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must be introduced, and both are to be expressed and treated according to their nature and dignity.
The sublime style has the property of expressing lofty 'ideas in a lofty language; that is to say, with words that are sonorous and majestic, and suitable to the grandeur of the subject.
He on the wings of cherub rode sublime
-Up he rode,
The planets in their station lif’ning food,
Creator from his work return'd
MILTON. This description of the Messiah is to be admired for the sublimity of the thoughts, as well as for that of the style ; as indeed is the following description of a tempest by Mr. Thomson.
"Tis dumb amaze, and lift’ning terror all ;
And opens wider, shuts and opens still
Crush'd horrible, convulsing heav'n and earth.
The sublime style is ever bold and figurative, and
This caution is necessary, and should be ever in the
Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend,
The heart, and all its end at once attains.
“ And God said, -What?- Let there be light, and there was light." Such is the amazing power of the great Creator, that (as the Psalmist in the same plain yet sublime manner observes) He spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it food
fast. Thus we see that sublime thoughts may sometimes appear to advantage in a common style. But the reverse: will by no means hold; for words can have neither beauty nor sublimity, unless the thoughts have both. The fublime style therefore will no more suit common thoughts, than an embroider'd coat would a clown ; for here ornaments are unnatural, nor indeed are mean and trivial thoughts ever thus dressed by good authors, unless it be in works of the burlesque and doggrel kind, to heighten the ridicule.
Sublime and beautiful thoughts, however, require in ge. neral words of the same nature, and would often seem mean and contemptible without them. For ornaments properly placed add a beauty to the most beautiful : And kings, however nature may have formed them for majefty, appear to most advantage when arrayed with the imperial robes.
This style is mostly employed in the epic poem, tragedy, and the ode. Though, as we have already observed, the elegy, satire, pastoral, and other poems, may partake of it occasionally. For no particular rule can be laid down for its use, but a strict observance of nature.
In direct opposition to this is the plain or humble style, the elegance of which depends on the propriety of its application ; and it is properly applied in describing in a familiar and easy manner the common concerns of life.
Whence is it, Sir, that none contented lives
Broken with toils, with pond'rous arms opprest,
of other poems.
When early clients thunder at the gate,
Francis's HORACE, This ftyle, though intended to express common things in a common manner, may sometimes be more courtly, and admit of compliment.
If virtue's felf were lost, we might
WALLER, This style agrees with comedy, satires, pastorals and epi. fles, and occasionally fills up the narration and under parts
But the young student is here to be cautioned against descending too low; elegance is to be preserved in every part of composition, and where propriety of character does not demand vulgar expressions, they are always to be avoided.
Between these, as a partition which serves to separate and yet at the same time unite the other two, is the mediate or middle style; which is suitable to every species of poetry, as it admits of ornament fufficient to diftinguish it from the plain and humble, and yet is not animated enough to approach the fublime. Take an example from Otway.
With'd morning's come! and now upon the plains
The chearful birds too, on the tops of trees,
There is also a species of style called the sarcastical or invective, which is peculiar to the fatire and the epigram ; and when style abounds with figurative expressions, as the epic poem and sublimer ode more particularly do, we call it the florid style.
A style is also said to be concise or diffuse, easy or strong, clear or obscure, brik or slow, sweet, soft and fluent, or rough and unpleasant ; all which are too obvious to need any explication. Abundant instances of these are to be found in our poets, and they are all (except the obscure) proper or improper, according to the nature and subject of the poem in which they appear; but obscurity is never to be admitted ; for as the style that is clear is feldom faulty, the obscure and uncouth will always be so, and, after perplexing the mind of the reader, leave him dissatisfied.
The rough style, however disagreeable it may be when improperly applied, enters with grace into several of the species of poetry, but especially into the epic poem and the tragedy : for where things rude and horrible are to be exprefled, such words must be used as will represent all their disagreeable and dreadful circumstances. The rough Style therefore appears often with majesty and grandeur in the epic and tragedy; where we find it frequently heightened by our best poets with a few antiquated words, which they apprehend adds a dignity and solemnity to the style s but great judgment is here required; none but a malterly hand should make these bold attempts; for if too many obsolete terms are admitted, or improperly placed, instead of dignity and solemnity, dulness and obscurity will succeed.
But here we are to observe, that the passions have a style in a manner peculiar to themselves ; for sometimes the pathetic, and even the sublime (especially when united with pity and terror) is more emphatically expressed by a seafonable silence, or a few plain words, than by a number of pompous periods. We shall give one instance out of a mul. titude in Shakespear. After a quarrel between Brutus and Calius, in which the justice and generous resentment of