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French democratic writer will be apt to say capacités in the abstract for men of capacity, and without particularizing the objects to which their capacity is applied : he will talk about actualités to designate in one word the things passing before his eyes at the instant; and he will comprehend under the term éventualités whatever may happen in the universe, dating from the moment at which he speaks. Democratic writers are perpetually coining words of this kind, in which they sublimate into further abstraction the abstract terms of the language. Nay more, to render their mode of speech more succinct, they personify the subject of these abstract terms, and make it act like a real entity. Thus they would say in French, La force des choses veut que les capacités gouvernent*.


[As a further illustration of this observation, which I have only been able to exemplify by retaining the phrase of the original, I may be allowed to advert to the relative conditions of the French and English languages in this respect. The French (whether it be from their democratic social condition or from their national vivacity) have acquired a habit of dealing familiarly with general propositions, conveyed in very loose terms. The English (whether it be from their aristocratic manners, or from their national sobriety of character) have retained much more of the positive and the concrete forms

I cannot better illustrate what I mean than by my own example. I have frequently used the word EQUALITY in an absolute sense-nay, I have personified equality in several places; thus I have said that equality does such and such things, or refrains from doing others. It may be affirmed that the writers of the age of Louis XIV. would not have used these expressions: they would never have thought of using the word equality without applying it to some particular object; and they would rather have renounced the term

mocracy at which abstract ideas are enounced, upon a very superficial acquaintance, as absolute propositions, or personified till they are made to play the part of living agents. The innovations which the author points out in the text as having befallen the French language since the time of Louis XIV., are still, I think, inadmissible into the pure English. Hence arose the chief difficulty of rendering into our tongue forms of speech so repugnant to the positive genius of the language: for égalité, I have generally written the principle of equality; and I have endeavoured, whenever it could be done without abridging the author's meaning, to connect each abstract term with its appropriate object. There is perhaps a tendency in the age to disregard these distinctions, and to Gallicize or generalize our forms of expression; but if I were required to point out the class of authors who have done most to vitiate the language in this respect, I should have no hesitation in fixing upon the democratic writers in the late Westminster Review.

altogether, than have consented to make a living personage of it.

These abstract terms which abound in democratic languages, and which are used on every occasion without attaching them to any particular fact, enlarge and obscure the thoughts they are intended to convey; they render the mode of speech more succinct, and the idea contained in it less clear. But with regard to language, democratic nations prefer obscurity to labour.

I know not indeed whether this loose style has not some secret charm for those who speak and write amongst these nations. As the men who live there are frequently left to the efforts of their individual powers of mind, they are almost always a prey to doubt : and as their situation in life is for ever changing, they are never held fast to any of their opinions by the certain tenure of their fortunes. Men living in democratic countries are, then, apt to entertain unsettled ideas, and they require loose expressions to convey them. As they never know whether the idea they express today will be appropriate to the new position they may occupy tomorrow, they naturally acquire a liking for abstract terms. An abstract

put in it what ideas you please, and take them out again without being observed.

Amongst all nations, generic and abstract terms form the basis of language. I do not, therefore, affect to expel these terms from democratic languages; I simply remark, that men have an especial tendency, in the ages of democracy, to multiply words of this kind,—to take them always by themselves in their most abstract acceptation, and to use them on all occasions, even when the nature of the discourse does not require them.




Various different significations have been given to the word Poetry. It would weary my readers if I were to lead them into a discussion as to which of these definitions ought to be selected : I prefer telling them at once that which I have chosen. In my opinion, Poetry is the search and the delineation of the Ideal.

The Poet is he who, by suppressing a part of what exists, by adding some imaginary touches to the picture, and by combining certain real circumstances, but which do not in fact concur

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