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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 per• sons read with an improper emphasis, or with no emphasis at all, that is, with a stupid monotony. Much study and pains are necessary in acquiring the habit of just and forcible pronunciation; and it can only be the effect of close attention and long practice, to be able with a mere glance of the eye, to read any piece with good emphasis and good discretion.
It is another office of Emphasis to express the opposition between the several parts of a sentence, where the style is pointed and antithetical. Pope's Essay on Man, and his Moral Essays, and the Proverbs of Solomon, will furnish many proper exercises in this species of speaking. In: some sentences the antithesis is double, and even treble; these must be expressed in reading, by a very distinct emphasis on each part of the opposition. The following instances are of this kind.
Anger may glance into the breast of a wise man; but rests only in the bosom of fools.
An angry man who suppresses his passion, thinks worse than he speaks; and an angry man that will clide, speaks worse than he thinks.
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.
Emphasis likewise serves to express some particular meaning not immediately arising from the words, but depending upon the intention of the speaker, or some incidental circumstance. The following short sentence may have three different meanings, according to the different
place of the Emphasis: Do you intend to go to London this Summer?
In order to acquire a habit of speaking with a just and forcible emphasis, nothing more is necessary than previously to study the construction, meaning, and spirit of every sentence, and to adhere as nearly as possible to the manner in which we distinguish one word from another in conversation; for in familiar discourse we scarcely ever fail to express ourselves emphatically, and seldom place the emphasis improperly. With respect to artificial helps, such as distinguishing words and clauses of sentences by particular characters or marks; I believe it will always be found, upon trial, that they mislead instead of assist the reader, by not leaving him at full liberty to follow his own understandings and feelings.
The most common faults respecting emphasis are, laying so strong an emphasis on one word, as to leave no power of giving a particular force to other words, which, though not equally, are in a certain degree emphatical; and placing the greatest stress on conjunctive particles, and other words of secondary importance. These faults are strongly characterised in Churchills censure of Mossop.
With studied improprieties of speech
He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach;
Whilst principals, ungrac'd, like lacquies wait;
Conjunction, preposition, adverb, join
HE, SHE, IT, AND, WE, YE
THEY, fright the
Emphasis is often destroyed by an injudicious attempt to read melodiously. Agreeable inflections and easy variations of the voice, as far as they arise from, or are consistent with just speaking, are deserving of attention. But to substitute one unmeaning tune, in the room of all the proprieties and graces of good elocution, and then to applaud this manner, under the appellation of musical speaking, can only be the effect of great ignorance and inattention, or of a depraved taste. If public speaking must be musical, let the words be set to music in recitative, that these melodious speakers may no longer lie open to the sarcasm; Do you read or sing? If you sing, you sing very ill. Seriously, it is much to be wondered at, that this kind of reading, which has so little merit considered as music, and none at all, considered as speaking, should be so studiously practised by many speakers, and so much admired by many hearers. Can a method of reading, which is so entirely different from the usual manner of conversation, be natural and right? it is possible that all the varieties of sentiment, which a public speaker has occasion to introduce, should be properly expressed by one melodious tone and cadence, em-ployed alike on all occasions and for all purposes? RULE
Acquire a just variety of pause and cadence.
ONE of the worst faults a speaker can have,
is to make no other pauses than what he finds barely necessary for breathing. I know of nothing that such a speaker can so properly be compared to, as an alarm-bell, which, when
once set a going, clatters on till the weight that moves it is run down. Without pauses, the sense must always appear confused and obscure, and often be misunderstood; and the spirit and energy of the piece must be wholly lost.
In executing this part of the office of a speaker, it will by no means be sufficient to attend to the points used in printing; for these are far from marking all the pauses which ought to be made in speaking. A mechanical attention to these resting-places has perhaps been one chief cause of monotony, by leading the reader to an uniform sound at every imperfect break, and a uniform cadence at every full period. The use of points is to assist the reader in discerning the grammatical construction, not to direct his pronunciation. In reading, it may often be proper to make a pause where the printer has made none. Nay, it is very allowable for the sake of pointing out the sense more strongly, preparing the audience for what is to follow, or enabling the speaker to alter the tone or height of the voice, sometimes to make a very considerable pause, where the grammatical construction requires none at all. In doing this, however, it is necessary that in the word immediately preceding the pause, the voice be kept up in such a manner as to intimate to the bearer that the sense is not completed. Mr. GARRICK often observed this rule with great success. This particular excellence Mr. STERNE has described in his usual sprightly manner: See the following work, Book vj, Chap. iij.
Before a full pause, it has been customary in reading to drop the voice in an uniform manner; and this has been called the cadence. But surely nothing can be more destructive of all
propriety and energy than this habit. The tones and heights at the close of a sentence ought to be infinitely diversified, according to the general nature of the discourse, and the particular construction and meaning of the sentence. In plain narrative, and especially in argumentation, the least attention to the manner in which we relate a story, or support an argument in conversation, will shew, that it is more frequently proper to raise the voice than to fall it at the end of a sentence. Interrogatives, where the speaker seems to expect an answer, should almost always be elevated at-the close, with a peculiar tone, to indicate that a question is asked. Some sentences are so constructed, that the last word requires a stronger emphasis than any of the preceding; whilst others admit of being closed with a soft and gentle sound. Where there is nothi g in the sense which requires the last sound to e elevated or emphatical, an easy fall, sufficient o show that the sense is finished, will be proper And in pathetic pieces, especially those of the plaintive, tender, or solemn kind, the tone of the passion will often require a still lower cadence of the voice. But before a speaker can be able ta fall his voice with propriety and judgment at the close of a sentence, he must be able to keep it from falling, and to raise it with all the variation which the sense requires. The best method of correcting an uniform cadence, is frequently to read select sentences, in which the style is pointed, and frequent antithesis are introduced; and argumentative pieces, or such as abound with interrogatives.