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4. By similes, comparisons, antitheses, and historical allusions. Writings which are designed to excite emotions, and to influence the will, require a more extended amplification than those which are argumentative, or those addressed directly to the understanding. In the former case, it is desirable that the mind should be led to dwell on what is presented to it, and to notice whatever is fitted and designed to excite the desired emotion. Hence, copiousness of detail, and a full and minute statement of attending circumstances, are required. But an argument should be stated concisely and simply, excepting only when it is in itself sbetruse and complex, and when it is addressed to minds uncultivated and unaccustomed to connected reasonings. In such cases, even an ar gument may, with propriety, be amplified or enlarged.
The successful exercise of amplification depends,
[The subjects of the Exercises, in various parts of this volume, wili pre sent a sufficient opportunity for the student to practise the art of ampb fication.)
ILLUSTRATION OF A SUBJECT.
Illustration properly signifies the rendering clear what is obscure or abstruse.
It is often the case, that subjects for consideration are presented which at first view appear to afford no avenue by which they may be approached. All appears dark around them; the subjects themselves appear isolated and distinct from any form of close examination. But as they are revolved in the mind, some connecting point is discovered, in which they may at last be seen to be united or closely allied to other subjects, and plain and clear deductions and inferences may be drawn from them. The process by which the illustration of such subjects may be effected, is thus explained by Mr. Jardine, in his remarks on what he calls “ The Fourth Order of Themes.” *
“ To investigate, is, in the original sense of the word, to search out for an absent object, by discovering and following ont the traces which it has left
* Jardine's “ Outlines of a Philosophical Education," page 322.
in the path over which it has passed. Thus, we attempt to discover a per son who has concealed himself, by marking his footsteps towards the placu of his retreat; and on the same principle, the hound may be literally said to investigate the track of the fox, by pursuing the scent, which remains on the line along which the latter had directed his flight. *
“ To these familiar processes may be compared the keen and earnest search of the mind, in its endeavors to ascertain the unknown causes and principles of things. Indeed, the perplexed anxiety which the set-dog often exhibits in the search of game, affords a striking example of the careful, anxious, and occasionally disappointed state of mind which the philosopher frequently experiences in his researches after truth. Trusting to a persua-sion, natural to the human mind, that every effect must have a cause, and that the connection between causes and their effects is constant and uni form, the student of nature proceeds through the labyrinth of phenomena, guided by the chain which associates every event he witnesses with some prior event, which he infers rnust have preceded it, iintil at length he arrives at that ultimate point, which marks the boundary of physical caus ation, and limits the researches of philosophy.
Suppose, for example, he proposes, as an object of investigation, to dis cover the state of Egypt in respect to government, science, and art, in the time of Moses, and the only datum given, is this single fact — that fine ļinen existed in Egypt at that period. In what manner should the student be directed to proceed? He must begin with directing his attention closely to this fact as an effect, and then consider that fine linen — that is, fine comparatively to other fabrics at that time-must be formed of fine threads, which can only be made of fine flax, which must also have gone through various acts of preparation, in which many workmen are employed, before the threads could be made into fine linen.
The production of fine flas supposes an improved state of agriculture, and the raising of many other kinds of grain, - wheat, barley, &c.,
– to support the cultivators of tax, and the artists who form it into cloth. In no country can flax be the sole article of cultivation. It may be, then, certainly in ferred, that, in the time of Moses, the art of agriculture, and the arts con nected with it, had arrived at considerable perfection.
Returning again to the datum, fine linen can be woven only in a fine loom, which must be accommodated to the fine texture of the threads; and a fine loom cannot be made without much skill in the arts of working meta) and wood. The former is extracted, with great labor, from ores, dug from the bowels of the earth, and must go through many difficult and laborious processes before it becomes malleable. The latter, also, must undergo inuch preparation before it can go into the hands of the carpenter; and the loom itself is a complex machine, supposing great skill and progress of the mechanical arts in Egypt at the time of Moses.
