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Ꮲ Ꭺ Ꭱ Ꭲ SECOND
EMOTIONAL QUALITIES OF STYLE
ALEXANDER BAIN, LL. D.
EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
I HERE present the Second and concluding Part of my revised and enlarged Rhetoric-the EMOTIONAL QUALITIES OF STYLE. So far as I know, this is the first attempt at a methodical and exhaustive account of these Qualities. The meagre discussion of them in the original work is now replaced by a more precise classification and a much ampler detail of examples.
It may not be amiss, at the very outset, to call the reader's attention to the fundamental, and all but unconquerable, difficulties that beset this subject; namely, the vague and indefinable character of the human feelings, the impossibility of stating their amount with preciseness, and of analyzing their composition in a convincing manner. These difficulties are equally felt by the methodical rhetorician, and by the unmethodical critic, who proceeds upon instinct, and perhaps despises Rhetoric. All alike have to use some kind of emotional terminology; the names for expressing states of mind, besides being more or less indefinite, must be liable to personal vagaries of interpretation. Only by very wide comparison and illustration can some approach be made to an understood standard, and to exactness in the use of critical diction.
With a view to the most advantageous handling of the subject, the following is the order of topics :
First is taken the CLASSIFICATION OF THE EMOTIONS Common to Poetry with the other Fine Arts. Seeing that the capability of discerning shades and varieties of emotion is not an early acquirement, the inference may justly be drawn, that their rhetorical handling is not suited to very young pupils. The disqualification is equally applicable to the most ordinary literary criticism, which assumes that all these emotions are, in kind and degree, familiarly conceived by those addressed. Possibly more might be done at school towards preparing pupils for this kind of study, by storing their memories with passages deliberately chosen to exemplify various kinds of poetic effect. Such passages might answer the purpose of instilling unconsciously the signification of emotional terms. Still, whatever be the experience that the pupils bring with them, there is an obvious advantage in distributing it under the heads of a classification adapted to the necessities of the subject. The second topic is AIDS TO EMOTIONAL QUALITIES in general. This is a survey of the most important conditions of a work of Art, under every form that it may assume. The conditions are Representative Force, Concreteness and Objectivity, Personification, Harmony, Ideality, Novelty and Variety, Plot, Refinement.
Thirdly, the QUALITIES themselves. The designations Strength or Sublimity, Beauty, Feeling or Pathos, Humour, Wit, Melody-have always entered into the enumeration of Artistic or Poetic qualities. With the exception of melody, Feeling is perhaps the least ambiguous of all. Most of the others are liable
to serious complications, which stand in the way of anything like scientific precision in the language of criticism.
1. The distinguishing quality of STRENGTH, as Sublimity, Power, Grandeur, would seem, at first sight, to be eminently definable and characteristic. Yet an examination in detail discloses this fact, namely, that the quality rarely appears without the presence of more specific emotions. In the pure form of manifested power, irrespective of the mode of its employment, its occurrence is exceptional, and the impressions made by it inconsiderable.
At this point, we find ourselves brought face to face with the contrasting couple of generic emotions,—on the one hand, Love, Tender Feeling, Sociability; on the other, Irascibility, Malevolence, Antipathy,—whose influence in Art, as in actual life, is so commanding, that prominence must be given to them above all other kinds of human feeling, pleasurable or painful. To present a suitable object to either of these, is to make certain of a warm response in almost every bosom. To exclude them wholly from a work of Art, though not impossible, is difficult and rarely attempted. In their absence, what might seem the happiest combinations are comparatively sterile. Almost the only thing that could atone for the deficiency would be some signal triumph of Melody.
As regards Tender Feeling, under all its various aspects, the course is clear. In it we are provided with one unmistakable division of the subject. The case is different with the Irascible or Malign Emotion. For reasons that can be justified only by the result, it is coupled with Strength-the first of the Qualities to