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discriminating and significant of its design. Nor would
this discrimination require rhetorical skill in a printer. It
would give him far less difficulty, than to learn the gram-
tnaucal use of the semicolon. The same remarks apply
to the note of exclamation.

As to the adjustment of pauses, to allow the speaker
opportunity for drawing his breath, the difficulty seems to
have been much overrated by writers and teachers. From
my own experience and observation, I am inclined to
think that no directions are needed on this point, and that
the surest way to make even the youngest pupil breathe
at the proper time, is to let him alone.

For the sake of those who feel any apprehension on
this subject, it may be proper to say, that the opportuni*
ties for taking breath in the common current of delivery,
are much more frequent than one might suppose, who has
not attended to this matter. There is no grammatical re-
lation of words so ck)se, as utterly to refuse a pause be-
tween them, except the artich and nown^ the preposition
and notrn, and the adjective and no vn in their natural or-

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Supposing the student to be already familiar with the
common doctrine of punctuation, it is not my design to
discuss it here ; nor even to dwell upon the distinction be*
tween grammatical and rhetorical pauses. All that is
necessary, is to remark distinctly, that visible punctuation
cannot be regarded as a perfect guide to quaniityjBnj
more than to inflections. Often the voice must rest where
DO pause is allowed in grammar ; especiaUy does this hap-
pen, when the speaker would fix attention on a single
word, that stands as immediate nominative to a verb. A
few examples may make this evident.

Industry is the guardian of innocence.
Prosperity gains friends, adversity tries them.

Some place the bliss in action, some in ease ;
Those call it pleasure, and contentment these.

Mirth I consider as an act, cheerfidness as a habit of the mind.
Mirth is short and transient, ckeetfidness fixed and permanent.
Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that glitters for a moment; cheer-
fulness keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind.

Here the words in Italic take no visible pause after
them, without violence to grammatical relation. But the
ear demands a pause after each of these words, which no
good reader will fail to observe.

The same principle extends to the length of pauses.
The comma, when it simply marks grammatical rolatioD,
is very short, as ^< He took with him Peter, and James,
and John, his disciples." But when the comma is used
in language of emotion, though it is the same pause to the
eye, it may suspend the voice much longer than in die

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fiurmer case ; as in the solemD and deliberate call to at-
teotkm ; — ^^ Men, brethreoy and fathers, hearkeo."*

This leads me to the chief point, which I had in view
under this head, the emphatic pause. Grarrick employed
this on the stage, and Whitefield in the pulpit, with
great effect. It occurs sometimes before, but commonly
after a striking thought is uttered, which the speaker thus
presents to the hearers, as worthy of special attention, and
which he seems confidently to expect, will command as-
sent, and be fixed in the memory, by a moment of unin-
terrupted reflection. More commonly such a thought as
admits the emphatic pause, drops the voice to a grave
under-key, in the manner described at the close of the
last article. Sometimes it breaks out in the figure of in-
terrogation, with a higher note, and the eye fixed on some
single hearer. To produce its proper effect, it must
spring firom such reality of feeling as defies all cold imita-
tion ; and this feeling never fails to produce, while the
voice is suspended on the emphatic pause, a correspon-
dent significance of expression in the countenance.

There is still another pause, so important in delivery,
as to deserve a brief notice ; I mean that with which a

* The rhetorical ptiiBe is as appropriate in music as in elocution.
In this respect a skinal composer always conforms to sentiment, in.
a set piece. In metrical psalmody, though this adaptation cannot
be made by the writer of the tone, it ought to be made in some
good degree, by the performers. Instead of a tame subserviency
to arbitrary quantity, they may often, with powerful effect, insert .
or omit a pause, as sentiment demands. I have scarcely ever felt
the influence of music more, than in one or two cases where the
stanzas, being highly rhetorical, were divided only by a comma,
and the choir spontaneously rushed over the musical pause at the
end of the tune, and began it anew, from the impulse of emotion.
See example, WatU, Book 1, Hymn 3, 6 and 7 - 8 and 9 stanzas.

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118 Ha EtOttlC At PAV^t .

good speaker marks the close of a paragraph^ or division
of a discourse. The attempt to keep up an assembly to
one pitch of interest, and that by one unremitted strain of
address, is a great mistake, though a very common one,
as it respects both the composition and the delivery- of a
discourse. It resuhs from principles with which every
public speaker ought to be acquainted, that high excite*
ment cannot be sustained for a long time. He who has
skill enough to kindle in his hearers, the same glow which
animates himself, while he exhibits some vivid argument,
or illustration, will suffer them to relax, when he has fin-
ished that topic ; and will enter on a new one, with a more
familiar tone of voice, and after such a pause, as prepares
them to accompany him with renewed satisfaction.

It may be remarked in passing, that when the voice
has outrun itself, and reached too high a pitch, one of
these paragraph-rests affords the best opportunity to re-
sume the ptoper key.

24] Sect. 6. — Compass of Voice.

It may be thought that what has been said already,
concerning high and low notes, is sufficient, on this part of
modulation. My remarks on pitchy however, related
chiefly to the predominant note which one employs in a
given case ; whereas I now refer to the range of notes,
above and below this governing or natural key, which is
required by a spirited and diversified delivery.

Sometimes from inveterate habit, and sometimes from
incapacity of the organs, the voice has a strong, clear bot-

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torn, without any compass upwards. In other cases, it
has a good top, but no compass below its key. Extreme
instances to the contrary there may be, but commonly, I
have no doubt that when a speaker uses only a note or
two, above and below the key, it arises from habit, and not
from organic defect. Few indeed have, or could by any
means acquire, the versatility of vocal power, by which
Whitefield could imitate the tones of the female or the in-
fant voice, at one time, and at another, strike his hearers
with awe, by the thundering note of his under key. Nor
is this power essential to an interesting delivery. On the
other hand, there are few, if any, who could not, by prop-
er pains in cultivating the voice, give it all the compass
which is rec[uisite to grave and dignified oratory.

As I cannot dwell on this point, it may be useful to
say briefly, that when the voice of the young speaker is
found to be wanting in compass, I would advise him, in
the first place, to try an experiment, similar to that which
was suggested, p. 107, for increasing strength or loudness
of sound, without change of key. Suppose he takes the
same line ;

O, yoa hard hearts, jou cruel men of Rome !

and reads it first on the lowest note, on which he can ar-
ticulate. Then let him repeat it a note higher, and so on,
till he reaches the highest note of his voice. His com-
pass being ascertained, by such an experiment, on a few
words, he may then practise reading passages of some
length, on that part of his voice which he especially wish-
es to improve ; taking care, in this more protracted exer-
cise, not to pitch on the extreme note of his voice, either

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way, so far as to preclude some rariety aboYe or bebfr,
to correspond with natural delivery.

In the second placet I would advise him to read pas-
sages where the sentiment and style are specially adapted
to the purpose be has in view. If be wishes to cultivate
the bottom of his voice, selections from narrative or didac-
tic composition may be made, which wiU allow him to be-
gin a new sentence, in a note nearly as low, as that in which
he finished the preceding. Or he may take passages of
poetry, in which the simile occurs, a figure that generally
requires a low and equal movement of voice.

If he wishes to increase his compass on the higher
notes, let him choose passages in which spirited emotion
prevails; especially such as have a succession of interrog-
ative sentences. These will incline the voice, spontane-
ously, to adopt those elevated tones on which he wishes to
cultivate its strength. Instead of giving examples here to
illustrate these principles, I refer the reader to Excroises,
[24] where a few selections are made for this purpose.

25] Sect. 7. — Transition.

By this i mean those sudden changes of voice which
often occur in delivery. This article, and those which fol-
low upon modulation, are chiefly intended to combine and
apply the principles of the preceding sections. The
whole object is, to elucidate that one, standing law of de-
livery, that vocal tones should correspond, in variety, with
sentiment ; in contradistbqtion from monotony, and from
that variety which is either accidental or mechanical. In

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this spontaneous coincidence, by which the voice dianges
its elevation, rate, strength, iic. in conformity with emo-
tion, consists that excellence which is universally feh and
admired, in the manner t)f a good speaker.

