Page images

their best clothes for Sundays; the puny pedant, who finds one undiscovered quality in the polypus, or describes an unheeded process in the skeleton of a mole, and whose mind, like his microscope, perceives nature only in detail ; the rhymer, who makes smooth verses, and paints to our imagination, when he should only speak to our hearts; all equally fancy themselves walking forward to immortality, and desire the crowd behind them to look on. The crowd takes them at their word 'Patriot, philosopher, and poet!' are shouted in their train. "Where was there ever so much mnerit seen ? no times so important as our own ! ages, yet unborn, shall gaze with wonder and applause!' To such music the important pigmy moves forward, bustling and swelling, and aptly compared to a puddle in a storm."

3.- Didactic Style. [Absurdity and Impudence.]

(" Pure tone" : “Moderate " force: “ Unimpassioned radical

stress ” : “Middle pitch”: Varied "slides" : Short pauses.)

“ If we would examine into the secret springs of action, in the impudent and the absurd, we shall find, though they bear a great resemblance in their behavior, that they move upon very different principles. The impudent are pressing, though they know they are disagreeable; the absurd are importunate, because they think they are acceptable: impudence is a vice, and absurdity a folly. Sir Francis Bacon talks very agreeably upon the subject of impudence. He takes notice, that the Orator being asked, what was the first, second, and third requisite to make a fine speaker ? still answered, Action. This, said he, is the very outward form of speaking; and yet it is what, with the generality, has more force than the most consummate abilities. Impudence is, to the rest of mankind, of the same use which action is to orators.”

I. - Impassioned Emphasis.

[ocr errors]

Emphasis, in its usual acceptation, is limited to mere comparative force of utterance on an accented syllable. The term, properly defined, extends to whatever expedient the voice uses to render a sound specially significant or expressive. Thus, in the scornful challenge which Bolingbroke addresses to Mowbray.

Pale, trembling COWARD! there I throw my gage : The emphasis lies, doubtless, on the word coward, and is concentrated in the syllable cow-, by peculiar force of utterance. But the mere force or loudness used, is only one of the many elements of expression, which the syllable is made to comprise, in the intensely excited passion implied in the words.

Attentive analysis will show that, in what is termed “ emphasis,” in this instance, there are included all of the following elements of vocal effect : 1st, the mere force or energy of the utterance, which produces the loudness of voice that accompanies violent or vehement excitement of feeling ; 2d, the abrupt and explosive articulation with which the accented syllable is shot from the mouth, in the expression of anger and scorn ; 3d, the comparatively low pitch on which the syllable cow- is uttered, as contrasted with the high note on the opening word “ pale,” and which indicates the deep-seated contempt and indignation of the speaker ; 4th, the comparatively long duration of the accented syllable, and the consequent effect of deliberate and voluntary emotion, as contrasted with the rapid rate of hasty and rash excitement; 5th, the downward " slide,” the inseparable characteristic of all impetuous, violent, and angry emotion; 6th, the “ ' pectoral,guttural,? and strongly " aspirated quality " of voice, with which the utterance seems to burst from the chest and throat, with a half-suffocated and hissing sound, peculiarly characteristic of fierce and contemptuous emotion.

It may appear, at first view, that this analysis extends beyond emphasis into os expression. But emphasis is, in fact, nothing else than “expression,” concentrated and condensed into an accented syllable. For confirmation of this assertion we may refer to the result, in cases of acknowledged imperfect emphasis, that a failure, as regards the full effect of any one of the above elements, produces the fault. Let the student himself bring the matter to the test of his own observation, by uttering the word

coward,” șix times in succession, dropping, each time, one of the elements of expression,

" enumerated in the preceding analysis; and he will perceive that he loses, in every instance, the emphasis of impassioned accent. - Similar illustrations might be

[ocr errors]

drawn from all the emotions, in turn. But the verification may be left for the practice of oral illustration, by the student, or the teacher.

II. — Unimpassioned Emphasis. It may be thought, however, that, although the emphasis of passion dues include many elements, the common emphasis of meaning, in unimpassioned intellectual communication, may be sufficiently expressed by mere comparative force of accent. This impression, too, will, on examination, be found erroneous. The simplest distinctive emphasis that can be given, comprises several points of effect, which are easily detected by analysis.

We may take, for an example of unimpassioned emphasis, the expressions in the moral of the fable of the Discontented Pendulum, “ Let any man resolve always to do right now, leaving then to do as it can; and if he were to live to the age of Methuselah, he would never do wrong.”

The words “ nowand then," in this passage, are instances of distinctive emphasis : they are marked, 1st, by the usual superior force of utterance, which belongs to important and significant words; 2d, by a jerking stress, repeated at the beginning and end of each “ tonic" element of sound in the two words, and constituting what is technically termed in elocution “ compound stress; 3d, by the comparatively high pitch on which each of these two words is set, relatively to the rest of the sentence; 4th, by a significant turn or "double slide" of voice, termed the “wave,” or, perhaps, — in the spirit of very keen and peculiarly marked distinction, - a double turn, constituting a quadruple

slide" and a “ double wave, in the style peculiar to the prolonged utterance of acute verbal distinctions ; 5th, by the protracted sound of the words, which is inseparable from the enunciation of significant expressions, in general, but particularly, as just mentioned, from the style of verbal distinctions and subtle discriminations ; 6th, by the “ oral quality ” of voice, with which the words are uttered. — By “ oral quality” is not meant that“ pure” or “head tone,” which always accompanies unimpassioned and merely intellectual communication, -an utterance addressed to the understanding, and not to the passions, and hence divested of deep “ pectoral or harsh "guttural " quality, but that distinctly marked and exclusively oral tone, which causes the voice to sound as if it emanated from, or originated in, the mouth alone, and designedly threw the utterance into the shape of a mere process of articulation, dependent, for its whole effect, on the tongue, the palate, the teeth or the lips. All nice distinctions in grammar, in logic, and even in ethics, are given in this purely “oral” form. This mode of voice is, as it were, the

" and


opposite pole to that of deep passion, which is not merely lowpitched, but designedly resounds in the thoracic cavity, and by its hollow “pectoral” effect, seems to emanate from the chest. It indicates, thus, to the ear the presence, as the “oral quality does the absence, of a deep inward movement of feeling. - The effect of the “ oral quality,” as a part of the emphasis of intellectual distinctions, may be ascertained by the student for himself, if he will utter the words "

" thenin the preceding passage, first, with “ low pitch," and deep “ pectoral ” murmur, and, afterwards, with “high pitch," and thin “ oral” enunciation. A similar analysis may be made on all the constituent elements of unimpassioned emphasis, as enumerated in this paragraph.

The reason why, in our analysis of elocution, the consideration of emphasis was postponed to other topics, will now be distinctly perceived. The appropriate study of emphasis, requires a knowledge of its various constituents. But the previous discussion and exemplification of these, renders the separate practice of each, under the denomination of emphasis, unnecessary. It will be sufficient, here, to present a few examples of emphasis, for practical analysis, classified in such a manner as to suggest to the student and the teacher the modes of practice best adapted to produce a distinct, impressive, and discriminating emphasis.

It will give additional value to all exercises in emphasis, if the examples are thoroughly analyzed, so as to exhibit all the properties of elocution comprised in each. It becomes necessary, once more, to drop, here, a suggestion on the effect of practice, – that, in the first course of exercise, the full force of emphasis, in all its characteristics, is the object to be kept in view, so as to gain the power of throwing out the utmost expressive force, when impassioned utterance requires it; but that a subsequent course should be carefully added, so as to bring down and soften the emphasis of unimpassioned language into a quiet and moderate style of expression, marked by chaste and manly reserve. Our current style of professional reading is justly complained of by foreigners, as being mechanical and studied in its emphasis ; and our popular oratory, as characterized by violence rather than genuine force. Earnestness, it is true, is the soul of eloquence; but it rarely authorizes vehemence, and never vociferation, a habit which for the time, degrades man from his rational elevation of humanity to the level of animal life. Emotion, the true source of impassioned emphasis, may be, in the highest degree, vivid, without being turbulent.

And feet that iron never shod,
And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,
A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
Like waves that follow o'er the sea,

Came thickly thundering on :-
They stop, — they start — they snuff the air,
Gallop a moment here and there,
Approach, retire, wheel round and round,
Then plunging back with sudden bound, -
They snort, — they foam - neigh — swerve aside,
And backward to the forest fly,
By instinct, from a human eye."


I. — SyllabicAccent. The word “ accent" has been usually considered as restricted to the designation of the comparative force of syllables, as they occur in the pronunciation of words. Dr. Rush, however, has, by the accustomed closeness and fidelity of his analysis, distinctly shown, that force is but one constituent, or form of accent; and that besides this mere comparative loudness, there are two other constituents of accent.

The modes of accent are determined as follows: 1st, “Immutable" syllables, – those which are constituted by fixed “ short quantities,” are accented by “radical stress," “ impassioned"

explosive ” or unimpassioned,” as the case may be, from the character of the utterance which marks the passage or the word in which such a syllable occurs. Thus, the word “ victory," although consisting of three short syllables, has a decided and distinct accent on its first syllable, by means of “radical stress," whether we pronounce the word with impassioned " expression,” or merely according to the rule of orthoëpical accent.

"Mutable” syllables, those which consist of " variable quantities,” or such as admit of comparative prolongation, — may be accented by merely a louder sound, or greater force, pervading the given syllable, as compared with the others of the same word. Thus, the word “adjutanthaving a sufficient prolongation on its first a, to render the “radical stress” unnecessary, as a dis


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »