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B'm My movA am ;— Uw fsrima mvwmi M«^
He coald|>agr noMly ;-*Ue could paia nobody.

Two successive souodd are to be formed here, with
die organs m the same positton ; so that, without a pauae
between, only one of the single sounds is spoken ; and
Ae difficulty is much increased when sense or graipmati-
tA relation forbids such a pause ; as between the simple
nominatire and the verb, the verb and its object, the ad-
jective and its substantive. In the last example, **be
could pain nobody," — grammar forbids a pause between
pain and nobody, while orthoepy demands one. But
change the structure so as to render a pause proper after
pain, and the difficulty vanishes; — thus, '*Though he
codured great pain, nobody pitied him."

2.] A third difficulty arises from the influence of de-
ceit/. The importance which this stress attaches to syl-
lables on which it falls, requires them to be spoken in a
iXiore full and deliberate manner than others. Hence, if
the recurrence of this stress is too close, it occasions heav-
iness in utterance ; if too remote, indistinctness. An ex-
amjple of the former kind, we have from die poet before
mentioned ;

And ten low words ofl creep in one dnll line.

This too is an additional reason for the difficult utter-
ance of the line lately quoted from the same writer ;

Up the high hill he heaTei a huge roand etoae.

The poet compels us, in spito of metrical harmony, to lay
an accent on each syllable. ^

But the remoteness of accent b other cases involves
4 greater difficulty stMl | because the intervening syllables



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MMTiCVhMiJI^M.



are liable to be spoken wUb a rapidit}' iDcoosisteDt witli
distioctoess, especially if they abound with jarring coopOi-
nants. When such close and harsh consonants come to^
gether in immediate successbn^nod-^cithout accent, the
trial of the organs is severe. Combinations of this kind
we have in the words comtaunicatwelyy author itaiiveh^
terrcitrial, reasonableness, disinterestedness. And the
case is worse still where we preposterously throw back
the accent so as to be followed by four or five syllables,
as Walker directs in these words riceptahle, pirempiorily^
aiceptableness. While these combinations almosi defy
the best organs of speech, no one finds any difficulty ip
uttering words combined with a due proportion of liquids,^
and a haj^py arrangement of vowels and accents.

Not so when iwifl CamiHa scourt the plain.

Flies o*er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.

The euphony of the Italian, in which it is distinguish-
ed from all otlier languages, consists ehieflj; innts freedom
from harsh consonants.*

3.] A fourth difficulty arises from a tendency of the
organs to slide over unaccented vowels. Walker says,
"Where vowels are under the accent, the prince mid ^
lowest of the people, with very few exceptions, prooounoe
them in the same manner : but the unaccented vowels,
in the mouth of the former, have a distinct, open sound ;
while the latter often totally sink them, or change then
into some other sound." There is a large class of words
beginning wkb pre and pro, in which this dtstinction seh

3^ * Even tbe flowin^r Greek has such unseemly joncti^li of conto>
• naats as to make w^ooqidiyrixdi, teaxofiTfX^vdo^i, ftamuitn'.

3*



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▲RTICULATION.



iloin fails to appear. In prevent, prevail, predict, a bad
articulation sraks e of the first syllable so as to make pr-
vent, prevail, pr^ict. The case is the same with o in
proceed, profane, promote ; spoken proceed, fee. So « is
confouded with short u in event, omit, &c. spoken uvvent,
ummit. In the same manner u is transformed into e, as
in populous, regular, singular, educate, &c. spoken pop-e*
lous, reg-e-lar, ed'e-cate, A smart percussion of the
tongue, with a little rest on the consonant before tf , so as
to make it quite distinct, would remove the difficulty.

The same sort of defect, it may be added, often ap-
pears in the indistinct utterance of consonants ending syl-
lables; thus in attempt, oMention, ef-fect, of-feace, the
consonant of the first syllable is suppressed.

To the foregoing remarks, it may be proper to add
three cautions.

