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OF

CRIT I CI S M.

CH A P. XVIII. BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE.

O

Fa! the fine arts, painting only and sculpture are in their nature imitative. An'ornamented field is not a copy or imitation of nature,

but nature itself embellished. Architecture deals in originals, and copies not from nature. Sound and inotion may in some measure be imitated by music; but for the most part, music, like architecture, deals in originals. Language copies not from nature, more than music or architecture ; unless where, like inusic, it is imitative of sound or motion : in the description, for example, of particular founds, language sometimes furnihech words, which, beside their customary power of exciting ideas, resemble by their softness or harlhness the found described ; and there are words, which, by the celerity or flowness of pronunciation, have some resemblance to the motion they signisy: This, soitative power of words goes ene ftey farther : tliet loftinels of some words, makes them proper symbols of Tofty ide. as; a rough subject is inritated by hjarth-lounding words; and words of niany fyllables pronounced flow or smooth, are naturally expressive of griek and melát.choty. Words have a separate effect on the wind, abitating from their fignification and from their imitative power: they are more or less agreeable to the ear, by the fulness, sweetness, faintness, or roughness of their tones.

These are but faint. beauties, being known to thofe only who have more than ordinary acuteness of perception. Language poffefseth a beauty fuperior greatly in

degrees

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degree, of which, we are eminently sensible when a thought is communicated with perspicuity and sprigheliness. This beauty of language, arising from its power of expressing thought, is apt to be confounded with the beauty of the thought itself; which beauty of thought is transferred to the expression, and inakes it appear more beautiful *. But these beauties, if we wish to think accurately, must be distinguished from each other :

are in reality so diftinct, that we fonetimes are con. scious of the highest pleasure language can afford, when the subject expressed is disagreeable; a thing that is Joathsome, or a scene of horror to make one's hair stand on end, inay be described in a manner so lively, as that the disagreeableness of the subject shall not even obscure the agreeableness of the description. The causes of the original beauty of language considered as significant, which is a branch of the present subject, will be ex‘plained in their order, I shall only at present observe, ihat this beauty is the beauty of means fitted to an end, that of communicating thought: and hence it evidently appears, that of several expressions all conveying the same thought, the moit beautiful, in the sense now inentioned, is that which in the inost perfect manner answers its end.

The several beauties of language above mentioned, being of different kinds, ought to be handled separately. I shall begin with those beauties of language that arise from sound; after which will follow the beauties of language considered as significant: this order appears nátural; for the sound of a word is attended to, before we contidet jis lignifieation. És a third section come those išgulat Beauties of language that are derived from

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* Chap: z: Part I:- rect; 3: Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, fec752 makes the fame observation. We are apt, says that author, to confound the language wich the subject; and if the latter be nervous, we judge the former to be so also. But they are clearly diftinguish

and it is not uncommon to find subjects of great dignity dressed in mean language. Theopompus is celebrated for the force of his diction; but erroneously : his subject indeed has great force, but his style very little.Ch

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