« AnteriorContinuar »
faulty and unnatural elocution; and there are few persons who do not daily experience the advantages of the former, or the inconveniences of the latter. The great difficulży is, not to prove that it is a desirable thing to be able to read and speak with propriety, but to point out a practicable and easy method by which this accompliinment may be acquired.
Follow NĂTURI, is certainly the fundamental lawcf Oratory, without a regard to which, allother rules will only produce affected declamation, not just elocution. And some accurate observers, judging, perhaps, from a few unlucky speciinens of modern eloquence, have concluded that this is the only law which ought to be prescribed; that all artificial rules are useless; and that good sense, and a cultivated taste, are the only requisites to form a good public speaker. But it is true in the art of speaking, as well as in the art of living, that general precepts are of little use till they are unfolded, and applied to particular cases. To observe the various ways by which nature cxprefses the several perceptions, emotions and passions, of the human mind, and to distinguish these from the mere effect of arbitrary custom or false taste;
to discover and correct those tones, and habits of speaking, which are gross deviations from nature, and as far as they prevail must destroy all propriety and grace of utterance; and to make choice of such a course of practical lessons, as shall give the speaker an opportunity of exercising himself in each branch of elocution; all this must be the effect of attention and labour; and in all this much assistance may certainly be derived from inftruction. What are rules or lessons for acquiring this or any other art, but the observations of others, collected into a narrow compass, and digested in a natural order, for the direction of the unexperienced and unpractised learner? And what is there in the art of speaking, which should render it incapable of receiving aid from precepts ?
PRESUMING then, that the acquisition of the art of speaking, like all other practical arts, may be facilitated by rules, I proceed to lay before my readers, in a plain didactic form, such rules respecting elocution, as appear best adapt, ed to form a correct and graceful Speaker.
Let your Articulation be distinct and deliberate. A GOOD Articulation consists in giving a A clear and full utterance to the several simple and complex sounds. The nature of these founds, therefore, ought to be well understood; and much pains should be taken to discover and correct those faults in articulation, which, though often ascribed to some defect in the organs of speech, are generally the consequence of inattention or bad example. Many of these respect the sounding of the consonants. Some cannot pronounce the letter l, and others the simple sounds 7, s, th, ß; others generally omit the aspirate h. These faults may be corrected, by reading sentences, fo contrived as often to repeat the faulty sounds; and by guarding against them in familiar conversation.
Other defects in articulation regard the complex sounds, and consist in a confused and cluttering pronunciation of words. The most effectu
al methods of conquering this habit, are, to read · aloud paffages chosen for that purpose (such for
instance : instance as abound with long and unusual words, or in which many short fyllables come together) and to read, at certain stated times, much lower than the sense and just speaking would require. Almost all persons, who have not studied the art. of speaking, have a habit of uttering their words so rapidly, that this latter exerciseought generally to be made use of for a considerable time at first: for where there is a uniformly rapid utterance, it is absolutely impossible that there should be strong emphasis, natural tones, or any just elocution,
Aim at nothing higher, till you can read diftinctly and deliberately.
LEARN to speak now, all other graces
A N insipid flatness and languor is an almost M universal fault in reading; and even public speakers often suffer their words to drop from
their lips with such a faint and feeble utterance, that they appear neither to understand or feel what they say themselves, nor to have any desire that it should be understood or felt by their audience. This is a fundamental fault: a speaker without energy, is a lifeless statue.
In order to acquire a forcible manner of pronouncing your words, inure yourself, while reading, to draw in as much air as your lungs can contain with ease, and to expelit with veheinence, in uttering those founds which require an emphatical pronunciation ; read aloud in the open air, and with all the exertion you can command; preserve your body in an erect attitude while you are speaking; let all the consonant sounds be expreffed with a full impulse or percussion of the breath, and a forcible action of the organs employed in forming them; and let all the vowel sounds have a full and bold utterance. Practise these rules with perseverance, till you have acquired strength and energy of speech.
But in observing this rule, beware of running into the extreme of vociferation. We find this fault chiefly among those, who, in contempt and