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a reseniblance between found and signification. The beauties of verse are handled in the last se@ion: for though the foregoing beauties are found in verse as well as in prose, yet verle has many peculiar beauties, which for the fake of connection inult be brought under one view; and versification, at any rate, is a subject of so great importance, as to deserve a place by itself. .
SECT. I. Beauty of language with respect to found. TN handling this subject, the following order appears 1 the most natural. The sounds of the different leta ters come first: next, these sounds as united in fyllables: third, syllables united in words: fourth, words united in a period : and in the lait place, periods united in a discourse.
With respect to the first article, every vowel is founded with a single expiration of air from the wind pipe, through the cavity of the mouth. By varying this can vity, the different vowels are sounded : for the air in palling through cavities differing in fize, producerh various sounds, fome high or sharp, some now or flat , a small cavity occasions a high suund, a large cavity a low sound. The five vowels accordingly, pronounced with the same extension of the wind pipe, but with different openings of the mouth, form a regular series of sounds, descending from high to low, in the following order, i, e, a, 0, u* Each of these founds is agreeable to the ear: and if it be inquired which, of .ggem is the most agreeable, it is perhaps the safalt lige ip kold, that there is no universal preference of any one before che reft: probably those voyels which are the fartheit removed from the extremes, will be the most relished. This is all I have to remark upon the first article: for consonants being letters: thil of themselves have no sound, serve only in conjunction with vowels to form
* In this scale of sounds, the letter i must be pronounced as in the word interest, and as in other words beginning with the syllable in ; the letter e as in persuason; the letter a as in bat; and the letter u as in number.
articulate sounds; and as every articulate sound of this kind makes a syllable, consonants come naturally under the second article ; to which therefore we proceed.
All consonants are pronounced with a lefs cavity than any of the vowels; and consequently they contribute to form a found still more sharp than the sharpeit vowel pronounced single. Hence it follows, that every articulate sound into which a consonant enters, muit ne. cessarily be double, though pronounced with one expi. ration of air, or with one breath, as commonly expres. sed : the reason is, that though two sounds readily unite, yet where they differ in tone, both of them must be heard if neither of them be suppressed. For the same reason, every syllable must be composed of as many founds as there are letters, supposing every letter to be distinctly pronounced.
We next inquire, how far articulate sounds into which consonants 'enter, are agreeable to the ear, Few tongues are so polished, as entirely to have rejected sounds that are pronounced with difficulty; and it is a noted observation, That such sounds are to the ear barth and disagreeable. But with respect to agreeable sounds, it appears, that a double sound is always more agreeable than a single sound : every one who has an ear must be sensible, that the diphthong oi or ai is inoie agreeable than any of these vowels pronounced singly: the same holds where a consonant enters into the double round; the syllable le has a more agreeable found than the vowel e, or than any vowel. And in support of experience, a. larisfactory argument may be drawn from the wisdom of Providence : Speech: is beitowed upon man, to qualify'him for society; and the provision he hath of articulate founds, is: proportianed to the use he hath for them: bue of forinds that are agreeable Tingly were not also agreeable:in.codja nction, the necessity of a painful selection would render Language intricate and difacult to be attained in any perfection ; and this selection, at the same time, would tend to abridge the number of useful foundz, fo as perhaps not to leave sufficient for answering the different ends of language.
In this view, the harmony of pronunciation differs widely froin that of music properly fo called; in the
latter latter are discovered many sounds fingly agreeable, that in conjunction are extremely disagreeable ; none but what are called concordant founds having a good effect ‘in conjunction : in the fornier, all sounds lingly agreeable, are in conjunction concordant; and ought to be, in order to fulfill the purposes of language.
