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will strongly mark the folly of consigning to wisdom, or using wisely, what is not in their own hands, but in the hands of fate.
The two following lines in this passage afford another opportunity of showing how important to the sense is a particular inflection on a particular word. 'Tis not in felly not to scorn a fool;
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
If we do not give folly the emphasis with the falling inflection, the thought will be scarcely intelligible. The same may be observed of the word themselves in the second line of the following passage:
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread.
The following passage will afford an instance of the necessity of adopting the other inflection on a particular word, in order to elucidate and fix the meaning. The poet, speaking of the original grandeur of the passions, says,
What though our passions are run mad, and stoop
With low terrestrial appetite, to graze
On trash, on toys, dethron'd from high desire;
Yet still through their disgrace, no feeble ray
If we do not give the word feeble the emphasis with the rising inflection we shall be led to suppose that not even a feeble ray of greatness shines: a sense directly contrary to the scope of the author.
Milton, who, from his fondness for the ancients, frequently departs widely from the idiom of his own language, affords us frequent instances of the necessity of attending nicely to the inflection of voice with which we read, in order to preserve his meaning.
Thus, where he is describing the fallen angels as sensible of the misery of their state, while they are gathering round their leader, he says,
Nor did they not perceive the evil plight
In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel.
The words not in this passage must necessarily have the emphasis with the rising inflection, as this specific emphasis is the only way of rendering the sense of the passage intelligible.
As a further proof of the necessity of distinguishing emphasis into two kinds, and of having a distinct and different mark for each, we need only attend to the pronunciation of the following passage from the same author, where he describes Satan's surprise at the sight and approach of the figure of death.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
Par. Lost. b. ii. v. 674.
There are few readers, who, in pronouncing this passage, would not give admir'd, in the fifth line, the rising slide, and fear'd the falling; but nothing can be more evident than that this does not bring out the sense of the passage with half the force of a contrary position of the slides. The falling slide on admir'd, and the rising on fear'd, is agreeable to the general rule the ear always follows, in pronouncing positive and negative members, when it is unembarrassed by the intricacies of poetic language. Thus we see it is of little consequence to tell us a word is emphatical, unless the kind of emphasis is specified, and when
this is done we find the sense of a passage is determined.
I shall conclude these observations, on the utility of marks, by showing the very different sense of a sentence according to the different force and inflection which is given to its several parts. When we take our leave of a person, we sometimes make use of the following sentence:
I wish you all the happiness this world can afford.
If we lay an equal stress upon the words wish, all, happiness, this, world, and afford, and pronounce the rest like unaccented syllables of these, we shall find a sense implying that this world can afford great happiness; but if we lay an emphasis with the falling inflection on all, and one with the rising on this, and pronounce the rest of the words like unaccented syllables of these, as if they were written in the following
Iwishyouallthehappiness | thisworldcanafford:
I-wish-you-all-the-happiness | this-world-can-afford.* In this case, I say, we shall find a very different sense produced; for it will strongly intimate that this world has very little happiness to afford.
If these observations are just, we may perceive what great advantages we might reasonably expect from such a knowledge of the voice as would enable us to comprehend and practise the distinction of force, and the two-fold distinction of inflections here laid down. We should then have a language in which we might converse intelligibly on different modes of pro
* In the first method of pronouncing this sentence, it seems to the ear to contain as many words as there are accents; viz. six. In the last, the sentence seems to consist only of two very long words, because there are in reality no more than two accents in it.
nunciation we could tell the reader plainly and simply, that such words require one species of force and inflection, and such words another, without having recourse to such vague and indeterminate directions as saying, that " he must pronounce some words with emphasis, but not so as to deprive others of a certain degree of it." Whoever is curious to see the obscurity which a want of these distinctions occasions, may consult some of our best writers on this subject, where they dispute with each other about the pronunciation of certain passages. Here he may see how men may wrangle without end, and each seem to have the victory, when they neither understand each other, nor even themselves, for want of precise and definite terms.
RULES FOR READING VERSE.
On the Slides or Inflections of Verse.
The first general rule for reading verse is, that we ought to give it that measured harmonious flow of sound which distinguishes it from prose, without falling into a bombastic, chanting pronunciation, which makes it ridiculous. This medium, like all others where excellence resides, is not very easy to hit; and here, as in similar cases, the worst extreme must be avoided. For this purpose, it will not be improper, before we read verse with its poetical graces, to pronounce it exactly as if it were prose: this will be depriving verse of its beauty, but will tend to preserve it from deformity: the tones of voice will be frequently different, but the inflections will be nearly the same.
But though an elegant and harmonious pronunciation of verse will sometimes oblige us to adopt differ
ent inflections from those we use in prose, it may still be laid down as a good general rule, that verse requires the same inflections as prose, though less strongly marked, and more approaching to monotones. If, therefore, we are at a loss for the true inflection of voice on any word in poetry, let us reduce it to earnest conversation, and pronounce it in the most familiar and prosaic manner, and we shall, for the most part, fall into those very inflections we ought to adopt in repeating verse.
This observation naturally leads us to a rule, which may be justly looked upon as the fundamental principle of all poetic pronunciation; which is, that wherever a sentence, or member of a sentence, would necessarily require the falling inflection in prose, it ought always to have the same inflection in poetry; for though, if we were to read verse prosaically, we should often place the falling inflection where the style of verse would require the rising, yet in those parts where a portion of perfect sense, or the conclusion of a sentence, necessarily requires the falling inflection, the same inflection must be adopted both in verse and prose. Thus in Milton's description of the deluge, in Paradise Lost:
Meanwhile the south-wind rose, and, with black wings
Wide hov'ring, all the clouds together drove
From under heaven: the hills, to their supply,
Vapour and exhalation dusk and moist
Sent up amain: and now the thicken'd sky
Like a dark ceiling stood; down rush'd the rain
No more was seen; the floating vessel swam
Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow
Paradise Lost, b. xi. v. 738.
In this passage, every member forming perfect