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articulate founds; and as every articulate found of this kind makes a fyllable, confonants come naturally under the fecond article; to which therefore we proceed.
All confonants are pronounced with a lefs cavity than any of the vowels; and confequently they contribute to form a found ftill more fharp than the fharpest vowel pronounced fingle. Hence it follows, that every articulate found into which a, confonant enters, muft ne. ceffarily be double, though pronounced with one expiration of air, or with one breath, as commonly expreffed the reason is, that though two founds readily unite, yet where they differ in tone, both of them must be heard if neither of them be fuppreffed. For the fame reafon, every fyllable must be compofed of as many founds as there are letters, fuppofing every letter to be distinctly pronounced.
We next inquire, how far articulate founds into which confonants enter, are agreeable to the ear. Few tongues are fo polished, as entirely to have rejected founds that are pronounced with difficulty; and it is a noted obfervation, That fuch founds are to the ear harth and disagreeable. But with refpect to agreeable sounds, it appears, that a double found is always more agreeable than a single found every one who has an ear must be fenfible, that the diphthong oi or ai is more agreeable than any of these vowels pronounced fingly: the fame holds where a confonant enters into the double found; the fyllable le has a more agreeable found than the vowel e, or than any vowel. And in fupport of experience, a fatisfactory argument may be drawn from the wifdom of Providence:peech: is beltowed upon man, to qualify him for fociety; and the provision he hath of articulate founds is prepojfraned to the ufe he hath for them but if founds that are agreeable fingly were not alfo agreeable:in conjunction, the neceffity of a painful felection would render language intricate and difiicult to be attained in any perfection; and this selection, at the fame time, would tend to abridge the number of ufeful founds, fo as perhaps not to leave fufficient for anfwering the different ends of language.
In this view, the harmony of pronunciation differs widely from that of mufic properly fo called in the
latter are difcovered many founds fingly agreeable, that in conjunction are extremely difagreeable; none but what are called concordant founds having a good effect in conjunction in the former, all founds fingly agreeable, are in conjunction concordant; and ought to be, in order to fulfill the purposes of language.
Having difcuffed fyllables, we proceed to words; which make a third article. Monofyllables belong to the former head: polyfyllables open a different scene. In a curfory view, one will readily imagine, that the agreeablenefs or difagreeableness of a word with refpect to its found, fhould depend upon the agreeableness or difagreeableness of its component fyllables: which is true in part, but not entirely; for we must also take under confideration, the effect of fyllables in fucceflion. In the first place, fyllables in immediate fucceffion, pronounced, each of them, with the fame or nearly the fome aperture of the mouth, produce a fucceflion of weak and feeble founds; witnefs the French words ditil, pathetique on the other hand, a fyllable of the greatest aperture fucceeding one of the fmalleft, or the oppofite, makes a fucceffion, which, becaufe of its remarkable difagreeablenefs, is diftinguished by a proper name, viz hiatus. The most agreeable fucceffion, is, where the cavity is increased and diminished alternately within moderate limits. Examples, alternative, longevity, pufillanimous. Secondly, words confifting wholly of fyllables pronounced flow, or of fyllables pronounced quick, commonly called long and short fyllables, have little melody in them; witnefs the words petitioner, fruiterer, dizziness: on the other hand, the intermixture of long and fhort fyllables is remarkably agreeable; for example, degree, repent, wonderful, altitude, rapidity, independent, impetuofity *. The caufe will be explained afterward, in treating of verfification.
* Italian words, like thofe of Latin and Greek, have this property almoft univerfally: English and Frenchwords are generally deficient; in the former, the long fyllable being removed from the end as far as the found will permit; and in the latter, the last fyllable being ge nerally long For example, Senator in English, Senator in Latin, and Senateur in French.
Diftinguishable from the beauties above mentioned, there is a beauty of fome words which arifes from their fignification: when the emotion raifed by the length or fhortness, the roughnefs or fmoothness, of the found, refembles in any degree what is raised by the fenfe, we feel a very remarkable pleasure. But this fubje& belongs to the third section.
