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“ In their prosperity, my friends shall never hear of me; in their adver. vity, always."
But when these inferior parts of speech are introduced as circumstan ces, or as qualifications of more important words, they should always be disposed of in the least conspicuous parts of the period. Thus, it is muo better to say,
“ Avarice is a crime of which wise men are often guilty," than to say, 'Avarice is a crime which wise men are often guilty of.”
This latter form is a phrascology, which all correct writers shun.
Lastly, it may be observed, that any phrase which expresses a circum Biance only, cannot, without great inelegance, conclude a sentence.
The sixth and last rule concerning the strength of a sentence is this. In the members of it, where two things are compared or contrasted; where either resemblance or opposition is to be expressed; some resem blance in the language and construction ought to be observed.
The following passage beautifully exemplifies this rule : “Homer was the greater genius : Virgil the better artist; in the one wo admire the man, in the other the work. Homer hurries as with a com manding impetuosity ; Virgil leads us with an attractive majesty: Homer scatters with a generous profusion ; Virgil bestows with a careful magnificence. Homer, like the Nile, pours out his riches with a sudden overflow, Virgil, like a river in its banks, with a constant stream. When we look up on their machines, Homer seems like his own Jupiter in his terrors, shaking Olympus, scattering lightnings, and firing the heavens. Virgil, like the same power in his benevolence, counselling with the gods, laying plans for empires, and ordering his whole creation.”
Periods thus constructed, when introduced with propriety and not too equently repeated, have a sensible beauty. But if such a construction be aimed at in every sentence, it betrays into a disagreeable uniformity, and produces a regular jingle in the period, which tires the ears and niairly discovers affectation.
OF THE HARMONY OF A SENTENCE.
Sound is a quality much inferior to sense ; yet it must not be disregarded. Pleasing ideas, and forcible reasoning, lose much by being communicated to the mind by harsh and disagreeable sounds. For this reason, a sentence, besides the qualities already enumeratedy under the heads of Clearness,
Unity, and Strength, should likewise, if possible, express the quality of Harmony.
The rules of harmony relate to the choice of words; their arrange ment, the order and disposition of the members, and the cadence or close of sentences.
If we would speak forcibly and effectually, we must avoid the use of such words, - 1. As are composed of words already compounded, the several parts of which are not easily, and therefore not closely united; as, unsuccessfulness, wrongheadedness, tenderheartedness. 2. Such as have the syllables which immediately follow the accented syllable crowded with consonants that do not easily coalesce; as, questionless, chroniclers, convent iclers. 3. Such as have too many syllables following the accented syllåble; as, primarily, cursorily, summarily, peremptoriness. 4. Such as have a short or unaccented syllable repeated, or followed by another short or unaccented - syllable very much resembling it; as, holily, sillily, lowlily, farriery.
But let the words themselves be ever so well choşen, and well sounding, yet, if they be ill disposed, the melody of the sentence is utterly lost, or greatly impaired.
Though attention to the words and members, and the close of sentences, must not be neglected, yet, in no instance should perspicuity, precision, or strength of sentiment, be sacrificed to sound. All unmeaning words, introduced merely to round the period, or fill up the melody, are great blemishes in writing. They are childish and trivial ornaments, by which a sentence always loses more in point of weight than it can gain by such additions to its sound.
The members of a sentence should not be too long, nor disproportion ate to each other. When they have a regular and proportional division they are much easier to the voice, are more clearly understood, and better remembered, than when this rule is not regarded; for whatever tires the voice and offends the ear is apt to mar the strength of the expression, and to degrade the sense of the author.
With respect to the cadence or close of a sentence, care should be taken that it be not abrupt nor unpleasant. The following examples will be sufficient to show the propriety of some attention to this part of the rule.
“ Virtue, diligence, and industry, joined with good temper and prudence, are prosperous in general.” It would be better thus : “ Virtue, diligence, and industry, joined with good temper and prudence, have ever been found she surest road to prosperity."
An author, speaking of the Trinity, expresses himself thus:
"It is a mystery which we firmly believe the truth of, and humbly adore the depth of.” How much better would it have been with this transposi tion: "It is a mystery, the truth of which we firmly believe, and the depth of which we humbly adore.”
In the harmony of periods two things are to be considered. First, agreeable sound or modulation in general, without any particular expression. Next, the sound so ordered, as to become expressive of the sense The first is the more common; the second the superior beauty,
The beauty of musical construction depends upon the choice and ar rangement of words. Those words are most pleasing to the ear, which are composed of smooth and liquid sounds, in which there is a proper intermixture of vowels and consonants, without too many harsh conso nants, or too many open vowels in succession. Long words are generally more pleasing to the ear than monosyllables; and those are the most musical, which are not wholly composed of long or short syllables, but of an intermixture of them; such as, delight, amuse, velocity, celerity, beautiful, impetuosity. If the words, however, which compose a sentence, bo ever so well chosen and harmonious; yet if they be unskilfully arranged, its music is entirely lost.
