Page images
PDF
EPUB

guage

than in any other, on account of that endless and perplexing variation, which we observe in the sound of almost every letter. No general rule can be fixed, which is not fubject to innumerable exceptions. It is in vain to consult the pretended jus & norma loquendi :' for the same word is differently pronounced by different speakers at the bar, in the church, in the senate, and at court; and in such a contest, who shall decide? We can appeal to nothing but analogy, on which, even custom itself, if it is worth confideration, must be ultimately founded.

We entirely agree with this very ingenious and learned writer, that nothing is so truly elegant in language, as the fimplicity of unviolated analogy. But when we meet with innumerable anomalies, all that can be done is, to bring them to a critical examination ; and whenever they are found to arise from ignorance, vulgarity, or caprice, to note and explode them.

This appears to be the design of Mr. Nares's performance. His work is divided into four parts. The first contains a dira tinct account of the pronunciation of every letter in our alphabet, whether fingly taken or particularly combined. In every instance, the regular found of each letter, or combination, is laid down in a general rule ; and then every exception is fubjoined in à methodical arrangement; so that, making allowance for casual omissions, every word, which is not found in any lift of exceptions, is to be considered as ftri&ly regular.

On this part of his work we can only say, that the author ; has taken uncommon pains in the classification of words, and in his endeavours to ascertain the orthoepy of our language. But we cannot help thinking, that he has sometimes given us popular and colloquial usage, rather than the most accurate and elegant pronunciation. For instance : 'eo, he says, is pronounced like o short, in geographer, geography, geometry, georgic.'- Surely, this mode of pronouncing geographer, geography, and geometry, as if they were written gographer, gography, gometry, is a gross and vulgar irregularity.

În bis introduction to the second chapter, the author having remarked, that accent in English is only a species of emphafis ; that accent is to syllables what emphasis is to sentences; that in monosyllables accent and emphasis must be the same ; that those monosyllables alone have an accent, which are capable of being emphatical, &c. observes, that the ancient accent was something, of which little or no traces are to be found in modern languages. It is true, cortinues he, we do not speak monotcaoully; but we frequently elevate and de

press

press our voices, not only as to softness and loudness, but in respect of másical tone. These inflections, however, seem to affect sentences rather than single words ; nor are they, as far as I can discover, directed in any degree by the accentuation of syllables. Many 'confiderations feem to support what this doctrine of the ancient accents naturally suggeits, that the fpeaking of the ancients was much more nearly allied to recitative, than the elocution of modern times. I shall mention only the circumitance related by Cicero of Caius Gracchus. It was his practice to be attended, when he spoke in public, by a musician with an ivory flute, whose business was to affitt him in the regulation of his voice. Such an attendant would very much perplex and distress a modern speaker.'

Accent seems to be the most unstable part of the English language: we can all remember words differently accented from the pretent practice, and many might be collected, which are ftill Auctuating, with their accent unsettled. In order, there fore, to point out, as far as may be practicable, the general

nalogy of our language in this respect, and to supply some nints to those who wish to form a proper notion of this branch of orthoepy, he lays down rules for placing the accent, and fubjoins the exceptions.

It has been generally said and believed, that it is conformable to the genius of the English pronunciation, to throw back the accent, as far as posible from the end of a polysyllable. Our author very properly explodes this notion, and says, “It , has corrupted our speech with many barbarous and unpleasing sounds, which are in reality repugnant to its analogy : such as, ácademy, réfractory, pérfunétory, contemptible, &c. which no ear can bear without being offended. It is high time then, that this false notion should be controverted, and the farther ill effects of it prevented.

The third part contains the general rules of quantity, and their exceptions.

Quantity is the word generally adopted by grammarians to express the relative length of syllables. Those which pass off rapidly are called short; those, in the utterance of which the voice is evidently more retarded, are called long. The author, however, rightly observes, that' fyllables denominated short are discovered to differ greatly from one another; and those which are reckoned long, appear to be by no mean's equal in length.

In treating of quantity he dismisses the ancient ideas, and confiders merely the length and shortness of vowels, which is all that materially affects our pronunciation. Among the rules of quantity he lays down the following:

I. A vowel followed by a consonant in the same syllable is Thort, as băt, těllify, kill, organ, bútler.

II. A vowel which ends a syllable in an accented penultima is long, as bācon, gēnus, trifle, cogent, &c.

III. A mute e, subjoined to a fingle confonant, makes the preceding vowel long, as băt, bate, bid, bide.

IV. A vowel in an accented antipen ultima, though not followed by a consonant in the same syllable, is short, as gra'. tify, editor, o'rigin.

In the last instance the author follows this role in the divi. fion of words ; namely, • That every fyllable ends with a vowel, unless two consonants, or a double one, follow it; as ba-son, ba-ron,' But this division is groundless and absurd, and has a tendency to produce a false pronunciation. These words should be divided as they are pronounced, bar-on, gras i-fy, ed-i-tor, or-i-gin. If so, the fourth rule of quantity ought to be abolished, and likewise a long lift of exceptions ; such as bă-lance, bă-nish, că-bin, dă-mage, hă-bit, tă-lent, &c. which should be differently divided.

The fourth part contains a list of words, spelt, and accented alike, yet differently pronounced ; a list of colloquial corruptions and contractions; instances of a Auctuating orthograöhy in our language; and examples of the difference between ancient and modern accentuation. We shall fubjoin fome examples of the last.

