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Of vivacity as depending on the number of the words.

verbose. I shall therefore now consider some of the principal faults against that quality of style of which I have been treating.

PART I....Tautology.

THE first I shall take notice of is the tautology, which is either a repetition of the same sense in different words, or a representation of any thing as the cause, condition, or consequence of itself. Of the first, which is also the least, take the following example from Addison:

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The dawn is overcast

the morning lours; And heavily in clouds brings on the day *

Here the same thought is repeated thrice in different words. Of the last kind, I shall produce a specimen from Swift. "I look upon it as my duty, so far as God "hath enabled me, and as long as I keep within the "bounds of truth, of duty, and of decency-†” It would be strange indeed, that any man should think it his duty to transgress the bounds of duty. Another example from the same hand you have in the words which follow: "So it is, that I must be forced to get "home, partly by stealth, and partly by force ‡.” "How many are there," says Bolingbroke," by whom "these tidings of good news were never heard §?"

* Cato. Letter to Lord Lyttelton. Letter to Sheridan. § Ph. Fr. 38.

Sect. II. The offences against brevity considered.... Part I Tautology.

This is tidings of tidings, or news of news. "Never "did Atticus succeed better in gaining the universal "love and esteem of all men †." Either of the two words in italics might have been used, but not both.


It is also considered as of the nature of tautology, to lengthen a sentence by coupling words altogether or nearly synonymous, whether they be substantives or adjectives, verbs or adverbs. This fault is very common, and to be found even in our best writers. "In the Attic commonwealth," says Doctor Swift, "it "was the privilege and birthright of every citizen and "poet, to rail aloud and in public ‡.”—If he had said simply, "In the Attic commonwealth it was the pri

vilege of every citizen, to rail in public," the sentence would have lost nothing of the sense. And it is an invariable maxim, that words which add nothing to the sense or to the clearness, must diminish the force of the expression. There are certain synonymas which it is become customary with some writers regularly to link together; insomuch that a reader no sooner meets with one of them, than he anticipates the introduction of its usual attendant. It is needless to quote authorities, I shall only produce a few of those couples which are wont to be thus conjoined, and which every English reader will recollect with ease. Such are, plain and evident, clear and obvious, worship and adoration, pleasure and satisfaction, bounds and limits, suspicion

Spectator, No. 467. Z.

Preface to the Tale of a Tub.

Of vivacity as depending on the number of the words.

and jealousy, courage and resolution, intents and purposes. The frequent recurrence of such phrases is not indeed more repugnant to vivacity than it is to dignity of style.

BUT, is there no occasion on which synonymous words may be used properly? I answer, There are two occasions; and I do not at present recollect any other. One is, when an obscurer term, which we cannot avoid employing, on account of some connection with what either precedes or follows, needs to be explained by one that is clearer. The other is, when the language of the passions is exhibited. Passion naturally dwells on its object: the impassioned speaker always attempts to rise in expression; but when that is impracticable, he recurs to repetition and synonymy, and thereby in some measure produces the same effect. The hearer perceiving him, as it were, overpowered by his subject, and at a loss to find words adequate to the strength of his feelings, is by sympathy carried along with him, and enters into all his sentiments. There is in this case an expression in the very effort shown by recurring to synonymas, which supplies the deficiency in the words themselves. Bolingbroke exclaims in an invective against the times, "But all is little, and low, and mean among us *." It must be owned, that there is here a kind of amplification, or at least a stronger expression of indigna

* Spirit of Patriotism.

Sect. II. The offences against brevity considered....Part I. Tautology.

tion, than any one of these three epithets could have effected alone; yet there is no climax in the sentence, and in this metaphorical use of the words, no sensible difference of signification t. But every body must perceive that this manner suits only the popular and declamatory style, and that in those compositions which admit no species of the pathetic, it can have no place.


I OBSERVE further, that an adjective and its substantive will sometimes include a tautology. This happens when the former expresses nothing but what is implied in the signification of the latter. "Let them," says the Craftsman," throw as much foul dirt at me


as they please ‡." Of the same stamp are, the verdant green, the umbrageous shade, the sylvan forest, expressions not frequently to be met with, except perhaps in the writings of some of our minor poets. First aggressors, standard-pattern, subject-matter, and some few, are much commoner, but deserve to be exploded for the same reason.

LASTLY, in some single words there is so much of the appearance of tautology, that they ought in prose at least to be avoided. Such are, Most-highest, worser,

In these words of Cicero concerning Catiline," Abiit, exces"sit, evasit, erupit," there is a stronger expression of triumph than in any of them singly.

‡ No. 232.

Of vivacity as depending on the number of the words.

lesser, chiefest, extremest; for Most-high, worse, less, chief, extreme. The first occurs often in the translation of the psalms inserted in the liturgy, and has thence acquired something venerable in its appearance*; the second, though used in Shakespeare's time, is at present obsolete. I know not why the other three have not before now shared the same fate.

PART II....Pleonasm.

ANOTHER trespass against this species of vivacity is the pleonasm, which implies barely superfluity, or more than enough. Here, though the words do not, as in the tautology, repeat the sense, they add nothing to it. For instance, "They returned back again to the same city from whence they came forth;" instead of" They returned to the city whence they came.' The five words back, again, same, from, and forth, are mere expletives. They serve neither for ornament nor for use, and are therefore to be regarded as encum


* It is to this, I think, solely that the approbation of those whose ears are accustomed to that expression in public worship, is to be ascribed, and not, as Dr Lowth supposes, [Introd. Adject.] to a singular propriety from the subject to which it is applied, the Supreme Being, who is higher than the highest. For if this reason were good, we should also find a singular propriety in the phrases most wisest, and most best, when applied to God, because he is as certainly wiser than the wisest, and better than the best. By the same rule, the Supremest Being would be a title much more emphatical than the Supreme Being.

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