« AnteriorContinuar »
unless he is either raised very much above, or sunk very much below, the ordinary standard of human nature.
2. Whenever words are contrasted with, contradistinguished from, or opposed to, other words, they are always emphatical.
As those classes of words, which admit of no separation, are very small and very few, if we do but take the opportunity of pausing where the sense will permit, we shall never be obliged to break in upon the sense when we find ourselves under the necessity of pausing; but if we overshoot ourselves by pronouncing more in a breath than is necessary, and neglecting those intervals where we may pause conveniently, we shall often find ourselves obliged to pause where the sense is not separable, and, consequently, to weaken and obscure the composition. This observation, for the sake of the memory, may be conveniently comprised in the following verses:
In pausing, ever let this rule take place,
That are less separable than those you join:
So closely as the words you separate.
EXERCISES ON PAUSING.
1. The path of piety and virtue pursued with a firm and constant spirit will assuredly lead to happiness.
2. Deeds of mere valour how heroic soever may prove cold and tire
3. Homer claims on every account our first attention as the father not only of epic poetry but in some measure of poetry itself.
4. War is attended with distressful and desolating effects. It is confessedly the scourge of our angry passions.
5. The warrior's fame is often purchased by the blood of thousands. 6. The erroneous opinions which we form concerning happiness and misery give rise to all the mistaken and dangerous passions that embroil our life.
7. Peace of mind being secured we may smile at misfortunes.
8. Idleness is the great fomenter of all corruptions in the human heart.
9. The best men often experience disappointments.
10. The conformity of the thought to truth and nature greatly recom mends it.
11. Hatred and anger are the greatest poison to the happiness of a good mind.
12. A perfect happiness bliss without alloy is not to be found on this side the grave.
13. The true spirit of religion cheers as well as composes the soul
14. Reflection is the guide which leads to truth.
15. The first science of man is the study of himself.
16. The spirit of light and grace is promised to assist them that ask it.
RULES FOR READING VERSE.
On the Slides or Inflections of Verse.
1. 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.
2. 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
3. But though an elegant and harmonious pronunciation of verse will sometimes oblige us to adopt different 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.
4. 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.
5 In the same manner, though we frequently suspend
the voice by the rising inflection in verse, where, if the composition were prose, we should adopt the falling, yet, wherever in prose the member or sentence would necessa rily require the rising inflection, this inflection must necessarily be adopted in verse.
6. It may be observed, indeed, that it is in the frequent use of the rising inflection, where prose would adopt the falling, that the song of poetry consists; familiar, strong, argumentative subjects naturally enforce the language with the falling inflection, as this is naturally expressive of activity, force, and precision; but grand, beautiful, and plaintive subjects slide naturally into the rising inflection, as this is expressive of awe, admiration, and melancholy, where the mind may be said to be passive; and it is this general tendency of the plaintive tone to assume the rising inflection which inclines injudicious readers to adopt it at those pauses where the falling inflection is absolutely necessary, and for want of which the pronunciation degenerates into the whine, so much and so justly disliked; for it is very remarkable, that if, where the sense concludes, we are careful to preserve the falling inflection, and let the voice drop into the natural talking tone, the voice may be suspended in the rising inflection on any other part of the verse, with very little danger of falling into the chant of bad readers.
On the Accent and Emphasis of Verse.
In verse, every syllable must have the same accent, and every word the same emphasis, as in prose.
In words of two syllables, however, when the poet transposes the accent from the second syllable to the first, we may comply with him, without occasioning any harshness in the verse ;—but when, in such words, he changes the accent from the first to the second syllable, every reader who has the least delicacy of feeling will certainly preserve the common accent of these words on the first syllable.
In misaccented words of three syllables, perhaps the least offensive method to the ear of preserving the accent, and not entirely violating the quantity, would be to place an accent on the syllable immediately preceding that on which
he poet has misplaced it, without dropping that which is so misplaced.
The same rule seems to hold good where the poet has placed the accent on the first and last syllable of a word, which ought to have it on the middle syllable.
Where a word admits of some diversity in placing the accent, it is scarcely necessary to observe, that the verse ought in this case to decide.
But when the poet has with great judgment contrived that his numbers shall be harsh and grating, in order to correspond with the ideas they suggest, the common accentuation must be preserved.
How the Vowelse and o are to be pronounced, when apostrophized.
The vowel e, which in poetry is often cut off by an apos trophe in the word the and in unaccented syllables before r, as dang'rous, gen'rous, &c. ought always to be preserved in pronunciation, because the syllable it forms is so short as to admit of being sounded with the succeeding syllable, so as not to increase the number of syllables to the ear, or at least to hurt the melody.
The same observations, in every respect, hold good in the pronunciation of the preposition to, which ought always to be sounded long, like the adjective two, however it may be printed.
On the Pause or Cæsura of Verse.
Almost every verse admits of a pause in or near the middle of the line, which is called the cæsura; this must be carefully observed in reading verse, or much of the distinctness, and almost all the harmony, will be lost.
Though the most harmonious place for the capital pause is after the fourth syllable, it may, for the sake of expressing the sense strongly and suitably, and even sometimes for the sake of variety, be placed at several other intervals.
The end of a line in verse naturally inclines us to pause; and the words that refuse a pause so seldom occur at the end of a verse, that we often pause between words in verse
where we should not in prose, but where a pause would by no means interfere with the sense. This, perhaps, may be the reason why a pause at the end of a line in poetry is supposed to be in compliment to the verse, when the very same pause in prose is allowable, and perhaps eligible, but neglected as unnecessary: however this be, certain it is, that if we pronounce many lines in Milton, so as to make the equality of impressions on the ear distinctly perceptible at the end of every line; if, by making this pause, we make the pauses that mark the sense less perceptible, we exchange a solid advantage for a childish rhythm, and, by endeavouring to preserve the name of verse, lose all its meaning and energy.
On the Cadence of Verse.
In order to form a cadence at a period in rhyming verse, we must adopt the falling inflection with considerable force in the cæsura of the last line but one.
How to pronounce a Simile in Poetry.
A simile in poetry ought always to be read in a lower tone of voice than that part of the passage which precedes it.
This rule is one of the greatest embellishments of poetic pronunciation, and is to be observed no less in blank verse than in rhyme.
Where there is no pause in the sense at the end of a verse, the last word must have exactly the same inflection it would have in prose.
Sublime, grand, and magnificent description in poetry requires a lower tone of voice, and a sameness nearly approaching to a monotone.
When the first line of a couplet does not form perfect sense, it is necessary to suspend the voice at the end of the line with the rising slide.