To designate these changes, besides the rhetorical
marks already employed to denote inflection, it will be
necessary to adopt several new ones ; and the foltowing
may answer the purpose ; signifying that the voice is to
be modified, in reading what follows the marks respec-
tively thus :

' o ) high. ( o ) low-

o) high and loud. (oo) low and loud.

. ) slow. ( II ) rhetorical pause.

( — ) plaintive.^
' In respect to the five first, when one of them occurs,
it must be left to the reader's taste to determine how far
its influence extends in what follows. In respect to this
mark ( •• ) it may be used to signify a considerable pro-
traction of sound on that syllable, which precedes it, and
then it will be inserted in the course of the line, without

H eaven and earth will witaeie,

If RoVK •• MVST •• FALL •• that we are innocent.

^Thos these two,

ImfMracUs'd in one another's arms.
The happier Eden, shall enjoy

^while I to HILL •• am throst.

When the same mark is designed to signify that apaa-

sage is to be uttered with a slow raie^ it will be inserted

thus ( •• ) where that passage begins,— the extent of its

influence being left to the reader's taste; or it may becom-


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bined with another mark, thus, ( ^ ) which would sigoify
loir and slow.

I beg leave to add, that as the utility of this notation
may be doubted by some, and as I am not sanguine re-
specting it myself, it is suggested only as an experiment,
on a most difficult branch of elocution. If applied with
judgment, it may be useful ; and it will at least be harm-
less to those who choose to pass it by.^

I proceed now to explain myself more fully on the
subject of vocal transition^ admonishing the reader, that,
in the examples, and in the Exercises, a word iti Italic has
the common emphasis, while small capitals are occasion-
ally used to denote a still more intensive stress.

Any one who has a good command of his voice, can
use it with a higher or lower, a stronger or feebler note,
at pleasure. This distinction is perfectly made, (as I
have said before,) even by a child, in speaking to one who
is near, and to one who is distant. In rhetorical reading,
when we pass from simple narrative to direct address,
especially when the address is to distant persons, a cor-
respondent transition of voice is demanded. Many ex-
amples of this sort may be found in the Paradise Lost,
from which the following are selected :

-The cherubim.

Forth issuing at the accustomM h6ur, stood arm'd
To their night patches, in warlike pardde,
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake :
(oo)XJzzie] ! II half these draw off, and coast the south,
With strictest wktch ; — these other, || wheel the n6rth ;
Our circuit meets full west.

«8ino« tbe firat edition waapabUibed, I havebeeooM ■atitfied that no part of
jUie book if more adapted to be asefal than tbii.

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Every reader of taste will perceive, that the three last
lines, 10 this case, must be spoken in a much bolder and
higher voice than the preceding.

Another fine example may be seen in the sublime
description of Satan, which ends with a speech to his as-
sociates, full of authority and reprehension. It is so
long, that I shall give only parts of it, sufficient to show
the transition.

( •• ) He scarce had ceaa'd, when the aaperior fiend

Was moving toward the skdre ; his pond'roui shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
Behind him oast; the broad circamference
Hang on his shoulders like the moon.

-on the beach

Of that inflamed sea he stood, |[ and caird

His legions, angel forms ;

He cali'd so loud that all the hollow deep
Of hell •• resounded, (oo) VrinceBf^PoUnidteSf
Wa'rriors !|| the flower of hearen, once yours, now Idst '-
If such astonishment as this can seize^
Eternal spirits.

Here again, where the thought changes, from descrip-
tion to vehement address, to continue the voice in the
simple tones of narrative, would be intolerably tame. It
should rise to a higher and firmer utterance, on the pas-
sage beginning with, " Princes^ — Potentaies^^^ fcc.

In these cases, the change required consists chiefly in
key and quantity. But there are other cases, in which
these may be included, while the change consists also in
the qualitiei of the voice«

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It was remarked [10] p. 54, that tender emotions,
such as pity and grief, incline the voice to gentle tones,
and the rising slide ; while emotions of joy, sublimity, au«
thority, &;c. conform the tones to their own character res-
pectively. It is where this difference of emotion occurs
in the same connexion, that the change I have mentioned
ki the quality of voice, is demanded, analogous to the
difference between plaintive and spirited expression, or
piano eLndfortCy in music. To illustrate this I select two
stanzas from a hymn of Watts, and two from a psalm ;
one being pathetic and reverential, the other animated and
ively. These stanzas I arrange alternately, so as to ex-
hibit the alternation of voice required by sentiment.^

<o) Alai ! and did my Saviour bI6ed ?
And did my Sovereign die ?
Would he devote that sacred h^ad,
For such a worm as 'I ?

