« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
a good effect. They contribute to that variety in sound which is advantageous to language.
The next head, respecting the harmony which results from a proper arrangement of words, is a point of greater nicety. For, let the words themselves be ever so well chosen, and well sounding, yet, if they be ill disposed, the melody of the sentence is utterly lost, or greatly impaired. That this is the case, the learners will perceive by the following examples. "Pleasures simple and moderate always are the best :” it would be better to say, “ Simple and moderate pleasures are always the best." « Office or rank may be the recompense of intrigue, versatility, or flattery;" better tbus, “ Rank or office be the recompense of flattery, versatility, or intrigue." "A great recommendation of the guidance offered by integrity to us, is, that it is by all men easily understood :" better in this form; “ It is a great recommendation of the guidance offered to us by integrity, that it is easily understood by all men.” In the following examples, the words are neither selected nor arranged, so as to produce the most agreeable effect. “ If we make the best of our life, it is but as a pilgrimage, with dangers surrounding it:" better thus, “ Our life, at the best, is a pilgrimage, and dangers surround it.” We see that we are encumbered with difficulties, which we cannot prevent:" better, “We perceive ourselves involved in difficulties that cannot be avoided.” “ It is plain to any one who views the subject, even slightly, that there is nothing here that is without allay and pure:” improved by this form; evident to the slightest inspection, that nothing here allayed and pure.”
We may take, for an instance of a sentence remarkably harmonious, the following from Milton's Treatise on Education:“We shall conduct you to a hill-side, laborious indeed, at the first ascent; but else so smooth, so green, so full of goodly prospects, and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming." Every thing in this sentence conspires to promote the harmony. The words are well chosen ; full of liquids, and sott sounds; "
" It is
laborious, smooth, green, goodly, melodious, charming; and these words so artfully arranged, that, were we to alter the situation of any one of them, we should, presently, be sensible of the melody's suffering.
To promote this harmonious arrangement of words, the following general directions will be found of some use. 1st, When the preceding word ends with a vowel, let the subsequent one begin with a consonant; and vice versa. A true friend, a cruel enemy, are smoother and easier to the voice, than a true union, a cruel destroyer. But when it is more perspicuous or convenient, for vowels or consonants to end one word and begin the next, it is proper that the vowels be a long and short one; and that the consonants bę either a liquid and a mute, or liquids of different sorts: thus, a lovely offspring ; purer design; a calm retreat ; are more tluent than, a happy union, a brief petition, a cheap triumph, a putrid distemper, a calm matron, a elean nurse. From these examples, the student will perceive the importance of accurately understanding the nature of vowels and consonants, liquids and mutes ; with the connexion and influence which subsist amongst them. 2d, In general, a considerable number of long or short words near one another should be avoided. “ Disappointment in our ex. pectations is wretchedness :" better thus ; “ Disappointed hope is misery.” “ No course of joy can please us long:" better, “ No course of enjoyment can delight us long.” A succession of words having the same quantity in the accented syllables, whether it be long or short, should also be avoided. "James was needy, feeble, and fearful:"improved thus, “ James was timid, feeble, and destitute." They could not be happy; for he was silly, pettish, and sullen;" better thus; “They could not be happy; for he was simple, peevish, and gloomy." 3d, Words which begin alike, or end alike, must not come together; and the last syllable of the preceding word, should not be the same as the first sylTable of the subsequent one. It is not so pleasing and har·monious to say, “ This is a convenient contrivance ;" “He is an indulgent parent;" “ She behaves with uniform for
mality;" as, « This is a useful contrivance;" « He is a kind parent;" “ She behaves with unvaried formality.”
We proceed to consider the members of a sentence, with regard to harmony. They should not be too long, nor disproportionate to each other. When they have a regular and proportional division, they are much easier to the voice, are more clearly understood, and better remembered, than when this rule is not attended to: for whatever tires the voice, and offends the ear, is apt to mar the strength of the expression, and to degrade the sense of the author. And this is a sufficient ground for paying attention to the order and proportion of sentences, and the different parts of which they consist. The following passage exhibits sentences in which the different members are proportionally arranged.
