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Mariar and Sophiar, the Crimear, and the Almar, without having the least idea that there is any inconsistency in so doing. This is, of course, a mere vulgarism. But in the best pronunciationthe pronunciation of the best, the most refined and cultivated people, there is a growing tendency to soften the R as much as possible. This may be seen even in its exaggeration in the language of the "fast" men of the day. The swell or exquisite of any period generally represents to the extreme the fashionable tendencies of the time. No doubt he exaggerates them, but still he represents them, and is therefore useful and valuable to us, even in his absurdity. Now in modern novels, dramas, and satirical poetry in general, it will be found that the exquisite of the period,—
"The fine, young English Gentleman, one of the modern time,"
is represented as speaking a peculiar dialect, the main feature of which consists in the exclusion of the letter R. You must be quite familiar with this in the pages of Punch, for the swell often appears there. I will give a specimen, not one of the most recent or the best, but one that happens to be at hand. It was written at the time of the Uncle Tom Mania, and is entitled,-"A Swell's Homage to Mrs. Stowe:"""_
A must wead Uncle Tom.
Which, A'm afwaid's extwemely slow,
"Tis not as if A saw ha name
To walls and windas still confined;
A don't wespect the public mind.
But Staffa'd House has made haw quite
Eva, which quite confounded me:
Whethaw A didn't hate Legwee?
A wish'd myself, or haw, at Fwance:
A felt myself a gweata fool
Than A had evaw felt befaw;
Now the one feature of these verses is the total exclusion of the letter R, its place being supplied by A or W, one or both. I am not going to decide whether that dialect is polished and refined,-I simply say, that whatever polish and refinement it possesses, I really must claim on behalf of the rustics of Somersetshire, who display as great a horror of the letter R, and are as anxious to suppress it where they can, and soften it in all possible ways where they cannot, as the greatest exquisite that lounges in St. James's, or airs himself in tten Row.
Let us see how this is accomplished. In the first place, there is a great number of words in
which the R is altogether excluded. The following
are a few of these:
Coäse = coarse
Guth = girth
Oss = horse
Hurn = run
Hird = rid
Hurd = red
Veäce = :fierce
In the next place, it is often softened by transposition, and this in two cases particularly. 1. At the beginning of a word. All who have discussed the subject agree, that however R may be softened or suppressed at the end of a word or syllable, it must be sounded, and strongly sounded, when it begins a word. Now there are a number of words in the Somersetshire dialect, in which this necessity is to a certain extent evaded, and the initial R softened by transposition. As a general rule the R changes places with the vowel, and the aspirate is added. The following are illustrations:—
With regard to this last word I may mention, that it was by being aware of the rule touching the transposed R, that I was enabled to recognise it. I knew that Ruddock (literally "little red one") was a common name with the older poets for the Redbreast, and being anxious to know whether it was used in this county, went to a man working in a field, and asked him whether they ever called the Robin the Rudduck. "Noa, zir," said the man, "we dwoant call 'un that, we calls 'un the Rabbin Hirddick," which I, of course, at once recognised as the Somersetshire form of the word.
2. When it follows another consonant. A similar transposition takes place after another consonant in such words as the following:-
The sixth word in the list-curse, cress-gives us the true and simple explanation of a common phrase, which sounds at first hearing desperate and profane in the extreme, and, probably, when now used, often really is so; but which is nevertheless, in its original use and meaning, innocent enough. The phrase in question is,-"I don't care a curse for it," which is only another form of a phrase still more common, being strictly synonymous with "I don't care a straw, or a rush.”
the meaning in either case, of course, is," I don't care a straw-a rush- —a cress,”—anything so common, so worthless as a rush or a cress, which is to be found in any ditch by the road-side-"I don't care even that about the matter."
This closes the review of the consonants. We have seen the principle laid down at the outset working throughout the entire examination-that soft sounds are preferred to hard, smooth consonants to rough; that this system of softening reaches its climax. - becomes most elaborate and
minute - in relation to the two consonants that are harshest and roughest in the language-R and S; and it is difficult, therefore, to resist the conclusion, that a dialect in which these are the peculiarities is in its pronouncing characteristically smooth and easy.
I had proposed to show that it is also "pure and classical "by which I mean that its leading features are not provincial corruptions of modern English, but genuine remains of classic AngloSaxon; but I have already sufficiently occupied your time, and this part of the subject must be left for a future occasion.