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ford the greatest pleasure to the ear, depends on principles pretty remote from common view, it will be necessary to premise some general observations
that a number of objects make when placed in an increasing or decreasing series; which appearance will be very different, accordingly as resemblance or contrast prevails. Where the objects vary by small differences so as to have a mutual resemblance, we in ascending conceive the second object of no greater size than the first, the third of no greater size than the second, and so of the rest; which diminisheth in appearance the size of the whole: but when, beginning at the largest object, we proceed gradually to the least, resemblance makes us imagine the second as large as the first, and the third as large as the second; which in appearance magnifies every object of the series except the first. On the other hand, in a series varying by great differences, where contrast prevails, the effects are directly opposite: a large object fucceeding a small one of the same kind, appears by the opposition larger than usual ; and a small object, for the same reason, succeeding one that is large, appears less than usual *. Hence a remarkable pleasure in viewing a series afcending by large differences ; directly opposite to what we feel when the differences are small. Beginning at the smallest object of a series ascending by large
See the reason, chap. 8.
differences, this object has the same effect upon the mind as if it stood single without making a part of the series: but this is not the case of the second object, which by means of contrast makes a much greater figure than when viewed singly and apart; and the same effect is perceived in ascending progressively, till we arrive at the last object. The opposite effect is produced in defcending; for in this direction, every object, except the first, makes a less figure than when viewed separately and independent of the series. We may then lay down as a maxim, which will hold in the composition of language as well as of other subjects, That a strong impulse succeeding a weak, makes a double impression on the mind; and that a weak impulse succeeding a strong, makes scarce any impression.
After establishing this maxim, we can be at no loss about its application to the subject in hand. The following rule is laid down by Diomedes *. " In verbis observandum est, ne a majoribus ad " minora descendat oratio; melius enim dicitur, “ Vir eft optimus, quam, Vir optimus eft.” This rule is also applicable to entire members of a period, which, according to our author's expression, ought not, more than single words, to proceed from the greater to the less, but from the less to the greater t. In arranging the members of a period, no writer equals Cicero : the
• De structura perfectæ orationis, l. 2.
beauty of the following examples out of many, will not suffer me to slur them over by a refer
Quicum quæstor fueram,
Habet honorem quem petimus,
Eripite nos ex miseriis,
De oratore, l. 1. $ 52.
This order of words or members gradually increasing in length, may, so far as concerns the pleafure of found singly, be denominated a climax in sound.
The last article is the music of periods as united in a discourse; which shall be dispatched in a very few words. By no other human means is it possible to present to the mind, such a number of objects and in so swift a succession, as by VOL. II.
speaking or writing: and for that reason, variety ought more to be Itudied in these, than in any other sort of composition. Hence a rule regarding the arrangement of the members of different periods with relation to each other, That to avoid a tedious uniformity of sound and cadence, the arrangement, the cadence, and the length of these members, ought to be diversified as much as possible : and if the members of different periods be sufficiently diversified, the periods themselves will be equally so.
Beauty of language with respect to signification.
(6 That by
T is well faid by a noted writer*,
means of speech we can divert our sorrows, mingle our mirth, impart our secrets, com"municate our counsels, and make mutual com“pacts and agreements to supply and assist each “ other.” Considering speech as contributing to fo many good purposes, it must be evident, that the using words which convey clear and distinct ideas, must be one of its capital beauties. This cause of beauty, is too extensive to be handled as a branch of any other subject : for to ascertain with accuracy even the proper meaning of words,
* Scot's Christian life.
not to talk of their figurative power, would require a large volume ; an useful work inleed, but not to be attempted without a large stock of time, study, and reflection. This branch therefore of the subject I must humbly decline. Nor do I propose to exhaust all the other beauties of language with respect to signification: the reader, in a work like the present, cannot fairly expect more than a slight sketch of those that make the greatest figure. This task I attempt the inore willingly, as being connected with certain principles in human nature; and the rules I shall have occasion to lay down, will, if I judge aright, be agreeable illustrations of these principles. Every subject must be of importance that tends to unfold the human heart; for what other science is more worthy of human beings?
The present subject is too extensive to be difcussed without dividing it into parts; and what • follows suggests a division into two parts. In every period, two things are to be regarded : first, the words of which the period is composed; next, the arrangement of these words; the former resembling the stones that compofe a building, and the latter resembling the order in which these stones are placed. Hence the beauties of language with respect to its meaning, nay not improperly be distinguished into two kinds : first, the beauties that arise from a right choice of words or materials for constructing the period; and next, the beauties that arise from a due ar