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from neglect of smoothness and ease. This is reckone ed the fault of some of our earliest classics ; such, as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Bacon, Hooker, Harring ton, Cudworth, and other writers of confiderable reputation in the days of Queen Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I.* These writers had nerves and strength in a high degree ; and are to this day distinguished by this quality in style. But the language in their hands was very different from what it is now, and was indeed entirely formed upon the idiom and conftruction of the Latin in the arrangement of sentences. The present form of our language has in some degree facrificed the study of strength to that of ease and perspicuity. Our arrangement is less forcible, but more plain and natural; and this is now considered, as the genius of our tongue.
Hitherto style has been considered under those char. acters, which regard its expressiveness of an author's meaning. We shall now consider it with respect to the degree of ornament, employed to embellish it. Here the style of different authors seem to rise in the following gradation ; a dry, a plain, a neat, an elegant, a flowery manner.
. A dry manner excludes every kind of ornament. Content with being understood, it aims not to please either the fancy or the ear. This is tolerable only in pöre didactic writing ; and even there, to make us
bear it, great folidity of matter and entire perspicuity of language are required.
A plain style rises one degree above a dry one. A Α' writer of this character employs very little ornament of any kind, and rests almost entirely upon his sense. But, though he does not engage us by the arts of composition, he avoids disgusting us, like a dry and a harsh writer. Beside perfpicuity he observes propriety, purity, and precision in his language ; which form no inconsiderable degree of beauty. Liveliness and force are also compatible with a plain style ; and therefore such an author, if his sentiments be good, may be sufficiently agreeable. The difference between a dry and a
plain writer is this; the former is incapable of ornament; the latter goes not in pursuit of it. Of those, who have employed the plain style, Dean Swift is an eminent example.
A neat style is next in order ; and here we are advanced into the region of ornament ; but not of the most sparkling kind. A writer of this character shows by his attention to the choice of words and to their graceful collocation that he does not desji ie the beauty of language. His sentences are always free from the incumbrance of superfluous words ; of a moderate length ; inclining rather to brevity, than a swelling structure ; and closing with propriety. There is variety in his cadence ; but no appearance of studied har
mony. His figures, if he use any, are short and accu. rate rather, than bold and glowing. Such a Ityle may be attained by a writer, whose powers of fancy or ge. nius are not great, by industry and attention. This fort of style is not unsuitable to any subject whatever. A familiar epistle, or a law paper on the driest subject, may be written with neatnessand a sermon, or a philofoph. ical treatise in a neat style, is read with satisfaction.
. An elegant style.implies a higher degree of ornament, than a neat one ; possessing all the virtues of ornament without any of its excesses or defects. Complete elegance implies great perspicuity and propriety ; purity in the choice of words ; and care and fkill in their arrangement. It implies farther the beauties of imagination spread over style as far, as the fubject permits ; and all the illustration, which figurative language adds, when properly employed. An elegant writer in short is one, who delights the fancy and the ear, while he informs the understanding ; who clothes his ideas in all the beauty of expression, but does not overload them with any of its misplaced finery,
A florid Ityle implies excess of ornament. In a young composer it is not only pardonable, but often a promising fymptom. But, although it may be allowed to youth in their first essays ; it must not receive the fame indulgence from writers of more experience. · In them judgment should chaften imagination, and reice, every ornament, which is unsuitable or redundant. That tinsel fplendor of language, which some writers perpetually affect, is truly contemptible. With such it is a luxuriancy of words, not of fancy. They forget that, unless founded on good sense and folid thought, the most florid style is but a childish impofition on the public.
STYLE. SIMPLE, AFFECTED, VEHEMENT. DIRECTIONS FOR FORMING A PROPER
DIMPLICITY, applied to writing, is a term very commonly used; but, like many other critical terms, often used without precision. The different meanings of the word fimplicity are the chief cause of this inaccuracy. It is therefore necessary to show, in what sense fimplicity is a proper attribute of style. There are four different acceptations, in which this term is taken.
The first is fimplicity of composition, as opposed to too great a variety of parts. This is the simplicity of plan in tragedy, as distinguished from double plots and crowded incidents ; the fimplicity of the Iliad in opposition to the digressions of Lucan ; the fimplicity of Grecian architecture in opposition to the irregular va. riety of the Gothic. Simplicity in this sense is the same with unity.
SIMPLICITY. The fecond sense is simplicity of thought in oppofie tion to refinement. Simple thoughts are those, which flow naturally ; which are fuggested by the subject or occafion ; and which, when once suggested, are easily understood by all. Refinement in writing means a less. obvious and natural train of thought, which, when carried too far, approaches to intricacy, and displeases us by the appearance of being far sought. Thus Parnell is a Poet of much greater fimplicity in his turn of thought, than Cowley. In these two senses fimplicity has no relation to style.
The third sense of fimplicity regards style, and is oppofed to too much ornament, or pomp of language.. Thus we say Mr. Locke is a simple, Mr. Harvey a flor. id writer. A simple style, in this sense, coincides with a plain or neat style.
The fourth sense of fimplicity also refpects style ; but it regards not so much the degree of ornament employed, as the easy and natural manner, in which our language expresses our thoughts. In this sense fimplicity is compatible with the highest ornament. Homer, for example, possesses this fimplicity in the greatest pere. fection ; ảnd yet no writer has more ornament and beau.. ty. This simplicity is opposed not to ornament, but to affectation of ornament; and is a superior excellence in composition.