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kind a little after in the same piece, to represent uncommon
And with swift force roll thro' the humble plain.
*) Essay on Criticism. -**) Lucretius, B. III. ***) Th. Creech, gest. 1701, Uebersetzer des Lukrez.
by the expression. A more crawling spondatc verse our beroic measure hardly ever admits.
At the same time, in justice to English prosody, it ought, to be remarked, that it compriseth one kind of metre, the anapestic, which is very fit for expressing celerity, perhaps as much as any kind of measure ancient or modern. But there is in it a light familiarity, which is 80 ill adapted to the majesty of the iambic, as to render it but rarely admissible into poems written in this measure, and consequently either into tragedy or into epic.
Ere I conclude what may be said on the subject of motion, I shall pbserve further, that there are other affections of motion besides swiftness and slowness, such as vibration, intermission, inequality, which to a certain degree may be imitated in tho sound of the description. The expression
Troy's turrets totter'd in the translation of the Niad, is an instance of the first, the vibration being represented by the frequent and quick recarrence of the same letters ranged a little differently. In the linc
Tumbling all precipitate down dash'd, already quoted from the Ruins of Rome, there is an attempt to imitate the motion as well as the sound. The last of the four following lines from Milton, contains also a tolerable imitation of both:
Oft on a plat of rising ground
'natural subject of imitation is size, or whatever the terms great or little may be applied to, literally or metaphorically. Things grand may be imitated by long and well-sounding words, things bulky by long and ill - sounding words, things little by short words. The connection bere is as obvious as in either of the two former cases; but the power of our language is rather less.' It affords so little variety in the choice of words in respect of length, that often the grandest objects in nature cannot be expressed with propriety otherwise than by a poor monosyllable. Bulkiness
*) Il Penseroso.
accompanied with motion, will fall to be exemplified in the next article. A fourth subject of imitation in language is difficulty
There is a considerable difference in this respect in the pronunciation of different words and sentences, which, if happily accommodated to the sentiment, adds to the effect of the expression. If, for instance, what is difficultly acted, be difficultly pronounced, and if, on the contrary, what is performed with facility, be uttered with ease, there will result a certain degree of vivacity from this slight resemblance. For it is an invariable maxim, that the ear is grated with hearing what the organs of speech find it uneasy to articulate. Several things contribute to render pronunciation difficult. First, the collision of vowels; that is, when one syllable ends with a vowel, and the next (it matters not whether it be in the same word or not) begins with the same vowel, or with one which approaches to in sound. Re-enter, co-operate, re-inforce, re-animate, tho' oft, the ear, the open, are examples of this. A certain effort is required to keep them as it were asunder, and make both be distinctly heard as belonging to different syllables. When then vowels are very unlike in sound, or the formation of the one is easily accomplished after the articulation of the other, they have not the same effect. Thus in the words variety, coeval, the collision doth not create a perceptible difficulty. Now as difficulty is generally the cause of slowness in any operation, such a dashing of vowels is often employed to represent a tardy or lingering motion *). A second cause of difficulty in utterance, is the frequent recurring of the aspiraty (b), especially when placed between two vowels that are both sounded. It is this which renders the translation of the passage above quoted from the Odyssey, so significant of the same qualities :
Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone. A like effect is produced by any of the mutes that are aspirated, as the th and ph or f, especially if combined with other consonants, The following line of Chaucer is not a bad example of this:
He through the thickest of the throng gan threke **).
*) It is chiefly from this cause that the line in the Odyssey above quoted is so expressive of both. Ažav ovu '920xɛ.
**) Knight's Tale. gan zusammengezogen für began; threke ein veralteics Wort für thrust,
A third capse of difficulty in pronunciation, is the clash of two or more jarring consonants. Some consonants are easily combined; the combinations of such are not expressive of this quality, but it is not 'so with all. An instance of this difficulty we have in the following line,
And strainsfrom hard bound braipsa six lines a-year *) We have here once five consonants, sometimes four, and sometimes three, which are all pronounced without an intervening vowel. The difficulty is rendered still more sensible by the double pause, which occasions à very drawlicy movement. Another example I shall take from the same author:
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow'**). In the first of these lines the harsh combinations of consonants make the difficulty of pronunciation very observable; in the second the author hath not been so successful... I know not how it might affect the more delicate ear of an Italian, but if we compare it with the generality of English verses, we shall find it remarkably easy and flowing. It has nothing in respect of sound, either in the syllables separately, or in the measure, that in the least favours the sentiment, except only in its ending in a spondee, instead of an iambus. But this is too common in our poesy to have any effect that is worthy of notice. Vida's translator, in a passage extremely similar, hath been happier, if he may not be thougat to have exceeded in this respect: If some large weight his huge arm strive to shove, The verse too labours, the throng'd words scarce move ***). First, the word verse is harsher than line; secondly, the ending is in two spun lees, which, though perhaps admissible into the iambic measure, is very rare, and bath for that reason a more considerable effect. A fourth cause of difficulty in the pronunciation, is the want of harmony in the numbers. This is frequently an effect of some of the examples already quoted. In the following passage from Milton, one of the most unharmonious in the book, hugeness of size, slowness and difficulty of motion; are at once aptly imitated :
*) Pope, Fragment of Satire. **) Essay on Criticism. ***) Pitt.
- Part, huge of balk! Wallowing, unwieldy, enormous in their gaity
Tempest the ocean *). An illustration of tardiness, difficulty, and hesitancy through fear, the same author bath also given us in the ill-compacted lines which follow:
He came,2 and with him Eve,a morc loth,à tho' first
To offend, discountenanc'd both, and discompos'd **). Several of the foregoing causes concur in the following couplet:
So he with difficulty, and labour hard,
Mov'd on, with difficulty and labour he ***) A fifth cause of difficulty, the last I shall take notice of, is when there is a frequent recurrence of the same letters or syllables, especially where the measure requires a quick pronunciation, because then there is the greatest risk of mistake and confusion ****).
I shall just mention another subject of imitation by sound, which is very general, and may be said to comprehend every thing not included in those above mentioned. The agreeable in things may be adumbrated to us by smooth and pleasant sounds, the disagreeable by, such as are harsh and graiting. Here, it must be owned, the resemblance can be but very remote, yet even here it will sometimes serve to enliven, the expression.
Indeed the power of numbers, or of a series of'accordant sounds, is much more expressive than that of sivogle sounds. Accordingly, in poetry we are furnished with the best examples in all the kinds; and as the writer of odes bath in this respect a much greater latitude than any
other kind of v. rsifier, and at pleasure may vary his measure with his subject, I shall take a few , illustrations from our )!yric poets. All sorts of English verse, it hath been justly remarked,
*) Paradise Lost, B. VII. **) Paradise Lost, B. X. ***) Ibid. B. II. ****) An excellent example of this kind we have from the Iliad, XIII. 116.
Πολλα δ' άναντα, καταντα, πάραντα τε δόχμιά τ' ήλθον, (d. i. sie gingen einen weiten Weg bergauf, bergunter, schief und
in die Quere). This recurrence is the happier here, as it is peculiarly desicriptive of rugged ways and jolting motion.