« PreviousContinue »
3. Prose,' in its mechanism, is that species of composition in which words are arranged in unversified or nonmetrical sentences. It is the ordinary form of oral or written discourse.
4. Verse, or poetry, in its mechanism, is that species of composition in which words are metrically arranged ; that is, arranged in lines (verses) containing a definite number and succession of accented and unaccented syllables.
It must be understood that the definitions given above have
regard merely to the outer form, or mechanism, of the two species of written composition. And this should the more clearly be borne in mind because there is great latitude, and thereby the possibility of great ambiguity, in the use of the words poetry, verse, rhyme, prose, etc. Thus “poetry” is sometimes narrowed to an equivalence with verse, or metrical composition; “verse" is sometimes extended to an equivalence with poetry; and “rhyme" is sometimes used as a synonym of poetry and as the antithesis of prose: thus
“Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme." - Milton. On the other hand, “prose” is often used to denote what is
dull and commonplace, without regard to whether the com
position is metrical or non-metrical. 5. Classification by Matter.-As regards matter, or essential nature, literary productions are divided into various classes, according as the end aimed at is (1) to inform the understanding, (2) to influence the will, or (3) to excite pleasurable feelings. The principal departments of literature are :
1. Description, narration, and cxposition, which have for their object to inform the understanding.
2. Oratory, or persuasion, which has for its object to influence the will.
3. Poetry, which has for its most characteristic function to excite pleasurable feelings.
Lat. prosa, equivalent to Lat. prorsa (oratio understood), from prorsus, straightforward, straight on.
Lat. versus, a furrow, a row (from vertere, to turn); hence a metrical line, and, by an extension of meaning, metrical composition.
6. Description, or descriptive writing, is that kind of composition in which an object of some degree of complexity is represented in language.
I. Description is generally divided into two kinds :
thoughts of the mind. Scott and Byron afford striking examples of the two kinds of
description. These two men of genius belonged to the same school of literature and wrote on kindred themes; but Scott is objective, Byron subjective. “Scott detailed all his scenes down to the minutest point, and was content with the object itself, without seeking to go very far beneath the surface. Byron, on the other hand, loved to seize the striking features in his scenes, and, after mentioning these in a bold and graphic manner, to dwell upon their hidden meaning. The battle-scene in Marmion may be compared with that of Waterloo in Childe Harold. The former is full of action — the strife of men, their suffering, their wild excitement or wilder despair; the latter is full of the poet's thoughts, and is pro
foundly meditative.” (De Mille : Rhetoric.) The two kinds of description, however, are generally found
existing together, the subjective intermingling with the ob
jective. II. Description is involved in nearly all the other kinds of
composition - in narration, which must often be a series of descriptions; in exposition, or science, which has frequently to proceed upon description; and in poetry, which partakes so largely of description that descriptive poetry is recognized
as a distinctive species of poetical composition. 7. Narration, or narrative writing, is that kind of composition which sets forth the particulars of a series of transactions or events.
I. Like description, narration may be divided into objective
and subjective, the former including all recital of external events, the latter dealing with mental processes and the prog
ress of events in connection with their philosophy. II. Narration includes within itself more departments of litera
ture than any other kind of composition. Thus objective narration appears (a) in ordinary external history and bi
ography, () in prose fiction, (c) in epic poetry, ballads, and metrical romances, (d) in dramatic poetry, (e) in lyric poetry, () in scientific writings, and (g) in exposition whenever the writer deals with the record of events. In like manner, subjective narration appears (a) in philosophi
cal history and biography, (b) in the novel of character, (c) in the modern (as contrasted with ancient) epic, as Dante's Divine Comedy, (d) in dramatic literature, (e) in lyric poetry, as Tennyson's In Memoriam, and () in exposition where it is
necessary to give an account of the progress of principles. 8. Exposition, or expository writing, is that kind of composition in which facts or principles are discussed, and the conclusion is reached by a process of reasoning.
The expository art is applied to all the departments of human
thought or knowledge; hence expository composition appears in many forms. Among these the principal are, (a) the treatise, or full discussion of a subject, (6) the essay, or briefer exposition of a subject, (c) the editorial article, and (d) the
philosophic poem. 9. Oratory, or persuasion, is that kind of composition in which it is sought to influence the mind by arguments or reasons offered, or by anything that inclines the will to a determination.
I. According to Aristotle, the divisions of oratory are three
fold: 1. Deliberative; 2. Judicial; 3. Demonstrative. Bain makes a fourfold classification: 1. The oratory of the lawcourts; 2. Political oratory; 3. Pulpit oratory; 4. Moral suasion. Bain's first agrees with Aristotle's second ; Bain's second with Aristotle's first, and Bain's fourth with Aristotle's third. Bain's third is of course a modern department
of oratory. II. Persuasion may employ any one or all the modes of simple
communication-description, narration, or exposition. 10. Poetry is a fine art, operating by means of thought conveyed in language.
I. “Poetry,” says Prof. Bain, “agrees generically with painting,
sculpture, architecture, and music; and its specific mark is derived from the instrumentality employed. Painting is based on color, sculpture on form, music on a peculiar class
of sounds, and poetry on the meaning and form of language." Taking this definition in connection with that of poetry as a synonym of verse, it will be seen how wide is the distinction between poetry in its essence and poetry in its form. Indeed, so thoroughly is excited and elevated imagination identified
with poetry that it may even wear the garb of prose. II. Poetry is divided into the following species: 1. Narrative poetry, including (a) the epic, as the Iliad, Par
adise Lost ; (b) the metrical romance, as Scott's Lady of the Lake ; (c) the ballad, as Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome ; and (d) the tale, as Longfellow's Evangeline. 2. Lyric poetry, including (a) the song, secular and religious ;
(b) the ode, as Dryden's Alexander's Feast; (c) the elegy, as Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard ; and (d) the
edy, as the Merchant of Venice.
8. Humorous poetry, as Cowper's John Gilpin. 11. Kinds of Verse. — Verse is of two kinds—-rhyme and blank verse.
12. Rhyme is that species of verse in which is found concord of sounds in words at the end of lines.
13. Blank verse consists of unrhymed lines of the iambic metre of five or five and a half feet.
The iambic foot consists of an unaccented syllable followed by
one which is accented, as prepáre, convey. 14. Prosody is that division of rhetoric which treats of versification.
It does not come within the scope of this work to enter into
the detaiis of prosody, a sufficiently full treatment of which will be found in most rhetorical text-books. A compendious view of the subject is presented in Swinton's New School Composition.
STYLE. 15. Definition and Topics.-Style refers to the choice and arrangement of words, and may be defined as the peculiar manner in which thought is expressed in language. It includes the following topics:
I. The figures of speech. II. The order of words. III. The qualities of style.
1. FIGURES OF SPEECH. 16. A figure of speech is a deviation from the direct and literal mode of expression for greater effect. It is a form of speech artfully varied from the common usage.
17. Classification. — Figures of speech may be divided into three classes: I. Figures of relativity; II. Figures of gradation; III. Figures of emphasis. Under this head also may come the grammatical figures-ellipsis, enallage, and pleonasm.
The principal figures of which mention is made in this book
are as follows:
APOSTROPHE. SYNECDOCHE. SIMILE.
IRONY. - LITOTES.
Figures of Gradation
( EPIZEUXIS. Figures of Emphasis ANAPHORA.