The first is, in aiming to acquire a distinct articulation,
take care notjto form one that is measured and mechani"
cah Something of preciseness is very apt to appear at
first, when we attempt to correct the above faults ; but
practice and perseverance will enable us to combine ease
and fluency with clearness of utterance. The child in
pasmg from his spelling manner, is ambitious to become
a swift reader, and thus falls into a confusion of organs
that is to be cured only by retracing the steps which pro-
duced it. The remedy, however, is no better than the
fault, if it runs into a scan-ning, pc'dan-tic for^maUi-ty,
giving undue stress to particles and unaccented syllables ;
thus, *< He is the man of all the world whom I rejoice to
meet. Perhaps there is something in the technical for-
malities of language attached to the bar, which inclines



^



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AmTicotATimr. 31

some speakers of that profesrion to this fault. In tbe
pulpit, there is someitmes an artificial solemnity, whicfa
produces a drawling, measured articulation, of a ^1 more
exceptionable kind.

In some parts of our country, inhabited by descend-
ants of foreigners, especially the Dutch, there is a preva-
lent habit of sinking the sound of e or t in words where
English usage preserves it, as in rebely ehapdy Laiutj"^
spoken reb% chap% Lat^n. In other cases, where Eng-
lish usage suppresses the vowel, the same persons speak
it with marked distinctness, or turn it into u ; as ev'ii, «p'fi,
Aeav'n, pronounced ev-vn, op^un^ heav-un.

The second caution is, — let the close of sentences be
spoken clearly ; with sufficient strength, and on the proper
pitch, to bring out the meaning completely. No part of
a sentence is so important as tbe close, both in respect to
sense and harmony.

The third caution is, — ascertain your own defects of
articulation J by the aid of somefriend^ and then devote a
short time statedly and daUy^ to correct them. It is im-
possible, without a resolute experiment, to know how
much the habit of reading ak>ud, besides all its other ad-
vantages, may do for a public speaker in giving distinctness
to his delivery.''^ At first, this exercise should be in tbe
hearing of a second person, who may stop the reader, and

* A friaod of mine, a reipectablo lawyer, informed me that, in a
court which he nsually attended, there was oflen mnch difficulty
to hear what wai spoken at the bar, and from the bench. One m
the judges, however, a man of slender health, and somewhat ad-
vanced in age, was heard with perfect ease in every part of the
court room, whenever he spoke. So observable was the difference
between him and others, that the fitct was mentioned to him as a



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33 M9!tiemMAXHm^

fwiot out, at the iDQfiieot, the fiiult to be corrected. For
eome time the rate of utterance should be slower than usu*
aly and directed to the single point of distinctness, dismiss-
ing all regard to the sense of words, lest thb lead him to
fiKget the ob^U To make sure of this end, if he can-
not do it otherwise, he may pronounce the words of a
-common vocabulary. At any rate, let him make a list of
such words and combinatknis as he has found most diffi-
cult to his organs, and repeat them as a set exercise. If
he has been accustomed to say omnip-e-ientj pop-e-lcui^
pr^motef pr-venU let him learn to speak the unaccented
vowels properly.

IMPEDIMEMTS.

As directly connected with articulation, a few remarks
on impediments seem to be necessary. Stammering may
doubUess exist from such causes, and to such degree as
to be insurmountable ; though in most cases, a complete
remedy is attainable by the early use of proper means.
They who have given most attention to this defect, sup-
pose that it should generally be ascribed to some infelici-
ty of nervous temperament. When this is the cause, ea-
gerness of emotion, fear of strangers, surprise, anxiety, : /
•—any thing that produces a sudden rush of spirits, will
communicate a spasmodic action to the organs of speech. ^
The process of cure in such a case, must begin with such ^
attention to bodily health, as will give firmness to the ^^

•abject of cariosity. The jodge explained it by sayinff , that hie *^ '
▼oc&l powerf, which were originally quite' imperfect, had aiA^uired -^
elearneuand strength by the long continaed habit of readin«r iSdad,,
for about half an hoar, every day. v



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▲BTICULAT109. 33



nervous system, and produce a calm, clear, and regular
action of the mind.

With this preparation, it is best not to put the stam-
merer at first to the hardest task of his organs, but to be-
gin at a distance, and come to the difficulty by regular
approaches. The course that has been pursued^ with
perfect success, by one respectable teacher, is this. The
pqpil is to begin with reading verse ; the more simple and
regular, the better :-7— he is to mark the feet distinctly
with his voice, and beat time with his hand or toe to the
movement. From verse of this regular structure, he may
proceed to that which is less uniform in metrical order ;
then to prose, of the elevated and poetic kind ; then to
common prose | and by degrees to the difficult com-
binations at which he had been accustomed to stammer.
In repeating certain words there may be an obstinate
struggle of the organs ; as in the attempt to pronounce
parable, the p may be spoken again and again, while the
remainder of the word does not follow. In such a case
the advice of the celebrated Dr. Darwin was, that the
stammerer should, in a strong voice, eight or ten times,
repeat the word, without the initial letter, or with an as-
'^pirate before it ; as arable, harable ; and then speak it
softly, with the initial letter jB>, - paraWc. This should be
practised for weeks or months, upon every word, where
the difficulty of utterance chiefly occurs.






