« הקודםהמשך »
cavity occasions a high found; a large cavity a low found. The five vowels accordingly, pronounced with the fame extension of the windpipe, but with different openings of the mouth, form a regular series of sounds, descending from high to low, in the following order, i, e, ct, 0, u *. Each of these sounds is agreeable to the ear: and if it be inquired which of them is the most: agreeable, it is perhaps the safest side to hold, that there is no universal preference of any one before the rest: probably those vowels which are the farthest removed from the extremes, willbe the most relished. This is all I have to remark upon the first article: for consonants being letters which of themselves have no found, serve only in conjunction with vowels to form articulate sounds; and as every articulate found of this kind makes a syllable, consonants come naturally under the second article; to which therefore we proceed.
All consonants are pronounced with a less cavity than any of the vowels; and consequently they contribute to form a sound still more sharp than the sharpest vowel pronounced single. Hence it follows, that every articulate found into which a consonant enters, must necessarily be
* In this scale of sounds, the letter i must be pronounced as in the word interest, and as in other words beginning with the syllalle/w; the latter e as in persuasion; the letter a as in bat: and the letter a as in number.
A ^ double, double, though pronounced with one expiration of air, or with one breath, as commonly expressed: the reason is, that though two sounds readily unite, yet where they differ in tone, both of them must be heard if neither of them be suppressed. For the same reason, every syllable must be composed of as many sounds as there are letters, supposing every letter to be distinctly pronounced.
We next inquire, how far articulate sounds into which consonants enter, are agreeable to the ear. With respect to this point, there is a noted observation, that all sounds of difficult pronunciation are to the ear harfli in proportion. Few tongues are so poliihed, as entirely to have rejected sounds that are pronounced with difficulty; and such sounds must in some measure be disagreeable. But with respect to agreeable sounds, it appears, that a double sound is always more agreeable than a single sound: every one who has an ear must be sensible, that the diphthongs oi or ai are more agreeable than any of these vowels pronounced singly: the fame holds where a consonant enters into the double sound; the svlkble le has a more agreeable sound than the vowel e, or than any vowel. And in support of experience, a satisfactory argument may be drawn from the wisdom of Providence: speech is bestowed upon man, to qualify him for society; and the provision he hath os articulate sounds, is proportioned to the use he hath for
i them: them: but if sounds that are agreeable singly, were not also agreeable in conjunction, the necessity of a painful selection, would render lano-uaa-e intricate, and difficult to be attained in any perfection; and this selection, at the same time, would tend to abridge the number of useful sounds, so as perhaps not 60 leave sufficient for answering the different ends of language.
In this view, the harmony of pronunciation differs widely from that of music properly so called: in the latter are discovered many sounds singly agreeable, that in conjunction are extremely disagreeable; none but what are called concordant soundshaving a good effect in conjunction: in the former, all sounds singly agreeable, are in conjunction concordant; and ought to be, in order to fulfill the purposes of language.
Having discussed syllables, we proceed to words; which make a third article. Monosyllables belong to the former head: polysyllables open a different scene. In a cursory view, one will readily imagine, that the agreeableness or disagreeableness of a word with respect to its sound, should depend upon the agreeableness or disagreeableness of its component syllables: which is true in part, but not entirely; for we must: also take under consideration, -the effect that a number of syllables composing a word have in succession. In the first place, syllables in immediate succession, pronounced, each of them, with the same or nearly the same aperture of the
mouth, mouth, produce a succession of weak and feeble sounds; witness the French words dit-il, (fays he); pathetique, (pathetic): on the other hand, a syllable of the greatest: aperture succeeding one of the smallest, or the opposite, makes a succession, which, because of its remarkable disagreeableness, is distinguished by a proper name, viz. hiatus. The most agreeable succession, is, where the cavity is increased and diminished alternately within moderate limits. Examples alternative, longevity, pusillanimous. Secondly, words consisting wholly of syllables pronounced flow, or of syllables pronounced quick, commonly called long and Jhort syllables, have little melody in them; witness the words petitioner, fruiterer, dizziness: on the other hand, the intermixture of long and short syllables is remarkably agreeable; for example, degree, repent, •wonderful, altitude, rapidity, independent, impetuosity*. The cause will be explained afterward, in treating of versification.
Distinguishable from the beauties above mentioned, there is a beauty of .some words which arises from their signification: when the emotion raised by the length or shortness, the roughness
* Italian words, like those of Latin and Greek, have this property almost universally: English and French words are generally deficient; in the former, the long syllable being removed from the end as far as the found will permit; and in the latter, the last syllable being generally long. For example, Senator in English, Senator in Latin, and Senateur in French.
or smoothness, of the found, resembles in any degree Avhat is raised by the sense, we feel a very remarkable pleasure. But this subject: belongs to the third section.
The foregoing observations afford a standard to every nation, for estimating, pretty accurately, the comparative merit of the words that enter into their own language: but they are riot equally useful in comparing the words of different languages; which will thus appear. Different nations judge differently of the harshness or sinoothnefs of articulate sounds; a found, for example, harsh and disagreeable to an Italian, may be abundantly smooth'to a northern ear: here every nation must judge for itself; nor can there be any solid ground for a preference, when there is no common standard to which we can appeal. The cafe is precisely the same as in behaviour and manners: plain-dealing and sincerity, liberty in words and actions, form the character of one people; politeness, reserve, and a total disguise of every sentiment that can give offence, form the character of another people: to each the manners of the other are disagreeable. An effeminate mind cannot bear the least of that roughness and severity, which is generally esteemed manly when exerted upon proper occasions: neither can an effeminate ear bear the harshness of certain words, that are deemed nervous and sounding by those accustomed to a rougher tone of speech. Must we then relinquish all thoughts of compa