« AnteriorContinuar »
speaking, can only be the effect of great ignorance and inattention, or of a depraved taste. If public speaking inust be musical, let the words be set to music in recitative, that these melodious speakers may no longer lie open to the farcasım; Do you read or fing? if you fing, 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 fo 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? Is it 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, employed alike on all occasions and for all purposes ?
is to inake no other pauses than what he finds barely necessary for breathing. I know of
nothing that such a speaker can fo properly be compared to, as an alarum-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 a uniform found at every imperfect break, and a uniform cadence at every full period. The use of points is to assist the reader in difcerning 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
B 3 . considerable
considerable pause, where the grammatical con. struction 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 hearer that the sense is not compleated. 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 VI. Chap. III.
Before a full pause, it has been customary in reading to drop the voice in a uniforin 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 show, 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 nothing in the sense which requires the last found to be elevated or emphatical, an easy fall, sufficient to 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 to fall his voice with propriecy 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 a uniforin cadence, is frequently to read seleet fentences, in which the style is pointed, and frequent antitheses are introduced ; and argumentative pieces, or such as abound with interro
B4 . RULE
RU LE VIII. Accompany the Emotions and Pasions which your
words express, by correspondent tones, looks, and gestures,
THERE is the language of emotions and
1 passions, as well as of ideas. To express the latter is the peculiar province of words; to express the former, nature teaches us to make use of tones, looks, and gestures. When anger, fear, joy, grief, love, or any other active passion arises in our minds, we naturally discover it by the particular manner in which we utter our words; by the features of the countenance, and by other well known signs. And even when we speak without any of the more violent emotions, some kind of feeling usually accompanies our words, and this, whatever it be, hath its proper external expression. Expression hath indeed been so little studied in public speaking, that we seem almoft to have forgotten the language of nature, and are ready to consider every attempt to recover it as the laboured and affected effort of art. But Nature is always the same; and every judicious imitation of it will always be pleasing. Nor