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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1878, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
THE epigrammatic saying, “ Writers are not made by rhetoric," is not unfrequently quoted as a reason for depreciating a valuable study, and for advocating in its place the practice of exercises in composition. If the only aim of rhetoric were to make good writers, this objection would have to be met and answered; but if it have another and a broader purpose, then its true character should be clearly ascertained and set forth with emphasis.
There is an important distinction between rhetoric and composition. The latter is concerned with practical exercises by which the student acquires skill in writing; the former embraces that wide field of survey by which he makes himself familiar with the qualities of literature. The province of each is therefore quite distinct, and where this is not clearly apprehended, there is a danger lest the work of rhetoric as an educational instrument may not be sufficiently appreciated, and that it may be neglected for the more practical but altogether different work of exercises in composition.
It may be conceded that great writers, like great poets, are born, not made; but for the average mind some training is necessary before it can secure the best power of expression. The most direct way towards the attainment of skill and aptitude in this respect is undoubtedly afforded by the practice of composition; and where this is judiciously carried out it can hardly fail to give to the diligent student the habit of ready and effective writing. But the student cannot proceed far without meeting with something which lies beyond the simpler forms of composition. He becomes aware of the persuasive power of style, the harmony of words, and the ever - varying features of figurative expression; he encounters many different modes by which the writer may accumulate the material for his work, classify his thoughts, and present them in order. Such things as these must be considered in every manual of composition; and those who write much, and attain to success, will generally acquire a knowledge of the facts and principles which form the subject - matter of rhetorical works, even though such works may never have been read. The direct study of these subjects in a formal treatise may therefore be regarded as of no little importance to those who wish to succeed as writers, since it will give them an early and methodical knowledge of that which otherwise they will only learn after a long period and in an unmethodical manner.
But while the number of writers is necessarily limited, the number of those who love literature for its own sake is virtually unlimited. The reading of books is a very different thing from the writing of books; and the class of readers must always far outnumber the class of writers. It is to the former that the study of rhetoric chiefly commends itself, since it affords a way towards a larger as well as a finer discernment of those beauties in which they take delight. While, therefore, a knowledge of rhetoric is of great importance to the writer, it may be shown to possess a still higher value as a means of culture and educational discipline.
By culture is meant the refining and humanizing influence of art or letters, through which one attains to a more delicate sensibility of taste, and a higher and purer stage of intellectual enjoyment. means of culture, literature is at once more accessible, more effective, and more enduring than art. There
was a time when literary culture was considered possible only with those who studied the ancient classics; but at the present day a far larger field is recognized. It may arise in many ways, both in art and literature; and in the latter it may be effected by the study of German as well as Greek, Italian as well as Latin. For the great purposes of culture Dante is equal to Virgil, Goethe to Homer; while a familiarity with Shakespeare is of itself a liberal education. Of all literatures English is the most fully equipped, since it possesses works of the highest excellence in all its departments, many of which can never be surpassed, and some of which have never been equalled.
In order to obtain the full benefit of our literature, it should be studied in accordance with some system. In this way the effort after culture may be combined with an educational discipline not inferior to any which may be derived from the ancient classics. There are three modes by which the study of literature may be pursued: first, the philological ; secondly, the historical; and, thirdly, the rhetorical. The first has reference to the language, its origin and growth, its dialects and idioms; the second concerns itself with the rise and progress of literature, the influences by which it is affected, and the character which it assumes in different periods; while the third has to do with the style of various works, their excellences and defects, together with the principles upon which they are constructed. These three modes may all be carried on simultaneously; and though the teacher may emphasize one beyond the others, it would be a mistake to neglect any one in any scheme of liberal education. As to the first and second, there is at the present day but little danger of such neglect. The taste of the age is eagerly turned to philology and history; for the third there seems to be neither so lively an appreciation nor so vigilant a regard.
The study of rhetoric may be regarded as an analytical examination of literature. In this way the student is led to investigate the qualities of style, and the various forms of expression employed by different writers. He searches into the causes of literary success or failure; and endeavors to find out why it is that one author writes with clearness, another with persuasiveness; one expresses himself with energy, another with elegance; one is distinguished for vivacity, another for sonorous rhythm. He also makes himself familiar with the modes by which the material for composition is collected, set forth in proper order, unfolded in due course of discussion, amplified, illustrated, and enforced, till the purpose of the writer is attained. Besides this, he pays attention to those higher qualities of writing which appeal to the taste and influence the emotions. It will not fail to heighten his appreciation of literature thus to examine it from within and from without, to mark its frame-work and observe its adornment, to become acquainted with its beauties and its defects, to tell wherein these consist, to have the nomenclature of criticism and use it intelligently. Such a study, if properly pursued, must surely tend to true culture, and blend with this a fine educational discipline, awakening the more delicate sensibilities of the mind, and calling forth its more robust faculties into active exercise.
In the present work an effort has been made to consider everything that can properly be regarded as belonging to the province of rhetoric, and its contents embrace the subjects of style, method, the language of the emotions, and the general departments of literature. Under the head of style, the figures of speech have been subjected to a minute survey; and while the ancient names have been retained, a new classification has been adopted so as to make their character and mutual relation clearly apparent. It will not be forgotten that these figures of speech are something more than mere names. They are forms of expres