Billeder på siden


recur to the design of this section. We speak now of the means of addressing the ear; and its jealous demands sometimes justify a neglect of the usual temporal pauses, from the sense and expression in these cases being more obvious without them. The art of reading well admits of the resource of compensating for voluntary faults on some points, by the accomplishment of eminent effects on the others,

By the grouping of Emphasis, or what I here call the Emphatic Tie, I mean the application of emphasis to words, which would not otherwise require distinction, merely for the purpose of associating those ideas which can not, by any other mode of vocal syntax, if I may so speak, be brought together, or exhibited in their natural grammatical dependence. The process of this function may be easily understood : for related words, however disjoined in composition, are at once brought within the field of hearing, in their real relationships, whenever they are raised into attractive importance, by force or any other kind of emphasis.

The following stanza, from Collins' "Ode on the Passions,' will illustrate the nature of this mode of grouping.

When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad known.

These two last lines have an embarrassing construction to a reader. The phrases inspiring air,' and 'hunter's call' are in apposition ; but there intervenes a clause, which might make

rung' pass for an active, instead of a neuter verb, and thereby render call’ the objective to it. To show, therefore, that by

hunter's call' the author means the inspiring air,' previously mentioned, the words marked in italics should receive strong emphasis. This is the best mode for restoring to the ear that natural order which is inverted in the composition.

This emphatic tie is often employed in combination with other of the means of grouping. Thus, in the several examples, illustrating the use of the phrases of melody, their inAuence will be assisted by applying the connecting emphasis to comet' and 'fires' _children's and passed'-'peace and "faith.' In the examples of the flight, the relationships between the words. brook'd' and easily'—and between heaven' and deep track of hell,' will be made more manifest by the additional use of the emphatic tie.

In short, it is sometimes necessary to employ all the means of grouping upon a single sentence, in order to make the syntax and the sentiment obvious to the ear. The extreme distortion of English idiom in the following lines, must be exceedingly perplexing to a reader; and, so far as I know, can be rendered somewhat less embarrassing, only by the use of all these means. The passage is taken from the fourth book of Paradise Lost, at the end of Satan's address to the sun.

Thus while he spake, each passion dimm'd his face
Thrice chang'd with pale, ire, envy, and despair;
Which marr'd his borrow'd visage, and betray'd
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld.

Milton uses the word "pale,' here, and at least in one other place of his poem, as a substantive. Its common adjectivemeaning tends to throw some confusion into the sentence. • Ire, envy, and despair,' are in apposition with passion, and are severally concordant with the distributive pronoun "each.' Now the only manner in which I can approximate towards a clear representation of this blameable piece of latinity, is by making a quick flight over the portion dimm'd his face thrice changed with pale,' and by an abatement thereon; by laying a strong emphasis on each passion,' and on “ire, envy, and despair ;' and by applying the phrase of the rising ditone, with a marked temporal pause, at pale.'

After all, it is a hard picture to paint for a taste that will have true colors—well laid on.

In the present section, and in the two preceding, we have been occupied, more by considering the audible means of displaying the sense of discourse, than by pointing out the signs of expression. But the delineation of sense must, in all cases, be co-existent with the representation of what is distinctively called sentiment.

In this section, and in other parts of this essay, I have been induced to select examples for illustration, from the prime works of poetry ; inasmuch as the strength and variety of their execution, afford the widest field for the use of the remarkable functions of speech ; and because I am persuaded, that if the principles which I am endeavouring to establish, be comprehended by the reader, he will have no difficulty in applying them to the less intricate modes of prose. Yet I must again repeat, that I have taken upon myself the part of a physiologist, not of a rhetorician.


Of the Interval of the Octave.

In the foregoing history of expression, the part performed by the variations of Pitch was described, only as it appears in the radical and vanishing movement, through the interval of a single tone.

In speaking of the diatonic use of the concrete, and of its progress in the melody of simple narrative, it was said that the vanish never rises above the interval of a tone; and that the variations of the radical pitch, whether upwards or downwards, never exceed the limits of this same interval, Now such unpassionate narrative as was then supposed, is rarely found of any continuance : but the mode and occasions of the exceptions having been reserved for future explanation, I avoided confusing the subject then in hand, by restrictive remarks, which could not have been understood without much digressive explanation. The wider intervals of pitch which are used for expression, are now to be described.

By the term Octave, which is set at the head of this section, is meant the concrete rise of the voice, from any assumed place, through superior parts of the scale, until it ends or vanishes in the eighth degree, or in the octave to that radical at which it began. This concrete interval is employed for the expression of interrogation; and it is further used as one of the means for distinguishing words, by the function which is called emphasis. The octave is not limited to those phrases alone which carry the common grammatical notation of a question. There are some declaratory sentences which are made interrogative, by intonation ; and there are many occasions in discourse, on which the sentiments of the speaker are so nearly poised between certainty and doubt, that he admits, by an interrogative movement, the hesitation of inquiry, in the very confidence of assertion. The octave being the widest interval of the speaking scale, is significant of the greatest vehemence or earnestness of an interrogative sense. It is likewise the appropriate mode of intonation, if the question is accompanied with sneer, contempt, mirth, raillery, and the temper or triumph of quick and of peevish argument.

From the time required in drawing out the interval of an octave, it must be obvious, that this mode of interrogation can be executed conspicuously, only on a syllable capable of prolongation-How then can the interrogative expression be given on a short and immutable syllable? The process by which this is done, will be described hereafter, with particular reference to interrogative sentences. It may be here transiently illustrated by the following notation :

In this scheme, it is visible that the discrete change or skip is made from the radical line of the concrete octave, to a line along the height of the vanish of that same octave. Now immutable syllables, in an interrogative sentence, are transferred by radical change to the summit of the concrete interrogative interval, and thus discretely produce the expressive effect of that interval, though less remarkably than the indefinite syllables which pass through the concrete rise. As there are more short syllables than long ones in most sentences, the discrete change, as here exhibited, must be the predominating mode of interrogative intonation. The above scheme shows further, that after the radical pitch has assumed the line of the vanishing octave, the voice proceeds in the diatonic melody on that line, until the occurrence of a syllable which requires and will bear the concrete rise; then the radical pitch descends to form a new octave concrete. Thus it appears, that the rule of intonation, laid down when speaking of the diatonic melody of simple narration, does not apply to the melody of interrogative sentences ; for these employ a more extended concrete interval, and a wider discrete transition in their changes of radical pitch.

When the octave is used for the purpose of emphasis, the voice immediately descends after its concrete rise on the em. phatic word, to the original line of radical pitch, as in the following notation :

But this matter of emphasis is to be treated more particularly, and to be illustrated hereafter.

I have to remark finally, on the use of the concrete octave and its radical change, as the means of interrogative and emphatic expression, that as this highest interval of the scale is employed for the most earnest degrees of these purposes, it is of less frequent occurrence in speech, than the following intervals of the fifth and the third.

« ForrigeFortsæt »