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sage, and expressing the passion of it, are very different things,) we may make the force of the emphatic words exceed that of the accented words, as much as the accented force exceeds the unaccented.
Having thus shown the nature of accent and emphasis, as they are two species of force, and endeavoured to evince the necessity of attending more to the inflection of the accent than to any greater degree of force upon it; I shall, in the next place, give a concise view of the cause of emphasis, or that particular meaning in the words which requires a more than common force in the pronunciation of them.
What it is that constitutes Emphasis.
In every assemblage of objects, some will appear more worthy of notice than others. In every assemblage of ideas, which are pictures of these objects, the same difference will certainly reign among them; and in every assemblage of words, which are pictures of these ideas, we shall find some of more importance than others. It is the business of a speaker to mark this importance, and, consequently, a good speaker will make his pronunciation an exact picture of the words. The art of speaking then must principally consist in arranging each word into its proper class of importance, and afterwards giving it a suitable pronunciation. We have seen, in the last article, that the prepositions, conjunctions, and smaller words, are generally pronounced like unaccented syllables of the nouns, verbs, and participles, to which they belong, and that these are sometimes pronounced more or less forcibly, according to the peculiar meaning annexed to them.
Now what is this peculiar meaning in words which requires a more than ordinary force in pronouncing them, and properly denominates them emphatical? This question, however difficult it may appear at first sight, may be answered in one word,-opposition. Whenever words are contrasted with, contradistinguished from, or opposed to, other words, they are always emphatical. When both parts of this opposition or contrast are expressed, the emphatic words become very obvious; as in the following passage from Pope:
'Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
In this passage, every word in Italics may be said to be emphatical; as every one of these words is opposed to some other word, as to its correlative or correspondent word. In the second line, judging is opposed to writing; in the fourth, mislead is opposed to tire, and sense to patience; in the fifth, few is opposed to numbers, and this to that; as in the last one, one is opposed to ten, and writes to censure; wrong and amiss being only two words for exactly the same idea, have no opposition to each other, and therefore cannot be emphatical.
But when the opposition, in which emphasis consists, is elliptical; that is, when but one part of the antithesis is expressed, and the other is to be supplied by the understanding, and made out by the pronunciation; when this is the case, I say, the emphatic word is not so easily discovered. Here then we
must have recourse to the general import of the sentence; and whatever word we suppose to be emphatical, must be tried, by pronouncing it more forcibly than the rest of the words; and if this pronunciation suggests a phrase, which, if inserted in the sentence, would explain and illustrate it, we may be sure that word is emphatical. Let us try to make this clear by examples.
And if each system in gradation roll,
In the third line of this passage, we find an uncommon effort in the author to express "the strong connexions, nice dependencies" of one part of the general system upon another: and, if we lay a strong emphasis on the word one, we shall find this connexion and dependency very powerfully enforced; for it will suggest this antithesis: "the least confusion, not in several or a great many parts of the universe, but even in one, would bring confusion on the whole." This paraphrase we not only find consistent with the sense of the poet, but greatly illustrative of it: and hence we may determine the word one to be emphatical.
Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard affords us another striking instance of emphasis, where only one part of the antithesis is expressed. The writer is foretelling what some hoary-headed swain will say of him when he lies numbered among the unhonoured dead.
One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood, was he.
The next with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne ;
Grav'd on the stone, beneath yon aged thorn.
Here the words, thou canst are emphatical, as they are evidently opposed to I cannot, which are understood; a very beautiful way of hinting the simplicity of the swain from his ignorance of the written characters of his language.
In these instances, the opposition suggested by the emphatical word is sufficiently evident; in other cases, perhaps, the antithesis is not quite so obvious; but if an emphasis can be laid on any word, we may be assured that word is in antithesis with some meaning agreeable to the general sense of the passage.
To illustrate this, let us pronounce a line of Marcus, in Cato, where, expressing his indignation at the behaviour of Cæsar, he says,
I'm tortur'd even to madness when I think
and we shall find the greatest stress fall naturally on that word, which seems opposed to some common or general meaning; for the young hero does not say, in the common and unemphatic sense of the word think, that he is tortured even to madness when he thinks on Cæsar, but on the strong and emphatic sense of this word, which implies not only "when I hear or discourse of him, but even when I think of him, I'm tortur'd even to madness."
As the word think therefore rises above the common level of signification, it is pronounced above the common level of sound; and as this signification is opposed to a signification less forcible, the word may be properly said to be emphatical. For we must carefully
remember, that emphasis is that stress we lay on words which are in opposition or contradistinction to other words, expressed or understood.
For a more exact idea of the nature of emphasis, See Elements of Elocution: Introduction to the Theory of Emphasis, page 188.
On the different Forces of Emphatic Words.
It is impossible not to have observed in the last article, that the emphatic words of the latter kind, where but one part of the antithesis is expressed, are pronounced much more forcibly than those where both parts of the antithesis are laid down, and the opposition appears at full length. The reason seems to be this as emphasis always implies opposition, either expressed or understood, when this opposition is expressed, it is sufficiently obvious, and needs not a more forcible pronunciation than accented words to make it perceived; but when only one emphatic word is expressed, and the other understood, it is necessary to increase the force upon the word expressed, that what is in opposition to it, and is not expressed, may become more obvious and intelligible.
If these observations are just, we see an evident reason why most of those books which mark the emphatical words in Italics make almost every significant word emphatical; and why this practice is so much decried by others, as a useless multiplication of emphasis -both these parties are in the right. The former, perceiving great numbers of words in opposition to each other, very properly considered them as emphatical; and perceiving at the same time, that al