* The following remarkable instance of the wonderful powers of reasoning possessed by the allorigines of this country, is presented to the student, to enable him to prosecute similar inquiries to a satisfactory result. The extract is from “Thatcher's Listas of the Indians,
“. Owing partly to his organization, doubtless, as well as to his mode of living from childhood up, the senses of the Indian are extremely acute. It is related, in modern times, that a hunter, belonging to one of the western tribes, on his return home to his hut one day, discovered that his venison, which had been hung up to dry, had been stolen. After taking observations on th: spot, he set off in pursuit of the thief, whom he traced through the woods. Having gone a little distance, he met some per. sons, of whom he inquired, whether they had seen a little, old white man, with a short gun, accompanied by a small dog, with a short tail. They replied in the affirmative; and upon the Indian assuring them that the man thus described had stolen his veni. son, they desired to be informed how
he was able to give such a minute description of a person he had never seen. The Indian replied thus: The thief is a little man, I know by his having made a pile of stones to stand upon, in order to reach the venison from the height I hung it, standing on the ground. That he is an old man, I know by his short steps, which I have traced over the dead leaves in the woods; that he is a white man,
know by his turning out his toes when he walks, which an Indian never does; his gun, I know to be short, by the mark the muzzle made in rubbing the bark of the tree where it leaned ; that his dog is small, I know by his tracks, and that he bas a short tan!, I discovered by the mark it made in the dust where he was sitting, at the time that is master was taking down the venison."
The weaving of fine linen, too, supposes that artists, by imitation and ex ample, have acquired skill and dexterity in that art; and such perfection cannot be expected in any country, till a division of labor — the greatest instrument of improvement in all the arts - be in some degree establ.shed
The skilful weaver must be wholly occupied in making fine linen; and, therefore, there must exist many other artists employed in providing food, clothes, and lodging, the necessaries and conveniences of life.
Before the arts could have made such progress in any country, men must have acquired much knowledge of facts and events, by observation and ex perience; and have laid the foundation of general knowledge, by speculat ing on means of improving the arts; on removing the obstacles which retard their progress, and in opening up prospects of higher degrees of per fection.
Farther, without taking up time to follow the natural and connected pro gress of the arts from their rude to their more perfect state, - I conclude this process of investigation with observing, that there can be little progress either in art or science in any country, without the existence of a supreme, controlling power, in some or other of its forms; by which men are com pelled to live in peace and tranquillity, and the different orders of society are prevented from encroaching on each other, by every individual being kept in his proper station. No arts or division of labor, — no fine linen or fine workmanship of any kind, can be found in those nations which live in continual warfare, either among themselves, or with their neighbors. Thus, by such a continued chain of regular and progressive deductions, proceeding from the datum with which it began, and without information from any other quarter, we have sufficient reason to believe, that, at the time of Moses, Egypt was a great and populous country ; that the arts and sciences had made considerable progress, and that government and laws were estab lished.
Subjects for illustration. What may be learned of the state of Greece, and of the character of that nation at the time when Homer wrote the Iliad, without drawing information from any other source than from the Iliad itself?
What was the state of the Highlands of Scotland, as indicated by the poems of Ossian ? Are there any marks in these poems of a later origin than that generally assigned to them?
What were the causes which produced an absolute governinent at Rome under Augustus ?
What occasioned the conspiracy of Catiline ?
Is the character of Hannibal, in Livy, supported by the narrative he has given of his transactions ?
What were the gronnds upon which the Trojans trusted to Simon's account of the wooden horse ?
What are the difficulties which occur in forming a standard of taste ? In what sense is poetry called an imitative art ?
What are the proofs by which Horne Tooke confirms his theory of the ongin of prepositions and conjunctions in the English language?
What are the standards by which we judge of the perfection of one lan guage above another?
What are the causes which render it difficult for the student to acquire habit of attention ? What was the origin of the present political parties in the United States' LXXII.
ON THE TREATMENT OF A SUBJECT
The first and leading object of attention in every womposition is, to determine the precise point of inquiry, - the proposition which is to be laid down and supported, or the subject which is to be explained or described. Unless the writer has steadily before him some fixed purpose which he would obtain, or some point which he would reach, he will be liable to go astray,
- to lose himself and his readers. It is not until he has determined on the definite object that he proposes to accomplish, that he can know what views to present, and how to dwell on the different topics he may discuss.
