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they halted on a gentle slope, and while yet trembling in their garments, a loud swell of vocal music burst forth on the night air from beneatht he sycamore that shadowed the haunted spot, and the words, which were distinctly audible, were these :
My name was Robert Kidd,
As I sailed, as I sailed;
As I sailed! The whole mystery was at once explained. The strange vessel, and the yet stranger crew, were now identified ; and had the wrecker only sooner known the nature of the beings with whom he had been dealing, he could have saved himself all his trouble : for all LongIsland well knew that it was utterly impossible ever to disturb the buried treasures of Robert Kidd. By him alone, or some one of his pirate crew, could they be recovered.
H. H. R.
SUGGESTED BY A VISIT TO THE SHAKER SETTLEMENT, NEAR ALBANY.
MYSTERIOUS worshippers !
From all that stirs
Are the gay visions gone,
And battled on;
Does memory never roam
Your early homes ?
Has not ambition's pæan
The camp — the council — all
Have ye forgot your youth,
Seeming all truth
Man, in the exercise of those native powers of speech bestowed upon him by his Creator, after passing out of that state of ignorance and savagism in which he could utter only those interjections and exclamations, which are mere natural cries, significant of the passions and emotions which occupied his mind, and in which he is equalled, if not surpassed, by inferior animals, would proceed to designate, by articulate sounds and modifications of voice, the objects around him, together with their actions or operations upon each other. Hence the evident soundness of Aristotle's opinion, that the nouns or names of things, and the verbs expressive of their actions and passions, would be the first parts of speech used by our race in the transmission of their thoughts, as they continue ever afterward the most important constituents in the machinery of language. To these all the other elementary parts are added in the progress of human improvement, and language attains a perfection and refinement, which render it a finished vehicle for the conveyance of the profoundest demonstrations of reason, the most remote discoveries of science, the sublimest flights of imagination, and the most delicate shades of thought and perception. Nor need we wonder, that commencing from such few and simple materials and scanty supplies, amidst the interminable progression of civilized nations in knowledge and the arts, we should at last find it, in its most finished state, exhibiting a consummate skill and contrivance in its construction, reducible to precise and established rules and analogies, and while retaining a similarity of outline among all nations, so as to lay a foundation for the principles of general grammar, yet so flexible in its minuter parts
as to become susceptible of an admirable adaptation to the wants, occupations, pursuits, and improvements, of each peculiar people to whose uses it is applied. Why should it be thought incredible, or even wonderful, that mankind should display judgment or skill in this production of their ingenuity, when they act under the guidance of nature, or rather under the direction of his hand and supervision of his eye, whose skill is more consummate than we can conceive, and whose wisdom and power are infinite ? Does not the great Contriver lead his creatures unerringly by their instincts and propensities in the pursuit of wholesome aliments, the gratification of their appetites and passions, the construction of commodious habitations for themselves, and the propagation of their species? What power is it that leads the ant to make provision in summer for the inclement season of winter - the bee to procure and garner its honey in the comb-and the beaver to contrive its cell ? And when the poet, by his invention, gives rise to his dramatic or epic production, in the outset of his enterprise, and before art has furnished him lessons, what other instructor but nature enables him to produce his Iliad or Odyssey ? Shall that power which, in the course of its operations, can elicit the exquisite contrivances of the human frame, and of all animated creation, as well as the order and harmonious movements of the planetary system, be thought incapable of conducting mankind to the formation of a finished language, whatever may be the regularity of its laws, and the exactness of its adaptation to its uses ? I conclude, therefore, upon a review of the whole argument in its favor, as well as by many other considerations which might be readily adduced, which would leave scarcely any room for hesitation, or a hinge upon which a doubt might bang, that man is the inventor, improver, and perfecter of both spoken and written language, in all its stages of improvement and perfection.
We are now prepared for an investigation of the next subject of inquiry, what are the various forms of style which come under the designation of fine writing, and what are faulty and exceptionable ? We have already remarked, that every species of composition, to merit this first distinction, must be characterized by good sense, sound knowledge, just sentiments, a faithful conformity to truth and nature, and where wit, pleasantry, and merriment are attempted, must be restrained within the bounds of probability and verisimilitude. When solid and useful materials are presupposed, the qualities which will recommend works to perusal, are a simple elegance of expression, or what Horace denominates, a style simplex munditiis; propriety and correctness in the selection of terms to convey our ideas, or the use of those terms which have been sanctioned by the best authorities ; clearness and precision, without which properties our conceptions are dimly discerned, and finally, strength and descriptiveness, which depend upon the frugal employment of words, and the force and fertility of the imagination.
