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in order to make out his inference, that the Saxons never had any. The truth is, the whole of this paragraph concerning the influence of the Latin tongue upon ours, is careless, perplexed, and obscure. His argument required to have been more fully unfolded, in order to make it be distinctly apprehended, and to give it its due force. In the next paragraph, he proceeds to discourse concerning the influence of the French tongue upon our language. The style becomes more clear, though not remarkable for great beauty or elegance.
• Edward the Confessor having lived long in France, appears to be the first who introduced any mixture of the French tongue with the Saxon; the court affecting what the Prince was fond of, and others taking it up for a fashion, as it is now with us. William the Conqueror proceeded much further, bringing over with him vast numbers of that nation, scattering them in every monastery, giving them great quantities of land, directing all pleadings to be in that language, and endeavouring to make it universal in the kingdom.'
On these two sentences, I have nothing of moment to observe. The sense is brought out clearly, and in simple, unaffected language.
• This, at least, is the opinion generally received; but your Lordship hath fully convinced me, that the French tongue made yet a greater progress here under Harry the Second, who had large terri. tories on that continent both from his father and his wife; made frequent journeys and expeditions thither; and was always attended with a number of his countrymen, retainers at court."
In the beginning of this sentence, our author states an opposition between an opinion generally received, and that of his Lordship; and in compliment to his patron, he tells us, that his Lordship had convinced him of somewhat that differed from the general opinion. Thus one must naturally understand his words: This, at least, is the opinion generally received; but your Lordship hath fully convinced me.--Now here there must be an inaccuracy of expression. For on examining what went before, there appears no sort of opposition betwixt the generally received opinion, and that of the author's patron. The general opinion was, that William the Conqueror had proceeded much farther than Edward the Confessor, in propagating the French language, and had endeavoured to make it universal. Lord Oxford's opinion was, that the French tongue had gone on to make a yet greater progress under Harry the Second, than it had done under his predecessor William: which two opinions are as entirely consistent with each other, as any can be; and therefore the opposition here affected to be stated between them, by the adversative particle but, was improper and groundless.
• For some centuries after, there was a constant intercourse between France and England by the dominions we possessed there, and the conquests we made; so that our language, between two and three hundred years ago, seems to have had a greater mixture with French than at present; many words having beam afterwards rejected, and some since the days of Spenser; although we have still retained not a few, which have been long antiquated in France.'
This is a sentence too long and intricate, and liable to the same objection that was made to a former one, of the want of unity. It consists of four members, each divided from the subsequent by a semicolon. In going along, we naturally expect the sentence is to end at the second of these, or at farthest, at the third: when, to our surprise, a new member of the period makes its appearance, and fatigues our attention in joining all the parts together. Such a structure of a sentence is always the mark of careless writing. In the first member of the sentence, a constant intercourse between France and England, by the dominions we possessed there, and the conquests we made, the construction is not sufficiently filled up. In place of intercourse by the dominions wepossessed, it should have been-by reason of the dominions we possessed-or-occasioned by the dominions we possessed--and in place of--the dominions we possessed there, and the conquests we made, the regular style is--the dominions which we possessed there and the conquests which we made. The relative pronoun which, is, indeed, in phrases of this kind, sometimes omitted. But, when it is omitted the style becomes elliptic; and though in conversation, or in the verylight and easy kinds of writing, such elliptic style may not be improper, yet in grave and regular writing, it is better to fill up the construction, and insert the relative pronoun. After having said, I could produce several instances of both kinds, if it were of any use or entertainment, our author begins the next paragraph thus :
• To examine into the several circumstances by which the language of a country may be altered, would force me to enter into a wide field.'
There is nothing remarkable in this sentence, unless that here occurs the first instance of a metaphor since the beginning of this treatise; entering into a wide field, being put for beginning an extensive subject. Few writers deal less in figurative language than Swift. I before observed, that he appears to despise ornaments of this kind; and though this renders his style somewhat dry on serious subjects, yet his plainness and simplicity, I must not forbear to remind my readers, is far preferable to an ostentatious and affected parade of ornament.
