« AnteriorContinuar »
In order to acquire a habit of speaking with a juft 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 ano. ther 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, iarks; I believe it will always be found, upon trial, that they mislead instead of assist the reader, by not leay. ing him at full liberty to follow his own understanding 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 conjun&tive particles, and other words of secondary importance. These faults are strongly characterised in Churchill's censure of Moflop.
With studied improprieties of speech
In ways first trodden by himself excels,
Emphasis is often destroyed by an injudicious attempt to read melodiously. Agreeable inflexious and easy variations of the voice, as far as they arise from, or are consistent with just speaking, are deserving of attention. But to substi. tute 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
read or fing ? if you fing, you fing very ill. Seriously, it is much to be wondered at, that this kind of reading, which has fo 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 ? 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 ?
Acquire a just variety of Pause and Cadence.
NE 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 fo properly be compared to, as an alarum-bell, which, when once fet 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 attenion to these resting places has perhaps been one chief cause of monotony, by leading the reader
to an uniform found at every imperfe& break, and an 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 hearer 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 VI. Chap. III.
BEFORE a full pause, it has been customary in reading to drop the voice in a 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
conftru&tion 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 fupport 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 al most always be elevated at the clofe, with a peculiar tone, to indicate that a question is asked. Some fentences are so constructed, that the last word requires a stronger emphafis than any of the preceding ; whilst others admit of being closed with a soft and gentle found. Where there is nothing in the fenfe which requires the last found to be elevated or emphatical, an easy fall, sufficient to fhow that the sense is finished, will be proper. And in pathetic pieces, especially those of the plaintive, tender, or folemn 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
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 a uniform cadence, is frequently to read selezt fentences, in which the style is pointed, and fre