Page images
PDF
EPUB

On the grēen bänk tỏ look into the clear
Smooth läke thăt to mē seēm'd another sky.

Stöod rül'd stood văst înfipītūde cónfin'd.
The next variety admitted, is that of the Amphibrach.

Which many ă bārd hăd cháuntěd máný ă dāy. In this line, we find that two of the feet are Amphibrachs ; and three Jambics.

We have before shown that the cæsura improves the melody of verse ; and we shall now speak of its other more important office, that of being the chief source of harmony in numbers.

The first and lowest perception of harmony, by means of the cæsura, arises from comparing two members of the same line with each other, divided in the manner to be seen in the instances before mentioned; because the beauty of proportion in the members, according to each of these divisions, is founded in nature ; being as one to two-two to three-or three to two.

The next degree arises from comparing the members of a couplet, or two contiguous lines: as,

See the bold youth" strain up the threat'ning steep,

Rush thro' the thickets" down the valleys sweep. Here we find the cæsura of the first line, at the end of the second foot; and in the middle of the third foot, in the last line.

Hang o'er their coursers' heads" with eager speed,

And earth rolls back' beneath the flying steed. In this couplet, the cæsura is at the end of the third foot in the first line; and of the second, in the latter line.

The next perception of harmony arises from comparing a greater number of lines, and observing the relative proportion of the couplets to each other, in point of similarity and diversity: as,

Thy forests Windsor" and thy green retreats,
At once the monarch’s” and the muse's seats,
Invite my lays." Be present Sylvan maids,
Unlock your springs” and open all your shades.
Not half so swift" the trembling doves can fly,
When the fierce eagle” cleaves the liquid sky ;
Not half so swiftly" the fierce eagle moves,
When through the clouds” he drives the trembling doves.

In this way, the comparison of lines variously apportioned by the different seats of the three cæsuras, may be the source of a great variety of harmony, consistent with the finest melody. This is still increased by the introduction of two cæsuras, and much more by that of semi-pauses. The semi-pauses double every where the terms of comparison; give a more distinct view of the whole and the parts ; afford new proportions of measurement, and an ampler scope for diversity and equality, those sources of beauty in harmony.

Warms' in the sun" refreshes' in the breeze,
Glows' in the stars” and blossoms' in the trees;
Lives' through all life" extends through all extent,

Spreads' undivided" operates' unspent.
3d, The last object in versification, regards expression.

When men express their sentiments by words, they naturally fall into that sort of movement of the voice, which is consonant to that produced by the emotion in the mind; and the Dactylic or Anapæstic, the Trochaic, lambic, or Spondaic, prevails even in common discourse, according to the different nature of the sentiments expressed. To imitate nature, therefore, the poet, in arranging bis words in the artificial composition of verse, must take care to make the movement correspond to the sentiment, by the proper use of the several kinds of feet: and this is the first and most general source of expression in numbers.

That a judicious management of the feet and pauses, may be peculiarly expressive of particular operations and sentiments, will sufficiently appear to the learner, by a few select examples under each of those heads.

In the following instance, the vast dimensions of Satan are shown by an uncommon succession of long syllables, which detain us to survey the huge arch fiend, in his fixed posture.

So strētch'd out huge in length the arch fiend lay:

The next example affords instances of the power of a Trochee beginning a line, when succeeded by an lambus.

-and sheer within
Lights on hỉs féet : as when a prowling wolf
Leaps o'ěr thě fénce with ease into thě föld.

The Trochee which begins the line, shows Satan in the act of lighting: the lambus that follows, fixes him—“Lights on his féet."

66

The same artifice, in the beginning of the next line, makes us see the wolf" leáp o'ěr thě fénce.”—But as the mere act of leaping over the fence, is not the only circumstance to be attended to, but also the facility with which it is done, this is strongly marked, not only by the smooth foot which follows" with ease"—itself very expressive, but likewise by a Pyrrhic preceding the last foot_ã întó thể föld”—which indeed carries the wolf" with zase into the fold.”

The following instances show the effects produced by cæsuras, so placed as to divide the line into very unequal portions : such as that after the first, and before the last semipede.

thus with the year Seasons return, but not to me returns

Day" or the sweet approach of even or morn. Here the cæsura after the first semipede Day, stops us unexpectedly, and forcibly impresses the imagination with the greatness of the author's loss, the loss of sight.

