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hand, which is the tool you must use, is continually moving forward, and moving, as it were, in single file: : you cannot halt the words, and with them the ideas they contain, in order to make your reader look at them abreast. Accordingly, what you say on one page is always in danger of slipping away from your reader's mind when he gets four or five pages on. But if every now and then you gather together your results in a short summary, you put what is essential in them freshly before your reader. These essential results you can thus keep in his mind while he is going on with the next part of the explanation. Mr. Bryce, for example, after examining in a full page the relation of the national government to the private citizen, sums up the result in the words:
"The safe rule for the private citizen may be thus expressed : 'Ascertain whether the Federal law is constitutional (i. e. such as Congress has power to pass). If it is, conform your conduct to it at all hazards. If it is not, disregard it, and obey the law of your State.'"
In this brief rule he has gathered up all that is essential in the cases which he has been discussing; and by putting it in such easily remembered form he could be sure that it would stay in the foreground of his reader's memory alongside of what was to come after. In an exposition of any complexity, the value of such summaries cannot be overestimated. The safe rule is always to expect an inattentive reader, who will need to have his memory jogged.
When you can combine these devices, of explicit transitions and of summaries, you get your best effects. A connective is at its best when it sums up what you have accomplished and shows what you are going to do next. Macaulay was a great master of this summarizing connective; here is one example, from his "Essay on Sir William Temple":
"But though we are far indeed from considering Temple as a perfect statesman, though we place him below many other statesmen, we cannot deny that when compared with his contemporaries he makes a highly respectable appearance."
So Grote, in the passage which I print1 from the "History of Greece" begins almost every paragraph with such connectives. Green's exposition of the character of Elizabeth, again, is a famous example of this closeness of exposition: in the first paragraph he emphasizes the contrasts of her character; the next he begins:
"It was no wonder that the statesmen whom she outwitted held Elizabeth to the last to be little more than a frivolous woman, or that Philip wondered how a wanton could hold in check the policy of the Escurial. But the Elizabeth whom they saw was very far from all of Elizabeth."
And the paragraph, after showing her "the coolest and hardest of politicians," leads on to the next, which opens:
"Of political wisdom, indeed, in its larger or more generous sense, Elizabeth had little or none; but her political tact was unerring;
and so on, through a succession of paragraphs, each one closely welded by definite reference to what has gone before. In each one of them Green never lets you forget the results he has just worked out; he always, as it were, laps the thought of one paragraph over the beginning of the next. Accordingly you cannot help seeing them in their mutual bearings.
So far I have pointed out that if an explanation. is to give your reader a luminous view of the subject as a whole, the closer analogy it can have to explanation by means of diagram or map the better it will serve its purpose. For this reason, I have urged, an exposition should be written from as personal a point of view as a description, and that besides this natural simplification it should also define the subject in a single categorical statement. And I have also pointed out that your explanation, even if it has definite limits, will not approach the effectiveness of the diagram until it is also clearly and explicitly planned, and unless you make sure by strongly marked transitions and constant summaries that your reader sees your plan as clearly as you do. If you practise all these devices your explanation will not lack clearness because your own understanding is muddy or superficial.
16. Even after such precautions, however, there are still two dangers into which you may fall. These
dangers are, in the first place, the ambiguity which results if your general terms are not rigidly defined; and, in the second place, an inordinate and unnecessary abstraction.
For examples of the first of these dangers, the vague and ambiguous use of general terms, you do not have to go far. Almost any exposure of a fallacy of thought will serve the purpose. In the middle ages alchemists labored to make gold potable; for, they argued, since it is a precious metal, it would be equally precious as a medicine. And it is only the other day that Professor James pointed out1 the fallacy of basing an argument against immortality on the fact that thought is a function of the brain: as he showed, the word function does not mean productive function only. Contrast with these cases Darwin's care in the use of his phrase natural selection :
"It has been said that I speak of 'natural selection," " he says, 26 as an active power or deity, but who is he who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of planets? Every one knows what is meant by such metaphorical expressions and they are always necessary for brevity; so, again, it is difficult to avoid personifying Nature. But I mean by Nature the aggregate product and action of many laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us."
In almost all these "metaphorical expressions which are "necessary for brevity" it will be noticed
1 "Human Immortality." Boston, 1898.
24 Origin of Species." London, 1875, p. 63.
that the underlying figures of speech are derived from some concrete physical source; the elective affinity of the chemist, natural selection itself, constitution, development, elimination, are cases which explain themselves by their obvious derivation. They are only a few examples of the way in which some one in pondering over some new body of facts has become conscious of an inward relation between them; and trying to explain that new relation, he sets forth his inarticulate feeling of the new truth by some natural figure of speech; as Lord Bacon did when he wrote in the "Promium " to his "Magna Instauratio” of "those original passions or desires of matter which constitute the primary elements of nature; such as Dense and Rare, Hot and Cold, Solid and Fluid, Heavy and Light, and several others." This figurative origin of words of generalization is so obvious and so common that any one can supply examples of it; a good one would be the way in which the old Roman who first used the Latin original of our word expression likened the laborious way in which his abstract ideas came to words to the squeezing of water out of a cloth. My purpose in emphasizing so familiar a fact here is to point out that though you use the figure of speech for a definite purpose, you are always in danger of carrying over some of the other implications of the figure. It is always much easier to use your convenient term like natural selection or organism or function without defining it,
1 Translated. The Works of Francis Bacon, Spedding and Ellis, vol. iv. p. 29.