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It must be acknowledged, there are some kinds of tone which, though unnatural, yet, as managed by the speakers, are not very disagreeable---and the mind mult be much on its guard that can remain unmoveci thereby,
When I have been affected with hearing orators deliver common or obscure sentiments in such a striking tone, I have endeavoured carefully to examine into the true reason of that emotion, or hat was that excited that affection in
; and have found that it could not arise from the mere tone of the speaker-which of itself was unnatural and disagreeablenor from the weight of the subject - which was no more than common--but from the earneltness, life, and solemnity with which he spake, and his appearing himself to be much affected with what he delivered ; which two things will never fail to move an audience. And why they may not be as well observed and practised without a tone as with one, I cannot conceive. And without these a tone itself would have no power to move; as it hath no other subserviency to raise the passions than as it folemnizes the subject, and feems to thew the speaker's heart engaged. Pity that those two ends should not be answered by a better means ! and that a bad habit in the speaker, indulging a false taste in the hearers, should secure one great end of oratory by that which is the greatest abuse of it ! Our next enquiry is
How to avoid a bad Pronunciation. To this end the few following rules may be of service. 1. If
you would not read in too loud or too low a voice, consider whether your voice be naturally too low or loud; and correct it accordingly in your ordinary conversation : by which means you will be better able to correct it in reading. If it be too low, converse with those that are deaf; if too load, with those whose voices are low. Begin your periods with an even moderate voice, that you may have the command of it, to raise or fall it as the subject requires.
2. To cure a thick, confused, cluttering voice, accustom yourself, both in conversation and reading, to pronounce every word distinct and clear. Observe with what deliberation some converfe and read, and how full a sound they give to every word; and imitate them. Do not affect to contract your words, as some do, or run two into one. This may do very well in conversation, or in reading familiar dialogues, but is not fo 'decent in grave and folemn subjects ; especially in reading the facred scriptures.
19 It appears from Demosthenes' case, that this fault of pronunciation cannot be cured without much difficulty, nor will you find his remedy effe&tual without pains and perfeverance.
3. To break a habit of reading too fast, attend diligently to the sense, weight, propriety of every sentence you read, and of every emphatical word in it. This will not only be an advantage to yourself, but a double one to your hearers ; for it will at once give them time to do the same, and excite their attention when they see yours is fixed. A solemn pause after a weighty thought, is very beautiful and striking. A well rimed stop gives as much grace to speech as it does to music. Imagine that you are speaking to perfons of flow and unready conceptions; and measure not your hearer's apprehension by your own. If you do, you may pollibly out-run it. And as in reading you are not at liberty to repeat your words and fentences, this lhould engage you to be very deliberate in pronouncing them, that their sense may not be loft. The ease and advantage that will arise both to the speaker and hearer, by a free, full, and deliberate pronunciation, is hardly to be imagined.
I need lay down no rules to avoid a too flow pronunciation ; that being a fault which few are guilty of.
4. To cure an uneven, desultory voice, take care that yoû do not begin your periods either in too high or too low a key; for that will necessarily lead you to an unnatural and improper variation of it. Have a careful regard to the nature and quantity of your points, and the length of your periods; and keep your mind intent on the sense, subject, and spirit of your author.
The same directions are necessary to avoid a monotony in pronunciation, or a dull, set, uniform tone of voice. For if your mind be but attentive to the sense of your subject, you will naturally manage and modulate your voice according to the nature and importance of it.
Lastly, To avoid all kinds of unnatural and disagreeable tones, the only rule is to endeavour to speak with the fame ease and freedom as you would do on the same subject in private conversation. You hear nobody converse in a tone; unless they have the uncouth accent of some other country,
got into a habit of altering the natural key of their voice when they are talking of some serious subject in religion. But I can see no reason in the world, that when in common copyersation we speak in a natural voice with proper accent and emphasis, yet as soon as we begin to read, or talk of religion, or speak in public, we should immediately affume a Itiff, aukward, unnatural tone. If we are indeed deeply affected with the subject we read or talk of, the voice will naturally vary according to the passion excited; but if we vary it unnaturally, only to seem affected, or only with a design to affect others, it then becomes a tone, and is offensive.
In reading then attend to your subject, and deliver it just in such a manner as you would do if you were talking of it. This is the great, general and most important rule of all; which, if carefully observed, will correct not only this but almost all the other faults of a bad pronunciation ; and give you an easy, decent, graceful delivery, agreeable to all the rules of a right elocution. For however apt we are to tranfgress them in reading, we follow them naturally and easily enough in conversation. And children will tell a story with all the natural graces and beauties of pronunciation, however aukwardly they may read the same out of a book.
