Page images

ner? Nothing can be more absurd than to necessarily, a modulation of voice more roundimagine, that as soon as one mounts a pulpit, cd, and bordering more upon music, than conor rises in a public assembly, he is instantly to versation admits. This gives rise to what is Jay aside the voice with which he expresies called the Declaiming Manner. But though himself in private ; to assume a new, studied this mode of pronunciation runs confidcrably tone, and a cadence altogether foreign to his beyond ordinary discourse, yet fill it muit natural manner. This has vitiated all deli- havc, for its basis, the natural tones of grave very: this has given rise to cant and tedious and dignified conversation. I must oblerve, monotony, in the different kinds of modern at the same time, that the constant indulgence public speaking, especially in the pulpit. Men of a declamatory manner, is not favourable departed from nature; and sought to give a either to good compofition, or good delivery; beauty or force, as they imagined, to their dif- and is in hazard of betraying public fpeakers course, by substituting certain ftudied musical into that monotony of tone and cadence, tones, in the room of the genuine exprefíions which is fo generally complained of. Whereof sentiment, which the voice carries in natu- as, he who forms the general run of his deral discourse. Let every public Ipeaker guard livery upon a speaking manner, is not likely against this error. Whether he speak in a ever to become disagrecable through mono- . private room, or in a great assembly, let him tony. He will have the same natural variety remember that he still speaks. Follow na- in his tones, which a person has in convcrture ; consider how the teaches you to utter lation. Indeed, the perfection of delivery any sentiment or feeling of your heart, Ima- requires both these different manners, that of gine a subject of debate started in conversation speaking with liveliness and care, and that of among grave and wise men, and yourIch bear- declaiming with stateliness and dignity, to be ing a hare in it. Think after what manner, poffefied by one man; and to be employed by with what tones and inflexions of voice, you him, according as the different parts of his would on fúch an occafion expreis yourself, discourse require either the one or the other. when you sure mort in eamest, and fought | This is a perfection which is not attained by mot to be liitened to. Carry those with you many; the greatest part of public speakers to the bar, to the pulpito or to any public af- arlowing their delivery to be formed altofembly, let thetic be the foundation of your gether accidentally, according as fome turn of manner of pronouncing there ; and you will voiee appears to them most beautiful, or some take the surest method of rendering your des artificial model has caught their fancy; and livery both agrecable and persuasive. acquiring, by this means, a habit of pronun

I have faid, Let there converiation tones ciation, which they can never vary. But the be the foundation of public pronunciation : capital direction, which ought never to be forfor, on fome occations, folemn public speak- yoiten, is, to copy the proper tones for cxpreiing requires them to be exalted beyond the ling every sentiment from thole which nature frain of cominon discourse. in á formal, diciarcs to us, in conversation with others; to ftudied oration, the elevation of the style, and speak always with her voice; and rot to forma chc harmony of the continues, prompi, aimoit to ourleves a fantastic public manner, from

an abfurd fancy of its being more beautiful common to all men; and there arc also certain than a natural one.

peculiaritiesof manner which distinguith every It now remains to treat of Gesture, or what individual. A public speaker must take that is called Action in public discourse. Some manner which is most natural to himself. For nations animate their words in common con- it is here just as in tones. It is not the busiversation, with many more inotions of the body nefs of a speaker to form to himself a certain than others do. The French and the Italians fet of motions and gestures, which he thinks are in this respect, much more fprightly than most becoming and agreeable, and to practile we. But there is no nation, hardly any per- there in public, without their having any corson fo phlegmatic, as not to accompany their respondence to the maurer which is natural words with some actions and gefticulations, to him in privare. His gestures and motions on all occasions, when they are much in ear- ought all to carry that kind of expreflion neft. It is therefore unnatural in a public which nature has dictated to him; and unless speaker, it is inconiistent with that earnestnofs this be the case, it is impoflible, by means of and seriousness which he ought to thew in all any study, to avoid their appearing ftiif and affairs of moment, to remain quite unmoved forced. in his outward appearance; and to let the However, although nature must be the words drop from his mouth, without any ex- ground-work, I adinit that there is rooin in, preifion of meaning, or warmth in his gef- this mztter for forne study and art. For ture.

