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SHALL not begin this essay with

a tedious enquiry into every particuJar article of grammar that forms what we call composition. A dry dissertation on the proper arrangement of nouns, verbs, and articles, is not here intended ; the reader's amusement and instruction being equally my aim. If this sketch will enable him to form a general, but compeţent idea of the subject, the pains which

I have


I have taken in composing it will be fufficiently answered.

A just taste for the beauties of composition can only be formed by the frequent and attentive perusal of such books, as have been wrote on important subjects with correctness and elegancy. The har. mony of graceful periods delights the ear, and conveysnoble sentiments with a powerful charm ; but to afford so exquisite an entertainment, great art and care is requisite. To reject common or low expressions, and trite phrases, to choose accurately such words as are both simple and pure, grand and expressive, and to adorn them with a composition, in the ftructure of which, both sweetness and dignity shall appear,

has been juftly réckoned a great effort of genius.


Composition consists in the beautiful and harmonious structure of the periods in a discourse, which adds an unfpeakable dignity and grace to a work, whether in poetry or profe. But it is too often used to set off trite or mean thoughts ; for a book may be very well wrote, and deficient in the thoughts. The style alone of fome writers displays great genius, such as Homer and Virgil, Cicero and Livy, and we oftener meet with mediocrity of style than moderate invention. As some writers compose well, and think ill; fo others think well, but cannot express themselves elegantly. I shall not hesitate a moment to pre. fer the book that is thought, to that which is wrote, well, Some succeed in the choice of elegant and expressive words, but they lose all their beauty by not being constructed with harmony. B 2


Others are excellent in the structure of a period, bút spoil all by the use of low and sordid words. But every quality is joined in a perfect work; the finest fentiments cloath'd with the ornament of beautiful language; the invention of the purest and most elegant expressions expanded into an harmonious composition.

There is something so extremely pleasing in the harmony of modulated pe. riods, that we are at first reading prejudiced in favour of a book in which we find it. But how often do those writers who want invention, have recourse to the beauties of composition, to hide their poverty of thought? I have already observed, that the matter is by far the most important part; and the graces of composition, in an inferior degree, are mechanic beauties, which a man may

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