Page images
PDF
EPUB

OF TWO DISPUTANTS THE WARMEST IS GENERALLY

IN THE WRONG.

Our experience would lead us to quite an opposite conclusion. Temper, indeed, is no test of truth; but warmth and earnestness are a proof at least of a man's own conviction of the rectitude of that which he maintains. Coolness is as often the result of an unprincipled indifference to truth or falsehood, as of a sober confidence in a man's own side in a dispute. Nothing is more insulting sometimes than the appearance of this philosophic temper. There is little Titubus, the stammering law-stationer in Lincoln'sInn—we have seldom known this shrewd little fellow engaged in an argument where we were not convinced he had the best of it, if his tongue would but fairly have seconded him. When he has been spluttering excellent broken sense for an hour together, writhing and labouring to be delivered of the point in dispute—the very gist of the controversy knocking at his teeth, which like some obstinate iron-grating still obstructed its deliverance-his puny frame convulsed, and face reddening all over at an unfairness in the logic which he wanted articulation to expose, it has moved our gall to see a smooth portly fellow of an adversary, that cared not a button for the merits of the question, by merely laying his hand upon the head of the stationer, and desiring him to be calm (your tall disputants have always the advantage), with a provoking sneer carry the argument clean from him in the opinion of all the by-standers, who have gone away clearly convinced that Titubus must have been in the wrong, because he was in a passion; and that Mr.

-, meaning his opponent, is one of the fairest and at the same time one of the most dispassionate arguers breathing.-Essays of Elia.

EXAMPLE FOR PRACTICE.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief;
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,

And I again am strong.
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep, -
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong:
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,

And all the earth is gay;

Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,

And with the heart of May
Doth every beast keep holiday ;-

Thou child of joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy

shepherd-boy!

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call

Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee ;
My heart is at your festival,

My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.

O evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning

This sweet May-morning,
And the children are culling

On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,

Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm
And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm :

I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

-But there's a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone :

The pansy at my feet

Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam ?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream ?

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,

Hath liad elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar :
Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home : Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy;
The youth, who daily farther from the east

Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended ;
At length the man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.-Wordsworth, Ode.

These examples have been given to show how the English Language may be worked. The writer is perfectly aware that different views can be taken of many clauses. His aim has been in all cases to follow the sense in classifying combinations of words; and where the sense was doubtful to be guided by the place of the words in the sentence. It matters little, if this is carefully done, whether views as to the best rendering of any given passage agree or not.

All training in Grammar and Language ought to be based, and can be based, on our own speech. It is idle to teach the unknown by the unknown, as is the case when children are taught(?) Grammar, which they do not understand, in Latin, which they do not understand. Those who love the English Language will find the English Language capable of being made the foundation of all language-knowledge by a little common sense and thought in handling it. And a subject which works by common sense rather than by cut-and-dried rules is fitted on that very account to be a training subject,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

FIGURATIVE language is very commonly employed, and is almost unavoidable in speaking or writing of any subject beyond the range of the most ordinary circumstances of life; so much so that nearly every sentence in a book contains some figurative expression, generally a metaphor.

The most common figures of speech are metaphor and simile ; but grammarians have enumerated a great many, minutely distinguished, and called them by Greek names.

The principal Figures of Speech are the following :

Simile illustrates an object by comparing it with another, with which it has some point of resemblance:

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm in the bud,

Prey on her damask cheek.' Metaphor is simile without the sign. It is a bolder figure, and instead of saying that one thing is like another, says it is another :

• The moping owl does to the moon complain.'

“The wind murmured in reply.'
A Trope is a single word used in a figurative sense:

• Brave Peers of England, pillars of the state.'
"I hate to learn the ebb of time
From yon dull steeple's drowsy chime;
Or mark it as the shadows crawl
Inch after inch along the wall.'

'I bridle in my struggling muse with pain,
That longs to launch into a bolder strain.'

Allegory is a simile or metaphor continued through several sentences. Parables and fables are allegories.

Hyperbole is poetical exaggeration :

• The sea rolled mountains high.'

“This hand should rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green-one red.'

Irony is an expression the exact contrary of what we mean, used for the sake of force of language:

* How very obliging!' 'Oh, thank you!' Well done!'

Metonymy is the substitution of one word for another:
The kettle boils.' 'He assumed the sceptre' (for the sovereignty).

6

Synecdoche puts the part for the whole, or the whole for the part:

* And we far away on the billow' (for the sea).

Prosopopoeia, or Personification, speaks of abstractions, or of inanimate or irrational things, as if they were persons :

"Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,

And Melancholy marked him for her own.'
• He rushes to his burning bed' (spoken of the sun).

Apostrophe addresses an absent person, or an inanimate object, or an abstraction, as if it could hear, in the vocative

case:

[ocr errors]

Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled !'
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll !'

Antithesis places opposite ideas in contrast:

His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly.'
'The liveried army, and the menial lord.'

« PreviousContinue »