many persons are naturally ungraceful in the The fundamental rule as to propriety of motions which they make; and this ungrace. action, is undoubtedly the same with what I fulness might, in part at least, be refermed gave as to propriety of tone. Attend to the by application and care. The study of action looks and gestures, in which earneftness, in- in public feaking, consists chiefly in guarding dignation, compassion, or any other emotion, against awkward and disagreeable motions, discovers itself to most advantage in the corn and in learning to perform such as are natural mon intercourse of icn; and let these be your othe Ipcaker, in the most becoming mannsr. model. Some of these looks and gestures are For this end, it has been advised by writerson

this fubicct, to practise before a mirror, where •“ Loquere,” (says an author of the last one may fee, and judge of his own gestures. century, who has written a Treatise in Verse, But I am afraid, persons are not always the de Geltu et Voce Olaturis)

best judges of the gracefuiness of their own

motions: and one may declaim long enough "Loquere; hoc vitium commune, loquatur before a mirror, without corrcéting any of his “ Ut nemo; at tensâ declamaret omnia voce. " Tu loquere, uc mus eft hominum; Brat & good taste they can trust, will be found of

Faults. The judgment of a friend, whole latrat ille: "Ille ululae; rudit hic (fari fi talia dignum est);

much greater advantage to beginners, than any Non hominen vox ulla fionas ratione luquen- mirrur they can use. With regard to partie

culariulus concerning action and getticulation Joannes Lucas, de Geltuet Voce, Quintilian has delivered a great many, in dib. ii. Pari£ 1075. the last chapter of the orih Book of his in


[ocr errors]


ftitutions; and all the modern writers on this , raising one's self above that timid and bashful fubjcct have done little else but translate them. regard to an audience, which is so ready to I am not of opinion, that such rules, deliver- disconcert a speaker, both as to what he is to cd either by the voice or on paper, can be of fay, and as to his manner of saying it. much use, unless persons saw them exempli cannot conclude, without an earnest adked before their eyes *.

monition to guard against all affectation, which I shall only add further on this head, that is the certain ruin of good delivery. Let your in order to fuccced well in delivery, nothing manner, whatever it is, be your own; neither is more necessary than for a speaker to guard imitated from another, nor assumed upon against a certain futter of spirits, which is fome imaginary model, which is unnatural to peculiarly incident to those who begin to speak you. Whatever is native, even though acin public. He must endeavour above all companied with several defects, yet is likely things to be recollected, and matter of bimself. to picalc; because it thows us a man; because For this end, he will find nothing of more use it has the appearance of coming from the to him, than to study to ha.come wholly en-hcart. Whercas a delivery attended with gaged in his subject; to be poffefied with a leveral acquired graces and beauties, if it be fense of its importance or seriousness; to be not easy and frec, if it betray the marks of concerned much more to persuade than to art and affectation, never fails to disgust. To please. He will generally please most, when attain any extreinely correct, and perfectly plcaling is not his fole nor chief aim. This graceful delivery, is what few can expect; 10 is the only rational and proper method of many natural taients being requisite to concur

* The few following hints only I shall adven- be more frequently employed. Warm emotions bure to throw out, in care they may be of any ser- demand the motion of both hands corresponding vice. When speaking in public, one should Atudy together. But whether one gefticulates with one to preserve as much dignity as posible in the or with both hands, it is an important rule, that whole attitude of the body. 'An ereat poiture is all his motions should be free and easy. Narrow generally to be chofen: itanding firm, to as to have and straightened movements are generally unthe fullest and freest command of all his motions; graceful; for which reason, motions made with any inclination which is afed, should be forwards the hands are directed to proceed froin the shoultowards the hearers, which is a natural expresfion der, rather than from the elbow, Perpendicular of earneftness. As for the countenance, the chief movements too with the hands, that is, in the rule is, that it should correspond with the nature straight line up and down, which Shakespeare, in of the discourse, and when no particular emocion Hamlet, calls, “ fawing the air with the hand," is expressed, a serious and manly look is always are seldom good. Oblique motions are, in genethe best. The eyes Phould never be hucd close on val, the moft graceful. Too sudden and nimble anyone object, but moveeality round the audience. notions thould be likewise avoided. Earnelt nels In the motions made with the hands, consists the can be fully exprefled without them. Shaker chief part of gesture in speaking. The Ancienispeare's directions on this head, are full of good condemned all motions performed b; the lefthand fente; “ use all gently,” says he, " and in the alone; but I am not sensible, that there are atways " very torrent and tempeft of paifon, acquire a oftantive, though it is natural for this right hand to “ temperance that may give it (moothness."

in forming it. But to attain, what as to the common or an easy attainment. Indeed, to effcét is very little inferior, a forcible and per- compose a florid harangue on some popular fuafive manner, is within the power of most topic, and to deliver it to as to amuse an aupersons: if they will only unlearn false and dience, is a matter not very difficult.. Bus corrupt habits; if they will allow themselves though some praise be due to this, yet the to follow nature, and will speak in public, as idea, which I have endeavoured to give of they do in private, when they speak in earnest

