« AnteriorContinuar »
ples, and those principles should be impressed upon their minds by exemplifications. Then, and not until then, should they be put to promiscuous readings. It is not the quantity of matter read, but the acquisition of correct rules, and the habit of applying them accurately, that indicate a progress in the study of Elocution.
A person at the age of ten, may be put to the study of this work to advantage. The principles and exemplifications are all as easy as Grammar, or Music, or any other branch of study which is usually pursued at that period. And although a child at this age may not progress as rapidly as an older person, he will acquire principles and habits, which in every future period will assist him in the attainment of Elocution. An early application to any of the fine arts is indispensable to success.
This work is not offered to the public in the vain hope of acquiring fame, but solely for the purpose of doing good. The author is not unconscious of his inadequacy to execute with full success, a treatise of this description; but under existing circumstances, he has done the best he could; and if his efforts, feeble and imperfect as they are, shall contribute in any degree to the improvement of Elocution, and consequently to the interests of his beloved country, he will not regret the labor he has devoted to these objects.
Explanation of Symbols, which must be thoroughly learned in the outset.
* High pitch.
ọ Low pitch.
7. Pause or rest.
The diatonic Scale.
Before or after an emphatic pause.
Long quantity, or heavy sound. Thus note. 5-note.
Short quantity, or light sound. Thus not.
The diatonic scale indicates all the pitches of the human voice. These consist of eight notes, five tones, and two semitones. A knowledge of these notes, tones, and semitones, may be easily acquired by practising on the Piano Forte. Let the learner, for example, touch C, (the natural key note) and sound his voice in unison with it; then proceed to D, then to E, and so on till he goes through the whole scale. Some knowledge of music is indispensable to the acquisition of good oratory, and as this is easily attained, a farther explanation of the diatonic scale is deemed unnecessary.
PRINCIPLES OF ELOCUTION.
ELOCUTION, or the art of speaking with science and effect, comprehends Pronunciation, Pauses, Emphasis, Modulation and Style.
CHAPTER I. Of PRONUNCIATION.
Pronunciation is the sounding of single letters and single words in reference to certain rules. These rules are custom, analogy and euphony.
1. Custom in pronunciation is the chief standard. This is found in the practice of the best speakers, and the directions of the best orthoepists. Among the latter, none stands higher than Mr. Walker. His critical pronouncing dictionary, exhibits the power of single letters, and their influence upon each other in a state of combination, more accurately than any other system of the kind in use.
2. But as custom is seldom universal, analogy has some claims to attention. Certain syllables having the same sound in certain positions, this sound forms a rule for the pronunciation of similar syllables in like connections. The last syllable in the word, termination, being universally pronounced shun, all syllables of the same structure, and in like positions, should have the same sound. There is, however, danger of pushing this rule to excess. Persons of but little taste and some research, are apt to make analogy the exclusive standard of orthoepy. But this practice, of all others, is the least friendly to improvement in elocution. Anxious as we may be to reduce pronunciation to a given system, we should recollect that taste has its claims, as well as reason.
3. We should, therefore, in the third place, pronounce with melody. That sound of a word which affords the greatest pleasure to the ear, should be preferred generally, and always when
its orthoepy is not fully settled. It was by the observance of this rule that the Greek language acquired its peculiar sweetness; and if the English tongue ever becomes distinguished in this respect, it will owe its improvement to the same cause. The substitution of euphony for analogy, will indeed, in some instances, produce a diversity of pronunciation; but the benefit arising from it, will more than compensate the inconvenience, In orthoepy, and in every department of literature and the fine arts, some scope for taste and genius, should be allowed.
In pronunciation, distinotness, and accentual force, are enti tled to particular attention.
1. Not only every word, but every letter should have its appropriate and distinct sound. Instead of mincing, hissing or drawling words, they should be pronounced clearly, openly and roundly. So important is the observance of this rule, that success, in the pursuit of a polite enunciation, essentially depends upon it.
2. Accent is a distinction given to a certain letter in a syllable, beginning with comparatively a heavy voice and gradually gliding into nothing. In the word redemption, this distinction is given to the letter e in the second syllable, and is thence denominated the accented letter.
Accent, constituting as it does, a primary beauty in elocution, should be used with great care. The same passage pronounced with accentual force, and then without it, is, in the last instance insipidly monotonous, and in the first, lively and varied. A strong opening of the voice upon the accented letter, succeeded by its gradual vanish, is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of a beautiful elocution.
The distinction here alluded to is made in two 1st by stress of voice, and 2d by long quantity. In the word industry, it is made by stress of voice only, and in the word Ontario, by long quantity.
With regard to the seat of accent, and the laws by which it is governed, I shall say but little. This being the province of the lexicographer, I shall, after submitting the following remarks, dismiss the subject.
Vowels which are under the secondary accent, should be pronounced with great distinctness.
This accent is an inferior stress of voice, given to other letters than those having the principal one. In the word conversation, the third syllable has the primary, and the first the secondary stress. All vowels under this force, should have their full and open sound: As a in alabaster, e in seniority, i in tiara, o in coalesce, and u in cumulation.