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riod, requiring more attention, makes an impression grave and folemn. In general, a writer ought to study a mixture of long and short periods, which prevents an irkfome uniformity, and entertains the mind with variety of impressions. In particular, long periods ought to be avoided till the reader's attention be thoroughly engaged s 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 receis ving 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 sex is subject.
See a stronger example in the commencement of Cicero's oration, Pro Archia poeta.
Before we proceed farther, it may be proper to take a review of the rules laid Vol. II. Tt
down in this and the preceding section, in order to make some general observations. The natural order of the words and mem. bers of a period, is undoubtedly the same with 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 fome beauty either of found or meaning that cannot be reached in the natural or der. But feldom 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. The only question is, Which ought to be preferred ? This is a question that cannot be refolved by any general rule. But practice, fupported by a good taste, will in most instances make the choice easy. The component words and members of a period, are afcertained by the subject. If the natural order be not relished, a few trials will discover that artificial order which has the best effect. All that can be said 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 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. Cerçeau* ascribes so much power to inversion, as to make it the characteristic 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
other 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 plain above. But waving censure, which is not an agreeable talk, I enter into the matter. And I begin with observing, that if a conformity betwixt words and their
power but to
Reflections sur la poesie Françoise.
meaning meaning be agreeable, it must of course be agreeable to find the same order or ar+ rangement 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 fingle beauty of a natural style : it is alfo agreeable upon account of its fimplicity and perfpicuity. This observation throws light upon the subject. For if a natural style be in itself agreeable, à transpofed ftyle cannot be for And therefore, it cannot otherwife be agreeable, but as contributing to fome positive beauty which is excluded in a natural style. To be confirmed in this opinion, we need but reflect upon fome of the foregoing rules, which make it evident, that language, by means of inversion, is sufceptible of many beauties that are totally excluded in a natural arrangement of words. From these premisses it clearly follows, that inversion ought not to be indulged, unlefs in order to reach some beauty fuperior to that of a natural style. It may with great certainty be pronounced, that every inversion which is not governed 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 li. ying languages afford but faint imitations.
Beauty of language from a resemblance betwixt
found and fignification. *
HE resemblance betwixt the found THE
and signification of certain words, is a beauty, which has escaped no critical writer, and yet is not handled with accuracy by any of them. They have probably been erroneously of opinion, that a beauty so obvious in the feeling, requires no ex