Page images

and the education of their children! Such would in truth be the last stage of civil society, in the sense of the lady in the comedy; whose lover having offered to give “ her the last proof of love and marry her."—She aptly replied, “The last indeed; for there's an end of loving."


But what say you to the bitter irony with which Mr. Harris treats the moderns in the concluding note to his doctrine of Conjunctions ? Where he says," It is some6 what surprising that the politest and most elegant of the 66 Attic writers, and Plato above all the reft, should have 66 their works filled with Particles of all kinds and with Conjun&tions in particular; while in the modern polite « works, as well of ourselves as of our neighbours, scarce “ such a word as a Particle or Conjunction is to be found. “ Is it that where there is connection in the meaning, " there must be words had to connect; but that where “ the connection is little or none, such connectives are of 66 little use That houses of cards without cement may « well answer their end; but not those houses where one 56 would chuse to dwell ? Is this the cause? Or have we “ attained an elegance to the antients unknown?

Venimus ad fummam fortunæ, &c.”

What will you say to Lord Monboddo, who holds the same opinion with Mr. Harris *?



I say that a little more reflection and a great deal less reading, a little more attention to common sense t, and less blind prejudice for his Greek commentators, would have made Mr. Harris a much better Grammarian, if not perhaps a Philosopher.--What a strange language is this to come from a man, who at the same time supposes these Particles and Conjunctions to be words without meaning ! It should seem, by this infolent pleasantry, that Mr. Harris reckons it the perfection of composition and discourse to

* “ This abundance of Conjunctions and Particles,” says he, Vol. II. page 179) “ is, in my opinion, one of the greatest beauties of the Greek

language, &c. For I am so far from thinking that that disjointed com

position and short cut of style, which is so much in fashion at present, " and of which Tacitus among the ancients is the great model, is a beauty: “ that I am of opinion it is the affectation of a deformity; nor is there, in

my apprehension, any thing that more disfigures a style, or makes it “ more offensive to a man of true Taste and Judgement in writing, &c.”

“ I shall only add at present, that one of the greatest difficulties of com“ posing in English appears to me to be the want of such connecting par“ ticles as the Greeks have, &c.

+ The author would by no ineans be understood to allude to the COMMON sense of Doctors Oswald, Reid, and Beattie; which appears to him to be thenonsense. sheer Oo



use a great many words without meaning !-If so, perhaps Master Slender's language would meet with this learned Gentleman's approbation.

« I keep but three men and a boy yet, till my mother “ be dead; but what though yet I live a poor gentleman < born.”

Now here is cement enough in proportion to the building. It is plain, however, that Shakespeare (a much better philosopher by the bye than moft of those who have written philofophical Treatises) was of a different opinion in this matter from Mr. Harris. He thought the best way to make his Zany talk unconnectedly and nonsensically was to give him a quantity of these elegant words without meaning which are such favourites with Mr. Harris and Lord Monboddo.


This may be raillery perhaps, but I am sure it is neither reasoning nor authority. This instance does not affect Mr. Harris : for All cement is no more fit to make a firm building than no cement at all. Slender's discourse might have been made equally as unconnected without any particles, as with so many particles together. It is the proper mixture of particles and other words which Mr. Harris would recommend; and he only censures the moderns for being too sparing of Particles.

ture Oo 2


Reasoning! It disdains to be employed about such conceited nonsense, such affected airs of superiority and pretended elegance. Especially when the whole foundation is false : for there are not any useful connectives in the Greek, which are not to be found in modern languages. But for his opinion concerning their employment, you shall have authority, if you please; Mr. Harris's favourite authority : an Antient, a Greek, and one too writing profeffedly on Plato's opinions, and in defence of Plato; and which if Mr. Harris had not forgotten, I am persuaded, he would not have contradicted.

Plutarch says —" Il n'y a ny Beste, ny instrument, ny

armeure, ny autre chose quelle qu'elle soit au monde, « qui par ablation ou privation d'une fiene propre partie, “ foit plus belle, plus active, ne plus doulce que paravant " elle n'estoit; là où l'oraison bien souvent, en estans les “ conjonktionis toutes Ofiées, a une force & efficace plus « affectueuse, plus active, & plus esmouvante.

quoy ceulx qui escrivent des figures de Retorique louent

C'est pour

66 &

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

" & prisent grandement celle qu'ils appellent deliée ; là 6 où ceulx qui font trop religieux & qui s'assubjettissent “ trop aux regles de la grammaire, sans ozer oster une “ seule conjonction de la commune façon de parler, en 66 sont à bon droit blasmez & repris ; comme faisans un “ stile enervé, sans aucune pointe d'affection, & qui lasse 66 & donne peine à ouir,” &c. *

I will give you another authority, which perhaps Mr. Harris may value more, because I value it much less.

« Il n'y a rien encore qui donne plus de mouvement au 6 discours que d'en ôter les liaisons. En effet, un discours

que rien ne lie & n'embarasse, marche & coule de soy“ même, & il s'en faut peu qu'il n'aille quelquefois plus “ vite que la pensée même de l'orateur.” Longinus then 66 gives three examples, from Xenophon, Homer, and De6 mosthenes; and concludes" En egalant & applaniffant C6 toutes choses

moyen de liaisons, vous verrez que 6 d'un pathetique fort & violent vous tomberez dans une 66 petite affeterie de langage qui n'aura ni pointe ni eguil« lon; & que toute la force de votre discours s'eteindra 66 auffi-toft d'elle-mesme. Et comme il est certain, que si



* Platonic Questions. Amyot's Translation.

« PreviousContinue »