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T HE most necessary, and the most
I useful Character of a Style fit for Instruction is; that it be plain, perspicuous and eafy. And here I Thall first point out all these Errors in Style, which diminish or destroy the Perfpicuity of it, and then mention a few Directions, how to obtain a perspicuous and easy Style.
The Errors of a Style which must be avoid ied by Teachers, are these that follow :
: 1. THE Use of many foreign Words; which are not suficiently naturalized and mingled, with the Language which we speak or write. 'Tis true, that in teaching the Sciences in English, we must sometimes use Words borrowed from the Greek and Latin; for we have not in Englith Names for a Variety of Subjects which belong to Learning; but when a Man effects, upon all Occasions, to bring in long sounding Words from the ana cient Languages without Necessity, and mingles French and other outlandish Terms and Phrases, where plain English would serve as well, he betrays a vain and foolish Genius unbecoming a Teacher.
2. AVOID a fantastick learned Styles borrowed from the various Sciences, where the Subjeet and Matter do not require the Use of them. Don't affect Terms of Art on every Occasion, nor seek to show your Learning, by founding Words and dark Phrases; this is properly called Pedantry.
YOUNG Preachers just come from the Schools, are often tempted to fill their Sermons with logical and metaphysical Terms in explaining their Text, and feed their Hearers with sonorous Words of Vanity. This scholastick Language, perhaps, may flatter their own Ambition, and raise a Wonderment at their Learning among the staring Multitude, without any manner of Influence toward the Instruction of the Ignorant, or the Reformation of the linmoral or Impious: These Terms of Art are but the Tools of an Artificer, by which his work is wrought in private ; but the Tools ought not to appear in the finish'd Workmanship.
There are some Persons so fond of Geometry, that they bring in Lines and Circles, Tangents and Parabolas, Theorems, Problems and Postulates, upon all Occasions. Others who have dealt in Astronomy, borrow, even their Nouns and their Verbs, in their common Discourse, from the Stars and Planets; instead of saying, Jacob bad twelve Sons, they tell you, Jacob had as many Sons as there are Signs in the Zodiac. If they describe an in
constant constant Person, they make a Planet of him, and set him forth in all his Appearances, Direct, Retrograde and Stationary. If a Candle be set behind the Screen, they call it Eclipsed, and tell you fine Stories of the Orbit and the Revolutions, the Radii and the Limb or Circumference of a Cart-wheel.
OTHÈRS again dress up their Sense in Chy: mnical Language, Extracts and Oils, Salts and Effences, exalt and invigorate their Discourses A great Wit with them, is fublimated Spirit; and a Blockhead, is Caput Mortuum. A ceru tain Doctor in his Bill, swells in his own Idea when he tells the Town, that he has been Counsellor to the Counsellors of several Kings and Princes, that he has arrived at the Knowledge of the Green, Black, and Golden Dragon, known only to Magicians and Hermetic Philosophers. It would be well if the Quacks alone had a Patent for this Lan
III. There are some fine affected Words that are used only at Court, and some peculiar Phrases that are founding or gaudy, and belong only to the Theatre ; these should not come into the Le&tures of Inftruction : the Language of Poets has too much of Metaphor in it, to lead Mankind into clear and distinct Ideas of Things : The Business of Poesy is to ftrike the Soul with a glaring Light, and to urge the Passions into a Flame by splendid Shews, by strong Images, and a pathetic Vehe
mence mence of Style; but 'tis another Sort of Speech, that is best suited to lead the calm Enquirer into juft Conceptions of Things.
IV. THERE is a mean vulgar Style, borrowed from the lower Ranks of Mankind, the bafest Characters and meanest Affairs of Life: This is also to be avoided; for it should be supposed, that Persons of a liberal Education, have not been bred up within the hearing of such Language, and consequently they cannot understand it; besides, that it would create very offensive Ideas, Thould we borrow even Similies for Illustration from the Scullery, the Dunghil, and the
Jakes. An obscu
V. AN obfcure and mysterious manner of Expression and cloudy Langkage is to be avoided. Some Persons have been led by Education, or by some foolish Prejudices, into a dark and unintelligible Way of thinking and speaking, and this continues with them all their Lives, and clouds and confounds their Ideas : Perhaps some of these may have been blest with a great and comprehensive Genius, with sublime natural Parts, and a Torrent of Ideas flowing in upon them; yet for want of Clearness, in the manner of their Conception and Language, they sometimes drown their own Subject of Discourse, and overwhelm their Argument in Darkness and Perplexity. Such Preachers as have read much of the mystical Divinity of the Papists, and imitated their
manner of Expression, have many times buried a fine Understanding under the Obscurity of such a Style.
'VI. A long and tedious Style is very improper for a Teacher, for this also lessens the Perspicuity of it. Some learned Writers are never satisfied, unless they fill up every Sentence with a great Number of Ideas and Sentiments; they (well their Propositions to an enormous Size by Explications, Exceptions and Precautions, lest they should be mistaken, and croud them all into the fame Period; they involve and darken their Discourse by many a Parenthesis, and prolong their Sentences to a tiresome Extent, beyond the Reach of a common Comprehension : Such Sort of Writers or Speakers may be rich in Knowledge, but they are seldom fic to communicate it. He that would gain a happy Talent for the Instruction of others, must know how to disintangle and divide his Thoughts, if too many of them are ready to croud into one Paragraph ; and let him rather speak three Sentences distinctly and perspicuously, which the Hearer receives at once with his Ears and his Soul, than croud all the Thought into one Sentence, which the Hearer has forgot before he can understand it.
But this leads me to the next Thing I proposed, which was to mention some Methods, whereby such a Perspicuity of Style may be obtained as is proper for Instruction.