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Reading Books

The best literary style is that which is pleasant to read; and this is the style which is compacted and (as it were) consolidated by the conjunctions.

Words should be marshaled in the following way. First should be placed those that are not especially vivid; in the second or last place should come those that are distinctly so. In this way what comes first will strike the ear as vivid, and what follows as more vivid still. Failing this, we shall seem to have lost vigor, and (so to speak) to have lapsed from strength to weakness.

An illustration will be found in a passage of Plato: `when a man suffers music to play upon him and to flood his soul through his ears.' (a) Here the second expression is far more vivid than the first. And farther on he says: `but when he ceases not to flood it, nay throws a spell over it, thereupon he causes it to melt and waste away.' (b) The word `waste' is more striking than the word `melt,' and approaches more nearly to poetry. If Plato had reversed the order, the verb `melt, coming later, would have appeared too weak.

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