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None of the rules for the composition of period's 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 harsh and obscure. Suspension of the thought till the clofe of the period, ought never to be preferred before perfpicuity. Neither ought such fuspension to be attempted in a long period : because in that cafe the mind is bewildered amidst a profusion of words : a traveller, while he is puzzled about the road, relishes not the finest profpect :
All the rich presents which Altyages had given him at parring, keeping only fome 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 Angle period : I add one rule more concerning the distribution of a discourse into different periods. A Ahort period is lively and familiar : a long period, requiring more attention, makes an impression grave and folemn.* 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 impressions. 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 :
* Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, feet. 44.) observes, that long members in a period make an impression of gravity and importance. The same obfervation is applicable to periods.
Madam, The burry, arid impertinence of receiving and paying visits on account of your marriage, being now over, you are 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 fex is subject.
See another example," still more faulty, in the commencement of Cicero's oration, Pro Archia poeta:
Before proceeding farther, it may be proper to review 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 fubstitute an artificial arrangement, in order to catch some beauty, either of sound or ineaning for which there is no place in the natural order. But feldom it happens, that in the same period there is place for a plurality of these tules : if one beanty can be retained, another must be relinquished; and the only question is, Which ought to be preferred ? This question cannot be resolved by any general rule : if the natural order be not relished, a few trials will discover that artificial order which has the best ef: fect ; and this exercise, supported by a good taste, will in time make the choice easy. All that can be faid in general is, that in making a choice, found ought to yield to fignification.
The transposing words and members out of their natural order, fo remarkable in the learned languages, has been the subject of much speculation. It is agreed on all hands, that fuch transpofition or inversion bestows upon a period a very sensible de: *
gree VOL. II,
gree of force and elevation, and yet writers seem to
be at a loss how to account for this effect. Cerceau* • ascribes so much power to inversion, as to make it
the characteristic of French verse, and the single circumstance which in that language diltinguishes verse from profe ; and yet he pretends not to say, that it hath any other effect but to raise furprise ; 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 effect of inver. fion ; but neither its sole effect, 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 of a natural style : it is also agreeable by its fimplicity and perfpicuity. This observation throws light upon the subject : for if a natural style be in itself agreeable, a transposed style cannot be so ; and therefore its agreeableness must arise from admitting fome positive beauty that is excluded in a natural style. To be confirmed in this opinion, we need but reflect upon some of the foregoing rules, which make it evident, that language by means of inversion, is fusceptible of many beauties that are totally excluded in a natural arrangement. From these premises it clearly. fol.
lows, that inversion ought not to be indulged, unless in order to teach fome beauty fuperior to those of a natural style. It may wath great certainty be pronounced, that every inversion which is not gov
erned Keficētions fur la počbe Françoife.
erned by this rule, will appear harsh and strained, and be disrelished by every one of taste. Hence the beauty of inversion when happily conducted ; the beauty,, not of an end, but of means, as furnishing opportunity for numberless ornaments that find no place in a natural style : hence the force, the elevation, the harmony, the cadence, of some compofitions hence the manifold beauties of the Greek and Roman tongues, of which living languages afford but faint imitations.
Beauty of Language from a resemblance between Sound
and Signification. A RESEMBLANCE between the found of certain words and their fignification, is a beauty that has escaped no critical writer, and yet is not handled with accuracy by any of them. They have probably been of opinion, that a beauty so obvious to the feel. ing, requires no explanation. This is an error; and to avoid it, I shall give examples of the various resemblances between found and signification, ac, companied with an endeavour to explain why such resemblances are beautiful. I begin with examples where the resemblance between the found and signification is the most entire ; and next examples where the resemblance is less and less fo.
There being frequently a strong resemblance of one found to another, it will not be surprising to find ån articulate found resembling one that is not articulate”: thus the sound of a bow-string is imitated by the words that express it :
The itring let fly,
Odyffey, xxi. 449.
The sound of felling trees in a wood :
Loud sounds the ax, redoubling strokes on strokes;..
Iliad, xxii, 144.
But when loud furges lath the founding shore,
Pope's Ejay on Criticism, 369..
Dire Scylla there a scene of horror forms,
No person can be at a loss about the cause of this beauty : it is obviously that of imitation.
That there is any other natural resemblance of sound to signification, must not be taken for granted. There is no resemblance of found to motion, nor of found to sentiment. We are however apt to be deceived by artful pronunciation : the same pasage may be pronounced in many different tones, elevated or humble, sweet or harsh, brisk or melancholy, so as to accord with the thought or sentiment : such concord must be distinguished from that conçord between found and sense, which is perceived in fome expressions independent of artful pronunciation : the latter is the poet's work ; the former must be attributed to the reader. Another thing contributes still more to the deceit ; in language, found and senfe being intimately connected, the properties of the one are readily communicated to the other ; for example, the quality, of grandeur, of fweetness, or of melancholy, though belonging to the thought