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ject: such is that parenthesis, I say then (and I
always continue fixed upon my principles.)' It is puerile and far-fetched, whenever it forms an affected and unusual periphrasis : as when sundials have been called the registers of the sun.' But it becomes descriptive and just, when it is expressed with simplicity and energy. It is thus that Bossuet describes the demands of luxury, when he says, that every art is exhausted (literally sweats) to satisfy them.'*
When Bossuet makes use of a Metaphor which seems bold, he sometimes apologises; and presently he rises upon that description, which he does not find sufficiently great nor daring.
Shall I speak to you,' says he in the funeral Oration for Maria Theresa, shall I speak to you concerning the death of her children? Let us
* To avoid such improprieties as those mentioned by our author, it is of importance to bear in mind what Dr. BLAIR says on this subject ,- “A good rule has been *given for examining the propriety of Metaphors, when we doubt whether or not they be of the mixed kind ; namely, that we should try to form a picture upon them, and consider how the parts would agree, and what sort of figure
the whole would present, when delineated with a pencil. "By these means, we should become sensible whether inconsistent circumstances were mixed, and a monstrous • image thereby produced ; or whether the object was, all * along, presented in one natural and consistent point of 'view'-BLAIR's Lectures, vol. i. p. 311.
figure to ourselves that young Prince, whom the graces themselves appear to have formed
with their hands. Forgive me this expression: (methinks I still behold this flower falling. At " that time the sorrowful messenger of an event
so fatal, I was also the witness, when beholding * the King and Queen, of the most piercing grief
one hand, and, on the other, of the most mournful lamentations, and under different • forms I saw an unbounded affliction.'
An idea which would be common, were it not for the boldness of the imagination which sometimes gives sensation to inanimate beings, becomes interesting under the pencil of an Orator or a Poet.
Eloquence, I know, hath less extensive privileges than Poetry. The latter is exempted, according to the judicious observation of Boileau, from all the set forms of excuse to which Prose is subjected : e. g. “Pardon this expression-50
to speak-if I may venture to say so,' &c. We often find, however, in excellent Orators, Metaphors which we should be scrupulous about hazarding in verse. Those figures are so transfused through the style, that they are scarcely observed in the perusal.
Racine was, doubtless, struck with that expression in the sermon on the mixture of the righte
ous and the wicked,' where MASSILLON says,
the righteous man can with boldness condemn ' in others, that which he disallows in himself ; • his instructions do not put his conduct to the
blush ;' as he had expressed his admiration of that other Metaphor, which is in the same discourse ; the Courtiers of Zedekiah charged the * tears and dismal predictions of Jeremiah, occa
sioned by the ruin of Jerusalem, with a secret desire of -pleasing the king of Babylon, who was besieging that unfortunate city.'
OF TECHNICAL EXPRESSIONS.
LET us never confound with this elegant lan
guage of the imagination, those technical words, which could only appertain to the vocabulary of sciences.
Pity on an Orator, when it is necessary to be learned in order to understand him !
It is not to excite astonishment by the display of his learning, that he speaks to an assembled multitude ; it is to move, it is to affect them: and he mistakes his object, if he prefer those abstract and intellectual expressions, which the vulgar do not comprehend, to those tender and ardent ones, which produce a general impression.
A Christian Orator is under still stronger obligation to address his hearers with that simplicity of style, without which he will never be truly eloquent. All men are bound to practise the du- , ties of religion ; it is, therefore, requisite that all may be able to understand the minister who ans nounces them. But, let us once more repeat it, the discharge of zeal in this, as in every other part of a sermon, is inseparable from the rules of art.
Is it your desire to be eloquent? Be simple. I go
farther-Be familiar in your discourses.*
* "Youth,' says M. ROLLIN, cannot be made too sen ósible of the character of simplicity which runs through the • writings of the ancients. They should be accustomed to • study nature in all things, and be assured that the best
eloquence is that which is the most natural, and least far. • fetched. The Grecians gave it a very significant name,
OCCEEld, which is pretty near what Horace calls simplex • munditiis, an elegant simplicity.'--Rollin's Belles Lettres, vol. i. p. 59.
"A writer of simplicity,' says Dr. BLAIR, expresses himself in such a manner, that every one thinks he could have written in the same way; Horace describes it :
Ut sibi quivis
conceive of nothing transcending that which he beholds.
However little we may have accustomed ourselves to write, we easily distinguish those passages, which have not been sufficiently studied, and which proceeded from the pen of the writer, before they had been thoroughly digested in his own mind. This hasty or negligent composition soon discovers itself, not, as is commonly supposed, by the pleasing freedom of a diction somewhat too unrestrained and irregular, but by the confusion of expression, all the constituent parts of which are stiff and forced.
The more the writer hurries himself, the more dragging, of course, is his style. And, when it is said that a writing “smells of the lamp,” it is an evident proof that it is not sufficiently laboured.
When the steel hath been well polished, the edge of the file is no more perceived.