« AnteriorContinuar »
to please his auditors by a melody which may make them more attentive to his instructions, and thereby render the allurements of art subservient
Artificial order, as it respects simple sentences, has little or no regard to the natural construction of words ; but dis* poses them in such a manner, as will be most agreeable to
the ear, and best answer the design of the speaker. The • Latins take a much greater liberty in this respect, than
we do, or the nature of our language will permit. Quin'tilian says, that it is best for the verb to stand last, when there is no particular reason to the contrary; and he gives this reason for it, because the force of the sentence lies • in the verb. They likewise separate such words as have • an immediate relation between them, or dependence one upon another; and place any of them first or last, as they please. In short, their order seems in a manner arbitrary, • if it does not break in upon perspicuity, to which they • usually attend. But most of these things are unsuitable 'to the genius of our language. The Latin tongue common• ly admits ofa much greater variety in the transposition of * inembers, as well as in that of single words, than suits with * our idiom. Our composition is, in this respect, much more • limited and confined than the Latin. The natural order is • certainly more plain and easy; but yet it must be owned,
that the other has its advantages, and those very consider. • able. The language both of the Greeks and Romans has more strength, as well as harmony, than any moderntongue, which is owing in a good measure, to this liberty in their • composition. For by giving their periods the finest turn, and • placing the most significant words, where they may strike • the mind with the greatest force, at the same time they • both delight the ear, and excite the attention.' WARD's System of Oratory, vol. i. p. 354-364.
Dr. Blair makes the following apposite remarks upon this subject.
to the success of his ministry. Our great masters have frequently displayed, in the pulpit, the fine talents of painting by sounds, and of forming resemblances of imitative harmony, which poetry would find it difficult to equal.
* In the Latin language, the arrangement, which most. 'commonly obtains, is to place first, in the sentence, that
word which expresses the principal object of the discourse, 6 together with its circumstances; and afterwards, the per*'son, or the thing, that acts upon it. Thus Sallust, compar"ing together the mind and the body; Animi imperio, cor"poris servitio magis utimur ; which order certainly renders “the sentence more lively and striking, than when it is arranged according to our English construction ; We make most use of the direction of the soul, and of the service of “the b'idy'
"The Latin order gratifies more the rapidity of the ima"gination, which naturally runs first to that which is its
chief object; and, having once named it, carries it in view throughout the rest of the sentence. In the same manner. in poetry.'
Justum et tenacem propositi virum,
Mente quatit solida. . Every person of taste must be sensible, that here the words are arranged with a much greater regard to the figure which the several objects make in the fancy, than our Eng ish construction admits ; which would require
the Justum et tenacem propositi virum, though undoubtedly, the capital object in the sentence, to be thrown into the - last place.
• An nglish writer, paying a compliment to a great man would say thus : It is impossible for me to pass over, in. silence, such remarkable mildness, such singular.awluct
Bossuet meant to intimate in the funeral Oration for Tellier, that that magistrate had breathed his last, while repeating this verse of the psalm, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever;' and see how the Orator recalls, if I may. so say, before all his auditory, this circumstance of the death of the Chancellor : Enraptured that he . could pour forth his grateful acknowledgments even with his dying breath, he began the hymn of praise for divine mercies. I will sing, says
• heard of clemency, and such unusual moderation, in the exercise of supreme power.' Here, we have, first pre' sented to us, the person who speaks. "It is impossible for
me;' next, what the person is to do ; impossible for him 6 to pass over in silence ;' and lastly, the object which moves * him so to do, “the mildness, clemency, and moderation of
his patron.' Cicero, from whom I have translated these • words, just reserves this order; beginning with the object,
placing that first which was the exciting idea in the speaker's mind, and ending with the speaker and his action. « Tantam mansuetudinem, tum inusitatum in auditamque clementiam, tantun mie in summa potestate rerum omniunt modum, tacitè multo (nullo modo præterire possum.'-Orat. pro Marcell.
• The Latin order is more animated ; the English more « clear and distinct. The Romans, generally arranged their
words according to the order in which the ideas rose in the speaker's imagination. We arrange them according
to the order in which the understanding directs those ideas * to be exhibited, in succession, to the view of another. Our arrangement, therefore, appears to be the consequence of greater refinement in the art of speech; as far as clearness in communication is understood to be the end of speech.' BLAIR's Lectures, vol. i. p. 119, and 121.
che, of the mercies of the Lord for ever.
pires while repeating these words, and contin"ues singing with Angels the sacred song.'
It is genius alone, which can form such excellent pictures, and the art of producing them is above rules ; but, it is no less true, that rules of art are often useful to the Orator, in laying open to him the chief secrets of harmony.
Never conclude your sentences with monosyllables, unless they are sufficiently sonorous to strike the ear, and to assist the cadence of a period. *
Guard against multiplying words, whose uniform terminations introduce consonances,
*As an useful caution against the injudicious conclusion of sentiments with monosyllables, we have this reflection :
• How disagreeable is the following sentence of an author, speaking of the Trinity! It is a mystery which we firmly - believe the truth of, and humbly adore the depth of? And
how easily could it have been mended by this transposition. • It is a mystery, the truth of which we firmly believe, and “the depth of which we humbly adore.' In general it seems
to hold that a musical close, in our language, requires eiither the last syllable, or the penult, that is, the last but one,
to be a long syllable. Words which consist mostly of short syllables, as, contrary, particular, retrospect, seldom conclude • a sentence harmoniously, unless a run of long syllables be• fore, has rendered them agreeable to the ear.'
BLAIR's Lectures, vol. i. p. 260.
rather rhymes, which prose ought to reject. You will find in the organization of every language a sort of mechanical harmony, in the use of which we should not too freely indulge*.
OF VARIETY OF STYLE.
of words, it is still more indispensable in the construction of the ideas. Uniformity in the manner of expression always implies languor of thought.
* Our author proceeds to illustrate his meaning, by shew. ing the use to which the final e mute may be put in promoting this harmony of sound ; and he gives us an apt quotation from Massillon, in his description of the death of a good man. But, as in this part of the author's enlargement, his remarks are confined to the peculiarites and terminations of the French language, the editor has omitted them in his translation, as being useless to the mere English reader. On the subject of · Harmony of Sounds and Sentences,' the reader is referred to BLAIR'S 12th Lect. throughout, where he will find many ingenious and critical observations ;-also to WARD's System of Oratory, vol. i. p. 367. et seq.
+ Variare Orationem magnoperè oportebit, nam omnibus ir rebus similitudo satietatis est mater. CICER. de invent. lib. 1.76.