James Rush.

The philosophy of the human voice : embracing its physiological history; together with a system of principles, by which criticism in the art of elocution may be rendered inteligible [i.e. intelligible], and instruction, definite and comprehensive to which is added a brief analysis of song and recita online

. (page 32 of 59)
Online LibraryJames RushThe philosophy of the human voice : embracing its physiological history; together with a system of principles, by which criticism in the art of elocution may be rendered inteligible [i.e. intelligible], and instruction, definite and comprehensive to which is added a brief analysis of song and recita → online text (page 32 of 59)
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whether of th6t or action, must be a bad, a wrong, or a very imperfect sys-
tem ; for it proves the Master to be but an Acidcnt; and an acident iiapening
within a rule must always be either an odity or an imperfection. A good
system makes the iiitelect and the hand equal, among the studious and com-
petent ; or, under a brotherhood of knowledge and principles, alows a difer-
encc only in their degrees of excelence. AVe have numbers without number,
of Geometers, Arithmeticians, Chemists, Mechanics, and even comon Work-
monj and we hope that hereafter, there may be, in the world, more than one
great Actor at a timcj all respectively, of educated inteligencc and skill in
their several arts, and nearly equal among themselves ; the necesary result of
undisputed, and uniform methods of demonstrative instruction. JJut alas, in
the ever-contentious subjects of Intelcct, Law, Government, Morals, Medi-
cine, Jllocution, and Keligion, there is still held up to us, tho inimitable
mastcrshi[), and solitary glory of Socrates, Aristotle, Alfred, Manco Capac,


The Argumentative or Conclusive question. The object of this
question is not inquiry ; for it is generaly adresed upon data, that
make the phrase, gramaticaly interogation, rather a conclusion
from premises admited or proved. Thus Antony, over the body
of Csesar, saysj

He hath brought many captives home to Kome,
Whose ransoms did the general cofers fill :
Did this in Csesar seeyn ambitious I

Or as more strongly marked in this : •

You all did see that on the Lupercal,

I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

"Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition f

These arguments, for so they may be caled, adressed in the
words of a question, certainly cannot be receved with their usual
gramatical meaning. The meaning is realy inferential that Csesar
was not ambitious. In short, these cases belong to Avhat might be
figuratively termed an interogative sylogism, of that species which
logicians call an Enthymeme, or an argument of two propositions
only, the minor and the conclusion, thus :

Ciiesar thrice refused a kingly crown ;
Therefore Cassar was not ambitious.

The sylogism being completed by the adition of its general or
major proposition :

An ambitious man would not refuse a kingly crown ;
But Caesar thrice refused a Icingly crown,
Therefore Csesar was not an ambitious man.

Such being the positive character of these phrases, it folows

Washington, Garrick, Louis the Fourteenth, Escuhipius, Luther, and Ma-
homet ! 1

Whenever time shall fumigate the mind from such metaphysical notions
asj 'familiar spirit,' 'favored of the gods,' ' Ca?sar and his fortunes,' the
Shakspeare-mould of 'genius,' which broke under its first casting^; those
miasmata of typhus fatality to emulative eforts^ and shall set physical science
plainly to survey the simple proces of cause and consequence in the human
intelect, then and not till then, will we sec clearly all such monopolizing
ascriptions, in their ambitious, delusive, factitious, and distracting light.


from the rules wc have laid down, that they should recovc an ini-
prc.>^sive intonation of the wider faling intervals and the direet
wave; the very oposite to those which denote an interogative.

Acording to the present method of reading, by confusing the
ordained laws of the voice, and thereby corupting its practice,
these questions might be given with a thoro aplication of the rising
intervals. But in this case, the intonation would be apt to asunie
the sneering expresion of the double-direct or single-inverted wave,
and by its ironical efect, to endue the inquiry with the force of a
real negation.

And here our history points-out one of the many relations,
discoverable between the arts of ' logic,' gramar, and rhetoric,
and that of elocution ; or, between all the states or the purposes
of the human mind, and the vocal means for denoting them. It
has been shown, that the words in italics, of the above examples,
are in meaning, positive declarations on the part of the intero-
gator, of l)elief in a fact; Avhich by a Figure of speech, is con-
veyed in the form of a question : and questions are generaly taken
as words of doubt. Consequently in cases like these, where the
voice has a positive meaning, it should be able to anul the usual
power of the graniatical question. The means for efecting this,
is by the use of the most emphatic degree of the downward inter-
vals, and direct waves ; for their expresion is contrary to that of
the rising interogative voice. And this instance may serve to
pre-signify the differences in vocal and grammatical relationships,
which the future cultivators of elocution will be caled upon to
analyze, and to reconcile, by the extended powers and resources
of their art. Strictly, every proposition of a sylogism must either
aftirni, or deny. No question of real inquiry can therefore, form
part of the proces of sylogistic 'reasoning;' as it neither afirms
nor denies. Yet see, in the examj)les, how the voice breaks thru
this law of the school, and almost of the mind, by its overbearing
intonation; and endues an undetermined gramatical inquiry, with
the asumcd power of a positive belief.

The Exclamatory Question. The apcaling question, it has been

stated, is exclamatory ; and conversely, it may be said here, the

exclamatory question embraces an apeal. The only ground for

distinguisiiing them is, tliat the exclamatory phraae apears to be



further removed from the condition of a question, than the apeal,
by its seeming the less to require an answer.

In Shakspeare's Richard II, the King, in that celebrated descant
on the state of princes, saysj

I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief,

Need friends ; subjected thus,

Hoiv can you say to me} I am a King I

The interogative words in italics do not require an answer, for,
when interpreted by the two preceding lines, they contain reproof,
displeasure, surprise, and conclusive denial, but not inquiry ; and
therefore are properly expresed by the use of the downward
concrete, and the direct wave.

