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the greatness of his (Shakspere's) genius, in the same manner as bodies appear more gigantic on account of their being disproportioned and misshapen.”
Thirdly, the corresponding parts should be of nearly the same length, and not as in the following passage: “As the performance of all other religious duties will not avail in the sight of God without charity ; so neither will the discharge of all other ministerial duties avail in the sight of men, without a faithful discharge of this principal duty.”
It will be for the learner to point out the errors of this description which may be found in the following sentence:
“Ministers are answerable for everything done to the prejudice of the constitution, in the same proportion as the preservation of the constitution in its purity and vigour, or the perverting and weakening it, are of greater consequence to the nation than any other instances of good or bad government.”
Examples of antithetical Sentences. 1. “If we must needs compare Cicero, therefore, with Cato, as some writers affect to do, it is certain that if Cato's virtue seem more splendid in theory, Cicero's will be found superior in practice; the one was romantic, the other rational; the one drawn from the refinements of schools, the other from nature and social life; the one always unsuccessful, often hurtful, the other always beneficial, often salutary to the republic.”
2. “A cultivated taste, combined with a creative imagination, constitutes genius in the Fine Arts. Without taste, imagination could only produce a random analysis and combination of our conceptions ; and without imagination, taste would be destitute of the faculty of invention."
3. “He [Cassius) was brave, witty, learned ; yet passionate, fierce, and cruel: so that Brutus was the more amiable friend; he the more dangerous enemy."
4. “ It would appear that there are two opposite extremes into which men are apt to fall in preparing themselves for the duties of active life.
The one arises from habits of abstraction and generalisation carried to an excess; the other from a minute, an exclusive, and an unenlightened attention to the objects and events which happen to fall under their actual experience."
5. “ The perfection of political wisdom does not consist in an indiscriminate zeal against reforms; but in a gradual and prudent accommodation of established institutions to the varying opinions, manners, and circumstances of mankind.”
HARMONY IN SENTENCES.
It cannot be too frequently repeated that perspicuity is the essential quality of good writing, and that this should take precedence of every other consideration. But language may be regarded not only as an instrument of utility; it is capable of embellishment, and may minister to our pleasures as well as to our necessities. Admitting it to be of the first importance that a communication, whether written or spoken, should be clearly understood, it is surely much more agreeable that the language be expressed in an elegant and harmonious, than in a harsh and ungraceful manner, This quality, then, harmony of
style, we now propose to discuss, — to lay down rules respecting this branch of the art, and to show what errors should be avoided by the student in endeavouring to acquire an harmonious and graceful style of composition.
The word "harmony," which is of Greek derivation, originally signified a power of adapting or fitting one thing to another. This was its primary, concrete
But it has now lost this meaning, and has only an abstract signification. In music, harmony is the effect produced by sounds that naturally fit to each other, or have a mutual sympathy. Socially speaking, it refers to the condition of those persons whose dispositions are adapted or suited to each other; and as applied to language it has a similar acceptation, viz., it is that quality of beauty, derived from combined sound and sense, which is naturally fitted to give pleasure to the mind.
Harmony of language may be considered under three heads, - choice of words, arrangement of words, and proportion of parts.
English has been often accused of harshness, and it certainly cannot be ranked among the most harmonious languages of Europe. But, if not the most beautiful in this respect, neither can it be said, on the other hand, that it is the most disagreeable; for though inferior in harmony to Italian and Spanish, it ranks higher than Dutch, or any of the Scandinavian, or the Sclavonic languages. Since, however, even in the most melodious languages, some writers are known to be far more studious of elegance and beauty than others, it follows that in authors who write in the most rugged dialect, this difference will also appear. Whatever, then, may be said of the want of softness in the English language, it is plain, as some of our writers surpass others in harmony, that this is a quality to be cultivated ; and there is no good reason why any one gifted with a delicate ear, may not under the guidance of a judicious teacher, attain the power of writing in an easy and flowing style.
First, as to choice of words. To those who have not a natural perception of the difference between soft and harsh sounds, any remarks on this subject would be utterly vain. Some may possibly be in this condition; but the author is disposed to believe that such persons are exceptions to the rule, and that, in general, no instruction is required to prove that one word is softer or harsher than another. Concerning the causes of this difference, a few observations may,
however, be useful.
Two points here require attention :-1, the final consonant of a word, and 2, the sound of the vowels.
The English alphabet may be arranged in the following manner :
In the above arrangement of the consonants, the upper line contains those which sound more softly, especially as finals. Those in the lower line are their corresponding hard consonants. Thus, apart from the sense, the word 'slab' has a less harsh effect than slap.' Again, 'bag'is softer than “back;' played' than 'plot;' stave' than staff;' and “gaze' than 'gas.' The same is also true, though perhaps not in the same degree, of these consonants, when used as initials.
In English, the vowels have, generally, three sounds; for example :
The liquids give a flowing softness to words, and those in which they abound are particularly beautiful; as,' lonely,'' noontide,' moving,'' roaming.'
As a general rule, words ending in soft consonants, and having open or double vowels, are preferable, in point of sound, to those with hard final consonants and close vowels. Accordingly, the dissyllables “ beauty,' confine, abased,' will have more harmony than proper,' defend,' detect;' and the trisyllables mountaineer,' usual,' violence,' are
‘ softer words than "liberty,' elegance,' reference, adequate.'
In selecting harmonious words, we should reject such as have close vowels, combined with clusters of