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CHAP. III.



TONES AND INFI.ECTIONS.

The former of these terms is more comprehensive
than the latter, embracing, in its most extensive sense, all
sounds of the human voice. In a more restricted and
proper sense, we mean by tones those sounds which stand
connected with some rhetorical principle of language. In
a few cases passion is expressed by tones which have no
inflection ; but more commonly inflection is what gives
significance to tones. Except a few general remarks
here, no consideration of tones seems necessary, distinct
from the subject of the following chapters, especially
Modulation.

Sect. 1. Tones comidered as a language of emotion.

Sight has commonly been considered as the most
active of all our senses. As a source of emotion, we de*
rive impressions more various, and in some respects more
vivid, from this sense, than from any other. Yet the class
of tender emotions, such as grief and pity, are probably
excited more strongly by the ear than the eye.

Whether any reason can be assigned for this or not,
the fact seems unquestionable. A groan or shriek utter-
ed by the human voice, is not only more intelligible thi^
words, but more instantly awakens our sensibility than any
signs of distress, that are presented to the ftight. Our



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TOKEA A3m mruBOTioirs* 38

sympathy b the sufferings of irrational animals, is increas*
ed in the same way. The violent contortions of the ^,
in the pangs of death, being exhibited witbotst the aid of
vocal organs, very faintly excite our compassion, compar*
ed with the plaintive bleatings of an expiring lamb. And
a still stronger distinction seems to prevail among brulei
themselves. For while the passion of fear in them is as*
sociated chiefly with objects of sight, that of pity is awak-
ened, almost exclusively, by the sense of hearing. The
cry of distress from a suffering animal, instinctively call^
around him his fellows of the same species, though this
cry is an unknown tongue to animals of any other class.
At the same time his own species, if he utters no cries,
while they see him in excruciating agony, manifest no
sympathy in his sufferings.

Without inquiring minutely into the philosophy of vo*
cal tones, as being signs of emotion, we must take the
fact for gntnted that they are so. And no man surely
will question the importance of this language in oratory,
when he sees that it is understood by mere children ; and
that even bis horse or his dog distinguish perfectly those
sounds of hi| voice which express his anger or his appro-
bation.

SvcT. 2. Utility of sy$temaiic attention to tonti and iii-
Jlections.

Analysis of vocal inflections bears the same relation to

oratory, that the tuning of an instrument does to music.

^be rudest performer in this latter art knows, that bis first

*l)usiness is to regulate the instrument be uses, when it is

io deranged as to produce no perfect notes, or to produce



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3B TomBs iom nrrLaonon.

oAaers ikwti those which he intends. The voice is the
speaker^ instrument, which by neglect or mismimnge-
roeit is often so oat of tune as not to obey the will of him
who uses it. To cure bad habits is the first and hardest
task in elocution. Among instructors of children scarcely
one in fifty thinks of carrying bis precepts beyond cor-
roctness in uttering words, and a mechanical attention to
patises. So that the child who speaks the words of a
sentence distinctly and fluently, and '^ minds the stops," as
it is caHedy is, without scruple, pronounced a good reader.
Hence, among the multitude who consider themselves as
good readers, there are so few who give by their voice
that just expression of sentiment, which constitutes the
spirit 'and soul of delivery.

The unseemly tones, which are contracted in child-
hood, are often so deeply fixed, as not easily to yield to
the dictates of a manly intellect, and a cultivated taste, in
after life. These habits are acquired almost unavoida-
bfy by ebildren, in consequence of their being accustomed
tt> read what they do not understand. The man who
should prepare a school-book, containing proper lessons
finr beginners in the art^f reading, with familiar directions
for managing the voice, would probably do a greater ser-
vice to the interests of elocution, than has yet been done
by the most elaborate works on the subject, in the Eng-
lish language.* The tones of the common school are of-

* Since thif remark wai mmde ia mj pamphlet on InflecUoii,
MTeral small trorka, weH adapted to the purpose above-mentioned,
ka9% been- puklisbed ; and one has been lalel j iaaned, mtiUed Le^
eons in Declamation, bj Mr. Russell of Boston, concerning the utilit^
•r wbM klgh eapectatioM are jvstlied bj the skill of the cnthor, t«
a Teacher of £locatioa.



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TONVS AND iNrLKCTimvs* 37

ten retaioed aod co&finued at the college, and tbence,
(with some distinguished exceptions,) are carried in all
their strength to the bar, and especially to the pulpit.
This fault is by no means peculiar to America ; it prevails
certainly not less in the schools and universities of Eog*
land and Scotland, than in our own:

But what is the remedy ? It has often been said, the
only good canon of elocution is,— '^ enter into the spirit of
what you utter." If we were to have but one direction,
doubtlcBS this should be the one. Doubtless it is better
than all others to prevent the formation of bad habits ; —
and better than any other alone, as a remedy for such hab-
its ; but when these are formed, it is by no means suffi-
cient of itseH* for tlieir cure. To do what is right, with un-
perverted faculties, is ten times easier than to undo what
is wrong. How often do we see men of 6ne understand-
ing and delicate sensibility, who utter their thoughts in
conversation, with all the varied intonations which senti-
^lent requires ; but who, the moment they come to read or
speak in a- formal manner, adopt a set of artificial tones
utterly repugnant to the spirit of a just elocution. Shall
we say that such men do not understand what they speak
in public, as well as what they speak in conversation ?
Plainly the difference arises from a perverse habU^ which
prevails over tliem in one case, and not in the other.
Many instances of this sort I have known, where a man
has been fully sensible of something very wrong in his
tones, but has not been able to see exactly what the fault
is ; and. after a few indefinite and unsticcessful efforts tt
am^dment, has quietly concluded to go on in the old way.
So he must conclude, so long as good- sense and emo-
4



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3S TOffKS AND mrLCGTIOllS.

tbn are not an eqtial match for bad habits, without a
knowledge of those elenoentary principles, by which the
needed remedy is to be applied.

Skill in ?ocal inflections, it is granted, cannot of itself
Rtake an orator. Nor can skill in words. Who does
not know that with an ample stock of words at command,
a man may be little more than a chatterkig animal f Yet
who can be an orator without words f We have seen
that a man, with no defects of intellect or of sensibili^,
may have great faults in the management of his voice as
a speaker. These perhaps he acquired in childhood, just
as be learned to speak at all, or to speak English rather
than French, — by imitation^ His tones both of pas«on
and of articulation, are derived from an instinctive corres-
pondence between the ear and voice. If he had been
born deaf, be would have possessed neither. Now in
what way shall he break up his bad habits, without so
much attention to the analysis of speaking sounds, that he
Can in some good degree distinguish those which difier>
and imitate those which he would wish to adopt or avoid f
How shall he correct a tone, while he cannot understand
why it needs correclioD, because be ciiooses to remain ig-
norant of the onlf knguage in which the fault can possi-
\iy be described ?- Lot him study and accustom himself
to apply a few elementary principles^ and then be may
m least be able to understand what are the defects of his
ovm intonations. I do not say that tbb attainment may be
Mide with equal facility, or to an equal extent, by all men..
But to an important extent it may be made by every one ;
and that with a moderate share of the eflbrt demanded by
most odier valuable acquisitions; I might say with one



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half the time and atteatioa ibat sre reipiishe to attain flkii
ia music.

It may be doubted, however, by some, whether any
theory «of vocal inflections, to be studied and applied 1^
the pupil, mast not tend to perplex rather than to facilitate
delivery. The same cfeobt may as well be extended to
every department of practical knowledge. To think of
the rules of sjmtax, every ^ent^ce we speak, or of the
rules of orthc^aphy and style, every time we take up our
pen to write, would indeed be perplexing. The remedy
prescribed by common^ sense in all such cases, is, not to
discard correct theories, but to make them so familiar a^
to govern our practice spontaneously, and without reflec-
tion.

