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carries the other words with it. This word is called the emphatic word; and the accent put upon it is called an emphasis. What an accent is to a syllable, then, an emphasis is to a whole word. As it is the sense which regulates on what word the accent is to be placed, we may fairly define an emphasis as a sense-accent.

Emphasis is placed upon a word in two ways-first, by putting a certain force or stress on the emphatic word, and secondly, by making a pause after it. These two ways are generally combined. Let us take, for example, the old instance usually given in books on elocution.

(1) Shall you ride to town to-day?
but I shall to-morrow.

(2) Shall you ride to town to-day?
No: I am going into the country.
(3) Shall you ride to town to-day?
No: I am going to walk.

(4) Shall you ride to town to-day?
No my brother is going.
(5) Shall
Yes: what made you think I would not?

you ride to town to-day ?

Emphasis, like pause, has been divided into (a) Emphasis of Sense and (b) Emphasis of Feeling.

(a) Examples of Emphasis of Sense have been given above; and it is quite plain from them, that, if the emphasis is not placed upon the proper word, the sense of the sentence is completely altered.

(b) Examples of Emphasis of Feeling abound in all impassioned writing, and especially in Poetry. Thus, in the burial of Sir John • Moore, the feeling of the line naturally induces us to put a mournful and heavy emphasis on the words slowly and sadly.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down.

In the following lines, the words very few have a weighty and mournful emphasis upon them.

She dwelt among untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none
And very few to love.

to praise


And in the next verse, there is a most tragic emphasis on difference.

She lived unknown; and few could know
When she had ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh!
The difference

to me.

Before attempting to read a sentence, it is our duty to find out the emphatic word or words, and so to read the other group of words as to make them work up to the emphasis, to make them serve the effect of the emphasis,—and to allow the emphatic word or words to stand out in clear relief. How strong this relief will be, of course depends on the strength of the emphasis; and that is a question which can only be solved in each individual case by the good sense and by the feeling of teacher and pupil.,*

The following are a few exercises on this important subject.

In reading these exercises, each passage should be preceded by two questions:


1. What is the strongest or most emphatic word in these lines? Or,-In opposition to what other idea is this word

2. Why? emphatic ?


Find out the emphatic word or words in the following lines:1. "Bring forth another horse!" he cried aloud.

Another, as he wanted to pursue his journey.

2. Give true hearts but earth and sky!

True (and not false hearts); earth and sky, because they are the only things wanted or needed.

3. Smile! and we smile, the lords of many lands.

We, because if Fortune smile, then we smile too.

4. His pity gave ere charity began.

Pity, because his pity came into exercise before he thought of charity as a duty.

5. Sweet were his words when last we met.

6. They only saw the cloud of night.


They only heard the roar of Yarrow.
I have stood on many a field
Of blood, and I have fought with many a foe;
Never was that field lost, or that foe saved.

8. Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek the foe.
9. And men shall not forget thee in thy grave.
10. O sir, thou art more fortunate than I.
11. Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.

12. He perished, but his wreath was won.
13. Our business is like men to fight
And, hero-like, to die.

14. With eyes turned to heaven in calm resignation,
They sang their last song to the God of salvation.
15. Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send;
He gave to misery all he had—a tear;

He gained from Heaven-'twas all he wished-a friend.

16. 'Twas no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.

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18. The man recovered of the bite, The dog it was that died.

19. But I shall lie alone, mother, within the mouldering grave.

20. Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil.

21. And art thou gone, and gone for ever?

And hast thou crossed that unknown river,
Life's dreary bound?

Like thee, where shall I find another,
The world around?

22. We carved not a line, we raised not a stoneBut we left him alone in his glory.

23. His people's heart is his funeral urn.

24. They also serve who only stand and wait.

25. And some bright fountain, breaking forth hard by, Delights, but not disturbs, with bubbling melody.

26. It comforts me in this one thought to dwell,

That I subdued me to my Father's will.

27. When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him better Than ever thou lovedst Cassius.

28. And in his hand he bare a mighty bow,

No man could bend of those that battle now.

29. And in his wake along the rippling brine

Breathed a warm wind, exceeding soft and sweet,
Which with spread sails the sailor glad did greet.
O'er Roslin all that dreary night

A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
'Twas broader than the watch-fires' light,
And redder than the bright moonbeam.













All will be gay when noontide wakes anew.
Now here is neither grass nor pleasant shade;
The sun on drearier hollow never shone.

To my sweet native village, so far, far away,
I can never more return with my poor dog Tray.
To-day I fetched it from the rock,-
It is the last of all my flock.

And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Here shall he see
No enemie

But winter and rough weather.
A country life is sweet.

He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small.
A perilous life, and sad as life may be,
Hath the lone fisher on the lonely sea.

They ran, and with a desperate leap
Together plunged into the deep,
Nor ever more were seen.


In reading poetry, the constant and the great difficulty which arises is that which is produced by a contradiction between the verseaccent and the emphasis. The verse-accent strikes some quite unimportant word, such as in, upon, there, was, and so on; and the line, if read according to the verse-accent, obtains a false emphasis from the reader. Children have a good and quick ear for the music and the rhythm of verse; and they catch that long before they seize the It pleases them, and they hasten to enjoy the pleasure. Thus nine children out of ten read the first line of CASABIANCA thus:


The boy stood on the burning deck;

because the line is divided into feet, each of two syllables with the

accent upon the last syllable. Hence the words boy, on, burn, and deck, receive the accent and seem to have an emphasis. But, if the right attention is given to the sense, and the verse allowed to take care of itself, we should read it thus:

The boy stood-on-the-burning-deck.

The words The boy would take a slight pause after them, and the statement of what the boy was doing would be read like an ordinary statement in prose. Again, further on in the same poem, we have the lines:

He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

The usual way of reading these lines is :

He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son;

because the verse-accent in both lines strikes the quite unimportant words that and of. The only way to avoid these flagrant errors is to make a slight pause after the words He knew not and the word Unconscious, to slur over that and of, and to hasten to the important words chieftain and son. The lines will then be read in this


He knew not that-the-chieftain lay
Unconscious of-his-son.

Southey's poem, The Complaints of the Poor, is written in a style so very colloquial and easy, that the verse-accent is every now and then striking unimportant words and bringing them into ridiculous prominence. Thus we have,

And wherefore do the poor complain ?
The rich man asked of me.

A still more striking example of the same difficulty is to be found in the first four lines of Cowper's poem, On the Receipt of my Mother's Picture. These are sometimes read thus :

Oh that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine-thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me.

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