Page images

In order to know which is the emphatical word in a sentence, consider the whole design; the reader or speaker must study to attain a just conception of the force and spirit of the sentiments which he is to pronounce. To lay the emphasis with exact propriety, is a constant exercise of good sense and attention. It requires a true and just taste, and will arise from our feeling delicately ourselves, and from judging accurately, what will best strike the feelings of others.

Care should be taken not to use emphatical words. too often. It' is only a prudent use of them that will produce their proper effect.

Let the reader or speaker observe strictly the manner which he uses to distinguish one word from another in conversation; for in familiar discourse we seldom fail to express ourselves emphatically, and always place the emphasis right. Let the same natural mode be adopted when reading and speaking in public, and the reader will have an infallible rule of laying the emphasis right in all sentences, the meaning of which he comprehends.



Acquire a just Variety of Pause and Cadence. PAUSES, or rests, in speaking and reading, are a total cessation of the voice, during a perceptible, and in many cases, a measurable, space of time.

Pauses are equally necessary to the speaker, and to the hearer. To the speaker, that he may breathe, and relieve the organs of speech from too long action, To the bearer, that the ear may be relieved from sound continued too long, and that the understanding may have time to mark the distinction of sentences, and their several members.

There are two kinds of pauses; first, emphatical pauses, and next, such as mark the distinction of the sense. An emphatical pause is made after something has been said of great importance, and on which the speaker desires to fix the hearer's attention. Such pauses have the same effect as a strong emphasis, and are subject to. -

the same rules, especially that of not using them too frequently.

Pauses in reading and public speaking, must be governed by the same manner in which we utter ourselves in ordinary, sensible conversation, and not upon the stiff, artificial manner which we acquire from reading books according to the common punctuation. The points in printing are far from marking all the pauses which ought to be used in speaking. A formal attention to those resting places, has been the cause of a tedious monotony, by leading the reader to a similar tone at every stop, and an uniform cadence at every period.

To render pauses pleasing and expressive, they must not only be used in the right place, but also accompanied with a proper tone of voice, by which the nature of these pauses is intimated. Sometimes it is only a slight and simple suspension of voice that is proper; sometimes a degree of cadence in the voice is required; and sometimes that peculiar tone and cadence, which denote the sentence to be finished. In all these cases we are to regulate ourselves, by attending to the same manner, in which nature teaches us to speak when engaged in real and earnest discourse with others.

It is a general rule, that the suspending pause should be used when the sense is incomplete; and the closing one, when it is finished. But there are phrases, in which, although the sense is not completed, the voice takes the closing, rather than the suspending pause; and others, in which the sentence finishes by the pause of suspension.**

Nothing is more destructive to energy and propriety than the habit of confounding the closing pause with that fall of the voice, or cadence, with which many readers uniformly finish a sentence. The tones and inflexions of the voice, at the close of a sentence, should be varied according to the general nature of the discourse, and the particular construction and meaning of the sentence. In plain narrative and argumentation, attention to the manner in which we relate a fact, or maintain an argument, in conversation, will show that *See Chapter XI.

it is frequently more proper to raise the voice, than to fall it, at the end of a sentence.

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. The best method of correcting a uniform cadence, is frequently to read select sentences in which antitheses are introduced; and argumentative pieces, or such as abound with interrogatives, or earnest exclamations.||



[ocr errors]



Pitch your voice in your ordinary Speaking Key.

THE first attention of every one who reads or speaks in public, is to be clearly understood by all who hear him. Much depends for this purpose on the proper pitch, and management of the voice. Every person has three pitches in his voice, the high, the middle, and the low one. The middle pitch is that, which is used in ordinary discourse, from which he either rises or falls, as the matter of his discourse, or emotions of his mind may require. This middle pitch therefore is what ought to be used, for two reasons; first, because the organs of the voice are stronger, and more pliable in this pitch, from constant use; and the second reason is, because it is more easy to rise or fall from that pitch, to high or low, with regular proportion.

The quantity of sound, necessary to fill even a large space, is much smaller than is generally imagined ; and to the being well heard, and clearly understood, a good and distinct articulation contributes more, than power of voice. Possessed of that, a man with a weak voice, has infinite advantages over the strongest without it. If the voice be weak, and the articulation good, the attention and silence of the hearers will be proportionably greater, that they may not miss any thing that is said.

* See Chapter II. and XXXVIII. + See Chapter XIV. and LIII,

See Chapter IX and VII,
See Chapter X, and XI,

The best rule for a speaker to observe is, never to utter a greater quantity of voice than he can afford without pain to himself, or any extraordinary effect. Whilst he does this, the other organs of speech will be at liberty to discharge their several offices with ease; and he will always have his voice under command. But when he transgresses these bounds, he gives up the reins, and has no longer any management of it.

To acquire the power of changing the key on which you speak, at pleasure, accustom yourself to pitch your voice in different keys, from the lowest to the highest notes you can command. Many of these would neither be proper or agreeable in speaking; but such a practice. will give you such a command of voice, as is scarcely to be acquired by any other method. Having gained the power to speak with ease at several heights of the voice, read, as, exercises on this rule, such compositions as have a variety of speakers,* or such as relate dia- logues, observing the height of voice which is proper to each, and endeavour to change them as nature directs.

Different species of speaking require different heights of voice. Nature instructs us to relate a story, to support an argument, to command a servant, to utter excla mations of anger or rage, to pour fourth lamentations and sorrows, not only with different tones, but with different elevations of voice. The vagrant, when he begs; the soldier, when he gives the word of command; the watchman, when he announces the hour of the night; the sovereign, when he issues his edict; the senator, when he harangues; the lover, when he whispers his tender tale, do not differ more in the tones, which they use, than in the key in which they speak. Reading and speaking, therefore, in which all the variations of expression in real life are copied, must have continual variations in the height of the voice.

Sometimes the height of the voice may be altered, in the same composition, in passing from one part to another, without any change of person.

See Chapter XII for Examples.

+ See Dialogues. :



Let the Emotions and Passions, which your Words express, be accompanied with correspondent Tones, Looks, and Gesture.

TONES are different both from emphasis and pauses; consisting in the modulation of the voice, the notes or variations of sound which we employ, in expressing our sentiments.

There is not an act of the mind, an exertion of the fancy, or an emotion of the heart, which has not its peculiar tone, or note of the voice, by which it is to be expressed; and which is suited exactly to the degree of internal feeling. It is chiefly in the proper use of these tones, that the life, spirit, beauty, and harmony of delivery consist.

If we enter into the spirit of the author's sentiments, as well as into the meaning of his words, we shall not fail to deliver the words in suitably varied tones. There are very few, who have not an accurate use of emphasis, pauses, and tones, when they utter their sentiments in earnest discourse; and the reason that they have not the same use of them in reading aloud the sentiments of others, may be traced to the very defective and erroneous method in which the art of reading is taught; whereby all the various, natural, expressive tones of speech are suppressed, and a few artificial, unmeaning, reading notes, are substituted for them.

Gestures are the motions of the hands, or the body, corresponding with the sentiments which the speaker designs to express. It is quite unnatural in a public speaker, and inconsistent with that earnestness and seriousness which he ought to discover in all affairs of moment, to remain unmoved in his outward appearance, and to let the words drop from his mouth without any expression of meaning, or warmth in his gesture. The general rule, in the use of gestures, is to be natural and easy. Attend to the looks and gestures in which earnestness, indignation, compassion, or any other emotion, discovers it

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »