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The FIFTH EDITION.
With ADDITIONS and IMPROVEMENTS,
Skinner-Row. MDCC, LXXII,
CHA P. XVIII. BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE.
F all the fine arts, painting only and sculpture are in their nature imitative. An'ornamento ed field is not a copy or imitation of nature,
but nature itself einbellished. Architecture deals in originals, and copies not from nature. Sound and inocion may in some measure be imitated by music; but for the most part, music, like architecture, deals in originals. Language copies .not from nature, more than music or architecture ; unless where, like inusic, it is imitative of found or motion : in the description, for example, of particular sounds, language sometimes furnilheth words, which, beside their custoinary power of exciting ideas, resemble by their softness or harshness the sound described ; and there are words, which, by the celerity or slowness of pronunciation, have some resemblance to the motion they signify: This, soitative power of words goes one step farther : the loftinels of fonie words, makes them proper symbols of Tofty ide. as; a rough subject is inritate by harih-lyunding words; and words of many syllables pronounced row or smooth, are naturally expressive of grief and melát,choty. Words have a separate effect on the nišá, abftraéting from their signification and from their imitative power: they are more or less agreeable to the ear, by the fulness, sweetness, faintness, or roughness of their tones.
These are but faint. beauties, being known to thofe only who have more than ordinary acuteness of perception. Language poffefseth a beauty superior greatly in
degree, of which, we are eminently sensible when a thought is communicated with perspicuity and sprightliness. This beauty of language, arising from its power of expressing thought, is apt to be confounded with the beauty of the thought itself; which beauty of thought is transferred to the expression, and inakes it appear more beautiful*. But these beauties, if we wish to think accurately, must be distinguished from each other: they are in reality so distinct, that we fonietimes are con. scious of the highest pleasure language can afford, when the subject expressed is disagreeable ; a thing that is loathsome, or a scene of horror to make one's hair stand on end, inay be described in a manner so lively, as that the disagreeableness of the subject shall not even obscure the agreeableness of the description. The causes of the original beauty of language considered as significant, which is a branch of the present subject, will be ex'plained in their order, I shall only at present observe, ihat this beauty is the beauty of means fitted to an end, that of cominunicating thought: and hence it evidently appears, that of several expressions all conveying the same thought, the moit beautiful, in the sense now inentioned, is that which in the inost perfect manner answers its end.
The several beauties of language above mentioned, being of different kinds, ought to be handled separately. I shall begin with those beauties of language that arise from sound; after which will follow the beauties of language considered as fignificant: this order appears natural; for ghe sound of a word is attended to, before we confider its signifieation. In a third section come those liigulai Beauties of language that are derived from
. a resem.
* Chap: 2. part. I feet; 3. Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, feel.: 752 makes the same observation. We are apt, says that author, to confound the language with the subject ; and if the latter be nervous, we judge the former to be so also. But they are clearly distinguishable ; and it is not uncommon to find subjects of great dignity dressed in mean language. Theopompus is celebrated for the force of his diction; but erroneously : his subject indeed has great force, but his style very little.