Page images

'metaphysical and moral reasonings, and to toil in the 'wearisome study of the long and intricate solutions of mathematical principles, is acquiring that discipline of 'the mind which fits him to distinguish himself as an 'able writer.""

"The chapter on Literary Taste is well written, and calculated to give just ideas of the peculiar merits of different authors; it also happily illustrates the proper use of rhetorical figures. The chapter on Style is an interesting exposition of the qualities of a good style, and the modes of writing which characterize different individuals. This little work leads the pupil to a knowledge of the rules and principles of Rhetoric, in an easy and simple manner, and has the merit of more originality than many school books which profess to be improvements."

The present edition is undertaken with the concurrence of the author, who has made numerous improvements upon his last (the fifth) edition; and at the request of the publisher, adapted his illustrations to the use of the English student.

It is humbly suggested that it might form a highly useful exercise to require of the pupil a written analysis of those parts of the book in which the analytical method is adopted, particularly of what is said on the subject of Taste. A plan of this kind, if judiciously pursued, may well supply the place of Questions, and at the same time aid the student in the acquisition of valuable mental habits.

London, March, 1837.


THE advantages proposed to be attained by the study of Rhetoric, are :—

1. Some acquaintance with the philosophy of rhe


2. The cultivation of the taste, and in connexion, the exercise of the imagination.

3. Skill in the use of language. 4. Skill in literary criticism.

5. The formation of a good style.

By the philosophy of rhetoric, I here refer to those principles in the science of the philosophy of mind, and in the philosophy of language, on which are founded those conclusions and directions which are applicable to literary criticism, and to the formation of style. Obviously, then, it may be answered, that an acquaintance with the science of intellectual philosophy, and with the philosophy of language, should precede the study of rhetoric. Hence, no doubt, Milton and others assign to this branch of study the last place in a course of edu


But it is known to all, that the prevalent opinion and practice are different from those recommended by Milton; so that our inquiry should be, what is the best practical method of acquainting the young with the philosophy of rhetoric-those whose minds are not accustomed to philosophical investigations, and who are ignorant of those sciences on which the art is founded.

I answer, that, while the attention should be directed to few principles, and those most essential in a practical view, instruction should be imparted principally by familiar, talking lectures. A text-book, if one is used,

[ocr errors]

should contain but a mere outline,- some general principles plainly stated, and well illustrated.

Here I would more fully state, what I mean by familiar, talking lectures. Suppose I wish to make the student understand what I mean by taste, and in so doing, I have occasion to speak of the judgment, sensibility, imagination, emotions of beauty and sublimity. Now, should I attempt to effect my purpose by a definition, or an extended technical explanation of these terms, there would be little reason to hope for success. I would rather refer him directly to the operations of his own mind, point out to him instances where he forms a judgment, where his sensibility is excited, his imagination called into exercise, and emotions of beauty and sublimity kindled up in his own soul. It is true, he may not, after this, be able to give me an exact definition of these faculties and intellectual operations, but he has learned what is meant by the proposed terms; and when I have occasion to use them afterwards, I have no fear of not being understood.

No one will deny that instruction in this part of rhetoric is attended with difficulty. The subjects themselves are intricate; hard to be understood, and still harder to explain, especially to those whose minds are immature and unaccustomed to philosophical reasonings. Here, then, is room for much ingenuity in the instructor; and without a skilful effort on his part, the efforts of the pupil will be of little avail. Above all things, let not the mockery of set questions and set answers be practised, in teaching what pertains to the philosophy of rhetoric.

After all, it must be allowed, that with the most skilful instruction, and the best text-book, young students will obtain but imperfect ideas in what pertains to the philosophy of rhetoric. Still, what is thus imperfectly acquired, will be of importance to them as opening some interesting fields of thought, which, with strengthened powers, they may afterwards explore; and further, as aiding them in better understanding the nature of the rules and directions founded on these important and somewhat intricate principles.

« PreviousContinue »