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that may be used when there is a tendency to the repetition of a word uses that render the book a very desirable addition to handy volumes for occasional reference.
MISUSE OF WORDS.
It is supposed that the development and the discipline of thought are to be conducted apart from the development and discipline of the power of expressing thought. Fill your head with words, and when you get an idea fit it to them — this is the current mode, prolific in famished intellects and starveling expressions. Hence the prevailing lack of intellectual conscientiousness, or closeness of expression to the thing - a palpable interval between them being revealed at the first probe of analysis. Word, and things having thus no vital principle of union, being, in fact, attached or tied together, they can be easily detached or unbound, and the expression accordingly bears but the similitude of life.
But it is honorable to human nature that men hate to write unless inspired to write. As soon as rhetoric becomes a mechanical exercise it becomes a joyless drudgery, and drudgery ends in a mental disgust which impairs even the power to drudge. There is consequently a continual tendency to rebel against common-place, even among those engaged in its service. But the passage from this intellectual apathy to intellectual character commonly lies through intellectual anarchy. The literature of facts connected by truisms, and the literature of things connected by principles, are divided by a wide, chaotic domain, appropriated to the literature of desperation; and generally the first token that a writer has become disgusted with the truisms of the understanding is his ostentatious parade of the paradoxes of sensibility. He begins to rave the moment he ceases to repeat.
Now the vital processes of thought and expression are processes of no single faculty or impulse, but of a whole nature, and mere sensibility, or mere understanding, or mere imagination, or mere will, can never of itself produce the effects of that collected, concentrated, personal power, in which will, intellect, and sensibility are all consolidated in one individuality. The utmost strain and stir of the impulses can but mimic strength, when they are disconnected from character. Passion, in the minds of the anarchists of letters, instead of being poured through the intellect to stimulate intelligence into power, frets and foams into mere passionateness. It does not condense the faculty in which it inheres, but diffuses the faculty to which it coheres. It makes especial claim to force; but the force of simple sensibility is a pretentious force, evincing no general might of nature, no innate, original, self-centred energy. It blusters furiously about its personal vigor, and lays a bullying emphasis on the
ME,” but its self-assertion is without self-poise or selfmight. The grand object of its tempestuous conceit is to make a little nature, split into fragmentary faculties and impulses, look like a great nature, stirred by strong passions, illumined by positive ideas, and directed to definite ends. And it must be admitted that, so far as the public is concerned, it often succeeds in the deception. Commonplace, though crazed into strange shapes by the delirium tremens of sensibility, and uttering itself in strange shrieks and screams, is essentially commonplace still, but it often passes for the fine frenzy and upward, rocket-like rush of impassioned imagination. The writer, therefore, who is enabled, by a felicitous deformity of nature, to indulge in it, contrives to make many sensible people guilty of the blasphemy of calling him a genius; if he have the knack of rhyming, and can set to music his agonies of weakness and ecstasies of imbecility, he is puffed as a great poet, superior to all the restraints of artistic law; and he is allowed to huddle together appetite and aspiration, earth and heaven, man and God, in a truculent fashion peculiarly his own. Hence such “popular” poems as Mr. Bailey's Festus and Mr. Robert Montgomery's Satan.
The misuse of words in this literature of ungoverned or ungovernable sensibility has become so general as to threaten the validity of all definitions. The connection between sign and thing signified has been so severed that it resembles the logic of that eminent master of argumentation of whom it was said " that his premises might be afflicted with the confluent small-pox without his conclusion being in any danger of catching it.” Objects are distorted, relations disturbed, language put upon the rack to torment it into intensity, and the whole composition seems, like Tennyson's organ, to be “groaning for power,” yet the result, both of the mental and verbal bombast, is simply a feverish feebleness, equally effecting thought and style. Big and passionate as are the words, and terrible as has been their execution in competent hands, they resolutely refuse to do the work of dunces and maniacs. The spirits are called, but they decline to come.