Having discussed syllables, we proceed to words ; which make a third article. Monofyllables belong to the former head: polysyllables open a different scene. In a cursory view, one will readily imagine, that the agreeableness or disagreeableness of a word with respect to its sound, thould depend upon the agreeableness or disagreeableness of its coinponent syllables: which is true in part, but not entirely; for we must also take under confideration, the effect of syllables in succeflion. In the first place, syllables in immediate succession, pronounced, each of them, with the same or nearly the some aperture of the mouth, produce a succeflion of weak and feeble sounds; witness the French words ditil, pathetique : on the other hand, a Syllable of the greatelt aperture succeeding one of the smallest, or the opposite, makes a succession, which, because of its remarkable disagreeableness, is distinguished by a proper name, vir hiatus. The most agreeable succession, is, where the cavity is increased and diminished alternately within moderate limits. Examples, alternative, longevity, pupllanimous. Secondly, words consisting wholly of syllables pronounced low, or of syllables pronoun. ced quick, commonly called long and short fyllables, have little melody in them ; witness the words petition. et, fruiterer, dizziness: on the other hand, the intermixture of long and short syllables is remarkably agreeable; for example, degree, repent, wonderful, altitude, rapidity, independent, impetuosity *. The cause will be explained afierward, in treating of verlification. A 4
* Italian words, like those of Latin and Greek, have - this property alınost universally : Englith and French words are generally deficient; in the former, the long Syllable being removed froin the end as far as the sound will permit; and in the latter, the last syllable being ge. nerally long For example, Sēnator in Englith, Senātor in Latin, and Senaieur in French,
· Distinguishable from the beauties above mentioned, there is a beauty of some words which arises from their fignification: when the emotion raised by the length or fhortness, the roughness or smoothness, of the found, sesembles in any degree what is raised by the sense, we feel a very remarkable pleasure. But this subject belongs to the third section.
The foregoing observations afford a standard to every nation, for eitimating, pretty accurately, the comparative merit of the words that enter into their own language: but they are not equally useful in comparing the words of different languages; which will thus ap. pear. Different nations judge differently of the haishness or smoothness of articulate Counds; a sound, for example, harsh and disagreeable to an Italian, may be abundantly smooth to a northern ear: here every nation must judge for itself; nor can there be any solid ground for a preference, when there is no coinmon ilandard to which we can appeal. The case is precise. Jy the same as in behaviour and manners : plain-dealing and sincerity, liberty in words and actions, form the character of one people ; politeness, reserve, and a too tal disguise of every sentiment that can give offence, form the character of another people; to each the manners of the other are disagreeable. An effeminate mind cannot bear the least of that roughness and severity, which is generally esteemed manly when exerted upon proper occasions : neither can an effeminate ear bear the harshness of certain words, that are deemed nervous and founding by those accustomed to a rougher tone of speech. Must we then relinquith all thoughts of com. paring languages in the point of roughness and smoothness, as a fruitless inquiry? Not altogether fo; for we may proceed a certain length, though without hope of an ultimate decision : a language pronouuced with diffi culty even by natives, muft yield to a smoother language: and supposing two languages pronounced with equal facility by natives, the rougher language, in my judgment, ought to be preferred, provided it be also stored with a competent share of more mellow sounds; which will be evidene froin attending to the different effects that articulate found hath upon the mind. A smooth gliding
found is agreeable, by calming the mind, and lulling it to rest : a rough bold found, on the contrary, animates the mind; the effort perceived in pronouncing, is communicated to the hearers, who feel in their own minds a fimilar effort, rousing their attention, and disposing them to action. I add another consideration; that the agreeableness of contraft in the rougher language, for which the great variety of founds gives ample opportunity, must, even in an effeminate ear, prevail over the more uniform sounds of the smoother language*. This appears to me all that can be safely determined upon the present point. With respect to the other circumftances that constitute the beauty of words, the standard above mentioned is infallible when apply'd to foreign languages as well as to our own: for every man, whatever be his mother tongue, is equally capable to judge of the length or shortness of words, of the alternate opening and closing of the mouth in speaking, and of the relation that the found bears to the sense; in these particulars, the judgment is susceptible of no pre. judice from custom, at least of no invincible prejudice.
That the English congue, originally harsh, is at prefent much softened by dropping in the pronunciation many redundant consonants, is undoubtedly true: that it is not capable of being further mellowed without suffering in iis force and energy, will scarce be thought by any one who possesses an ear ; and yet such in Britain is the propenlity for dispatch, that overlooking the majesty of words composed of many syllables apey connected, the prevailing taste is to Thorten words, even at the expence of making them disagreeable to the ear, and harsh in the pronunciation. But I have no occasion to infilt upon this article, being prevented by an excellent writer, who poflefled, if any man ever did, the true genius of the English tongue t. I cannot however for
* That the Italian tongue is rather too smooth, seems probable from considering, that in versification words are frequently suppressed in order to produce a rougher and bolder tone.
+ See Swift's proposal for correcting the English tongue, in a letter to the Earl of Oxford,