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of a natural style: it is also agreeable by its simplicity and perspicuity. This observation throws light upon the subject: for if a natural style be in itself agreeable, a transposed style cannot be so; and therefore it cannot otherwise be agreeable, but by contributing to some positive beauty that is excluded in a natural style. To be confirmed in this opinion, we need but reflect upon some of the foregoing rules, which make it evident, that language, by means of inversion, is susceptible of many beauties that are totally excluded in a natural arrangement of words. From these premisses it clearly follows, that inversion ought not to be indulged, unless in order to reach some beauty superior to those of a natural style. It may with great certainty be pronounced, that every inversion which is not governed by this rule, will appear harsh and strained, and be disrelilhed by every man of taste. Hence the beauty of inversion when happily conducted; the beauty, not of an end, but of means, as furnilhing opportunity for numberless ornaments that find no place in a natural style: hence the force, the elevation, the harmony, the cadence, of some compositions: hence the manifold beauties of the Greek and Roman tongues, of which living languages afford but faint imitations.
SECT. SECT. HL
BeaUty of language from a resemblance between sound and signification.
A Resemblance of the sound to the signification of certain words, is a beauty'which has escaped no critical writer, and yet is not handled with accuracy by any of them. They have probably been of opinion, that a beauty so obvious to the feeling, requires no explanation. This undoubtedly is an error; and to avoid it, I shall give examples of the various resemblances between found and signification, and at the fame time shall endeavour to explain whysuch resemblances are beautiful. Beginning with examples where the resemblance between the sound and signification is the most entire, I proceed to others where the resemblance is less and less so.
There being frequently a strong resemblance of one sound to another, it will not be surprising to find an articulate sound resembling one that is not articulate: thus the found of a bow-string is imitated by the words that express it:
The string let fly,
Twang'djhort andjbarp, like the slvrill swallow's cry.
Qdyjsey, xxi. 449
F 2 The
The sound of felling trees in a wood:
Loud sounds the ax, redoubling strokes on strokes;
Iliad, xxiii. 144.
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore
The hoarse rough verse fliould like the torrent roar.
Pope's Ejfay on Criticism, 369.
No person can be at a loss about the cause of this beauty: it is obviously that of imitation.
That there is any other natural resemblance of sound to signification, mud not be taken for granted. There is evidently no resemblance of sound to motion, nor of sound'to sentiment. In this matter, we are apt to be deceived by artful pronunciation: the fame passage may be pronounced in many different tones, elevated or humble, sweet or harsh, brisk or melancholy, so as to accord with the thought or sentiment: such concord must be distinguished from that concord between sound and senle, which is perceived in some expressions independent of artful pronunciation: the latter is the poet's work; the former must be attributed to the reader. Another thing contributes still more to the deceit: in language, found and sense are so intimately connected, as that the properties of the one are readily communicated to the other; for example,
the the quality of grandeur, of sweetness, or of melancholy, though belonging to the thought solely, is transferred to the words, which by that means resemble in appearance the thought that is expressed by them*. I have great reason to recommend these observations to the reader, considering how inaccurately the present subject is handled by critics: not one of them distinguishes the natural resemblance of sound and signification, from the artificial resemblances now described; witness Vida in particular, who in a very long passage has given very few examples'but what are of the latter kind f.
That there may be a resemblance of articulate sounds to some that are not articulate, is self-evident; and that in fact there exist such resemblances successfully employ'd by writers of genius, is clear, from the foregoing examples, and from many others that might be given. But we may safely pronounce, that this natural resemblance can be carried no farther.- the objects of the different fenses, differ so widely from each other, as to exclude any resemblance; sound in particular, whether articulate or inarticulate, resembles not in any degree taste, smell, nor motion; and as little can it resemble any internal sentiment, feeling, or emotion. But must we then admit, that nothing but sound can be i
* Sec chap. 2. part I. sect. 4.
F 3 mitateii imitated by sound? Taking imitation in its proper fense, as importing a resemblance between two objects, the proposition mult be admitted: and yet in many passages that are not descriptive of sound, every one must be sensible of a peculiar -concord between the sound of the words and their meaning. As there can be no doubt of the fact, what remains is to inquire into its cause.
Resembling causes may produce effects that have no resemblance; and causes that have no resemblance may produce resembling efiects. A magnificent building, for example, resembles not in any degree an heroic action; and yet the emotions they produce, are concordant, and bear a resemblance to each other. We are still more sensible of this resemblance in a song, when the music is properly adapted to the sentiment: there is no resemblance between thought and sound; but there is the strongest resemblance between the emotion raised by music tender and pathetic, and that raised by the complaint of an unsuccess^ ful lover. When we apply this observation to the present subject, it will appear, that in some instances, the found even of a single word makes an impresiion resembling that which is made by the thing it signifies; witness the word running, composed of two short syllables; and more re-markably the words rapidity, impetuosity, precis pitation. Brutal manners produce in the specta-r tor an emotion, not unlike what is produced by a harsh and rough sound j and hence the' beauty