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tony, in his speech over the dead body of Cæsar, “ those “ honourable men whose daggers have stabbed Cæsar,” it is much more vivid and forcible than if he had employed the word killed for “ whose daggers have stabbed.” Of the same character is St. Paul's expression to the Ephesians, “ Yea, ye
yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my ne« cessities.” Thus, also the synecdochical form of expression “ an execution,” (as well as numberless other similar expressions which are constantly occurring in common discourse) presents a much more expressive idea to the mind than the more extended and formal mode of speech “ the infliction of “ the sentence of death on a criminal.” So, also, Milton's comparison of Satan when he sat in the tree of life to “a cormorant”
presents a much more vivid image to the mind than if he had employed a generality of specification and had said a bird of prey. And no word in the language could so happily have expressed the posture in which Satan was discovered by Ithuriel, in infusing pernicious thoughts into the mind of the mother of mankind :
“ Him there they found
For the same reason whatever tends to subject the thing spoken of to the notice of our senses, especially the eyes, renders the expression more vivid. Thus St. Paul's expression, just cited, “ these hands have ministered to my necessities,” is much more animated than if he had said "
bands." The rule for the employment of general or particular expressions is : in subjects in which the imagination and passions are to be addressed, the terms employed should be as special as possible; but in philosophical subjects, in which the understanding alone is addressed, general terms are the most appropriate.
Vivid and energetic, however, as the effect of conciseness or condensation of thought and language is, the paraphrastic method of composition, when tastefully and judiciously employed, has a considerable effect in producing energy and vivacity of style. Thus, the periphrasis, « shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" produces a much more vivid and forcible impression on the mind than “shall not God do right?” The effect is the same when, speaking of the omniscience of the Deity, we designate him “ the Searcher of Hearts ;" or when discoursing of his power and infinity, we style him “the Almighty," " the Incomprehensible."
A fifth rule for the correct construction of sentences and the promotion of their strength and vivacity is, that the clauses or members, in imitation of the rhetorical figure climax, rise and increase in their importance. A weaker assertion or proposition should never come after a stronger one; and when a sentence is composed of two or more members, the longest should, generally, be the concluding one.
Sixthly. The strength and vivacity of a sentence are greatly enfeebled if it ends with an adverb, a preposition, or other in. considerable word; unless by such location of those particles an emphasis and a significancy are imparted to the meaning. The following passage from Lord Bolingbroke affords an admirable illustration of the last section of this rule. 6 In their “ prosperity, they shall never hear of me, in their adversity « always.” To avoid stiffness and affectation of phraseology, the location of these particles at the end of the sentence, especially in the case of short sentences, or where the preposition
idiomatically belongs to the verb and forms one phrase with it, adds greatly to the vivacity of the sentence. Thus, the expressions,“ the book you were speaking of”—“ the school you ? -“ the thing I am thinking of "-"
I never live to witness the occasion for," are much more vivacious than if the sentences had been so constructed as to terminate without the respective particles. So the omission of the relative which often relieves sentences, especially those employed in colloquial and epistolary matters, from the stiffness and formality of phraseology which its introduction would occasion. Thus the expression“ is the grave a place to dress ourselves for Heaven," is much more animated and vivacious than if the relative had been introduced and the preposition made to precede it.
By the harmony of a sentence is meant its melodious structure, so as to be easy in pronunciation and agreeable to the
For this purpose great attention should be paid to the melodious construction, and the distribution of the words and clauses of which it is composed. The words should consist of a due intermixture of long and short syllables, and a succession of long and short sentences should be kept up. The sound should also be adapted to the sense; for as sounds are the vehicles for the conveyance of our ideas, and as certain words denote or are accordant with certain emotions or dispositions of the mind, the sounds of the words of a sentence should correspond as much as possible with the ideas and sentiments which they are intended to express. Stern and impetuous passions and disagreeable ideas should be expressed in harsh and rough sounds; sweet and kindly affections and pleasing ideas in soft and melodious ones. Brisk and lively sensations require quick and animated measures; but gloomy and melancholy subjects should be expressed in slow measures and long words.
As all our ideas are derived from the appearance or motion of bodies, as well as from the emotions and passions of the mind, the sounds of the words expressive of their motion which bear a degree of consonance or affinity to such motion, impart life and animation to the style. Thus, when one wind is said to roar, another to how), and a third to whistle, the style partakes of much greater strength and vivacity than if the tame and prosaic form of expression,“ the wind blows,” had been used. How lifeless and insipid are the forms of expressions, “ the flowing of the tide,” “ the washing of the waves," “ the falling of timber,” &c. to the metaphorical expressions, the rushing of the tide, the lashing of the waves, the crash of falling timber; and the same remark is applicable to the figurative expressions, “ the rattling of hail,” the crackling of flame,” the “ whizzing of an arrow” or “ of a bullet,” “ the murmuring of a brook,"
,” « the hissing of serpents,” “ the buzzing of flies,” " the humming of bees,” &c.
Of all the creations of human genius in the assimilation of the sound of the expression to the action intended to be described, none surpasses those of the author of Paradise Lost. How admirably do the rough and jarring verses
« Now storming fury rose,
express the sense and action which they are intended to describe; and how aptly, and with what effect, are hugeness of size, slowness, and difficulty of motion-of heaviness and unwieldiness-expressed in the lines
part huge of bulk Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait,
Tempest the ocean and
scarce from his mould Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheaved
His vastness.” But abundant as are the specimens of this species of composition in our great epic bard, the sweetest and most exquisite specimen extant in any language, ancient or modern, of the consonance or affinity between sound and sense are the two passages in bk. ii, v. 879, and bk. vii. v. 209, the first describing the opening of the gates of hell as grating harsh thunder;
« On a sudden open fily,
Harsh thunder,” the harshness of which exhibits a beautiful contrast to the melodious disposition of the words and the harmonious structure of the lines which represent the opening of the gates of Heaven in the seventh book
“ Heaven opened wide Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound,
On golden hinges moving.” Indeed no writer in any language affords so many perfect examples of musical expression, or of the adaptation of the sound and movement of the verse to the meaning and nature of the subject, as Milton. In the whole circle of English poetry a finer piece of modulation is not to be found than the account of Satan's journey in the ninth book of Paradise Lost. The pauses are wonderfully and beautifully varied, the modulation