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No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell;
And the king's rowse the heav'ns shall bruit again,
Respeaking earthly thunder.

HAMLET.-Act I. Sr. 2.

In the inner room
I spy a winking lamp, that weakly strikes
The ambient air, scarce kindling into light.

SOUTHERN.-FATE OF CAPUA, ACT 3. The following passage, intended, one would imagine as a receipt to boil water, is altogether burlesque, by the labored elevation of the diction:

A massy caldron of stupendous frame
They brought, and plac'd it o'er the rising flame:
Then heap the lighted wood; the flame divides
Beneath the vase, and climbs around the sides :
In its wide womb they pour the rushidg stream:
The boiling water bubbles to the brim.

ILIAD, xviii. 405.
The language of Homer is suited to his subject, no
less accurately than the actions and sentiments of his
heroes are to their characters. Virgil, in that particu-
lar, falls short of perfection: his language is stately
throughout; and though he descends at times to the
simplest branches of cookery, roasting and boiling, for
example, yet he never relaxes a moment from the high
tone.* In adjusting his language to his subject, no writer
equals Swift. I can recollect but one exception, which,
at the same time, is far from being gross : The Journal
of a Modern Lady is composed in a style blending
sprightliness with familiarity, perfectly suited to the
subject: in one passage, however, the poet, deviating
from that style, takes a tone above his subject. The
passage I have in view, begins l. 116, But let me now

&c. and ends at l. 135. It is proper to be observed upon this head, that writers of inferior rank are continually upon the stretch to enliven and enforce their subject by exaggeration and superlatives. This unluckily has an effect contrary to what is intended; the reader, disgusted with

* See Æneid, lib. i. 188--219.

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language that swells above the subject, is led by con-
trast to think more meanly of the subject than it may
possibly deserve. A man of prudence, beside, will be
no less careful to husband his strength in writing than
in walking; a writer too liberal of superlatives, ex-
hausts his whole stock upon ordinary incidents, and re-
serves no share to express, with greater energy, mat-
ters of importance.*

Many writers of that kind abound so in epithets, as
if poetry consisted entirely in high-sounding words.
Take the following instance:

When black-brow'd Night her dusky mantle spread,

And wrapt in solemn gloom the sable sky;
When soothing Sleep her opiate dews had shed,

And seal'd in silken slumber ev'ry eye:
My wakeful thoughts admit no balmy rest,

Nor the sweet bliss of soft oblivion share;
But watchful woe distracts my aching breast,

My heart the subject of corroding care:
From haunts of men, with wand'ring steps and slow,

I solitary steal, and soothe my pepsive woe.
Here every substantive is faithfully attended by
some tumid epithet ; like young master, who cannot
walk abroad without having a laced livery-man at his
heels. Thus, in reading without taste, an emphasis

is laid on every word; and in singing without taste,
every note is graced. Such redundancy of epithets,
instead of pleasing, produces satiety and disgust.

The power of language to imitate thought, is not
confined to the capital circumstances above mentioned;
it reacheth even the slighter modifications. Slow ac-
tion, for example, is imitated by words pronounced
slow: labor, or toil, by words harsh or rough in their
sound. But this subject has been already handled.

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* Montaigne, reflecting upon the then present modes, observes that there never was, at any time, so abject and servile prostitution of words in the addresses made by people of fashion to one another; the bumblest tenders of life and soul, po professions under that of devotion and adoration; the writer constantly declar ing himself a vassal, nay, a slave; so that when any more serious occasion of friendship or gratitude requires more genuine professions, words are wanting to express them.

