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XIX.

with a full ftock of words on every fubject. In LECT. reading authors, with a view to Style, attention fhould be given to the peculiarities of their different manners; and in this, and former Lectures, I have endeavoured to fuggest feveral things that may be useful in this view. I know no exercife that will be found more ufeful for acquiring a proper Style, than to tranflate fome paffage from an eminent English author, into our own words. What I mean is, to take, for inftance, fome page of one of Mr. Addifon's Spectators, and read it carefully over two or three times, till we have got a firm hold of the thoughts contained in it; then to lay afide the book; to attempt to write out the paffage from memory, in the best way we can; and having done fo, next to open the book, and compare what we have written, with the Style of the author. Such an exercife will, by comparison, fhew us where the defects of our Style lie; will lead us to the proper attentions for rectifying them; and, among the different ways in which the fame thought may be expreffed, will make us perceive that which is the most beautiful. But,

In the fourth place, I muft caution, at the fame time, against a fervile imitation of any author whatever. This is always dangerous. It hampers genius; it is likely to produce a ftiff manner; and those who are given to close imitation,

E 4

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LECT imitation, generally imitate an author's faults as well as his beauties. No man will ever become a good writer, or fpeaker, who has not fome degree of confidence to follow his own genius. We ought to beware, in particular, of adopting any author's noted phrafes, or tranfcribing paffages from him. Such a habit will prove fatal to all genuine compofition. Infinitely better it is to have fomething that is our own, though of moderate beauty, than to affect to fhine in borrowed ornaments, which will, at laft, betray the utter poverty of our genius. On these heads of compofing, correcting, reading, and imitating, I advise every student of oratory to confult what Quinctilian has delivered in the Xth book of his Inftitutions, where he will find a variety of excellent obfervations and directions, that well deferve attention.

In the fifth place, it is an obvious, but material rule, with refpect to Style, that we always ftudy to adapt it to the fubject, and also to the capacity of our hearers, if we are to speak in public. Nothing merits the name of eloquent or beautiful, which is not fuited to the occafion, and to the perfons to whom it is addreffed. It is to the last degree awkward and abfurd, to attempt a poetical florid Style, on occafions, when it fhould be our business only to argue and reafon; or to speak with elabo

rate

previously to fix in

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rate pomp of expreffion, before perfons who LECT. comprehend nothing of it, and who can only ftare at our unfeasonable magnificence. These are defects not fo much in point of Style, as, what is much worse, in point of common fenfe. When we begin to write or fpeak, we ought our minds a clear conception of the end to be aimed at; to keep this fteadily in our view, and to fuit our Style to it. If we do not facrifice to this great object, every ill-timed ornament that may occur to our fancy, we are unpardonable; and though children and fools may admire, men of fenfe will laugh at us and our Style.

IN the laft place, I cannot conclude the fubject without this admonition, that, in any cafe, and on any occafion, attention to Style must not engrofs us fo much, as to detract from a higher degree of attention to the thoughts: "Curam verborum," fays the great Roman Critic, " rerum volo effe folicitudinem *." A direction the more neceffary, as the present taste of the age in writing, feems to lean more to Style than to thought. It is much easier to dress up trivial and common fentiments with fome beauty of expreffion, than to afford a fund of vigorous, ingenious, and useful thoughts. The latter, requires true genius;

"To your expreffion be attentive; but about your f matter be folicitous."

the

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LECT. the former, may be attained by induftry, with the help of very fuperficial parts. Hence, we find fo maay writers frivoloufly rich in Style, but wretchedly poor in Sentiment. The public ear is now fo much accustomed to a correct and ornamented Style, that no writer can, with fafety, neglect the ftudy of it. But he is a contemptible one, who does not look to fomething beyond it; who does not lay the chief stress upon his matter, and employ fuch ornaments of Style to recommend it, as are manly not foppish: " Majore animo," fays the writer whom I have fo often quoted, "aggre"dienda eft eloquentia; quæ fi toto corpore

valet, ungues polire et capillum componere, "non exiftimabit ad curam fuam pertinere. "Ornatus et virilis et fortis, et fanctus fit; "nec effeminatam levitatem, et fuco ementitum "colorem amet; fanguine et viribus niteat *."

* "A higher fpirit ought to animate thofe who ftudy "eloquence. They ought to confult the health and found"nefs of the whole body, rather than bend their attention "to fuch trifling objects as paring the nails and dreffing "the hair. Let ornament be manly and chafte, without "effeminate gaiety, or artificial colouring; let it thine "with the glow of health and ftrength."

LECTURE XX.

CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STYLE OF
MR. ADDISON, IN No 411. OF THE

I

SPECTATOR.

HAVE infifted fully on the subject of Lan- LE c T. guage and Style, both because it is, in itself,

of great importance, and because it is more capable of being ascertained by precise rule, than several other parts of compofition. A critical analysis of the Style of fome good author will tend further to illuftrate the subject; as it will fuggeft obfervations which I have not had occafion to make, and will fhow, in the moft practical light, the ufe of those which I have made.

MR. ADDISON is the author whom I have chofen for this purpose. The Spectator, of which his papers are the chief ornament, is a book which is in the hands of every one, and which cannot be praised too highly. The good fenfe, and good writing, the useful

morality,

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