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INTERROGATIONS, EXCLAMATIONS, CLIMAX, REPETITION.
21. Interrogations.—THE prime design of a question is to ask for information; but as a question naturally arrests the attention as if to demand a reply, it is often resorted to in excited feeling to express an assertion, by assuming that no other reply could be given than the one which the speaker believes to be correct. Therefore in oratory the question is often used with great effect.
This figure is so natural and so common that we need not illustrate it largely. We subjoin a few specimens culled at random from good authors:
"Can gray hairs render folly venerable ?"
"Is the world to gaze in admiration on this fine spectacle of virtue; and are we to be told that the Being who gave such faculties to one of his children, and provides the theatre for their exercise, that the Being who called this moral scene into existence, and gave it all its beauties, is to be forgotten and neglected, as of no consequence ?"
"Is talent or genius confined to the rich or powerful; or is it conferred indiscriminately on poor and rich, on weak and powerful?"
"He clothes the lily; feeds the dove,
The meanest insect feels his care
And shall not man confess his love ?---
A great part of the speaking and writing of earn
EXCLAMATIONS, INTERJECTIONS, CLIMAX. 209
est men is in the form of interrogatory. He who does not occasionally use it, even when expecting no reply, has reason to suspect that his feelings never rise above a dead level of placid contentment. The only caution needed upon the subject is to avoid so frequent or constant a use of this form of speech as justly to expose one to a charge of mannerism.
22. Exclamations.-Exclamations are similar to in
"When will they cease pressing me into the dust!"
"And may the disciples of Washington thus see, as we now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the Capitol; and then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely than this our own country!"
"Oh that I possessed the talent of eulogy, and that I might be permitted to indulge the tenderness of friendship in paying the last tribute to his memory! Oh that I were capable of placing this great man before you!"
23. Interjections.-The frequent use of interjections, such as oh! ah! alas! give an appearance of affectation and frigidity to style, and should be avoided.
24. Climax.-In the arrangement of thoughts and expressions, a peculiar force is commanded by securing a gradual increase of interest to the last. Let the feeblest expression come first, the strongest last. Such an arrangement is called a Climax.
Something like a gradual increase of assertion appears in the following sentence from Bancroft:
"The unparalleled persecution of vast masses of men for their religious creed occasioned but a new display of the power of humanity-the Calvinists preserved their faith over the ashes of their churchcs, and the bodies of their murdered ministers; the power of a brutal soldiery was defied by whole companies of faithful men that still as
sembled to sing their psalms; and from the country and from the city, from the comfortable homes of wealthy merchants, from abodes of an humble peasantry, from the workshops of artisans, hundreds of thousands of men rose up, as with one heart, to bear testimony to the indefensible, irresistible right to freedom of mind."
This sentence is pleasantly climacteric, and accomplished rhetoricians often use this style. A good period is usually a climax.
25. Anti-climax.-An Anti-climax is sometimes resorted to, to belittle a subject..
Hawthorne speaks of a custom, which he intended to ridicule, as "befitting the Christian, the good citizen, the horticulturist, and the gentleman." The fol lowing from Shakspeare is peare is very beautiful:
"What must the king do now? must he submit?
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads;
In the use of these two forms of expression, care should be taken to avoid an appearance of art. It is the highest art to conceal art.
26. Repetition. Repetition may be resorted to without tautology when the object is to deepen the impression, and the magnitude of the theme will justify it.
"He aspired to the highest! above the people! above the au thorities! above the laws! above his country!"
The peculiarity of repetition is to seize upon the most prominent thought and hold the attention upon it a long time. If the attention is not wearied, the impression is greatly deepened.
Pope, to awaken compassion for the fate of an unfortunate lady, says:
"By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
By strangers honored, and by strangers mourned."
Paul emphatically urges his argument in the form
of interrogatories with repetition, thus:
"Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am more."
'He adds to this still another series of climacteric repetitions, 2 Corinthians xi. 23. Observe how the impression of the value of science is increased by the following repetition of the word in Spencer's able work on education:
"Thus to the question with which we set out-What knowledge is of most worth ?—the uniform reply is-Science. This is the verdict on all the counts. For direct self-preservation, or the maintenance of life and health, the all-important knowledge is-Science. For that indirect self-preservation which we call gaining a livelihood, the knowledge of greatest value is-Science. For the due discharge of parental functions, the proper guidance is to be found only inScience. For that interpretation of national life, past and present, without which the citizen can not rightly regulate his conduct, the indispensable key is-Science. Alike for the most perfect production and highest enjoyment of art in all its forms, the needful preparation is-Science. And for purposes of discipline-intellectual, moral, religious-the most efficient study is, once more, Science."*
* Education, Intellectual, Moral, and Physical, by Herbert Speucer (New York, 1861), p. 93.