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Nature's rude impress, long before he knew
3. It can't be helped, though, if we're taken young,
To break the padlock of our boyhood's chain :
The clownish voice that utters road for road,
5. Once more speak clearly, if you speak at all;
Do put your accents in the proper spot;
Don't let me beg you-don't say "How?" for "What?"
Don't strew the pathway with those dreadful urs.' HOLMES. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, son of the late Abiel Holmes, D.D., was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 29th of August, 1809. He received his early education at Phillips Exeter Academy, and entered Harvard University in 1825. On being graduated, after a year's application to the study of law, he relinquished it, and devoted himself with ardor and industry to the pursuit of medicine. He visited Europe in the spring of 1833, principally residing at Paris while abroad, where he attended the hospitals, became personally acquainted with many of
the most eminent physicians of France, and acquired an intimate knowledge of the language. He returned to Boston near the close of 1835, and in the following spring commenced the practice of medicine in that city. He soon acquired a large and lucrative practice, and in 1847 succeeded Dr. Warren as Professor of Anatomy in the medical department of Harvard University. His earlier poems appeared in "The Collegian," a monthly miscellany, published in 1830, by the under-graduates at Cambridge. His longest poem, "Poetry, a Metrical Essay," was delivered before a literary society at Cambridge in 1835. He published "Terpsichore," a poem read at the annual dinner of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, in 1843; and in 1846, “Urania, a Rhyme Lesson," pronounced before the Mercantile Library Association. Since the "Atlantic Monthly" was started in 1855, he has been a leading contributor, both in prose and verse; and here first appeared his "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," and "Elsie Venner." A complete edition of his poems was published in 1862. Dr. Holmes is a poet of art and humor and genial sentiment, with a style remarkable for its purity, terseness, and point, and for an exquisite finish and grace. "His lyrics ring and sparkle like cataracts of silver, and his serious pieces arrest the attention by touches of the most genuine pathos and tenderness."
63. SOUND AND SENSE.
HAT, in the formation of language, men have been much influenced by a regard to the nature of the things and actions meant to be represented, is a fact of which every known speech gives proof. In our own language, for instance, who does not perceive in the sound of the words thunder, boundless, terrible, a something appropriate to the sublime ideas intended to be conveyed? In the word crash we hear the very action implied. Imp, elf,-how descriptive of the miniature beings to which we apply them! Fairy,-how light and tripping, just like the fairy herself!-the word, no more than the thing, seems fit to bend the grass-blade, or shake the tear from the blue-eyed flower.
2. Pea is another of those words expressive of light, diminutive objects; any man born without sight and touch, if such ever are, could tell what kind of thing a pea was from the sound of the word alone. Of picturesque' words, sylvan and crystal are among our greatest favorites. Sylvan!-what visions of beautiful old sunlit forests, with huntsmen and buglehorns, arise at the sound! Crystal!-does it not glitter like the very thing it stands for? Yet crystal is not so beautiful as its own adjective. Crystalline!--why, the whole mind is light
1 Pict`ür ĕsque', expressing that peculiar kind of beauty that is pleas ing in a picture, natural or artificial.
ened up with its shine.
for crystal can only be
And this superiority is as it should be; one comparatively small object, while crystalline may refer to a mass-to a world of crystals. 3. It will be found that natural objects have a larger proportion of expressive names among them than any other things. The eagle,—what appropriate daring and sublimity! the dove,what softness! the linnet,-what fluttering gentleness! "That which men call a rose" would not by any other name, or at least by many other names, smell as sweet. Lily,-what tall, cool, pale, lady-like beauty have we here! Viület, jessamine, hyacinth, a-nem'onè, geranium!-beauties, all of them, to the ear as well as the eye.
4. The names of the precious stones have also a beauty and magnificence above most common things. Dümond, sapphire, am'ethyst, ber'yl, ruby, agʼate, pearl, jasper, topaz, garnet, emerald, -what a caskanet of sparkling sounds! Diadem and coronet glitter with gold and precious stones, like the objects they represent. It is almost unnecessary to bring forward instances of the fine things which are represented in English by fine words. Let us take any sublime passage of our poëtry, and we shall hardly find a word which is inappropriate in sound. For example:
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The "gorgeous palaces," "the solemn temples,"-how adʼmirably do these lofty sounds harmonize with the objects!