In dialogue-writing, the condition of the speaker is chiefly to be regarded in framing the expression. The sentinel in Hamlet, interrogated with relation to the ghost, Whether his watch had been quiet? answers with great propriety for a man in his station, “Not a mouse stirring."*

I proceed to a second remark, no less important than the former. No person of reflection but must be sensible, that an incident makes a stronger impression on an eye-witness than when heard at second-hand Writers of genius, sensible that the eye is the best avenue to the heart, represent every thing as passing in our sight; and, from readers or hearers, transform us, as it were, into spectators: a skilful writer conceals himself, and presents his personages; in a word, every thing becomes dramatic as much as possible. Plutarch, observes, that Thucydides makes his reader a spectator, and inspires him with the same passions as if he were an eye-witness; and the same observation is applicable to our countryman Swift. From this happy talent arises that energy of style which is peculiar to him; he cannot always avoid narration; but the pencil is his choice, by which he bestows life and coloring upon his objects. Pope is richer in ornament, but possesseth not in the same degree the talent of drawing from the life. A translation of the sixth satire of Horace, begun by the former and finished by the latter, affords the fairest opportunity for a comparison. Pope obviously imitates the picturesque manner of his friend; yet every one of taste must be sensible, that the imitation, though fine, falls short of the original. In other instances, where

* One can scarce avoid smiling at the blindness of a certain critic, who, with an air of self-sufficiency, condemns this expression as low and vulgar. A French poet, says

would express the same thought in a more sublime manner: « Mais tout dort, et l'armée, et les vents, et Neptune." And he adds, “ The English poet' may please at London, but the French 'everywhere else."

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Pope writes in his own style, the difference of manner is still more conspicuous.

Abstract or general terms have no good effect in any composition for amusement; because it is only of particular objects that images can be formed. Shakspeare's style in that respect is excellent: every article

: in his descriptions is particular, as in nature; and if, accidentally, a vague expression slip in, the blemish is discernible by the

bluntness of its expression.
In the fine arts, it is a rule to put the capital objects
in the strongest point of view; and even to present
them oftener than once, where it can be done. In
history-painting, the principal figure is placed in the
front, and in the best light: an equestrian statue is
placed in the centre of streets, that it may be seen
from many places at once. In no composition is there
greater opportunity for this rule than in writing;

Full many a lady
I've ey'd with best regard, and many a time
Th’harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
Brought my too diligent ear; for several virtues
Have I lik'd several women, never any
With so full soul, but some defect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she own'd,
And put it to the foil. But you, O you,
So perfect, and so peerless, are created
Of ev'ry creature's best. TEMPEST.-Act III. Sc. 1

Orlando. Whate'er you are
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time;
If ever you have look'd on better days;
If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church ;
If ever sat at any good man's feast;
If ever from your eyelids wip'd a tear,
And know what 'tis to pity and be pitied;
Let gentleness my strong enforcement be,
In the which hope I blush and hide my sword.

Duke sen. True is it that we have seen better days;
And have with hüly bell been knoll’d to church;
And sat at good men's feasts; and wip'd our eyes
Of drops that sacred pity had engender'd:
And therefore sit you down in gentleness,
And take upon command what help we have,
That to your wanting may be minister'd.


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With thee conversing I forget all time:
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herbs, tree, fruit, and flow'r,
Glist'ning with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild, and silent night
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heav'n, her starry train.
But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest bird, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flow'r,
Glist'ning with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon
Or glitt'ring starlight, without thee is sweet.

PARADISE LOST.-Book IV 1. 634. The repetitions in Homer, which are frequent, have been the occasion of much criticism. Suppose we were at a loss about the reason, might not taste be sufficient to justify them? At the same time, we are at no loss about the reason; they evidently make the narration dramatic, and have an air of truth, by making things appear as passing in our sight. But such repetitions are unpardonable in a didactic poem. In one of Hesiod's poems of that kind, a long passage occurs twice in the same chapter.

A concise comprehensive style is a great ornament in narration; and superfluity of unnecessary words, no less than of circumstances, a great nuisance. A judicious selection of the striking circumstances, clothed in a nervous style, is delightful. In this style, Tacitus excels all writers ancient and modern.

After Tacitus, Ossian in that respect justly merits the place of distinction. . One cannot go wrong for examples in any part of the book; and at the first opening the following instance meets the eye:

Nathos clothed his limbs in shining, steel. The stride of the chief is lovely; the joy of his eye terrible. The wind rustles in his hair. Carthula is silent at his side: her look is fixed on the chief. Striving to hide the rising sigh, two tears swell in her eye.

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