« PrejšnjaNaprej »
fame and honour. The high degrees of excellence, should a man aspire to them, can be attained only by those whom nature has endowed with great abilities, and who attempt perfection itself. For this object, long and laborious exertion must be made; but the very effort will bring its adequate reward in every stage, and will carry the aspiring mind, farther and farther, beyond the dull boundaries of mediocrity; and place him within the regions of honorable excellence*.
A correct speaker, does not make a movement of a limb or feature, for which he has not a reason. If he addresses heaven, he looks upward. If he speaks to his fellow creatures, he looks round upon them. The spirit of what he says, or is said to him, appears in his look. If he express amazement, or would excite it, he lifts up his hands and eyes. If he invites to virtue and happiness, he spreads his arms, and looks with benevolence. If he threatens the vengeance of heaven against vice, he bends his eyebrows into wrath, and menaces with his arm and countenance. He does not needlessly saw the air with his arm, nor stab himself with his finger. He does not clap his right hand upon his breast, unless he has occasion to speak of himself, or to introduce conscience, or something sentimental. He does not start back, unless he wants to express horror or aversion. He does not come forward, but when he has occasion to solicit. He does not raise or lower his voice, but as the nature of the sentiment requires. His eyes by turns, according to the humour of the matter he has to express, sparkle fury; brighten into joy; glance disdain; melt into grief; frown disgust and hatred; languish into love, or glare distraction.
'There is a true sublime in delivery, as in the other imitative arts, in the manner as well as in the matter of what an orator delivers. As in poetry, painting, sculpture, music, and the other elegances, the true sublime consists in a set of masterly, large, and noble
strokes of art, superior to florid littleness; so it is in delivery. The accents are to be clear and articulate ; every syllable standing off from that which is next to it, so that they may be numbered as they proceed. The inflexions of the voice are to be distinctly suited to the matter, and the humour or passions so oppositely applied, that they may be known by the sound of the voice, although the words cannot be heard. And the variations are to be, like the full swelling folds of the drapery in a fine picture or statue, bold, and free, and forcible. In a consummate speaker, whatever there is of corporeal dignity or beauty, the majesty of the human face divine, the grace of action, the piercing glance, gentle languish, or fiery flash of the eyes; whatever of lively passion, or striking emotion of mind; whatever of fine imagination, of wise reflection, or irresistible reasoning; whatever is excellent in human nature, all that the hand of the Creator has impressed of his own image, on the noblest creature with which we are acquainted; all this appears in the consummate speaker to the highest advantage. And whosoever is proof against such a display of all that is noble in human nature, must have neither eye, nor ear, nor passion, nor imagination, nor taste, nor understanding.
A proper application of the inflexions of the voice, constitutes a principal part of that beauty, variety and harmony, which afford so much pleasure in good reading and speaking.
Besides the pauses which indicate a greater or less separation of the parts of a sentence, and a conclusion of the whole, the peculiar inflexions of voice which ought to accompany these pauses, are equally necessary to the sense of the period, with the pauses
themselves. With whatever degree of accuracy we may pause between the different parts of a sentence, unless we accompany each pause with that inflexion necessary to the sense, we will not only divest the composition of its true meaning, but produce a meaning totally different from that intended by the author; and uniformly destroy the beauty, variety, and harmony of the period.
All vocal sounds may be divided into two kinds, speaking sounds, and musical sounds. They may be thus defined practically.
First, musical sounds: a series of sounds moving distinctly from grave to acute, or from acute to grave, either gradually, or by intervals, and always dwelling, for a perceptible space of time, on one certain
Second, speaking sounds, or the melody of speech, moves rapidly up or down by slides, wherein no graduated distinction of tones or semitones can be measured by the ear; nor does the voice, in our language, ever dwell distinctly, for any perceptible space of time, on any certain or uniform tone; except when the monotone is introduced, which approaches nearer to common music, than to any other sound used in speaking, and may be considered as more allied to musical, than to speaking sounds.
The inflexions of the voice are totally different from either the varieties of modulation, or the tones of passion. For whether we pronounce words in a high or low, in a loud or a soft tone; whether they are pronounced swiftly or slowly, forcibly or feebly, with the tone of the passion, or without it, they must necessarily be pronounced with the voice sliding upwards or downwards, with these two combined, or the voice must go into a monotone or species of song. These two inflexions of voice may, therefore, be considered as the axis, on which the beauty, variety, and harmony of speaking, turn.*
*Those who wish to see a more minute investigation of this subject, may consult Steele's Prosodia Rationalis, and Walker's Elements of Elocution.
The five following modifications of voice, therefore, may be considered as absolute; since they are the only possible ways of varying it, so as to make one mode different from another.
1st, The rising inflexion or upward turn of the voice, marked with the acute accent, thus (').— This inflexion is not confined to any particular pause, though most generally used at a comma, and when a question is asked for the definite form.
2d, The falling inflexion or downward turn of the voice, marked with the grave accent, thus ('). This inflexion, like the above, is not confined to any particular pause, though most generally used at the semicolon, colon, and period; and when a question is asked in the indefinite form.
3d, The rising circumflex, which begins with the falling, and terminates with the rising inflexion, marked thus ()..
4th, The falling circumflex, which begins with the rising, and terminates with the falling inflexion, marked thus (.-These two circumflexes are generally used to express irony, contempt, reproach, sneer, and raillery. The inflexions are made upon one syllable, as you, you; so, sô.
5th, The monotone is the continuation of the voice upon certain syllables without any variation, and may be marked thus ("). This modification of the voice may be used with wonderful effect, and peculiar beauty, in a solemn tone and sublime passages in poetry; and by the uncommonness of its use, when the subject is grand and the language dignified, it may be used in prose, where it adds greatly to that variety, with which the ear is so much delighted.
The following sentences are defined, and the man. ner of reading them pointed out, particularly with regard to the inflexions.
1st, A period or compact sentence, is an assemblage of such words or members, as do not form sense independent of each other; or, if they do, the former modify the latter, or inversely.-This sentence must be read with the rising inflexion, accompanied with the longest pause where the sense begins to form.
To be ever active in laudable pursuits, is the distinguished characteristic of a man of merit.
Ambition is the first and great cause of those troubles, that tear and destroy the peace of the world.
The difference between a languid and vigorous exertion of our fac'ulties, forms the chief point of distinction between genius and dullness.
Where men of judgement creep and feel their way,
Love, hope, and joy, fair pleasure's smiling train,
2d, When compact sentences have their principal constructive parts connected with corresponding conjunctions, the rising inflexion and the longest pause are required at the end of the first constructive member, whether the corresponding conjunction be expressed or understood.
Both conjunctions expressed.
As we must remember, that the riches, grandeur, and reputation of the world, are not the greatest happiness we have to hope for; so earthly poverty,