« ZurückWeiter »
This last manner of reading this passage is un, questionably the true one, as it throws a kind of emphasis on each member which forms a beautiful climax, entirely lost in the common mode of pronouncing them: and, to omit no method that may tend to convey an idea of this difference of inflection, let us suppose these words to be all emphatical, and, as such, according to the common method they may be printed in Italicks ; this is not an accurate idea of emphasis, as will be shewn hereafter, but it is the common one, and, as such, may serve to shew the difference between pronouncing the first example and the second.
The descriptive part of this allegory is likewise very strong and full of sublime ideas : The figure of Death : the regal crown upon his head : his menace of Satan : his advancing to the combat : the outcry at his birth, are circumstances too noble to be passed over in silence, and extremely suitable to this king of terrours.
If the reader, from this description of the inflections of the voice, can so far understand them as to be sensible of the great difference there is between suspending the voice at every comma in the first example, and giving it a forcible downward direction at every colon in the two last examples, it is presumed, he will sufficiently conceive, that this distinction of the two leading inflections of the voice may be ap. plied to the most useful purposes in the art of reading. But in order to give a still clearer idea, if possible, of these two different inflections we shall subjoin a sort of scale or diagram, with an explanation of each example annexed.
Explanation of Plate I.
No. I. Did he do it voluntarily or involuntarily?
In the pronunciation of these words, we find every syllable in the word voluntarily rises except the first, vol; and every syllable in the word involuntarily falls but the first, in. A slow drawling pronunciation of these words will evidently show that this is the case. These different slides of the voice are named from the direction they take in the conclusion of a word, as that is the most apparent, especially if there are several syllables after the accented syllable, or if the word be but of one syllable, and terminate in a vowel or a liquid : for, in this case, the sound lasts some time after the word is articulated. Thus voluntarily may be said to have the rising, and involuntarily the falling inflection; and we must carefully guard against mistaking the low tone at the beginning of the rising inflection for the falling inflection, and the high tone at the beginning of the falling inflection, for the rising inflection, as they are not denominated rising or falling from the high or low tone in which they are pronounced, but, from the upward or downward slide in which they terminate, whether pronounced in a high or a low key.
In this representation we see something of that wave-like rising and falling of the voice, which constitutes the variety and harmony of speech. It will not be easy at first to conceive this correspondence between the eye and the ear, especially if we do not dwell distinctly on the words we repeat ; but I flatter myself a little custom will soon render it clear, at least with respect to the words that are accented or emphatical; for it is to be observed, that in this scheme every word, whether accented or not, is arranged un
der that line of sound to which it belongs : though the unaccented words are generally pronounced so feebly, as to render it often very difficult to say to which class they belong ; that is, whether to the rising or falling inflection; but when the accented or emphatick words have their proper inflection, the subordinate words can scarcely be in an improper one; and this makes the difficulty of ascertaining their true inflec. tion of less consequence. The accented or emphatick words, therefore, are those only which we need at present attend to ; and those in good speaking and read. ing, we shall find constantly adopting such an inflection as is suitable to the sense and harmony of the sentence.
The sentence No. I. and any other sentence constructed in exactly the same manner, must necessarily adopt the rising inflection on the first member, and the falling on the last ; that is, the rising inflection on voluntarily, and the falling on involuntarily ; and this pronunciation is so appropriated to this species of sentence, that the dullest and most unpractised ear would, without the least reflection, adopt it. The same may be said of the sentence, No. II. which every ear would agree in pronouncing with the same inflections in a contrary order ; that is, the falling inflection on voluntarily, and the rising on involun. tarily.
No. III. and IV. shew that the same words take different inflections in correspondence with the sense and structure of the sentence ; for as the word constitution, in No. IV. only ends a member of the sentence, and leaves the sense unfinished, it necessari. ly adopts the suspending or rising inflection ; and har. mony requires that the preceding words should be so arranged, as to form the greatest harmony and variety, which is done by giving every one of the words an inflection, different from what it has in No: III. where constitution ends the sentence.