simplicity, in the inird sense, his manner? By what is he particustand opposed? What illustration of larly distinguished? Of his manner, this is given? With what does simple what is observed; and what recomstyle, in this sense, coincide ; and what mends him highly ? If in any thing, in follows? What does simplicity, in the what does he fail; and what is the fourth sense, particularly respect ? | consequence? From what does it apFrom what is simplicity, in this, quite pear that his merit has not always different; and with what is it compati- been seen in its true light; and what ble ? How is this remark illustrated ? illustration is given ? Why is one never To what does this simplicity stand op- tired of reading such authors as those posed; and what is it considered ? How whose characters our author has been does a writer of simplicity express him-giving? Of the charm of simplicity in self? How does Horace describe it? of an author of real genius, what is obhis expression, what is observed; and served ? Hence, what follows? What in his style, what do you see? Of his examples are given ? What is the efexpression, figures, and fancy, what is fect of simplicity in grave and solemn remarked? What, also, is not incon- writings ? Accordingly, of what wrisistent with this character of style; tings has this often been remarked to and why? What says Cicero? What be the prevailing character; and why? is the great advantage of simplicity of Of what is Lord Shaftesbury a restyle? What disadvantages have more markable example? Were it not for studied and artificial manners of wri- what, might his works be read with ting? But reading an author of simpli-profit, for the moral philosophy which city, is like what ? By what French they contain ? Of his language, and of term is the highest degree of this sim- his sentences, what is observed? What plicity expressed? What does it always is the effect of all this? What is his express? What is the best account capital fault? How is this remark ilthat can be given of it? Where are lustrated ? Of his figures and ornamany examples of it to be found; and ments of every kind, what is observed ? how is this to be understood ? With re- Of him, what is most wonderful ? To spect to simplicity in general, what what degree did he possess delicacy may we remark? How does this hap- and refinement of taste? But what repen? Hence, what follows ? Among mark follows? Of his wit and raillery, the Greeks, and also among the Ro what is observed ? mans, what individuals were distin-! From the account given of Lord guished for it? Repeat the passage Shaftesbury's manner, what may eahere introduced from Terence's Andria ? sily be imagined? What remark folof this passage, what is observed ? | lows? In whom is this fully exemplifi What shall we next consider ? What is ed; and what is said of him? After all the great beauty of Tillotson's man-' that has been said, what is it necessa
ry to observe ? From what may one be What will be the effect of writing frefree, and not have merit? What does quently, carelessly and hastily; and the beautiful simplicity suppose ? In what remarks follow? What says this case, what is the crowning orna-Quintilian, with the greatest reason ? ment; and what is its effect? But if What must we, however, observe; and mere unaffectedness were sufficient to why? Why must a more severe exconstitute the beauty of style, what amination of these be left to correction? consequence would follow? And ac- What disposition should we, for a short cordingly, with what do we frequently time, make oi' what we have written? meet? Between what, therefore, must Then is the season for what? Of the we distinguish? What different effects Lime Labor, what is observed ? In do they produce? To mention what, the third place, with respect to the asdoes our author now proceed? What sistance that is to be gained from the does this always imply; and with what writings of others, what is obvious ? is it not inconsistent? But from what, Why is this requisite ? In reading auin its predominant character, is it dis- thors with a view to style, to what tinguishable ? Describe it. To what should attention be given ? În acquirdoes it belong; and from whom is iting a proper style, what exercise is expected? Where do we find a perfect very useful ? By that, what does our example of it? Who, among English author mean? What will be the effect writers, has the most of this character? of such an exercise ? But, in the fourth For what was he, by nature, formed; place, what caution is given ? Of this, and accordingly, what follows? With what is observed ? What man will what does he abound; and of his copi-never become a good writer or speakousness, what is observed? What re-er? What should we particularly mark follows? Of his sentences, what avoid ? What is the effect of such a is observed ? In the choice of his words, habit; and what is infinitely better? and in the exact construction of his On these heads, to do what is every sentences, what is observed ? Under student of oratory advised ? In the fifth what circumstances would his merit, place, what is an obvious, but material as a writer, be very considerable ? rule, with respect to style ? How is the But, what follows ? Why will our au- necessity of this rule fully illustrated ? thor no longer insist on the different When we begin to write or speak, what manners of writers, or the general cha- ought we previously to fix in our minds? racters of style? How is this illustrated What must we sacrifice to this? In the from conceited writers ? In whatever last place, what admonition is given? class we rank it, what is said of it? What says the Roman critic on this Under the general heads, which has subject? Why is this direction, at prebeen considered, what has been done? sent, particularly necessary ? How is From what has been said on this sub- this remark fully illustrated ? To what ject, what may be inferred; and why ? | is the public now much accustomed ? Here, for what must room be left ?| What remark follows? What says the What remark follows; and how is it writer whom our author has so often illustrated ? But for what can no pre-quoted ? cise rule be given? To conclude these dissertations upon style in what man-11. Simplicity of style.