There is an ineffable charm in perfect simplicity, when it is connected with elegance of thought and diction; so that the writer seems to pour fourth his conceptions without reflection or artifice from the overflowing abundance of his own resources ; and if there be richness, beauty, or sublimity in his conceptions, they appear to be the spontaneous productions
of the soil. The judicious selection of words, and the proper employment of figures, appear to be the two requisites in good writing, in regard to which authors of inferior merit are most apt to err, and concerning which, the greatest skill, management, and address, are to be displayed. The words and phrases selected should be pure and genuine English, or such as have been incorporated into our literature by the practice of the best authors. Nothing can be more offensive to a correct taste, than the pedantry and affectation displayed by some authors, when they interlard their style with those quotations from the French, which, of late years, have taken the place of references to the Greek and Latin classics, so frequent soon after the revival of learning in Europe. Our tongue is now so copious and flexible, that we can never be at a loss to transmit every shade of thought and modification of feeling, without any recurrence to foreign help. If Swift and Addison, in their times, complained of this innovation, and reprobated the attempt to corrupt the purity and impair the beauty of their own speech by French phrases, what would be their dissatisfaction, could they witness the license assumed in this respect by many writers at the present day? The two great and distinguishing imperfections of English composition, at this time, are, on the one hand, an excessive intermixture of French phrases with our native speech, and an incessant propensity to shine in superfluous ornament. Recent writers too generally endeavor to make amends for solid matter and just conceptions, by the spangles of French quotations, striking illustrations, and sparkling imagery.
One of the sensible correspondents of Miss Hannah More observes to her, that she and Mr. Burke were the only writers of her day who seemed to understand the proper use of metaphors; and perhaps he here suggests one of the least fallible tests, save that of the ideas themselves, by which an able author may be discriminated. Very few persons are expert in the employment of metaphors, which require as much nicety in the management of the pen, as the laying on of coloring does to the painter. They are almost always either too profusely developed, or too unskilfully mingled, producing confusion in the picture - originating at first in the barrenness of language, and the want of terms to express abstract ideas and invisible feelings of the mind, the figures of speech are soon found to afford entertainment to the imagination, and thus the pleasure they occasion betrays mankind into a too liberal indulgence in them. It is not until a community arrive at the highest perfection in science and letters, that they learn to pronounce a correct decision in regard to the degree of embellishment which should be admitted into their discourse and writings. And it is a point of no small difficulty to the rhetorician, to ascertain at what stage in our progress the highest degree of legitimate ornament terminates, and where excessive decoration begins. When should we begin to be figurative, and when should we be contented with plain language ? When do these embellishments assist in the communication of thought, and when are they injurious and objectionable ?— are questions which nothing but a correct taste can solve, and are scarcely to be determined by precise rules. Whole nations have differed in their sentiments upon the subject; the glowing imagination of people in the East, and warmer latitudes, where their
temperaments are more ardent, allowing a richer imagery than would be relished or tolerated by nations, whose constitutions are cooled and minds sobered by the temperate and northern climates. Making full allowance, however, for that diversity of taste subsisting among mankind, arising out of their constitutional temperament and habits of conversation and writing, there must be some precise limits at which the decorations of style, like those of dress, begin to be truly advantageous and ornamental, and at which they become useless and positively detrimental. To arrive at just conclusions in this weighty matter, let us reflect upon the purpose which language is intended to answer, which is, undoubtedly, to communicate information and instruction, to persuade to a course of action, or to furnish rational amusement. To attain the first of these ends, all that can be necessary, supposing the thoughts to be good, is a judicious selection of the most expressive words, a right collocation of them, and those chastened ornaments which, like a tasteful dress to the person, serve rather to recommend the ideas, than to furnish additional entertainment to the mind. Nothing can be more egregiously misplaced, than splendid flourishes of rhetoric, vehemence of spirit, and bold and passionate figures of speech, in the calm disquisitions of science. By such artifices as these, philosophy, instead of preserving her grave and manly air, dignified tread and demeanor, and authoritative mode of address, awakens a just suspicion of her imbecility, and that she is endeavoring to gain, by management and indirect expedients, that assent and submission to her doctrines, which she should seek only through the force of truth. In matters of persuasion and entertainment, a wider field is opened for the display of decorations and flights of fancy, always taking care, however, still to maintain a just medium between a flat, tame, and barren style, and that which is florid, glittering and rampant, or rantipole. The history of literature, both in ancient and modern times, reveals to us three distinct stages in the mode of writing. The first is that in which mankind commence the task of communicating their thoughts upon paper, when they are contented with the simple expression of the sentiments which fill their own minds, and interest their feelings; the second, in which they attain to the highest perfection; and the third, in which they take delight in excessive decoration. The progress which men make in fine writing, resembles that which is observable in their indulgence of the luxuries of the table. When they have obtained the gratification of all those wholesome viands which regale the appetite for food, and nourish and invigorate the body, they then strive to enhance their sensual enjoyment, by stimulating condiments, and all the arts of refined cookery. So, also, is it found in fine writing. When nations have produced authors who amuse and instruct them by the most finished productions of genius, productions in which are comprised every species of natural and becoming ornament, the public taste begins to demand those performances which more strongly excite their feelings, and enchant their imaginations. This is the excess into which writing degenerated in Greece, after the age of Aristotle and Demosthenes, and in Rome, after that of Cicero, Horace, and Virgil. Since the times of Anne, in England, and of Louis XIV., in France, it must be perceptible to every philosophic observer, that,