Yet this resounding emptiness of diction is not without popularity and influence, though its popularity has no deep roots, and its influence is shallow. Its superficial effectiveness is indicated, not more by the success of the passionate men who fall naturally into it, than by the success of the shrewd men who coldly intimate it. Thus Sheridan, who of all orators had the least sensibility and the most wit and cunning, adopted in many of his speechci a style as bloated as his own face, full of fustian deliberately manufactured, and rant betraying the most painful elaboration. Our own legislative eloquence is singularly rich in speeches whose diction is a happy compound of politic wrath and flimsy fancies, glowing with rage worthy of Counsellor Phillip's philippics, and spangled with flowers that might have been gathered in the garden of Mr. Hervey's Meditations, But we should do great injustice to these orators if we supposed them as foolish as they try to make themselves appear in their eloquence; and it is safe to impute more than ordinary reptile sagacity, and more than ordinary skill in party management, to those politicians who indulge in more than ordinary nonsense in their declamations. The incapacity to feel which their bombast evinces proves they are in no danger of being whirled into imprudences by the mad emotions they affect. Such oratory, however, has a brassy taint and ring inexpressibly distasteful both to the physical and intellectual sense, and its deliberate hypocrisy of feeling is a sure sign of profligacy of mind.
It is only, however, when sensibility is genuine and predominant that it produces that anarchy of the intellect in which the literature of desperation, as contrasted with the literature of inspiration, has its source. The chief characteristic of this literature is absence of restraint. Its law is lawlessness. It is developed according to no interior principle of growth; it adapts itself to no exterior principle of art. In view of this, it is somewhat singular that so large a portion of its products should be characterized by such essential mediocrity, since it might be supposed that an ordinary nature, disordered by passion, and unrestrained by law, with a brain made irritable, if not sensitive, by internal rage, would exhibit some hysteric burst of genius. But a sharp inspection reveals, in a majority of cases, that it is the old commonplace galvanized. Its heat is not that of fire, but of hot water, and no fusing-power is perceptible in its weltering expanse.
Even in those writers in whom this sensibility is connected with some genius, and the elements of whose minds exhibit marks of spontaneous power, we are continually impressed with the impotence of anarchy to create, or combine, or portray. They never present the thing itself about which they rave, but only their feelings about the thing. They project into nature and life the same confusion of objects and relations which exists in their own minds, and stir without satisfying. That misrepresentation is a mental as well as moral offence, and that no intellect is sound unless it be conscientiously close to the truth of things in perception and expression, are maxims which they scorn to allow as checks on their freedom of impulse. But, with all their bluster, they cannot conceal the limitation of their natures in the impudence of their claims.- Literature and Life.
FRANCES MIRIAM BERRY (““ Widow BEDOTT ”), an American humor
ist; born at Whitesboro, N. Y., November 1, 1811; died there, January 4, 1852. She was the daughter of Lewis Berry, was educated in villageschools, and in 1847 was married to the Rev. Benjamin W. Whitcher, pastor of a Protestant Episcopal Church at Elmira, N. Y., where she resided until 1850. She contributed to magazines and journals, and illustrated some of her works. Her writings were published collectively after her death.
These are: The Widow Bedott Papers, with an Introduction by Alice B. Neal (1855), and Widow Spriggins, Mary Elmer, and Other Sketches, edited, with a Memoir, by Mrs. M. L. Ward Whitcher (1867).
He was a wonderful hand to moralize, husband was, 'specially after he begun to enjoy poor health. He made an observation once, when he was in one of his poor turns, that I never shall forget the longest day I live. He says to me one winter evenin' by the fire — I was knittin' (I was always a wonderful great knitter) and he was smokin' (he was a master hand to smoke, though the doctor used to tell him he'd be better off to let tobacker alone; when he was well, used to take his pipe and smoke a spell after he'd got the chores done up, and when he wa’n't well, used to smoke the biggest part o' the time). Well, he says to me, says he, “Silly,” (my name was Prissilly naterally, but he ginerally called me “Silly,” 'cause 'twas handier, you know). Well, he says to me, says he, “Silly," and he looked pretty sollem, I tell you; he had a sollem countenance naterally — and after he got to be deacon 'twas more so, but since he'd lost his health he looked sollemer than ever, and cer