« AnteriorContinuar »
ly recur at irregular distances, which constrains us either to accelerate our pronunciation, or to substitute a pause, to restore the equality of the measure. In verse, the accented syllables return in more certain order than in prose, and produce that pleasing impression which we call harmony; the perfection of which is in proportion to the equal distribution of accented and unaccented syllables. The irregular distribution of such syllables in prose, has led many to believe in the impossibility of reducing it to a regular and harmonious division. The attempt has however been made and has succeeded. The method is simple, and the advantages great. If any one should contend that in prose composition regularity and order are not expected, though it constitutes the harmony of poetry, I answer that it is not the eye but the ear that recognizes this pleasure, and that consequently in each it will be equal. It is the beauty arising from variety of sound, and not from the mere adjustment of letters.I speak not now of the kind of sound, but of its regular distribution. On its particular qualities, I shall make subsequent remarks.
In the first portion of the "exercises" the selections are divided into sections by upright bars, each occupying the same portion of time. The bar is an index to the accented syllable, and immediately precedes it, where there is such a syllable in the section. It will sometimes happen that a greater number of unaccented syllables are situated between following accents, than can be compressed into the space of one section, or in other words, for it is the same thing, than can be
uttered in the time of a free and easy expiration. In such cases, a portion of the former must be placed in the succeeding section, with a figure 7 before them, indicating, that a pause must be made use of in the place of the accent, thus restoring the equal measure of the sentence, as
7 In the second | century | 7 of the | christian | era.
If the third and fourth section (century of the) were thrown together, and the sentence read with the necessary slowness of utterance, the unaccented syllables would so far preponderate as to destroy the harmony of the sentence, or a precipitancy of utterance must be resorted to, which would produce the same effect; a bar therefore divides the group, succeeded immediately by the symbol of a rest or pause, to restore the equality of the measure and admit of a free inspiration.
Where two emphatic or accented syllables directly follow each other, the unaccented portion of the section is wanting, and must be accounted for by a pause. 7 of a truth no man | 7 shall | stop me of this 7 | boasting | 7 in the | regions | 7 of A | chaia. In this example, the word THIS and the first syllable of boasting are accented and immediately succeed each other. I have therefore placed the symbol of a rest after the former to illustrate my position. In closing my remarks on Rythmus, I would observe that it interposes an effectual barrier to RAPID UTTERANCE.
If the pauses are observed, the sense will be distinctly marked, and all contractions of words and sentences avoided. It is unnecessary to say more on this sub
ject; numerous examples are afforded, in the first part of the work, illustrative of the principle laid down; and the sale of an extensive edition formed on the samé plan, added to the respectability of testimony affixed to the title page, renders the task of the advocate in the author, unnecessary.
In the latter portion of the "Exercises", my attention has been principally directed to an illustration of the Quantity and Melody of our language.
It is therefore necessary to make some remarks on this division. The perception of the beauties of QUANTITY, although recognised by writers on prosody, has had reference rather to the time of syllables, than the finished and regular adjustment of that time on the literal elementary sounds of our language. As I do not however wish to depreciate the labours of others, but to give a "habitation and a name" to my own, I shall proceed to give as clear a description of this powerful and expressive agent, as grapphic representations of sound will permit. Quantity is an extension of the voice on the vowels, or on B, D, G, V, Z, Y, W, ZH, NG, L, M, N, and R. I beg to be understood as speaking of sound, and not of the literal symbols of sound. To whatever extent the voice is prolonged on any of these elements, and its impressiveness will in proportion to its prolongation, two sounds should be successively heard gliding into each ather, imperceptible as to distinction at their point of
junction, and yet clearly and sensibly distinguishable at the opening of the one and the termination of the other; commencing fully and forcibly, and gradually decreasing in strength as the voice vanishes into silence. If a grapphic symbol could illustrate this perfect condition of quantity, I would represent it by a cone, taking its base for the opening, and the apex or point for the termination of the voice. Although the continuous movement of the voice, in giving utterance to these sounds, precludes the possibility of discovering the point at which they unite, yet if our element. a, as heard in A-le is pronounced without emotion, they will immediately be distinguished: the former, opening with the well known characteristic of this element, and the latter, terminating in the sound of E, as heard in Eve, presenting to the ear a vocal dipthong.
Those syllables which terminate with vowel sounds, or which are represented by them, admit the most finished execution of quantity; it may however be easily applied to any of those terminating with the class I have selected from the consonants. In the words Hail and Holy, if this element of expression is applied to a in the former, and o in the latter, on a Low degree of pitch, it will impart to each syllable a dignity and solemnity of utterance which cannot be described.In the word Hail, the voice opens on a, and terminates on l. In the first syllable of holy, the opening and termination centre in o, a second opening and termination being required for ly, or in other words li (sounding the i as in pin). In the following sentence, "Give God the praise", the voice opens on the O, (or
rather A, as sounded in A-we) and terminates its gliding impulse on the elementary sound of D. If the reader should be disposed to doubt the execution of Quantity on the class which I have selected from the consonants, without the aid of a vowel, I beg of him to try the following simple method to assure himself of the fact: place one of the vowels, preceding any of this list, pronounce the syllable so formed, and at the termination of the utterance, as the voice passes into silence, he will have the true initial elementary sound of the letter. The recognition of the sound by the ear, will subsequently enable him to produce it at will, without any such aid, under a very considerable extension of quantity, and through all the degrees of pitch in the scale to which I shall shortly refer. The sudden interruption to the prolongation of voice on the vowels, by what are really consonants, such as P TK SF, &c. produces what has been termed percussive accent, and it is on this principle that the shortest words are formed, as, Hat, ap, eK, Pit, Ef, &c.
The aspirations in these cases (PK T F) suddenly arrest the quantity. Long quantity is acquired with difficulty; in the daily intercourse of life it is seldom required. To dignified or solemn reading, (with a low pitch of voice,) it imparts a finish and a beauty for which nothing can make amends. The dignified portions of Milton and Shakspeare, many of the Psalms, and much of the Episcopal church service particularly require it.
NOTE-The true initial aspirations of this class (PT K F&c.) may be easily proved, by resorting to the means advised in the case of B D G &c.