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the most accomplished kind put into a sentence pretty much what they felt like putting there. A century ago, we find this changed. From a style that resembles the heterogeneity of modern German, English has passed to a style that, more remotely, suggests at least in its observance of the principle of Unity the precision which makes so fascinating the style of the last two centuries in France. In other words, if we consider modern style - as I am disposed to - as the result of a constant conflict between good use and the principles of composition, we may say that in English sentences the principle of Unity has carried the day. So far as good use can be said at all to sanction a matter so remote from mere grammar, good use may be said at present abundantly to sanction unity of sentence - not dogmatically, as it governs words and grammatical forms, but in the form of a constantly strengthening tendency.

So we come to the principle of Mass: that the chief parts of each composition should be so placed as readily to catch the eye. In my first chapter I dwelt on this matter more than on that which we have just considered. I showed how, in writing, technical devices must do for the eye what in speech emphasis does for the ear; how the physical fact that written style is addressed chiefly to the eye has, in my opinion, more than a little to do with the principles which must govern our written composition. I showed, you will remember, how in any composition the points which most readily catch the eye are evidently the beginning



and the end. From which, of course. it follows that, broadly speaking, every composition - sentence, paragraph, chapter, book — may conveniently begin and end with words which stand for ideas that we wish to impress on our readers. And very lately I have called your attention to another fact which we should remember here: broadly speaking, the office of punctuation is to emphasize, – to do for the eye what vocal pauses and stress do for the ear, - to show what parts of a composition belong together, and among those parts to indicate the most significant. It is clear that periods emphasize more strongly than semi-colons; and semicolons than commas. From this, of course, it follows that in an ideally massed sentence the most significant words come close to the periods, the less significant close to the lesser marks of punctuation, the least significant in those unbroken stretches of discourse where there are nothing but words to arrest the eye. The test of a well-massed sentence, then, is very simple: Are the words that arrest the eye the words on which the writer would arrest our attention ?

With these principles in mind, let us glance at the four examples of English style to which I have already called your attention.

The passage from Ralegh, whatever its faults, is ideally massed. The words that catch the eye are in every case the chief ones; and at the same time the careful balance and antithesis of each separate clause indicate with great precision the comparative value of the ideas expressed.

The passage from Sir Thomas Browne is by no means so well massed : as a consequence, we find that we cannot read it by any means as fast. Before we can tell which words are significant we must in imagi. nation read the whole sentence aloud, and decide on what words to throw vocal stress. But in this decision we are greatly aided by the careful balance and antithesis that pervades the sentence.

In the passage from Fielding the artificiality of style is far less palpable than in the others; but the mass, though perhaps less satisfactory than Ralegh's, is distinctly better than Sir Thomas Browne's.

In the passage from Macaulay, the massing, though not so good as Ralegh's, is better than Browne's or Fielding's. And here, again, balance and antithesis come to the aid of punctuation.

In a general way, I think, these examples indicate two facts which I believe true. In the first place, it is very hard to mass a sentence well without making the artifice very palpable. To put a word in a conspicuous place, unless it chance to put itself there, is deliberately to alter the natural order of our words; and to alter the natural order of our words in an uninflected language is to strain, and often to violate, the author. ity of good use. From this would naturally follow the second fact I have in mind : that in the historical development of English style the conflict between good use and the principle of Mass has followed a course very different from that of the conflict of good use with the principle of Unity. In the case of the principle of Unity there was in the nature of things no reason why the principle should not more and more prevail. In the case of the principle of Mass, which conflicts directly with the naturally inflexible order of words in an uninflected language, every effort to apply the principle involves an artificial distortion of style. The result is just what we should expect. The conflict of principle and use is still at its height, and here is where modern students of style must exercise the greatest care not to stray farther than need be from principle.

An example from my own experience may serve to make this matter clearer.

It occurred while I was last discussing this very matter at Harvard College. I had come to this point,

I when I proposed a question that I have not yet mentioned. Granting, as we have seen, that the most conspicuous points in a sentence — or in any composition -- are the beginning and the end, is either of these more important than the other ? It is a natural fact that to most people — other things being equal — what is freshest in mind is most conspicuous. Perhaps chiefly for this reason, I asserted the end of a composition to be on the whole a more emphatic place than the beginning. And here, I pointed out, is the secret of anti-climax: intentionally or uninten. tionally as the case may be — with fatal loss of effect or with great ironical power — it emphasizes what, in the nature of things, should not be emphatic. And to close the whole subject, I wrote this sentence: "Be sure that your sentences end with words that deserve the distinction you give them.” Revising the passage, I was impressed by the fact that this sentence was perhaps as complete a violation as I could devise of the very principle it laid down. “Give them” were the most emphatic words; the next most emphaticthe opening ones — were, “Be sure.” Evidently that would not do. Applying the principle of Mass deliberately, I inquired what the chief words really were. Obviously, I saw, they were end and distinction. Striking out needless words, placing needful ones where, according to principle, they belonged, I found my sentence in a form in all respects superior to the first,

shorter, more compact, quite as freely idiomatic and perfectly massed. In that form it stands now, a counsel which I trust you will not find useless : “ End with words that deserve distinction.”

So we come to the principle of Coherence: that the relation of each part of a composition to its neighbors should be unmistakable. Applying this to sentences, it obviously means that the relation of each word and each clause to the context should be unmistakable. In a very general form, this statement covers by far the greater part of the rules which fill conventional textbooks of rhetoric. In a very general form, but I think an adequately suggestive one, it answers by far the greater part of the questions concerning composition which novices in the art address to teachers. As I have said, such questions almost always concern matters of detail; and in its very essence, the princi

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