•I shall only observe, that the Latin, the French, and the English, seem to have undergone the same fortune. The first from the days of Romulus to those of Julius Cæsar, suffered perpetual changes; and by what we meet in those authors who occasionally speak on that subject, as well as from certain fragments of old laws, it is manifest that the Latin, three hundred years before Tully, was as unintelligible in his time, as the French and English of the same period are now; and these two have changed as much since William the Conqueror (which is but little less than 700 years) as the Latin appears to have done in the like term.'
The Dean plainly appears to be writing negligently here. This sentence is one of that involved and intricate kind, of which some instances have occurred before; but none worse than this. It requires a very distinct head to comprehend the whole meaning of the period at first reading. In one part of it we find extreme carelessness of expression. He says, It is manifest that the Latin, 300 year:before Tully, was as unintelligible in his time, as the English and French of the same period are now. By the English and French of the same period must naturally be understood, the English and French that were spoken three hundred years before Tully. This is the only grammatical meaning his words will bear; and yet assuredly what he means, and what it would have been easy for him to have expressed with more precision, is, the English and French that were spoken 300 years ago; or at a period equally distant from our age as the old Latin, which he had mentioned, was from the age of Tully. But when an author writes hastily, and does not review with proper care what he has written, many such inaccuracies will be apt to creep into his style.
Whether our language or the French will decline as fast as the Roman did, is a question that would perhaps admit more debate than it is worth. There were many reasons for the corruptions of the last; as the change of their government to a tyranny, which ruined the study of eloquence, there being no further use or encouragement for popular orators: their giving not only the freedom of the city, but capacity for employments, to several towns in Gaul, Spain, and Germany, and other distant parts, as far as Asia, which brought a great number of foreign pretenders to Rome; the slavish disposition of the senate and people, by which the wit and eloquence of the age where wholly turned into panegyric, the most barren of all subjects; the great corruption of manners, and introduction of foreign luxury, with foreign terms to express it, with several others that might be assigned; not to mention the invasions from the Goths and Vandals, which are too obvious to insist on.'
In the enumeration here made of the causes contributing towards the corruption of the Roman language, there are many inaccuracies—the change of their government to a tyranny: Of whose government? He had indeed been speaking of the Roman language, and therefore we guess at his meaning; but his style is ungrammatical; for he had not mentioned the Romans themselves; and therefore, when he says their government, there is no antecedent in the sentence to which the pronoun their can refer with any propriety. Giving the capacity for employments to several towns in Gaul, isa questionable expression. For though towns are sometimes put for the people whoinhabit them, yet to give a town the capacity for employments, sounds harsh and uncouth. The wit and eloquence of the age wholly turned into panegyric, is a phrase which does not well express the meaning. Neither wit nor eloquence can be turned into panegyric; but they may be turned towards panegyric, or, employed in panegyric, which was the sense the author had in view.
The conclusion of the enumeration is visibly incorrect—The great corruption of manners, and introduction of foreign luxury with foreign terms to expressit, with several others that might be assigned
-He means, with several other reasons. The word reasons, had indeed been mentioned before; but as it stands, at the distance of thirteen lines backward, the repetition of it here became indispensable, in order to avoid ambiguity. Not to mention, he adds, the invasions from the Goths and Vandals, which are too obvious to insist on. One would imagine him to mean, that the invasions from the Goths and Vandals, are historical facts too well known and obvious to be insisted on. But he means quite a different thing, though he has not taken the proper method of expressing it, through his haste, probably, to finish the paragraph; namely, that these invasions from. the Goths and Vandals, were causes of the corruption of the Roman language too obvious to be insisted on.
