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it must still be acknowledged this is very different from a higher tone of voice, and therefore that the common rule is very fallacious and inaccurate.
The truth is, the expression of passion or emotion consists in giving a distinct and specific quality to the sounds we use, rather than in increasing or diminishing their quantity, or in giving this quantity any local direction upwards or downwards: understanding the import of a sentence, and expressing that sentence with passion or emotion, are things as distinct as the head and the heart: this point, therefore, though useful to distinguish interrogation from emotion, is as different from the rest of the points, as grammar is from rhetoric; and whatever may be the tone of voice proper to the note of exclamation, it is certain the inflections it requires are exactly the same, as the rest of the points; that is, if the exclamation point is placed after a member that would have the rising inflection in another sentence, it ought to have the rising in this; if after a member that would have the falling inflection, the exclamation ought to have the falling inflection likewise.
An instance that the exclamation requires no particular inflection of voice may be seen in the following speech of Gracchus, quoted by Cicero, and inserted in the Spectator, No. 541.
Whither shall I tùrn? Wretch that I am! to what place shall I betàke myself? Shall I go to the cápitol? Alas! it is overflowed with my brother's blood! Or shall I retire to my house? yet there I behold my mother plunged in misery, weeping, and despairing!
Every distinct portion of this passage may be truly said to be an exclamation; and yet we find in reading it, though it can scarcely be pronounced with too much emotion, the inflections of voice are the same as
if pronounced without any emotion at all: that is, the portion, Whither shall I turn, terminates like a question with the interrogative word, with the falling inflection. The member, Wretch that I am, like a member forming incomplete sense, with the rising inflection; the question without the interrogative word, Shall I go to the capitol, with the rising inflection; Alas! it is overflowed with my brother's blood, with the falling; the question commencing with the disjunctive or, Or shall I retire to my house, with the falling inflection, but in a lower tone of voice.
Thus we see how vague and indefinite are the general rules for reading this point, for want of distinguishing high and low tones of voice from those upward and downward slides, which may be in any note of the voice, and which, from their radical difference, form the most marking differences in pronunciation.
The parenthesis is defined by our excellent grammarian, Dr. Lowth, to be a member of a sentence inserted in the body of a sentence, which member is neither necessary to the sense, nor at all affects the construction. He observes also, that, in reading, or speaking, it ought to have a moderate depression of the voice, and a pause greater than a comma.
The real nature of the parenthesis once understood, we are at no loss for the true manner of delivering it. The tone of voice ought to be interrupted, as it were, by something unforeseen; and, after a pause, the parenthesis should be pronounced in a lower tone of voice, at the end of which, after another pause, the higher tone of voice, which was interrupted, should be re
sumed, that the connexion between the former and latter part of the interrupted sentence may be restored. It may be observed too, that, in order to preserve the integrity of the principal members, the parenthesis ought not only to be pronounced in a lower tone, but a degree swifter than the rest of the period, as this still better preserves the broken sense, and distinguishes the explanation from the text. For that this is always the case in conversation, we can be under no doubt, when we consider that whatever is supposed to make our auditors wait, gives an impulse to the tongue, in order to relieve them, as soon as possible, from the suspense of an occasional and unexpected interruption.
Notwithstanding all this care of Cicero, history informs us, that Marcus proved a mere blockhead; and that nature (who it seems was even with the son for her prodigality to the father) rendered him incapable of improving, by all the rules of eloquence, the precepts of philosophy, his own endeavours, and the most refined conversation in Athens. Spectator, No. 307.
Natural historians observe (for whilst I am in the country I must fetch my allusions from thence) that only the male birds have voices; that their songs begin a little before breeding-time, and end a little after. Ibid. No. 128.
Dr. Clarke has observed, that Homer is more perspicuous than any other author; but if he is so (which yet may be questioned) the perspicuity arises from his subject, and not from the language itself in which he writes.
Ward's Grammar, p. 292.
The many letters which come to me from persons of the best sense of both sexes (for I may pronounce their characters from their way of writing) do not a little encourage me in the prosecution of this my undertaking.
Spect. No. 124.
It is this sense which furnishes the imagination with its ideas; so that by the pleasures of the imagination or fancy (which I shall use promiscuosuly) I here mean such as arise from visible objects. Ibid. No. 411.
We sometimes meet, in books very respectably printed, with the parenthesis marked where there ought to be only commas. We have an instance of
this in Hannah More's Strictures on modern Female Education: where, describing in the most picturesque and truly satiric style, the confusion, indifference, and insincerity which reigns at routs and drums, she says, "He would hear the same stated phrases interrupted, not answered by the same stated replies; the unfinished sentence, 'driven adverse to the winds' by pressing multitudes; the same warm regret mutually exchanged by two friends (who had been expressly denied to each other all the winter) that they had not met before; the same soft and smiling sorrow at being torn away from each other now; the same anxiety to renew the meeting, with perhaps the same secret resolution to avoid it." Vol. ii. p. 180.
In this beautiful description, the words marked with the parenthesis belong essentially to the thought, and therefore ought only to have been included between commas.
The same may be observed of a very long intervening member, in a beautiful description of intemperance in eating, by Pope.
The stomach (cramm'd from ev'ry dish,
A tomb of boil'd and roast, and flesh and fish, Where bile, and wind, and phlegm, and acid jar, And all the man is one intestine war) Remembers oft the school-boy's simple fare, The temperate sleeps, and spirits light as air. Pope's Imitation of Horace, Sat. ii. This insertion of a parenthesis where it ought not to be, is by no means so common a fault, as that of omitting it where it ought to be inserted. Where it depends on nice distinctions, which is sometimes the case, the fault is pardonable, but not in such as have been here taken notice of.
That we should begin to pronounce whatever we read a little more deliberately, than when we have entered on the subject, is an observation that few will dissent from. Most of our punçtuists will admit of a pause after a nominative, when it consists of a long member of a sentence, but none have taken notice of a pause at the beginning of every sentence, which may very properly take place after a single word, when the sentence begins with a proper name, or a word that stands for the subject of the discourse. Thus, in Mr. Addison's description of good-nature, discretion, and cheerfulness:
Good-nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance, which is more amiable than beauty,
Spect. No. 169.
Discretion does not only show itself in words, but in all the circumstances of action; and is like an under-agent of Providence, to guide and direct us in the ordinary concerns of life. Ibid. No. 225.
Cheerfulness bears the same friendly regard to the mind as to the body: it banishes all anxious care and discontents, sooths and composes the passions, and keeps the soul in a perpetual calm. Ibid. No. 387.
In these examples we shall find it very proper to pause after the first word in every sentence, that the attention may be better fixed upon what forms the subject of them. This rule, however, is not confined to such words as form the subject of a sentence. Wherever a word of importance commences a sentence, it ought to be distinguished in the same manner by a pause. Thus in the following sentences:
Man is the merriest species in the creation; all above and below him are serious. Spect. No. 249. Hypocrisy cannot indeed be too much detested; but at the same time it is -to be preferred to open impiety. bid. No. 458.