Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

did not I see thee in the garden with him ?” Now if we utter this, as most readers do, with a stress on kinsman, and a short pause after it, we make the sentence affirm that the man whose ear Peter cut off was kinsman to the high priest, which was not the fact. But a stress upon his, makes this servant, kinsman to another man, who received the wound.

One more example may suffice, on this point. When our Savior said to Peter ;--- Lovest thou me more than these?”—he probably referred to the confident professions of his own attachment to Christ, which the apostle had presumed would remain unshaken, though that of his brethren should fail; but which profession he had wofully violated in the hour of trial. If this is the spirit of the question, it is a tender-but severe admonition, which would be expressed by emphasis, thus; “Lovest thou me, more than these ?” that is, more than thy brethren love me?

But respectable interpreters have supposed the question to refer to Peter's affection merely, and to contrast two objects of that affection; and this would change the emphasis thus ;--“ Lovest thou me more than these ?"that is, more than thou lovest thy brethren ?

These illustrations show that the principle of emphatic stress is perfectly simple ; and that it falls on a particular word, not chiefly because that word belongs to one or another class in grammar, but because, in the present case, it is important in sense. To designate the words that are thus important, by the action of the voice in emphasis, is just what the etymological import of this terın implies, namely, to show, to point out, to make manifest.

But farther to elucidate a subject, that has been treated with much obscurity, emphatic stress may be distinguished into that which is absolute, and that which is antithetic or relative.

20] 1. Absolute emphatic stress. Walker, and others who have been implicitly guided by his authority, without examination, lay down the broad position, that emphasis always implies antithesis ; and that it can never be proper to give emphatic stress to a word, unless it stands opposed to something in sense. Accordingly, to find the emphasis in a sentence, the direction given is, to take the word we suppose to be emphatical, and try if it will admit of those words being supplied, which antithesis would demand ; and if the words thus supplied agree with the meaning of the writer, the emphasis is laid properly,—otherwise, improperly.

EXAMPLE

Exercise and temperance strengthen even an indifferent constiution.

The emphatic word here suggests, as the antithetic clause to be supplied ;--not merely a good constitution ; and this accords with the meaning of the writer.

Now the error of these treatises is, that what in truth is only one important ground of emphasis, is made the sole and the universal ground. Indeed, if it were admitted that there is no emphasis without antithesis, it would by no means follow, (as I shall show under emphatic in flection,) that all cases of opposition in thought are to be analyzed in the mode above proposed.

But the principle assumed cannot be admitted; for to say that there is

no absolute emphasis, is to say that a thought is never important, considered by itself; or that the figure of contrast is the only way in which a thought can be expressed with force. The theory which supposes this, is too narrow to correspond with the philosophy of elocution. Emphasis is the soul of delivery, because it is the most discriminating mark of emotion. Contrast is among the sources of emotion : and the kind of contrast really intended by Walker and others, namely, that of affirmation and negation, it is peculiarly the province of emphasis to designate. But this is not the wbole of its province. There are other sources, besides antithetic relation, from which the mind receives strong and vivid impressions, which it is the office of vocal language to express. Thus exclamation, apostrophe, and bold figures in general, denoting high emotion, demand a correspondent force in pronunciation ; and that too in many cases where the emphatic force laid on a word is absolute, because the thought expressed by that word is forcible of itself, without any aid from contrast. of this the reader inay be satisfied by turning to [13] p. 57, and noting such examples as these :

'Up! comrades,-up !
Wo unto you, Phàrisees !
Hènce !-home, you idle creatures
'Angels ! and ministers of gràce,-defend us.*

* The following anecdote of Whitefield, which is probably faa miliar to most readers, contains an illustration altogether to my purpose. ft is a passage repeated by Hume, from the close of a sermon which he heard from that

" After a solemn pause, Mr. Whitefield thus addressed his numerous audience : 'The attendant angel is just about to leave the threshold, and ascend to

[ocr errors]

Now, in such a case, we may, speculate on the emphatic force of the exclamation, and try if the sense will admit some antithetic clause to be supplied ;' but it is mere trifling. The truth is, when strong passion speaks, it speaks strongly, and, if no untoward habit intervenes, speaks with just that degree and kind of stress which the passion itself demands.

21] 2. Antithetic or relative stress.
Though we cannot consider opposition in sense as
the exclusive ground of strong emphasis, it is doubtless a
more common one than any other. The principle on
which the stress depends in this case, will be evident from
a few examples.

Study, not so much to show knowledge, as to acquire it.
He that cannot bear a jest, should not make one.
It is not so easy to hide one's faults, as to mend them.
We think less of the injuries we do, than of those we suffer:
It is not so difficult to talk well, as to live well.
We must take heed not only to what we say, but to what we do.

In these short sentences the antithetic words, requiring emphatic force, are so obvious that they can hardly be mistaken by any one.

When the antithetic terms in a sentence are both expressed, the mind instantly per

[ocr errors]

heaven. And shall he ascend, and not bear with him the news of one sinner, among all this multitude, reclaimed from the error of his ways?' Then he stamped with his foot, lifted up his hands and eyes to heaven, and with gushing tears, cried aloud, - Stop, Gabriel ! stop, Gabriel! stop, ere you enter the sacred portals, and yet carry with you the news of one sinner converted to God.'”

The high emotion of the speaker in this case, and the powers of utterance with which that emotion was expressed, melted the assembly into tears.

ceives the opposition between them, and the voice as readily marks the proper distinction. But when only one of these terms is expressed, the other is to be made out by reflection; and in proportion to the ease or difficulty with which this antithetic relation is perceived by the mind, the emphatic sense is more or less vivid. On this principle, when a word expresses one part of a contrast, while it only suggests the other, that word must be spoken with force adapted to its peculiar office ; and this is the very case where the power of emphasis rises to its highest point. This part of the subject too may be rendered more intelligible by a few examples.

Shakspeare's Julius Cæsar furnishes several which are sufficiently appropriate. In the scene betwixt Brutus and Cassius, the latter says,

I that deny'd thee gold, will give my heart. Here the antithetic terms gold and heart, being both expressed, a common emphatic stress on these makes the sense obvious.

But in the following case only one part of the antithesis is expressed. Brutus says,

You wrong'd yourself, to write in such a case. The strong emphasis on yourself, implies that Cassius thought himself injured by some other person. Accordingly we see in the preceding sentence his charge against * Brutus.-" you have wrong'd me.”

You have done that you should be sorry for. With a slight stress upon sorry, this implies that he had done wrong : but suggests nothing of the antithetic meaning, denoted by the true emphasis, thus,

You have done that you should be sorry for.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »