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LECTURE XVIII.

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE-GENERAL CHA-
RACTERS OF STYLE-DIFFUSE, CONCISE-
FEEBLE, NERVOUS — DRY, PLAIN, NEAT,
ELEGANT, FLOWERY.

H

XVIII.

AVING treated, at confiderable L E C T. length, of the Figures of Speech, of their origin, of their nature, and of the management of fuch of them as are important enough to require a particular difcuffion, before finally difmiffing this fubject, I think it incumbent on me, to make fome obfervations concerning the proper use of Figurative Language in general. Thefe, indeed, I have, in part, already anticipated. "But, as great errors are often committed in this part of Style, especially by young writers, it may be of ufe that I bring together, under one view, the most material directions on this head.

VOL. II.

B

I BEGIN

XVIII.

LECT. I BEGIN with repeating an obfervation, formerly made, that neither all the beauties, nor even the chief beauties of compofition, depend upon Tropes and Figures. Some of the most fublime and most pathetic paffages of the most admired authors, both in profe and poetry, are expreffed in the moft fimple Style, without any Figure at all; inftances of which I have before given. On the other hand, a compofition may abound with thefe ftudied ornaments; the language may be artful, fplendid, and highly figured, and yet the composition be on the whole frigid and unaffecting. Not to speak of fentiment and thought, which conftitute the real and lasting merit of any work, if the Style be stiff and affected, if it be deficient in perfpicuity or precifion, or in eafe and neatnefs, all the Figures that can be employed will never render it agreeable: they may dazzle a vulgar, but will never please a judicious eye.

IN the fecond place, Figures, in order to be beautiful, muft always rife naturally from the fubject. I have shown that all of them are the language either of Imagination, or of Paffion; fome of them suggested by Imagination, when it is awakened and sprightly, fuch as Metaphors and Comparifons; others by Paffion or more heated emotion, fuch as Perfonifications and Apoftrophes. Of course they

are

XVIII.

are beautiful then only, when they are prompt- LECT.
ed by fancy, or by paffion. They must rise
of their own accord; they must flow from a
mind warmed by the object which it feeks to
defcribe; we should never interrupt the course
of thought to caft about for Figures. If they
be fought after coolly, and fastened on as de-
figned ornaments, they will have a miferable
effect. It is a very erroneous idea, which
many have of the ornaments of Style, as if
they were things detached from the subject,
and that could be ftuck to it, like lace upon
a coat this is indeed,

Purpureus late qui fplendeat unus aut alter
Affuitur pannus

*

ARS POET.

And it is this falfe idea which has often brought attention to the beauties of writing into disrepute. Whereas, the real and proper ornaments of Style arife from Sentiment. They flow in the same stream with the current of thought. A writer of genius conceives his fubject ftrongly; his imagination is filled and impreffed with it; and pours itself forth in that Figurative Language which Imagination naturally speaks. He puts on no emotion which his fubject does not raife in him; he fpeaks as he feels; but his Style will

tiful, because his feelings are lively.

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FRANCIS.

cafions,

XVIII.

LECT. cafions, when fancy is languid, or finds nothing to rouse it, we should never attempt to hunt for Figures. We then work, as it is faid, "invitâ Minervâ;" fuppofing Figures invented, they will have the appearance of being forced; and in this cafe, they had much better be omitted.

In the third place, even when Imagination prompts, and the fubject naturally gives rife to Figures, they muft, however, not be employed too frequently. In all beauty," fim"plex munditiis," is a capital quality. Nothing derogates more from the weight and dignity of any compofition, than too great attention to ornament. When the ornaments coft labour, that labour always appears; though they fhould coft us none, ftill the reader or hearer may be furfeited with them ; and when they come too thick, they give the impreffion of a light and frothy genius, that evaporates in fhew, rather than brings forth what is folid. The directions of the antient critics, on this head, are full of good fenfe, and deferve careful attention. "Voluptatibus "maximis," fays Cicero, de Orat. L. iii. "faftidium finitimum eft in rebus omnibus; << quo hoc minus in oratione miremur. In

qua vel ex poëtis, vel oratoribus poffumus judicare, concinnam, ornatam, feftivam fine "intermiffione, quamvis claris fit coloribus

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