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ness of termination, though they may not be directly opposite in sense ; thus, if I wanted more particularly to show that I meant one requisite of dramatick story rather than another, I should say, In this spesies of composition, plausibility is much more essential than probability; and in the pronunciation of these words, I should infallibly transpose the accent of both from the third to the first syllables ; in order to contrast those parts of the words which are distinguished from each other by the import of the sentence. As an instance of the necessity of attending to this emphatical accent, as it may be called, we need only give a passage from the Spectator, No. 189:
In this case I may use the saying of an eminent wit, who upon some great men's pressing him to forgive his daughter who had married against his consent, told them he could refuse nothing to their instances, but that he would have them remember there was a difference between giving and forgiving.
In this example, we find the whole sense of the passage depends on placing the accent on the first syllable of forgiving, in order to contrast it more strongly with giving, to which it is opposed ; as, without this transposition of accent, the opposition on which the sentiment turns, would be lost.
Another instance will more fully illustrate the necessity of attending to this emphatical accent.
The prince for the publick good has a sovereign property in every private person's estate ; and, consequently, his riches must increase or decrease, in proportion to the number and riches of his subjects.
Spectator, No. 200. The words increase and decrease have, in this example, the accent on the first syllable of each, as it is there the contrast in the sense lies.
What has already been said of accent, as it relates to the art of reading, is, perhaps, more than sufficient; but so much has been said about the nature of this accent, both in the ancient and modern languages
that it may not be improper to offer a few thoughts on the subject here. Almost all authors, ancient and modern, assert, that the accented syllable is pronounced in a higher tone than the rest; but Mr. Sheridan insists that it is not pronounced higher, but louder only.* Whatever may have been the nature of accent in the learned languages, certain it is, that the accented syllable in our own is always louder than the rest ; and if we attend ever so little to the two kinds of inflection with which every accented word in a sentence is pronounced, we shall soon see that the accented syllable is either higher or lower than the rest, according to the inflection which it adopts.
Thus in this sentence, Plate III. No. I. p. 184:
Sooner or later virtue must meet with a reward.
Here I say the last syllable ward has the falling in Hection ; and if we pronounce the word without em. phasis, and merely as if we were concluding the subject, this syllable will be pronounced louder and lower than the syllable immediately preceding ; but if we give emphasis to this syllable, by opposing it to something else, we shall find it pronounced both higher and louder than the preceding syllables. Thus in the following sentence, Plate III. No. II. :
Most certainly virtue will meet with a reward, and not pún. ishment.
Here the word reward has the same inflection as in the former instance, and the word punishment ends with the rising inflection ; but the syllable ward is perceptibly higher as well as louder than the syllable that precedes it. Again, if we give this
* See this erroneous opinion of Mr. Sheridan clearly refuted in the Observations on the Greek and Latin Accent and Quantity at the end of the Bay to the Blessical Pronunciation of Greek and Latin Proper Names.
word the rising inflection, we shall find, in this case, that without emphasis the accented syllable ward is pronounced both louder and higher than the preced. ing syllables. Thus No. III. :
If virtue must have a reward, it is our interest to be virtuous.
These observations compare the accented syllable with the preceding syllables only: it will in the next place be necessary to compare it with those that follow: for which purpose, let us observe the pronunciation of this sentence, No. IV.
We ought to avoid blame, though we cannot be perfect.
Here, I say, if we give the word perfect the falling inflection, and pronounce it with emphasis, we shall find the first syllable very preceptibly higher and louder than the last ; on the contrary, if we give the word perfect the rising inflection, we shall find the accented syllable louder than the last, though not so high; for the last syllable perceptibly slides into a higher tone. Thus No. V.:
If we wish to be pérfect, we must imitate Christ.
These observations will, perhaps, be still better conceived, by watching our pronunciation of a word where the accent is nearly in the middle. Thus in this passage of Shakespeare:
What earthly name to interrogatories,
King John. In this passage, I say, the syllable rog has the rising inflection, and is pronounced perceptibly louder and higher than the two first, and louder and lower than the three last: but if we give this syllabie the falling inflection, as in this sentence: