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ESSAY ON ELOCUTION.
R U L E I V.
rant, the rol
„Pronounce your words with propriety and
elegance. wote It is not easy to fix upon any standard , by
which the propriety of pronunciation is to be determined. "Mere men of learning, in attempt
ing to make the etymology of words the rule of eading
pronunciation, often pronunce words in a manLriation
ner, which brings upon them the charge of afhavea
fectation and pedantry. Mere men of the world, oice.
notwithstanding all their politeness , often retain ne key
so much of their provincial dialect, or commit
such errors both in speaking and writing, as to from
exclude them from the honour of being the
standard of accurate pronunciation. We should morate perhaps look for this standard only among those give who unite these two characters, and with the ely to
correctness and precision of true learning, comrepeate bine the ease and elegance of genteel life. An Eith ea
attention to such models, and a free intercours
with the polite world, are the best guards against hare the peculiarities and vulgarisms of provincial diclogus alects
. Those which respect the pronunciation copert of words are innumerable. Some of the princias ek pal of them are: omitting the aspirate h where
it ought to be used, and inserting it where there De fron should be none; confounding and interchanging voice, the 3 and w; pronouncing the diphthong ou like Lithout
au or like oo, and the vowel i like oi or e; and
cluttering many consonants together without reion of garding the vowels. These faults, and all others
of the same nature, must be corrected in the proken, nunciation of a gentleman who is supposed to ce in
have seen too much of the world, to retain the haps peculiarities of the distriet in which he was born.
RU LE V. Pronounce every word consisting of more than
one syllable, with its proper ACCENT. THERE is a necessity for this direction , bocause many speakers have affected an unusual and pedantic mode of accenting words, laying it down as a rule, that the accent should be cast as far backwards as possible; a rule which has no foundation in the construction of the English language, or in the laws of harmony. In accenting words, the general custom and a good ear are the best guides : only it may be observed that accent should be regulated , not by any arbitrary rules of quantity, but by the number and nature of the simple sounds.
RULE V I.
In every sentence distinguish the more signifi
cant words by a natural , forcible, and va-,
ried EMPHASIS. EMPILASIS
MPIIÀSIS points out the precise meaning of a sentence, shews in what manner one idea is connected with, and rises out of another, marks the several clauses of a sentence, gives to every part its proper sound, and thus conveys to the mind of the reader the full import of the whole. It is in the power of emphasis to make long and complex sentences appear intelligible and perspicuous. But for this purpose it is necessary that the reader should be perfectly acquainted with the exact construction and full meaning of every sentence which he recites. \Vithout this it is impossible to give those inflections and variations
ESSAY ON ELOCUTION. xiij to the voice, which nature requires : and it is for want of this previous study, more perhaps than from any other cause, that we so often hear persons read with an improper emphasis, or with no emphasis at all, that is, with a stupid monotony. Much study and pains are necessary in acquiring the habit of just and forcible pronunciation; and it can only be the effect of close attention and long practice, to be able with a mere glance of the eye, to read any piece with good emphasis and good discretion.
It is another office of Emphasis to express the li opposition between the several parts of a sen
tence, where the style is pointed and antithetical. Pope's Essay on Man, and his Moral Essays, and the Proverbs of Solomon, will furnish many proper exercises in this species of speaking. In some sentences the antithesis is double, and even treble ; these must be expressed in reading, by a very distinct emphasis on each part of the opposition. The following instances are of this kind.
Anger may glance into the breast of a wise man; but rests only in the bosom of fools.
An angry man who suppresses his passion tliinks worse than he speaks; and an angry man that will clide, speaks worse than he thinks. Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.
He rais'd a mortal to the skies;
She brought an angel down. Emphasis likewise serves to express some particular meaning not inmediately arising from the words, but depending upon the intention of the speaker, or some incidental circumstance. The following short sentence may have three
ESSAY ON ELOCUTION. place of the Emphasis : Do you intend to go to London this Summer?
In order to acquire a habit of speaking with a just and forcible emphasis, nothing more is necessary than previously to study the construction, meanmg, and spirit of every sentence, and to adhere as nearly as possible to the manner in which we distinguish one word from another in conversation; for in familiar discourse we scarcely ever fail to express ourselves emphatically, and seldom place the emphasis improperly. With respect to artificial helps , such as distinguishing words and clauses of sentences by particular characters or marks ; I believe it will always be found , upon trial, that they mislead instead of assist the reader, by not leaving him at full liberty to follow his own understandings and feelings.
The most common faults respecting emphasis are, laying so strong an emphasis on one word, as to leave no power of giving a particular force to other words, which , though not equally, are in a certain degree emphatical; and placing the greatest stress on conjunctive particles, and other words of secondary importance. These faults are strongly characterised in Churchills censure of Mossop. With studied improprieties of speech He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach; To epithets allots emphatic state, Whilst principals, ungrac'd, like lacquies wait; In ways first trodden by himself excels, And stands alone in indeclinables; Conjunction, preposition , adverb, join To stamp new vigour on the nervous line: In monosyllables his thunders roll, HE, SHE , IT, AND, WE THEY , fright the
ESSAY ON ELOCUTION.
XV Emphasis is often destroyed by an injudicious attempt to read melodiously. Agreeable inflections and easy variations of the voice, as far as they arise from, or are consistent with just speaking, are deserving of attention. But to substitute one unmeaning tune, in the room of all the proprieties and graces of good elocution, and then to applaud this manner , under the appellation of musical speaking, can only be the effect of great ignorance and inattention, or of a depraved taste. If public speaking must be musical, let the words be set to music in recitative, that these melodious speakers may no longer lie open to the sarcasm; Do you read or sing? If you sing , you sing very ill. Seriously, it is much to be wondered at, that this kind of reading , which has so little merit considered as music and none at all, considered as speaking, should be so studiously practised by many speakers, and so much admired by many learers. Can a method of reading, which is so entirely different from the usual manner of conversation, be na-tural and right? it is possible that all the varieties of sentiment, which a public speaker has occasion to introduce, should be properly expressed by one melodious tone and cadence, employed alike on all occasions and for all purposes ?
R U LE V I I.
Acquire a júst variety of pause and cadence: One of the worst faults a speaker can have, is to make no other pauses than what he finds. barely necessary for breathing. I know of 10+ thing that such a speaker can so properly be: compared to, as an alarm-bell, which, when