(M) Jdy to the world !— tike Ldrd is come I
Let earth reedive her King ;
Let every keitrt prepare him room»
And heav'n and nature sing.

(o) Was it for crimes that / had ddne,
He groan*d upon the tr^e ?
Ama •• zing pity ! grace unknown !
And love || beyond degree !

(oo) Jdy to the earth ! the Sdviour reigns I
Let men Mir songs employ ;
While fields and flo6ds, rdcks, hills, and pldins,
Repeat the sounding joy.

* In the first and third, the voice sheuld be plaintive and soft, a»
well as high.

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ftX^ACtStON* 1S5

Id the foUowiog example, we see Satan lamentiog his
loss of heairen, and then in the dimity of a fell despair,
invoking the infernal world. In reading this, when the
apostrophe changes, the Toice sbouki drop from the tones
of laroentalbn which are high and soft, to those whioh
are deep and strong, on the words, <' Hail, horrors,'' &e.

(<*} Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost archangel, this the seat,
That we must obanga for heay'n? This mournlul gloom ||
For that celestial light ?

Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy forever dwells, (©o) HaIl, horrors! h4il,
klftrml world! And tboa^'ftriffmtndut keU,-
Receive thy new possessor ! one who brings
A mind, not to be changed by pldce or time.

!W] Sect. 8. — Expression.

This term I use in a rather limited sense, to denote
the proper influence of reverential and pathetic sentiment
on the voice. A partial illustration of this has been given
in the foregoing section, but its importance calls for some
additional remarks.

There is a modification of voice, which accompanies
awakened sensibility of soul, that is more easily felt than
described ^ and this constitutes the unction of delivery.
Without this, thoughts that should impress, attract, or
soothe the mind, often become repulsive. I have heard
the language of our Lord, at the institution of the sacra-
mental supper, read with ju^ those falling slides on a high

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note, which belong to tbe careless, colloquial Cones of
familiar conversation, thus; ^'Take, dat; — ^this is my
bddy." Even tbe LorcPi prayer^ 1 have sometimes heard
read with the same irreverent familiarity of manner. This
offence against propriety, becomes still more violent, when
the sentiment is ncA only solemn but pathetic, requiring
that correspondent quality of voice, to which I have re-
peatedly alluded.

Should I attempt fully to explain tbe principles on
which this pathetic quality of the voice depends, it would
lead us into a somewhat extended view of the philosophy
of emotion, as connected with modulation of speaking
tones. A few remarks, however, must suffice.

The fact cannot have escaped common observation,
that sorrow, and its kindred passions, when carried to a
high pitch, suspend the voice entirely. In a lower de-
gree, they give it a slender and tremulous utterance.
Thus Aaron, when informed that his two sons were smit-
ten dead, by a stroke of divine vengeance, " held his
peace." Tbe emotions of his heart were too deep to find
utterance in words. Tbe highest passion of this sort, is
expressed by $ilence ; and when so far moderated, as to
admit of words, it speaks only in abrupt fragments of sen-
tences. Hence it is that all artificial imitation^ in this
case, is commonly so unlike the reality. It leads to met-
aphors, to amplification and embellishment, in language,
and to either vociferation or whining in utterance. Where-
as the real passion intended to be imitated, if it speaks at
all, speaks without ornament, in few words, atfd in tones
that are a perfect contrast to those of declamation. This
distinction arises from those laws of the bunMia mind, by

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which internal emotion is connected with its external
signs. A groan or a shriek is instantly understood, as a
language extorted by distress, a language which no art can
counterfeit, and which conveys a meaning that words are
utterly inadequate to express. The heart, that is burst-
ing with grief, feels the sympathy that speaks in a silent
grasp of the hand, in tears, or in gentle tones of voice ;
while it is shocked at the cold commiseration that utters
itself in many words, firmly and formally pronounced.

