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too daring to declare that all the celebrated adaptations of harmony are chimerical; that Homer, Virgil, and Milton, paid no extraordinary attention to their numbers in any of those passages where the sound is said to be an echo to the sense.*

There being frequently a strong resemblance of one sound to another, it will not be surprising to find an articulate sound resembling one that is not articulate. Of this resemblance we meet with an exemplification in the following passages :—

On a sudden open fly,

With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,

Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder.


The impetuous arrow whizzes on the wing.-Pope.

The string, let fly,

Twang'd short and sharp, like the shrill swallow's cry.-Pope.

Loud sounds the air, redoubling strokes on strokes,

On all sides round the forest hurls her oaks
Headlong: deep echoing groan the thickets brown,
Then rustling, crackling, crashing, thunder down.-Pope.
The pilgrim oft

At dead of night 'mid his oraison hears

Aghast the voice of Time, disparting towers,
Tumbling all precipitate down-dashed,

Rattling around, loud thundering to the moon.-Dyer.

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around;

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound.-Coleridge.

That there is any other natural resemblance of sound to signification, must not be taken for granted. There is evidently no similarity between sound and motion, or between sound and sentiment. We are apt to be deceived by an artful pronunciation: the same passage may be pronounced in many different tones, elevated or humble, sweet or harsh, brisk or melancholy, so as to accord with the sentiment or thought. This concordance must be carefully distinguished from that between

Johnson's Rambler, No. 94.-See likewise Dr. Whately's Elements of


sound and sense; which may sometimes subsist without any dependance upon delivery.

There is another circumstance which contributes still more to the deceit : sound and sense being intimately connected, the properties of the one are readily communicated to the other. Thus, for example, the quality of grandeur, of sweetness, or of melancholy, though solely belonging to the thought, is transferred to the word by which that quality is expressed. In this manner, words bear an imaginary resemblance to those objects of which they are only the arbitrary signs. It is of the greatest importance to distinguish the natural resemblance of sound and signification, from those artificial resemblances which have now been described.

From the instances lately adduced, it is evident that there may be a similarity between sounds articulate, and sounds inarticulate. But we may safely pronounce that this resemblance can be carried no further. The objects of the different senses have no similarity to each other sound, whether articulate or inarticulate, bears no kind of analogy to taste or smell; and as little can it resemble internal sentiment, feeling, or emotion. Must we then admit that nothing but sound can be imitated by sound? Taking imitation in its proper sense, as importing a coincidence between different objects, the proposition must be admitted; and yet in many passages which are not descriptive of sound, everyone must be sensible of a peculiar concord between the sound of the words and their meaning. As there can be no doubt of the fact, what remains is to enquire into its cause.

Resembling causes may produce effects which have no resemblance; and causes which have no resemblance may produce resembling effects. A magnificent building, for example, does not in any degree resemble an heroic action; and yet the emotions which they produce, are sometimes concordant, or bear a remote resemblance to each other. We are still more sensible of this kind of resemblance in a song, when the music is properly adapted to the sentiment. There is no similarity be

tween thought and sound; but there is the strongest similarity between the emotion excited by music tender and pathetic, and that excited by the complaint of an unsuccessful lover. When we apply this observation to the present subject, it will appear that in some instances the sound even of a single word makes an impression similar to what is produced by the thing which it signifies. Of this description are running, rapidity, impetuosity, precipitation. Brutal manners produce in the spectator an emotion not unlike what is caused by a harsh and rough sound; and hence the beauty of the figurative expression, rugged manners. The word little, being pronounced with a very small aperture of the mouth, has a weak and faint sound, which makes an impression resembling that produced by a diminutive object. This resemblance of effects is still more remarkable where a number of words is connected in the same period. Words pronounced in succession often produce a strong impression and when this impression happens to accord with that made by the sense, we are aware of a complex emotion, peculiarly pleasant; one proceeding from the sentiment, and one from the melody or sound of the words. But the chief pleasure arises from having these two concordant emotions combined in perfect harmony, and conducted in the mind to a full close.

Except those passages in which sound is described, all the examples given by critics of sense being imitated by sound, resolve themselves into a resemblance of effects. Emotions excited by sound and signification may have a mutual resemblance; but sound itself cannot have a resemblance to anything but sound.

After having suggested these general observations, it will be proper to descend to particular examples.

By a number of syllables in succession, an emotion is sometimes raised, similar to that excited by successive motion. In this manner slow motion may be justly imitated in a verse where long syllables prevail, espe cially with the aid of a slow pronunciation.

Illi inter sese magna vi brachia tollunt.-Virgil.

On the other hand, swift motion is imitated by a succession of short syllables.

Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum.—Virgil.

By the frequency of its pauses, a line composed of monosyllables makes an impression similar to what is made by laborious interrupted motion.

First march the heavy mules securely slow

O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks they go.-Pope.
With many a weary step, and many a groan,

Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone.—Broome.

The impression made by rough sounds in succession resembles that made by rough or tumultuous, motion; and on the other hand, the impression of smooth sounds resembles that of gentle motion.

Two craggy rocks, projecting to the main,

The roaring wind's tempestuous rage restrain;
Within, the waves in softer murmurs glide,

And ships secure without their hawsers ride.-Pope.

Prolonged motion is well expressed by an Alexandrine verse. The following is an example of slow motion prolonged:

A needless Alexandrine ends the song,

That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.-Pope.

The next example is of forcible motion prolonged:

The waves behind impel the waves before,

Wide-rolling, foaming high, and tumbling on the shore.-Pope.

The last is of rapid motion prolonged:

The huge round stone, resulting with a bound,
Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the ground.


A period consisting mostly of long syllables, that is, of syllables pronounced slowly, produces an emotion which bears a faint resemblance to that excited by gravity and solemnity. Hence the beauty of the following verse.

Olli sedato respondit corde Latinus.-Virgil.

This enumeration might be extended to a much greater length; but the examples which have been given, may serve as a foundation for the reader's further enquiries.


FIGURES of speech always denote some departure from the simplicity of expression; they enunciate, after a particular manner, the idea which we intend to convey, and that with the addition of some circumstance designed to render the impression more strong and vivid. When I say, "A good man enjoys comfort in the midst of adversity," I express my thoughts in the simplest manner possible. But when I say, "To the upright there ariseth light in darkness," the same sentiment is expressed in a figurative style: a new circumstance is introduced; light is substituted for comfort, and darkness is used to suggest the idea of adversity.

The use of figurative language has been visited with heavy censure by a very distinguished philosopher. "Since wit and fancy," says Locke, "finds easier entertainment in the world than dry truth and real knowledge, figurative speeches, and allusion in language, will hardly be admitted as an imperfection or abuse of it. I confess, in discourses where we seek rather pleasure and delight than information and improvement, such ornaments as are borrowed from them, can scarce pass for faults. But yet, if we would speak of things as they are, we must allow that all the art of rhetoric, besides order and clearness, all the artificial and figurative application of words eloquence hath invented, are for nothing else but to insinuate wrong ideas, move the

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