Page images

34. Hyperbole is that figure by which more than the lit. eral truth is expressed. It consists in magnifying objects beyond their natural bounds, so as to make them more impressive or more intelligible. Thus:

“ Beneath the lowest deep, a lower deep,

Still threatening to devour me, opens wide.”—MILTON.


35. Epizeuxis is the immediate repetition of some word or words for the sake of emphasis, as

Few, few shall part where many meet."
Repetitio Crebra.- The name “repetitio crebra” is applied to
the frequent repetition of a word, as-

“He sang Darius, good and great,
Fallen, fallen. fallen, fallen,

Fallen from his high estate.” '--Dryden. 36. Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of each of several sentences, or divisions of a sentence, as

By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,

By strangers honored, and by strangers mourned."-POPE. 37. Alliteration is the repetition of the same initial letter of emphatic words, as

“Apt alliteration's artful aid."-CHURCHILL.

Full fathoms five thy father lies.”-SHAKESPEARE. 38. Anacoluthon is the device of leaving a proposition unfinished, and introducing something else to complete the sentence, as

“If thou be'st he-but oh, how fallen, how changed

From him who," etc. 39. Aposiopesis is a sudden pause in the course of a sentence by which the conclusion is left unfinished, as,

“For there I picked up on the heather,
And there I put within my breast,
A moulted feather, an eagle's feather-
Well-I forget the rest."-BROWNING.


40. Ellipsis is the omission of words with a rhetorical purpose. Thus “Impossible!” is more expressive than a complete sentence affirming impossibility.

Asyndeton, or the omission of connectives, is a device of which

considerable use is made both in prose and poetry: “The wind passeth over it-it is gone."

41. Enallage is the substitution of one part of speech for another, as

“Whether the charmer sinner it or saint it,

If folly grow romantic, I must paint it."-POPE.

42. Pleonasm is the employment of more words than usual, or of redundant words, as “ Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

When properly employed, pleonasm is a legitimate rhetorical

device, and may be productive of a high degree of emphasis.

II. THE ORDER OF WORDS. 43. Words may be arranged in two orders- the grammatical and the rhetorical order.

44. The grammatical order, otherwise called the direct, or prose order, is the ordinary prose arrangement of words in a sentence.

There is a customary order of the parts of a sentence which in

ordinary speech and writing we unconsciously follow. Thus the subject precedes the verb, and the arrangement of a simple sentence is in the order of subject, verb, object. But for the sake of emphasis or ornament this natural arrangement is often departed from.

45. The rhetorical order, otherwise called the indirect, or poetic order, is an inverted arrangement of words, adopted with a view to greater effect. It is characteristic of poetry, and of elevated or impassioned prose.


RHETORICAL ORDER. I shall attempt neither to palliate The atrocious crime of being a nor deny the atrocious crime of young man I shall attempt neibeing a young man.

ther to palliate nor deny. The gate is wide and the way is Wide is the gate and broad is the

broad that leadeth to destruc- way that leadeth to destruction.

tion. They could take their rest, for They could take their rest, for

they knew that Lord Stratford they knew that Lord Stratford watched. They feared him, watched. Him they feared, they trusted him, they obeyed him they trusted, him they him.

obeyed. The night-winds sigh, the break- The night-winds sigh, the break

ers roar, and the wild sea-mew ers roar, shrieks.

| And shrieks the wild sea-mew.

III. THE QUALITIES OF STYLE. 46. The principal qualities of style are perspicuity, energy, and melody.

47. Perspicuity, or clearness of expression, is such a use of words that they may readily be understood by those to whom they are addressed.

48. Its Sources.—The principal sources of perspicuity are simplicity and precision.

49. Simplicity of style arises from the choice of simple words, and from such an arrangement of words in sentences as adapts them to easy comprehension. The works of De Foe, Bunyan, Addison, Franklin, and Washington Irving illustrate this quality.

