« PreviousContinue »
in a mannermost absurd and contradictory. There have been recitérs, who have made Douglas say to Lord Randolph :
We fought and conquer'd ere a sword was drawn*. In executing this part of the office of a speaker, it will by nó means be sufficient to attend to the points used in printing; for these are from marking all the pauses, which ought to be made in speaking. A mechanical attention to these resting places has, perhaps, been one cause of monotony, by leading the reader to a uniform cadence at every fult. : period. The primary use of points is to assist the reader in discerning the grammatical construction ; and it is only indirectly, that they regulate his pronunciation. In reading, it may often be proper to make a pause, where the printer has made pone. Nay, it is very allowable, for the sake of pointing out the sense more strongly, preparing the audience for what is to follow, or enabling the speaker to alter the tone or height of the voice, sometimes to make a very consider i ahle pause, where the grammatical construction requires none at all. In doing this, however, it is necessary, that, upon the word immediately preceding the pause, the voice he suspended in such a manner as to intimate to the bearer, that the sense is not completed. The power of suspending the 3 voice at pleasure is one of the most useful attainments in the vi art of speaking : it enables the speaker to pause as long as he chooses, and still keep the hearer in expectation of what is to follow t.
In order to perceive the manner, in which this effect is pro- są duced, it is necessary to consider Pauses as connected with ;sr. those inflections of the voice which precede them. These are of two kinds : one of which conveys the idea of continuatioit ; the other, that of completion; the former may be called the suspending, the latter, the closing pause. Thus in the sen tence;
Money, like manure, does no good till it is spread, the first and second pauses give the hearer an expectation of something farther, to complete the sense; the third pause denotes, that the sense is completed.
Book ii, Chap. 18. + Mr. Garrick's power of suspending the voice is well described by Sterne. See Book vi, Chap. 3, of this work.
There are, indeed, cases, in which, though the sense is not completed, the voice takes the closing, rather than the suspending pause. Thus, where a series of particulars are enumerated, the closing pause is, for the sake of variety, admitted in the course of the enumeration : but in this case the dast word, or clause of the series, takes the suspending pause, to intimate to the hearer the connexion of the whole series with what follows. For example :
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pnre, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things *.
On the contrary, interrogative sentences are terminated by the suspending pause ; as in the following example:
Hold you the watch to night?-We do, my lord.-Arm’d, say you! --Arm'd, my lord. From top to toe ?-My lord, from head to foot t. Except that, where an interrogative pronoun or adverb begius a sentence, it is usually ended with the closing pause; as,
Why should that name be sounded more than yours? and that, where two questions are united in one sentence, and connected by the conjunction or, the first takes the suspending, the second, the closing, pause ; as,
Would you have been Cæsar, or Brutus ? It may, notwithstanding, be received as a general rule, that the suspending pause is used where the sense is incomplete, and the closing, where it is finished.
The closing pause must not be confounded with that fall of the voice or cadence, with which
readers uniformly finish a sentence. Nothing can be more destructive of all propriety and energy than this habit. The tones and heights at the close of a sentence ought to be diversified, according to the general nature of the discourse, and the particular construction and meaning of the sentence. In plain narrative, and especially in argumentation, the least attention to the
Philipp. iv, 8. + Book vi
, Chap. 13. See a long series of Interrogations in Glouces. ter's Speech to the Nobles, Book v, Chap. 14.
manner in which we relate a story, or maintain an argument, in conversation, will show, that it is more frequently proper to raise the voice, than to fall it, at the end of a sentence, Some sentences are so constructed, that the last words require a stronger emphasis than any of the preceding; while others admit of being closed with a soft and gentle sound. Where there is nothing in the sense, which requires the last sound to be elevated or emphatical, an easy fall, sufficient to show that the sense is finished, will be proper. And in pathetic pieces, especially those of the plaintive, tender, or solemn kind, the tone of the passion will often require a still greater cadence of the voice. But before a speaker can be able to fall his yoice with propriety and judgment at the close of a sentence, he must be able to keep it from falling, and to raise it, with all the variation which the sense requires. The best method of correcting a uniform cadence is, frequently to read select sentences, in which the style is pointed, and frequent antitheses are introduced ; and argumentative pieces, or such as abound with interrogatives.
