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pulse was sustained by mere vivacity rather than in persons: if the particuof animal spirits, without knowledge lar subject under discussion should to support it, and liable to the full happen to be a grave one, then, in right weight of Archbishop Huet's sarcasm of that, and not by any right of his
that it was a diarrhea of garrulity, own, a speaker will seem to an Eng, a flyxe de bouche. But in cases like lishman invested with the privilege of that of Coleridge, where the solitary drawing largely upon the attention of display, if selfish, is still dignified by a company. But to a Frenchman this a pomp of knowledge, and a knowledge right of participation in the talk is a which you feel to have been fused and personal right, which cannot be set combined by the genial circumstances aside by any possible claims in the of the speaker's position in the centre subject: it passes by necessity to and of an admiring circle, we English do fro, backwards and forwards, between still recognise the métier of a profes- the several persons who are present; sional talker as a privileged mode of and, as in the games of battledore and social display. People are asked to shuttlecock, or of “hunt the slipper," come and hear such a performer, as the momentary subject of interest you form a select party to hear Thal. never can settle or linger for any berg or Paganini. The thing is un length of time in any one individual, derstood at least with us; right or without violating the rules of the sport, wrong, there is an understanding or suspending its movement. Inevita. amongst the company that you are not bly, therefore, the structure of sentence to interrupt the great man of the night. must for ever be adapted to this priYou may prompt him by a question; mary function of the French national you may set him in motion ; but to intellect-the function of communicabegin arguing against him would be tiveness, and to the necessities (for to the felt as not less unseasopable than to French they are necessities) of social insist on whistling Jim Crow during intercourse. the bravuras and tours de force of the Hence it is that in French authors, great musical artists.
whatever may otherwise be the differ. In France, therefore, from the in- ences of their minds, or the differences tense adaptation of the national mind of their themes, uniformly we find the to rcal colloquial intercourse, for which periods short, rapid, unelaboratereciprocation is indispensable, the Pascal or Helvetius, Condillac or form of sentence in use is adjusted to Rousseau, Montesquieu or Voltaire, that primary condition ; brief, terse, Buffon or Duclos,-all alike are terse, simple ; shaped to avoid misunder- perspicuous, brief. Even Mirabeau standing, and to meet the impatience or Chateaubriand, so much modified of those who are waiting for their turn, by foreign intercourse, in this point People who write rapidly every where adhere to their national models. Even write as they talk : it is impossible to Bossuet or Bourdaloue, where the do otherwise. Taking a pen into his diffusiveness and amplitude of oratory hand, a man frames his periods exactly might have been pleaded as a dispen. as he would do if addressing an sation, are not more licentious in this audience. So far the Englishman and respect than their compatriots. One the Frenchman are upon the same rise in every sentence, one gentle delevel. Suppose them, therefore, both scent,--that is the law for French preparing to speak : an Englishman in composition ; even too monotonously such a situation has no urgent motive so-and thus it happens that such a for turning his thoughts to any other thing as a long or an involved sentence object than the prevailing one of the could not he produced from French moment-viz., how best to convey his literature, though a sultan were to meaning. That object weighs also offer his daughter in marriage to the with the Frenchman ; but he has a man who should find it. Whereas previous, a paramount, object to watch now, amongst us English, not only -the necessity of avoiding des lon- is the too general tendency of our gueurs. The rights, the equities of sentences towards hyperbolical length, conversation are but dimly present to but it will be found continually, that the mind of the Englishman. From instead of one rise and one correthe mind of a Frenchman they are sponding fall-one arsis and one the. never absent. To an Englishman, the sis_there are many. Flux and reflux, right of occupying the attention of the swell and cadence, that is the move. company seems to inhere in things ment for a sentence; but our modern
acity rather than in persons: if the particuedge lar subject under discussion should
full happen to be a grave one, then, in right casm of that, and not by any right of his lity, own, a speaker will seem to an Eng.
like lishman invested with the privilege of itary drawing largely upon the attention of d by a company. But to a Frenchman this edge right of participation in the talk is a and personal right, which cannot be set unces aside by any possible claims in the entre subject: it passes by necessity to and h do fro, backwards and forwards, between ofes- the several persons who are present; le of and, as in the games of battledore and -d to shuttlecock, or of hunt the slipper," r, as
the momentary subject of interest Chal. never can settle or linger for any un. length of time in any one individual,
without violating the rules of the sport, ding or suspending its movement. Inevita.
not bly, therefore, the structure of sentence ght. must for ever be adapted to this prie cion; mary function of the French national at to intellect-the function of communicad be tiveness, and to the necessities (for to the n to French they are necessities) of social ring intercourse. - the
Hence it is that in French authors,
whatever may otherwise be the differ. ein ences of their minds, or the differences mind of their themes, uniformly we find the hich periods short, rapid, unelaborate
the Pascal or Helvetius, Condillac or ed to Rousseau, Montesquieu or Voltaire, erse, Buffon or Duclos,-all alike are terse, der- perspicuous, brief. Even Mirabeau ence
or Chateaubriand, so much modified urn. by foreign intercourse, in this point here adhere to their national models. Even le to Bossuet or Bourdaloue, where the o bis diffusiveness and amplitude of oratory actly might have been pleaded as a dispen
sentences agitate us by rolling fires, the attention. It is the suspe after the fashion ofthose internal earth holding.on, of the mind until quakes that, not content with one throe, called the upodoo15 or coming rou run along spasmodically like boys sentence commences—this it i playing at what is called “ drake. wears out the faculty of attenti stone."
sentence, for example, begins It is not often that a single fault series of ifs; perhaps a dozen 1 can produce any vast amount of evil, occupied with expanding the But there are cases where it does; tions under which something is and this is one : the effect of weari. or denied : here you cannot ness and of repulsion, which may arise and have done with the ideas from this single vice of unwieldy com go along; all is hypothetic prehensiveness in the structure of sen. suspended in air. The condit tences cannot better be illustrated than not fully to be understood ur by a frank exposure of what often are acquainted with the depe happens to ourselves, and (as we you must give a separate atte differ as to this case only by con each clause of this complex h sciously noticing what all feel) must sis, and yet, having done th often happen to others. In the even. painful effort, you have done ing, when it is natural that we should at all; for you must exerci feel a craving for rest, some book lies acting attention through the near us which is written in a style, sponding latter section, in clear, tranquil, easy to follow. Just follow out its relations to all at that moment comes in the wet the hypothesis which sustains newspaper, dripping with the dewy fact, under the rude yet also freshness of its news; and even in its character of newspaper styl parliamentary memorials promising separate monster period is a v so much interest, that, let them be which, not receiving its keyst treated in what manner they may being locked into self-suppo merely for the subjects, they are often hesion, until you nearly reach commandingly attractive. The attrac- imposes of necessity upon the tion indeed is but too potent, the in- reader all the onus of its po terest but too exciting. Yet, after all, weight through the main pr many times we lay aside the journal, its construction. The conti and we acquiesce in the gentler stimu. petition of so Atlantean an ett lation of the book. Simply the news we overwhelms the patience of an may read; but the discussions, whether and establishes at length that direct from the editor, or reported feeling which causes him t from the Parliament, we refuse or we from the speculations of journ delay. And why? It is the subject, (which is more likely) to adop perhaps you think, it is the great poli. habit than absolute neglect, i tical question--too agitating by the shall notice immediately. consequences it may happen to involve. Meantime, as we have c No. “All this, if treated in a winning ourselves on this important po style, we could bear. It is the effort, the ench, let us now com the toil, the exertion of mind requi- promise, by noticing our re site to follow the discussion through the same point to the German endless and labyrinthine sentences- on its own account, and witi this it is which compels us to forego view to our present purpose, the journal, or to lay it aside until the racter of German prose is a next morning. Those who are not ac of legitimate astonishment. customed to watch the effects of com ever is bad in our own ideal position upon the feelings, or bave had style, whatever is repulsive in little experience in voluminous reading practice, we see there carri pursued for weeks, would scarcely most outrageous excess. imagine how much of downright phy- out-heroded, Sternhold is o sical exhaustion is produced by what holded, with a zealotry of extr is technically called the periodic style that really seems like wilful b of writing :'it is not the length, the Lessing, Herder, Paul Rich utiqaytologic, the paralytic flux of Lichtenberg, with some few words; it is noteven the cumbrous invo- either prompted by nature o lution of parts within parts, separately upon foreign models, have av considered, that bears so heavily upon besetting sin of German pros
an sation, are not more licentious in this and respect than their compatriots. One ame rise in every sentence, one gentle deboth scent,--that is the law for French en in composition ; even too monotonously otive so-and thus it happens that such a ther thing as a long or an involved sentence
the could not he produced from French - his literature, though a sultan were to also offer his daughter in marriage to the man who should find it.