Let us suppose, in illustrating the views now to be presented, that the thoughts of the writer have been turned towards the manifestations of wisdom, goodness, and power, in the works of creation around him, and he wishes his readers to be mindful of these things. By asking himself the three following questions with regard to the train of thought in his mind, his ideas will immediately assume some definite form, and he will be enabled to present them in a lucid and systematic manner.
1st. What is the fact ?
And with regard to the first point of inquiry, namely, 'What is the fact ?' in reply it may be said, — that, in the material world, there are numerous indications of infinite wisdom and benevolence, and of. Almighty
power. 2. Why is it so ?' or, How is the existence of these works to be ac counted for? What is the cause ? To which it may be replied, that God created them.
3. Again ; 'What consequences result from it?' To this the answer may be given, that - Men should live mindful of God.
By embodying the results of these inquiries, he will obtain the follow. ing conclusion or point at which he aimed, namely, Men who live in the midst of objects which show forth the perfections of the great Creator should live mindful of him.
It is not necessary, that the proposition to be supported should always be thus formally stated, though this is usually done in writings of an ar gumentative nature. Sometimes it is elegantly implied, or left to be in ferred from the introductory remarks.
It is a common impression with young writers, that the wider the field of inquiry on which they enter, the more abundant and obvious will be the thoughts which will offer themselves for their use. Hence, by se. lecting some general subject, they hope to secure copiousness of matter. and thus to find an easier task. Experience, however, shows that the reverse is trne, – that, as the field of inquiry is narrowed, questions arise
ninie exciting to the mind, and thoughts are suggested of greater value and interest to the readers. Suppose, as an illustration, that a writer proposes to himself to write an essay on 'Literature.' Amidst the nu merous topics which might be treated upon under this term, no unuy could be preserved. The thoughts advanced would be common-place and uninteresting. But let some distinct inquiry be proposed, or some asser tion be made and supported, and there will be an influx of interesting thoughts presented in a distinct and connected manner.
Instead, therefore, of the general subject · Literature, let us suppose a particular subject, namely, a Defence of literary studies in men of business' is proposed. It will be seen by the following model how spontaneously, as it were, ideas will present themselves, and with what ease thev can be arranged with the strictest regard to unity.
A DEFENCE OF LITERARY STUDIES IN MEN OF BUSINESS.
Among the cautions which prudence and worldly wisdom inculcate ou the young, or at least among those sober truths which experience often pre tends to have acquired, is that danger, which is said to result from the pur suit of letters and of science, in men destined for the labors of business, for the active exertions of professional life. The abstraction of learning, the speculations of science, and the visionary excursions of fancy are fatal, it is said, to the steady pursuit of common objects, to the habits of plodding in dustry, which ordinary business demands. The fineness of mind which is created or increased by the study of letters, or the admiration of the arts, is supposed to incapacitate a man for the drudgery by which professional eminence is gained; as a nicely tempered edge, applied to a coarse and rugged material, is unable to perform what a more common instrument would have successfully achieved. A young man, destined for law or com merce, is advised to look only into his folio of precedents, or his method of pook-keeping; and dulness is pointed to his homage, as that benevolent goddess, under whose protection the honors of station and the blessings of opulence are to be obtained; while learning and genius are proscribed, lo leading their votaries to barren indigence and merited neglect.
In doubting the truth of these assertions, I think I shall not entertain any hurtful degree of skepticism, because the general current of opinion seems, of late years, to have set too strongly in the contrary direction, and one may endeavor to prop the falling cause of literature, without being accused of blameable or dangerous partiality.
In the examples which memory and experience produce of idleness, of dissipation, and of poverty, brought on by indulgence of literary or poetical enthusiasm, the evidence must necessarily be on one side of the question only. Of the few whom learning or genius has led astray, the il success or the ruin is marked by the celebrity of the sufferer. Of the many who have been as dull as they were profligate, and as ignorant as they were poor, the fate is unknown, from the insignificance of those by, whom it was endured. If we may reason a priori on the matter, the chance, I think, should be on the side of literature. In young minds of any vivacity, thers is a natural aversion to the drudgery of business, which is seldom overcome, till the effervescence of youth is alsayed by the progress of time and habit, or till that very warmth is enlisted on the side of their profession, by the opening prospects of ambition or emolument. From this tyranny, as youth conceives it, of attention and of labor, relief is commonly sought from somo favorite avocation or amusement, for which a young man either finds of