Temple, speaking sarcastically of man, says; " But his pride is greater than his ignorance, and what he wants in knowledge he supplies by sufficiency. When he has looked about him as far as he can, he concludes there is no more to be seen; when he is at the end of his line, he is at the bottom of the ocean; when he has shot his best, he is sure none ever did, or ever can, shoot better, or beyond it. His own reason he holds to be the certain measure of truth; and his own knowledge, of what is possible in nature." Here every thing is at once easy to the breath, grateful to the ear, and intelligible to the understanding. See another example of the same kind, in the 17th and 18th verses of the 3d chapter of the prophet Habakkuk. We may remark here, that our present version of the Holy Scriptures, especially of the Psalms, abounds with instances of an harmonious arrangement of the words and members of sentences.
In the following quotation from Tillotson, we shall become sensible of an effect very different from that of the preceding sentences. “This discourse, concerning the easiness of the Divine commands, does all along suppose and acknowledge the difficulties of the first entrance upon a religious course; except only in those persons who have had the happiness to be trained up to religion, by the easy and insensible degrees of a pious and virtuous education.” Here there is some degree of harshness and unpleasantness, owing principally to this, that there is properly no more than one pause or rest in the sentence, falling betwixt the two members into which it is divided : each of which is so long as to occasion a considerable stretch of the breath in pronouncing it.
With respect to the cadence or close of a sentence, care should be taken, that it be not abrupt, or unpleasant. The following instances may be sufficient to show the propriety of some attention to this part of the rule. " Virtue, diligence, and industry, joined with good temper and prudence, are prosperous in general.” It would be better thus: “ Virtue, diligence, and industry, joined with good temper and prudence, have ever been found the surest road to prosperity." An author speaking of the Trinity, expresses himself thus: “It is a mystery which we firmly believe the truth of, and humbly adore the depth of.” How much better would it have been with this transposition : “ It is a mystery, the truth of which we firmly believe, and the depth of which we humbly adore."
In order to give a sentence this proper close, the longest member of it, and the fullest words, should be reserved to the conclusion. But in the distribution of the members, and in the cadence of the period, as well as in the sentences themselves, variety must be observed; for the mind soon tires with a frequent repetition of the same tone,
Though attention to the words and members, and the close of sentences, must not be neglected, yet it must also be kept within pro; er bounds. Sense has its own harmony; and in no instance should perspicuity, precision, or strength of sentiment, be sacrificed to sound. All un meaning words, introduced merely to round the period, or till up the melody, are great blemishes in writing. They are childish and trivial ornaments, by which a sentence always !oses more in point of weight, than it can gain by such additions to its sound. See the Octavo Grammar, on this chapter.
See also the APPENDIX to the Exercises, p. 219. &c.
Of Figures of SPEECH.
Exercises, p. 203. Key, p. 175. The FOURTH requisite of a perfect sentence, is a judicious use of the Figures of Speech.
As figurative language is to be met with in almost every sentence; and, when properly employed, confers beauty and strength on composition; some knowledge of it appears to be indispensable to the scholars, who are learning to form their sentences with perspicuity, accuracy, and force. We shall, therefore, enumerate the principal figures, and give them some explanation.
In general, Figures of Speech imply some departure from simplicity of expression; the idea which we mean to convey is expressed in a particular manner, and with some circumstance added, which is designed to render the impression more strong and vivid. When I say, for instance, “That a good man enjoys comfort in the midst of adversity;" I just express my thoughts in the simplest manner possible: but when I say, “ To the upright there ariseth light in darkness ;" the same sentiment is expressed in a figurative style; a new circumstance is introduced ;“ light,” is put in the place of “comfort,” and “ darkness” is used to suggest the idea of “ adversity.” In the same manner, to
say, “ It is impossible, by any search we can make, to explore the Divine Nature fully,” is to make a simple proposition: but when we say, “ Canst thou, by searching, find out the Lord? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know?” this introduces a figure into style; the proposition being notonly expressed, but with it admiration and astonishment.
But, though figures imply a deviation from what may be reckoned the most simple form of speech, we are not thence to conclude, that they imply any thing uncommon, or unnatural. On many occasions, they are both the most natural, and the most common method of uttering our sen. timents. It would be very difficult to compose any dis