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Why, I am surprised, is implied in the question. In the fourth place, take the word my and make the emphasis, first, with raising it above the key and giving it the upward intensive slide, thus, “ Will you ride mý' hörsé ?" An invitation to do so is intimated, with the hope that you will ride him. Read the word with the intensive downward slide, as,
ride my horsé ?" No, might be the answer, but I will the horse of somebody else. Give, now, the word my the circumflex and under-key, thus, “ Will you ride my hörsé ?”—that is, will you presume to ride a horse that belongs to me? In the last place, put the emphasis on the word horse, so as to have the passage read thus,
“ Will you
horsé ?” with the intensive upward slide as before. An invitation is now given you to ride the horse, combined with a doubt whether you will. Put the secondary downward slide on horse, and make it intensive, thus, “ Will
ride something else belonging to me, would be implied. With the underkey and circumflex, the question would stand thus, “ Will you ride my hộrse?” I should not have thought it would be the intimation.
Under the last example, in a sentence consisting of five words only, we had fifteen modifications of sense expressed by fifteen modifications and positions of emphasis. Thus far, however, the emphasis was placed on a single word only at a time. By including iwo or more words in the emphasis at one reading, the number of modifications might be still increased.
“I went by the middle road from Hartford to New Haven.” Let this sentence be read without any emphasis on any part of it, and the meaning would be, that I travelled on that road in my way to New Haven. Put an intensive downward slide on the preposition by, and prolong its utterance, thus—" I went bý' the middle road from Hartford to New Haven.” The meaning would be, that I did not travel on that road, but avoided it.
From the two last examples, we may learn how important it is that we place the emphasis on the right word or words in order to convey the proper meaning, and also that we place the right emphasis on them. It has been a fault in books that treat of emphasis that they have said little or nothing of the different modes in which it may be expressed. Most of them, indeed, have not even intimated that there is more than one mode, and have left us to discover even that as well as we could. We are now prepared, however, to see that the kind deserves as much regard as the fact that any is required. We may select
the right word or phrase, yet by giving the emphasis the wrong form the meaning may be wholly perverted.
When the principal verb is accompanied by an auxiliary, we not unfrequently hear the emphasis laid on the auxiliary alone, and especially if several words intervene between that and the principal verb. For example :
Can creatures to perfection find
The eternal, uncreated mind ? But little emphasis is required at all in the first line; yet some, in attempting to make it, would read the line in this
way, Cạn creatures to perfection find, laying a strong emphasis on can by means of dropping the voice a note and placing the secondary falling inflection intensively on the same word. Now, if an emphasis is used here at all, it should be placed on find as well as can ; and, indeed, the principal verb should be most strongly marked, if any distinction is made between them.
“Has the gentleman doné? has he completely done?” Some would emphasize has in the first member of this sentence, whereas the stress should fall on done.
The general rule is, that the principal verb should receive the emphasis when that comprises what is to be particularly noticed; the auxiliary should be emphasized when that refers to the thing which is brought most prominently into view. Example :-“ Can a man forget his friend' ?-he not only can', but often does', forget him.” In the question, our attention, so far as the verb is concerned, is turned to the forgetting of a friend ; in the answer, to the possibility of the thing, and the actual doing of it.
When a word is emphatical, and begins with an unaccented or short syllable, some persons improperly accent or prolong that syllable in order to form the emphasis. Examples :—“He deserves to be treated with utter contempt,” for contempt'; " he was the more determined in his way,” for more determined; “sàlvation! O salvation!”* for, salvātion ! O salvātion, without an accent on the first syllable. Such a mode of emphasizing is very inelegant and improper.
In certain cases, for the sake of contrast, when the contrast could not be otherwise well marked, it is admissible to accent or lengthen out an unaccented or short syllable. Examples :“He resolves, and rè-resolves, then dies a fool;” “ to do, and to un do, is the too common business of men;" “ it is one thing
to per suade, another to dis suade;" “ the ground was préoccu. pied already.” In the last example, the contrast is not marked directly, but indirectly: the time of occupying the ground was previous to another subsequent time, or a subsequent act. The phrase just used, not marked directly but indirectly, is another example in point.
Some readers and speakers, especially those of an ardent temperament, are very prone to anticipate an emphasis, that is, to lay it on words to which it does not belong, before they come to those to which it does belong. The fault very frequently occurs when a passage is to be read and spoken in a louder tone of voice. The effect is very bad, and the proper object of emphasis is lost,
“ You will again be restored to your firesides and homes, and your fellow-citizens, pointing you out, shall say, “ There goes one who belonged to the army of Italy.” It would be common, but wrong, to elevate the voice on the phrase, pointing you out, shall say, and still worse to elevate it on fellowcitizens, or farther back yet.
" I would say to the inhabitants, · Wake from your false security.” It is very usual to elevate the voice as much on the words, I would say to the inhabitants, as on the following ones; yet the former express a simple narration, telling us the fact merely that the speaker would say something; in what follows we have him saying it. The words wake from your false security, demand an emphatic utterance, with a rise of tone; but surely the words previous can require no such thing.
He woke to hear his sentries shriek,
“ To arms"! they come'! the Greek'! the Greek' !” Nine times out of ten, when this passage is spoken, if not read, we shall hear the first line pronounced as loud, high, and full as the second, although the first is the mere narration of the writer, and the second expresses the actual shriek of the terrified Turkish sentry.* Such mistakes indicate either much inattention to the rules of propriety, or a want of correct taste and judgment.
The last fault which I shall name is, that of making too many words emphatical. Having been once told that they must be careful to read with emphasis, and that the want of emphasis is a great defect, many seem determined to avail themselves of the privilege, and to emphasize almost every thing. The con
* The quotation is from Marco Bozzaris, by Halleck.
sequence is, they read in a strong, stiff, and artificial manner, without any real emphasis at all, because they sound all their words alike; whereas emphasis makes a distinction according to the different impressions which should be made on the hearer. Monotony of every kind is inconsistent with emphasis, while the latter is that which, more than any other thing, perhaps, contributes to an agreeable variety of manner.
PROSODY GENERALLY CONSIDERED A PART OF GRAMMAR.-QUAN
TITY. -POETICAL FEET.-DIFFERENT KINDS OF VERSE. In order to treat understandingly the proper method of reading poetry, it seems necessary to pay some attention to the laws of versification. Poetry, in contradistinction from prose, has its peculiar structure of language and arrangement of sounds, and without some knowledge of these, it is difficult to comprehend how a person can give it the proper expression in reading
Prosody has always been considered a part of grammar, and has been defined, “that part of grammar which treats of the quantity of syllables, of accent, and the laws of versification.” I shall not stop to consider whether it is strictly proper to call prosody a part of grammar, (which, by the way, may well be questioned ;) but, considering it a matter which belongs unquestionably to elocution, I shall here give it a brief notice. I do this, not only because the whole subject of prosody is intimately connected with elocution, (that is, with reading and speaking with propriety,) but because it is becoming fashionable to exclude it from grammars without allowing it a place, by way of amends, in any other elementary treatise for the instruction of youth.*
Quantity, in this connection, denotės the time which is taken up in pronouncing a syllable. A syllable is either long or short. A long syllable requires twice the amount of time in the pronunciation which a short one does. So, at least, we are told by prosodists; but it may be doubted whether there is always this exact proportion between them. A long syllable, however, when contrasted with a short one, always requires a
* Very few graduates from our colleges have any knowledge of prosody worth naming; generally none at all.