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I E CT. difficult to separate the Style from the senti

No wonder these two should be so intimately connected, as Style is nothing else, than that sort of expreslion which our thoughts most readily assume. Hence, different counties have been noted for peculiarities of Style, suited to their different temper and genius. The eastern nations animated their Style with the most strong and hyperbolical figures. The Athenians, a polished and acute people, formed a Style accurate, clear, and neat. The Asiatics, gay and loose in their manners, affected a Style forid and diffuse. The like fort of characteristical differences are commonly remarked in the Style of the French, the English, and the Spaniards. In giving the general characters of Style, it is usual to talk of a nervous, a feeble, or a spirited Style; which are plainly the characters of a writer's manner of thinking, as well as of expressing himself: So difficult it is to separate these two things from one another. Of the general characters of Style, I am afterwards to discourse; but it will be necessary to begin with examining the more simple qualities of it; from the assemblage of which, its more complex denominations, in a great measure, result,

All the qualities of a good Style may be ranged under two heads, Perspicuity and Ornament. For all that can possibly be required


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of Language, is, to convey our ideas clearly 1 e C T, to the minds of others, and, at the same time, in such a dress, as by pleasing and interesting them, shall most effectually strengthen the impressions which we seek to make. When both these ends are answered, we certainly accomplish every purpose for which we use Writing and Discourse.


PERSPICUITY, it will be readily admitted, is the fundamental quality of Style *; a quality so effential in every kind of writing, that, for the want of it, nothing can atone. Without this, the richest ornaments of Style only glimmer through the dark; and puzzle, instead of pleasing, the reader. This, therefore, must be our first object, to make our meaning clearly and fully understood, and understood without the least difficulty. " Oratio,” says Quinctilian, “ debet negligenter quoque au“ dientibus effe aperta ; ut in animum audi5 entis, ficut sol in oculos, etiamsi in eum non .“ intendatur, occurrat. Quare, non solum “ ut intelligere poffit, sed ne omnino poffit non intelligere curandum t.” If we are


* “ Nobis prima fit virtus, perspicuitas, propria verba, “ rectus ordo, non in longum dilata conclufio ; nihil ne

que desit, neque fuperfluat," QUINCTIL. lib. viii.

+ “ Discourse ought always to be obvious, even to the “ most careless and negligent hearer ; so that the sense " fall strike his mind, as the light of the fun does our

" eyes,


LEC T. obliged to follow a writer with much care, to

pause, and to read over his sentences a second time, in order to comprehend them fully, he will never please us long. Mankind are too indolent to relish so much labour. They may pretend to admire the author's depth, after they have discovered his meaning; but they will feldom be inclined to take up his work a second time.

AUTHORS sometimes plead the difficulty of their subject, as an excuse for the want of Perspicuity. But the excuse can rarely, if ever, be admitted. For whatever a man conceives clearly, that, it is in his power, if he will be at the trouble, to put into distinct

propofitions, or to express clearly to others : and upon no subject ought any man to write, where he cannot think clearly. His ideas, indeed, may, very excusably, be on some subjects incomplete or inadequate; but still, as far as they go, they ought to be clear; and, wherever this is the case, Perspicuity, in expressing them, is always attainable. The obscurity which reigns so much among many metaphyfical writers, is, for the most part, owing to the indistinctness of their own conceptions.

eyes, though they are not directed upwards to it. We " must study, not only that every hearer may understand

but that it shall be impossible for him not to under. & fand is.”



They see the object but in a confused light; LE CT, and, of course, can never exhibit' it in a clear one to others.


We are

Perspicuity in writing, is not to be considered as merely a sort of negative virtue, or freedom from defect. It has higher merit: It is a degree of pofitive beauty. pleased with an author, we consider him as deserving praise, who frees us from all fatigue of searching for his meaning; who carries us through his subject without


embarrassinent or confufion; whose style flows always like a limpid stream, where we fee to the very bottom.

The study of Perspicuity requires attention, first, to single words and phrases, and then to the construction of sentences. I begin with treating of the first, and shall confine myself to it in this Lecture.

PERSPICUITY, considered with refpect to words and phrases, requires these three qualities in thein; Purity, Propriety, and Precision.


Purity and Propriety of Language, are often used indiscriminately for each other ; and, indeed, they are very nearly allied. A distinction, however, obtains between them.



LECT. Purity, is the use of such words, and such

constructions, as belong to the idiom of the Language which we speak; in opposition to words and phrases that are imported from other Languages, or that are obsolete, or newcoined, or used without proper authority. Propriety, is the selection of such words in the Language, as the best and most established usage has appropriated to those ideas which we intend to express by them. It implies the correct and happy application of them, according to that usage, in opposition to vulgarisms, or low expressions ; and to words and phrases, which would be less significant of the ideas that we mean to convey. Style may be pure, that is, it may all be strictly English, without Scotticisins or Gallicisins, or ungrammatical irregular expressions of any kind, and may, nevertheless, be deficient in Propriety. The words may be ill chosen; not adapted to the subject, nor fully expressive of the author's sense. He has taken all his words and phrases from the general mass of English Language; but he has made his selection ainong these words unhappily. Whereas, Style cannot be proper without being also pure; and where both Purity and Propriety meet, besides making Style perspicuous, they also render it graceful. There is no standard, either of Purity or of Propriety, but the practice of the best writers and speakers in the country.


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