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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

X.

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

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lofophical

X.

L E C T. losophical Patriarch, and his Disciple of No

ble Birth, and lofty Genius, are the only names
by which he condescends to distinguish Ho-
mer, Socrates, and Plato, in another passage
of the same treatise. This method of diftin-
guishing persons is extremely affected; but it
is not so contrary to Precision, as the frequent
circumlocutions he employs for all moral
ideas; attentive, on every occasion, more to
the pomp of Language, than to the clearness
which he ought to have studied as a philoso-
pher. The moral sense, for instance, after he
had once defined it, was a clear term ; but,
how vague becomes the idea, when, in the
next page, he calls it, “ That natural affec-
“ tion, and anticipating fancy, which makes
“ the sense of right and wrong?” Self-exa-
mination, or reflection on our own conduct,
is an idea conceived with ease; but when it is
wrought into all the forms of, “ A man's di-
“ viding himself into two parties, becoming a
“ self-dialogist, entering into partnership with
« himself, forming the dual number practi-

cally within himfelf;" we hardly know what
to make of it. On fome occasions, he fo
adorns, or rather loads with words, the plain-
eft and simplest propositions, as, if not to ob-
seure, at least, to enfeeble them.

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- In the following paragraph, for example, of the Inquiry concerning Virtue, he means to

show,

X.

.

show, that, by every ill action we hurt our LECT.
mind, as much as one who should swallow
poison, or give himself a wound, would hurt
his body. Observe what a redundancy of
words he pours forth : “ Now, if the fabric
“ of the mind or temper appeared to us, such
" as it really is; if we saw it impossible to
“ remove hence any one good or orderly affec-
stion, or to introduce any ill or disorderly
"one, without drawing on, in some degree,
" that diffolute state which, at its height, is
- confeffed to be so miserable ; it would then,

undoubtedly, be confessed, that since no ill,
« immoral, or unjust action, can be com-
"mitted, without either a new inroad and
« breach on the temper and passions, or a
s further advancing of that execution already
“ done ; whoever did ill, or acted in preju-
“ dice of his integrity, good-nature, or worth,
ss would, of necessity, act with greater cruelty
«s towards himself, than he who scrupled not
" to swallow what was poisonous, or who,
" with his own hands, should voluntarily
ss mangle or wound his outward form or con-
• ftitution, natural limbs or body *.” Here,
to commit a bad action, is, first, “ To remove
a good and orderly affection, and to intro-
“ duce an ill or disorderly one ;” next, it is,
66 To commit an action that is ill, immoral,

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LE C T.

X.

" 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.”

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guage,

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