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Style by Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh
page 1 of 81 (01%)

Style, the Latin name for an iron pen, has come to designate the
art that handles, with ever fresh vitality and wary alacrity, the
fluid elements of speech. By a figure, obvious enough, which yet
might serve for an epitome of literary method, the most rigid and
simplest of instruments has lent its name to the subtlest and most
flexible of arts. Thence the application of the word has been
extended to arts other than literature, to the whole range of the
activities of man. The fact that we use the word "style" in
speaking of architecture and sculpture, painting and music,
dancing, play-acting, and cricket, that we can apply it to the
careful achievements of the housebreaker and the poisoner, and to
the spontaneous animal movements of the limbs of man or beast, is
the noblest of unconscious tributes to the faculty of letters. The
pen, scratching on wax or paper, has become the symbol of all that
is expressive, all that is intimate, in human nature; not only arms
and arts, but man himself, has yielded to it. His living voice,
with its undulations and inflexions, assisted by the mobile play of
feature and an infinite variety of bodily gesture, is driven to
borrow dignity from the same metaphor; the orator and the actor are
fain to be judged by style. "It is most true," says the author of
The Anatomy of Melancholy, "stylus virum arguit, our style bewrays
us." Other gestures shift and change and flit, this is the
ultimate and enduring revelation of personality. The actor and the
orator are condemned to work evanescent effects on transitory
material; the dust that they write on is blown about their graves.
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