Style 这个在拉丁语中原义为“铁笔”的名词，久已被用来作为驾驭语言这种流动性事物的艺术，而这种驾驭是具有日益蓬勃的生机和审慎的矫健性的。显而易见的是，凭借譬喻手段（譬喻仍不失为文学方法的一种概括），使本来最刻板最简单的工具竟能把它的名字假借给艺术中最精致灵活的艺术。以此为起点，这个名称又被广泛地应用到文学以外的其他艺术，应用到人类全部活动范围。我们使用style一词来谈建筑、雕刻、绘画、音乐、舞蹈、歌剧、板球，我们用这个词来叙述人与兽的肢体上的那种的自然遒劲的动作这一事实，正是我们对文学功能的一种最崇高的不自觉的礼赞。笔，这种吮蜡濡纸的工具，已经成为人性中所有富于表现力的、所有亲切的事物的象征。不但武力与技艺向它屈服，人类自身也向它屈服。人的声音，它的起伏高低，并辅之以活跃的面部表情与体态姿势上的千变万化，都势必要借助于这同一譬喻：演说家与演员也都渴望得到风格方面的鉴赏。“再真实不过的就是风格”，正如《悲哀的解剖》的作业所写到的，“Stuylus Virum arguit, 我们的风格暴露了我们自己”。其他姿态都可以是变动不定，了无痕迹的，风格却是性格的最终极最经久的表露。演员与演说家不得不在不能历久的材料上来求得短暂的效果；他们的业绩与身俱亡。雕刻家与建筑师所经营的材料虽较为耐久，但却是操持困难，冥顽不灵，不容易承受心灵状态的各种印记。所有的道德、哲理与美学、情态与信念、主义与幻想、热情及表白等等—所有这一切，除文学以外，又有哪一种艺术足以把它们涵摄无遗，而又能避免其突然消亡的危险？又有其他哪一种艺术能够赋予在习性上如此纷纭，趣味上如此相异的人们以充分发挥的余地？事实上，不论欧西里德与雪莱，埃德蒙·斯宾塞与赫伯特·斯宾塞，大卫王与大卫·休谟，他们都是语言文字这门艺术的追随者。
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 for 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 spontaneous animal movements of the limbs of man or beast, is the noblest of unconscious tributes to the faculty of letters. The pen, scratching o 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 pay 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 betrays 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. The sculptor and the architect deal in less perishable ware; but the stuff is recalcitrant and stubborn, and will not take the impress of all states of the soul. Morals, philosophy, and aesthetic, mood and conviction, creed and whim, habit, passion, and demonstration – what art but the art of literature admits the entrance of all these, and guards them from the suddenness of mortality? What other art gives scope to natures and dispositions so diverse, and to tastes so contrarious? Euclid and Shelley, Edmund Spenser and Herbert Spencer, King David and David Hume, are all followers of the art of letters.
All style is gesture, the gesture of the mind and of the soul. Mind we have in common, inasmuch as the laws of right reason are not different for different minds. Therefore clearness and arrangement can be taught, sheer incompetence in the art of expression can be partly remedied. But who shall impose laws upon the soul? It is thus of common note that one may dislike or even hate a particular style while admiring its facility, its strength, its skilful adaptation to the matter set forth. Milton, a chaster and mote unerring master of the art than Shakespeare, reveals no such lovable personality. While persons count for much, style, the index to persons, can never count for little. “Speak,” it has been said, “that I may know you”- voice-gesture is more than feature. Write, and after you have attained to some control over the instrument, you write yourself down whether you will or no. There is no vice, however unconscious, no virtue, however shy, no touch of meanness or of generosity in your character, that will not pass on to the paper. You anticipate the Day of Judgment and furnish the recording angel with material. The Art of Criticism in Literature, so often decried and given a subordinate place among the arts, is none other than the art of reading and interpreting these written evidences. Criticism has been popularly opposed to creation, perhaps because the kind of creation the it attempts is attempts is rarely achieved, and so the world forgets that the main business of Criticism, after all, is not to legislate, nor to classify, but to raise the dead. Graves, at its command, have waked their sleepers, oped, and let them forth. It is by the creative power of this art that the living man is reconstructed from the litter of blurred and fragmentary paper documents that he has left to posterity.