« ZurückWeiter »
- tone till the end ; and then if the voice is not agreeable in a high key, which is the case with the generality of voices, the last word of the whole may be pronouced with the rising inflection, in nearly the same low key in which the voice commences.
Perhaps it may not be entirely useless to take notice of a very common mistake of printers, which is annexing the note of interrogation to such sentences as are not really interrogative, and which include a question only imperatively. Such are the following:
Presumptuous man ! the reason would'st thou find,
Pope's Essay on Man, Ep. i. v. 35.
In this passage we find the first couplet very properly marked with the note of interrogation, and the second couplet as properly left without it. But the third couplet, which is no more a question than the second, has a note of interrogation annexed to it; and the fourth, which is perfectly similar to the third, is marked with a note of interrogation likewise,
This note is appropriated by grammarians to indicate that some passion or emotion is contained in the words to which it is annexed ; and it may, there. fore, be looked upon as essentially distinct from the rest of the points ; the office of which is commonly supposed to be that of fixing or determining the sense only. Whether a point that indicates passion or emotion, without determining what emotion or passion is meant, or if we had points expressive of every passion or emotion, whether this would, in common usage, more assist or embarrass the elocution of the reader, I shall not at present attempt to decide; but when this point is applied to sentences which, from their form, might be supposed to be merely. interrogative, and yet really imply wonder, surprise, or astonishment ; when this use; I say, is made of the note of exclamation, it must be confessed to be of no small importance in reading, and very justly to deserve a place in grammatical punctuation.
Thus the sentence, How mysterious are the ways of Providence! which naturally adopts the exclamation, may, by a speaker who denies these mysteries, become a question, by laying a stress on the word how, and subjoining the note of interrogation; as, How mysterious are the ways of Providence ? Upon hearing a piece of musick, we may cry out with rapture, What harmony is that ! or we may use the words to inquire What harmony is that? that is, what kind of harmony. The very different import, then, of these sentences, as they are differently point. ed, sufficiently shew the utility of the note of exclamation.
So little, however, is this distinction attended to, that we seldom see a sentence commencing with the interrogative words marked with any thing but the note of interrogation, however distant the meaning of the sentence may be from doubt or inquiry.
Thus Mr. Addison, speaking of the necessity of exercise, says
The earth must be laboured before it gives its increase ; and when it is forced into its several products, how many hands must they pass through before they are fit for use ?
Spectator, No. 115. And this passage, in all the editions of the Specs tator I have seen, is marked with a note of interrogation. Another writer in the Spectator, speaking of the grandeur and beauty of heaven, says
How great must be the majesty of that place, where the whole art of creation has been employed, and where God has chosen to show himself in the most magnificent manner
Ibid. No. 580.
Instances of this mistake are innumerable; and
passages ought not to be marked with the interrogation, but with the exclamation point. It may be urged, indeed, in extenuation of this fault, that the note of interrogation is not always very easy to be distinguished from the note of exclamation; and when this is the case, a mistake is not of any great importance to the reader; for we may be sure that question which may be mistaken for an exclamation, whatever tone or passion it may demand, can never require any inflection of voice on the last word, but that which the question itself requires, which is the falling inflection. It will, however, be necessary to take notice of an exception to this rule, which is, when the exclamation comes immediately after a question, and, as it were, repeats it; for, in this case, the repeated question, which is really an exclamation, assumes the rising inflection.
Will you forever, Athenians, do nothing but walk up and down the city, asking one another, What news? What news! Is there any thing more new than to see a man of Macedonia become master of the Athenians, and give laws to all Gréece?
Demosthenes' First Philippick. Rollin,
In this passage we find the first question includ. ing the last, and, being formed without the interrog
ative words, requires the rising inflection ; and as the sentence of admiration, What news! immediately follows, it exactly imitates the object it ironically admires. This inflection of the note of admiration is not confined to the repetition of this inflection in the foregoing question ; for if a question is asked with the interrogative words, and, consequently, with the falling inflection, if we immediately echo the question, and turn it into an admiration, the voice necessarily adopts the rising inflection before described. Thus when Pope inquires into the place where happiness resides, he says
Plant of celestial seed, if dropp'd below,
Pope's Essay on Man, ep. iv.
Here the phrase, where grows, assumes the ising inflection, and ought to be marked with the note of exclamation.
It may not be entirely useless to take notice of a common errour of grammarians; which is, that both this point and the interrogation require an elevation of voice. The inflection of voice proper to one species of question, which, it is probable, grammarians may have mistaken for an elevation of voice, it is presumed has been fully explained under that article : By the elevation of voice they attribute to this point, it is not unlikely that they mean the pathos or energy with which we usually express passion or emotion ; but which is, by no means, inseparably connected with elevation of voice: were we even to suppose, that all passion or emotion necessarily as
sumes a louder tone, it must still be acknowledged this is very different from a higher tone of voice, and therefore that the common rule is very fallacious and inaccurate.
The truth is, the expression of passion or emotion consists in giving a distinct and specifick quality to the sounds we use, rather than increasing or diminishing their quantity, or in giving this quantity any local direction upwards or downwards : Understanding the import of a sentence, and expressing that sentence with passion or emotion, are things as distinct as the head and the heart : This point, therefore, though useful to distinguish interrogation from emotion, is as different from the rest of the points as Grammar is from Rhetorick; and whatever may be the tone of voice proper to the note of exclamation, it is certain the inflections it requires are exactly the same as the rest of the points ; that is, if the exclamation point is placed after a member that would have the rising inflection in another sentence, it ought to have the rising in this ; if after a member that would have the falling inflection, the exclamation ought to have the falling inflection likewise ; or if exclamation is mingled with a question, it requires the same inflection the question would require, unless, as we have formerly observed, the question with the interrogative words is an echo of another question of the same kind, which, in this case, always requires the rising inflection : And this exception, it may be observed, is perfectly agreeable to the general rule ; for a repetition of a question of this kind alters its form, and changes it in effect into a question without the interrogative word; as the member, where grows, in the last example, is equivalent to the sentence, Do you ask where it grows; an ellipsis in the words, not altering in the least the import of the sentence.
An instance, that the exclamation may be mixed with interrogations of both kinds, may be seen in the