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


We are

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.

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be heard if neither of them be suppressed. For
the same reason, every syllable must be composed
of as many founds as there are letters, supposing
every letter to be distinctly pronounced.

We next enquire, how far syllables are agree-
able to the ear. Few tongues are so polished, as
entirely to have rejected sounds that are pronoun-
ced with difficulty; and it is a noted observation,
That such sounds are to the ear harsh and disa-
greeable. But with respect to agreeable sounds, it
appears, that a double found is always more a-
greeable than a single sound : every one who has
an ear must be sensible, that the dipththong oi or
ai is more agreeable than any of these vowels pro-
nounced fingly: the same holds where a consonant
enters into the double sound; the syllable le has a
more agreeable sound than the vowel e, or than
any vowel. And in support of experience, a satis-
factory argument may be drawn from the wisdom
of Providence: speech is bestowed on man, to
qualify him for society; and his provision of arti-
culate sounds is proportioned to the use he hath
for them; but if founds that are agreeable fingly
were not also agreeable in conjunction, the necef-
sity of a painful selection would render language
intricate and difficult to be attained in any perfec-
tion; and this selection, at the same time, would
abridge the number of useful sounds, so as perhaps
not to leave sufficient for answering the different
ends of language.


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