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“In the crowded city and howling wilderness ; in the cu). tivated province and solitary isle ; in the flowery lawn and cragged mountain ; in the murmur of the rivulet and in the uproar of the ocean ; in the radiance of summer and gloom of winter; in the thunder of heaven and in the whisper of the breeze ; he still finds something to rouse or sooth his imagination, to draw forth his affection and employ his understanding.”
This form of sentence is founded on the principle of opposition or contrast. A figure in black is never more distinctly seen, than when placed upon a white groundwork. Campbell has very happily illustrated the effect of Antithesis, by an allusion to a picture, where the different objects of the group are not all on one side, with their faces turned the same way, but so placed that they are made to confront each other, by their opposite position. He says that in such instances, there is not only the original light which is suited to each object, but that also which is reciprocally reflected from the opposed members, In the examples of the Antithesis that have been given, it will be noticed, that there is a balancing of the clauses. Not only is there opposition in the thought, but in the form and length of the clauses in which this opposition is expressed. In connexion with this remark, the caution against the appearance of an artificial construction, which was given in reference to the Climax, may be repeated. Let the form of the sentence always arise from the thought itself, and not be the result of an attempt after vivacity. Of the two examples given, though the latter is more perfect and finished, the former is to be preferred as more natural and easy.
The Interrogation and Repetition are the language of an excited mind. Where the former is used, the writer seems so impressed with the truth of what he asserts, that he is not content to state it in the cold form of a proposition, but utters it in a manner, that challenges any one to regard it with doubt.
The Repetition also gives evidence of a full conviction of the truth of what is asserted, and of a deep sense of its importance, and is well calculated to convey these impressions to the reader in a striking manner. Both these forms of sentences are more frequently found in discourses intended for delivery, and when well pronounced, are often powerful in their effects on the hear
The Exclamation is to be regarded as the mere burst of feeling, and will rarely be found in the productions of good writers. Writers of inferior order sometimes attempt to give an air of animation and feeling to their style by the use of it, but such artificial means must fail of success, and by the man of good taste will ever be regarded with disgust.
6. Vivacity is promoted by the use of those forms of construction, which represent past actions and events as transpiring at the present time, and absent individuals as present, speaking and listening. This has been called Rhetorical dialogue, and is found most frequently in narrative writing.
The following passage both illustrates this remark, and furnishes evidencc of its justness.
“ Two hereditary enemies among the Highlanders met face to face on a narrow pass. They turned deadly pale at the fatal rencontre. Bendearg first addressed his enemy, and reminded him, that he was first at the top of the arch, and bad called on him to lie down that he might pass over. He was answered by an assurance from Cairn, that when the Grant prostrates himself before a Macpherson it must be
with a sword through his body. Bendearg then proposed to bim to turn back and repass as he came. In reply, he was directed himself to turn back if he liked it.,
They turned deadly pale at the fatal rencontre. “I was first at the top," said Bendearg, “and called out first, lie down that I may pass over in peace.” When the Grant prostrates himself before Macpherson,” answered the other, “it must be with a sword through his body,” síTurn back then," said Bendearg, “and repass as you came.”. “Go back yourself if you like it,” replied Grant.
Though several circumstances have thus been men tioned as conducive to vivacity of style, it should be remembered, that the foundation of this quality of style is in the mind of the writer. What has been mentioned as conducive to its attainment, are but different ways ia which the excited feelings manifest themselves. The best direction then, which can be given for the attainment of vivacity of style, is to become interested in the discussion of the subject itself.
EUPHONY, or smoothness of sound, is the next quality of a good style to be considered. This is attained by the use of such words, as in themselves and in their succession in the sentence, are grateful to the ear,
There can be no doubt, that this quality of style is acquired more by imitation that by the observance of rules. Hence any directions for its attainment, are but of little practical importance. Still it may be useful for the writer to remember, that the intermingling of long and short syllables, the frequent recurrence of open vowel sounds, and the avoiding of those successions of consonants which are difficult of utterance, are favourable to smoothness of style. He should know also, that certain successions of syllables are well suited to tliat dence and falling of the voice, which marks the close of
a sentence. And as a general remark it may be said, that what is easy to read, is smooth in its sound to the ear. But the best and most practical direction, which can be given, 'is, to attune the ear by the frequent reading aloud of those writings in which this quality of style is found.
It should make no difference with respect to the attention paid to the smoothness of style, that our writings are designed to be silently read, and not pronounced aloud. So closely is the sound of words associated with their appearance to the eye, that though no voice is uttered in reading them, they are mentally pronounced, and the ear passes its judgment on the smoothness of their sound.
The attention of writers is rarely directed to this quality of style any further, than to the avoiding of faulte. But it is sometimes found to that extent, that it becomes a positive excellence and a high recommendation. The following sentence of Sterne, bas been pronounced one of the most musical in our language.
«The accusing spirit, which flew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in, and the recording angel, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out forever.”
The epithet natural, is frequently applied to style. Our works on Rhetoric want a poun to express the quality here implied. Simplicity is sometimes used, but as this word is more frequently found in a different sense, I shall introduce the term naturalness.'
NATURALNESS, as a quality of style, implies that a writer in the choice of his words in the form of bis sentences in the ornaments he uses, and in his turns of thought and expression, commends himself to every man of good sense and good taste, as having pursued the course best suited to his subject and occasion. In
this way it is opposed to affectation of every kind. But the following illustrations will aid in more fully stating in what sense the word is used.
When we look on some of the beautiful remains of ancient statuary, we pronounce them natural in their appearance. By this expression we mean nothing more, than that their appearance is such as, in our opinion, it should be-such as is in consonance with our experience and observation. There is no violent contortion of the features, no forced attitude with the design of producing effect, but the image stands and appears as a man should do, in the circumstances and situation in which it is: placed. In the same manner, we say of a graceful dana cer, who from long practice has learned to move gracefully and apparently without effort or rule, that he moves: naturally, and we mean the same as in the former instance. Now should: we say of the image, that there ismuch, naturalness in its appearance, and of the dancer, that there is much naturalness in his movements, we. should use the word in the same sense in which it is here applied to style. The writer who has naturalness of style, espresses himself in that easy, unlaboured manner, which commends itself to our favour. He selects and uses his words, and forms and connects his sentences, just as we should suppose any man might do, who should write on the same subject-just as we think pere. baps we could and should do, unless we attempt to imitate him. We seem to hear him thinking aloud, and his thoughts flow forth to us in the same order, and with the same clearness, with which they have sprung up in his own mind. He appears never to stop for a moment; to consider in what way he shall express himself, but thinks only of what he shall say. , Lyet but one far-fetch