« PreviousContinue »
ciently understood, this unaccented pronunciation produces no obscurity. Thus in the following sentence:
He cannot exalt his thoughts to any thing great or noble, because he only believes that, after a short turn on the stage of this world, he is to sink into oblivion, and to lose his consciousness for ever.
Here the person spoken of is supposed to be understood, and there is no necessity of laying even accentual stress on the word he: but in the following sentence:
He cannot exalt his thoughts to any thing great or noble, who only believes that, after a short turn on the stage of this world, he is to sink into oblivion, and lose his consciousness
Here we find that pronoun he the antecedent to the relative who, and perceive the necessity of giving it an accent, and making a considerable
after it. When the relative immediately follows the antecedent, the antecedent requires an accent and pause after it in the same manner.
He, that pursues fame with just claims, trusts his happiness to the winds; but he that endeavours after it by false merit, has to fear, not only the violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel.
Johnson. This passage will want much of its force and precision, if we do not lay an accent on the pronoun he, and make a serisible pause after it.
The same may be observed of the following sentence.
He, that is loudly praised, will be clamorously censured; he, that rises hastily into fame, will be in danger of sinking suddenly into oblivion,
An attention to the foregoing rule will direct us in some doubtful cases, and give a decision to what might otherwise appear equivocal. Thus, when Zanga, in the Revenge, is applauding himself for his conduct, and apologising for the obliquity of it, he says,
And greater sure my merit, who, to gain
A point sublime, could such a task sustain. It has already been observed, that when the pronoun my is in opposition to any other possessive pronoun, it is emphatical, and requires the sound rhyming with high. In this instance, perhaps, it may be said that my is emphatical, as it points out the person of the speaker in contradistinction from every other, and therefore requires the open sound of y with a degree of force upon it; and that who is here not determinative, but explicative; that is, it does not necessarily restrain the merit to him, because he acts in that manner, but only expatiates on the merit by way of supplement. This may possibly be the case; but since the sense will admit of the who's being determinative, pronouncing the my with the emphatic sound takes away all doubt, and gives a completeness to the sense as well as plenitude to the sound of the line.
There is the same necessity for accentual force and a pause, when the pronoun is in the objective, as when it is in the nominative case.
A man will have his servant just, diligent, sober, and chaste, for no other reason but the terror of losing his master's favour, when all the laws divine and human cannot keep him whom he serves within bounds, with relation to any one of these vir
Spectator, No 202 This rule leads us to decide
pronunciation of the pronoun, when in the objective
case, and when the relative to which it corresponds is not expressed but understood.
From what has been observed, we may conclude that, whenever there is an antecedent and a relative, there is a necessary connexion which requires the former always to have accentual force, to intimate that the relative is in view, and in some measure to anticipate the pronunciation of it.
As folly and inconsiderateness are the foundations of infidelity, the great pillars and supporters of it are either the vanity of appearing wiser than the rest of mankind, or an ostentation of courage in despising the terrors of another world, which have so great an influence on what they call weaker minds; or an aversion to a belief, which must cut them off from many of those pleasures they propose to themselves, and fill them with remorse for many of them they have already tasted.
Spectator, No 136. The antithesis in the latter part of this sentence may at first sight seem to require an emphasis on them, as opposed to those pleasures they propose to themselves ; but if we examine the state of the antithesis more narrowly, we shall find that the opposite parts will be sufficiently contrasted without a stress on them, since the sense would be perfect without this word; but as there is a relative understood before the word they, we find the propriety of a stress on the antecedent them, in order to correspond to the elliptical relative.
Hannah More, whose language is so pointed and perspicuous, so rich, and at the same time so correct, had less need, perhaps, than most writers to mark emphatical words in Italics; yet her knowledge of just pronunciation has ins duced her to mark an antecedent pronoun, that its correspondence with its relative might be sufficently intimated. This occurs in a passage which contains perhaps,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express’d. Pope.
Thus the weakest reasoners are always the most positive in debate: and the cause is obvious; for they are unavoidably driven to maintain their pretensions by violence, who want arguments and reasons to prove that they are in the right.
Strictures on Modern Female Education, vol. ii. p.15.
The causes of variety in reading and speaking are felt in their effects, but are very difficult to describe. The play of a melodious voice, from high to low, from loud to soft, or from quick to slow, charms us with the pleasing transition from one to the other; but affords so little ground for investigating the principles on which it depends, that the generality of writers on this subject content themselves with advising their readers to observe the best pronouncers, and to follow them as closely as possible. This advice is certainly very rational, though not very satisfactory. Rules are the soul of art and science; and he who can trace one in an art which was supposed to be incapable of rules, has added something, however small, to the mass of
general knowledge. A conviction of this has encouraged me to offer a few rules for varying the voice in reading, by an attention to the inflexion of voice on certain parts of a sentence where at first sight there appears be no necessity for any alteration of voice; or if there were,
that any such alteration is perfectly arbitrary: both these mistakes, however, will be rectified by attending to the pronunciation of the following sentence:
When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey; where the gloominess of the plàce, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of mélancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. Spectator, No 26.
If the latter members of this sentence, which are very properly marked with commas, were all to have the same inflexion (or suspension of voice, as it is commonly called), the monotony would strike every one : but let the falling inflexion be placed on place, building, and mind, and an agreeable variety will succeed the monotone, which will convince us that this variety arises from the regular variation of inflexion upon successive members of the sentence.
Under the article series it has been seen how much force and variety arises from pronouncing the several successive members with an appropriate inflexion of voice. It may in the same manner be observed, that wherever similar members occur, though no more than three, a varia, tion of inflexion may be adopted with advantage. Thus, in the following example:
Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance, which is more amiable than beauty. It shows virtue in the fairest light, takes off in some measure from the deformity of více, and makes even folly and impertinence suppòrtable. Spectator, No 169.
In the last sentence of this example, by placing the falling inflexion on light at the end of the fist member, we shall diversify it from the next