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make inferences and draw conclusions, to explain and exhibit. Barrenness of style, when arising from this source, will be remedied by increased maturity of the mind and improved discipline of its powers. It may be of service also to direct the attention to the modes of amplification used by those, who in this respect excel.
A luxuriant style, which is the opposite of that just described, is characterized by a redundancy of words and phrases, especially by a profusion of imagery and exuberance of figurative language. The writer, instead of selecting that which is choice and best fitted to the subject and occasion, seems to give us all his thoughts, and the different conceits, both as to form of expression and ornament, which have offered themselves to his mind. Sometimes, also, there is an attempt to write in a commanding and imposing manner, which manifests itself in many and extravagant epithets and figures, and an affected fulness and flow of expression
Luxuriance of style, in young writers, is ascribed to the glow and excitement of mind natural to the early period of life. It is looked upon as the overflowings of youthful feelings, and often pronounced to be ominous of good; for it is anticipated, that when more maturity of mind shall have been obtained, and the ardor of youthful feeling cooled, what is exuberant and extravagant will give place to richness and force of expression.
Another cause, to which this mode of writing is sometimes ascribed, is the temperament of the individual writer. He belongs to a class of men who are wont to be easily and strongly excited. Hence, whatever may be the subject or occasion on which he writes, he becomes at once impassioned in his style.
In other instances, and those in which perhaps a remedy may most easily be applied, luxuriance of style may be traced to some erroneous impressions as to wherein a good style
consists. An undue importance is ascribed to figures and ornaments, and the writer prides himself on his command of language and the rapid and ready flow of his expressions. Having been struck with the fervency and imposing character of some admired passages in his favorite authors, he endeavors on all occasions and subjects to manifest an equal warmth and power of expression. Thus the rules and principles of good taste are violated, and the writer becomes extravagant and verbose.
To correct the faults of a luxuriant style, a strict and careful revision is enjoined. Not only should all unnecessary words and phrases be struck out, but in some instances it
may be required to recast the whole sentence. Particular attention should also be given to whatever is of a figurative nature in the composition. Nothing of this kind should be introduced, which is not strictly chaste and fitted to the subject and occasion. It may further · be recommended to the luxuriant writer, occasionally to select some familiar and common topic as the subject of his composition. In this way the impropriety of any uncommon elevation and luxuriance of style, will become obvious to the writer himself.
FORCIBLE and VEHEMENT. We apply the epithet forcible to a style of writing, which, in a plain, distinct and irresistible manner, urges upon us the opinions and views of the writer. It is an evidence of excitement. The writer is interested in his subject, and is desirous that others may have the same feelings with himself. But it more especially implies a full persuasion of the truth and importance of what is said, and such an exhibition of the reasons of this persuasion, as cannot fail to produce conviction on the part of the reader. Hence it is dependent in a great degree on the intellectual habits, and implies a well disciplined minda mind accustomed to comprehensive, methodical and strong views of subjects. It requires also skill in the use of language, but derives little aid from what are called the ornaments of style.
When to sound and convincing arguments, clearly and forcibly exhibited, is added a highly excited state of feeling, vehemence of style is the result. It is from this deeper current of feeling, implied by the latter term, that the shade of difference between a forcible and vehement style arises. This excitement of feeling may spring from the greater importance of the subject, or from the more intense interest felt in it by the writer. An able political writer, in a production on an electioneering question, might be forcible in nis style. But let this same writer be called to treat on some subject deeply affecting the welfare of his country, and he becomes vehement.
The forcible and vehement styles are well suited to the discussion of political subjects; and in the past history of our country, especially about the time of our revolution, maay examples are to be found. Among others, the writings of Patrick Henry, of James Otis, and of President Adams, may be mentioned. Controversial writings on other subjects are also often forcible, and our age has furnished some good examples of the vehement style among divines. Chalmers may be mentioned as a writer of this class.
Opposed to the forcible and the vehement style, is that manner of writing which is called feeble, and languid. A distinction may be made between these epithets, similar to that made between forcible and vehement. The former has reference to strength of reasoning, and energy of thought; the latter to the degree of excitement which is manifested. Hence it is, that a feeble and languid manner of writing is indicative of the whole character of the writer. The man whose style is feeble and languid is usually slothful in his habits, and inefficient in his plans and conduct. His view of his subject is cold and indistinct. His words are general,
and destitute of that vivacity which results from the use of more specific terms. His sentences are often long, and the clauses and members loosely connected. The parenthesis is much used; and not unfrequently we find at the close of a sentence an appendage, which is evidently designed to save the trouble of forming a new sentence.
Attempts after force and vehemence of style, when un. supported by strength of thought and real feeling, become rant and declamation. In such instances, instead of strong reasoning, we have confident assertions; and for clear, impressive views of the subject, we have frequent repetitions, and bold declarations of its clearness. Instead of being left ourselves to discern the depth of the writer's feelings, we are told how deeply he feels; and all the artificial helps of vivacity, as exclamation, interrogation, antithesis and climax, are called to his aid. But while force and vehemence of style, like a deep and powerful current, sweep every obstacle before them, rant and declamation are fitly represented by the broad and shallow stream, specious and noisy, but powerless.
ELEVATED and DIGNIFIED. The foundations of an elevated style are laid in the thoughts. And these have more of originality and sublimity about them, than those which flow through the minds of less gifted men. There is also a fervor by which the writer seems to be urged onwards not an impetuous and violent feeling, but calm and powerful
Ordinarily, in reading a production in an elevated style our attention is too much engrossed by the thoughts, to per. mit us to regard the language in which they are conveyed; and if at any time we stop with this object in view, it is but to feel and express our admiration. The words used are those, which, from the associations connected with them, are well suited to the feelings and thoughts that have possession of our minds. But the selection of these words seems not the
result of effort and care. They have sprung up in the mind simultaneously with the thoughts themselves, and we regard them as the language in which the author ordinarily thinks and converses.
The sentences are full and flowing, but at the same time unlabored, and simple in their composition. There is also a uniformity about them, which is characteristic of an elevated style. In more common styles you will find here and there a striking thought, or a bold expression, while other parts are thrown in as subsidiary or as connecting the more prominent thoughts. But in the elevated style, every sentence has its meaning and its importance. The whole abounds in thought, and there is a majesty and grandeur in the quiet but resistless power, with which it holds its undisturbed and even way. We
e can hardly with propriety speak of the ornaments of an elevated style. This word implies something put on with the design of pleasing ; but in the kind of style I am describing, figurative language, and all that is included under the head of ornament, seems rather to arise from a kind of inspiration, than from any design of pleasing; and the effect produced in the mind of the reader is a grateful exaltation of feeling The definition which Longinus has given of sublimity, is in such instances happily exemplified. We seem to put ourselves in the place of the author, and as if the thought were our own, we glory in the grandeur and nobleness of the conception.
In applying the epithet dignified to style, there is a reference to true dignity, in distinction from the air of importance which sometimes assumes this name. Considered in this light, it is allied to the elevated style, but differs from it, in that there is less of ease and naturalness in its character. The attitudes and movements of dignified men, are often the results of design and study, and similar art and labor are