Btti if one has already the perfect management of his
voice, of what service, it is said, are theoretic principles to
him f Of very little, certainly ; just as rules of syntax
would be needless to him, who could write and speak cor^-
rectly without them. But the number of those who sup-
pose themselves to be of this description, is doubtless
much larger^ than of those who really are so^ And be*
sides, this reasoning hardly applies to those who are des-
tined for literary professioos. A mere peasant may speak
a sentence of ^xkl English, and do it with proper enipba^
sis and inflections ; while he is a stranger to all the prin*
ciples of grammar, and of elocution. But a scholar should
aim at something more. The question as to voice, is, are
there any settled principles in elocution f When a skilful
teacher has read to hb pupils a sentence for their imitation,
is there any reason why ht should have read it as he did ?
-^or why he or they should read it again in the same man*



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40 TdHXS AMD INFLKCTiOlfS.

Derf CaD that reason be made intelligible .^ Doubtless
it may, if it is founded on any stated law of deliveiy. Tbe
pupils then, need not rest in a senrile imitation of their
leacher's maEmer, but are entitled to ask why bis empha-
sia, or inflection, or cadence was so, and not otherwise :
and then they may be able to transfer tbe same principles
to other cases. Then too one skilful teacher, by means
of such intelligible analysis, may assist other teachers,
whose capacity b equal to his own, but whose experience
has been less than his. For myself, I must say, that af-
ter all I had read of Garrick, I had no distinct conceptbn
of his manner in delivering any given passage, till I saw
Walker's description of bis inflections in the grand and ter-
rible adjuration of Macbeth. [See Ex. p. 202.] If C^uinc-
tilian had given me the same precise information respect*
ing the turns of Cicero's voice, in some interesting passage
of his orations, it would be no small gratification of my
curiosity.

Now while every tyro has known for centuries, that
the verb has a stated, grammatical relation to its nominar
tive, and while certain tones have occurred in as stated
a relation to certain sentiments of the mind ; it is but a
short time since the tones of articulate language have been
considered as capable of any useful classification. Seve-
ral years of childhood are particularly devoted to acquire
a correct orthography and accentuation ; and to promote
a knowledge of these and of syntax, rules have been fram*
ed with great care. But what valuable directions have
our elementary books contained as to the management of
the voice in reading .^^-^an art which lies at the bottom of
ay good delivery. Here our embryo orator«9 on their



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T0HE9 AND INrLECTIONS, 41

way to the bar, tbe seDate, and the pulpk, are turned c^
with a few meagre rules, and are expected to become ao-
coraplished speakers, without having e?er learned to read
a common passage, in a graceful and impressive manner.
t*ihy years ago tbe general direction given by teachers in
reading was, that in every sort of sentence the voice should
be kept up in a rising tone till the regular cadence is
formed, at the close. This was exactly adapted to ruin
all variety and force, and to produce a set of reading tones
completely at variance with those of conversation and
speaking. The more particular directions as to voice, for-
merly given in books for learners, were the three following :
that a parenthesis requires a quick and weak pronuncia-
tion ; — that tiie voice should rise at tlie end of an inter-
rogative sentence, — and fall at the end of one that is de-
clarative. The first is true without exception ; — the
second, only in that sort of que^ion which is answered by
yes or no ; and the third is true with the exception of all
cases where emphasis carries the voice to a high note at
the close of a sentence. So that, among the endless vari-
eties of modification which the voice assumes in speaking,
but one was accurately marked before the time of Walker.
To his labors, imperfect as a first efibrtof the kind neces-
sarily must be, the work! will ultimately acknowledge
great obligations. Such, however, is the intrinsk diffi-
culty of representing 40un(/t, by symbols adapted to the
eye^ that no precepts on this subiect can be made com-
pletely intelligible, without the aid of exemplificatk>n by
the teacher's voice. The ear too is an organ, which in
diflfbrent men, possesses various degrees of sensibiliQr and
accuracy in discriminating sounds ; though it may acquire
4*



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^ TONES AND INrLBCTIONS.

a good degree of skill in speaking tones, without skill in
iDUsiCi as appears from the case of Walker himself.
Sect. 3. Description of Inflections.
The absolute modifications of the voice in speaking
are four ; namely, monotone, rising inflection, falling in-
flection, and circumflex. The 6rst may be marked to the
eye by a horizantal line, thus, (-) the second thus, () the
third thus, Q the fourth thus, (o).

The monotone is a sameness of sound on successive
syllables, which resembles that produced by repeated
strokes on a bell. Perhaps this is never carried so far



Online LibraryEbenezer PorterAnalysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and ... → online text (page 3 of 30)