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LECTURE XXI.

CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STYLE IN

THE

N° 412 OF THE SPECTATOR.

XXI.

HE obfervations which have occurred L E C T. in reviewing that paper of Mr. Addifon's, which was the fubject of the last Lecture, fufficiently fhow, that, in the writings of an author of the most happy genius and diftinguished talents, inaccuracies may fometimes be found. Though fuch inaccuracies may be overbalanced by fo many beauties, as render Style highly pleafing and agreeable upon the whole, yet it must be defirable to every writer to avoid, as far as he can, inaccuracy of any kind. As the fubject therefore is of importance, I have thought it might be useful to carry on this criticifm throughout two or three fubfequent Papers of the Spectator. At the fame time I must intimate, that the Lectures on thefe Papers are folely intended for fuch as are applying themselves to G 3

the

XXI.

Το

LECT. the study of English Style. I pretend not to give instruction to those who are already well acquainted with the powers of language. To them my remarks may prove unedifying; to fome they may feem tedious and minute; but to fuch as have not yet made all the proficiency which they defire in elegance of Style, ftrict attention to the compofition and structure of fentences cannot fail to prove of confiderable benefit: and though my remarks on Mr. Addison fhould, in any inftance, be thought ill-founded, they will, at least, ferve the purpofe of leading them into the train of making proper remarks for themfelves *. I proceed, therefore, to the examination of the fubfequent Paper; N° 412,

* If there be readers who think any farther apology requifite for my adventuring to criticife the fentences of fo eminent an author as Mr. Addifon, I must take notice, that I was naturally led to it by the circumftances of that part of the kingdom where these Lectures were read; where the ordinary spoken language often differs much from what is ufed by good English authors. Hence it occurred to me, as a proper method of correcting any peculiarities of dialect, to direct ftudents of eloquence, to analize and examine, with particular attention, the ftructure of Mr. Addifon's fentences. Thofe Papers of the Spectator, which are the fubject of the following Lectures, were accordingly given out in exercise to students, to be thus examined and analized; and several of the obfervations which follow, both on the beauties and blemishes of this Author, were fuggefted, by the obfervations given to me in confequence of the exercife prescribed.

I shall

XXI.

I fhall first confider thofe pleasures of the imagi- LECT• nation, which arife from the actual view and furvey of outward objects: and these, I think, all proceed from the fight of what is great, uncommon, or beautiful.

Yet

THIS fentence gives occafion for no material remark. It is fimple and diftinct. The two words which he here ufes, view and furvey, are not altogether fynonymous: as the former may be fuppofed to import mere inspection; the latter more deliberate examination. they lie fo near to one another in meaning, that, in the prefent cafe, any one of them, perhaps, would have been fufficient. The epithet actual, is introduced, in order to mark more ftrongly the diftinction between what our author calls the primary pleasures of imagination, which arife from immediate view, and the fecondary, which arife from remembrance or description.

· There may, indeed, be fomething fo terrible or offenfive, that the horror or loathsomeness of an object, may overbear the pleasure which results from its novelty, greatness, or beauty; but ftill there will be fuch a mixture of delight in the very difguft it gives us, as any of these three qualifications are most confpicuous and prevailing.

THIS fentence must be acknowledged to be an unfortunate one. The fenfe is obfcure and

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XXI.

LECT. embarraffed, and the expreffion loofe and irregular. The beginning of it is perplexed by the wrong pofition of the words fomething and object. The natural arrangement would have been, There may, indeed, be fomething in an object fo terrible or offenfive, that the horror or loathfomeness of it may overbear.-Thefe two epithets, horror or loathfomeness, are awkwardly joined together. Loathfomeness is, indeed, a quality which may be ascribed to an object; but horror is not; it is a feeling excited in the mind. The Language would have been much more correct, had our Author faid, There may, indeed, be fomething in an object so terrible or offenfive, that the horror or difgift which it excites may overbear.-The first two epithets, terrible or offenfive, would then have expressed the qualities of an object; the latter, borror or difguft, the correfponding fentiments which thefe qualities produce in us. Loathfomeness was the most unhappy word he could have chofen for to be loathfome, is to be odious, and feems totally to exclude any mixture of delight, which he afterwards fuppofes may be found in the object.

In the latter part of the fentence there are feveral inaccuracies. When he fays, there will be fuch a mixture of delight in the very difguft it gives us, as any of these three qualifications are moft confpicuous-the conftruction is defec

He LECT.

tive, and seems hardly grammatical.
meant affuredly to fay, fuch a mixture of de-
light as is proportioned to the degree in which any
of thefe three qualifications are moft confpicuous.
We know that there may be a mixture of
pleafant and of difagreeable feelings excited
by the fame object; yet it appears inaccurate
to say, that there is any delight in the very difguft.
-The plural verb are, is improperly joined to
any of these three qualifications; for as any is
here used distributively, and means any one of
thefe three qualifications, the corresponding verb
ought to have been fingular. The order in
which the two laft words are placed, should
have been reverfed, and made to stand prevail-
ing and confpicuous. They are confpicuous be-
cause they prevail.

By greatness, I do not only mean the bulk of any fingle object, but the largeness of a whole view, confidered as one entire piece.

IN a former Lecture, when treating of the Structure of Sentences, I quoted this sentence as an inftance of the carelefs manner in which adverbs are sometimes interjected in the midst of a period. Only, as it is here placed, appears to be a limitation of the following verb, mean. The question might be put, What more does he than only mean? as the author, undoubtedly, intended it to refer to the bulk

of

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