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account of the rich, and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing but in the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it.

O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; . . what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised; thou hast drawn together all the farstretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, hic jacet!-Sir Walter Raleigh.

31. Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf,
But that he sees the Romans are but sheep;
He were no lion, were not Romans hinds;
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws; what trash is Rome,
What rubbish, and what offal, when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate

So vile a thing as Cæsar! But, O grief!
Where hast thou led me?-Shakespeare.

32. As the vine which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs; so it is beautifully ordained by Providence that woman, who is the dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.—Irving.



All that trains the mind to severe thinking, and the heart to right feeling, prepares the way for perspicuous utterance.-DR. BASCOM.


ERSPICUITY, from the Latin perspicio, means, etymologically, capable of being seen through. Rhetorically, it is the use of such words, phrases, and sentences, as will convey our ideas to others clearly and readily.

It will appear at once that this is the principal quality of expression. Language that is not intelligible, or not easily so, fails, proportionately, of the end for which language is employed. So far as the attention is absorbed by the medium of communication, so far is it withdrawn from the thought communicated. To be compelled to follow a writer with care, to pause, and to re-read, in order to comprehend his meaning, is to ordinary minds displeasing. Discourse,' says Quintilian, 'ought always to be obvious, so that the sense shall enter the mind as sunlight the eyes, even though they are not directed upwards to the source.' We should take pains not only that the meaning may be understood, but that it must be understood.

It is equally evident that perspicuity is relative rather than absolute. It is determined, not so much by the nature of subjects treated, as by the power of persons addressed. What is clear to one individual or class, may be obscure to another. The mental capacity of those to be instructed, pleased, or persuaded, must furnish the guide and law of composition. Upon the immature and illiter

ate, many of the choicest sentiments of an Addison or an Irving would be lost. A scientific treatise may be admirably clear to scientists, or to those acquainted with the elements of the particular science, but utterly unintelligible, however skilfully presented, to such as have not the requisite attainments. To be intelligible to all would be impossible. Perspicuity demands only that the inherent difficulty of a theme should not be increased by the mode of presenting it, and that time and attention should not be needlessly consumed in overcoming difficulties of expression. We are herewith to consider the chief conditions upon which this result depends.

Purity. If a writer or speaker of to-day should say, 'He plunged in for to save her life,' it would be objected at once that 'for' is now never joined to the infinitive with correctness. If it were asked on what authority this assertion is made, the answer would be that such a combination does not occur in the writings of those who are reputed good authors in the English language. Were it rejoined that the expression may be found in Shakespeare, as

Let your highness

Lay a more noble thought upon mine honor
Than for to think that I would sink it here,

the reply would be that this does not authorize its use at the present time. In writing or speaking we are bound to employ the signs or symbols which are prevalent, just as in buying or selling we must adopt the form of money that is circulating-not that which was current two hundred years ago, and which has been withdrawn from circulation. If it be asserted that the phrase may be found in some newspaper, or is used in a particular neighborhood or by a particular class, it would be replied that a phrase is not made a part of the English language, and therefore generally intelligible, simply by the example of

one person, even though esteemed a good writer, nor by that of a district, trade, or profession. Instead of seeking for illustrative passages in proof or disproof of the point in question, we may appeal to a dictionary, a work compiled by the method here indicated — by a careful examination of words as used by authors of reputation.

From these statements we learn that a form of expression admitted into an English composition should be familiar to the great body of intelligent people in English-speaking countries. It should have the sanction (1) of reputable use, as opposed to what is vulgar, partial, or limited; (2) of national use, as opposed to what is foreign, provincial, or professional; (3) of present use, as opposed to what is ancient or obsolete. If it conforms to these requirements—if it accords with the uniform, or preponderant, practice of recent reputable speakers and writers, it is said to be pure. Purity may hence be defined as the use of such words and such constructions as belong to the language employed, in its existing state, without reference to class, occupation, or abode. Purity is violated:

(1) By the use of obsolete words words which, once familiar, have ceased to be current in good prose literature or in common conversation. Language changes perpetually, and words will inevitably go out of fashion. The task of recalling them is committed mainly to poets. Sometimes it is the meaning or function, not the word, that is obsolete, as in Shakespeare's use of by in the sense of about, concerning:

Tell me, sirrah, but tell me true, I charge you,

By him and by this woman here what know you? (2) By the use of unauthorized neologisms — words which, formed by composition and derivation from native or foreign materials, have not received the sanction of genius, or the consent of the world of letters. So long as

English possesses vitality, it will continue to absorb new words, in spite of objection. They should, however, as the condition of legitimacy, denote a conception not adequately expressed by some native or naturalized term, and should be at once intelligible to those for whom they are designed. 'Not every person,' says Dryden, 'is fit to innovate.' Let the masters give the law and determine the practice. Others can follow no better counsel than that of Pope:

In words as fashions the same rule will hold,
Alike fantastic if too new or old;

Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

(3) By the use of alienisms—foreign words and constructions which express no thought nor shade of thought that is not expressed equally well or better by current phraseology. In the seventeenth century the employment of Latin and Greek was profuse. The present fashion is French. Most of us can recall the vexation of attempting to read the patchwork performance of some French-loving pedant. For illustration we need only glance into a fashionable periodical, or into a novel of the day. 'Heroes are always marked by an air distingué; vile men are sure to be blasés; lady friends never merely dance or dress well, they dance or dress à merveille. All the people belong to the beau monde, as may be seen at a coup d'œil.

(4) By the use of provincialisms-words and phrases peculiar to a district of country or section of people. Thus, recently a judge in California was puzzled by the phrase of a witness who deposed that he had seen in the plaintiff's field a right smart chance' of hogs. Upon inquiry it was learned that in the vernacular of the place 'a right smart chance' meant fourteen, and the jury was so charged. A widely extended language must, it

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