« AnteriorContinuar »
are more difficult to be corrected. To pronounce with a proper degree of slowness, and with full and clear articulation, is necessary to be studied by all, who wish to become good readers; and it cannot be too much recommended to them. Such a pronunciation gives weight and dignity to the subject. It is a great assistance to the voice, by the pauses and rests which it allows it more easily to make; and it enables the reader to swell all his sounds both with more force and more harmony.
Propriety of Pronunciation.
AFTER the fundamental attentions to the pitch and inanagement of the voice, to distinct articulation, and to a proper degree of slowness of speech, what the young reader must, in the next place, study, is propriety of pronunciation; or, giving to every word which he utters, that sound which the best usage of language appropriates to it; in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial pronunciation. This is requsite both for reading intelligibly, and for reading with correctness and ease. Instructions concerning this article may best be given by the living teacher. But there is one observation, which it may not be im proper here to make. In the English language, every word which consists of more syllables than one, has one accented syllable. The accent rests sometimes on the vowel, sometimes on the consonant. The genius of the language, requires the voice to mark that syllable by a stronger percussion and to pass more slightly over the rest. Now, after we have learned the proper seats of these accents, it is an important rule, to give every word just the same accent as in common discourse. Many persons err in this respect. When they read to others, aad with solemnity, they pronounce the syllables in a different manner from what they do at other times. They dwell upon them, and protract them; they multiply accents on the same word; from a mistaken notion, that it gives gravity and importance to their subject, and adds to the energy of their delivery. Whereas this is one of the greatest faults that can be committed in pronunciation it makes what is called a pompous or mouthing manner; and gives an artificial affected air to reading, which detracts greatly both from its agreeableness, and its impression.
Sheridan and Walker have published Dictionaries for ascertaining the true and best pronunciation of the words of our language. By attentively consulting them, particularly "Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary," the young reader will be much assisted, in his endeavors to attain a correct pronunciation of the words belonging to the English language.
By emphasis is meant a stronger and fuller sound of voice, by which we distinguish some word or words, on which we de
sign to lay particular stress, and to show how they affect the rest of the sentence. Sometimes the emphatic words must be distinguished by a particular tone of voice, as well as by a particular stress. On the right management of the emphasis depends the life of pronunciation. If no emphasis be placed on any words, not only is discourse rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning left often ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we pervert and confound the meaning wholly.
Emphasis may be divided into the SUPERIOR and the INFE. RIOR emphasis. The superior emphasis determines the meaning of a sentence, with reference to something said before, presupposed by the author as general knowledge, or removes an ambiguity, where a passage may have more senses than one. The inferior emphasis enforces, graces and enlivens, but does not fix, the meaning of any passage. The words to which this latter emphasis is given, are, in general, such as seem the most important in the sentence, or, on other accounts, to merit this distinction. The following passage will serve to exemplify the superior emphasis.
"Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
"Brought death, into the world, and all our wo," &c.
Supposing that originally other beings, besides men, had diso.
But if it were a notorious truth, that mankind had transgressed in a peculiar manner more than once, the emphasis should fall on first; and the line be read,
Of man's first disobedience," &c.
Again, admitting death (as was really the case,) to have been an unheard of and dreadful punishment, brought upon man in consequence of his transgression; on that supposition the third line would be read,
"Brought death into the world," &c.
But if we were to suppose, that mankind knew there was such an evil as death in other regions, though the place they inhabited had been free from it till their transgression, the line would run thus :
66 Brought death into the world," &c.
The superior emphasis finds place in the following short sen. tence, which admits of four distinct meanings, each of which is ascertained by the emphasis only.
"Do you ride to town to-day?"
The following examples illustrate the nature and use of the inferior emphasis.
mistake the love for the practice of virtue.”
"Shall I reward his services with falsehood? Shall I forget him who cannot forget me?"
"If his principles are false, no apology from himself can make them right if founded in truth, no censure from others can make them wrong.
"Though deep, yet clear; though gentle yet not dull;
A friend exaggerates a man's virtues; an enemy, his crimes,”· "The wise man is happy when he gains his own approbation; the fool, when he gains that of others."
The superior emphasis, in reading as in speaking, must be determined entirely by the sense of the passage, and always made alike but as to the inferior emphasis, taste alone seems to have the right of fixing its situation and quantity.
Among the number of persons, who have had proper opportunities of learning to read, in the best manner it is now taught, very few could be selected, who in a given instance, would use the inferior emphasis alike, either as to place or quantity. Some persons, indeed, use scarcely any degree of it: and others do not scruple to carry it much beyond any thing to be found in common discourse; and even sometimes throw it upon words so very trifling in themselves, that it is evidently done with no other view, than to give greater variety to the modulation.* Notwithstanding this diversity of practice, there are certainly proper boundaries, within which this emphasis must be restrained, in order to make it meet the approbation of sound judgment and correct taste. It will doubtless have different degrees of exertion, according to the greater or less degree of importance of the words upon which it operates; and there may be very properly some variety in the use of it; but its application is not arbitrary, depending on the caprice of readers.
