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should extract improvement from the lot of others that is harder; and step aside sometimes from the flowery and smooth paths which it is permitted us to walk in, in order to view the toilsome march of our fellow-creatures through the thorny desert.
Write a critical examination of the following passages, commenting particularly on the clearness, unity, strength, and harmony, in the structure of the sen
1. “If we consider the works of nature and of art, as they are qualified to entertain the imagination, we shall find the latter very defective in comparison of the former ; for, though they may sometimes appear as beautiful and strange, they can have nothing in them of that vastness and immensity, which afford so great an entertainment to the mind of a beholder.”
In this sentence, the subject of discourse is the “works of nature and of art.” These the author first considers together, and then draws a conclusion, that the latter are very inferior to the former. Having completed one distinct proposition, he should here have ended his first sentence. But, instead of doing so, he proceeds to the proofs of his conclusion; and thus introduces another proposition, which, to preserve unity of thought, should have been stated in a sentence by itself. If the author had expressed himself in two sentences, rather than in one, we should have had a much clearer idea of the subject. Besides, by such a division, an improvement would have been made in the perspicuity of the language; as it is not very obvious at first whether the pronoun “they” refers to the works of nature or of art.
2. “I can more readily admire the liberal spirit and integrity, than the sound judgment, of any man who prefers a republican form of government, in this or any other empire of equal extent, to a monarchy so qualified and limited as ours. I am convinced, that neither is it in theory the wisest system of government, nor at all practicable in this country. Yet, though I hope the English constitution will for ever preserve its monarchical form, I would have an implicit submission to the laws only ; and an affection to the magistrate, proportioned to the integrity and wisdom with which he distributes justice to his people, and administers their affairs.” In these sentences, every idea is expressed with the utmost brevity; every word is significant, and none is introduced but what is requisite to convey the meaning. The mind is entertained with some new thought in every member of the sentence; while the words employed are chosen with accuracy, and the ideas are expressed with decision. The style, indeed, is destitute of smoothness and elegance; but, as it was the intention of the author to convince the understanding, he has therefore adopted vigorous expressions and short sentences, which are best adapted to make a forcible impression on the mind.
1. The English are naturally fanciful, and very often disposed, by that gloominess and melancholy of temper which is so frequent in our nation, to many wild notions and visions, to which others are not so liable. 2. By soothing those inequalities, which the necessary difference of ranks and conditions has introduced into society, religion not only reconciles us to the highest eminences of life, but leads us to consider them as affording to the social world, that sublime contrast which the landscape derives from the diversity of hill and dale, and as sending down those streams of benignity which refresh and gladden the lower stations. 3. The usual acceptation takes profit and pleasure for two different things, and not only calls the followers or votaries of them by several names of busy and idle men, but distinguishes the faculties of the mind that are conversant about them, calling the operations of the first wisdom, and of the other wit, which is a Saxon word that is used to express what the Spaniards and Italians call ingenio, and the French esprit, both from the Latin; but I think wit more peculiarly signifies that of poetry, as may occur upon remarks on the Runic language. 4. There are few personages in history who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than Queen Elizabeth; and yet there is scarcely any whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have at last, in spite of political factions, and what is more, of religious animosities, produced a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct.
THE LANGUAGE in which ideas are expressed may be either plain or figurative. Language is said to be plain, when it is to be understood according to its literal and ordinary signification; as, “A good man enjoys comfort in the midst of adversity.” Language is said to be figurative, when, either by the words employed, or by the peculiar manner of their application or arrangement, ideas are expressed with the addition of circumstances which render the impression more strong and vivid; as, ‘To the upright there ariseth light in darkness.” Figures in language are divided into two kinds, figures of nords or tropes, and figures of thought. In tropes, the words are employed to signify something different from their original and ordinary meaning; as, “A clear head;’ ‘A hard heart.” In figures of thought, the words are used in their literal meaning, but are not applied or arranged in the ordinary manner; as, “Awake, O snoord, against my shepherd.” The figures of words and thought, which most frequently occur, are, Metaphor, Comparison, Allegory, Personification, Apostrophe, Hyperbole, Antithesis, and Climaa.
Metaphor is a figure founded on the resemblance of two objects, the name and properties of the one being ascribed to the other; as, ‘Thy nord is a lamp unto my feet.’
The following rules ought to be observed in the use of metaphors:—
I. Metaphors should be suited to the nature of the subject of which we treat, being neither too numerous, too gay, nor too elevated. II. Metaphors should never be drawn from objects which are mean or disagreeable. III. Metaphors should be founded on points of resemblance, which are neither far-fetched, nor difficult to be discovered. IV. Metaphors should be expressed in simple and appropriate language. V. Metaphors should not be mixed together in the same sentence, nor crowded on the same object. VI. Metaphorical and plain language should not be so interwoven, that part of a sentence must be understood figuratively, and part literally. VII. Metaphors should not be too far pursued.
Express the following ideas in metaphorical language:– EXAMPLE.
It was now growing dark, and objects could not be distinctly seen in the twilight.
Now came still ev'ning on, and twilight grey
1. The water of the lake was without motion.
2. He could not be seen on account of the darkness of the night.
3. The grass grows in the meadows in spring, and summer soon succeeds.
4. There are scenes in nature, which are pleasant when we are sad, as well as when we are cheerful. 5. The number of people who are alive, is small compared with those who have died. 6. Wise men may suffer hardships in the present world, and foolish persons must find trouble. 7. Perfect taste knows how to unite nature with art, without destroying the simplicity of nature in the connexion.
Comparison, or Simile, is a figure founded on the resemblance of two objects, the one being likened to the other; as, “The actions of princes are like those great rivers, the course of which every one beholds, but the springs of which have been seen by few.’
The following rules ought to be observed in the use of comparison :
I. Comparisons should not be drawn between objects, the resemblance of which to one another is either too near and obvious, or too remote and faint. II. Comparisons should not be drawn from images which are disagreeable or profane. III. Comparisons, when used for the purpose of illustration, should be taken from objects better known than those to be explained. IV. Comparisons, when used for embellishment, should be drawn from objects that are important and dignified.
Find comparisons for the following objects:—
A troubled conscience.