« ZurückWeiter »
Q. What quality of style does this constitute? A. That which is usually denominated Harmony o Melody.
Q. Do these two terms imply exactly the same idea?
A. Not precisely; melody denotes a succession of pleasing sounds; harmony, the agreement that on sound has with another.
Q. Is harmony an important quality of style?
A. It is certainly of less consequence than perspicuity; still it is a singular excellence, and affords considerable pleasure to the reader or hearer.
Q. On what does harmony of style depend?
A. Partly on the selection, partly on the arrangement of words.
Q. What words are generally most harmonious?
A. Those which contain a due proportion of liquid sounds, and have at the same time a proper mixture of vowels and consonants.
Q. Can you give any examples of this?
A. Fortitude, contentment, subordinate, are of this class.
Q. What words are generally most deficient in harmony?
1. Such as are derivatives from previous compounds, or crowded with consonants, the sounds of which do not readily coalesce; as, shamefacedness, chroniclers, conventicters.
Q. Are there any others that are remarkably harsh?
A. Yes; such as contain either many short syllables following the seat of the accent, or a number of syllables nearly similar in sound; as, primarily, cursorily, lovelily, farriery.
Q. If the words be separately harmonious, will the whole sen tence be so?
A. The one does not necessarily follow from the other; for the words may be separately both well chosen and agreeable in sound, and yet, if they are badly arranged, the sentence may be destitute of har
Can you illustrate this by example?
A. "Office or rank may be the recompense of intrigue, versatility, or flattery," is a sentence composed of words individually melodious, and yet, in consequence of bad arrangement, it is not harmonious.
Q. How may the arrangement be improved?
A. "Rank or office may be the recompense of flattery, versatility, or intrigue."
Q. Can you give any general directions on this subject? A. Too many words either uniform as to length, or the position of the accent, should never, if possible, be placed together.
Q. Can you illustrate this by example? 1
A. "No species of joy can long please us;" "James was needy, feeble, and fearful;" are less harmonious than "no species of joy can long delight us ;" was weak, timid, and destitute."
Q. What have you farther to observe on this head? A. Words resembling each other in the sound of any of their letters or syllables, as well as such as are difficult to pronounce in succession, should never stand in immediate connection.
Q. Can you give any illustration of this?
A. A true union, an indulgent parent, a cruel destroyer, an improper impression, are far less harmonious than a true friendship, a kind parent, a cruel foe, a false impression.
Q. Have you any thing farther to remark?
A. That a sentence may not be harsh, and, consequently, of difficult pronunciation, the several members of which it is composed should neither be too long, nor disproportionate to each other.
Q. In what sort of composition ought harmony to be most care. fully studied?
A. In the composition of verse, one of the chief excellences of which consists in its being musical.
Q. What part of a sentence should we be the most careful to make harmonious?
A. The close; for it is to this part that the attention of the reader or hearer is generally most attracted.
Q. What name is commonly given to a graceful conclusion of a sentence?
A. It is commonly styled a cadence; and was by the ancients considered an essential requisite in every well-constructed sentence.
Q. What is faulty in point of harmony in the following sen tence: "And an enormous serpent lay dead on the floor ?"
A. It is the circumstance of the three syllables, and
an, en, which are so much alike in sound, following each other, without any other word intervening Q. How may it be corrected?
A. Thus, "And a serpent of enormous size lay dead on the floor."
Correct such errors, in the following sentences as arise from want of harmony in their structure :
1. Sober-mindedness suits the present state of man.
2. It belongs not to our humble and confined station to censure, but to adore, submit, and trust.
3. Tranquillity, regularity, and magnanimity, reside with the religious and resigned man.
4. Sloth, ease, success, naturally tend to beget vices and follies.
5. By a cheerful, even, and open temper, he conciliated general favor. 6. We reached the mansion before noon; it was a strong, grand, Gothic house
OF SOUND AS SUITED TO THE SENSE.
Q. What is considered the highest species of ornament arising from harmony in composition?
A. That which consists in a correspondence of the sound to the sense.
Q. By whom is this quality of style chiefly exhibited?
A. By all our best poets; though good prose writers also abound in beauties of a similar kind; as there is generally some agreement between the flow and modulation of the language, and the nature and character of the thoughts and sentiments expressed.
Q. When can the sound most readily be made an echo to the sense?
A. In cases in which sound or motion come to be described though calm and gentle emotions may be always expressed to most advantage by smooth and gentle language; while harsh feelings and rugged sentiments naturally give rise to harsh and rugged diction.
Q. Can you give an example of the sound being an echo to the sense?
A. "A needless Alexandrine ends the sor.g,
That, like a wounded snake, draws its slow length along."
"The waves behind impel the waves before,
With many a weary step, and many a groan,
On a sudden open fly,
"They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow Through Eden took their solitary way.'
"Now the rich stream of music winds along, Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong."
"From peak to peak the rattling crags among Leaps the live thunder!"
Q. Who have been most distinguished for attention to harmonious composition?
A. The Greeks and Romans among the ancients, and the Italians and French among the moderns.
Q. What tended to promote the study of harmonious composition among the ancients?
A. Partly their own fine musical taste, and partly the highly melodious and flexible character of their language.
Q. Has this study never been carried to excess?
A. Frequently; and it is always so, when sense is, in the least degree, sacrificed to sound.
Q. Do not strength and harmony generally go together?
A. For the most part they do; and it frequently happens, that a sentence is weak or obscure in exact proportion to its want of harmony.
Q. Can you give an example of this?
A. "This is a mystery which we firmly believe the truth of, and we humbly adore the depth of," is neither so strong nor so harmonious as, "This is a mystery, the truth of which we firmly believe, and the depth of which we humbly adore
CHOICE OF WORDS WITH A VIEW TO ENERGY OR
WHATELEY has treated well the whole subject of style. He says, in substance,
FIRST. We must ever prefer those words which are the least abstract and general. Individuals alone having a real existence, the terms denoting them will, of course, make the most vivid impression on the mind, and exercise most the power of conception; and the more specific any term is, the more energy it will possess; in comparison of such as are more general, it will present a more bright and definite picture of the object.
It depends on our choice whether we will employ terms more general than the subject requires; which may almost always be done consistently with truth and propriety, though not with energy. If it be true that a man has committed murder, it may be correctly asserted that he has committed a crime. The former term would impress the fact more vividly upon our minds, because more specific and individualizing. Some prefer general terms because they consider them more refined, but, except for the purpose of making our statements more comprehensive, they enfeeble style.
The only proper occasion for the use of general terms is, when we wish to avoid giving a vivid im pression-when our object is to soften what is offen sive, disgusting, or shocking; as when we speak of an "execution" instead of a "hanging." On the oth er hand, in Antony's speech over Cæsar's body, his object being to excite horror, Shakspeare puts into his mouth the most particular expressions; "those honorable men (not who killed Cæsar, but) whose daggers have stabbed him."
SECONDLY, not only does a regard for energy re quire that we should not use terms more general than are exactly adequate to the objects spoken of, but we