A' cademy : Our court hall be a little academy. Shaks. Love's Lab. Loft:

Here Dr. Johnson appears to have been milled by the current opinion concerning the nature of the English accent; for he says of this word, that it was,, “ anciently and properly accented on the first syllable, but now frequently on the second."

Advertise:
Wherein he might the king his lord advertise. Shaksp.
As I by friends am well advertised. Shaksp.
To one that can my part in him advertise. Id. Meas. for Meal.

As I was then
Advertising, and holy to your business. Id. ib.

Hence advértisement is the ancient accentuation :
My griefs are louder than advertisement. Shakíp. Much Ado.

Apóftolic:
Or where did I at fare tradition strike,
Provided it were still apóstolic. Dryd. Hind and Panth.
Again :

In vain, alas, you seek
Th' ambitious title of apóstolic. Dryd. Hind and Panth.

Many divines, in reading the Nicene Creed, say, “one cáo tholic and apóstolic church. This is wrong ; for, besides the ill effect of the jingle of the similar terminations so accented,

it

[ocr errors]

it is not adviseable to break unnecessarily into the analogy of the words in -ic. Catholic is indeed an allowed exception, but apoftolic is not; and many who read it apóftolic in that place, call it apostólic when it occurs elsewhere."

Criítique. So lately as - when Pope wrote, this word was not distinguished by the accent from crític: But you with pleafure own your errors paft, And make each day a critique on the last. Ef. on Crit. 1. 570. Also, Not that my quill to crítiques was confin'd.

Johnson does not even distinguish these two words by the or. thography, but fpells both crítick; which is furely a fáult, confidering that they are now pronounced, as well as accented, differently. Esáy, substantive :

ubstanti That loft, he keeps his chamber, reads elágs.

B. Johnson, Epigr. xii. Yet modeftly he does his work furvey, And calls a finish'd poem an eláy. Dryden, Verses to Ld. Rofc. Happy the author whose correct elég Repairs so well our old: Horatian way. Rosc..Efl. on Tran. Verse. Fruitless our hopes, thó' pious our efáns. Smith.

Johnson says, “ the accent is used on either.fyllable.” But I believe the accent here exemplified is now perfectly obsolete.'

Perfume, both verb and fubftantive: Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great. 2Hen. IV. A& iii. Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd. Shaks. Son. 104. And in some perfumes there is more delight. Ib. 130.

But in the following passage we find the accent of the verb placed as it now is used: The canker blooms have full as deep a dye As the perfumed tincture of the roses. Shaksp. Sonnet 54. And the substantive is fo used by Milton :

Now gentle gales Panning their odoriferous wings, dispense Native perfumes, .and whisper whence they stole Those balmy spoils. ---- Par. Loft, iv. 158.'

This is only a short specimen of our author's list, which is curious and useful, and perhaps the first of the kind that has been attempted.

Though we may probably differ from this learned writer in fome points which he has discussed in this treatise, yet we freely applaud his performance in general, as calculated to do eminent service to English literature, by exhibiting a greater variety of critical observations on the pronunciation of our language, than we have met with in any former publication,

Eleanora. :

Eleanora : from the Sorrows of Werter. A Tale. 2 Voiie

Small 8vo. 55. sewed. Robinson. THERE is no work more captivating than the Sorrows of

Werter. Its warm animated language, the strong expressive feelings of a heart torn with anguish, and of refolum tion weakened by diftress, allures with irrefiftible power ; with a power which we fear has sometimes led the reader of a congenial soul to a similar fate. On these and many other accounts, it is poison to a mind diseased ; and may contribute with the proud man's contumelies,' or the pangs of despised love,' to hurry a despairing wretch to the extreme verge. The volumes before us feem to be designed as an antidote to the poison ;. but, like other antidotes, may come too late : they are certainly not dangerous; and they possess a power of attraction by the same means, and in a degree little inferior, to the Sorrows of Werter.

The story is founded on a short sentence in the latter work: Werter, before his acquaintance with Charlotte, ivas attached to Julia; and her fifter Leonora fips of the intoxicating draught, under the guife of friend thip. Fatal delofion ! but though so often fatal, the phantom continues to allure and to betray. The unfortunate Leonora carries the wound in her heart, and it rankles amidst the gaieties of a court, and the {plendours of a midnight ball. Werter is supposed culpable in cherishing this fond delusion; but he leaves her without an explanation. He retires to the fatal spot, where he fees Char- lotte, and finishes his love only with his life. The event is communicated to Leonora, and snaps the thread, already weakened by the continuance of a violent, but hopeless, pallion.

This is a hort outline of the novel, which is related with: much address, and an intimate acquaintance with the human heart. It is an interesting story; and the Episode of Bertha and Conrade, and the little History of Claude and Isabella, are extremely beautiful. We think we perceive a moral, which we with had been more pointedly insisted on. Men are often faulty in appearing particularly attentive, without designing to become lovers; and on the other hand women are often too oredulous. There is an attractive power which frequently hurries us beyond ourselves :: it is a momentary delirium, a temporary intoxication, which, though in itself a fault if purfued, in the more serious moments, would lead to a crime more dangerous than the mode of conduct fo generally titigmatized as dishonourable. In the situation of Leonora, the attentions of Werter were defensible, and she ought to have reflected, that her passion began before the death of Julia. May this guard some fond female against a too easy belief! 7

As

« PreviousContinue »