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sion often renders his language deficient in the idiomatic structure and vigour which are characteristic of indigenous English composition.
The style of Bacon, Barrow, Hooke, Raleigh, and Jeremy Taylor, though occasionally involved, harsh, and redundant, (faults occasioned by their forced inversions and construction of sentences according to the Latin idiom and inversion,) besides containing many passages of great strength, vigour, and beauty, is distinguished for the richest sweetness and the most harmonious cadence. That of Dr. Robertson is remarkably polished and correct; his sentences are musical, and his periods well turned and rounded : for purity of expression and perspicuity in the arrangement of his sentences, he is unrivalled. The writings of Washington Irving are the most finished compositions in the language, not only in all the graces and embellishments of style, but also in the minor properties of correct, vigorous, and perfect composition. The authorized version of the Bible also affords many splendid examples of melodious construction of sentences, just arrangement of their words and clauses, with the happiest adaptation of sound to sense; and notwithstanding the Hebraisms, Gallicisms, Latinisms, and Grecisms which occasionally occur in its pages, it exhibits more of the beauty, force, simplicity, and clearness of the English language than any other composition extant. Another advantage to be derived from the careful and diligent study of the pages of the Sacred Volume, beyond that of its being our guide to everlasting happiness, and a model of style and composition, is, that frequently more sound philosophical knowledge is to be found in a single expression of its pages, than in whole volumes of profane composition. Not to mention the beauty and terseness of the expression, with what strict confor
mity to the laws of science and philosophy is the doctrine of the stability of the system, and the great principle of the world's conservation and action-attractive adhesion and gravity, expressed in the sentence “ He hangeth the earth upon nothing;" and which is also memorable as containing the truth and principle of that law which was not fully explained and developed by scientific investigation until nearly two thousand years had passed away from the announcement of the sublime truth contained in the sententious expression just propounded. Nor are the patriotism and independence with which the sacred penmen denounced the idolatry and hypocrisy of their countrymen, and the vices and tyranny of the nobles and princes, among the least distinguished of the beauties of the Bible. They disprove the opinions of those who trace the free spirit of our national tone of thinking only in the historians and orators of Greece and Rome: for any one who peruses
the writings of the Hebrew Prophets, and those of some of the Apostles, and observes the lofty and energetic indignation and remonstrance with which the vices of the highest and the lowest of their countrymen, and the tyranny and violence of their rulers and princes, are denounced, may trace the effect of our national tone of thinking as well to the books whose nervous and pathetic eloquence has long swayed the feelings and affections of every peasant of the country, as to the volumes containing the stores of Grecian and Roman literature, which are accessible only to the educated portion of the community.
Having treated of the nature and properties of a perfect sentence, logical precision leads to the investigation of the nature and qualities of style, and the requisites necessary for its formation.
THE NATURE AND QUALITIES OF STYLE.
Style may be defined the manner in which the conceptions or ideas of the mind are expressed by means of language.
As the subjects about which speech and writing are employed are many and various, a diversity of style must consequently be made use of in discussing them. According to Dr. Blair's classification, it is either concise or diffuse; nervous or feeble; dry or florid ; plain or affected; vehement, neat, elegant, or graceful. But this subdivision of the characteristic distinctions of style is too minute to afford the comprehensive and satisfactory view of the subject which the classification of the ancient rhetoricians does ; namely, the simple or natural style, the elegant style, and the sublime style : a method of distribution which I shall adopt in the following pages.
The Simple or Natural Style implies the easy and unaffected language in which Nature teaches us to express our thoughts or ideas, and consists in the structure of the language closely conforming to the dictates and promptings of natural feeling, and to the logical structure of the sentence, namely, the subject first, the copula second, and the predicate last.
The peculiar and emphatic properties of simplicity of style or diction are plainness, neatness, vivacity, conciseness, and vigour of thought and expression. Its defects are when it is harsh, dry, abrupt, obscure, feeble, verbose, florid, affected, ungraceful, or artificial.
This distinction of style is adapted to the plainest and most abstract subject, as well as to the highest and most impassioned kind of composition; it is equally suited to descriptive, didactic, moral, epistolary, philosophical, or humorous writing, and is compatible with every grace and ornament of composition. Milton in the midst of all his grandeur, Ossian in his sublimity, Burns in his pathos and felicitous expression, Demosthenes in his vehemence and vigour, and Shakspeare in his rapidity of thought and exuberance of illustration, are admirable specimens of this most beautiful and effective, but at the same time difficult species of style.
But simplicity of diction is not the only constituent of this species of composition. The thoughts should also be simple; that is, the most obvious association of ideas should be observed in the transition from one sentence to another; and the narration of the ideas should proceed according to the natural order of cause and effect, and the succession of circumstances, the order of time in which the events happened and the objects presented themselves. How much more natural and vivacious is this description of a storm, according to the succession of cause and effect :-“ The wind raged, the light“ ning flashed, the thunder roared, the storm was indeed “ terrific;” than had the description been in a reversed order, that is, from effect to cause, or the reverse of the succession of circumstances, namely, “ the storm was indeed terrific, the “ thunder roared, the wind raged, the lightning flashed, and
the rain fell in torrents." When the train or current of thought is inconsequential or illogical, the style or form of expression is confused and embarrassed; when logical or consequential, strength and clearness are imparted to the composition.
The standard authors who are the most distinguished for their perfection in natural style or simplicity of diction are Swift, Locke, Ossian, Burns, Shakspeare, Addison, Milton, and the translators of the authorised version of the Sacred Writings. The Bible furnishes many beautiful instances of
this species of composition. The journey of Jacob's sons to Egypt to purchase provisions for themselves and their kindred, their interview with Joseph, and the exhibition of his emotions, as detailed in the forty-second and forty-fifth chapters of Genesis, are narrated in the very perfection of genuine simplicity, and in the most artless and touching
Nor is the beautiful simplicity of the narratives of the patriotism of the republican leaders (the Maccabees) of the Jews to be surpassed in any production of antiquity; and the allegoric lessons of practical wisdom delivered by the Saviour are as admirable for their simplicity and other perfections of composition as they are distinguished for their superiority over the lessons of Man, for their enlarged philanthropy, their uncompromising morality, and the universality of their application. The works of Milton, both prose and poetic, abound with many splendid examples of natural or inartificial composition. The speeches of the Divine Persons in “ Paradise Lost” are distinguished for their majestic, unaffected simplicity of style—they are without the least poetical image or rhetorical decoration. The speech of Satan in the fourth book of “ Paradise Regained,” in which he foretels the sufferings of the Saviour, is one of those master-pieces of plain and simple composition for which the writings of our great epic bard are so pre-eminent. Sterne's writings may also be advantageously consulted for their easy and animated style of composition, and his felicitous manner of expressing the gentle affections of the mind. Few sentences in the language can, for musical structure and effect, be compared to the following:~"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