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In this latter example, the hypothetical affirmation requires the circumflex on the emphasis, while the indefi nite antithesis is not expressed, as in the preceding example, but suggested; "Thou hast learn'd to rail, if thou hast not learn'd any thing better than this."
The tempter, ere the accuser of mankind.
The beggar was blind as well as lăme.
He is more knàve than fool.
Cæsar deserved blame more than fame.
Now if any one chooses to ask the reason why these emphatic inflections occur in this order, he may see it perhaps by a bare inspection of the foregoing examples together. In such a connexion of two correlate words, whether in contrast or comparison, the most prominent of the two in sense, that in which the essence of the thought lies, commonly has the strong, falling emphasis; and that which expresses something subordinate or circumstantial, has the rising. The same rising or circumflex emphasis prevails where the thought is conditional, or something is implied or insinuated, rather than strongly expressed. Negative clauses perhaps so generally fall into this class of inflections because they are so often only explanatory of the main thought.
As the foregoing remarks have been confined chiefly to the inflection of relative emphasis, the reader may expect me to dwell a little on the same point, as connected with absolute emphasis.
Here the examples to be adduced will be a farther
refutation of the theory which restricts emphasis wholly to antithesis by affirmation and denial. If this theory were correct, there would be no emphatic stress nor inflection in the following cases;
1. Of apposition;
Simon, Son of Jónas,--lovest thou me?
To affirm this, is to contradict Paul, the Apòstle.
In the multiplied cases of this sort, where two names are used for the same person, surely the ground of emphasis on both, is not opposition in sense.
2. Of the indirect question and its answer.
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
Where is boasting then?—It is excluded.
Here again the emphasis is absolute.
3. Of the direct question and its answer.
In Shakspeare's Julius Cæsar, the indignant Marullus thus chides the citizens for their blind adoration of Cæsar;
O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome!
And do you now strew flowers in his way,
Are they Hébrews?--So am I.
Shall Rome be taken, while I am Cónsul?—Nồ.
In both sorts of question, there is indeed what may properly be termed contrast; and in the direct question, this contrast between question and answer is marked by
opposite inflection. But this is a case that does not at all come within Mr. Walker's rule,-"That the falling inflection affirms something in the emphasis, and denies what is opposed to it in the antithesis; and the rising affirms without such denial." Let this rule be tried by the foregoing examples, and it will be apparent that no antithesis by affirmation and denial can be made out in any of them, except by an effort of fancy. Take that one ending,“Knew ye not Pómpey ?” and instead of puzzling the mind to discover what is affirmed in this rising emphasis, and what is not denied in a supposed antithesis, how much easier is it to say, the case falls under that general law of interrogative inflection, which always inclines the voice upward.
But these illustrations need not be extended. The amount is, that generally the weaker emphasis, where there is tender, or conditional, or partial enunciation of thought, requires the voice to rise: while the strong emphasis, where the thought is bold, and the language positive, adopts the falling slide, except where some counteracting principle occurs, as in the interrogative inflection just mentioned. Emphatic inflection varies according to those general laws of the voice which I have endeavoured to describe at some length, Chap. III. p. 42-65. For these varieties we may assign good reasons, in some cases; while in others we must stop with the fact, that such are the settled usages of elocution; and in others still, we can only say such are the instinctive principles of vocal intonation.* In all such cases, explanation becomes ob
* A technical sense of this word, seems indispensable.
scurity, if carried out of its proper limits. Beyond these, I can no more tell why sorrow or supplication incline the voice to the rising slide, while indignation or command incline it to the falling, than I can tell why one emotion flashes in the eye, and another vents itself in tears. Nor is it reasonable to demand such explanations on this subject, as are not expected on any other. The logician rests in his consciousness and his experience as the basis of argument; and philosophy no more requires or allows us to push our inquiries beyond first principles or facts, in elocution, than in logic.
23] In closing these remarks on emphatic inflection, the reader should be reminded that the distinction suggested, p. 43, between the common and the intensive inflection, applies to every part of the subject. As emphasis varies with sentiment in degrees of strength, it requires a correspondent difference in the force, the elevation of note, and the extent of slide, which distinguish important words.
24] Emphatic Clause.
Before I dismiss the article of emphasis, one or two points should have some notice, because they belong to the general subject, though not distinctly classed under the foregoing heads.
It will be readily perceived that the stress proper to be laid on any single word, to denote its importance, depends much on the comparative stress with which other words in the same sentence are pronounced. A whisper, if it is soft or strong, according to sense, may be as truly discriminating as the loudest tones. The voice.
should be disciplined to this distinction, in order to avoid the common fault, which confounds vociferation with emphatic expression. Many, to become forcible speakers, utter the current words of a sentence in so loud a tone, that the whole seems a mere continuity of strong articulate sounds; or if emphatic stress is attempted on particular words, it is done with such violence as to offend against all propriety. This is the declamatory manner. The power of emphasis, when it belongs to single words, depends on concentration. To extend it through a sentence, is to destroy it.
But there are cases in which more than common stress belongs to several words in succession, forming an emphatic clause. This is sometimes called general emphasis. In some cases of this sort, the several syllables have nearly equal stress: thus;
-Heaven and earth will witness,
In uttering this emphatic clause, the voice drops its pitch, and proceeds nearly in a grave, deliberate monotone.
In other cases, such a clause is to be distinguished from the rest of the sentence, by a general increase of force; and yet its words retain a relative difference among themselves, in quantity, stress, and inflection. This appears in the indignant reply of the youthful Pitt, to his aged accuser in debate;
But youth, it seems, is not my only crime; I have been accused,-of acting a THEATRICAL part.
And afterwards, arraigning the ministry, he said,
As to the present gentlemen,-I cannot give them my confi