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exciting ideas, resemble by their softness or harshnefs the founds described ; and there are words which, by the celerity or slowness of pronunciation, have some resemblance to the motion they signify. The imitative power of words goes one step farther: the loftiness of some words makes them proper symbols of lofty ideas; a rough subject is imitated by harsh-founding words; and words of many fyllables pronounced flow and smooth, are expressive of grief and melancholy. Words have a separate effect on the mind, abstracting from their fignification and from their imitative power: they are more or less agreeable to the ear, by the fulness, sweetness, faintness, or roughness of their tones.
These are but faint beauties, being known to those only who have more than ordinary acuteness of perception. Language posse Teth a beauty superior greatly in degree, of which we are eminently sensible when a thought is communicated with perspicuity and sprightliness. This beauty of language, arising from its power of expressing thought, is apt to be confounded with the beauty of the thought itself: the beauty of thought, transferred to the expression, makes it appear more beautiful *. But these beauties, if we wish to
think * Chap. 2. part 1. sect. 5. Demetrius Phalereus (of Elo. cution, sect. 75.) makes the same observation. apt, says that author, to confound the language with the subject; and if the latter be nervous, we judge the same
think accurately, must be distinguished from each other. They are in reality so distinct, that we sometimes are conscious of the highest pleasure language can afford, when the subject expressed is disagreeable: a thing that is loathsome, or a scene of horror to make one's hair stand on end, may k be described in a manner so lively, as that the difagreeableness of the subject shall not even obscure the agreeableness of the description. The causes of the original beauty of language, considered as fignificant, which is a branch of the present subject, will be explained in their order. I shall only at present observe, that this beauty is the beauty of means fitted to an end, that of communicating thought: and hence it evidently appears, that of several expressions all conveying the same thought, the most beautiful, in the sense now mentioned, is that which in the most perfect manner answers its end.
The several beauties of language above men-i tioned, being of different kinds, ought to be handled separately. I shall begin with those beauties of language that arise from found; after which will follow the beauties of language considered as significant: this order appears natural ; for the
of the former. But they are clearly diftinguishable ; and it is not uncommon to find subjects of great dignity dressed in mean language. Theopompus is celebrated for the force of his diction; but erroneously : his subjcct indeed has great force, but his style very litile.
found of a word is attended to, before we confider its fignification. In a third section come those fingular beauties of language that are derived from a resemblance between found and signification. The beauties of verse are handled in the last fection: for though the foregoing beauties are found
in verse as well as in prose, yet verse has many peculiar beauties, which for the fake of connection
must be brought under one view; and versification, at any rate, is a subject of so great importance as to deserve a place by itself.
S E C T.
Beauty of Language with respect to Sound.
THIS subject requires the following order,
The sounds of the different letters come first : next, these founds as united in syllables : third, syllables united in words : fourth, words united in a period : and in the last place, periods united in a discourse.
With respect to the first article, every vowel is sounded with a single expiration of air from the wind-pipe, through the cavity of the mouth. By varying this cavity, the different vowels are founded: for the air in passing through cavities differing in size, produceth various sounds, some high or
fharp, some low or flat: a small cavity occasions a high found, a large cavity a low sound. The five vowels accordingly, pronounced with the same extenfion of the wind-pipe, but with different openings of the mouth, form a regular series of sounds, descending from high to low, in the following order, i, e, a, o, u* Each of these founds is agreeable to the ear : and if it be required which of them is the most agreeable, it is perhaps safest to hold, that those vowels which are the farthest removed from the extremes, will be the most relished. This is all I have to remark upon the first article: for consonants being letters that of themfelves have no sound, serve only in conjunction with vowels to form articulate founds; and as every articulate sound makes a syllable, consonants come naturally under the second article; to which we proceed.
A consonant is pronounced with a less cavity than any vowel; and consequently every syllable into which a consonant enters, must have more than one sound, though pronounced with one expiration of air, or with one breath as commonly expressed: for however readily two sounds may unite, yet where they differ in tone, both of them must
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 syllable in ; the letter e as in persuasion ; the letter a ás in bat ; and the letter u as in number.
be heard if neither of them be suppressed. For
We next enquire, how far syllables are agree-