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cavity occafions a high found; a large cavity a low found. The five vowels accordingly, pronounced with the fame extenfion of the windpipe, but with different openings of the mouth, form a regular feries of founds, defcending from high to low, in the following order, i, e, a, o, u*. Each of these founds is agreeable to the ear and if it be inquired which of them is the most agreeable, it is perhaps the safest fide to hold, that there is no univerfal preference of any one before the rest: probably thofe vowels which are the fartheft removed from the extremes, will be the most relished. This is all I have to remark upon the first article for confonants being letters which of themselves have no found, ferve only in conjunction with vowels to form articulate founds; and as every articulate found of this kind makes a fyllable, confonants come naturally under the second article; to which therefore we proceed.
All confonants are pronounced with a less cavity than any of the vowels; and confequently they contribute to form a found still more sharp than the sharpeft vowel pronounced fingle. Hence it follows, that every articulate found into which a confonant enters, muft neceffarily be
* In this fcale of founds, the letter i must be pronounced as in the word intereft, and as in other words beginning with the fyllal le in; the latter e as in persuasion; the letter a as in hat: and the letter u as in number.
double, though pronounced with one expiration of air, or with one breath, as commonly exprefled: the reafon is, that though two founds readily unite, yet where they differ in tone, both of them must be heard if neither of them be fuppreffed. For the fame reafon, every fyllable muft be compofed of as many founds as there are letters, fuppofing every letter to be diftinctly pronoun
We next inquire, how far articulate founds into which confonants enter, are agreeable to the ear. With refpect to this point, there is a noted obfervation, that all founds of difficult pronunciation are to the ear harsh in proportion. Few tongues are so polished, as entirely to have rejected founds that are pronounced with difficulty; and fuch founds muft in fome measure be difagreeable. But with respect to agreeable founds, it appears, that a double found is always more agreeable than a fingle found every one who has an ear muft be fenfible, that the diphthongs oi or ai are more agreeable than any of thefe vowels pronounced fingly: the fame holds where a confonant enters into the double found; the fyllable le has a more agreeable found than the vowel e, or than any vowel. And in fupport of experience, a fatisfactory argument may be drawn from the wifdom of Providence: fpeech is beftowed upon man, to qualify him for fociety; and the provifion he hath of articulate founds, is proportioned to the ufe he hath for
them but if founds that are agreeable fingly, were not alfo agreeable in conjunction, the neceffity of a painful felection, would render language intricate, and difficult to be attained in any perfection; and this felection, at the fame time, would tend to abridge the number of ufeful founds, fo as perhaps not to leave fufficient for answering the different ends of language.
In this view, the harmony of pronunciation differs widely from that of music properly fo called in the latter are difcovered many founds fingly agreeable, that in conjunction are extremely difagreeable; none but what are called concordant founds having a good effect in conjunction: in the former, all founds fingly agreeable, are in conjunction concordant; and ought to be, in order to fulfill the purposes of language.
Having difcuffed fyllables, we proceed to words; which make a third article. Monofyllables belong to the former head: polyfyllables open a different fcene. In a curfory view, one will readily, imagine, that the agreeablenefs or disagreeablenefs of a word with respect to its found, fhould depend upon the agreeableness or difagreeablenefs of its component fyllables: which is true in part, but not entirely; for we muft alfo take under confideration, the effect that a number of fyllables composing a word have in fucceffion. In the first place, fyllables in immediate fucceffion, pronounced, each of them, with the fame or nearly the fame aperture of the mouth,
mouth, produce a fucceffion of weak and feeble founds; witnefs the French words dit-il, (fays he); pathetique, (pathetic): on the other hand, a fyllable of the greatest aperture fucceeding one of the smallest, or the oppofite, makes a fucceffion, which, because of its remarkable difagreeablenefs, is diftinguished by a proper name, viz. hiatus. The most agreeable fucceffion, is, where the cavity is increased and diminished alternately within moderate limits. Examples, alternative, longevity, pufillanimous. Secondly, words confifting wholly of fyllables pronounced flow, or of fyllables pronounced quick, commonly called long and fhort fyllables, have little melody in them; witnefs the words petitioner, fruiterer, dizziness: on the other hand, the intermixture of long and fhort fyllables is remarkably agreeable; for example, degree, repent, wonderful, altitude, rapidity, independent, impetuofity. The cause will be explained afterward, in treating of verfification.
Diftinguishable from the beauties above mentioned, there is a beauty of fome words which arifes from their fignification: when the emotion raised by the length or fhortnefs, the roughness
*Italian words, like thofe of Latin and Greek, have this property almost univerfally: English and French words are generally deficient; in the former, the long fyllable being removed from the end as far as the found will permit; and in the latter, the laft fyllable being generally long. For example, Senator in English, Senator in Latin, and Senateur in French.
or fmoothness, of the found, refembles in any degree what is raised by the fenfe, we feel a very remarkable pleasure. But this fubject belongs to the third fection.
The foregoing obfervations afford a standard to every nation, for eftimating, pretty accurately, the comparative merit of the words that enter into their own language: but they are not equally useful in comparing the words of different languages; which will thus appear. Different nations judge differently of the harshness or fmoothness of articulate founds; a found, for example, harsh and disagreeable to an Italian, may be abundantly smooth' to a northern ear: here every nation must judge for itself; nor can there be any folid ground for a preference, when there is no common ftandard to which we can appeal. The cafe is precisely the fame as in behaviour and manners: plain-dealing and fincerity, liberty in words and actions, form the character of one people; politeness, reserve, and a total disguise of every sentiment that can give offence, form the character of another people: to each the manners of the other are difagreeable. An effeminate mind cannot bear the least of that roughnefs and severity, which is generally esteemed manly when exerted upon proper occafions: neither can an effeminate ear bear the harshness of certain words, that are deemed nervous and founding by those accustomed to a rougher tone of fpeech. Muft we then relinquish all thoughts of compa