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down as a general rule, that a series of periods in reg. ular succession are to be pronounced as every other series; that is, if they follow each other regularly as parts of the same observation, they are to be pronounced as parts, and not as wholes.
Some men cannot discern between a noble and a mean action. Others are apt to attribute them to some false end or intention, and others purposely misrepresent or put a wrong interpretation on them. Spect. No. 255.
Though the first part of this passage is marked with a period in all the editions of the Spectator, I have seen, nothing can be plainer than that it ought to be pronounced as the first member of the concluding series of three compound members.
See article, Compound Series.
Thus, although the whole of life is allowed by every one to be short, the several divisions of it appear long and tedious. We are for lengthening our span in general, but would fain contract the parts of which it is composed. The usurer would be very well satisfied to have all the time annihilated that lies between the present moment and next quarter-day. The politician would be contented to lose three years in his life, could he place things in the posture which he fancies they will stand in after such a revolution of time. The minor would be glad to strike out of his existence all the moments that are to pass away before he comes of age. Thús as fast as our time runs, we should be very glad, in mùst part of our lives, that it ran much faster than it does.
Spect. No. 93. Though here are no less than six periods in this passage, and every one of them requires the falling inflection, yet the voice ought not to fall into a lower tone till the last sentence but one, where the words, before he comes of age, must fall gradually to the end. But in order to give variety, and form a cadence, the last sentence must be pronounced in a different manner from the rest ; that is, the whole in a lower tone, with the last member falling gradually, and the different slides on the several words, as marked in the example. As the last of these sentences which forms the cadence does not fall into the came accentual portions as in the examples, page 134, 135, the inflections are repeated in the same order upon the four last as on the four first words, and the last member adopts the same order of inflections as in the series. See Elements of Elocution, page 112.
On Accented Force.
By accent is generally and justly understood a greater force on one syllable of a word than on another; but whether this force was pronounced in a higher, or only in a louder tone, was undecided, till, by distinguishing the voice into its two inflections, the accented syllable was found to be always louder, and either higher or lower, than the rest of the syllables, according to the inflection with which the accent was pronounced.* The seat of the accent, or that syllable in a word which has a right to it, in preference to the rest, is decided by custom, and does not form any part of the present inquiry. The question here discussed is, What is the nature of that force on a certain syllable of a word, which word cannot properly be called emphatical? Thus, in the following sentence,
Evil communication corrupts integrity, not a single word is emphatical. Every word is pronounced with an equal degree of force, and every word has one accented syllable pronounced evidently louder than the rest. But in the following sentence,
Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent ; -in the pronunciation of this sentence, I say, we find the words in Italics pronounced with an equal degree
* See Elements of Elocution, p. 186.
of force, but that the others sink into a feebleness, distinguishable by the dullest ear. If we inquire what degree of feebleness it is which these words fall into, we shall find it to be exactly that which is given to the unaccented syllables of the words censure, public, and eminent : so that if we consider the words in Roman letters as unaccented syllables of the others, and joined to them as such, we shall have a precise idea of the comparative force of each. Let us, for example, suppose them written in the manner following,
Censure isthetàx amanpıys (othepúblic forbeingèminent; and we find we have a precise and definite idea of the two forces, and need not recur to the common vague direction of “pronouncing some words more forcibly, but not so as to deprive the rest of all force :"—the forres of these two kinds of words are as much settled, as the two kinds of force on accented and unaccented syllables, and these are sufficiently understood by all who have the gift of speech.
The first obvious distinction, therefore, between the sounds of words, with respect to force, is into accented and unaccented ; and while we know what force we ought to give to the unaccented syllables of a word, we can be at no loss for the force on unaccented words ; and we need but consider these words as the unaccented syllables of the others to pronounce them properly.
On Emphatic Force. Emphatic force, or that force we give to words either placed in opposition to other words or suggesting such an opposition,—this force I say, is not quite so definite as the force of accent: very luckily, however, the degree of emphatic words is not so essential to emphasis, as the degree of accented force is to accented words : if we pronounce the smaller and less important words of a sentence with the same force we do the more significant words, we shall soon find that accent is of much more importance to the sense than emphasis. Let us, for example, pronounce every word in the foregoing sentence (where there is no emphatic word) with an equal degree of force, and we shall find they want that light and shade, which are necessary to form a strong picture of the thought. On the contrary, let us preserve the proper inflections upon the accented syllables of emphatic words, and we shall find the sense fully and clearly brought out, without any more force upon these words than is given to the other accented words, which are not emphatical. Thus, in the following sentence,
The corruption of the best things produces the worst, we find the two words best and worst are in opposition to each other, and are therefore emphatical; but in order to express this emphasis, we do not find ourselves under the least necessity of pronouncing these words louder or more forcibly than the words corruption and produces. The word things indeed must necessarily be pronounced feeble, like an unaccented syllable of the word best; and it is on this feebleness of the word, which belongs to both parts of the emphasis, that the emphatic sense depends much more than on the force which is given to the emphatic words themselves. Let us try to illustrate this by examples.
Prosperity gains friends, and adversity tries them. In this sentence we find the force of the emphatic
words depends entirely on the feebleness with which we pronounce the words common to both parts of the antithesis : for if, instead of pronouncing the words friends and them as unaccented syllables of gains and tries, we should give them the same force we do to the latter words, the emphasis and meaning of the sentence would be entirely lost. Let us take another example.
I do not so much request as demand your attention. Here the words your attention may be called the elliptical words ; for it is by ellipsis only that they are omitted after request; and these words must necessarily be pronounced like unaccented syllables of the word demand, or the sentence will be deprived of its energy. If we pronounce these words feebly, the words request and demand may only have common accented force, and yet the emphatic sense of the sentence will be very perceptible ; but if we pronounce your
attention with as much force as the words request and demand, let us increase the force on these latter words as much as we please, we shall find it impossible to make the sentence emphatical.
Thus we see, that pronouncing the elliptical words feebly, and as if they were only unaccented syllables of those to which they belong, is of much more importance to the sense of a sentence, than any additional force on the emphatic word. If it be demanded what is the degree of force we must give to emphatic words, when we do bestow this force on them, it may be answered, that this will in a great measure depend on the degree of passion, with which the words are expressed ; but if we have merely an eye to the expression of the sense, (for expressing the sense of a pas