ANALYSIS. ner, will be more to our purpose ? What A. Simplicity of composition. is the first direction given for this pur-! B. Simplicity of thought. pose? How is the necessity of this di- c. Simplicity in opposition to too much rection illustrated ? On the intimate
D. Simplicity in the expression. connexion between the style and
2. Instances among the ancients and thoughts of a good writer, what has the moderns. several times been hinted ? How is this 2. The vehement style. illustrated? What, then, may we be 3. Directions for attaining a good style. assured. is a capital rule, as to style?! A. We should study clear ideas on the
subject. Generally speaking, what are the best
B. We should compose frequently. and most proper expressions ? Repeat c. We should be familiar with the best what Quintilian says on this subject. authors. In the second place, in order to form a
D. We should avoid servile imitation. good style, what is indispensably ne
E. We should adapt our style to the sub
ject. cessary? What remark follows? At F. We should attend less to our style the same time. what is observed ?! than to our thoughts
CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STYLE OF MR.
ADDISON, IN No. 411 OF THE SPECTATOR.
I HAVE insisted fully on the subject of language and style, both because it is, in itself, of great importance, and because it is more capable of being ascertained by precise rule, than several other parts of composition. A critical analysis of the style of some good author will tend further to illustrate the subject; as it will suggest observations which I have not had occasion to make, and will show, in the most practical light, the use of those which I have made.
Mr. Addison is the author whom I have chosen for this purpose. The Spectator, of which his papers are the chief ornament, is a book which is in the hands of every one, and which cannot be praised too highly. The good sense, and good writing, the useful morality, and the admirable vein of humour which abound in it, render it one of those standard books which have done the greatest honour to the English nation. I have formerly given the general character of Mr. Addison's style and manner, as natural and unaffected, easy and polite, and full of those graces which a flowery imagination diffuses over writing. At the same time, though one of the most beautiful writers in the language, he is not the most correct; a circumstance which renders his composition the more proper to be the subject of our present criticism. The free and flowing manner of this amiable writer sometimes led him into inaccuracies, which the more studied circumspection and care of far inferior writers have taught them to avoid. Remarking his beauties, therefore, which I shall have frequent occasion to do, as I proceed, I must also point out his negligences and defects. Without a free, impartial discussion of both the faults and beauties which occur in his composition, it is evident, this piece of criticism would be of no service; and, from the freedom which I use in criticising Mr. Addison's style, none can imagine that I mean to depreciate his writings, after having repeatedly declared the high opinion which I entertain of them. The beauties of this author are so many, and the general character of his style is so elegant and estimable, that the minute imperfections I shall have occasion to point out, are but like those spots in the sun, which may be discovered by the assistance of art, but which have no effect in obscuring its lustre. It is, indeed, my judgment, that what Quintilian applies to Cicero, “Ille se profecisse sciat, cui Cicero valde placebit,' may, with justice, be applied to Mr. Addison; that to be highly pleased with his manner of writing, is the criterion of one's having acquired a good taste in English style. The paper on which we are now to enter, is No. 411, the first of his celebrated Essays on the Pleasures of the Imagination, in the sixth volume of the Spectator. It begins thus: