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OF PROSE-MEASURE OR HARMONY.
To what has been said concerning the structure of the period, it will not be unnecessary to add a few observations concerning the harmony of prose, or that measured equality of numbers and exact proportion of parts, which forms so great a part of a finished period, or, rather, which seems naturally to arise from its formation. This ratio pedum, which Quintilian pronounces to be even more difficult in prose than in verse, and to which Cicero attributes an incredible force, is more easily felt than explained, and rests more upon the judgment of the ears, than upon any rules of art. Why, for instance, in the structure of a period, when the sense is completed, does there sometimes seem something wanting 7 As in Neminem vestrum ignorare, arbitror, judices, hunc per hosce dies sermonem vulgi, atque hanc opinionem populi Romani fuisse. Why hosce instead of hos ? Why did not the sentence end at sermonem vulgi fuisse, when the sense admitted it ! Merely because the period is better rounded and finished, and pleases the ear better. And indeed Cicero, and many of the ancient writers, bestowed so much attention on the composition of their sentences, that they observed that concinnitas, not merely in the principal members of the period, but even in the other subdivisions of those members, which they call incisa, commata, and those artificial stops, which a nice observer will easily distinguish, and which depend upon the respiration : as in the reading of this line, Animadverti, judices—omnem accusatoris orationem—in duas—divisam esse partes. Here it is easy to observe that concinnitas in each word that forms the clausula. Some of these clausula might appear very lame, if suffered to end too abruptly, though the sense might permit it; but when they are taken up and supported by other words that follow, the course of the sentence becomes clear and smooth, as, Non vult, P. R. obsoletis criminibus accusari Verrem. It is easy to observe a harshness in this conclusion, but this is corrected by the continuation, nova postulat, inaudita desiderat, which completes the sentence.
This harmony of numbers may be defined, a certain meas
ure or part of any thing, as of a sentence, made equal to the
other parts, each to each; as in poetical numbers, the feet are equal to each other; the two syllables, for instance, of a dactyle being equal in time to the long syllable of the spondee, the dactyle and the spondee are equal to each other. This measured equality or proportion of parts, being connected together, and answering to one another, contributes indeed greatly to perspicuity and smoothness of style. But to be too solicitous on this subject would be a foolish and superstitious adherence to rules, which might often sacrifice the sense to the wish of pleasing the ear. For it must be observed, in the construction of these harmonic numbers, that the sense and the subject must afford materials for it, and then it may be easily effected by variation and copiousness. Nor is it necessary to mention what feet and what measure are most adapted to create harmony, but merely that it is their proper disposition, which produces it, and briefly to state that long syllables have more weight and authority, and render sentences more dignified, but may also tend to make them too heavy : that short syllables have more rapidity, and thus, by being properly mixed with the long, make the sentences run smoothly. But it would be wrong to study too much precision in these things, for though the sentence may have its members, it is not to have a regular quantity: nor is it necessary to observe that minuteness, which some recommend, of noun answering to noun, and even syllable to syllable; but that there should be some equality preserved between each member of the period; with this exception, that if there is a difference, the sentence should rise by a kind of climax, and that the last member should be longer than the preceding. For this reason, Quintilian recommends that more attention should be paid to the ending of the sentence, that it may leave a good impression upon the reader or hearer, as that is the place where he is, as it were, to breathe and refresh himself before he enters upon the next sentence: and therefore Cicero prefers, for the ending, a ditrochee [–v–J) as câmpräbävit, or a paeon tertius [J–v] esse vidéâtür: this last he also assigns to the beginning of a sentence; and chiefly the dochimus, which consists of the bacchic and iambic [~––v–], or of the iambic and cretic [*— — — — Servaré quâm plarimós; as it would be wrong to say, Pater, postguam literas ad te missas legerat,. et se rescripturum esse promiserat, obiit. There is here an evident inequality between the last member of the sentence and the two preceding, which may be easily corrected by lengthening the last, obiit, and saying, prater omnium obiit opintonem. What has been said concerning numbers may be further illustrated. Nemo potest, sine labore, ad doctrinam accedere. Here the two nouns labore and doctrinamo answer to each, other. But Nemo sine laboris assiduitate ad doctrinam accedere, the two members will be unequal; and, therefore, we should add, memo potest, sine laboris assiduitate, ad doctrina,
suavitatem accedere. Here is a complete harmony of numbers.
1. What Caius studied to do through lore, that Titius tried to prevent through hatred. (Render the first member unequal by the addition of another word; induced by his love, for instance, and you will see the necessity of having, also, a participle to answer it in the last member, and to say, Titius impelled by his hatred.) 2. For who will grant you that mankind, dispersed at first in the woods and mountains, sheltered themselves within the walls of towns, more by the advice of the prudent, than the oratory of the eloquent 2 (Here the opposition will be, in the members of the sentence, between the advice of the prudent and the oratory of the eloquent, which answer to each other. But make it each a member of three words instead of two, and you must add a participle to each, applicable to the idea of each member, and to agree with mankind.) 3. For this, my lords, is not a written but an innate law—we have not been taught it by the learned, we have not received it from our ancestors, we have not taken it from books; but it is derived from, it is forced upon us by nature, and stamped in indelible characters upon our very frame. It was not conveyed to us by instruction, but wrought into our constitution; it is the dictate, not of education, but instinct, that, if our lives should be at any time in danger from concealed or more open assaults of robbers or private enemies, every honourable method should be taken for our security. (Here the opposition will be seen to be equally supported between written and inmate; and the three next members will be equally answered by the three that relate to nature; and the same opposition in the three different members continued to the end.) 4. It certainly was the custom of the Pythagoreans, both when they awoke, to rouse their minds by the sound of the lyre, that they might be more ready to act; and, when they composed themselves to rest, to lull their mind by the same sound, that they might hush such perturbed ideas as might harass them.
5. But in Herodotus, as in my opinion, every thing flows smoothly, so the dialect itself has such a sweetness, that it seems even to possess "concealed numbers. —-In short, where a division or an expression in English is shorter than the other, the harmony, as has been said above, may be effected by variation or copiousness, by adding a word, as a noun or a verb, or by a phrase instead of a word; As for, What your cruelty has done, I will not do. Here the disproportion is very discernible; but it may be rendered My humanity will not do. The observance of this is not, strictly, necessary in trifling and common subjects, as epistles; but in graver subjects, which command more attention, as in orations, &c., it is very requisite. These rules are not to be followed too servilely by the scholar, for that could not fail to render his style forced and full of affectation; but merely to show the ease, with which he might, with a little care and study, acquire this harmony.
To retrace: repetere. To arrive at the summit of glory: glorid florere. With artful evasion : versuté. To be in the gulf of danger: summo esse in periculo. A temper that never falls out with men and accidents: ingenium quod neque er hominibus, neque vita eventibus, molestiam suscipit. To compute rightly the value of things: res probe asti772&re. To put things to the uses they are fit for : rebus rectè uti. To allege a cause: causam interserere. To make good: prastare. To endear one's self to any one: bene mereri de aliquo. To show one's gratitude for favours: se memorem beneficii praostare. In one's journey through life: in decurrendo vita, spatio. To reap the fruits of: utor. With great propriety: verè. To put to the best advantage, and to improve: lucro apponere et in melius promovere. To plunge into debauchery and dissoluteness: vino epulisque obrui. To redress the oppressed : jura oppressorum vindicare; or, oppressos injura. In the service of the public : pro patrid pugmans. To free any one from dangers, to avert them: deprecari alicufus pericula. Presence of mind: praesentis animi consilium. To entertain too sanguine a hope of success: spem temerariam habere. To abdicate the sovereign power or magistracy: imperium depomere; se magistratu abdicare. Toils and intrigues of ambition: ambitionis labor. From motives of state policy: reipublica, causá.