I. Simplicity, in so far as it depends on diction, is best obtained by the employment of specific and concrete terms rather than those that are general or abstract. It is also secured by the use of Anglo-Saxon words (see Def. 61) rather than those of classical origin. And it is to be observed that there is an intimate relation between these two sources of simplicity; for it will be found that most specific and concrete terms are of Anglo-Saxon, and most general and abstract terms of classical, origin. This is well illustrated in the following passage from an essay by Henry Rogers: “ Move and motion are general terms of Latin origin; but all the special terms for expressing varieties of motion are Anglo-Saxon, as run, walk, leap, stagger, slip, step, slide. Color is Latin; but white, black, green, yellow, blue, red, brown, are Anglo-Saxon. Crime is Latin; but murder, theft, robbery, to lie, to steal, are AngloSaxon. Member and organ, as applied to the body, are Latin and Greek; but ear, eye, hand, foot, lip, mouth, teeth, hair, finger, nostril, are Anglo-Saxon. Animal is Latin; but man, horse, cow, sheep, dog, cat, calf, goat, are Anglo-Saxon. Number is Latin; but all our cardinal and ordinal numbers, as far as

a million, are Anglo-Saxon.” II. Simplicity, in so far as it depends on the structure of sen

tences, is best obtained by the use of short rather than long sentences, and of the loose sentence rather than the period (see Def. 57), and by an easy, natural, and inartificial arrangement of words, phrases, and clauses.

50. Precision consists in the selection of such words as may exhibit neither more nor less than the meaning which the writer intends to convey.

51. Its Violations.—The most frequent violations of precision are: I. By the faulty use of synonymous words; II. By the improper use of words; III. By the use of vague words ; IV. By tautology; V. By circumlocution.

I. By the faulty use of synonymous words, as where modest

(which refers to the habit of mind, and is commendable) is used for bashful (which refers to the state of feeling, and is

reprehensible). II. By the improper use of words, as “ I would not demean my

self,” where “demean," which signifies behave, is, by confusion

arising from the root mean, used for debase or lower. III. By the use of vague words, as affair, circumstance, remarka

ble, where used in place of definite and specific words. IV. By tautology, or the repetition of the same idea in different

words, as "They returned back again to the same place from whence they came forth ;” which is reducible to “They returned to the place whence they departed.” A critic has pointed out that Dr. Johnson's couplet,

"Let observation with extensive view

Survey mankind from China to Peru," is equivalent to “ Let observation with extensive observation observe mankind extensively.”

V. By circumlocution, or a roundabout mode of speech, in which words are multiplied to an unnecessary extent. The

following is an example of circumlocution : “Pope professed to have learned his poetry from Dryden, whom, whenever an oppor

tunity was presented, he praised through the whole period of his existence with unvarying liberality; and perhaps his character may receive some illustration, if a com

parison be instituted between him and the man whose pupil he was.”—DR. JOHNSON. Condensed thus by Bain : "Pope professed himself the pupil of Dryden, whom he lost no opportunity of praising;

and his character is illustrated by a comparison with his master." 52. Energy (variously termed by writers on rhetoric vigor, force, strength, vivacity, and persuasiveness) is that quality of style which conduces to arouse the attention, enforce argument, stimulate imagination, and excite the feelings. It is the vital element in style.

1. Among the requisites of energy are simplicity (the simplest

words being often the strongest), conciseness, and precision. II. Another important device for securing energy of style is

the use of specific and concrete terms rather than of general

and abstract terms. 53. Melody, harmony, or music of language is that quality in style which gives pleasure by the use of euphonious words and rhythmical arrangements.

1. While the “harmony of sweet sounds” is an essential of

verse, it is influential in prose also. Prose has its rhythm as well as poetry, only it is less artificial and more varied. “Rhythm in prose,” says De Mille, “may be defined as the alternate swelling and lessening of sound at certain intervals. It refers to the general effect of sentences and paragraphs, where the words are chosen and arranged so as not only to express the meaning of the writer, but also to furnish a musical accompaniment which shall at once delight the ear by

its sound, and help out the sense by its suggestiveness.” II. The following passage from De Quincey has relation to the

subject of prose rhythm, and is further interesting as in itself

an illustration of rhythmic prose: “Where, out of Sir Thomas Browne, shall we hope to find music so Miltonic, an intona. tion of such solemn chords as are struck in the following opening bar of a passage in the Urn-Burial: Now since these boney have rested quietly in the grave, under the drums and tramplings of three conquests,' etc. What a melodious ascent as of a prelude to some impassioned requiem breathing from the pomps of the earth and from the sanctities of the grave! What a fluctus decumanus of rhetoric! Time expounded

« PreviousContinue »