Whereas atch now, amongst us English, not only Lon- is the too general tendency of our
of sentences towards hyperbolical length, t to but it will be found continually, that
instead of one rise and one correa are sponding fall--one arsis and one the. the sis there are many. Flux and reflux, the swell and cadence, that is the move. Rugsment for a sentence; but our modern
man of distinguished talent, whose most of his countrymen, as a rude attention has been once called steadily mould or elastic form admitting of to this subject, cannot fail to avoid it. expansion to any possible extent: it The misfortune of most writers has is laid down as a rude outline, and been, that, once occupied with the then by superstruction and epi-superinterest of things, and overwhelmed struction it is gradually reared to a by the embarrassments of disputed giddy altitude which no eye can fol. doctrines, they never advert to any low. Yielding to his natural impulse question affecting what they view, by of subjoining all additions, or excepcomparison, as a trifle. The rò docen- tions, or modifications—not in the dum, the thing to be taught, has shape of separate consecutive sentenavailed to obscure or even to annihilate ces, but as intercalations and stuff. for their eyes every anxiety as to the ings of one original sentence, Kant mode of teaching. And, as one con- might naturally enough have written spicuous example of careless style acts a book from beginning to end in one by its authority to create many more, vast hyperbolical sentence. We somewe need not wonder at the results, times see an English Act of Parliaeven when they reach a point of what ment which does literally accomplish may be called monstrous. Among that end, by an artifice which in law ten thousand offenders, who carry their has a purpose and a use.
Instead of neglect of style even to that point, we laying down a general proposition, would single out Immanuel Kant. which is partially false until it has Such is the value of his philosophy in received its proper restraints, the frasome sections, and partially it is so very mer of the act endeavours to evade capable of a lucid treatment, intelli- even this momentary falsehood by gible to the plainest man of reflective coupling the restraints with the very habits, that within no long interval primary enunciation of the truth : e. we shall certainly see him naturalized 9. A shall be entitled, provided alamongst ourselves ; there are parti. ways that he is under the circumcular applications of his philosophy stances of e, or i, or o, to the right not contemplated by himself, for which of X.
Thus, even a momentary we venture to predict that the Chris- compliance with the false notion of tian student will ultimately be thank an absolute unconditional claim to X. ful, when the elementary principles is evaded ; a truth which is only a conhave been brought under a clear light ditional truth, is stated as such from of interpretation. Attention will then the first. There is, therefore, a theobe forced upon his style, and facts retic use. But what is the practical will come forward not credible without result ? Why, that when you attempt experimental proof. For instance, we to read an Act of Parliament where have lying before us at this moment the exceptions, the secondary excephis Critik der Practischen Vernunft in tions to the exceptions, the limitations the unpirated edition of Hartnoch-the and the sublimitations, descend scrirespectable publisher of all Kant's great atim, by a vast scale of dependencies, works. The text is therefore authentic: the mind finds itself overtasked : the and being a 4th edition, (Riga, 1797,) energy of the most energetic begins to must be presumed to have benefited by droop; and so inevitable is that result
, the author's careful revision : we have that Mr Pitt, a minister unusually acno time for search, but on barely throw- complished for such process by coning open the book, we see a sentence stitution of mind and by practice, at pp. 70, 71 exactly covering one publicly avowed his inability to follow whole octavo page of thirty-one lines, so trying a conflict with technical em. (each line averaging forty-five to barrassments. He declared himself forty-eight letters.) Sentences of the to be lost in the labyrinth of clauses : same calibre, some even of far larger the Ariadne's clue was wanting for his bore, we have observed in this and final extrication : and he described his other works of the same author. situation at the end with the simplicity And it is not the fact taken as an oc natural to one who was no charlatan, casional possibility, it is the prevailing and sought for no reputation by the character of his style, that we insist tricks of a funambulist : " in the crowd on as the most formidable barrier to of things excepted and counter-exthe study of his writings and to the cepted, he really ceased to understand progress of what will soon be acknow, the main point-what it was that the ledged as important in his principles. law allowed, and what it was that it A sentence is viewed by him, and by disallowed.”