5. The relation between the sound and sense of certain words is to be ascribed to more than one cause. Many are evidently imitative representations of the things, movements, and acts, which are meant to be expressed. Others, in which we only find a general relation, as between a beautiful thing, and a beautiful word, a ridiculous thing and a ridiculous word, or a sublime idea and a sublime word, must be attributed to those faculties,
1 Răck, properly, moisture; dampness; hence, thin, flying, broken clouds, or any portion of floating vapor in the sky. This line is fre
quently read, "Leave not a vreck behind." It is manifest, however, that Shakspeare wrote rack, a more poetical and descriptive epithet.
native to every mind, which enable us to perceive and enjoy the beautiful, the ridiculous, and the sublime.
6. Doctor Wallis, who wrote upon English grammar in the reign of Charles II., represented it as a peculiar excellence of our language, that, beyond all others, it expressed the nature of the objects which it names, by employing sounds sharper, softer, weaker, stronger, more obscure, or more stridulous,' according as the idea which is to be suggested requires. He gives various examples. Thus, words formed upon st always denote firmness and strength, analogous to the Latin sto; as, stand, stay, staff, stop, stout, steady, stake, stamp, &c.
7. Words beginning with str intimate viölent fōrce and energy; as, strive, strength, stress, stripe, &c. Thr implies forcible motion as, throw, throb, thrust, threaten, thraldom, thrill: gl, smoothness or silent motion; as, glib, glide: wr, obliquity or distortion; as, wry, wrest, wrestle, wring, wrong, wrangle, wrath, &c.: sw, silent agitation, or lateral' motion; as sway, swing, swerve, sweep, swim: sl, a gentle fall or less observable motion; as, slide, slip, sly, slit, slow, slack, sling: sp, dissipation or expansion; as, spread, sprout, sprinkle, split, spill, spring.
8. Terminations in ash indicate something acting nimbly and sharply; as, crash, dash, rash, flash, lash, slash: terminations in ush, something acting more obtusely and dully; as, crush, brush, hush, gush, blush. The learned author produces a great many more examples of the same kind, which seem to leave no doubt that the analogies of sound have had some influence on the formation of words. At the same time, in all speculations of this kind, there is so much room for fancy to operate, that they ought to be adopted with much caution in forming any general theory.
ROBERT CHAMBERS, a noted Scottish writer and publisher, remarkable for his energy and industry, was born in 1801. He, with his brother William, commenced trade in book-shops in Edinburgh; and, subsequently, became author and publisher. The brothers are completely identified with the cheap and useful literature of the day, in this country, as well as in the United Kingdom.
1 Strid' u lous, making a creaking sound.
A nǎl' o gous, correspondent; having a similarity with regard to
form, design, effects, etc., or in the relations borne to other objects.
3 Lǎt' er al, pertaining or belonging to the side; from side to side.
64. THE POWER OF WORDS.
ORDS are most effective when arranged in that order
W which is called style. The great secret of a good style,
we are told, is to have proper words in proper places. To marshal one's verbal battalions in such order that they must bear at once upon all quarters of a subject, is certainly a great art. This is done in different ways. Swift,' Temple,' Addison, Hume," Gibbon, Johnson, Burke, are all great generals in the discipline of their verbal armies, and the conduct of their paper wars. Each has a system of tactics of his own, and excels in the use of some particular weapon.
2. The tread of Johnson's style is heavy and sonorous, resembling that of an elephant or a mail-clad warrior. He is fond of leveling an obstacle by a polysyllabic battering-ram. Burke's words are continually practicing the broad sword exercise, and sweeping down adversaries with every stroke. Arbuthnot," "plays his weapon like a tongue of flame." Addison draws up his light infantry in orderly array, and marches through sentence after sentence, without having his ranks disordered or his line broken.
3. Luther is different. His words are "half battle;" "his smiting idiomatic phrases seem to cleave into the věry secret of
1 Jonathan Swift, of English descent, author of the "Travels of Lemuel Gulliver," was born at Dublin, in November, 1667. In the spring of 1713 he was appointed Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. As a writer of plain, pure, vigorous, idiomatic English, Swift had no equal; and he had hardly any superior as a satirist. He died in October, 1745. Sir William Temple, an eminent statesman and writer, born at London, in 1628, and died in 1700.
'David Hume, one of the most celebrated historians and philosophers of Great Britain, author of a "History of England," was born at
Edinburgh, Scotland, April 26th, 1711, and died in August, 1776.
Edmund Burke, a celebrated British orator, statesman, and philosopher, was born at Dublin, Jan. 1st, 1730, and died July 8th, 1797.
'John Arbuthnot, an eminent English physician of the 17th century, but more distinguished as a man of wit and letters; the associate of Pope and Swift, and the companion of Bolingbroke at the court of Queen Anne: born in 1675, and died in 1735.
"Martin Luther, the great German reformer, was born November 10th, 1483, and died on the 18th of February, 1546.