Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

every emphatic word having, as it were, an attractive power, by which it clusters round it more or less of the words preceding or following it; and the cessation of the voice which is called a pause, is but a natural and necessary consequence of the organic effort used in uttering such a collection of sounds, embracing, as it always does, one syllable, at least, which demands a great impulse of the organs, and exhausts, in some cases of great energy in language, the supply of breath required for utterance.

This fact regarding the effect of emphasis on pausing, may be traced, though to an extent comparatively moderate, even in the secondary degree of emphasis, or that which Walker has termed accented force. By pronouncing the sentence used as an example of that author's classification of emphasis, it will be found that a pause, distinct and observable, though short, follows every word to which this degree of force belongs, and that each of these words attracts or unites to itself, in pronunciation, the 'unaccented' word or words preceding it: the same thing would happen with unaccented words following an accented one, but closely connected with it in meaning. Exercise and temperance strengthen even an INDIFFERENT constitution.This sentence, if divided to the eye, in type, as it is divided to the ear by the voice, would run thus: Exercise and temperance

strengthen eyen an indifferent constitution;" or perhaps more strictly thus, "Exercise and temperance strengthen

evenanindifferentconstitution."

Whatever holds true, in this respect, of words possessing.accented force, is still more strikingly so, when applied to those which are spoken with emphatic force; as may be observed by making a slight change on the form of the above sentence, so as to introduce the emphatic word where the pause which follows it may become perceptible. Thus, “Even an indifferent constitution is strengthened by exercise and temperance,"_expressed to the ear thus: “EvenaninDIFFERENTConstitution isstrengthened byexercise andtemperance.

This sentence forms so short an example, that it contains only the minor pauses of discourse,—those which are not expressed at all, in grammatical punctuation. But the application of the principle is still more apparent, when the sentences are long and the clauses numerous, and, consequently, the grammatical stops frequent. That emphasis is the key to pausing, will be fully apparent, by reverting to the preceding example, and observing the great length of pause intervening between the nominative and the verb, in this instance, compared to what takes place in the original form of the sentence.

The meaning and the ear, then, and not the punctuation, are to guide us in pausing, -any farther than the latter happens to coincide with the former. Nor will there be any more difficulty thus occasioned in reading or speaking, than there is in conversation, in which, the idea of attending to pauses by any fixed mechanical rule, would be felt to be absurd. All that needs peculiar attention in reading and speaking, as far as pausing is concerned, is this; that the greater force and slowness of utterance naturally required in these exercises, when performed in public, (implying a large space to be traversed by the voice,) and the more regular—perhaps, more formal-phraseology of written language, demand, even in private reading, longer and more frequent pauses than occur in conversation. Still it is the sense of what is read or spoken, and no arbitrary system of punctuation, that is to guide the voice in this as in all other respects.

Rule. I. Make the same pauses in reading a sentence that would be used in expressing the sentiment which it embodies, if given in the same words in conversation; using, however, in declamation, or in public reading, the pause naturally required by the greater energy of utterance.

This general rule may be applied in detail as follows, in circumstances in which the grammatical stop does not usually occur.* The pause will of course be

* These subordinate rules are given,-not because they are deemed indispensably necessary, apart from the general rule of

much longer, if, in any case, an emphatic word is substituted for one possessing only accented force.

1. A slight pause, sometimes called the 'rhetorical,' (to distinguish it from the grammatical pause,) takes place between the principal verb in a sentence, and the word or words which express the subject of the sentence, or form the nominative to the verb, —when the word, if single, conveys an important idea, or when the nominative consists of several words, or is followed by other words dependent on in.

Examples. “The day / (*) has been considered as an image of the year, and a year | as the representation of life. The morning | answers to the spring, and the spring

| to childhood and youth; the noon corresponds to the summer, and the summer to the strength of manhood. The evening / is an emblem of autumn, and autumn of declining life. The night shows the winter, in which all the powers of vegetation are benumbed; and the winter | points out the time when life shall cease.”

“Hatred and anger | are the greatest poison to the mind."

“Our schemes of thought in childhood | are lost in those of youth.”

2. A brief phrase occurring between the nominative and the verð, is separated from both by a short pause.

Ex. "All floats on the surface of that river which

| with swift current is running towards a boundless ocean.”

pausing acording to the sense, but from their importance to young learners, whose customary habit of rapidity often prevents them from attending to distinct and appropriate pausing, as a part of the expression of sentiment. The particular applications of the general rule, contained in these subordinate ones, may afford useful practice in connexion with that view of pausing which makes it dependent on emphasis; and, by the influence of repetition, may suggest analogies in circumstances in which the reader has not enjoyed the advantage of a previous perusal of the piece which he is to read.

* The pauses which islustrate the rule are indicated by the above mark,

[ocr errors]

6.

3. A phrase occurring between an active verb and the word which it governs, is separated as above.

Ex. “I saw | standing beside me , a form of diviner features and a more benign radiance.”

4. A phrase occurring between one verb and another which it governs in the infinitive mood, is separated from the latter. Ex. “Whether 'tis nobler in the mind | to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them.”5. A short pause takes place where the parts of a sentence might be transposed.

Ex. “The greatest misery is to be condemned by our own hearts."

When an adjective follows its substantive, it is parted from it by a short pause.

Ex. “It was a calculation | accurate to the last degree.”

7. When one substantive is made dependent on another by a preposition, and is followed by other words in close connexion, a short pause takes place before the preposition.

Ex. “I would rather look upon a tree in all its luxuriance and diffusion of boughs and branches, than when it is cut and trimmed into a mathematical figure."

8. Relative pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, and adverbs, and all other parts of speech used for transition or connexion, are preceded by a short pause.

Ex. “Nothing is in vain that rouses the soul to activity."

“I must be pardoned for this short tribute to the memory of a man who, while living, would as much detest to receive any thing that wore the appearance of flattery, as I should to offer it.”

“Homer's style* is more simple and animated; Virgil's* more elegant and uniform."

* In order to avoid confusion, the rhetorical pause is marked, in each instance, in that place only which exemplifies the rule.

[ocr errors]

• The former has, on many occasions, a sublimity 1 to which the latter never attains.”

“We were to drag up oceans of gold | from the bottom of the sea.”

“There is nothing which we estimate so fallaciously | as the strength of our own resolutions.”

“What ought to be done while it yet hangs only in speculation, is plain and certain."

“ His character requires that he estimate the happiness of every condition.

9. A short pause takes place at an ellipsis or omission of words.

Ex. “Homer was the greater genius, Virgil | the better artist.”

Rule II. A full and long pause, -several times the usual length of that of a period,-is required between paragraphs, particularly when these contain important divisions of a subject or a discourse, in which case they may be properly prolonged to double their own usual length.

The comparative length of this pause depends on the character of the piece, as grave and serious or familiar and light, and on the length and importance of paragraphs, as principal or subordinate. In general, it should not be shorter than twice the length of the pause usually made at a period.

ERRORS. The common fault in regard to pauses, is that they are made too short for clear and distinct expression.

Feeble utterance and defective emphasis, along with rapid articulation, usually combine to produce this fault in young readers and speakers. For, whatever force of utterance or energy of emphasis, or whatever rate of articulation we accustom ourselves to use, our pauses are always in proportion to it.

Undue brevity in pausing has a like bad effect with too rapid articulation : it produces obscurity and confusion in speech, or imparts sentiment in a manner which is deficient and unimpressive, and prevents the

« AnteriorContinuar »