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by examples. The following period is placed in its natural order.
Were instruction an essential circumstance in epic poetry, I doubt whether a single instance could be given of this species of composition, in any language.
The period thus arranged admits a full close upon the word composition; after which it goes on languidly, and closes without force. This blemish will be avoided by the following arrangement:
Were instruction an essential circumstance in epic poetry, I doubt whether, in any language, a single instance could be given of this species of composition.
Some of our most eminent divines have made use of this Platonic notion, as far as it regards the subsistence of our passions after death, with great beauty and strength of reasqn. Spectator, N° yo.
Some of our most eminent divines have, with great beauty and strength of reason, made use of this Platonic notion, <bc.
Men of the best fense have been touched, more or less, with these groundless horrors and presages of futurity, upon surveying the most indifferent works of nature. Spectator, N° 505.
Upon surveying the most indifferent works of nature, men of the best fense, 6c.
She soon informed him os the place he was in, which, notwithstanding all its horrors, appeared to him more sweet than the bower of Mahomet, in the company of his Balsora. Guardian, N° 167.
She soon, 6c. appeared to him, in the company of his Balsora, more sweet, 6c.
The Emperor was so intent on the establishment of his absolute power in Hungary, that he exposed the Empire doubly to desolation and ruin for the sake of it.
Letters on history, vol. I. Ut. 7. Bolingbroke.
'that for the sake of it he exposed the Empire
doubly to desolation and ruin.
None of the rules for the composition of periods are more liable to be abused, than those last mentioned; witness many Latin writers, among the moderns especially, whose style, by inversions too violent, is rendered harlh and obscure. Suspension of the thought till the close of the period, ought never to be preferred before perspicuity. Neither ought such suspension to be attempted in a long period; because in that
case the mind is bewildered among a profusion of words: a traveller, while he is puzzled about the road, relishes not the finest prospect:
All the rich presents which Astyages had given him at parting, keeping only some Median horses, in order to propagate the breed of them in Persia, he distributed among his friends whom he left at the court of Ecbatana.
Travels of Cyrus, book I.
The foregoing rules concern the arrangement of a single period: I add one rule more concerning the distribution of a discourse i to different periods. A short period is lively and familiar: a long period, requiring more attention, makes an impression grave and solemn *. In general, a writer ought to study a mixture of long and short periods, which prevent an irksome uniformity, and entertain the mind with variety of impres-* sions. In particular, long periods ought to be avoided till the reader's attention be thoroughly engaged; and therefore a discourse, especially of the familiar kind, ought never to be introduced With a long period: for that reason, the commencement of a letter to a very young lady on her marriage is faulty:
Madam, The hurry and impertinence of receiving and paying visits on account of your marriage, being now o
* Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, sect. 44.) observes, that long members in a period make an impression of gravity and importance. And the fame observation is applicable to periods.
Ter, you arc beginning to enter into a course of life, where you will want much advice to divert you from falling into many errors, fopperies, and follies, to which, your sex is subject. Swift.
See another example, still more faulty, in the commencement of Cicero's oration, Pro Archia poet a.
Before we proceed farther, it may be proper to take a review of the rules laid down in this and the preceding section, in order to make some general observations. That order of the words and members of a period is justly termed natural, which corresponds to the natural order of the ideas that compose the thought. The tendency of many of the foregoing rules, is to substitute an artificial arrangement, in order to reach some beauty either os sound or meaning that cannot be reached in the natural order. But seldom it happens, that in the fame period there is place for a plurality of these rules: if one beauty can be catched, another must be relinquished; and the only question is, Which ought to be preferred t This is a question that cannot be resolved by any general rule: if the natural order be not relilhed, a few trials will discover that artificial order which has the best effect; and this exercise, supported by a good taste, will in time make thechoice easy. All that can be said in general is,
that in making a choice, sound ought to yield to signification.
The transposing words and members out of their natural order, so remarkable in the learned languages, has been the subject: of much speculation. It is agreed on all hands, that such transposition or inversion bestows upon a period a very sensible degree of force and elevation; and yet writers seem to be at a loss in what manner to account for this effect. Cerceau * ascribes so much power to inversion, as to make it the cha" racteristic of French verse, and the single circumstance which in that language distinguishes verse from prose: and yet he pretends not to fay, that it hath any other power but to raise surprise; he must mean curiosity, which is done by suspending the thought during the period, and bringing it out entire at the close. This indeed is one power of inversion; but neither its sole power, nor even that which is the most remarkable, as is made evident above. But waving censure, which is not an agreeable task, I enter into the matter; and begin with observing, that if conformity between words and their meaning be agreeable, it must of course be agreeable to find the same order or arrangement in both. Hence the beauty of a plain or natural style, where the order of the words corresponds precisely to the order of the ideas. Nor is this the single beauty
* Reflections fur la poefie Francoise.
Vol. n. F of