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" 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,

The sound must seem an echo of the sense.



Onomatopeia, or Onomatopy, consists in the formation of words in such a manner that the sound shall imitate the sense. Thus the words buzz, crackle, crash, flow, rattle, roar, kiss, whistle, are evidently formed to imitate the sounds themselves. Sometimes the word expressing an object is formed to imitate the sound produced by that object; as, wave, cuckoo, whippoorwill, whisper, hum.

It is esteemed a great beauty in writing when the words selected for the expression of an idea, convey, by their sound, some resemblance to the subject which they express, as in the following lines :

The whitewashed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door. *

Of a similar character, and nearly of equal merit, are those sentences or expressions which in any respect imitate or represent the sense which they are employed to express. Thus Gray, in his Elegy, beautifully expresses the reluctant feeling to which he alludes in the last verse of the following stanza:

“For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind!” And Pope, in his “Essays on Criticism,” in a manner, though different. yet scarcely less expressive, gives a verbal representation of his idea, by the selection of his terms, in the following lines :

“ These, equal syllables alone require,

Though oft the ear the open vowels tire,

* These lines will not fail to recall to the memory of the classical stu dent those peculiarly graphic lines of Virgil, in one of which he describen the galloping of a horse :

Quadrupedante patrem sonitu quatit ungula campum.” and in another the appearance of a hideous monster:

" Monstrum horrendum in forma ingens cui lumen ailemptum."

While expletives their feeble aid do join, And ten low words oft creep in one dull line." A needless Alexandrine ends the song,

That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.'
“ Soft is the strain, when Zephyr tly blows,

And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows,
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move

Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.”

As an exercise in Onomatopeia, the student may select such words ze he can recall in which the sound bears a resemblance to the signification.



The object of this exercise is to accustom the student to acquire clear ideas of things, and to perceive distinctions and differences wherever they exist. Clear ideas of a subject must be acquired before any thing can be correctly said or written upon it.

A definition, as described by logicians, consists of two parts, which they call the genus and the difference. The genus is the name of the class to which the object belongs. The difference is the property or properties by which the individual thing to be defined is distinguished from other individuals of the same class. Thus, if a definition is required of the word justice, we may commence by saying, “ Justice is that virtue which induces us to give every one his due." Here, virtue is the class to which the object belongs; but this part of the definition may be applied to hon esty, another quality of the same class, as well as to justice; for“ Honesty is also a virtue which induces us to give every one his due.” Something more, therefore, must be added to our definition, by which justice may be distinguished from honesty, and this something more, in whatever form it. may be presented, will be the difference which excludes honesty from the kame definition.



Justice is that virtue which induces us to give to every one his due. It requires us not only to render every article of property to its right owner, but also to esteem every one ac cording to his merit, giving credit for talents and virtues wherever they may be possessed, and withholding our approbation from every fault, how great soever the temptation that leads to it.

It will easily be seen from this definition in what the difference lies, which excludes honesty from the definition. Honesty, it is true, requires that we should render to every one his due. But honesty does not necessarily imply the esteeming of every one according to his merit, giving credit for talents and virtues, * &c.

A definition should generally be an analysisis of the thing defined, that is, it should comprise an enumeration of its principal qualities or attributes.

Example 2d.

A Swallow.

1. A swa is an animal. - This definition is not correct, because it will apply also to a horse, or a cow, or a dog, or a cat, as well as to a swallow.

2. A swallow is a bird. - So also is an eagle, or a goose, and therefore this definition is not sufficiently distinct.

3. A swallow is an animal which has two legs. — And so is a man, and therefore this definition is not sufficiently exclusive.

4. A swallow is an animal that has two legs, and wings. — And so is a but; and therefore this definition is faulty.

5. A swallow is an animal, that has wings, feathers, and a hard, glossy bill, with short legs, a forked tail, and large mouth, and ex ceeding all other birds in the untiring rapidity of its flight and evolutions. Its upper parts are steel blue, and the lower parts of a light, chestnut color. It seeks the scciety of man, and attaches its nest to the rafters in barns.

This definition contains the difference, as well as the class, and may therefore be considered as sufficiently correct for our present purpose.

* See Synonymes, page 40.
† See Parker and Fox's Gramn ar, Part III., No. 387.

Example 3d.


The term eternal is properly applied to that only which always las ex sted and always will exist. It implies without beginning and without end.

This definition excludes the application of the term eternal from every hing that ever had a beginning, as well as from that which will ever have en end. The circumstance of having no beginning is the specific difference between the terms eternal and infinite. Infinite, endless, unceasing, &c., imply only without end.

After explaining the meaning, or giving the definition of the terms in this exercise, the student should be required to give an instance of the proper application of the word.


Give a definition to the following words, and point out the distinction or difference between them and other words, which in some respect resemble them.

Temperance. To Transpose. Amplify

To Disregard. Composition.


Comparison. To Disobey.





The distinction or difference between two subjects may likewise be exhibited as in the following

Example. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic are kindred branches of science, but each has its separate department and specific objects. Rhetoric teaches how to express an idea in proper words ; grammar directs the arrangement and inflections of the words; logic relates to the truth or correctness of the idea to be expressed. Grammar addresses itself to the understanding; rhetoric, to the imagination.; logic, to the judgment. Rhetoric selects the materials; grammar combines them into sentences ; logic shows the agreement, or disagreement, of the sentences with one another. A sentence may be grammatically correct, but rhetorically incorrect, as in the following extract:

“To take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them.”

Here every word is grammatically correct; but to represent a man clad in armor to fight water, is a mixed metaphor, violating one of the fundamental principles of rhetoric. So, also, a sentence may be both grammatically and rhetorically faultless, while it violates logical principles. Thus, “ All men are bipeds, and, as birds are also bipeds, birds are to be considered as men.


The student may show the distinction between the following words :
Quack and charlatan.
Projector, speculator, and economist.
Bookworms and syllable hunters.
Cant, prosing, puritanical.

The word liberal, az applied to politicians, theologians, and philosophers; 1st, when assumed by themselves; 2dly, when applied to them by their adversaries.

The different senses in which the word independence is used, as applied to nations and individuals, to a man's character, opinions, and circumstances, is explained in the following


When we speak of a nation's independence, we mean, that it is not connected with any other nation, so as to be obliged to receive laws or magistrates from it, to pay a revenue into its treasury, or in any way to submit to its dictates. When we see a nation whose laws are framed by its own magistrates, whether elective or hereditary, without regard to the pleasure of any other nation; where the taxes are levied for the support of its own interest, and for the maintenance of its own magistrates ; where it is not necessary that the consent of another should be obtained, before it is at liberty to make war upon a foreign state, or to enter into alliance with any foreign power that they please, — to that nation custom gives the epithet “independent."

Nor does the submission of a people to the will of a despot contradict its claim to be considered an independent nacion

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