Page images
PDF
EPUB

more force and more mufic. It affifts him, the same word ; from a mistaken notion, that alfo in preserving a due command of himself; it gives gravity and force to their discourse, whereas a rapid and hurried manner, is apt and adds to the pomp of public declamation. to excite that flutter of spirits, which is the Whereas, this is one of the greatest faults that greatest enemy to all right execution in the can be committed in pronunciation ; it makes way of oratory. * Promptum fit os," says what is called a theatrical or mouthing manQuinctilian, "non præceps, moderatum, non ner; and gives an artificial affected air to lentum."

speech, which detracts greatly both from its After these fundamental attentions to the agreeableness, and its impreffion. pitch and management of the voice, to distinct I proceed to treat next of those higher parts articulation, and to a proper degree of flow- of Delivery, by studying which, a speaker ness of speech, what a public speaker muft, in has somethiny farther in view than merely to the fourth place, study, is Propriety of Pro- render himself intelligible, and seeks to give nunciation ; or the giving to every word, grace and force to what he utters. These which he utters, that sound, which the most may be comprised under four heads, Emphasis, polite usage of the language appropriates to it; Pauses, Tones, and Gestures. Let me only in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial premise in general, to what I am to say conpronunciation. This is requisite both for cerning them, that attention to these articles speaking intelligibly, and for speaking with of Delivery, is by no means to be confined, grace or beauty. Instructions concerning as some might be apt to imagine, to the more this article, can be given by the living voice elaborate and pathetic parts of a discourse ; only. But there is one observation, which it there is, perhaps, as great attention requisite, may not be improper here to make. In the and as much fill displayed, in adapting emEnglish language, every word which consists phases, pauses, tones, and gestures, properly,

of more syllables than one, has one accented to calm and plain speaking: and the effect of i fyllable. The accent rests fometimes on the a just and graceful delivery, will, in every

vowel, sometimes on the consonant. Seldom, part of a subject, be found of high importance or never, is there more than one accented fyl- for commanding attention, and enforcing what lable in any English word, however long; and is spoken. the genius of the language requires the voice First, let us consider Emphasis; by this is to mark that fyllable by a ftronger percussion, meant a stronger and fuller found of voice, by and to pass more slightly over the rest. Now, which we distinguish the accented syllable of after we have learned the proper seats of these some word, on which we design to lay partiaccents, it is an important rule, to give every cular stress, and to show how it affects the rest word just the fame accent in public Tpeaking, of the fentence. Sometimes the emphatic as in common discourse. Many persons crr word must be distinguished by a particular in this refpeét. When they speak in public, tone of voice, as well as by a stronger accent. and with solemnity, they pronounce the syl- On the right management of the emphasis, lables in a different manner from what they depends the whole life and spirit of every difdo at other times. They dwell upon them, course. If no emphasis be placed on any and protract them; they multiply accents on words, not only is discourse rendered heavy

A 4

and

and lifeless, buľ the meaning left often ambi- | with exact propriety, is a constant exercise of guous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we good sense and attention. It is far from bepervert and confound the meaning wholly. ing an inconsiderable attaininent. It is one To give a common instance; such a simple of the greatest trials of a true and just tafte ; question as this : “Do you ride to town to- and must arise from feeling delicately our day?" is capable of no fewer than four dif- felves, and from judging accurately of what ferent acceptations, according as the emphasis is fittest to strike the feelings of others. is differently placed on the words. If it be There is as great a difference between a chappronounced thus : Do you ride to town to- ter of the Bible, or any other piece of plain day! the answer may naturally be, No; 1 prose, read by one who places the several emsend my fervant in my stead. If thus ; Do phases every where with taste and judgment, you ridí to town to-day ? Answer, No; I and by one who neglects or mistakes them, as intend to walk. Do you ride to town to there is between the same tune played by the day? No; I ride out into the fields. Do most masterly hand, or by the most bungling you ride to town to-day ? No; but I shall 19- performer. morrow. In like manner, in folemn dif- In all prepared discourses, it would be of course, the whole force and beauty of an ex- great use, if they were read over or rehearsed pression often depend on the accented word; in private, with this particular view, to search and we may prelent to the hearers quite differ- for the proper cmphales before they were proent views of the same sentiment, by placing nounced in public; marking, at the same the emphafis differently. In the following time, with a pen, the emphatical words in words of our Saviour, observe in what differ- every sentence, or at least the most weighty ent lights the thought is placed, according as and affieting parts of the discourse, and fixing the words are pronounced: “ Judas, be them well in memory. Were this attention trayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss ?” oftener bestowed, were this part of pronunciBetrayeft thou-makes the reproach turn, on ation studied with more exactness, and not the infainy of treachery.--Betrayeft thos- left to the moment of delivery, as is commonmakes it reft, upon Judas's connection with ly done, public speakers would find their care his master. Betrayest thou the Son of Man- abundantly repaid, by the remarkable effects rests it, upon our Saviour's personal charac- which it would produce upon their audience. ter and eminence. Betrayeft thou the Son of Let me caution, at the same time, against one Man civitb a kiss ? turns it upon his proítitut- error, that of multiplying emphatical words ing the signal of peace and friendship, to the too much. It is only by à prudent reserve in purpose of a mark of destruction.

