Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

dence would intimate, we should soon find, that in the single emphasis expressed, there is as strict an appropriation of inflection to the sense of the emphasis as when but one part of the antithesis is expressed in the single emphasis implied. As the inflections in this species of emphasis, therefore, are of much more importance, and much more difficult to settle, than those of the double and treble emphasis, it may not be improper, before we enter on the latter, to extend our speculations a little on the former.

Whatever may be the reason why the positive member of a sentence should adopt the emphasis with the falling inflection, and the negative member the rising; certain it is, that this appropriation of emphatick inflection, to a positive or negative signification, runs through the whole system of pronunciation. Agreeably to this arrangement, we constantly find good readers finish negative sentences with the rising inflection, where ordinary readers are sure to use the falling inflection, and to drop the voice ; and, perhaps, this different pronunciation forms one of the greatest differences between good and bad readers : Thus, in the following sentence from the Oration of Demosthenes on the Crown, translated by Dr. Leland :

Observe then, Æschines ; our ancestors acted thus in both these instances ; not that they acted for their benefáctors, not that they saw no dánger in these expeditions. Such considerations never could induce them to abandon those who fled to their protection. Nò, from the nobler motives of glory and penown, they devoted their services to the distressed.

There are few good readers who will not pronounce the two first sentences of this passage so as to terminate them with the rising inflection : And this manner of reading them we find agreeable to the para phrase suggested by thefalling inflection adopted by the positive signification of the last sentence ; by which means all the sentences of this passage form

parts of one thought, and may be reduced to the definition of the emphasis with the falling inflection; as, They acted from the nobler motives of glory and renown, and not infériour motives.

Wherever, therefore a negative sentence, or member of a sentence, is in opposition to a positive sentence, or member of a sentence, we find it usually adopt the rising inflection: And often where there is 110 correspondent positive member or sentence expressed, if the negative member or sentence would admit of a positive, and that the sense of this positive is agreeable to the general tenor of the composition; in this case, likewise, we find the negative member or sentence adopt the rising inflection. Thus, in the same oration, Demosthenes, speaking of the publick works he had erected, says,

As to those publick works, so much the object of your ridi. cule, they, undoubtedly, demand a due share of honour and applause ; but I rate them far beneath the great merit of my ad. ministration. It is not with stones nor bricks that I' have for. tified the city. It is not from works like these that I'derive my reputation. Would you know my methods of fortifying ? Examine, and you will find them in the arms, the towns, the territories, the harbours I have secured ; the navies, the troops, the armies I have raised.

The two middle negative sentences of this passage have not any correspondent positive sentences preceding or following them ; but the rising inflection on these sentences suggests a meaning so compatible with the mind of the speaker, that we cannot doubt of its being the true one ; for it is equivalent to saying, It is not with works like these that I' have fortified the city, but with something much better. This will receive a farther illustration from another passage of the same orator.

For if you now pronounce, that, as my publick conduct hath not been right, Ctesiphon must stand condemned, it must be. thought that yourselves have acted wrong, not that you owe your present state to the caprice of fortune. But it cannot be. No, my countrymen ! It cannot be you have acted wrong, in encountering danger bravely, for the liberty and safety of all Gréece. No ! by those generous souls of ancient times, who were exposed at Marathon ! By those who stood arrayed at Platéa! By those who encountered the Persian fleet at Salamis ! who fought at Artemisium ! By all those illustrious sons of Athens, whose remains lie deposited in the publick monuments ! All of whom received the same honourable interment from their country : Not those only who preváiled, not those only who were victorious. And with reason. What was the part of gallant men they all performed ; their success was such as the supreme director of the world dispensed to each.

The song, and t

in it that.

The two last members of the first sentence we find naturally adopt their specifick inflections; that is, the positive member, the falling on wrong, and the negative the rising on fortune. The succeeding sentence has a negation in it that suits the rising inflection much better than the falling, and therefore Greece has very properly the rising inflection ; and the latter members, not those only who prevailed, not those only who were victorious, will not admit of the falling inflection without an evident prejudice to the sense.

Plausible, however, as this doctrine may appear, it is not pretended that it is universally true. It is certain, that a negative member of a sentence may often have the falling, and a positive member the rising inflection : But it is as certain, that where the sentence is so constructed as to require the rising inflection on the negative, and the falling on the positive part of the sentence, there is always both greater force and harmony.

From these observations, therefore, we may conclude, that in the single emphasis, where harmony is not grossly violated, sense ought always to predominate : and hence will arise this general rule : When. ever a sentence is composed of a positive and negative part, if this positive and negative imports that some

thing is affirmed of one of the things which is denied of the other, the positive must have the falling and the negative the rising inflection.

Small as the extent of this rule is, it appears to throw a considerable light on the doctrine of emphasis; and particularly where the sense of a passage is not very obvious, and where harmony admits of a diversity of inflection. Let us endeavour to reduce these speculations to practice. In a passage of Milton's Paradise Lost, the angel, speaking of Nimrod, says, Hunting (and mèn, not béasts, shall be his game.)

B. xii.

Every ear agrees to lay the emphasis with the falling inflection on men, and the emphasis with the rising inflection on beasts, agreeably to the rule just laid down; but when, in the same author, we meet with a description of Satan's coming down to be revenged on men in these words,

For now
Satan, now first inflam'd with rage, came down ;
The tempter, ere th' accuser of mankind,
To wreck on innocent frail man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to hell.

B. iv.

In the third line of this passage we find no such certainty in adapting a different inflection to the two emphatick words tempter and accuser, as in the former instance.

A little reflection, however, obliges us to give the falling inflection to tempter, and the rising to accuser ; but the reason of this disposition does not readily occur. A little farther reflection will induce us to resolve this rangement of inflection into the foregoing rule. For the word ere, signifying before, relates to the word now, in the former line ; and the paraphrase of this emphasis is, the tempter now, at this time, not the accuser, as he was afterwards ; whereas a transposition of emphatick inflection, that is, the rising infection on tempter, and the falling on accuser, would infallibly suggest this sense-The tempter, not only before he was something more inimical than accuser, but before he was even the accuser of mankind. This paraphrase agrees so ill with the sense of the passage, and the former so well, that we need not hesitate a moment about the true emphasis.

The reason for placing the emphasis with the rising inflection on accuser, and that with the falling on tempter, seems to arise from the same principle as that of placing the emphasis with the falling inflection on the positive, and that with the rising inflection on the negative part of a sentence; for the pri. ority of one thing to another is reducible to its being that thing at that time, and not another thing ; and the preferableness of one thing to another is equal to the choice being fixed on one thing and not another. Thus the following phrase : “ I would rather teach the art of poisoning than that of sophistry,” may be reduced to this : If I must teach one of these arts, I will teach poisoning, and not sophistry. But if one of these parts of the antithesis admits of emphasis, that is, if it appears to be the intention of the speaker not to say merely that one thing is prior or preferable to another, but that one of these things, in the strictest sense of the word, and opposed to something of smaller import, is prior or preferable to another; or, if one of these things is said to be prior or preferable to another thing, taken in its strictest sense, and opposed to some other thing of less importance; in this case, I say, the emphasis with the falling inflection is on that part of the antithesis which inti. mates something of more importance than is simply expressed. Thus, in the following sentence,

« ZurückWeiter »