The foregoing obfervations 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 not equally useful in comparing the words of different languages; which will thus appear. Different nations judge differently of the harthnefs or fmoothnefs of articulate founds; a found, for example, harth and disagreeable to an Italian, may be abundantly fmooth to a northern ear here every nation must judge for itself; nor can there be any folid ground for a preference, when there is no common fandard to which we can appeal. The cafe is precifely the fame as in behaviour and manners: plain-dealing and fincerity, liberty in words and actions, form the character of one people; politenefs, referve, and a total difguife of every fentiment that can give offence, form the character of another people; to each the manners of the other are difagreeable. An effeminate mind cannot bear the leaft of that roughness and feverity, which is generally esteemed manly when exerted upon proper occafions: neither can an effeminate ear bear the harthness of certain words, that are deemed nervous and founding by thofe accustomed to a rougher tone of fpeech. Muft we then relinquith all thoughts of com. paring languages in the point of roughnefs and smoothnefs, as a fruitless inquiry? Not altogether fo; for we may proceed a certain length, though without hope of an ultimate decifion: a language pronouuced with diffi culty even by natives, muft yield to a smoother language: and fuppofing two languages pronounced with equal facility by natives, the rougher language, in my judgment, ought to be preferred, provided it be alfo ftored with a competent fhare of more mellow founds; which will be evident from attending to the different effects that articulate found hath upon the mind. A fmooth gliding
found is agreeable, by calming the mind, and lulling it to reft: a rough bold found, on the contrary, animates the mind; the effort perceived in pronouncing, is communicated to the hearers, who feel in their own minds a fimilar effort, roufing their attention, and difpofing them to action. I add another confideration; that the agreeableness of contraft in the rougher language, for which the great variety of founds gives ample opportunity, muft, even in an effeminate ear, prevail over the more uniform founds of the fmoother language. This appears to me all that can be fafely determined upon the prefent point. With refpect to the other circumftances that conftitute the beauty of words, the standard above mentioned is infallible when apply'd to foDe reign languages as well as to our own: for every man, whatever be his mother tongue, is equally capable to judge of the length or fhortnefs of words, of the alternate opening and clofing of the mouth in fpeaking, and of the 'relation that the found bears to the fenfe: in thefe particulars, the judgment is fufceptible of no prejudice from cuftom, at least of no invincible prejudice.
That the English tongue, originally harfh, is at prefent much foftened by dropping in the pronunciation many redundant confonants, is undoubtedly true: that it is not capable of being further mellowed without fuffering in its force and energy, will scarce be thought by any one who poffeffes an ear; and yet fuch in Britain is the propensity for difpatch, that overlooking the majefty of words compofed of many fyllables aptly connected, the prevailing tafte is to fhorten words, even at the expence of making them difagreeable to the ear, and harth in the pronunciation. But I have no occafion to infit upon this article, being prevented by an excellent writer, who poffeffed, if any man ever did, the true genius of the English tongue †. I cannot however forA 5 bear
*That the Italian tongue is rather too fmooth, feems probable from confidering, that in verfification words. are frequently fuppreffed in order to produce a rougher
and bolder tone.
+ See Swift's propofal for correcting the English tongue, in a letter to the Earl of Oxford,
bar urging one obfervation, borrowed from that author feveral tenfes of our verbs are formed by adding the final fyllable ed, which, being a weak found, has remarkably the worse effect by poffeffing the moft confpicuous place in the word; upon which account, the vowel in common fpeech is generally fuppreffed, and the confonant added to the foregoing fyllable; and hence the following rugged founds, drudg'd, disturb'd, rebuk'd, ftedg'd. It is ftill lefs excufable to follow this practice in writing; for the hurry of speaking may excufe what would be altogether improper in a compofition of any value the fyllable ed, it is true, makes but a poor figure at the end of a word; but we ought to fubmit to that defect, rather than multiply the number of harsh words, which, after all that has been done, bear an overproportion in our tongue. The author above-mentioned, by fhowing a good example, did all in his power to reftore that fyllable; and he well deferves to be imitated. Some exceptions however I would make: a word that fignifies labour, or any thing harth or rugged, ought not to be smooth; therefore forc'd, with an apoftrophe, is better than forced, without it: another exception is, where the penult fyllable ends with a vowel; in that cafe the final fyllable ed may be apoftrophized without making the word harth: examples, betray'd, carry'd, defroy'd, employ'd.
The article next in order, is the mufic of words as united in a period. And as the arrangement of words in fucceffion fo as to afford the greatest pleasure to the ear, depends on principles pretty remote from common view, it will be neceffary to premife fome general obfervations upon the appearance that a number of objects make when placed in an increasing or decreasing feries; which appearance will be very different, accordingly as resemblance or contraft prevails. Where the objects vary by fmall differences fo as to have a mutual refemblance, we in afcending conceive the fecond object of no greater fize than the firft, the third of no greater fize than the fecond, and fo of the reft; which diminisheth in appearance the fize of the whole: but when, beginning at the largest object, we proceed gradually to the leaf, resemblance makes us imagine the fecond as large