Imágenes de página

who fail in this particular. Some persons have natural impediments, which render the utterance of certain sounds quite difficult; but an indistinct articulation more frequently arises from a want of care to avoid it, and from a too much indulged disposition in children when learning to read, to hurry over their lessons with a rapidity which renders them unable to articulate, distinctly, the unaccented syllables.And it may here be observed, that teachers cannot too sedulously guard their pupils against this practice-a practice which, if tolerated in the young reader, will soon become a confirmed habit-an uncompromising barrier to a good delivery.

Those who have been accustomed to converse with persons partially deaf, can well appreciate the importance of distinct utterance. A moderate voice with a clear articulation, is much more readily heard by such persons, than an indistinct one however loud; and it is from the same cause that a man with but a feeble voice, can make himself better understood by a large assembly, than the possessor of a powerful one without an observance of a just articulation.-It was to a defect in his articulation that Demosthenes attributed the failure which attended his first efforts in public speaking; and to his success in surmounting this difficulty, we may attribute his elevation from an uninteresting speaker, to one of the most renowned orators of any age.

One of the sources of an indistinct articulation, may be traced to an inattention in giving the proper sounds to the unaccented vowels. In many words, by a careless articulation one vowel is substituted for another; thus,-for educate, we hear ed-e-cate; for calculate, cal-kelate; for populous, pop-e-lous ; &c. In some words the vowel is nearly or quite suppressed; as, for the word, prevail, we hear pr-vail; for predict, pr-dict; for propose, pr-pose; for provide, pr-vide, &c. The accented vowels, too, in words which are followed by the same or similar sounds, are often but indistinctly uttered, as may be seen by the following example :

"Tho oft the ear the open vowels tire."

But the greatest source of defective articulation, lies in the circumstance that it depends mostly upon the consonant sounds, many of which require some effort to articulate. The vowel sounds are easily expressed; but many of the consonants, under certain arrangements of letters, are hard of utterance, and are often not articulated at all. This is particularly the case where the termination of one word or syllable, with one or more consonants, is succeeded by a similar arrangement in the syllable or word next following, as was the case with the vowels in the above example. Thus,-in syllables,-attempt, atempt; afflict, af-lict; ennoble, en-oble; tyranny, ty-ran-y; appeal, ap-eal, &c.

In words,

The youth hates study.

The youth hates tudy.

The steadfast stranger in the forests strayed.
The steadfas tranger in the fores trayed.

Not only are words often mutilated by a careless articulation, but the meaning of whole sentences is often rendered obscure or perverted. For instance, let the following sentence be read indistinctly;-"His

teachers ought to prove his work ;"-and whether to understand that "his teachers ought to prove;" or, "his teacher sought to prove," or, "his teachers ought to approve;" might be a subject of unsatisfied anxiety. In the following, the sense is entirely perverted by not uttering a consonant distinctly:

The horse performs well on neither side.

The horse performs well on either side.

Teachers seldom pay sufficient attention to this branch of elocution, in instructing their pupils. It is the basis, upon which all the other properties of a good delivery rest; and it will be in vain to press pupils forward, in the hope of their becoming good readers, until they first form a habit of distinct utterance. Those who have acquired a habit of indistinct articulation, should be made to read slow, and with a reference solely to this defect; and this practice should be continued, until a correct habit be formed.

Whoever will listen to the reading or speaking of others, may observe that a bad articulation is not unfrequent. Letters, words, and sometimes parts of sentences, are often so nearly suppressed, or blended together, as almost to baffle all effort to apprehend the meaning. To prevent this, requires nothing more than practice upon the elementary sounds of the language; and a daily exercise upon them, exclusively, in reading and conversation, would be attended with the most profitable results to all who are defective in this important attainment. The following exercises present some of the most difficult sentences to articulate-In reading them, let every word be separately and distinctly articulated:

The finest street in Naples.

Artists' works and nature's gifts seduce.
Divers strifes ceaseth their rage.

The battle lasts still.

The hosts still stood.

Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone.

She authoritatively led us, and disinterestedly labored for us; and we un. hesitatingly admitted her reasonableness.

AUSTIN, a modern writer on delivery, says: "In just articulation the words are not to be hurried over, nor precipitated, syllable over syllable; nor, as it were, melted together in a mass of confusion. They should neither be abridged, nor prolonged; nor swallowed, nor forced; they should not be trailed, nor drawled, nor let to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They are to be delivered out from the lips as beautiful coins, newly issued from the mint; deeply and accurately impressed; perfectly finished; neatly struck by the proper organs; distinct; in due succession, and of due weight.”

II. Accent.


ALTHOUGH under the head of articulation we have urged the distinct utterance of all the syllables of a sentence, yet every word of more than one syllable, requires a greater stress of the voice upon some one of its syllables than upon the rest, which stress is denominated accent. syllable on which the accent is placed, is in most words established by custom, and the sense is not dependent upon it: but in some few words the meaning is established by the accent. This may be the case while the word is the same part of speech; as, desert, (a wilderness)—desert,

(merit) to conjure, to conjure, &c. The accent also distinguishes between the same word used as a noun and an adjective; as, minute, minute; compact, compact; and it also distinguishes between the noun and the verb; as, conduct, to conduct; insult, to insult, &c. Accent is sometimes controlled by emphasis; and in words which have a sameness of form, but are contrasted in sense, it frequently falls upon syllables, to which, did not the emphasis require it, it would not be long; as, He shall increase, but I shall decrease; there is a difference between giving, and forgiving. Although the meaning of comparatively but few words is affected by the accent, its proper use tends to promote the harmony of utterance, and should be governed by the most approved usage and taste.

III. Emphasis.

EMPHASIS is the forcible, and peculiar utterance of those words of a sentence, upon which the meaning depends. On the right use of emphasis, rest the whole beauty and intelligence of delivery. When it is not used at all, discourse becomes heavy and insipid; and if it be used wrong, it must be at the expense of the meaning of the author, whose ideas it is the object of reading to attain.

To give rules by which the proper use of emphasis may be learned, without entering into the meaning and spirit of the composition, is not possible. It is governed by the sentiment, and is inseparably associated with thought and emotion. The right use of emphasis indeed requires, not only an understanding of the author's meaning, but a corresponding feeling on the part of the reader: for, although by an understanding of the meaning of a sentence we may be able to point out the emphatic words, yet without entering, to a certain extent, into the same feeling which dictated the sentiment, that peculiar modulation of emphasis which constitutes the beauty of delivery, and which alone can express the true meaning, and the whole meaning of the author, can not be exercised.

Strong emphasis is sometimes required upon words in consideration of their absolute importance; but its principal use is to enforce particular ideas, in contradistinction from others, which are supposed to have been hitherto entertained, or which, it is feared, may be at present received. The learner will observe that in almost every case, where a word requires emphasis, there is some other idea suggested in opposition to that expressed by the word emphasized, and from which the emphasis invites the particular distinction. In some sentences this opposite or antithetic idea is expressed in words, but more frequently it is not. When it is expressed, the words forming both parts of the antithesis receive the emphasis, and there can be no difficulty in discovering them,—as in the following couplet from Pope:

'Tis hard to say if greater want of skill

Appear in writing, or in judging ill.

But when the word or words in opposition are not expressed, reliance is placed upon the understanding to supply them. Brutus, in Shakspeare's Julius Cesar, says to Cassius," You wronged yourself to write in such a case."-Here but one part of the antithesis is expressed, and the judgment of the reader must discover the other by the sense, or the emphasis will not be rightly placed. Let us look for the

meaning. Brutus, in making this assertion, did it under the impression that Cassius thought himself injured by some other person. Taking this, then, for the antithetic idea, and the one which Brutus wished to controvert, the emphasis is involuntarily thrown upon yourself, and this makes the sentence express its true meaning,-thus:

You wronged yourself to write in such a case.

The following short sentence may be the appropriate answer to either of five different questions; and consequently be made to express so many different ideas by the emphasis alone:

Thomas will walk to Geneva to-day.

If the question be, who will walk to Geneva to-day, it is determined by placing the emphasis in this sentence on Thomas. If it is doubtful whether any one go, it is decided by placing the emphasis on will. If the question be how will he go, it is answered by placing the emphasis on walk; and, in the same manner, it will be seen that the emphasis, placed upon either of the remaining words of the sentence, makes it the appropriate answer to the question touching place, or time.

This example will further illustrate the subject, by so transposing it as to make it interrogative. The character of the answer will depend wholly upon the emphasis.

Will Thomas walk to Geneva to-day?
Answer-No; he will not.

Will Thomas walk to Geneva to-day?
Ans. No; but John will.

Will Thomas walk to Geneva to-day?
Ans. No; he will ride.

Will Thomas walk to Geneva to-day?
Ans. No. He will go to Lyons.
Will Thomas walk to Geneva to-day?
Ans. No; but he will to-morrow.

Although the emphasis more commonly falls upon the more important words of a sentence, the following example is one, in which it is required upon a succession of small words. Bassanio, in Shakspeare's Merchant of Venice, had received a ring from his wife, which he had promised never to part with, but which, forgetting his promise, he gave to an officer as a reward for the preservation of his friend's life. The example is his apology to his wife; but without the proper emphasis it is hardly intelligible:

"If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive for what I gave the ring
And how unwillingly I left the ring,

When nought would be accepted but the ring,

You would abate the strength of your displeasure."

Thus far our remarks upon emphasis have been confined to what may be called single emphasis; that is, where the emphasis is absolute, and arises from the importance of the word in itself considered; or, where the two words in antithesis are expressed; or, where but one is expressed and the other understood-the most common case. There are also instances where two emphatic words are opposed to two others; and sometimes where three words are opposed to three others in the same sentence. We will give an example of each of these cases.

1st. "Where and what art thou, execrable shape ?"
"Arm! warriors, arm for fight!"

"Wo unto you, Pharisees!"""

"Angels, and ministers of grace, defend us !"

[In the above examples the emphasis is absolute, there being no antithesis expressed or necessarily implied.]

2d. "I that denied thee gold, will give my heart."

[In this sentence the antithesis is expressed; and we can hardly do otherwise than place the emphasis upon both gold and heart.]

3d. "Exercise and temperance strengthen even an indifferent constitution." [In this the antithetic idea is understood:-it is, that not a good constitution merely, is strengthened by exercise and temperance, but even an indifferent one.]

4th. "The pleasures of the imagination are not so gross as those of sense, nor so refined as those of the understanding."

[Here are two antitheses; gross and refined forming one, and sense and understanding the other.]

5th. "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." [In this example, false stands opposed to truth, himself to others, and right to wrong.]

"In order to acquire the proper management of the emphasis," says Murray, "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, requires a constant exercise of good sense and attention. 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."

IV. Inflections.

INFLECTIONS are bendings or slides of the voice from one key to another. They may be divided into the rising inflection, the falling inflection, and the circumflex. In the use of the rising inflection, we strike the word to which it belongs, upon a note, on the scale of musical sounds, a little below the general key upon which we are speaking, and terminate upon a note about as much higher, turning the word with our voice in this direction, (). The falling inflection is the reverse of this, (\) striking the word upon a key a little above, and terminating a little below the general speaking key.—By the general key we mean that sound of the voice which preponderates, and which would be heard at a distance too great to distinguish one word from another.-The circumflex is a bending of the voice downward, and returning with it in a curve, thus, (~) to the same key upon the

same word,

Although the inflections are a distinct property of elocution, they are yet so intimately connected with emphasis, that in our remarks we shall consider them mostly as but a quality of it. The rising inflec tion is indeed often used without any emphasis; as at the suspending pause which occurs in compound sentences, to denote the sentence is unfinished; the falling is used at the close of sentences;-and both the rising and falling often occur where there should be but little or no emphasis, and contribute in no small degree to the beauty of deli

« AnteriorContinuar »