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long and drawl out the pronunciation of the word, the inflection of which he wants to discover.
Perhaps the best method of knowing whether we make use of the inflection we intend, is to form it into a question with the disjunctive or, and to repeat it in the same manner as the interrogative sentences, Plate II.
Thus in the following sentence:
A contented mind, and a good conscience, will make a man happy in all conditions.
In order to pronounce this sentence to the best advantage, it will be necessary to lay the falling inflection on the word mind, the rising on conscience, and the falling on all; if I would know the falling inflection I am to lay on mind, let me form the word into this question, Is it mind, or mind ? and the pronunciation of the last mind, as in No. VII. will be that which I must adopt in the sentence; if I want to know the rising inflection on conscience, I must say, Is it conscience, or conscience? and the first pronunciation of the word, as in No. IV. is that which I must adopt: the falling inflection on all will be determined by saying, Is it all, or all ? as the last all has the inflection sought for.
In the same manner, if, in the following couplet of Pope,
What the weak head with strongest bias rules
If in this couplet, I say, we are directed to lay the falling inflection on pride, we need only form the word into this question--Is it pride, or pride ? and the last being the falling inflection, is that which we ought to adopt in reading the couplet.
It may not, perhaps, be altogether useless to observe, that these angular lines may be considered as a kind of bars in the musick of speaking: each of them contain a certain portion of either the rising or falling inflection ; but though every word in each line is pronounced with the same inflection, they are not all pronounced with the same force ; no line can have more than one accented or emphatick syllable in it, and the rest, though preserving the same inflection, abate of the force of sound.
With respect to the relative force of these unemphatick words, see Introduction to the Theory of Emphasis.
Utility of a Knowledge of the Inflections of the
But it will be demanded : suppose we could conceive the nature of these inflections ever so clearly, of what use will it be? I answer, that as the sense and harmony of a sentence depend so much on the proper application of these inflections, it will be of infinite use to an indifferent reader to know how a good reader applies them.
It will, perhaps, be objected, that an attention to these inflections, marked upon paper, will be apt to embarrass the mind of the reader, which should be wholly employed on the sense of the writer. To this objection it may be answered, that the very same argument will lie against the use of pauses in printing; and the ancient Greek method of writing without any intervals between words, will, according to this reasoning, be by far the most eligible. The truth is, every thing new embarrasses ; and if we have already acquired an art in an imperfect way, the means of facilitating a more perfect acquisition of it, will at first retard our progress : if a child has once learned to read tolerably, without having the words divided into syllables, such a division will appear new and embarrassing to him; and though syllabication is so confessedly useful to learners, those who can once read without it, would be rather puz. zled than assisted by it. To those, therefore, who already read well, this system of inflections is not ad. dressed. What help do they stand in need of, who are sufficiently perfect? It is to the learner only, and he who is in doubt about the best method of reading a passage, that this assistance is recommended; and it may be with confidence asserted, that if such a one will but bestow half the time to acquire a knowledge of these inflections that is usually spent in learning the gamut, he will have no reason to repent his labour.
A want of instructing youth early in the knowledge of inflections, is the great occasion of embarrassment in teaching them to read. We can tell them they are too high or too low, too loud or too soft, too forcible or too feeble, and that they either pause, or continue the voice in the wrong place: but we have no way of conveying to them their error, if they make use of a wrong inflection; though this may actually be the case, where they are without fault in every other particular : that is, there may be a wrong slide of the voice upon a particular word, though it is neither pronounced too high nor too low, too loud nor too soft, too forcibly nor too feebly, nor with any improper pause or continuation of voice. Let us suppose, for example, a youth, little instructed in reading, were to pronounce the following sen. tence :
If we have no regard to our own character, we ought to have some regard to the character of others.
There is the greatest probability, I say, that such a reader would pronounce the first emphatick word own with the rising, and the last emphatick word others with the falling inflection, which by no means brings out the sense of the sentence to the best advantage. To tell him he must lay more stress upon the word own, will by no means set him right, unless the kind of stress is conveyed; for he may increase the stress upon both the emphatick words, without removing the impropriety. In the same manner, if in reading the following passage :
Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord ! for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
If, in pronouncing this passage, I say, the reader neglects placing an emphasis on the last thy, it will be in vain to tell him he ought to lay a stress on that word, unless we direct him to the kind of stress; for though, in the former instance the emphasis with the falling inflection was the true emphasis on own, the same emphasis on thy, in the latter instance, would utterly destroy the meaning : it is evident, therefore, if once a youth were taught to distinguish accurately the rising and falling inflection, how easily and methodically instruction in reading might be conveyed.
At this point the present treatise might finish ; and, it is presumed, not without having added something to the art of reading. A method which conveys to us some of the essential turns of voice in a good reader or speaker cannot be without its advantages. But something farther is proposed. An attempt · will be made to point out several of those varieties
in the sense and structure of a sentence which severally demand a particular application of these inflections ; from a variety of these examples, general rules will be drawn, and the whole doctrine of inflections will be reduced into something like a system. A first essay on an untreated subject can scarcely be
exempt from a multitude of inaccuracies ; and obscurity is the natural attendant on novelty : but if any advantages, however small, are the result of this nov. elty, the candid and judicious reader who understands the difficulty of the undertaking, will not think even these small advantages entirely unworthy of his attention.
Practical System of the Inflections of the Voice.
WORDS adopt particular inflections, either according to the particular signification they bear, or as they are either differently arranged or connected with other words. The first application of inflection relates toemphasis, which will be considered at large in its proper place: the last relates to that application of inflection, which arises from the division of a sentence, into its component parts; and this is the object of punctuation. Punctuation, or the division of a sentence, has been already treated in the former part of this work : we now proceed to apply the doctrine of inflection to that of punctuation, by shewing what turns or slides of voice are most suitable to the several distinctions, rests, and pause of a sentence. But before any rules for applying the inflections are laid down, perhaps it will be necessary again to take notice, that though there are but two simple or radically different inflections, the rising and falling, yet the latter is divisible into two kinds of very different and even opposite import. The falling inflection without a fall of the voice, or, in other words, that inflection of voice which consists of a downward slide, in a high and forcible tone, may either be applied to that part of a sentence where a portion of sense is formed, as at the word unjustly, Plate II. No. XX. ; or to that part where no sense is formed, as at the word temperance, Plate I. No. VI.; but when thi, downward slide is pronounced in a