As emphasis often falls on words in different parts of the same sentence, so it is frequently required to be continued, with a little variation, on two, and sometimes more words together. The following sentences exemplify both the parts of this position : "If you seek to make one rich, study not to increase his stores, but to diminish his desires." "The Mexican figures or picture writing, represent things not words: they exhibit images to the eye, not ideas to the understanding."
Some sentences are so full and comprehensive, that almost every word is emphatical: as "Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods and plains!" or as that pathetic expostulation in the prophecy of Ezekiel: "Why will ye die !"
Emphasis, beside its other offices, is the great regulator of quantity. Though the quantity of our syllables is fixed in words
By modulation is meant that pleasing variety of voice, which is perceived in nttering a sentence, and which in its nature, is perfectly distinct from emphasis, and the tones of emotion and passion. The young reader should be careful to render his modulation correct and easy: and, for this purpose, should form it upon the model of the most judicious and accurate speakers.
separately pronounced, yet it is mutable, when these words are ranged in sentences; the long being changed into short, the short into long, according to the importance of the words with regard to meaning. Emphasis, also in particular cases, alters the seat of the accent. This is demonstrable from the following examples. "He shall increase, but I shall decrease." "There is a difference between giving and forgiving." "In this species of composition, plausibility is much more essential than probability." In these examples, the emphasis requires the accent to be placed on syllables, to which it does not commonly belong.
In order to acquire the proper management of the emphasis, the great rule to be given, is, that the reader study to attain a just conception of the force and spirit of the sentiments which he is to pronounce. For to lay the emphasis with exact propriety, is a constant exercise of good sense and attention. It is far from being an inconsiderable attainment. It is one of the most decisive trials of a true and just taste; and must arise from feeling delicately ourselves, and from judging accurately of what is fittest to strike the feelings of others.
There is one error, against which it is particularly proper to caution the learner; namely, that of multiplying emphatical words too much, and using the emphasis indiscriminately. It is only by a prudent reserve and distinction in the use of them, that we can give them any weight. If they recur too often; if a reader attempts to render every thing he expresses of high importance, by a multitude of strong emphasis, we soon learn to pay little regard to them. To crowd every sentence with emphatical words, is like crowding all the pages of a book with Italic characters; which as to the effect, is just the same as to use no such distinctions at all.
TONES are different both from emphasis and pauses; consist ing in the notes or variations of sound which we employ, in the expression of our sentiments. Emphasis affects particular words and phrases, with a degree of tone or inflection of voice; but tones peculiarly so called, affect sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes even the whole of a discourse.
To show the use and necessity of tones, we need only observe, that the mind, in communicating its ideas, is in a constant state of activity, emotion, or agitation, from the different effects which those ideas produce in the speaker. Now the end of such communication being, not merely to lay open the ideas, but also the different feelings which they excite in him who utters them, there must be other signs than words to manifest those feelings; as words uttered in a monotonous manner can represent only a similar state of mind, perfectly free from all activity or emotion, As the communication of these internal feelings, was of much more consequence in our social intercourse, than the mere con
veyance of ideas, the author of our being did not, as in that conveyance, leave the invention of the language of emotion, to man; but impressed it himself upon our nature, in the same manner as he has done with regard to the rest of the animal world; all of which express their various feelings, by various tones. Ours, indeed, from the superior rank that we hold, are in a high degree more comprehensive as there is not an act of the mind, an exertion of the fancy, or an emotion of the heart, which has not its peculiar tone, or note of the voice, by which it is to be expressed; and which is suited exactly to the degree of internal feeling. It is chiefly in the proper use of these tones, that the life, spirit, beauty, and harmony of delivery consist.
The limits of this introduction, do not admit of examples, to illustrate the variety of tones belonging to the different passions and emotions. We shall, however, select one, which is extracted from the beautiful lamentation of David over Saul and Jonathan, and which will in some degree, elucidate what has been said on this subject. "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice; lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away; the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil." The first of these divisions expresses sorrow and lamentation: therefore the note is low. The next contains a spirited command, and should be pronounced much higher. The other sentence, in which he makes a pathetic address to the mountains where his friends had been slain, must be expressed in a note quite different from the two for. mer: not so low as the first, nor so high as the second, in a manly, firm, and yet plaintive tone
The correct and natural language of the emotions, is not so difficult to be attained, as most readers seem to imagine. If we enter into the spirit of the author's sentiments, as well as into the meaning of his words, we shall not fail to deliver the words in properly varied tones. For there are few people, who speak English without a provincial note that have not an accurate use of tones, when they utter their sentiments in in earnest discourse. And the reason that they have not the same use for them, in reading aloud the sentiments of others, may be traced to the very defective and erroneous method, in which the art of reading is taught; whereby all the various, natural, expressive tones of speech, are suppressed; and a few artificial, unmeaning reading notes, are substituted for them.
But when we recommend to readers, an attention to the tone and language of emotions; we must be understood to do it with proper limitation. Moderation is necessary in this point, as it is in other things. For when reading becomes strictly imitative,