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A. KINCAID & J. Bell, Edinburgh.

MDCCL X V.

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0 F

CRITICIS M.

сн А Р.

XVIII.

BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE.

O

F all the fine arts, painting only and sculpture 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 music; but for the most part, music, like architecture, deals in originals. Language copies not from nature, more than music or architecture; unless where, like music, it is imitative of found or motion : in the description, for example, of particular sounds, language sometimes furnilheth words, which, beside their customary power of exciting ideas, resemble by their soft

ness

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ness or harshness the sound described ; and there are words, which, by the celerity or flowness of pronunciation, have some resemblance to the motion they signify. This imitative power of words goes one step farther : the loftiness of some words, makes them proper symbols of lofty ideas; a rough subject is imitated by harsh-sounding words; and words of many fyllables pronounced slow and sinooth, are naturally expressive of grief and melancholy. Words have a separate effect on the mind, abstracting from their signification and from their imitative power : they are more or less agreeable to the ear, by the fulness, sweetness, faintness, or roughness of their tones.

These are but faint beauties, being relished by those only who have more delicacy of sensation than belongs to the bulk of mankind. Language poffesfeth a beauty superior greatly in degree, of which we are eminently sensible, when a thought is communicated with perspicuity and sprightliness. This beauty of language, arising from its power of expressing thought, is apt to be confounded with the beauty of the thought itself; which beauty of thought is transferred to the expression, and makes it appear more beautiful *.

But

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

dignity

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