« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
First, the distribution of the several members should be carefully regarded. Whatever is easy to the organs of speech, is always grateful to the ear. While a period advances, the termination of each member fornis a pause in the pronunciation ; and these pauses should be so distributed, as to bear a certain musical proportion to each other. This will be best Illustrated by examples. “This discourse concerning the easiness of God's 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." This sentence is far from being harmonious, owing chiefly to this, that there is but one pause in it ; by which it is divided into two meinbers ; each of which is so long as to require a considerable stretch of breath in pronouncing it. On the contrary, let us observe the grace of the following passage from Sir William Temple, in which he speaks sarcastically of
“ But God be thanked, 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 meas. ure of truth; and his own knowledge of what is possible in nature." Here every thing is at once easy to the breath, and grateful to the ear. We must however observe, that if composition abounds with sentences which have too many rests, and these placed at intervals apparently measured and regular, it is apt to sa. vour of affectation.
The next thing which demands attention, is the close or cadence of the period. The only important rule which can here be given is this, when we aim at digni. ly or elevation, the sound should increase to the last'; the longest members of the period, and the fullest and most sonorous words should be reserved for the con
clusion. As an instance of this, the following sentence of Addison may be given.
" It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas ; converses with its objects at the greatest distance ; and continues the longest in action without being tired or satiated with its proper ena joyments." Here every reader must be sensible of beauty in the just distribution of the pauses, and in the manner of rounding the period, and of bringing it into a full and harmonious close.
It may be remarked, that little words in the conclusion of a sentence are as injurious to melody, as they are inconsistent with strength of expression. A musical close in our language seems in general to require either the last syllable, or the last but one to be a long .syllable Words which consist chiefly of short syllables, as contrary, particular, retrospect, seldom termi. nate a sentence harmoniously, unless a previous run of long syllables has rendered them pleasing to the ear.
Sentences, however, which are so constructed as to make the sound always swell towards the end, and rest either on the last or penult syllable, give a discourse the tone of declamation. If melody be not varied, the ear is soon cloyed with it. Sentences constructed in the same manner, with the pauses at equal intervals, should never succeed each other. Short sentences must be blended with long and swelling ones, to render discourse sprightly as well as magnificent.
We now proceed to treat of a higher species of har. mony ; the sound adapted to the sense.
Of this we may remark two degrees. First, the current of sound suited to the tenor of a discourse. Next, a peculiar resemblance effected between some object and the sounds that are employed in describing it.
Sounds have in many respects an intimate correspondence with our ideas ; partly natural, partly produced by artificial associations. Hence any one modulation of sound continued, stamps on style a certain char. acter and expression. Sentences constructed with Ciceronian fulness, excite an idea of what is important, magnificent, and sedate. But they suit no violent pas. sion, no eager reasoning, no familiar address. These require measures brisker, easier, and often more abrupt. It were as absurd to write panegyric and an invéctive in a style of the same cadence, as to set the words of a tender love song to the tune of a warlike march.
Beside the general correspondence of the current of sound with the current of thought, a more particular expression of certain objects by resembling sounds may be attempted. In poetry this resemblance is chiefly to be sought. It obtains sometimes indeed in prose composition ; but there is an inferior degree.
The sounds of words may be employed for representing chiefly three classes of objects ; first, other sounds; secondly, motions ; and thirdly, the emotions and passions of the mind.
In most languages, the names of many particular sounds are so formed, as to bear some resemblance of the sound which they signify; as with us the whistling of winds, the buzz and hum of insects, the hiss of serpents, and the crash of falling timber; and many
other instances, where the name is plainly adapted to the sound it represents. A remarkable example of this beauty may be taken from two passages in Milton's Paradise Lost; in one of which he describes the sound made by the opening of the gates of hell; in the other, that made by the opening of the gates of heaven. The contrast between the two exhibits to great advantage the art of the poet. The first is the opening of hell's gates:
On a sudden open fly
Observe the smoothness of the other ;
-Heaven open'd wide
On golden hinges turning. In the second place the sound of words is frequently employed to imitate motion ; as it is swift or slow,
violent or gentle, uniform or interrupted, easy or accompanied with effort. Between sound and motion there is no natural affinity ; yet in the imagination there is a strong one ; as is evident from the connexion between music and dancing. The poet can therefore give us a lively idea of the kind of motion he would describe, by the help of sounds which in our imagination correspond with that motion. Long syllables naturally excite an idea of slow motion ; as in this line of Virgil,
Olli inter sese magna vi brachia tollunt.
A succession of short syllables gives the impression of quick motion ; as,
Sed fugit interia, fugit irreparabile tempus.
The works of Homer and Virgil abouod with instances of this beauty ; which are so often quoted and so well known, that it is unnecessary to produce them.
The third set of objects, which the sound of words is capable of representing, consists of emotions and passions of the mind. Between sense and sound there appears to be no natural resemblance. But, if the arrangement of syllables by their sound alone recal one set of ideas more readily than another, and dispose the mind for entering into that affection which the poet intends to raise ; such arrangement may with propriety be said to resemble this sense. Thus, when pleasure, joy, and agreeable objects are described by one who feels his subject, the language naturally runs in smooth, liquid, and flowing numbers.
- Namque ipsa decoram
Brisk and lively sensations exact quicker and more animated numbers.
-Juvenam manus emicat ardens
Melancholy and gloomy subjects are naturally connected with slow measures and long words.
In those deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heavenly pensive contemplation dwells. Abundant instances of this kind are suggested by a moderate acquaintance with good poets, either ancient or modern.
ORIGIN AND NATURE OF FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.
FIGURES may be described to be that language which is prompted either by the imagination or pas. sions. They are commonly divided by rhetoricians into two great classes, figures of words, and figures of thought. The former are commonly called tropes, and consist in a word's being used to signify something different from its original meaning. Hence, if the word be changed, the figure is destroyed. Thus, for instance, “ Light ariseth to the upright in darkness." Here the trope consists in “ light and darkness," not being taken literally, but substituted for comfort and adversity ; to which conditions of life they are supposed to bear some resemblance. The other class, terned figures of thought, supposes the figure to consist in the sentiment only, while the words are used in their literal sense ; as in exclamations, interrogations, apostrophes and comparisons; where, though the words be varied, or translated from one language into another, the same figure is still preserved. This distinction, however, is of small importance ; as practice cannot always be assisted by it ; nor is it always very pers. picuous.
Tropes are derived in part from the barrenness of language ; but principally from the influence which the imagination has over all language. The imagination never contemplates any one idea or object as single and alone, but as accompanied by others which may be considered as its accessories. These accesso.