Page images



AVING considered in his former work, Essentials

of English, what may be called the mechanics of language, the author hopes in the present volume to have made an acceptable contribution to Rhetoric proper, regarded as the art of employing words in the most efficient way to instruct, to please, to convince, or to persuade.

The aim has been not merely to exercise the student in composition, but to familiarize him with the qualities of literature, to provide him with the nomenclature of criticism and with a directory of style; to acquaint him with the modes of inventing, distributing, and enforcing matter; to get him into the habit of canvassing a subject, of reading upon it reflectively, of investigating it systematically, of extracting essential facts and setting them forth effectively; for ‘it is with language as with a violin,' says Vinet, we must learn to play it. One does not come into the world with skill to handle the bow.'

A small minority will write, almost all will read; and, while rhetorical study possesses a high value as a means of cultivating reflective habits and of refining the writer's style by indicating illustratively the excellencies that are to be followed and the faults that are to be eschewed, its great end is to increase the reader's power by affording a way toward a better discernment of the beauties in

[ocr errors]

which he takes delight, and hence, through improved imagination and taste, toward a higher stage of intellectual enjoyment.

No pains have been spared to make the illustrations and exercises apposite, ample, entertaining, and authoritative.

As to manner, a chief anxiety has been to avoid colorless and unattractive statement a mere aggregation of rules or interpretation of law. 'In general,' says Quintilian, ‘bare treatises on art, through too much affectation of subtlety, break and cut down whatever is noble in elo

quence; drink

up all the blood of thought, and lay bare the bones, which, while they ought to exist and to be united by their ligaments, ought still to be covered with flesh.'

A treatise on such a language as ours must, to be valuable, be indebted to much that has preceded it in literary research. The author, while travelling in his own way over old ground, has been continually taught and influenced by his predecessors - Dr. Blair, Lord Campbell, Archbishop Whately, Dr. Bascom, James De Mille, Professor A. S. Hill, Professor Alexander Bain, and others. It would have been ridiculous in Bonifacio, says Ruskin, 'to refuse to employ Titian's way of laying on color, if he feit it the best, because he had not himself discovered it.' "The greatest,' he adds, is he who has been oftenest aided.'

A. H. W.


Columbus, O., July 10, 1885.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »