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while he walked about his room; and that he never committed a sentence to paper till it was perfectly formed in his mind. The purest, best, and most expressive terms, should be chosen for narrative. Many of the vulgarisms which are allowed in the oratorical effusions of Mr. Burke, would not be endured in narrative, nor would he have introduced them. In the style of oratury we expect the flights and ec. centricities of fancy; we can forgive something that may disgust where there is much to please; but in that of narrative we expect an even flow, not turbid or impure.
The degree of ornament or figure to be em. ployed must depend in a great measure on the subject; but in general it is safer to attempt too little in the way of ornament than too much. Nothing tends more to confuse a narrative than a style too florid ; though figurative language, sparingly, and judiciously introduced, occasionally gives- animation. The comparison is a figure too flat and formal to suit with narrative, and almost the only figure which may be freely employed is the metaphor. But even metaphors, when introduced, should be easy and natural, for recondite or remote allusions
perplex the mind, and withdraw the attention from the subject. They must not be commonplace neither, for nothing renders“ a style so frigid as common-place ornaments. But after all, on this as on every practical subject of literature, I must have recourse to a maxim which I recommended very early in our correspondence. The attentive and studious perusal of the best writers in this, as well as in every other department, will effect infinitely more than any abstract rules or observations whatever. Read carefully the most approved narrators ; mark their manner of bringing events and circumstances before your view; observe their mode of connecting them; the compass and turn of their periods. You will see that there is nothing abrupt; nothing either defectively terminated, or violently or harshly introduced; or where there is a deviation from the thread or course of the story, the reader's mind is prepared by a short introduction or apology, so that the smoothness and simplicity of the narrative shall not be materially interrupted. As you will have to write in English, I would advise you to study the best models in your own language, for none has better writers.
of narrative. It will also be an improving exercise, if, after having read a long passage, and made yourself master of the facts, you close the book and try to narrate thein yourself, when the comparison will shew you your own defects, and enable you to avoid them on a future occasion. For the grave kind of narration examine the style of Robertson, Hume, Gibbon, Goldsmith,* and Dr. Ilawkeswortli's Voyages; for the lighter and more familiar kinds, the short narratives in the Spectator, 'especially those of Mr. Addison; some of a similar nature in the Rambler of Dr. Johnson ; and the Adventurer of Dr. Iławkesworth, will afford you unexceptionable specimens.
Description makes a part of every narrative, and is so nearly allied to this kind of composition, that it may be safely treated under the same head. Though I do not recommend so mechanical a practice as the use of topics, or communes loci, yet every person who has to describe should have always something of a ge
* The History of England, in a series of Letters from a Nobleman to his Son, is an admirable specimen of his torical language, sufficiently familiar, without any loss of dignity.
neral plan in his mind, to which he can recur, and which he may apply to particular cases, so that no material circumstance shall be omitted. Thus, in describing a place, the author must advert to the climate, the situation, the soil, the harbour, if a sea-port, the buildings, &c. In describing a battle, he will not forget the characters of the respective commanders, the nature of the troops, the proportions of cavalry and infantry, the characters of the sol. diers as to country, discipline, valour and conduct, the position, order, and disposition of the two armies. If he does this in the way of contrast, it will add greatly to the liveliness of the description. The account of the onset, and the issue of the engagement, must depend upon the particular facts and incidents,
Again, in the delineation of any human character, an historian will give some account of the personal qualities of the individual he decribes, as to stature, general appearance, and particularly as to the character of his counte.
He will notice his lineage and his edu. cation; the passions for which he has been most remarkable, the studies in which he has been most eminent, and thus proceed to the characteristic and marking features of his mind. Sallust perhaps exceeds every author, antient or modern, in the delineation of character. His portrait of Catiline is alive in every part; we do not look upon a picture, we see, and con-verse with the man.
Lastly, if you have to describe any natural ? phenomenon, it will be right to acquaint your. self philosophically with its causes and its effects, and this will operate against your forgete ting any material circumstance in the description. There is an excellent description of the presages of a thunder storm in Beccaria, which I have copied in the Economy of Nature. The moving pillars of sand in the desart, as described by Mr. Bruce, in his Travels, must in. terest any reader'; and the following descrip- • tion of a phenomenon, which is unfortunately not uncommon, will serve as a fair example: it is that of an earthquake by the Abbe Raynal.
“ This phenomenon; which is ever irregular in its sudden returns, is however announced by very perceptible omens. When the shock is considerable, it is preceded by a murmur in the air, the noise of which is like that of a