Of good Pronunciation. A good pronunciation in reading, is the art of managing and governing the voice fo as to express the full sense and
author in that juft, decent, and graceful manner, which will not only instruct but affect the hearers; and will not only raise in them the same ideas he intended to convey, but the fame passions he really felt. This is the great end of reading to others, and this end can only be attained by a proper and just pronunciation.
And hence we may learn wherein a good pronunciation in speaking consists; which is nothing but a natural, easy, and graceful variation of the voice, suitable to the nature and importance of the sentiments we deliver.
A good pronunciation in both these respects is more easily attained by some than others; as fome can more readily enter into the sense and sentiments of an author, and more easily deliver their own, than others can ; and at the same time have a more happy facility of expressing all the proper variations and modulations of the voice than oihers have. Thus persons of a quick apprehension, and a brisk flow of animal spirits (setting afide all impediments of the organs) have generaliy a more lively, jult, and natural elocution than perfons of a flow perception and a phlegmatic cast. However, it may in a good degree be attained by every one that will carefully attend to
Of Elocution. and practise those rules that are proper to acquire it. Which leads me therefore to consider
How a good Pronunciation is to be attained. TO this end the observation of the following rules is necessary. Have a particular regard to Pauses, Emphasis, and Cadence.
Of Pauses. WITH respect to pauses, you will in a great measure in reading be directed by the common stops or points, viz. Comma (,)-Semi-colon (;) - Colon --Period (.)- Interrogation (?)-and Admiration (!).
These points ferve two purposes—to distinguish the sense of the author, and—to direct the pronunciation of the reader. -A comma stops the voice, while we may privately tell one
a semi-colon, two-a colon, three--and a period, four.
To break a habit of taking breath too often in reading, accustom yourself to read long periods, such as the sixteen first lines in Milton's Paradise Lost.
After some weighty and important sentiment, it will be proper to make a longer pause than ordinary; and especially towards the close or application of a discourse : these long pauses are very proper ; as they at once compose and affect the mind, and give it time to think. It will also be very helpful to the speaker's voice; and give his pronunciation the advantage of variety, which is always pleasing to the hearers,
Of Emphasis. THE next thing to be regarded in reading is the Emphafis ; and to see that it be always laid on the emphatical word.
When we distinguish any particular fyllable in a word with a strong voice, it is called Accent; when we thus distinguish any particular word in a sentence, it is called Emphasis; and the word so distinguished, the Emphatical word. And the emphatical words (for there are often more than one) in a sentence, are those which carry a weight or importance in themselves, or those on which the sense of the relt depends ; and these must always be distinguished by a fuller and Itronger sound of voice, wherever they are found, whether in the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Take for instance those words of the satirist,
Get place and wealth, if possible, with grace,
In these lines, the emphatical words are accented; and which they are, the sense will always discover.
Some sentences are fo full and comprehensive, that almost every word is emphatical: For instance, that pathetic expoitulation in the prophecy of Ezekiel,
Why will ye die !" In this short fentence, every word is emphatical, and on which éver word you lay the emphasis, whether the first, fecond, third, or fourth, it strikes out a different sense, and opens a new subject of moving expoftulation.
Some sentences are equivocal, as well as some words ; that is, contain in them more senses than one ; and which is the sense intended, can only be known by observing on what word the emphasis is laid. For instance_“ Will you town to-day?”—This question is capable of being taken in four different senses, according to the different words on which you lay the emphasis. If it be laid on the word you,—the answer may be—" No, but I intend to send
Itead." --if the emphasis be laid on the word ride-the proper answer might be “ No, I intend to walk it.”- If you place the emphasis on the word town--it is a different question ; and the answer may be " No, for I design to ride into the country.” -And if the emphasis be laid upon the word to-duy-the sense is still something different from all these; and the proper answer may be-“ No, but I shall to-morrow"-Of such importance oftentimes is a right emphasis, in order to determine the proper sense of what we read or speak. The voice must also express, as near as may be, the
sense or idea designed to be conveyed by the emphatical word ; by a strong, rough, and violent, or a soft, smooth, and tender found.
Thus the different paffions of the mind are to be expressed by à different sound or tone of voice. Love, by a soft, smooth, languishing voice; —Anger, by a strong, vehement, and elevated voice ;--- Joy, by a quick, sweet, and clear voice ;Sorrow, by a low, flexible, interrupted voice ;--Fear, by a dejected, tremulous, hesitating voice ;-Courage hath a full, bold, and loud voice ;-and Perplexity, a grave, steady, and earneft one. In Exordiums, the voice should be low ;-in Narrations, distinct ;-in Reasoning, flow ;-in Persuasion, strong; it should thunder in Anger-soften in sorrow tremble in Fear and melt in Love.