Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

distinctness and force with which he utters his words, than upon the height at which he pitches his voice.

But it is an essential qualification of a good speaker, to be able to alter the height, as well as the strength and the tone of his voice, as occasion requires. 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 exclamations of anger or rage, and to pour

forth lamentations and sorrows, not only with different tones, but different elevations of voice. Men at different ages of life, and in different fituations, speak in very different keys. 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 fovereigp, when he issues his edict; the fenator, 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.

[ocr errors]

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 nor agreeable in speaking ; but the exercise will give you such a command of voice, as is scarcely to be acquired by any other method. Having repeated this experiment till you can 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 dialogues, observing the height of voice which is proper to each, and endeavouring to change them as nature directs,

In the same composition there may be frequent occafion to alter the height of the voice, in paliing from one part to another, without any change of person. Shakespear's “ All the world's aftage," &c. and his description of the Queen of the Fair ries, afford examples of this. Indeed every

fentence which is read or spoken, will admit of different elevations of the voice in different parts of it; and on this chiefly, perhaps entirely, depends the melody of pronunciation.

RU LE RU L E

IV.

Pronounce your words with propriety and elegance.

IT

T is not easy to fix upon any standard, by

which the propriety of pronunciation is to be determined. "Mere men of learning, in attempting to make the etymology of words the rule of pronunciation, often pronounce words in a manner, which brings upon them the charge of affectation and pedantry. Mere men of the world, notwithstanding all their politeness, often retain fo much of their provincial dialect, or commit fuch errors both in speaking and writing, as to exclude them from the honour of being thestandard of accurate pronunciation. We should perhaps look for this standard only among those who unite these two characters, and with the correctness and precision of true learning, combine the ease and elegance of genteel life. An attention to such models, and a free intercourse with the polite world, are the best guards against the peculiarities and vulgarisms of provincial dialects. Those which respect the pronunciation of words are innumerable. Some of the principal of them

are :

are : omitting the aspirate h where it ought to be ufed, and inserting it where there should be none; confounding and interchanging the v and w; pronouncing the diphthong ou like au or like 00, and the vowel é like oi ore; and cluttering many consonants together without regarding the vowels. These faults, and all others of the same nature, must be corrected in the pronunciation of a gentleman who is supposed to have seen too much of the world, to retain the peculiarities of the district in which he was born.

[blocks in formation]

Pronounce every word consisting of more than one

Syllable with its proper ACCENT.

TH

HERE is a necessity for this direction, be

cause 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 car are the best guides : only it may be observed

that

that accent should be regulated, not by any arbitrary rules of quantity, but by the number and nature of the simple sounds.

[blocks in formation]

In every sentence distinguish the more significant

words by å natural, forcible, and varied EM

PHASIS.

MPHASIS points out the precise meaning

of a sentence, shews in what manner one idea is connected with, and rises out of another, mark's the several clauses of a sentence, gives to every part its proper sound, and thus

found, and thus conveys to the mind of the reader the full import of the whole. Yt is in the power of emphasis to make long and complex sentences appear intelligible and perspicuous. But for this purpose it is neceffary, that the reader should be perfectly acquainted with the exact construction and full meaning of every sentence which he recites. Without this it is impossible to give those inflections and variations 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

« PreviousContinue »