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LECT. He uses proper words, and proper arrange
ment; he gives you the idea as clear as he conceives it himself; and so far he is perfpicuous : but the ideas are not very clear in his own mind; they are loose and general; and, therefore, cannot be expressed with Precision. All subjects do not equally require Precision. It is sufficient, on many occasions, that we have a general view of the meaning. The subject, perhaps, is of the known and familiar kind; and we are in no hazard of mistaking the sense of the author, though every word which he uses be not precise and exact.
Few authors, for instance, in the English Language, are more clear and perspicuous, on the whole, than Archbishop. Tillotson, and Sir William Temple ; yet neither of them are remarkable for Precision. They are loose and diffuse ; and accustomed to express their meaning by several words, which thew you fully whereabouts it lies, rather than to single out those expressions, which would convey clearly the idea they have in view, and no more. Neither, indeed, is Precision the prevailing character of Mr. Addison's Style; although he is not so deficient in this respect as the other two authors.
LORD SHAFTSBURY's faults, in point of Precision, are much greater than Mr. Addison's;
and the more unpardonable, because he is a LECT. professed philosophical writer; who, as such, ought, above all things, to have studied Precision. His Style has both great beauties, and great faults ; and, on the whole, is by no means a safe model for imitation.
Lord Shaftsbury was well acquainted with the power of words; those which he employs are generally proper and well sounding; he has great variety of them; and his arrangement, as shall be afterwards shown, is commonly beautiful. His defect, in Precision, is not owing so much to indistinct or confused ideas, as to perpetual affectation. He is fond, to excess, of the pomp and parade of Language; he is never satisfied with expressing any thing clearly and simply; he must always give it the dress of state and majesty. Hence perpetual circumlocutions, and many words and phrases employed to describe somewhat, that would have been described much better by one of them. If he has occasion to mention any person or author, he very rarely mentions him by his proper name. In the treatise, entitled, Advice to an Author, he descants for two or three pages together upon Aristotle, without once naming him in any other way, than the Master Critic, the Mighty Genius and Judge of Art, the Prince of Critics, the Grand Marter of Art, and Consummate Philologist. In the same way, the Grand Poetic Sire, the Phi
L E C T. losophical Patriarch, and his Disciple of No
ble Birth, and lofty Genius, are the only names
cally within himfelf;" we hardly know what
- In the following paragraph, for example, of the Inquiry concerning Virtue, he means to
show, that, by every ill action we hurt our LECT.
undoubtedly, be confessed, that since no ill,
LE C T.
" and unjust ;” and in the next line, it is, “ To do ill, or to act in prejudice of integrity, “good-nature, and worth ;” nay, so very simple a thing as a man's wounding himself, is, “ To mangle, or wound, his outward form “ and conftitution, his natural limbs or body." Such superfluity of words is disgustful to every reader of correct taste; and serves no purpose but to embarrass and perplex the sense. This sort of Style is elegantly described by Quinctilian, “ Eft in quibusdam turba inanium ver" borum, qui dum communem loquendi
morem reformidant, ducti specie nitoris, “ circumeunt omnia copiofa loquacitate quæ « dicere volunt *.” Lib. vii. cap. 2.
The great source of a loose Style, in oppo. sition to Precision, is the injudicious use of those words termed Synonymous. They are called Synonymous, because they agree in expressing one principal idea; but, for the most part, if not always, they express it with some diversity in the circumstances. They are varied by some accessory idea which every word introduces, and which forms the distinction between them.
Hardly, in any Lan
• " A crowd of unmeaning words is brought together, “ by some authors, who, afraid of expresling themselves ss after a common and ordinary manner, and allured by an
appearance of splendour, surround every thing which "' they mean to say with a certain copious loquacity.”