« PreviousContinue »
* his ignorance, and what he wants in know. LECT.
ledge, he supplies by fufficiency. When " he has looked about him, as far as he can, “ he concludes, there is no more to be seen; < when he is at the end of his line, he is at the « bottom of the ocean; when he has shot his s beft, he is sure nonę ever did, or ever can, « shoot better, or beyond it. His own reason " he holds to be the certain measure of truth; " and his own knowledge, of what is possible « in nature *.” Here every thing is, at once, easy to the breath, and grateful to the ear; and, it is this sort of Aowing measure, this regular and proportional division of the members of his Sentences, which renders Sir William Temple's style always agreeable. I must observe, at the same time, that a Sentence, with too many rests, and these placed at inter
your life, I
• Or this instance.-He is addresling himself to Lady Essex, upon the death of her child ; " I was once in hope, " that what was fo violent could not be long : But, when “ I observed your grief to grow.stronger with age, and to sc increase, like a stream, the farther it ran ; when I saw it “ draw out to such unhappy consequences, and to threaten, no less than your
health, and “ could no longer forbear this endeavour, nor end it, with"out begging of you, for God's fake, and for your own, “ for your children, and your friends, your country, and
your family, that you would no longer abandon yourself “ to a disconsolate passion, but that you would, at length, “ awaken your piety, give way to your prudence, or, at “ least, rouze the invincible spirit of the Percys, that never yet disaster."
Ihrunk at any
LECT. vals too apparently measured and regular, is sin apt to savour of affectation.
The next thing to be attended to, is, the close or cadence of the whole Sentence, which, as it is always the part most sensible to the ear, demands the greatest care. So Quinctilian: « Non igitur durum fit, neque abruptum, quo .“ aniini, velut respirant ac reficiuntur. Hæc " est sedes orationis; hoc auditor expećtat ;
6 hic laus omnis declamat *.” The only important rule that can be given here, is, that when we aim at dignity or elevation, the sound should be made to grow to the last; the longest members of the Period, and the fullest and most sonorous words, should be reserved to the conclusion. As an example of this, the following Sentence of Mr. Addison's may be given : “ It fills the mind (speaking
“ of sight) with the largest variety of ideas; "" converses with its objects at the greatest “ distance; and continues the longest in " action, without being tired or fatiated with .“ its proper enjoyments.” Every reader must be sensible of a beauty here, both in the proper division of the members and pauses, and the manner in which the Sentence is rounded, LECT. and conducted to a full and harinonious m. close,
* “ Let there be nothing harsh or abrupt in the conclu. " fion of the sentence, on which the mind pau'es and rests. " This is the most material part in the structure of Dis“ course. Here every hearer expects to be gratified ; here “ his applause breaks forth."
The same holds in melody, that I observed to take place with respect to significancy ; that a falling off at the end, always hurts greatly. For this reason, particles, pronouns, and little words are as ungracious to the ear, at the conclusion, as I formerly shewed they were inconsistent with strength of expression.
It is more than probable, that the sense and the found have here a mutual influence on each other. That which hurts the ear, seems to mar the strength of the meaning; and that which really degrades the sense, in consequence of this primary effect, appears also to have a bad found. How disagreeable is the following Sentence of an Author, speaking of the Trinity! “ It is a mystery which we firmly so believe the truth of, and humbly adore the « depth of.” And how easily might it have been mended by this transposition! “ It is a “ mystery, the truth of which we firmly be“ lieve, and the depth of which we humbly “ adore.” In general it seeins to hold, that a musical close, in our language, requires either the last syllable, or the last but one, to be a long syllable. Words which consist mostly of short fyllables, as, contrary, particular, retroSpect, seldom conclude a Sentence harmoni
LE C T. ously, unless a run of long syllables, before,
has rendered them agreeable to the ear.
It is necessary, however, to observe, that Sentences, fo constructed as to make the found always swell and grow towards the end, and to rest either on a long or a penult long fyllable, give a discourse the tone of declamation. The ear foon becomes acquainted with the melody, and is apt to be cloyed with it. If we would keep up the attention of the reader or hearer, if we would preserve vivacity and strength in our composition, we must be very attentive to vary our measures. This regards the distribution of the members, as well as the cadence of the Period. Sentences constructed in a similar manner, with the pauses falling at equal intervals, should never follow one another. Short Sentences should be interinixed with long and swelling ones, to render discourse sprightly, as well as magnificent. Even discords, properly introduced, abrupt founds, departures from regular cadence, have foinetimes a good effect. Monotony is the great fault into which writers are apt to fall, who are fond of harmonious arrangement: and to have only one tune, or measure, is not much better than having none at all. A very vulgar ear will enable a writer to catch fame one, melody, and to form the run of his Sentences according to it; which foon proves
disgusting. But a just and correct ear is re- LE C T. quisite for varying and diversifying the melody: and hence we so seldom meet with au, thors, who are remarkably happy in this respect.
THOUGH attention to the music of Sentences must not be neglected, yet it must also be kept within proper bounds : for all appearances of an author's affecting harmony, are disagreeable ; especially when the love of it betrays him so far, as to sacrifice, in any instance, perspicuity, precision, or strength of sentiment, to found. All unmeaning words, introduced merely to round the Period, or fill up the melody, complementa numerorum, as Cicero calls thein, are great blemishes in writing. They are childish and puerile ornaments, by which a Sentence always loses more in point of weight, than it can gain by such additions to the beauty of its found. Sense has its own 'harmony, as well as found ; and, where the sense of a Period is expressed with clearnets force, and dignity, it will seldom happen but the words will strike the ear agreeably; at leaft, a very moderate attention is all that is requisite for making the cadence of such a Period pleasing : and the effect of greater attention is often no other, than to render composition languid and enervated. After all the labour which Quinctilian bestows on regu