Imatges de pÓgina
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LECTURE V.

Of AMPLIFICATION.

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AVING confidered the proper topics of argument for the proof of any propofition, it remains that I confider what makes the bulk of a discourse, under the head of Amplification.

In general, whatever may with propriety be faid upon any topic, should tend to confirm, or illuftrate that topic; and be longer or fhorter as the cafe requires: and, fince any particular argument may require proof or confirmation, it must be confidered in every respect as the original propofition itself, and be supported by arguments fetched from the topics which are proper to it. In a regular difcourfe, the amplification, or enlargement, is nothing more than a collection of such arguments and observations as tend to confirm or illuftrate the fubject of it; and therefore not a fentence, or a word, fhould be inferted that doth not improve the sense, and tend to make the apprehension of the reader, or hearer, either more just, or more strong and lively.

More particularly, the precise nature of amplification, with respect to argumentative discourses, confifts either in supplying fuch intermediate arguments as might have been fuppreffed, or in a more copious induction of particulars.

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A demonftration may be given in fuch a manner as may be fufficiently full and conclufive to a person who is pretty well verfed in the science to which it belongs, or fuch as are fimilar to it, and yet may want a great many intermediate steps, and mediums of proof, necessary to make it intelligible to a person who is not fo well prepared. When a person writes for the learned, it is fuperfluous to use more words than will enable them to see the force of what he advances, and it is impertinent to mention those intermediate ideas which he knows are quite familiar to their minds. But if this discourse be made intelligible to the bulk of mankind, and especially if it must be adapted to the capacities of children and young perfons, it must be amplified, by inserting in it those intermediate steps, and mediums of proof, which before were omitted as unneceffary. Because it would be abfurd in any writer, and would defeat the purpose of his discourse, to take any thing for granted that his reader was not acquainted with, or to omit any thing that he was not able to supply.

Newton's Principia is a remarkable inftance to the present purpose. The demonstrations in that treatise are extremely concife, a great number of intermediate fteps being omitted; and therefore but few, even of mathematicians, are capable of understanding it without a comment. The commentary amplifies, by supplying the steps that were fuppreffed by the author; and thus the book may be fitted for more general use.

When the proof of a general propofition confifts of the induction of particulars, it may be fufficient in fome cafes, to mention only a few of the particulars. In other cafes, it may be convenient to amplify, or fwell the demonftration by a more copious enumeration.

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A narration or defcription is concife, when only a few of the most important particulars are mentioned, and amplified and enlarged by a more minute detail. The former is fufficient, where it answers a writer's purpose barely to inform his reader of the reality of an event; the latter is neceffary, if he be defirous that the reader be interested in it, and affected with it.

Addifon (Spectator, No. 519.) obferving how full of life are those parts of nature which are subject to our observation, amplifies it in the following beautiful manner: "Every part of "matter is peopled, every green leaf fwarms with inhabitants. "There is scarce a fingle humour in the body of a man, or of

any other animal, in which our glaffes do not discover myriads "of living creatures. The furface of animals is also covered

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" with other animals, which are, in the fame manner, the bafis

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"of other animals, that live upon it. Nay, we find in the most "folid bodies, as in marble itself, innumerable cells and cavities,

that are crouded with fuch imperceptible inhabitants, as are "too little for the naked eye to difcoyer. On the other hand,. "if we look into the more bulky parts of nature, we fee the “feas, lakes, and rivers, teeming with numberlefs kinds of liv

ing creatures. We find every mountain and marsh, wilderness and wood, plentifully stocked with birds and beafts; and every "part of matter affording proper neceffaries and conveniencies "for the livelihood of multitudes which inhabit it.'

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It is likewife ufual to amplify narration and description by obfervations or reflections intermixed. By this means Polybius. greatly fwelled the bulk of his hiftory, and for want of this kind of amplification, hiftorical abftracts are generally very dull and infipid. All books of meditation, as Mr. Hervey's, contain a mixture of narration and reflection; and the pleasure with

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which fuch books are univerfally read, demonstrates the propriety and happiness of such a mixture.

These two kinds of amplification are used in the body of a dif course; but it is often requifite that, previous to the confirmation of a topic by arguments, it should be explained very minutely, and the parts of which it confifts be expreffed in more, or plainer terms, and mistakes concerning it be pointed out, and guarded againft, to prevent misconstruction. This very usefully enlarges a difcourfe.

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It may happen that the nature and conclusiveness of an argument may not be evident at the firft view. In this cafe, it may anfwer a very good purpose to amplify, by fhewing, either before or after the proof of the propofition, the nature and strength of the arguments brought in fupport of it, and by stating with fome exactness the degree of influence they are intitled to.

Laftly, it contributes to fwell a difcourfe, to point out the connexion of the fentences that compofe it more particularly than by fingle conjunctives, in the manner explained in the Lectures upon Grammar *.

These are the principal fources from whence materials for amplification are drawn. It will be to the advantage of a compofition that they do not fucceed one another in the fame order, but that they be introduced with great variety. This will give the discourse the greater appearance of eafe. It will be more pleasing, and in every respect better adapted to answer the end proposed by it.

All the faults which properly belong to amplification, are the following. It is abfurd to introduce any thing under any topic

* This is a work which has been printed for private use, and will in due time be laid before the public.

which has no relation to it, not tending either to confirm or illuftrate it. It is, likewife, a fault to attempt to illuftrate what is too plain to need any illuftration. In this, regard must be had to the hearers or readers: for, to a mixed multitude, or to a set of pupils, a copious illustration, a diverfified expreffion, or a mere repetition, may be proper, which would be abfurd before a learned affembly. But it is a greater fault not to advance what is fufficient to confirm or illuftrate any argument; fince without that, the end of the difcourfe, which was conviction or perfuafion, cannot be attained.

Other faults in the body of a difcourfe belong to other heads than that of amplification.

It is of fome importance to obferve, on the subject of amplification, that persons of a very exact judgment are generally the leaft copious in compofition, and notwithstanding they have the greatest knowledge, compofe with peculiar difficulty; their nicer discernment, which makes them attend to all the relations and connexions of things, rejecting every thing that doth not in every respect suit their purpose. Whereas those persons who are unattentive to the minuter properties of things, find no difficulty in admitting a great variety of thoughts that offer themselves in composition; a flight association of any ideas with the subject in hand being fufficient to introduce them. In general, the latter are more proper for public speakers, and the former for writers. The want of close connexion, fmall improprieties, or even inconfiftencies, pass unnoticed with most persons when they hear a difcourfe. Befides, no perfon can fo well depend upon his memory in comparing one part of a discourse that he has only heard, with another. But all these little inaccuracies are exposed to observation,

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