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THIS Grammar of Rhetoric is designed to succeed, in the course
pleased or displeased critics in the perusal of the best models of littrary composition. It is presumed, that young minds will thus begin to think and feel for themselves; and, by the directions they receive, acquire confidence in their own powers, of approving or disapproving whatever falls under their general reasonings, in the higher qualities of composition. True criticism will teach the student, how he may escape those errors and mistakes, to which he may be exposed, either from not understanding, or from misapplying her established rules. But to render her assistance most effectual, the Author has dwelt very fully on the principles of GRAMMAT1cAL PURITY, as it respects barbarisms, scleeisms, waiotisms, vulgarisms, impropriety on phrases, and as it teaches precision of expression in speech or writing. THE NATURE AND STR U cTUP E of SENTENcEs, THE GENERAL PR IN CIPLES OF PER SPICUITY, AND THE HAR Mony of PEI, IoDS. which are illustrated in Book THIRD, have unfolded luinerous errors to \e avoided in the structure of set:tences, and the arrangement of single words. The qualities of vn1ty and STRENGTH, in the structure of sentences, have gathered around them a series of rules, which, if applied to the exercises that the pupil should be required to write, cannot fail to enlighten his mind, and govern his judgment, in the principles and practice of composition. It was necessary, however, to show, how much PERSP1cuity of LANGUAGE and style contributed to the elegance of classical compositions and eloquence ; and, accordingly, this matter is treated precisely as Dr. Campbell has treated it, in his “Philosophy of Rhetoric.” No writer has yet excelled Dr. Blair, in luminous views of the “Harmony of Periods;” and these views we have embodied in this Grammar. - - in Book Four TH, the principal “Rhetorical Figures,” are treated at great length, and illustrated by copious examples, without, however, encumbering the mind of the pupil with catalogues from the ancient critics, of other figures partly grammatical and partly rhetorical, which would have furnished little instruction, and less amusement. For it is, perhaps, not the least task on the part of the instructors of youth, to render their precepts engaging, by vivacity of imagination, and the charms of genuine ornament. This, however, is an inferior merit, when compared with the chasteness and morality which should distinguish examples and illustrations, selected for youth. The principles of virtue and honour, of delicacy and refined taste, are, it is hoped, inculcated throughout these examples, with that assiduity, which will entitle the Author to the humble reputation of having laboured to improve in those for whom he wrote, the important habits of a religious education. In Book FIFTH, the NATURE OF TASTE, and THE sources of Its PLEASUREs, compiled partly from Dr. Blair's Lectures, partly from Lord Kames's Elements of Criticism, and agreeably to Alison's “Essays on Taste,” have been set in such lights, as may enable the youthful mind to attain some practical acquaintance with the productions of genius, in Poetry, Sculpture, or Painting: A correct
perception of the excellencies of composition and eloquence, is closely connected with a knowledge of the productions in the fine arts. The young student, on being made acquainted with the principles which regulate the standard of taste, so far from learning to suspend the exercise of his own judgment, is taught to investigate the grounds upon which those principles are supported, and in comparing them with the simple dictates of his own mind, to form, from the various sources which reading and reflection may afford him, the elements of rearing for himself a standard of taste, to which, in more matured life, he may refer such productions of the fine arts, or of polite literature, as fall under his observation.
Book sixth, appropriated to the general characters of style, treats, first, of the diffuse and concise styles of composition; secondly, of the dry, plain, neat, elegant, and flowing styles ; thirdly, of the simple, affected, and vehement styles; and then, gives directions for forming style. Of what importance the illustrations and examples of these several styles must be in the composition of themes, it is superfluous here to speak. The remaining chapters of Book VI. are devoted to “The Conduct of a Discourse in all its Parts;”— to “Historical Writing,”—“..Annals,”—“JMemoirs,”—“ Biography,”—“Philosophical Writing,”—“Dialogue,” and “Epistolary Correspondence.”
In Book SEventh, the origin and different kinds of Poetry are handled more with a view to form the pupil's taste for the study of Poetry, than to inspire him with the thirst of reaping fame in the doubtful field of poetic composition. Yet, to those whose genius may lead them that way, the principles of poetic composition, of its several styles, and of the ornaments which it admits, cannot fail to prove useful.
The conclusion of the work treats of pronunciation, or delivery, as it respects, chiefly, public speaking; and here, as in Book VI, and VII. the labours of the Author's predecessors have chiefly furnished principles and illustrations.