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time upon him. I remember he was far from satisfying either my friend Gilbert Wakefield or myself, when we read him. He abounds too much in minute and metaphysical distinctions, which are of little value, and can only be accounted in general a most elegant and ingenious trifler. Yet candour ought to make allowances for the age in which he lived. He was a divine, while totally ignorant of a true system of theology; and a moralist in a time when hu. man nature was depraved by the grossest prejudices and perversions. Had the light of Christianity but dawned upon his mind, he would have been the first of philosophers. He would probably not have lost himself in the mist of idle speculation, but would have pursued the star which drew the sages from the East; like them he would have worshipped, not with an idolatrous adoration, but " in spi. rit and in truth.”,

If I recollect rightly, the analytical method is pursued in almost all the dialogues of Plato. It seems indeed the only method that can be followed with success whenever the Socratic mode of reasoning (that which draws a conclusion from the concessions of your adversary) is

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employed. It is often a very pleasing method of inculcating truth, for the curiosity of the hearer or reader becomes frequently deeply interested in the process. The full design of the speaker is not perceived until the conclusion he aims to establish strikes with irresistible force upon the mind.

But however useful the analytical method may be where a prejudice is to be removed, or a new truth presented to the mind, still in works purely didactic or preceptive, the synthetic is the simplest, and the most readily comprehended.

In all disquisitions, or argumentative or didactic works, method and arrangement is of almost as much importance as either the matter or the style. The lucidus ordo is recommended by the earliest critics; and the remark of Pliny ought to be impressed upon the mind of every young writer, that “Even barbarians can express themselves with force and brilliancy; but to arrange with propriety, and dispose with elegance the parts of a work, is the task only of the learned,”* Never therefore sit down to !

* “Utinam ordo saltem & transitus & figuræ simul spectarentur. Nam invenire præclare & enunciare mag. VOL. I.


write before you have well digested in your mind the plan and order of what you intend. It is even useful to commit to writing a sketch of the method in which you mean to pursue your subject. This is indeed necessary to per. fection in any art; for a good painter always makes certain of a good and correct outline or design, before he sits down to fill up the various lights and shades of the picture.

The talent of methodizing, and that of eli. citing detached, though brilliant thoughts, are talents entirely different. The latter is the

operation of fancy, with little assistance from the reasoning power; the former is the act of a mind of large powers, and of extensive views of things.

There are two modes of composing, which are occasionally adopted according to the nature of the work, or the genius of the author. The first is when a number of thoughts, which have occurred at different times, but relating to the same subject, have been carefully noted down, and arc afterwards arranged and polished at the leisure of the writer. The other nificé, interdum barbari solent: disponere apté, varié nisi eruditis negatum est. -Pliny, EP. L. 3. E. 13.


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mode is, when the writer having, with much reading and reflection, made himself master of ihe subject, prosecutes the work in a connected order, and writes what spontaneously occurs to his mind. Each of these modes supposes a plan; but in the former case the plan seems to arise out of the materials which have been ori. ginally collected, perhaps without much regard to method, and is formed by diligently comparing and digesting them in the order in which they will appear to most advantage. In the other case, the writer follows a plan already conceived, and perhaps even laid down upon paper. Treatises composed in this way, there. fore, are more connected, and the parts harmonize with each other much better than in the former case.

In large works, however, and especially in compilations, it is necessary to make collec. tions, though it should not be done without a regard to order ; for there is scarcely any mind so rich as to be entire master of every part of a considerable branch of science.

The style of didactic or argumentative compositions should in general be plain and simple. Something will bowever depend upon the na

ture of the subject. In works on natural or experimental philosophy, or of deep reasoning upon any subject; where, in short, instruction is more the object than amusement, the style cannot be too simple. In moral and political treatises on the other hand, some scope may

be allowed to the imagination, and they will even be the better for some ornament, provided the writer does not indulge in too florid a style. By simplicity I would not be understood to recommend inelegance. In the most simple style, perspicuity, purity, and even harmony, are as much to be regarded as in the most laboured and rhetorical, and perhaps more so.

The style of an orator or declaimer may be compared to the full dress of a modern lady of taste and fashion ; that of the philosopher should have all the neatness of a young and beautiful quaker.

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