No sooner had th’ Almighty ceas’d, but all
The multitude of angels, with a shout
Loud" as from numbers without number" sweet

As from blest voices uttering joy.There is something very striking in this uncommon cæsura, which suddenly stops the reader, to reflect on the importance of a particular word.

We shall close the subject, with an example containing the united powers of many of the principles which have been explained.

Dīre wăs the tossing" deep the groans" Děspāir"
Ténded the síck” búsiest from couch to coúch"
And over them trĩúmphant deăth" his dárt"

Shook" būt dělay'd to strike. Many of the rules and observations respecting Prosody, are taken from “Sheridan's Art of Reading ;" to which book the Compiler refers the ingenious student, for more extensive information on the subject.

[blocks in formation]

PUNCTUATION.

PunctuATION* is the art of dividing a written composition into sentences, or parts of sentences, by points or stops, for the purpose of marking the different pauses which the sense, and an accurate pronunciation require.

The Comma represents the shortest pause; the Semicolon, a pause double that of the comma; the Colon, double that of the semicolon; and the Period, double that of the colon.

PUNCTUATION is a modern art. The ancients were entirely unacquainted with the use of our commas, colons, &c.; and wrote not only without any distinction of members and periods, but also without distinction of words : which custom continued till the year 360 before Christ. How the ancients read their works, written in this manner, it is not easy to conceive. After the practice of joining words together had ceased, notes of distinction were placed at the end of every word. This practice, with some variation, continued a considerable time.

As it appears that the present usage of stops, did not take place, whilst manuscripts and monumental inscriptions, were the only known methods of conveying knowledge, we must conclude that it was introduced with the art of printing. The introduction was, however, gradual : all the points did not appear at once. The colon, semicolon, and note of admiration, were produced sometime after the others. The whole set, as they are now used, came to be established, when learning and refinement had made considerable progress.

As the several articulate sounds, the syllables and words, of which sentences consist, are marked by letters ; so the rests

* As punctuation is intended to aid both the sense, and the pronunciation of a sentence, it could not have been exclusively discussed under the part of Syntax, or of Prosody. The nature of the subject, its extent and importance, and the grammatical knowledge which it presupposes, have induced us to make it a distinct and subsequent article.

and pauses, between sentences and their parts, are marked by points. But though the several articulate sounds, are pretty fully and exactly denoted by letters of known and determinate power; yet the several pauses, which are used in a just pronunciation of discourse, are very imperfectly expressed by points. For the different degrees of connexion between the several parts of sentences, and the different pauses in a just pronunciation, which express those degrees of connexion according to their proper value, admit of great variety: but the whole number of points, which we have to express this variety, amounts only to four. Hence it is, that we are under a necessity of expressing pauses of the same quantity, on different occasions, by different points; and more frequently of expressing pauses of different quantity by the same points.

From this view of the subject, it is evident that the doctrine of Punctuation must by very imperfect. Few precise rules can be given, which will hold, without exception, in all cases; but much must be left to the judgment and taste of the writer. On the other hand, if a greater number of marks were invented, to express all the possible, different pauses of pronunciation; the doctrine of them would be very perplexed and difficult, and the use of them would rather embarrass than assist the reader. It remains, therefore, that we be content with the Rules of Punctuation, laid down with as much exactness as the nature of the subject will admit: such as may serve for a general direction, to be accommodated to different occasions, and to be supplied, where deficient, by the writer's judgment.

The precise quantity or duration of each pause cannot be defined; for it varies with the time of the whole. The same composition may be rehearsed in a quicker or a slower time; but the proportion between the pauses should be ever invariable.

In order more clearly to determine the proper application of the points, we must distinguish between an imperfect phrase, a simple sentence, and a compound sentence.

An imperfect phrase contains no assertion, or does not amount to a proposition or sentence: as, “ Therefore; in haste; studious of praise."

A simple sentence has but one subject, and one finite verb, expressed or implied: as, “ Temperance preserves health.”

A compound sentence has more than one subject, or one finite verb, either expressed or understood; or it consists of two or more simple sentences connected together : as, “Good nature mends and beautifies all objects ;" Virtue refines the affections, but vice debases them."

« PreviousContinue »