those most of his countrymen, as a rude adily mould or elastic form admitting of id it. expansion to any possible extent: it s has is laid down as a rude outline, and
the then by superstruction and epi-superImed struction it is gradually reared to a puted giddy altitude which no eye can fol. - any low. Yielding to his natural impulse v , by of subjoining all additions, or excepocen- tions, or modifications—not in the - has shape of separate consecutive senten. nilate ces, but as intercalations and stuff. o the ings of one original sentence, Kant
con- might naturally enongh have written - acts a book from beginning to end in one more, vast hyperbolical sentence. We somesults, times see an English Act of Parlia. what ment which does literally accomplish mong that end, by an artifice which in law their has a purpose and a use. Instead of t, we laying down a general proposition, Sant which is partially false until it has ny in received its proper restraints, the fra. very mer of the act endeavours to evade telli- even this momentary falsehood by ctive coupling the restraints with the very erval primary enunciation of the truth : é. lized 9. A shall be entitled, provided alarti. ways that he is under the circumophy stances of e, or i, or o, to the right -hich of X.
a momentary hris- compliance with the false notion of
an absolute unconditional claim to X. iples is evaded ; a truth which is only a conLight ditional truth, is stated as such from then the first. There is, therefore, a theofacts retic use. But what is the practical
Why, that when you attempt
We might have made our readers tell eventually. And these merry with the picture of German rable effects. Even as respe prose ; but we must not linger. It minor purpose of information is enough to say, that it offers the it is, by a thousand-fold, to ha counterpole to the French style. Our three score of books (chosen ju own popular style, and (what is worse) ly) with severe attention, than the tendency of our own, is to the raced through the library of th German extreme. For those who read can at a newspaper pace. German there is this advantage that respects the final habits ac German prose, as written by the mob habits of thinking coherently, of authors, presents, as in a Brobdigna- judging soundly better that gian mirror, the most offensive faults of should bave not read one line th our own.
out his life, than have travelled But these faults are they in prac- the journals of Europe by this tice so wearisome and exhausting as process of “reading short." we have described them? Possibly Yet, by this Parthian habit not; and, where that happens to be the ing at full gallop-of taking case, let the reader ask himself if it is shots at conspicuous marks, a not by means of an evasion worse in Parthians also, directing their its effects than any fault of style could arrows whilst retreating, and re ever prove in its most exaggerated with horror from a direct appr form." Shrinking, through long ex- the object-thus it is, that the perience, from the plethoric form of and the flexible are trained a cumulation and periodic' writing in us under the increasing tyra which the journalist supports or ex- journalism. A large part of t plains his views, every man who puts therefore, belongs to style: a business value upon his time, slips this which repels readers, and naturally into a trick of short-hand the short-hand process of de reading. It is more even by the effort reading. A large part of ti and tension of mind required, than by therefore, is of a nature to re the mere loss of time, that most readers remedy. are repelled from the habit of careful It is with a view to that p reading. An evil of modern growth part of the extensive evil, that is met by a modern remedy. Every shaped our present notice of man gradually learns an art of catch.. style, as made operative amon ing at the leading words, and the car. selves. One single vice of dinal or hinge-joints of transition, syntax, a vice unknown to th which proclaim the general course of ature of Greece, and, until Pat a writer's speculation. Now it is very even of Rome, (although the la true, and is sure to be objected—that, of Rome was so naturally where so much is certain to prove to that vice), has with us mere iteration and teasing tautology, balanced all possible vices of an little can be lost by this or any other order. Simply by the vast sp process of abridgement. Certainly, as its agency for evil, in the h regards the particular subject concern mind which it produces and s ed, there may be no room to apprehend such a vice merits a consi a serious injury. Not there, not in which would else be dispropor any direct interest, but in a far larger Yet, at the same time, it mus interest-indirect for the moment, but forgotten, that if the most o the most direct and absolute of all in- of all vices, after all it is terests for an intellectual being, the What are the others ? reader suffers a permanent debilitation. It is a fault, amongst man He acquires a factitious propensity, of such works as we have on i he forms an incorrigible habit of de- ject of style—that they collec sultory reading. Now, to say of a of qualities, good or bad, to man's knowledge, that it will be shal. composition is liable, not un low, or (which is worse than shallow) principle from which they m will be erroneous and insecure in its deduced à priori, so as to be foundations, is to say little of such a that all had been enumerated habit : it is by reaction upon a man's a tentative groping, a merec faculties, it is by the effects reflected ral estimate. The word style ! upon his judging and reasoning us a twofold meaning; one se powers, that loose habits of reading narrow one, expressing the m
hout result ?
