Imatges de pÓgina
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ELEMENTS

O F

CRITICISM.

VOLUME II.

The THIRD EDITION.

With ADDITIONS and IMPROVEMENTS.

EDINBURGH:

Printed for A. MILLAR, London;

AND

A. KINCAID & J. BELL, Edinburgh.

MDCCLX V.

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O F

CRITICIS M.

CHAP. XVIII.

BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE.

O

Fall the fine arts, painting only and fculpture are in their nature imitative.

A field laid out with taste, is not a copy or imitation of nature, but nature itself embellished. Architecture deals in originals, and copies not from nature. Sound and motion may in some measure be imitated by mufic; but for the most part, mufic, like architecture, deals in originals. Language copies not from nature, more than music or architecture; unless where, like mufic, it is imitative of found or motion in the description, for example, of particular founds, language fometimes furnisheth words, which, befide their customary power of exciting ideas, refemble by their foft

A 2

nefs

nefs or harshness the found defcribed; and there are words, which, by the celerity or flowness of pronunciation, have fome refemblance to the motion they fignify. This imitative power of words goes one step farther: the loftiness of fome words, makes them proper fymbols of lofty ideas; a rough fubject is imitated by harsh-founding words; and words of many fyllables pronounced flow and smooth, are naturally expreffive of grief and melancholy. Words have a separate effect on the mind, abftracting from their fignification and from their imitative power: they are more or less agreeable to the ear, by the fulness, fweetnefs, faintnefs, or roughness of their tones.

These are but faint beauties, being relished by thofe only who have more delicacy of fenfation than belongs to the bulk of mankind. Language poffeffeth a beauty fuperior greatly in degree, of which we are eminently fenfible, when a thought is communicated with perfpicuity and fprightlinefs. This beauty of language, arifing from its power of expreffing thought, is apt to be confounded with the beauty of the thought itfelf; which beauty of thought is transferred to the expreffion, and makes it appear more beautiful *.

But

*Chap. 2. part 1, fect. 4. Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, fect. 75.) makes the fame observation. We are apt, fays that author, to confound the language with the subject; and if the latter be nervous, we judge the former to be fo alfo. But they are clearly distinguishable; and it is not uncommon to find fubjects of great

dignity

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