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represent all these different modes. To this we reply, that there is as great a variety of soft sounds as there is of soft and gentle images, or of sensations excited by these images. If a thousand people are moved by any cause whatever, the emotion may differ in all of them, and yet be of a pleasing and gentle character, but the variety of the emotions would not still be greater than the variety of tone or modulations of sound in which they would give utterance to their feelings. If a person be moved or affected in any particular manner, or feel a certain, indescribable emotion which he never felt before, he will involuntarily and unconsciously express himself, or give vent to his feelings in tones or sounds different from what he ever breathed before, nor would he ever emit the same identical sounds or breathings again, if he never found himself in the same mode of feeling. He might be in a mood or tone of feeling so near it that he could not distinguish one from the other, and in such a case the tone or sound in which this feeling would express itself would resemble the former so nearly, that it might require the nicest ear to distinguish between them. Feelings that are nearly alike will, therefore, express themselves in tones that appear to be similar; but though they appear so they are never the same, for the sounds will differ from each other as much, and neither more nor less than the feelings that give them involuntary utterance. Sound, then, is capable of all the variety that can possibly be given to our feelings. The feelings of one moment approximate so nearly to the feelings of another, that we are apt to mistake them for each other, and consequently the sounds in which they express themselves; but this identity is not in the sounds which we identify with each other, but in our perceptions of them. Dr. Johnson is therefore mistaken in saying, that “the same languor of melody will suit the complaints of an absent lover or a conquered king.” To him it might appear the same languor ; but he who possesses that tenderness, or sympathy, or sensibility, or whatsoever we may choose to call that feeling which enters into the soul of another, through the medium of its sounds or
interjections—whoever, we say, possesses this exquisite sym. pathy, can easily distinguish between the “ languor of an absent lover and of a conquered king.”
Dr. Johnson says, that whenever the sound is made an echo to the sense, « there is only the similitude of pleasure to pleasure and of grief to grief, without any particular application to particular images, but this observation is no argument against the propriety of adapting the sound to the sense in all cases, if it be proper in any case, which he himself admits, for in no case whatever can sound represent particular images. Even in the instances which he himself has quoted, and which
he admits to be echoes to the sense, there is no resemblance between the sounds and images which they express. We hear,” he says, " the passing arrow in this line of Virgil,
" Et fugit HORRENDUM STRIDENS elapsa sagitta,
but surely neither the sound of the arrow, nor that of the word by which it is expressed, has any resemblance to the arrow itself, the sound being a mere sensation produced in us, and existing for a moment-while the arrow is a physical, material object, existing independent of us, and capable of existing for many years.
There is, then, in no instance whatever, any resemblance between sounds and things; but it must not be concluded, from this want of resemblance, that the sound cannot become, or be made, an echo to the sense ; for, whenever the sensations produced by sound resemble the sensations produced by things, the sound is always an echo to the sense, which is saying, not that the sound resembles the sense, because this it can never do in any instance, but that it produces a sensation similar to that produced by the sense.
Perhaps it may be said that the sense of a writer, or the assertion which he makes, may produce no sensation in us whatever; and that whenever this happens, the sound cannot be an echo to the sense, as the resemblance is not between sound and sense, but between the sensations they produce. Where the one produces a sensation and the other none, there can be no resemblance, because that which does not exist cannot resemble that which does; therefore, the sound cannot be always an echo to the sense, as the sense frequently produces no sensation. This we admit: but then we deny that a sentence or passage in poetry can ever fail of producing some sensation in us. We have already shewn that poetry is “ that mode of expression which evinces itself to have been dictated by some passion or internal emotion.” Now, whatever is spoken in passion, produces a corresponding emotion in the person to whom it is addressed. When we see an honest man enraged at a villain, we are enraged at him ourselves; if we see him in tears, we are affected with grief; if he speak the language of joy and rapture, we revel in his delight.
“ Ut ridentibus arrident, ita flentibus adfent
Humani vultus.” Whenever poetry, therefore, produces no sensation, emotion, or passion in us, it is poetry only in name.
When Locke says,
that “no propositions can be innate, since no ideas are innate;" he says what merely conveys a certain perception to the mind by which the feelings are not in the least affected. The “ sense consequently produces no sensation, and can therefore be echoed by no sound whatever, because sound imitates not the sense, but the sensation produced by it. In philosophy, metaphysics, &c. the sound can hardly ever be made to respond to the sense, because the sense hardly ever produces a sensation in us; but when Pope makes Eloisa say,
“ In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Who can avoid being impressed with a certain pensive, melancholy sensation, and who does not perceive that the long, heavy, desponding cadence of the verse is in perfect harmony with this sensation ?
If the English language, then, can always be rendered an echo to the sense in poetry—a question naturally arises, how far it would be proper in an English translator to adopt the original stanza and manner of Ariosto, it being incapable of that variety of numbers, that “ hoarse rough verse,” that
long majestic march and energy divine,” which is so frequently called for, in heroic verse, and so admirably suited to its grand and sublime character.
Mr. Rose has lately published a translation of the three first cantos of Ariosto, in the original stanza, and maintains that “
nothing but a stanza can reflect the original.” We maintain the direct contrary; and we feel certain, that unless there be a complete perversion of public taste, Mr. Rose's translation of Ariosto will never go through half the editions which Hoole's has gone through already. We are
no admirers of Mr. Hoole: he had neither poetic ear, imagination, taste, nor delicacy; but, unqualified as he was, the heroic couplet which he adopted, and which Mr. Rose asserts “ to be the measure most opposite to that of Ariosto which could possibly have been selected,” gave his translation a popularity which, spite of its tameness and mechanical structure, no other translation ever met with; a proof that the English have a zest and relish for the heroic couplet. With the stanza of Ariosto we have no fault to find in the original: it is in perfect harmony with the genius of the Italian language. The stanza is composed of eight lines, in the first six of which the final words have only a variety of two sounds, which causes a constant, monotonous jingling of the same sound in English, though it is not felt in the Italian, for
reasons which will immediately appear. In the first two stanzas of Mr. Rose's translation, the final words run thus:
sing, feat, bring, fleet, king, heat; tell, rhyme, fell, time, well, climb.” An English ear can never endure such a constant repetition of the same sound: the monotony is insupportable in a language which admits of all possible varieties of sound. In the Italian poetry there is no variety of the kind : every line ends in a vowel sound, and consequently, however much they may vary them, there will to the ear be very little variety. In the first place, all the sounds being vowel sounds are soft and consequently of the same character. There can evidently be no variety in soft, open sounds, as they are all simple breathings, proceeding directly from the thorax, unaltered and unmodified by any intervention of the organs of articulation. A differs from e only in requiring a larger opening of the mouth; e again differs from i only in requiring, in like manner, a larger opening; i differs from o, and o from u, in the same manner; so that all the vowels are only different modulations of simple breathings. But there is no relation whatever between the sound of any two consonants, nor between any consonant and a vowel. The variety, therefore, which is sought for in rhyme, or in the rhyming words, can never be produced by vowel sounds, whereas consonants produce an endless variety, as no two sound alike; and this variety is increased by occasionally intermixing them with vowels. Consonants then can produce variety by themselves, vowels cannot; and as every line in Italian poetry terminates in a vowel, it follows that it is incapable of that variety which is so easily attained and always expected in English poetry. It matters, therefore, little whether the Italians make three lines in a stanza rhyme with each other or not, as every line ends in a vowel, and consequently in a sound of the same character, namely, an open, melodious sound. Where variety, then, cannot be attained, it is useless to seek after it; but can the same license be granted to the English poet, who writes in a language in which there is not one word in ten ending in a vowel. The English poet can avail himself of every possible variety of sound, not only because consonants are all different from each other, but because they are also different from the vowels. To shew how incapable the Italian is of this variety by example, we cannot do better than quote the final letters or sounds in the first four or five stanzas of Ariosto. The first stanza runs, i, o, i, o, i, o, 0,0; the second, o, a, o, a, o, a, 0, 0; the third, o, e, o, e, o, e, 0, 0; the fourth, i, o, i, o, i, o, o, 0; the fifth, o, i, o, i, o, i, a, a; and so throughout the Orlando. Now, supposing Ariosto to vary the rhyme, and instead of ending three lines with i, and five lines with o, adopted the
English heroic couplet, he would still terminate every line in a vowel, and the monotony would consequently be the same. Suppose, instead of terminating his first stanza as he did, he terminated it thus, a, a, e, e, i, i, o, o, what sensible difference would there be in the variety of sounds ? for to the ear they would all appear only different modulations of the same sound. From the very genius of the Italian language, it is, therefore, evidently incapable of the endless variety of English versification. Whether it repeat the same vowel, or different vowels, the effect is nearly the same; and even if the effect were different, it has only five vowel sounds to vary.
We feel, therefore, convinced that the continual repetition of the same sound, which occurs in Ariosto, can by no means justify the English translator in following his example. The ear is soon satiated with a sameness of termination to which it is not accustomed. The Italians cannot perceive this sameness, because they are accustomed to nothing else: the ear is, as it were, continually gliding over a glassy surface; and from its being unaccustomed to have its motion checked or interrupted by protuberances, or excrescences of any kind, or, to speak literally, by consonant sounds, the idea of monotonyor sameness never occurs to it. In fact, the least check to this perpetual melody would be to an Italian ear like a sudden jostle.“ Aaron Hill well observes of Italian, that it is “ like the flowing of soft sand in an hour-glass, seeming liquid while confined to its close currency, but flies dispersed, and opens its loose quality, as soon as shaken out and trusted to bard weather.' The Italian, then, will admit of no harshness, no rough or jarring sounds to interrupt its melody; whereas the English language is, in a manner, made up of these sounds : for one word ending in a vowel, we have ten ending in a consonant; so that the ear is accustomed to rest on consonant or strong sounds, and as custom is a second nature it can relish no other. The most musical words in the English generally terminate in consonant sounds. Take any of the instances so frequently quoted of soft and musical sounds responding to the sense, and we shall find not only every line, but almost every word, ending in a consonant. It is difficult to find a happier instance than these two lines from Milton:
“ Fountains ! and ye that warble as ye flow,
In this instance, the words warble and tune end in vowels, but they are silent, the terminating sound being land n: so also is the celebrated passage of Pope,