the use of them, that we can give them any In order to acquire the proper management weight. If they recur too oftcn; if a fpeaker of the emphasis, the great rule, and indeed the attempts to render every thing which he says only rule poflibie to be given, is, that the of high importance, by a multitude of Arong speaker study to attain a just conception of the emphases, we soon İcarn to pay little regard force and spirit of those sentiments which he to them. To crowd every sentence with emis to pronounce. For to lay the emphasis phatical words, is like crowding all the pages

[ocr errors]

of a book with italic characters, which, as to | the voice is allowed to fall. It may easily be the effect, is just the same with using no such yathered at the intervals of the period, when distinctions at all.

the voice is only suspended for a moment; Next to emphasis, the Pauses in speaking and, by this management, one may have aldemand attention. These are of two kinds; ways a sufficient stock for carrying on the first

, emphatical pauses; and next, such as longest sentence, without improper interrup, mark the distinctions of sense. An empha- tions. rical pause is made, after something has been If any one, in public speaking, shall have said of peculiar moment, and on which we formed to himself a certain melody or cune, want to fix the hearer's attention. Some- which requires rest and paufes of its own, times, before such a thing is said, we usher it distinct from those of the fenfe, he has, unin with a pause of this nature. Such pauses doubtedly, contracted one of the worst habits have the same effect as a strong emphases, and into which a public spcaker can fall. It is are subject to the same rules; especially to the the sense which should always rule the pauses caution just now given, of not repeating them of the voice ; for wherever there is any fentoo frequently. For, as they excite uncom- fible fufpenfion of the voice, the hearer is almon attention, and of course raise expecta- ways led to expect something corresponding rion, if the importance of the matter be not in the meaning. Pauses in public discourse, fully answerable to such expectation, they, oc- must be formed upon the manner in which we cafion disappointment and disguft.

utter ourselves in ordinary, sensible conversaBut the most frequent and the principal use tion; and not upon the stiff, artificial manner of pauses, is to mark the divisions of the sense, which we acquire from reading books accordand at the same time to allow the speaker to ing to the common punctuation. The genedraw his breath: and the proper and grace- ral run of punctuation is very arbitrary; offul adjuftment of such pauses is one of the ten capricious and false; and di&tates an unimoft nice and difficult articles in delivery. formity of tone in the pauses, which is exIn all public speaking, the management of tremely disagrecable; for we are to observe, the breath requires a good deal of carc, só as that to render pautes graceful and expressive, not to be obliged to divide words from one they must not only be made in the right place, another, which have so intimate a connection, but also be accompanied with a proper tone of that they ought to be pronounced with the voice, by which the nature of thele pauses is fame breath, and without the least separation. intimatel, much more than by the length of Many a sentence is miferably mangled, and them, which can never be exactly measured. the force of the emphasis totally losi, by divi- Sometimes it is only a flight ard simple sufhots being made in the wrong place. To pension of voice that is proper; sometimes a aroid this, every one, while he is speaking, degree of cadence in the veice is rıquired; hould be very careful to provide a full supply and sometimes that peculiar tone and cadence, of brcath for what he is to utter.

which denees the sentence finished. In all great mistake to imagine, that the breath muft these cases, we are to regulare ourselves, by atbe drawn only at the end of a period, when tending to the manner in which nature teaches

A 5

It is a

[ocr errors]

par.

us to speak when engaged in real and earnest (the line, where it makes no pause in the meanzdiscourse with others.

ing, ought to be marked, not by such a tone When we are reading or reciting verse, as is used in finishing a sentence, but without there is a peculiar dishculty in making the cither letting the voice fall or elevating it, it paules justly. The difficulty arises from the thould be marked only by such a Night sufmelody of verfe, which dictates to the ear pension of sound, as may distinguish the pauses or rests of its own; and to adjust and lage from one line to another, without injurcompound these properly with the pauses of ing the meaning. the lense, so as neither to hurt thc ear, nor The other kind of musical pause, is that offend the understanding, is so very nice a which falls fomewhere about the middle of the matter, that it is no wonder we só feldom verse, and divides it into two hemistichs ; a meet with good readers of poetry. There paure, not so great as that which belongs to are two kinds of pauses that belong to the the close of the line, but still fenfible to an ormusic of verse; one is, the pause at the end of dinary ear. This, which is called the cæsural the line; and the other, the cælural pause in pause, in the French heroic verse falls unithe middle of it. With regard to the pause at formly in the middle of the line, in the Engthe end of the line, which marks that itrain or lith, it may fall after the 4th, 5th, 6th, or oth verse to be finished, rhyme renders this always syllables in the line, and no other. Where fenfible, and in some measure compels us to the verse is so constructed that this cæfural observe it in our own pronunciation. In blank pause coincides with the lightest pause or diverse, where there is a greater liberty permit. vision in the sense, the lines can be read easily; ted of running the lines into one another, as in the two first verses of Mr. Pope's Melsometimes without any suspension in the sense, hah, it has been made a question, Whether, in reading such verte with propricty, any regard Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the long; at all ihould be paid to the close of a line?

