Imatges de pÓgina
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tion, when a good judge of composition hath the whole difcourfe before him in writing.

It may, likewise, be of fervice to add, that it is very poffible a writer may cramp his faculties, and injure his productions, by too great a scrupulofity in the first compofition. That close attention to a subject which compofition requires, unavoidably warms the imagination: then ideas crowd upon us, the mind hastens, as it were, into the midst of things, and is impatient till those strong conceptions be expreffed. In fuch a fituation, to reject the first, perhaps loose and incorrect thoughts, is to reject a train of just and valuable thoughts, that would follow by their connexion with them, and to embarrass and impoverish the whole work. Whenever, therefore, we begin to feel the ardour of composition, it is moft adviseable to indulge it freely, and leave little proprieties to be adjusted at our leisure.

Befides, if we would wish to communicate to our readers those ftrong fenfations that we feel in the ardour of compofition, we must endeavour to exprefs the whole of our fentiments and fenfations, in the very order and connexion in which they actually prefented themselves to us at that time. For, fuch is the fimilarity of all human minds, that when the fame appearances are presented to another perfon, his mind will, in general, be equally ftruck and affected with them, and the compofition will appear to him to be natural and animated. Whereas, if, in confequence of an ill-judged fcrupulofity and delay, we once lose sight of any part of that train of ideas with which our own minds were fo warmed and interested, it may be impoffible to recover it: and perhaps no other train of ideas, though, feparately taken, they may appear to be better adapted to the fubject, may have the fame power to excite thofe fenfations with which we would with

the compofition might be read. Whatever these fenfations be, they will be the fame with those with which the compofition was written; it being almoft impoffible to counterfeit fuccefsfully in fuch a cafe as this. As, therefore, we wish to affect and interest the minds of our readers, we fhould endeavour, without losing time in examining every thing with a minute exactness, to exprefs the whole ftate of our own minds while they are thus affected and interefted. Correction will be employed with more advantage afterwards.

PART

PART II.

OF

METHOD.

LECTURE VI.

Of METHOD in Narrative Discourses.

Τ

HE orator being furnished with proper materials for his discourse, from the topics of argumentation and amplification, explained under the last general head of recollection, his next care is to difpofe of them to the best advantage, in the most regular and convenient METHOD; the rules of which I now proceed to lay down. This I fhall do with refpect to both the kinds to which every compofition may be reduced, viz. the Narrative and Argumentative.

If the view of the hiftorian be fimply to communicate information, and he be defirous to do it in fuch a manner as to give it the F eaficft

cafieft admiffion into the mind, and leave the most lafting impreffion upon the memory, his general endeavour must be to give as clear and just an idea as poffible of the moft ftriking relations that the ideas he exhibits bear to one another; fince it is by means of their mutual relations that ideas introduce one another, and cohere, as it were, in the mind.

In general, the order of nature, or of their real exiftence, will be found to be, at the fame time, both the eafieft, and, in every respect, the best manner of reciting them, viz. the order of time for events, and that of place, for the fubjects of what is called natural history.

Thus the chronological fucceffion of events hath generally fupplied the writers of civil hiftory, biography, and travels, with the most natural and useful method of communicating information. The geographer, having finished one country, naturally thinks of paffing into a neighbouring one; and, in natural history, we always expect an intire and unbroken account of some one of the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms, before we be led to another.

This is making those transitions which our minds are most accuftomed to, and therefore make with the moft eafe. It is taking advantage of the strongest affociations by which the ideas of things cohere in our minds; on account of which every particular of the narration both gains the eafieft admiffion into our minds, and is beft retained when admitted: whereas the mind is greatly difgufted with unusual, and confequently unexpected, and, to us, unnatural connexions of things. Such connexions not being analogous to any other pre-exifting and established in the mind, the things fo connected will not coalefce, and recal one another, fo as to be remembered in their order.

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However, thefe very fame reafons, drawn from the nature of things, and the ftate of the human mind, to which thefe relations are addreffed, will often dictate particular deviations from the general order of narration; will admonish the hiftorian to quit the order of time for a while, and the geographer that of proximity of fituation. The relations of events to one another, by way of caufe and effect, will fometimes unavoidably, and very justifiably, oblige an hiftorian to trace an important event back to the causes that gave birth to it; and again to pursue it through its diftant confequences, far beyond the era in which it commenced. In biography, the confideration of the effects of education, the influence of a ruling paffion, the confequences of an extraordinary and critical incident, and the like, may render an occafional transition from a man's birth to his death, or from his death to his birth, to be by no means a disagreeable or unprofitable digreffion. And if the relation of fimilarity, or even of contrariety, in natural productions, customs, climates, &c. give occafion to it, we willingly follow the geographer and natural historian in their moft fudden and rapid excurfions, to parts of the world the most distant from those they are profeffedly defcribing.

In all these and the like cafes, a writer can never be blamed if he dispose the materials of his compofition by an attention to the ftrongest and most ufual affociations of ideas in the human mind. We are not fond of pursuing any uniform track long without interruption fo that the natural connexions of ideas not quite foreign to the subject, with others which occur in the course of a narration, may, in the hands of a judicious hiftorian, give occafion to digreffions from his principal subject, which shall greatly relieve the attention, please the imagination, refresh and assist the memory.

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