« IndietroContinua »
their heirs executors administrators or assigns or any other person or persons whomsoever (sic) claiming or who shall or may at any time hereafter claim by from through under or in trust for them him or her or any or either of them may or can have claim challenge or demand of from or against the said
And so it goes floundering on, when it could almost all be said by a mere passive verb—*The trust is discharged.'
659. We cannot define Rhythm, we can only say what it does. It combines and braces language into a whole; it gives compactness, unity, beauty. It does more; it gives a harmony of speech with things or thoughts. As feeling is kindled, Language, spoken or written, is apt to chime in with the character of the things described. Observe the closing words of this quotation, which is taken from a report of the Thanksgiving Day :
As from time to time during the service the assemblage stood up—the movement travelling over the level of the dome area and rising as in waves round the great piers—one gained some idea of the vast numbers. But it was when they sat down that they most impressed one; for then, indeed, they had all the multitudinous aspect of a subsiding sea.—The Times, Feb. 28. 1872.
We have now gone to the limits and beyond the limits of analysis. If Rhythm is irreducible, much more is eloquence, or whatever we shall call that which is the life of literature. Literature in its happiest moods has united more of the properties of the everlasting harmonies than any other product of the human mind. Beyond all analysis of language, beyond all historic and philologic interest, there is something in eloquence for which we have no definite name, but which, when it is present in literature, imparts to writings a perennial durability ensuring their preservation and making men call them immortal.
Or wherein again resides the force of human eloquence in things human? Wherein lies that wondrous power, which not only convinces the understanding, not only creates a passing emotion, or dazzles the imagination, but sways the human will, even when it has determined beforehand not to be swayed ? It is not clearness of reasoning. Truth itself will convince: it will not win. Man's free agency will look on unmoved. Still less is it rich imagery, or power of thought, or loftiness of conception, or beauty of diction, or measured rhythm, or any skill which human art can analyse. These things have their delight, but they will not move. The ear drinks in the cadence: the imagination admires : but the soul looks on unwarmed, unreached, as at the cold unpiercing brilliancy of the summer lightning. Only when the soul goes out of itself and speaks to the soul, can man sway the will of man. Eloquence then is all soul, embodied, it may be, in burning forceful words, but with a power above the power of words, an electric force which pierces the soul addressed, transfuses into it another's thoughts, makes it its own, by giving forth out of itself. Analyse eloquence ! Analyse the whirlwind or the lightning! Yes! these you may analyse, for they are material: eloquence you can no more analyse than the soul itself, whose voice it is in the simplicity of its immateriality.-E. B. Pusey, University Sermons, 1859-1872 ; Sermon I.
Conclusion-Concerning the Origin of Language.
660. There is an opinion that the origin of language may be traced, that we may form a science of what has been called Generative Philology, and that important data for such a science might be drawn from the inceptive stages of speech.
The first dawn of intelligence, the first smile of the infant on the mother, is in response to the tones of her maternal encouragements
Incipe parve puer risu cognoscere matrem.
Vergil, Eclogue iv. 60. Smile then, dear child, and make thy mother glad.
Translation by H. D. Skrine, 1868.
Before speech is attained by the infant, he gets a set of notes or tones to express pleasure or offence, assent or refusal. The first attempts to speak are mere chirruppings and warblings; that is to say, it is the music of what is said that is caught at first, while the child has as yet no ears for
the harder sense. By a beautiful and true touch of nature, and all the more noticeable because it is not a commonplace of poetry, a poet of our own day has coupled the early speech of children with the singing of birds :
I love the song of birds,
Charles Mackay, A Plain Man's Philosophy.
John Keble has justified the teaching of divine truths to children, on the ground that, if the sense is beyond them, there is a certain musical path of communication :
Oh! say not, dream not, heavenly notes
To childish ears are vain,
And cannot reach the strain :
Dim or unheard the words may fall,
And yet the heaven-taught mind
The harmony unwind.
So Mr. Edward Denison, speaking of his East-end lectures to the dockyard labourers :
I indulge them largely with quotations from Wordsworth, Tennyson, and even Pope, much of which it is of course impossible they can understand, but which they delight to hear. I suppose the rhythm and cadence tickles their ear, and somehow helps to lift their fancy to a higher level.Letters, &c. (Bentley and Son). 1872.
660 a. The general effect of such observations is towards this :--That the sentient and emotional parts of human nature have a greater share in the origins of language than the intellectual faculty. The first awakener of language is Love.
And the first developer is Sound. This seems to be testified by the whole body of nursery-rhyme literature. Nor do we entirely lose in manhood the power of enjoying a fine sonorous composition apart from its sense.
The nurseryrhyme passion has its mature forms. 628.
But what do you think of Coleridge? To me, when I cannot follow him, there is always a fine ring, like bell-chimes, in his melody; not unlike our best nursery rhymes, for it is curious the fine cadences we get in the nursery I like Coleridge's Kubla Khan for its exquisite cadence. That whole passage beginning
*In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Down to a supless sea 'has a most fascinating melody. I don't know what it means, but it's very fine.—John Duncan, Colloquia Peripatetica, p. 53. I knew a little orator, who, at the age
of five make speeches of irresistible force, though he was more than usually backward in grammatical sequence. It being one morning said in his presence that he had been found half out of bed, and the cause surmised that his brother had elbowed him out, he exclaimed, 'Yes, he elbowed me harder and harder—could be !' In modulation this was a perfect utterance: the voice had risen very gradually and plaintively so far as 'harder and harder '—then a pause, as he was feeling after a climax—and then broke out in an octave higher the decisive words 'could be !'
It was the same boy who once said it was not his bed time this 'reckly,' a compromise between this minute' and directly,' but which, in the way it was delivered, very far surpassed either of these forms of expression.
660 b. The fact is that children have a greater appreciation of sound than of sense, and that accordingly their early words are in good melody and bad grammar. Their judgment of the fitness of words for the office they fill, will often be very distinctly pronounced. And this judgment rests, as indeed it can rest, on nothing else than the chime of the sound with their notion of the thing indicated. The judgment of children is often found so firm and distinct on this matter, that we must conclude a great part of the early exercise of their. wakening minds has been concerned with the discrimination of Sound. A little watching might supply many illustrations on this head; what is here produced is not the result of any careful selection, but just what offered itself about the time this chapter was in preparation.
A father who took an interest in some pigeons that were kept for the amusement of his children, had the whim to call them all by some fanciful name; and as they multiplied it became harder to invent acceptable names. So it happened that, after many familiar names, there came in some from classical sources. Of these it was observed (months after) that one had fixed itself in the memory of the children. They were chasing the kitten, and their inward glee was venting itself in the name of Andromache, which they used as a term of endearment. Some days later, when they were again at play, and shouting 'Andromache,' their father asked them, Which is Andromache?' The younger answered with an exuberance of satisfaction: Johnnie's calling me Andromache !' Their father replied, 'If Johnnie calls you Andromache, I'd call him Polyhymnia !' At this Johnnie (a boy of six years old) towered up like a pillar of moral conviction, and in a tone of mingled disdain and deprecation, said: 'Augh! Nobody couldn't be called THAT, I'm sure!'
660 с. In the minds of children and savages the word and the thing are absolutely identified. If they are able to grasp the name, they seem to have a satisfaction analogous to that which the mature mind tastes in description or analysis.
I was staying at the house of a friend, where the youngest child was a brave, bold, golden-locked boy, under three years old. As I was dressing in the morning he came into my room, and we had a long and varied conversation. One of the topics was broached and disposed of somewhat in