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upon us from above. One clear and direct path is always pointed out to man." A period may also sometimes be admitted between two sentences, though they be joined by a disjunctive or copulative conjunction: as, "He who lifts himself up to the observation and notice of the world, is, of all men, the least likely to avoid censure. For, he draws, upon himself a thousand eyes, that will narrowly inspect him in every part."

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The dash, when properly used, indicates a sudden interruption, or fragment of a sentence, or where an emphatical pause is required. There is no mark in the whole system of punctuation applied with such frequent impropriety as this; some unskilful writers using it even instead of the comma. It is properly introduced in such sentences as this, where the dead body is supposed to contradict the assertion on the tomb.

"Here lies the great-False marble, where?
"Nothing but poor and sordid dust lies here."


The note of interrogation is used after the expression of a question: as, "Where are you going? How far is it from Philadelphia to Baltimore?" A note of interrogation should not be used in cases where it is only said a question has been asked, and where the words are not used as a question: as, "The disciples of John inquired of Jesus, who he was." To give this sentence the interrogative form, it should be expressed thus. "The disciples of John said unto Jesus, who art thou?”

The note of exclamation is applied to express sudden emotions of the mind indicative of surprise, joy, grief, &c. as, “Really! How animating the thought!"

"Farewell! a long farewell to all my greatness!"

The interrogation and exclamation points are indeterminate as to their quantity or time, and may be equivalent in that respect to a semicolon, a colon, or a period, as the sense may require. They mark an elevation of the voice. The observation with respect to the quantity of time in pausing is equally applicable to the other pauses; the rest which they imply depending altogether on the nature of the composition: the pause at the comma, semicolon, &c. being greater in serious and solemn compositions, than in gay: though the exact proportion between them should always be observed.

A parenthesis marks a clause containing some explanatory information or remark, which may be omitted without impairing the sense of the sentence: as,

"Know then this truth (enough for man to know)
"Virtue alone is happiness below."


The parenthesis requires a moderate depression of the voice at its commencement, which should be continued in a quickened pace till it terminates; when the same tone should be resumed which you observed before its commencement. As the words contained in a parenthesis occasion an interruption in the current of the sentiment they are always justly considered as blemishes in composition. In the following sentence of Mr. Addison, the parenthesis is striking:


"Notwithstanding all this care of Cicero, history informs us that Marcus proved a mere blockhead; that nature (who it seems was even with the son for her prodigality to the father) rendered him incapable of improving, by all the rules of eloquence, the precepts of philosophy, his own endeavours, and the most refined conversation of Athens."


Such are the sentential pauses.

An emphatical pause is made after something has been said, or is just about to be said, to which we desire particularly to call the hearer's attention. This pause produces the same effect as a strong emphasis, and is subject to the same rules. The same caution is necessary also in the use of it, viz. not to repeat it too frequently. For as it excites uncommon attention, and of course raises expectation; if the importance of the matter be not fully answerable to such expectation, it occasions disappointment and disgust.

When properly applied, the emphatical pause gives great energy to the expression. In the fourth commandment of the decalogue, an emphatical pause after the first word, "Remember," gives great force and expression to the precept; "Remember-that thou keep holy the sabbath day," &c. In the soliloquy of cardinal Wolsey, an emphatical pause is properly introduced into the first metaphor.

"And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
"His greatness is a ripening, nips his root;
"And then-he falls as I do."

And again in the same soliloquy,

"I have ventur'd,

"Like little wanton boys, that swim on bladders;
"These many summers in a sea of glory,
"But-far beyond my depth."

So in the address of Sempronius to the Roman senate

"Rise, and revenge her slaughter'd citizens,
"Or-share their fate."

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Such are the pauses proper to be observed in the reading of prose: in addition to all which, verse, whether blank verse or rhyme, requires the strict observance of what are called the harmonic pauses, viz. the cesural and final pauses. These sometimes coincide with the sentential pauses, and sometimes act independently of them; that is, exist where there is no stop required to designate the sense.

The final pause takes place at the end of the line, closes the verse, and marks the measure, by a certain number of feet. The cesural divides the line into equal or unequal parts. The final preserves the melody, and produces the harmony of verse, without interfering with the sense. For the pause itself perfectly marks the bound of the metre, and being made only by a suspension of the voice, not by any change of note, it can never affect the sense. This is not the only advantage gained to numbers by this final pause or stop of suspension. It also prevents that monotony, that sameness of note at the end of lines, which, however pleasing to a rude, is disgusting to a delicate ear. For, as the final pause has no peculiar note of its own, but always takes that which belongs to the preceding word, it changes continually with the matter, and is as various as the sense.

