Now, style In writing is a weapon far more delicate and more formidable than the latest form of needle-gun.
It will not merely kill a man's body at the range of a thousand yards, but his reputation at a distance of centuries.
Nay, it will not only kill, but it will keep alive, which may be worse; keep the stained memory in existence beyond the possibility of a happy oblivion—and so also with memories of good.
So long as it remains crude and undeveloped, language has not acquired this capability; but every added refinement of touch, every improved note of precision, will expand and perfect this carrying power.
The blunt repartee of the mining-camp may furnish as good a prelude as any other for drawing a revolver from the hip pocket; but the effect of the saying dies with the duel and the funeral.
It takes the fine rapier of Talleyrand
's wit to impale all opponent for a hundred years upon a single delicate phrase, intervening between the smile and the snuff-box.
The French language has doubtless a peculiar capacity in this direction, sharpened by the steady practice of generations; but the English