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PRINCIPLES OF ELOCUTION.
THE following short Abstract of the Theory of Elocution may be found useful in imparting variety, emphasis, and grace, to Reading and Recitation. The rules of Inflection, Emphasis, Modulation, and Pausing, are accompanied with illustrative sentences chiefly extracted from the lessons of this collection.
Inflection regulates those slides of the voice which are natural and appropriate in certain constructions of sentences. The general rule of Inflection is, that the voice takes an upward slide at that part of a sentence where the sense is incomplete, and a downward where the sense is completed. A pupil who understands the nature of a principal and a secondary clause, will recognise the situations where a rising and a falling inflection should take place. In the sentence-"If he fail, he is lost," the rising slide occurs at "fail," and the falling at "lost." The propriety of inflection, however, may be recognised by the pupil more readily in words of Interrogation, Exclamation, and Command. Thus the pronunciation of the word "What!" in the language of strong surprise, may give a pupil an idea of the rising inflection; and the utterance of the word "March" in the tone of military command, will give an idea of the falling inflection. Both slides may be exemplified in these words, with the intervals of a third or a fifth.
TABLE OF INFLECTION.
The pupil may be taught to give inflection on letters, words, and clauses.
In the first exercise, the rise on "A" is continued without a pause on "or," and the voice begins to descend on "B." This is necessary, at first, to secure the fall on "B;" for if the voice of a beginner sinks on "or," the fall on "B" will be undecided and weak. The same method must be pursued with regard to the words "sensible of the injury or," which must follow the rise on "sensible" without a pause-if this practice of continuing the raised voice is not followed, the voice will in the pronunciation of such words as "of the injury or" have sunk so low as to be unable to give "Insensible" the proportional fall to "sensible." And that the pupil may raise the voice easily on "A," he should be made to descend on "Is it"-thus giving what is called the Preparatory Slide. This table may be
practised with profit by a whole class-for in the first attempts at Inflection, pupils are disconcerted when they attempt it singly. Care must be taken that the pupil do not mistake loudness for height: it is a useful exercise to make a pupil give the rising inflection at times with gentleness, and the falling with force-the last, for instance, in such words as "March."
It is B not A
C not B
E not D &c.
He said late not late
dine not dine &c.
He is sensible of the injury, not insensible of it.
In this table, it is necessary to have a preparatory rise on "It is," to fall on "B"-on "he said," to fall on "late," &c.-and "of the injury not" follows on the same tone as the fall on "sensible."
Were the pupil to be confined to this mode of inflection, the delivery would be stilted and unnatural; it is therefore necessary that the inflection should be varied and modulated. Thus
Is he sensible of the injury,
or insensible of it?
The second clause beginning in a lower key. Inflection also should be practised without the preparatory slide on the previous word.
He said lâte, not late.
Here the preparatory rise is on the word on which the fall terminates, viz., "late" this mode of falling takes place on emphatic words, and is frequently indicated in books by the circumflex (^).
RULES OF INFLECTION.
1. The Rising Inflection is employed after questions introduced by verbs. 2. In exclamations of surprise, and in the echo of words. 3. Between the principal and secondary clause in a complex sentence. 4. Between the nominative and verb, if the nominative is an important word. 5. After the nominative when accompanied by adjuncts prepositional or limitingly relative. 6. After an infinitive mood when a nominative to a verb. 7. Between the parts of a compound sentence signifying concession, comparison, and contrast. 8. After the penultimate clause. 9. At the termination of the first line in verse, when the sense is completed in the second line.
*1. Cassius-O gods, ye gods! must I endure all this?
2. Brutus-All this-ay more.
Othello Is he (Cassius) not honest?
Iago-Honest, my lord?
Othello-Honest? ay, honest?
Iago-My lord, for aught I know.
Iago-Think, my lord!
* It may be remarked here that if "or" gives two questions conjunctively, a rise takes place at the end of both-thus, "Was it John or James?" that is, was it any one of them: if "or" separates or disjoins, a fall takes place on the last-thus, "Was it Jóhn or James ?" meaning which one.