Accompany the emotions and passions, which your words
express, by correspondent tones, looks, and gestures. There is unquestionably a language of emotions and passions, as well as a language of ideas. Words are the arbitrary signs, by which our conceptions and judgments are communicated, and for this end they are commonly sufficient; but we find them very inadequate to the purpose of expressing our feelings. If any one need a proof of this, let him read some dramatic speech expressive of strong passion (for example, Shakspeare's speech of Hamlet to the Ghost *) in the same unimpassioned manner in which he would read an ordinary article of intelligence. Even in silent reading, where the subject interests the passions, every one who is not destitute of feeling, while he understands the meaning of the
Book viii, Chap. 23.
words, conceives the expression that would accompany them, if they were spoken.
The language of passion is uniformly taught by Nature, and is every where intelligible. It consists in the use of tones, looks, and gestures. When anger, fear, joy, grief, love, or any other passion is raised within us, we naturally discover it by the manner in which we utter our words, by the features of the face, and by other well-known signs. The eyes and countenance, as well as the voice, are capable of endless variety of expression, suitea to every possible diversity of feeling; and with these the general air and gesture naturally accord. The use of this language is not confined to the more vehement passions. Upon every subject and occasion on which we speak, some kind of feeling accompanies the words; and this feeling, whatever it be, has its proper expression.
It is an essential part of elocution, to imitate this language of Nature. No one can deserve the appellation of a good speaker, much less of a complete orator, who does not, to a distinct articulation, a ready command of voice, and just pronunciation, accent, and emphasis, add the various expressions of emotions and passions. But in this part of his office precept can afford him little assistance. To describe in words the particular expression, which belongs to each emotion and passion, "is, perhaps, wholly impracticable. All attempts to enable men to become orators, by teaching them, in written rules, the manner in which the voice, countenance, and hands are to be employed in expressing the passions, must, from the nature of the thing, be exceedingly imperfect, and consequently ineffectual.
Upon this head, I shall therefore only lay down the following general precept: observe the manner in which the several passions and feelings are expressed in real life; and when you attempt to express any passion, inspire yourself with that secondary kind of feeling, which imagination is able to excite; and follow your feelings with no other restraint, than “ this special observance, that you o’ERSTEP NOT THE MODESTY OF NATURE."
The same general priociples, and rules of Elocution, are applicable to Prose and to Verse. The accent and general, cmphasis should be the same in both: and where the v versification is correct, the melody will sufficiently appear, without any sacrifice of sense to sound. There is oye circuma stance, indeed, peculiar to the reading of poetry, which is, that the pause of suspension is here more frequently used than in prose, for the sake of marking the corresponding lines in rhyming couplets or stanzas, or to increase the melody of blank verse.
It is also desirable, where it can be done without injuring the sense, that a short pause should be made at the end of every line, and, that verses consisting of ten or more syllables should, in some part, be broken by a rest or cesura.
In the application of the Rules of Elocution to practice, in order to acquire a just and graceful elocution, it will be necessary to go through a regular course of exercises ; beginning with such as are more easy, and proceeding by slow steps to such as are more difficult. In the choice of these, the practitioner should pay a particular attention to his prevailing defects, whether they regard articulation, command of voice, emphasis, or.cadence : and he should content himself with reading and speaking with an immediate view to the correcting of his fundamental faults, before he aims at any thing higlier. This niay be irksome and disagreeable; it may res quire much patience and resolution ; but it is the only way, to succeed. For if a man cannot read simple sentences, or easy narrative or didactic pieces, with distinct articulation, just emphasis, and proper tones, how can he expect to do justice to the sublime descriptions of poetry, or the animated language of the passions?
In performing these exercises, the learner should daily read aloud by himself, and as often as he has opportunity, under the correction of an instructor or friend. He should also frequently recite compositions from memory. This method has several advantages. It obliges the speaker to dwell
upon the ideas which he is to express, and hereby enables him to discern their particular meaning and force, and gives him a previous knowledge of the several inflexions, emphases, and tones, which the words require : by taking off liis eye from the book, it in part relieves him from the in