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mouth, produce a fucceffion of weak and feeble founds; witness the French words dit-il, (fays he); pathetique, (pathetic): on the other hand, a fyllable of the greatest aperture fucceeding one of the smallest, or the oppofite, makes a fucceffion, which, because 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; witness 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.
Diftinguishable from the beauties above mentioned, there is a beauty of fome words which arifes from their fignification: when the emotion raised by the length or fhortnefs, the roughness
* Italian words, like those of Latin and Greek, have this property almost universally: English and French words 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 laft fyllable being generally long. For example, Senator in English, Senator in Latin, and Senateur in French.
or fmoothnefs, of the found, refembles in any degree what is raised by the fenfe, we feel a very remarkable pleasure. But this fubject belongs to the third fection.
The foregoing obfervations afford a ftandard to every nation, for eftimating, 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 harshness or fmoothness of articulate founds; a found, for example, harsh and difagreeable to an Italian, may be abundantly smooth 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 ftandard to which we can appeal. The cafe is precisely the fame as in behaviour and manners: plain-dealing and fincerity, liberty in words and actions, form the character of one people; politeness, referve, and a total disguise of every sentiment 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 least of that roughnefs and severity, which is generally esteemed manly when exerted upon proper occafions: neither can an effeminate ear bear the harshness of certain words, that are deemed nervous and founding by those accustomed to a rougher tone of speech. Muft we then relinquish all thoughts of compa
ring languages in the point of roughness and fmoothness, as a fruitlefs inquiry? Not altogether fo; for we may proceed a certain length, though without hope of an ultimate decision: a language with difficulty pronounced even by natives, muft yield to a smoother language: and fuppofing two languages pronounced with equal facility by natives, the rougher language, in my judgement, 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 finooth gliding found is agreeable, by fmoothing the mind, and lulling it to rest: 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 disposing them to action. I add another confidèration; 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 present point. With refpect to the other circumstances
That the Italian tongue is rather too fmooth, feems probable from confidering, that in verfification vowels are frequently fuppreffed in order to produce a rougher and bolder tone.
that conftitute the beauty of words, the ftandard above mentioned is infallible when apply'd to foreign 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 closing of the mouth in speaking, and of the relation that the found bears to the fenfe: in thefe particulars, the judgement is fufceptible of no prejudice from custom, 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 fcarce be thought by any one who poffeffes an ear; and yet fuch in Britain is the propensity for dispatch, that overlooking the majefly of words compofed of many fyllables aptly connected, the prevailing tafte is to fhorten words, even at the expence of making them dif agreeable to the ear, and harsh in the pronunciation. But I have no occafion to infift 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 forbear urging one obfervation, borrowed from that author: feveral tenfes of our verbs are
See Swift's propofal for correcting the English tongue, in a letter to the Earl of Oxford.
formed by adding the final fyllable ed, which, being a weak found, has remarkably the worse effect by poffeffing the most confpicuous place in the word; upon which account, the vowel in common speech is generally fuppreffed, and the confonant added to the foregoing fyllable; and hence the following rugged founds, drudg'd, difturb'd, rebuk'd, fledg'd. It is ftill lefs excufable to follow this practice in writing; for the hurry of speaking may excufe what is 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 harth words, which, after all that has been done, bear an over-proportion in our tongue. The author above mentioned, by fhowing a good example, did all in his power to restore that fyllable; and he well deferves to be imitated. Some exceptions however I would make a word that fignifies labour, or any thing harsh or rugged, ought not to be fmooth; therefore forc'd, with an apostrophe, 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 harsh: examples, betray'd, carry'd, deftroy'd, employ'd.
The article next in order, is to confider the mufic of words as united in a period. And as the arrangement of words in fucceffion fo as to af