I shall not pursue this criticism any farther. I have been obliged to point out many inaccuracies in the passage which we have considered. But, in order that my observations may not be construed as meant to depreciate the style or the writings of Dean Swift below their just value, there are two remarks which I judge it necessary to make before concluding this lecture. One is, that it were unfair to estimate an author's style on the whole, by some passage in his writings, which chances to be composed in a careless manner. This is the case with respect to this treatise, which has much the appearance of a hasty production: though, as I before observed, it was by no means on that account that I pitched upon it for the subject of this exercise. But after having examined it, I am sensible that in many other of his writings, the Dean is more accurate.
My other observation, which is equally applicable to Dean Swift and Mr. Addison, is, that there may be writers much freer from such inaccuracies, as I have had occasion to point out in these two, whose style, however, upon the whole, may not have half their merit. Refinement in language has, of late years, begun to be much attended to. In several modern productions of very small value, I should find it difficult to point out many errors in language. The words might, probably, be all proper words, correctly and clearly arranged; and the turn of the sentence sonorous and musical; whilst yet the style, upon the whole, might deserve no praise. The fault often lies in what may be called the general cast, or complexion of the style; which a person of a good taste discerns to be vicious; to be feeble, for instance, and diffuse; flimsy or affected; petulant or ostentatious; though the faults cannot be so easily pointed out and particularized, as when they lie in some erroneous or negligent construction of a sentence. Whereas such writers as Addison and Swift, carry always those general characters of good style, which in the midst of their occasional negligences, every person of good taste must discern and approve. We see their faults overbalanced by higher beauties. We see a writer of sense and reflection expressing his sentiments without affectation, attentive to thoughts as well as to words; and, in the main current of his language, elegant and beautiful; and, therefore, the only proper use to be made of the blemishes which occur in the writings of such authors, is to point out to those who apply themselves to the study of composition, some of the rules which they ought to observe for avoiding such errors; and to render them sensible of the necessity of strict attention to language and to style. Let them imitate the ease and simplicity of those great authors; let them study to be always natural, and, as far as they can, always correct in their expressions: let them endeavour to be at some times, lively and striking; but carefully avoid being at any time ostentatious and affected.
ELOQUENCE, OR PUBLIC SPEAKING.....HISTORY OF ELOQUENCE......GRECIAN ELOQUENCE......
Having finished that part of the course which relates to language and style, we are now to ascend a step higher, and to examine the subjects upon which style is employed. I begin with what is properly called eloquence, or public speaking. In treating of this, I am to consider the different kinds and subjects of public speaking; the manner suited to each; the proper distribution and management of all the parts of a discourse; and the proper pronunciation or delivery of it. But before I enter upon any of these heads, it may be proper to take a view of the nature of eloquence in general, and of the state in which it has subsisted in different ages and countries. This will lead into some detail; but I hope an useful one; as in every art it is of great consequence to have a just idea of the perfection of that art, of the end at which it aims, and, of the progress which it has made among mankind.
Of eloquence, in particular, it is the more necessary to ascertain the proper notion, because there is not any thing concerning which false notions have been more prevalent. Hence, it has been so osten, and is still at this day, in disrepute with many. When you speak to a plain man, of eloquence, or in praise of it, he is apt to hear you with very little attention. He conceives eloquence to signify a certain trick of speech; the art of varnishing weak arguments plausibly; or of speaking, so as to please and tickle the ear. "Give me good sense,' says he, “and keep your eloquence for boys. He is in the right, if eloquence were what he conceives it to be. It would be then a very contemptible art indeed, below the study of any wise or good man. But nothing can be more remote from truth. To be truly eloquent, is to speak to the purpose. For the best definition which, I think, can be given of eloquence, is the art of speaking in such a manner as to attain the end for which we speak. Whenever a man speaks or writes, he is supposed, as a rational being, to have some end in view; either to inform, or to amuse, or to persuade, or, in some way or other, to act upon his fellow-creatures. He who speaks or writes, in such a manner as to adapt all his words most effectually to that end, is the most eloquent man. Whatever then the subject be, there is room for eloquence; in history, or even in philoso