The heavenly themes, fublimer Atrains belong; On thc ftage, where the appearance of speak. But if it shall happen that words, which have ing in verse thould always be avoided, there such a strict and intimate connection, as not can, I think, be no doubt, that the clofe of to hear even a momentary separation, are disuch lincs, as make no paule in the fensc, | vided from one another by this cæsurat pause, should not be rendered perceptible to the ear. we then feel a sort of struggle between the But on other occasions, this were improper: Sense and the found, which renders it difficult for what is thc use of melody, or for what end read such lines gracefully. The rule of has the poet composed in verse, if, in reading proper pronunciation in such cases is, to rehis lines, wc fuppress his numbers; and de- gard only the pause which the sense forms; gracle them, bv our propunciation, into mere and to read the line accordingly. The neg. prosc? We ought, therefore, certainly to read lect of the cæsural pausc may make the line blank verfc fo as to make every linu sensible found somewhat unharmoniously; but the to the car. At the same time, in doing so, cffcct would be much worse, if the sense were every appearance of ling-fung and tore must facrificed to the found. For instance, in the be caresüly guarded against. The clofe of following line of Milton,

What

orator.

into his hearers his own fertiments and emo-What in me is dark, tions ; which he can never be fuccessful in Illumine; what is low, raise and support. doing, unless he utters them in such a manThe sense clearly dictates the pause after ner as to convince the hearers that he feels - " illumine," at the end of the third syllable, therefore, deserves to be attentively studied

them *. The proper expression of tones, which, in reading, ought to be made accordingly; though it the melody only were to be by every one who would be a successful regarded, “illumine" should be connected with what follows, and the pause not made

The greatest and most material instructill the 4th or 6th syllable. Se, in the follow- tions which can be given for this purpose is, ing line of Mr. Pope's (Epistle to Dr. Ar- to form the tones of public speaking upon the

tones of sensible and animated conversation. buthrot) :

We may obferve, that every man, when he is I ft, with fad civility I read:

much in earneft in common discourse, when

he is engaged in speaking on some subject The ear plainly points out the cælural pause which interests him nearly, has an eloquent as falling after “i fad,” the 4th fyllable. But or persuasive tone and manner. What is the it would be very bad reading to make any reason of our being often fo frigid and unperpause there, so as to separate “ sad” audacia suafive in public discourse, but our departing * vility.” The sense admits of no other pause from the natural tone of speaking, and delithan after the second fyllable “ Qat," which vering ourselves in an affected artificial mantherefore must be the only pause made in the reading.

* * All that passes in the mind of man may be I proceed to treat next of Tones in pro- “ reduced to two classes, which I call Ideas, and nunciation, which are different both from cm- “ Emotions. By Ideas, I mean all thoughts phasis and pauses; confifting in the modu- “ which rise and pass in fucceflion in the mind : larion of the voice, the notes or variations of by Emotions, all exertions of the mind in arfound which we employ in public speaking: ranging, combining, and separating its ideas ; How much of the propriety, the force, and it relf by those ideas, from the more violent

" as well as all the effects produced on the mind grace of discourse, muft depend on these, will

( agitation of the paffions, to the calmer feelings appear from this single confideration; that to almost every sentiment we utter, more efpe- the fancy. In short, thought is the object of

“ produced by the operation of the intellect and cially to every strong emotion, nature hath the one, internal feeling of the other. That adapted some peculiar cone of voice; info- “ which ferves to express the formet, I call the much, that he who fould tell another that he “ Language of Ideas; and the latter, the Lanwas very angry, or much grieved, in a conc guage of Emotions. Words are the signs of which did not fuit fuch emotions, instead of the one, tones of the other. Without the use being believed, would be laughed at. Sym

« of these two sorts of language, it is impossible

" to communicate through the car all that palles pathy is one of the most powerful principles

" in the mind of man," by svhich persuasive discourse works its ef

SHERIDAN on the Art of Reading. fe&t. The speaker endeavours to transfuse

A6

ner

« PreviousContinue »