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understood ; and to mark them, so far as distinction is useful, does not require a tenth part of the rules, which some have thought necessary.
The intellectual and moral qualities indispensable to form an orator, are brought into view in the following pages, no farther than they modify delivery. The parts of external oratory, as voice, look, and gesture, are only instruments by which the soul acts ;-when the inspiration of soul is absent, these instruments cannot produce eloquence. A treatise on delivery then, must presuppose the existence of genius, mental discipline, and elevation of moral sentiment;—though a distinct consideration of these belongs to RHETORIC, as a branch of intellectual and Christian philosophy.
The parts of delivery, to be considered in their order, are,-ARTICULATION, INFLECTION, ACCENT and EMPHASIS, MODULATION, AND ACTION.
I premise here, once for all, that I employ terms according to the best modern use, with as little as possible of technical abstractness. Elocution, which anciently embraced style, and the whole art of rhetoric, now signifies manner of delivery, whether of our own thoughts or those of others. Pronunciation, which anciently signified the whole of delivery, is now equivalent to orthöepy, or the proper utterance of single words. It were easy, by a critical disquisition, to trace out the etymological affinities of all these terms, and to teach the pupil a distinction between an orator, and an eloquent man, between articulation, and distinct enunciation of words &c; but instead of the scientific air adopted in some works on elocution, it seems to me that the better, because the simpler course, is
to use words as they will be most readily understood by men of reading and taste.
In this view I have chosen to make the head of Modulation so generic, as to include pitch, quantity, rate, rhetorical pause, transition, expression, and representation.
Graiis dedit ore rotundo
Sect. 1. Importance of a good articulation. On whatever subject, and for whatever purpose, a man speaks to his fellow men, they will never listen to him with interest, unless they can hear what he says; and that without effort. If his utterance is rapid and indistinct, no weight of his sentiments, no strength or smoothness of voice, no excellence of modulation, emphasis, or cadence, will enable him to speak so as to be heard with pleasure. For his own sake too, the public speaker should feel the importance of a clear articulation. Without this, the necessary apprehension that his voice may not reach distant bearers, will lead to elevation of pitch, and increase of quantity ; till he gradually forms a habit of vociferation, at the expense of all interesting variety, if not, (as in too many cases it has turned out,) with the
sacrifice of lungs and life. Every one who is accustomed to converse with partially deaf persons, knows how much more easily they hear a moderate voice with clear articulation, than one that is loud, but rapid and indistinct. In addressing a public assembly, the same advantage attends a voice of inferior strength, which marks the proper distinction of letters and syllables.
For these reasons the ancients regarded articulation as the first requisite in delivery ;--without which indeed, all other acquisitions are vain. On this account Cicero says, the Catuli were esteemed the best speakers of the Latin language; their tones being sweet, and their syllables uttered without effort, in a voice neither feeble nor clamor
So fastidious was the Roman ear, even among the uneducated, that the same orator says, "in repetition of a verse, the whole theatre was in an uproar, if there happened to be one syllable too many or too few. Not that the crowd had any notion of numbers ; nor could they tell what it was which gave the offence, nor in what respect it was a fault.” It was not because the fire of
genius was wanting in the youthful orator of Athens, that his audience repeatedly met his first efforts in speaking, with hisses; but it was on account of his feeble, hurried, stammering utterance. To correct these faults it was that he betook himself to speaking amid the sound of dashing waves, the effort of walking up bill, and the inconvenience of holding pebbles in his mouth; that he might acquire a body to his voice, and a habit of distinct and deliberate utterance.
* De Officiis, Lib. I.
It has been well said, that a good articulation is to the ear, what a fair hand-writing, or a fair type is to the eye. Who has not felt the perplexity of supplying a word, torn away by the seal of a letter; or a dozen syllables of a book, in as many lines, cut off by the carelessness of a binder ? The same inconvenience is felt from a similar omission in spoken language; with this additional disadvantage, that we are not at liberty to stop and spell out the meaning by construction. I have heard a preacher with a good voice, in addressing his hearers with the exhortation,“ repent, and return to the Lord, "-utter distinctly but three syllables, namely pent,-turn,-Lord. Who would excuse the printer, that should mutilate this sentence in the same manner ? When a man reads Latin or Greek, we expect him to utter nouns, pronouns, and even particles, so that their several syllables, especially those denoting grammatical inflections, may be heard distinctly. Let one poun in a sentence be spoken so that the ear cannot perceive whether it is in the nominative, or accusative, or vocative, or ablative; or one verb, so as to leave it uncertain to what mood or tense it belongs, and the sense of the whole sentence is ruined.
But in the English language, abounding as it does with particles, harsh syllables, and compound words, both the necessity and the difficulty of a perfect utterance are greater still. Our thousands of prefix and suffix syllables, auxiliaries, and little words which mark grammatical connexion, render bad articulation a fatal defect in delivery. One example may illustrate my meaning. A man of indistinct utterance reads this sentence ; " the magistrates ought to prove a declaration so publicly made.” When
I perceive that his habit is to strike only the accented syllable clearly, sliding over others, I do not know whether it is meant that they ought to prove the declaration, or to approve it, or reprove it--for in either case he would speak only the syllable prove. Nor do I know, whether the magistrates ought to do it, or the magistrate sought to do it.
A respectable modern writer on delivery says ;“ In just articulation, the words are not to be hurried over ; nor precipitated syllable over syllable; nor as it were melted together into a mass of confusion. They should be neither abridged, nor prolonged ; nor swallowed, nor forced; they should not be trailed, nor drawled, nor let to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They are to be delivered out from the lips as beautiful coins newly issued from the mint, deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, in due succession, and of due weight."*
Sect. 2. Causes of defective articulation. This arises from bad organs, or bad habits, or sounds of difficult utterance.
Every one knows how the loss of a tooth, or a contusion on the lip, affects the formation of oral sounds. When there is an essential fault in the structure of the mouth; when the tongue is disproportionate in length or width, or sluggish in its movements ; or the palate is too high or too low; or the teeth badly set or decayed, art may diminish, but cannot fully remove the difficulty.
In nine cases out of ten, however, imperfect articula
* Austin's Chironomia.