Essays Æsthetical eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about Essays Æsthetical.

“Many a deep glance, and often with unspeakable precision, has he cast into mysterious Nature, and the still more mysterious Life of man.  Wonderful it is with what cutting words, now and then, he severs asunder the confusion; sheers down, were it furlongs deep, into the true center of the matter; and there not only hits the nail on the head, but with crushing force smites it home and buries it....

“Occasionally, as above hinted, we find consummate vigor, a true inspiration; his burning thoughts step forth in fit burning words, like so many full-formed Minervas, issuing amid flame and splendor from Jove’s head; a rich idiomatic diction, picturesque allusions, fiery poetic emphasis, or quaint tricksy twins; all the graces and terrors of a wild imagination, wedded to the clearest intellect, alternate in beautiful vicissitude.  Were it not that sheer sleeping and soporific passages, circumlocutions, repetitions, touches even of pure doting jargon so often intervene....  A wild tone pervades the whole utterance of the man, like its key-note and regulator; now screwing itself aloft as into the Song of Spirits, or else the shrill mockery of fiends; now sinking in cadences, not without melodious heartiness, though sometimes abrupt enough, into the common pitch, when we hear it only as a monotonous hum; of which hum the true character is extremely difficult to fix....

“Under a like difficulty, in spite even of our personal intercourse, do we still lie with regard to the professor’s moral feeling.  Gleams of an ethereal love burst forth from him, soft wailings of infinite pity; he could clasp the whole universe into his bosom, and keep it warm; it seems as if under that rude exterior there dwelt a very seraph.  Then, again, he is so sly, and still so imperturbably saturnine; shows such indifference, malign coolness, towards all that men strive after; and ever with some half-visible wrinkle of a bitter, sardonic humor, if indeed it be not mere stolid callousness,—­that you look on him almost with a shudder, as on some incarnate Mephistopheles, to whom this great terrestrial and celestial Round, after all, were but some huge foolish whirligig, where kings and beggars, and angels and demons, and stars and street-sweepings, were chaotically whirled, in which only children could take interest.”



    [7] From Lippincott’s Magazine, 1870.

Words are the counters of thought; speech is the vocalization of the soul; style is the luminous incarnation of reason and emotion.  Thence it behooves scholars, the wardens of language, to keep over words a watch as keen and sleepless as a dutiful guardian keeps over his pupils.  A prime office of this guardianship is to take care lest language fall into loose ways; for words being the final elements into which all speech resolves itself, if they grow weak by negligence or abuse, speech loses its firmness, veracity, and expressiveness.  Style may be likened to a close Tyrian garment woven by poets and thinkers out of words and phrases for the clothing and adornment of the mind; and the strength and fineness of the tissue, together with its beauties of color, depend on the purity and precision, the transparency and directness of its threads, which are words.

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Essays Æsthetical from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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