If these views are correct, passion has its own appro-
priate language ; and this, so far as the voice is concern-
ed, (for I cannot here consider looks and gesture,) is what
I mean by expression. That this may be cultivated by
the efforts of art, to some extent, is evident from the skill
which actors have sometimes attained, in dramatic exhi-
bition ; a skill to which one of the fraternity alluded, in
his remark to a dignitary of the church, the cutting sever-
ity of which consists in the truth it contains ; " We speak
of fictions as if they were realities; you speak of realities
as if they were fictions." But the dignity of real elo-
quence, and peculiarly of sacred eloquence, disclaims all
artifice ; and the sensibility which would be requisite to
render imitation successful, would at the same time ren-
der it needless ; for why should one aim to counterfeit
that, of which he possesses the reality ?

The fact however, is, that the indescribable power
communicated to the voice by a delicate sensibility, espe-
cially a Christian sensibility, it is quite beyond the reach
of art to imitate. It depends on the vivid excitement of
rear feeling; and, in Christian oratory, implies that ex-
pansion and elevation of the soul, which arise only from

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a just feeling of religious truth. The man whose t^mpera^
ment is so phlegmatic, that he cannot kindle with emotion,
at least with such a degree of emotion as wiU shew itself
in his countenance and voice, may be useful in some de-
partments of learning, but the decision of his Creator is
stamped upon him, that he was not made for a public

27] Sect. 9. — Representation.

This takes place when one voice personates two in-
dividuals or more. It seems necessary to dwell a little
on this branch of modulation, which has scarcely been
noticed by writers on oratory. Every one must have ob-
served how much more interesting is an exhibition of men
as living agents, than of things in the abstract. Now
when the orator introduces another man as speaking, he
either informs us what that man said, in the third person ;
or presents him to us as spoken to, in the second person,
and as speaking himself, in the first. So far as the prin-
ciples of style are concerned, the difference between the
two methods, in point of vivacity, is easily explained.
The former is mere description^ the latter is representation.
A cold narrator would have said that Verres was guilty of
flagrant cruelty, in scourging a man who declared himself
to be a Roman citizen. But Cicero shows us the man

* In regrard to the pretolier, these obetades firom mentel tern*
perament, are renderea more certainly fatal to success in deliyery,
if combined with a system of belief, or a state of religious feeling,
so phlegrmatic as to suppress, nther than awaken, his spiritual en-

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writbiiig under the lash of the bloody Praetor, and ex*
claiming ; *' I am a Romao citizen."

A thousand examples are at hand, to show the diff^«
ence between telling us what was said by another man,
and introducing that man to speak to us himself. "The
wise men said that they had seen his star in the east, and
had come to worship him," — is narrative. "We have
seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him,"
is representation. " Jesus told Peter that he should deny
him thrice," is narrative. " Jesus said, Peter, thou shalt
deny me thrice," is representation. The difference be*
tween these two modes of communication it is the prov-
ince of taste to feel, but of criticism to explain. Let us
then analyze a simple thought, as expressed in these two
forms : " Jesus inquired of Simon, the son of Jonas,
whether he loved htm." "Jesus said, Simon, Son of Jo-
nas, bvest thou me .^" The difference in point of vivaci-
ty is instantly perceived, but in what does this difference
consist f In two things. The first manner throws verbs
into past time, and pronouns into the third person, pro-
ducing, in the latter especially, an indefiniteness of gram-
matical relation, which b unfriendly to the clearness and
vivacity of language. At the same time the energy aris-
ing from the vocative case, from the figure of tense, and
of iMerrogation, is sacrificed. As a principle oieompon"
iMtt, ^ugfa commonly overlooked, this goes far to ex-
plain the difference between the tame and the vivid in

But the same difference is still more strikmg when
analyzed by the principles of delivery. Transform an an-
insatod (piestion into a mere statement of the fact, that

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such a question was asked, and all the intonations of voice
are changed, so that you do not seem to hear a real per-
son speaking, but are only told that be did speak. This
change in expression of voice will be apparent in repeat-
ing the two forms of the example last quoted. Doubtless
most readers of the New Testament have felt the spirit

Online LibraryEbenezer PorterAnalysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and ... → online text (page 9 of 30)