to read an Act of Parliament where
one publicly avowed his inability to follow ines,
so trying a conflict with technical em. to barrassments. He declared himself the to be lost in the labyrinth of clauses : rger the Ariadne's clue was wanting for his and final extrication; and he described his nor, situation at the end with the simplicity
oce natural to one who was no charlatan, ing and sought for no reputation by the sist tricks of a funambulist : " in the crowd rto of things excepted and counter-exthe cepted, he really ceased to understand own the main point--what it was that the les. law allowed, and what it was that it
thesis onomaton, the syntaxis or com- the effects upon style even of that one bination of words into sentences; the slight addition to the resources of logic. other of far wider extent, and express. Previously, a man was driven to depend ing all possible relations that can arise for his security against misunderstand. between thoughts and words - the ing upon the pure virtue of his syntotal effect of a writer, as derived from tax. Miscollocation or dislocation of manner. Style may be viewed as an related words disturbed the whole organic thing and as a mechanic thing, sense : its least effect was, to give no By organic, we mean that which, being sense; often it gavea dangerous sense. acted upon, reacts-and which pro. Now, punctuation was an artificial pagates the communicated power machinery for maintaining the inte« without loss. By mechanic, that grity of the sense against all mistakes which, being impressed with motion, of the writer; and, as one consequence, cannot throw it back without loss, and it withdrew the energy of men's anxien therefore soon comes to an end. The ties from the natural machinery, human body is an elaborate system of which lay in just and careful arrange. organs: it is sustained by organs. But ment. Another and still greater ma. the human body is exercised as a ma- chinery of art for the purpose of main. chine, and, as such, may be viewed taining the sense, and with the effect in the arts of riding, dancing, leaping, of relaxing the care of the writer, lay &c., subject to the laws of motion and in the exquisitely artificial structure of equilibrium. Now the use of words the Latin language, which, by means is an organic thing, in so far as lan- of its terminal forms, indicated the guage is connected with thoughts, and arrangement, and referred the proper modified by thoughts. It is a me. predicate to the proper subject, spite chanic thing, in so far as words in of all that affectation or negligence combination determine or modify cach could do to disturb the series of the other. The science of style, as an logic or the succession of the syntax. organ of thought, of style in relation Greek, of course, had the same advanto the ideas and feelings, might be tage in kind, but not in degree; and called the organology of style. The thence rose some differences which science of style, considered as a ma- have escaped all notice of rhetoricians. chine, in which words act upon words, Here also would properly arise the and through a particular grammar, question started by Charles Fox, (but might be called the mechanology of probably due originally to the con. style. It is of little importance by versation of some far subtler friend, what name these two functions of such as Edmund Burke,) how far composition are expressed. But it is the practice of foot-notes-a practice of great importance not to confound purely modern in its form is reconthe functions; that function by which cilable with the laws of just composis style maintains a commerce with tion: and whether in virtue, though thought, and that by which it chiefly not in form, such foot-notes did not communicates with grammar and with exist for the ancients, by an evasion words. A pedant only will insist we could point out. The question is upon the names--but the distinction clearly one which grows out of style in the ideas, under some name, can in its relations to thought-how far, be neglected only by the man who is viz., such an excrescence as a note careless of logic.
argues that the sentence to which it We know not how far we may be is attached has not received the bene. ever called upon to proceed with this fit of a full developement for the con. discussion: if it should happen that we ception involved; whether, if thrown were, an interesting field of questions into the furnace again and re-melted, would lie-before us for the first part, it might not be so re-cast as to absorb (the organology. It would lead us the redundancy which had previously over the ground trodden by the Greek flowed over into a note. Under this and Roman rhetoricians; and over head would fall not only all the differ. those particular questions which liave ential questions of style and composi. arisen by the contrast between the tion between us and the ancients, but circumstances of the ancients and our also the questions of merit as fairly own since the origin of printing. Punc. distributed amongst the moderns comtuation, trivial as such an innovation pared with each other. The French, may scem, was the product of typo. as we recently insisted, undoubtedly graphy; and it is interesting to trace possess one vast advantage over all