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tion of the whole. An author may be just in his sentiments, lively in his figures, and clear in his expression; yet may have no claim to be admitted into the rank of finished writers. Those several members must be so agreeably united as mutually to reflect beauty upon each other; their arrangement must be so happily disposed as not to admit of the least transposition without manifest prejudice to the entire piece. The thoughts, the metaphors, the ailusions, and the diction, should appear easy and natural, and seem to arise like so many spontaneous productions, rather than as the effects of art or labour.
Whatever, therefore, is forced or affected in the sentiments; whatever is pompous or pedantic in the expression, is the very reverse of grace. Her mien is neither that of a prude nor a coquet: she is regular without formality, and sprightly without being fantastical. Grace, in short, is to good writing what a proper light is to a fine picsure: it not only shows all the figures in their teveral proportions and relations, but shows them in the most advantageous manner.
As gentility (to resume my former illustration) appears in the minutest action, and improves the most inconsiderable gesture; so grace is discovered in the placing even a single word, or the turn of a mere expletive. Neither is this inexpressible quality confined to one species of composition only, but extends to all the various kinds; to the humble pastoral as well as to the lofty epic; from the slightest letter to the most solemn discourse.
I know not whether Sir William Temple may
not be considered as the first of our prose authors, who introduced a graceful manner into our language. At least that quality does not seem to have appeared early, or spread far, amongst us. But wheresoever we may look for its origin, it is certainly to be found in its highest perfection in the essays of a gentleman whose writings will be distinguished so long as politeness and good sense have any admirers. That becoming air which Tully esteemed the criterion of fine composition, and which every reader, he says, imagines so easy to be imitated, yet will find so difficult to attain, is the prevailing characteristic of all that excellect author's most elegant performances. In a word, one may justly apply to him what Plato, in his allegorical language, says of Aristophanes ; that the Graces, having searched all the world round for a temple wherein they might for ever dwell, settled at last in the breast of Mr. Addison.
ON THE DECORATIONS AND ORNAMENTS OF
STYLE, The deepest rivers have the plainest surface, and the purest waters are always clearest. Chrystal is not the less solid for being transparent: the value of a style rises like the value of precious stones. If it be dark and cloudy, it is in vain to polish it: it bears its worth in its native looks, and the same art which enhances its price when it is clear, only debases it if it be dull.
You see I have borrowed some metaphors to explain my thoughts; and it is, I believe, impossible to describe the plainness and clearness of style, without some expressions clearer than the terms I am otherwise bound up to use.
You must give me leave to go on with you to the decorations and ornaments of style: there is no inconsistency between the plainness and pers spicuity, and the ornament of writing. A style l'esembleth beauty, where the face is clear and plain as to symmetry and proportion, but is ca. pable of wonderful improvements as to features: and complexion. If I may transgress in too frequent allusions, because I would make every thing plain to you, I would pass on from painters to statuaries, whose excellence it is at first to form true and just proportions, and afterwards to give them that softness, that expression, that strength and delicacy, which make them almost breathe and live.
The decorations of style are formed out of those several schemes and figures, which are contrived to express the passions and motions of our minds in our speech; to give life and ornament, grace and beauty, to our expressions. I shall not undertake the rhetorician's province, in giving you an account of all the figures they have invented, and those several ornaments of writing, whose grace and commendation lie in being used with judgment and propriety. It were endless to pursue this subject through all the schemes and illastrations of speech : but there are some common forms, which every writer upon every subject may use, to enliven and adorn his work. These are metaphor and similitude; and those
images and representations, that are drawn in the strongest and most lively colours, to imprint what the writer would have his readers conceive, more deeply on their minds. In the choice, and in the use of these, your ordinary writers are most apt to offend. Images are very sparingly to be introduced: their proper place is in poems and orations; and their use is to move pity or terror, admiration, compassion, anger, and resentment, by representing something very affectionate or very dreadful, very astonishing, very miserable, or very provoking, to our thoughts. They give a wonderful force and beanty to the subject, where they are painted by a masterly band; but if they are either weakly drawn, or unskilfully placed, they raise no passion but indignation in the reader. Felton.
ON METAPHORS AND SIMILITUDES. The most common ornaments are metaphor and similitude. One is an allusion to words, the other to things ; and both have their beauties, if properly applied.
Similitudes ought to be drawn from the most familiar and best known particulars in the world ; if any thing is dark and obscure in them, the purpose of using them is defeated; and that which is not clear itself, can never give light to any thing that wants it. It is the idle fancy of some poor brains, to run out perpetually into a course of similitudes, confounding their subject by the multitude of likenesses; and making it like so many things, that it is like nothing at all. This trifling humour is good for nothing, but to convince us, that the author is in the dark himself; and while he is likening his subject to every thing, he knoweth not what it is like.
There is another tedious fault in some simile men ; which is, drawing their comparisons into a great length aud minute particulars, where it is of no importance whether the resemblance holds or not. But the true art of illustrating any subject by similitude, is, first to pitch on such a resemblance as all the world will agree in: and then, without being careful to have it run on all four, to touch it only in the strongest lines, and the nearest likeness. And this will secure us from all stiffness and formality in similitude, and deliver us from the nauseous repetition of as and so, which some so-so writers, if I may beg leave to call them so, are continually sounding in our
I have nothing to say to those gentlemen who
similitudes and get the resemblance. All the pleasure we can take when we meet these promising sparks, is in the disappointment, where we find their fancy is so like their subject, that it is not like at all.
Metaphors require great judgment and consideration, in the use of them. They are a shorter similitude, where the likeness is rather implied than expressed. The signification of one word, in metaphors, is transferred to another, and we talk of one thing in the terms and propriety of another. But there must be a common resem