It is the final pause alone, which, on many occasions, marks the difference between prose and verse. This will be evident, if we read the following passage from Thomson, with regard only to the sentential pauses:

"Thus up the mount, in airy vision rapt, I stray, regardless whither; till the sound of a near fall of water, every sense wakes from the charm of thought. Swift shrinking back, I check my steps; and view the broken scene. Smooth to the shelving brink, a copious flood rolls fair and placid; where, collected all in one impetuous torrent, down the steep it thundering shoots, and shakes the country round."

A person hearing this read without regard to the poetical pauses, would not suppose it to be verse, but only what is called poetical prose, or, as Hervey's Meditations and similar productions have been sometimes called, "prose run mad." But, by properly observing the final pause, the passage appears to be, what it really is, correct and polished blank verse, having five iambic feet in each line; as thus,


"Thus, up the mount, in airy vision rapt,

"I stray, regardless whither; till the sound

"Of a near fall of water, every sense

"Wakes from the charm of thought. Swift shrinking back,

"I check my steps, and view the broken scene.

"Smooth to the shelving brink, a copious flood

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"Rolls fair and placid; where collected all
"In one impetuous torrent, down the steep

"It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round.”
Thomson's Descrip. of a Cataract.

The truth of the assertion is, I think, more strikingly evinced by the following passage from Akenside.


"For, since the course of things external acts in different ways on hu. man apprehensions, as the hand of nature temper❜d to a different frame peculiar minds; so haply where the powers of fancy neither lessen nor enlarge the images of things, but paint in all their genuine hues the features which they wore in nature; there, opinion will be true, and action right.”

The true reading is thus;

"For since the course
"Of things external acts in different ways
"On human apprehensions, as the hand
"Of nature temper'd to a different frame
"Peculiar minds; so haply where the pow'rs
"Of fancy neither lessen nor enlarge

"The images of things, but paint in all
"Their genuine hues the features which they wore
"In nature; there, opinion will be true,
"And action right."

Akenside's Pleasures of Imagination.

These examples show the necessity of reading blank verse in such a manner, as to make every line sensible to the ear: for, what is the use of melody? where can exist the harmony? or for what end has the poet composed in verse, and fetter'd himself by the laws of numbers, if in reading his lines, we suppress his numbers, by omitting the final pause, and degrade them by our pronunciation into mere prose?

But the harmony of poetic numbers is not complete without the observance of the cesural pause, which divides the line into equal or unequal parts, and is generally placed on the fourth, fifth, or sixth syllable of heroic verse.

On the fourth syllable, or at the end of the second foot: a's,

"Far in a wild" unknown to public view,

"From youth to age" a rev'rend hermit grew."

On the fifth syllable, or middle of the third foot.

"The morn was wasted" in the pathless grass,
"And long and lonesome" was the wild to pass."

On the sixth syllable, or at the end of the third foot.

"Some to conceit alone" their taste confine,

"And glitt❜ring thoughts" struck out at ev'ry line."


A line may be divided into three portions, by two cesuras: as,

"Outstretch'd he lay" on the cold ground" and oft"
"Look'd up to heav'n."

Sometimes a semi-pause, or demi-cesura is introduced: as thus,

"Rides' in the whirlwind" and directs' the storm."
"From storms' a shelter", and from heat' a shade."

Such are the stops or pauses made use of in the pronunciation of written language; and one of the most important parts of the art of reading consists in the proper application of them. The great error which prevails with respect to the use of them is, that they are more attended to and regulated according to the rules of grammar in the construction of a sentence, than to the customary modes of speaking: that is, certain parts of speech are kept together and others divided by stops, according to their grammatical construction, without reference to the pauses used in discourse. Whereas, the ear being much more accustomed to the tones and pauses of colloquial, than to those usually observed in written, language, a rigid observance of the latter, occasions a stiffness, that produces a degree of monotony which soon fatigues the ear, and consequently by continuance becomes disgusting. Of one of the best readers ever known in England, I have heard the following anecdote.

"Mr. John Rice, who in the year 1765 published an octavo volume on the Art of Reading, obtained a very handsome income by the instruction which he gave privately to individuals. When Dr. Rush was in England, he was invited to dine at a gentleman's house, where, during the course of dinner, Mr. Rice came to instruct a young lady in the art of reading. The gentleman, thinking it might be agreeable to Dr. Rush and some other Americans who were there to hear Mr. Rice read, desired him to return when the lesson was over, and read to them. He did so; and the guests were astonished at the force of expression and elegance of manner with which he read some of the most difficult passages of that sublime author, Milton. Dr. Rush assured me he never had heard the poem of Paradise Lost read in so supe rior a style; and one of the company asking Mr. Rice what that peculiarity of manner was owing to, he replied: Sir, I always make it a rule in reading, to disregard the sentential stops, and to be governed



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