There are two things on which the music of a sentence principally depends; these are, the proper distribution of the several members of it, and the close or cadence of the whole.
First, the distribution of the several members should be carefully reGarded. Whatever is easy to the organs of speech, is always grateful to
While a period advances, the termination of each member forms a pause in the pronunciation; and these pauses should be so distributed, as to bear a certain musical proportion to each other.
The next thing which demands attention, is the close or cadence of the period. The only important rule, which can here be given, is this, when we aim at dignity or elevation, the sound should increase to the last; the longest members of the period, and the fullest and most sonorous words, should be reserved for the conclusion.
It may be remarked, that little words in the conclusion of a sentence are as injurious to melody, as they are inconsistent with strength of ex pression. A musical close in our language seems in general to require either the last syllable, or the last but one, to be a long syllable. Words which consist chiefly of short syllables; as, contrary, particular, retrospect, seldom terminate a sentence harmoniously, unless a previous run of long syllables have rendered them pleasing to the ear.
Sentences constructed in the same manner, with the pauses at equai intervals, should never succeed each other. Short sentences must be blended with long and swelling ones, to render discourse sprightly as well as magnificent
There is, however, a species of harmony of a higher kind than mere agreeableness to the ear; and that occurs when the sound is adapted to the sense.
Of this there are two degrees. First the current of sound suited to the tenor of a discourse. Next, a peculiar resemblance effected between some object, and the sounds employed in describing it. [Seo Onomatopoeia.]
The sounds of words may be employed for representing three classes of objects; first, other sounds; secondly, motions; and thirdly, the emotions and passions of the mind.
In most languages, the names of many particular sounds are so formed as to bear some resemblance to the sounds which they signify. Instances of this kind will be found under the title of Onomatopæia, on page 104.
The following extracts from Milton's Paradise Lost present examples of similar words, united in sentences so happily arranged, that the sound seems almost an echo to the sense. The first represents the opening of the gates of Hell:
“ On a sudden open fly,
The second represents the opening of the gates of Heaven
“ Heaven opens wide
The sound of words, in the second place, is frequently employed to imitate motion.
Long syllables naturally excite an idea of slow motion; and a succession of short syllables gives the impression of quick motion. Instances of both these will be found under the title of Onomatopeia, to which reference has just been made.
The third set of objects, which the sound of words is capable of reprc. senting, consists of emotions and passions of the mind. Thus, when pleasure, joy, and agreeable objects, are described, the language should run in smooth, liquid and flowing words. The following extract presents a good example:
“But O how altered was its sprightlier tone
Melancholy and gloomy subjects are naturally connected with slow Deasure and long words. Thus:
“ In those deep solitudes and awful cells
Where heavenly pensive contemplasion dweils," &c.
Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole *
The student may correct the following sentences :
Want of Unity. The successor of Henry the Second was his son Francis the Second, the first husband of Mary, afterwards Queen of Scots, who died after a reign of one year, and was succeeded by his brother Charles the Ninth, then a boy only ten years old, who had for his guardian Catharine de Medicis an ambitious and unprincipled woman.
Want of Purity. The gardens were void of simplicity and elegance, and exhibited much that was glaring and bizarre.
Want of Propriety. He was very dexterous in smelling out the views and designs of others.
The pretenders to polish and refine the English language have chiefly multiplied abuses and absurdities.
Want of Precision. There can be no regularity or order in the life and conduct of that man who does not give and allot a due share of his time to retirement and reflection.
Wont of Clearness. There is a cavern in the island of Hoonga which can only be entered by diving into the sea.
Want of Strength. The combatants encountered each other with such rage, that, being zager only to assail, and thoughtless of making any defence, they both fell dead upon the field together.
Want of Harmony. By the means of society, our wants come to be supplied, and our lives are rendered comfortable, as well as our capacities enlarged, and our vir juous affections called forth into their proper exercise. t
* The teacher or student who wishes for exercises under the heads of Jlearness, Unity, Strength, and Harmony, will find a good collectiin of them in Murray's Exercises, an appendage to his large Grammar; or an abridgement of them in Parker and Fox's Grammar, Part 3d in the ap pendix
† The student who wishes a larger collection of exercises under the heads abovementioned, will find them in Parker and Fox's Grairmar, Part 3d