Abbildungen der Seite

the word eternity is sufficiently strong and emphatical, sense is no great loser by the sacrifice: If, however, the thought could have been so disposed as to have made a word, so susceptible of force as eternity, adopt the falling inflection and conclude the line, the expression, it is presumed, would have been still stronger. Let us suppose, for instance, the two last lines had stood thus :

A day, an hour, in virtuous liberty
Outweighs, in bondage, an eternity:

I do not contend that this alteration is not greatly inferiour to the original in point of composition, from the necessity of adopting words less suitable ; but, I think, I may appeal to the ear of every critical speak. er for the superiority of the latter, with respect to the force and harmony of pronunciation. In the same manner, it may be observed, that if the words in Milton were transposed as in the following line,

Better in hell to réign, than sérve in heav'n,

the falling inflection on hell, and the rising on reign, would preserve both the force and harmony ; but I am far from presuming to judge whether the line would be better by this alteration. The same may be observed in the transposition of the saying of Cæsar :

In that village I would rather be the first man, than the sécond in Ròme. By this arrangement, we see the strongly emphatick words, which require the falling inflection, are in the beginning and end of the sentence, and the two emphatick words that require the rising inflection in the middle ; and, consequently, the inflections on the two first and two last emphatick words are in a different order.

But if a treble emphasis implied will often, for the sake of harmony, neglect such an emphasis as produces the greatest force, there is a much greater ne. cessity for this sacrifice to sound where every part of the treble emphasis is expressed. Thus, in the following lines :

[ocr errors]

If, for the sake of showing that Timotheus did not only raise a mortal very high, but even to the skies ; if, I say, for the sake of intimating this sense, we lay the emphasis with the falling inflection on skies, we shall ruin the harmony of the couplet : The same may be observed if we lay the same emphasis on angel; for though this would intimate that St. Cecilia did not draw down a common being, but even an angel, yet this intimation would make no amends for the quaintness and discord this inflection would occasion ; but if these lines had been so constructed as to admit of the emphasis with the falling inflection on these words, perhaps we should not have found either sense or harmony the worse for it. :

[ocr errors]

Thus we perceive there are some things clear and decided, others ambiguous and indeterminate : The best decision in the latter case is, to observe the pronunciation of the best readers and speakers, and to mark it by the inflections which are here made use of. A notation of this kind, will enable us to collect examples of different modes of pronunciation, and to form an opinion from examples of the best authority : by this means we shall be able to give some stability to those sounds which have hitherto been thought too fleeting and evanescent for retrospection.

General Emphasis.

Hitherto emphasis has been considered as appropriated to a particular word in a sentence, the peculiar sense of which demanded an increase of force, and an inflection correspondent to that sense ; we shall now endeavour to throw some light upon that emphatick force, which, when the composition is very animated, and approaches to a close, we often lay upon several words in succession : This successive emphatick force does not, like the former, suggest any particular meaning excluded by it, and therefore may not improperly be called a general emphasis. This emphasis is not so much regulated by the sense of the author as by the taste and feelings of the reader, and therefore does not admit of any certain rule ; but as it is very strong and energetick when it is happily applied, it may not be useless to endeavour to give such rules as will naturally arise from a few examples.

When Lucius, in Cato, seems to have exhausted every topick in favour of giving up a hopeless war and submitting to Cæsar, he concludes with this emphatick period:

What men could do,
Is done already : Heav'n and earth will witness,
I'f Ròme mūst fáll, that we are innocent.

The common manner of pronouncing this last line is, to lay an emphasis with the rising inflection on the word must, which is certainly a very just one, and may be called the particular emphasis ; but if we were to place an emphasis on each of the four words, if Ròme must fall ; that is, the emphasis with the rising inflection on if, that with the falling on Rome and must. and the rising on fall ; if these emphases, I say, are pronounced with a distinct pause after each, it is inconceivable the force that will be given to these few words.

In the same manner, when Demosthenes is describing the former helpless state of Athens, he says,

There was a time, then, my fellow-citizens, when the La. cedemonians were sovereign masters both by sea and land ; when their troops and forts surrounded the entire circuit of Attica ; when they possessed Eubea, Tanagra, the whole Baotian district, Megara, Ægina, Cleone, and the other islands ; while this state had not one ship, not one wall.

The general mode of pronouncing the last member of this sentence is, to lay an emphasis on the last word, wall : This is unquestionably proper ; but if we lay an emphasis on the three last words, that is, the falling on not, the rising on one, and the falling on wall, and pause very distinctly between each, we shall be at no loss to decide on the superiority of this general emphasis. We have another instance of the force of this general emphasis, in that beautiful climax of Zanga, in the tragedy of the Revenge :

That's truly great! what think you 'twas set up
The Greek and Roman name in such a lustre,
But doing right in stern despite of nature,
Shutting their ears to all her little cries,
When great, august, and godlike justice call'd.
At Aulis one pour'd out a daughter's life,
And gain'd more glory than by all his wars ;
Another slew a sister in just rage ;
A third, the theme of all succeeding time,
Gave to the cruel axe a darling son :
Nay more, for justice some devote themselves,
As he at Carthage, an immortal name !
Yet there is one stèp léft above them all,
Above their history, above their fable;
A wife, bride, mistress, unenjoyed,
Do that, and tread upon the Greek and Roman glory.

Act iv. Scene last. In pronouncing this passage, we shall find the gen. erality of readers content themselves with laying an emphasis upon the word one in the thirteenth line, and pronounce the two succeeding words step and left without any particular force ; but if we give em: phatick force to each of these three words, and at the same time pause considerably after every word, we shall find the whole line glow with meaning and energy : for though pronouncing the word one with the emphasis and rising inflection, and the succeeding words step and left with the same inflection, without emphasis, would undoubtedly bring out the author's sense ;. yet pronouncing one and step both with emphasis and the falling inflection, seems to snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, and fall in with the enthusiasm of the poet. The emphasis with the falling inflection and increasing force, on the four successive words wife, bride, mistress, unenjoyed, in the last line but one, crowns the whole climax with snitable force and harmony. · But though general emphasis may, at first sight, seem to be an exception to the general rule, yet, upon a nearer inspection, it will be found strictly conformable to it. Emphasis has been defined to be another word for opposition or contradistinction ; now where, it may be asked, is the opposition or contradistinction to the words if and Rome and fall in the sentence,

Heav'n and earth will witness,
If Rome must fall, that we are innocent ?

mable to pection, on to the may, at :

Emon will be eneral rule. First sight

It may be answered, that the mind, in endeavouring to express things strongly, seems to have recourse to a redundancy of sound as well as of words; the adjective own and the substantive, self are superfluous words, if we regard only their mere grammatical import. For the sentences, this book is mine, and I wrote it, literally signify as much as this book

« ZurückWeiter »