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acknowledgment compensates; to confess, supposes a higher degree of crime. A patriot avows his opposition to a bad minister, and is applauded; a gentlem în acknowledges his mistake, and is forgiven; a prisoner confesses the crime he is accused of, and is punished.
To remark, to observe. We remark, in the way of attention, in order to remember; we observe, in the way of examination, in order to judge. A traveller remarks the most striking objects sees; a general observes all the motions of his enemy.
Equivocal, ambiguous. An equivocal expression is, one which has one sense open, and designed to be understood; another sense concealed, and understood only by the person who uses it. An ambiguous expression is, one which has apparently two senses, and leaves us at a loss, which of them to give it. An equivocal expression is used with an intention to deceive; an ambiguous one, when it is used with design, is, not to give full information. An honest man will never employ an equivocal espression; a confused man may often utter confused ones without any design. I shall only give one instance more.
With, by. Both these particles express the connection between some instrument, or means of effecting an end, and the agent who employs it; but with, expresses a more close and immediate connection ; by, a more remote one.
We kill a man with a sword; he dies by violence. The criminal is bound with ropes, by the executioner. The proper distinction in the use of these particles, is elegantly marked in a passage of Dr.
Robertson's History of Scotland. When one of the old Scottish kings was making an inquiry into the tenure by which his nobles held their lands, they started up and drew their swords : “ By these,' said they, we acquired our lands, and with these we will defend them.' By these we acquired our lands,' signifies the more remote means of acquisition by force and martial deed; and, with these we will defend them,' signifies the immediate direct instrument, the sword, which they would employ in their defence.
These are instances of words in our language, which, by careless writers, are apt to be employed as perfectly synonymous, and yet are not so. Their significations approach, but are not precisely the same. The more the distinction in the meaning of such words is weighed and attended to, the more clearly and forcibly shall we speak or write,
ON EPISTOLARY WRITING. EPISTOLARY writing becomes a distinct species of composition, subject to cognizance, only, or chiefly, when it is of the easy or familiar kind; when it is conversation carried on upon paper, between two friends at a distance. Such an intercourse, when well conducted, may be rendered very agreeable to readers of taste. If the subject of the letters be important, they will be the more valuable. Even though there should be potuing very considerabļe in the subject, yet if the spirit and turn of the correspondence be agreeable; if they be written in a sprightly manner, and with native grace and ease, they may still be entertaining; more especially if there be any thing to interest us, in the characters of those who write them. Hence the curiosity which the public has always discovered concerning the letters of eminent persons. We expect in them to discover somewhat of their real character. It is childish indeed to expect, that in letters we are to find the whole heart of the author unveiled. Concealment and disguise take place, more or less, in all human intercourse. But still as letters from one friend to another make the nearest approaches to conversation, we may expect to séc more of a character displayed in these than in other productions, which are studied for public view. We please ourselves with beholding the writer in a situation which allows him to be at his ease, and to give vent occasionally to the overflowings of his heart.
Much, therefore, of the merit and the agreeableness of epistolary writing, will depend on its introducing us into some acquaintance with the writer. There, if any where, we look for the man, not for the author. Its first and fundamental requisite is to be natural and simple ; for a stiff and laboured manner is as bad in a letter, as it is in conversation. This does not banish sprightliness and wit. These are graceful in letters, just as they are in conversation : when they flow easily, and without being studied; when employed so as to season, not to cloy. One who, either in conversation or in letters, affects to shine and
to sparkle always, will not please - long. The style of letters should not be too highly polished. It ought to be neat and correct, but no more. All nicety about words, betrays study; and hence musical periods, and appearances of number and harmony in arrangement, should be carefully avoided in letters. The best letters are commonly such as the authors have written with most facility. What the heart or the imagination dictates, always flows readily; but where there is no subject to warm or interest these, constraint appears; and hence those letters of mere compliment, congratulation, or affected condolence, which have cost the authors most labour in composing, and which, for that reason, they perhaps consider as their master-pieces, never fail of being the most disagreeable and insipid to the readers.
It ought, at the same time, to be remembered, that the ease and simplicity which I have recommended in epistolary correspondence, are not to be understood as importing entire carelessness. In writing to the most intimate friend, a certain degree of attention, both to the subject and the style, is requisite and becoming. It is no more than what we owe both to ourselves, and to the friend with whom we correspond. A slovenly and neg. ligent manner of writing, is a disobliging mark of want of respect. The liberty, besides, of writing letters with too, careless a hand, is apt to betray persons into imprudence in what they write. The first requisite, both in conversation and correspondence, is to attend to all the proper decorums which our own character, and that of others, demand. An imprudent expression in conversation may be forgotten and pass away; but when we take the pen into our hand, we must remember, that litera scripta manet.
UPON GRACE IN WRITING.
When I mentioned grace as essential in constituting a fine writer, I rather hoped to have found my sentiments reflected back with a clearer light by yours, than imagined you would have called upon me to explain in form, what I only threw out by accident. To confess the truth, I know not whether, after all that can be said to illustrate this uncommon quality, it must not at last be resolved into the poet's nequeo inonstrare et sentio tantum. In cases of this kind, where language does not supply us with proper words to express the notions of one's mind, we can only convey our sentiments in figurative terms: a defect which necessarily introduces some obscurity.
I will not therefore undertake to mark out with any sort of precision, that idea which I would express by the word grace: and, perhaps, it can no more be clearly described than justly defined. To give you, however, a general intimation of what I mean when I apply that term to compositions of genius, I would resemble it to that easy air which so remarkably distinguishes certain persons of a genteel and liberal cast. It consists not only in the particular beauty of single parts, but arises from the general symmetry and construc