, eloquence, is much higher. It is a great and from the heart. If one has naturally any exertion of the human powers. It is the art grofs defects in his voice or gestures, he begins of being persuasive and commanding; the art, at the wrong end, if he attempts at reforming not of pleasing the fancy merely, but of speakthem only when he is to speak in public: he ing both to the understanding and to the heart; fhould begin with rectifying them in his private of interesting the hearers in such a degree, as inanner of speaking; and then carry to the to seize and carry them along with us; and public the right habit he has formed. For to leave them with a dcep and strong imprefwhen a speaker is engaged in a public dif- fion of what they have heard. How many course, he should not be then employing his talents, natural and acquired, must concur for attention about his manner, or thinking of carrying this to perfcction! A strong, lively, his tones and his gestures. If he be so em- and warm imagination; quick femtibility of ployed, study and affectation will appear. heart, joined with folid judgment, good sense, He ought to be then quite in earneft : wholly and presence of mind; all improved by great occupied with his subject and his sentiments; and long attention to style and composition : leaving nature, and previously formed habits, and supported also by the exterior, yer imto prompt and suggest his manner of delivery. portant qualifications, of a graceful manner,

a presence not ungainly, and a full and tuneable voice. How little reason to wonder, that

a perfect and accomplished orator should be II.

one of the characters that is most rarely to be

found! Means of improving in Eloquence. Let us not despair, however. Between

mediocrity and perfection there is a very wide I have now treated fully of the different interval. There are many intermediate spaces, kinds of public speaking, of the composition, which may be filled up with honour; and the and of the delivery of a discourse. Before more rarcánd difficult that complete perfcction I finish the fubjcct, it may be of use to suggeft is, the greater is the honour of approaching to fome things concerning the properest means it, though we do not fully attain it. The of improvement in the art of public speak- number of orators who stand in the highest ing, and the nost uccelsary studies for that class is, perhaps, smaller than the number of purpose.

poets who arc foremost in poetic fame; but To be an cloquen: speaker, in the proper the study of oratory has this advantage above fense of the word, is far froin being either a that of poet.y, that, in poetry, one must be an


eminently good performer, or he is not sup- / to treat of the means to be used for improveportable;

ment in eloquence.

In the first place, what stands higheft in -Mediocribus effe poëtis the order of means, is personal character and Non homines, non Di, non conceffêre cu- disposition. In order to be a truly eloquent lumnæ *.

or persuasive speaker, nothing is more necef.

fary than to be a virtuous man. This was a In Eloquence this does not hold. There, one favourite position among the ancient rhetorimay possess a moderate station with dignity. cians : “ Non porle oratorem effe nisi virum Eloquence admits of a great many different

“ bonum." To find any such connection forms; plain and simple, as well as high and between virtue and one of the highest liberal pathetic; and a genius that cannot reach the arts, must give pleasure; and it can, I think, latter

, may shine with much reputation and be clearly thewn, that this is net a mere ufcfulness in the former.

topic of declamation, but that the connection Whether nature or art contribute most to here alledged, is undoubtedly found in truth form an orator, is a trifling enquiry. In all and reason. attainments whatever, nature must be the

For, consider first, Whcther any thing conprime agent. She must bestow the original tributes more to persuasion, than the opinion talents. She must low the feeds; but culture which we entertain of the probity, disintereftis requisite for bringing those feeds to perfec- ednets, candvur, and other good moral qualition. Nature must always have done some ties of the person who endeavours to persuade? what; but a great deal will always be left to

These give weight and force to every thing be done by art. This is certain, that study

which he utters; nay, they add a beauty to and discipline are niore pecesary for the im- it; thty dispose us to listen with attention and provement of natural genius in oratorv, than pleasure; and create a fecret partiality in fa. they are in poctry. What I mean is, that your of that side which he espouses. Whereas though poetry be capable of receiving allistance if we entertain is fufpicion of craft and dilina from criticai art, yet a poet, wirduüt any aid genuity, of a corrupt, or a base mind. in the from art, by the force of genius alone, can

Speaker, his eloquence loses all its real effect. pisc higher than a public speaker can do, irno It may entertain and amuse ; but i: is viewed has never given attention to the rules of Ayle, I as artifice, as trick, as the play only of competitivn, and delivery. Homer forined Speech ; and, viewed in this night, whom can himtuf; Demosthenes and Cicero were formed it perfuade? We even rozd a book with more by the help of much labour, and of many author ;' but when we live the living Incaker

pleasure, when we think favourably of its atitances derived from the labour of others. After theie preliminary obfervations, let

before our eyes, addreiling us personally on us proceed to the main design of this icture; cntcrtain of his character, mat lave a much

Tome fubject of importancc, the opinion we F., God and man, and lettered poft denies, more powerful effect. Thu: poets ever are of middling, fize.

But, left it thould be faid, that this rcatcs only to the characer of virtue, which one



« PreviousContinue »