Page images

1. ACCUSTOM yourself to read thofe Authors who think and write with great Clearnefs and Evidence, fuch as convey their Ideas into your Understanding, as fast as your Eye or Tongue can run over their Sentences; this will imprint upon the Mind an Habit of Imitation, we shall learn the Style with which we are very converfant, and practise it with Eafe and Succefs.

2. GET a diftinct and comprehenfive Knowledge of the Subject which you treat of, furvey it on all Sides, and make yourself perfect Master of it; then you will have all the Sentiments that relate to it in your View and under your Command, and your Tongue will very eafily clothe thofe Ideas with Words which your Mind has first made fo familiar and easy to itself.

Scribendi rectè fapere eft & principium & fons, Verbaque provifam rem non invita fequentur. HOR. de Arte Poet.

Good Teaching from good Knowledge fprings, Words will make hafte to follow Things.

3. BE well skill'd in the Language which you Speak; acquaint yourself with all the Iidoms and special Phrases of it, which are neceflary to convey the needful Ideas on the Subject of which you treat, in the most various and most eafy manner to the UnderC 2 standing

standing of the Hearer: The Variation of a Phrase in several Forms is of admirable Use to inftruct, 'tis like turning all Sides of the Subject to view; and if the Learner happen not to take in the Ideas in one Form of Speech, probably another may be fuccessful for that End.

UPON this Account I have always thought it a useful Manner of Inftruction, which is ufed in fome Latin Schools, which they call Variation. Take fome plain Sentence in the English Tongue, and then turn it into many Forms in Latin; as for Inftance, A Wolf let into the Sheep-fold, will devour the Sheep. If you let a Wolf into the Fold, the Sheep will be devour'd: The Wolf will devour the Sheep, if the Sheep-fold be left open. If the Fold be not left but carefully, the Wolf will devour the Sheep: The Sheep will be devour'd by the Wolf, if it find the Way into the Fold open. There is no Defence of the Sheep from the Wolf, unless it be kept out of the Fold. A Slaughter will be made amongst the Sheep, if the Wolf can get into the Fold. Thus by turning the active Voice of Verbs into the paffive, and the nominative Cafe of Nouns into the accufative, and altering the connection of short Sentences by different Adverbs or Conjunctions, and by ablative Cafes with a Prepofition brought instead of the Nominative, or by Participles fometimes put instead of the Verbs, the Negation of the contrary, in


ftead of the Affertion of the Thing first propofed a great Variety of Forms of Speech will be created, which fhall exprefs the fame Sense.

4. ACQUIRE a Variety of Words, a Copia Verborum, let your Memory be rich in fynonymous Terms or Words, expreffing the fame Thing: This will not only attain the fame happy Effect with the Variation of Phrafes in the foregoing Direction, but it will add a Beauty alfo to your Style, by securing you from an Appearance of Tautology, or repeating the fame Words too often, which fometimes may difguft the Ear of the Learner.

5. LEARN the Art of Shortning your Sentences, by dividing a long complicated Period into two or three fmall ones. When others connect and join two or three Sentences in one by relative Pronouns, as which, whereof, wherein, whereto, &c. and by Parentheses frequently inferted, do you rather divide them into distinct Periods, or at leaft if they must be united, let it be done rather by Conjunctions, and Copulatives, that they may appear like diftinct Sentences, and give lefs Confufion to the Hearer or Reader.

I KNOW no Method fo effectual to learn what I mean as to take now and then fome Page of an Author, who is guilty of such a long involved parenthetical Style, and tranflate it into plainer English, by dividing the C 3 Ideas


Ideas or the Sentences afunder, and multiplying the Periods, till the Language become fmooth and eafy, and intelligible at first Reading.

6. TALK frequently to young and ignorant Perfons, upon Subjects which are new and unknown to them, and be diligent to enquire, whether they understand you or no; this will put you upon changing your Phrases and Forms of Speech in a Variety, till you can hit their Capacity, and convey your Ideas into their Understanding.




Of convincing other Perfons of any
Truth; or delivering them from
Errors and Miftakes.


HEN we are arrived at a just and rational Establishment in an Opinion, whether it relate to Religion or comare naturally defirous of mon Life, we bringing all the World into our Sentiments; and this proceeds from the Affectation and Pride of fuperior Influence upon the Judgment of our Fellow-Creatures, much more fre

frequently than it does from a Senfe of Duty or Love to Truth: fo vicious and corrupt is human Nature. Yet there is fuch a Thing to be found as an honest and fincere Delight in propagating Truth, arifing from a dutiful Regard to the Honour of our Maker, and an hearty Love to Mankind. Now if we would be fuccessful in our Attempts to convince Men of their Errors and to promote the Truth, let us diveft ourselves as far as poffible of that Pride and Affectaion, which I mentioned before, and feek to acquire that difinterested Love to Men and Zeal for the Truth, which will naturally lead us into the best Methods to promote it. And here the following Directions may be useful.

I. IF you would convince a Person of his Mistake" choose a proper Place, a happy "Hour, and the fitteft concurrent Circumftan


ces for this Purpose." Do not unfeasonably fet upon him when he is engaged in the midst of other Affairs, but when his Soul is at Liberty and at Leifure to hear and attend. Accoft him not upon that Subject, when his Spirit is ruffled or difcompofed with any Occurrences of Life, and efpecially when he has heated his Paffions in the Defence of a contrary Opinion; but rather feize fome golden Opportunity when fome Occurrences of Life may caft a favourable Aspect upon the Truth of which you would convince him, or which may throw fome dark and unhappy

« PreviousContinue »