Perhaps the Reader may thinkj the Exclamatory question does
not difer from the Apealing, or at best, only in degree. I am but
the historian of my tongue and ear. After I have told all they tell
me, the Reader may, and I supose will, think as he pleases about it.

The Imperative Question. This, although bearing a positive
intonation, is not, as above remarked, a question of belief, but
takes its downward intonation from the influence of a state of
mind, acidentaly conected with its own. There is such a thing
{US overbearing impetus in pasionative, as well as in physical mo-
mentum ; whereby the expresion, apropriate to one mental con-
dition is caried into another, which under difercnt circumstances
would not admit of that expresion. The intonation of an impera-
tive question, seems to be of this character ; for here two states of
mind are embraced by the speakcrj Comand and Inquiry ; and
these are in imediate conection with each other. The zeal of the
question is exhibited in the vehement desire for an answer, and
this desire displays itself in the earnest authority of comand. By
this transfer, the comand asumes all the energy of the case ; and
seeming to forget, if I may so ilustrate the subject, the rising
expresion due to the inquiry, throws the positivencs of the down-
ward imperative over the wliole. This is exemplified by jNIacbeth's
consultation with the witches.

Witches. Seek to know no more,

Macbeth. I will be satisfied. Deny mo this,

And an eternal curse fall on you. Let nie know,
Why siiiks that caldron I and what noise is this!



Tlie cagcrnes of Macbeth here rises into anger, at tlic ])rospcct
of (lisapointment. This anger asumes the comand, in the phrasej
let mc knoic ; and the strong downward intonation of this conumd
is, by the inn)erative force, continued thruout the two suceding
questions. The inteligent Reader will, on trial, at once admit the
propriety of this positive intonation, however he may explain it ;
for let him, after the angry comand, imediately give to the ques-
tions the rising intervals of interogationj and not only will there
be a want of apropriate gravity and force, but the violent con-
trast of cxpresion will be even ludicrous. Yet without the over-
ruling of this imperative energy, the questions would take the
iuterogative intervals ; for they contain a real inquiry.

In the above instance, the question contains the previous com-
and ; where it is wanting, we are to suppose the phrase^ tell me, or
some equivalent imperative.

Perhaps one of the causes why imperative questions, as we
have shown, drop their interogative intonation may be, that the
gramatical structure, suficiently indicates the inquiry ; and alows
the comand to continue the downward interval beyond itself.
Some other states of mind, embraced in a gramatical interogative,
require the downward intervals. I have given examples enough
on this subject to direct the course of analysis, and a method of

Upon the subject of the comon Note of interogation, we may
remark, that as most questions are signified by their gramatical
structure, and as this symbol gives no special rule for intonation,
it may be regarded as useles, except in declaratory questions, and
phrases that without it might be mistaken for imperatives. In
these, the mark placed, as long ago proposed, at the begining of a
question, would be definite in its purpose, from such sentences
always requiring the rising intonation. That the comon intero-
gative indication of this symbol may confuse a reader who atempts
to direct his voice by itj is a fair conclusion from its being a})lied
to sentences which require, as we have now learned, a totaly dif-
erent cxpresion.

Having in the present, and in a former section, considered the
various kinds of interogation, that severaly require either the up-
ward or the downward intervals, let us briefly recapitulate them.


First. Questions in their Gramatieal construction, are severaly
Declarative, Comon, Adverbial, Pronominal, and Negative.

Second. In the state of mind or meaning conveyed, they are of
Real Inquiry, of Belief, and Triumphant questions.

Third. Questions in their various degrees of Force, are Moder-
ate, or Earnest, or Vehement; and they may embrace surprise,
plaintiveness, mirth, railery, anger, contempt, and all states of
mind, not inconsistent with that of a question.

These three kinds variously require in their structures, mean-
ings, and degrees, either the partial, or the thoro rising intonation ;
or a downward interval or wave intercurent with the rising ; which
properly belonging to our seventeenth section, are there particu-
larly described.

Fourth. Those questions which always require the downward
intonation, are the Apealing or Argumentative, the Exclamatory,
the Imperative ; and there may be others of like character deserv-
ing a name ; all of which from having the same downward interval
or direct wave, we include under the present head of Exclamatory
sentences. In truth they might be caled Figurative Questions by
a license of speech, which takes the interogative construction, for
the interogative meaning. But in them this meaning is lost under
the vocal signs of a do"\vnward concrete and a direct wave, which
we shall presently show proper Exclamations require.

As the preceding descriptive acount and clasification of Inter-
ogative sentences may, in this first atempt to bring order out of
imperfect and desultory knowledge, seem intricate and untrace-
ablej I here recapitulate the several gramatieal Forms of ques-
tions, the states of mind, meaning, or purpose that direct them,
and their degrees of Force ; with their Kinds, Structures, and
Intonations, under a



I. Questions under a diferent Gramatical Form.









/ Either an afirmative, f In almost every case,
\ era negmtive sentence. \ thoro.

The verb, auxiliary,
and nominative, trans-

f The

1 ver

c adition of an ad-
fa to the comon.

The adition of a pro-
noun to the comon.

f The adition of a nega-
i tive to the comon, the
adverbial, or the pro-

Partial, or thoro, ac-
cording to the earnest-
nes, or the state of

Partial, if not made
thoro by earnestues,
or the state of mind.

Partial, if not made
thoro by earncstnes,
or the state of mind.

Partial, or earnestly
thoro; or with a down-
ward interval, or a
direct wave.

II. Questions with a diferent Meaning, or Purpose.

Real Inquiry.

Asumed Belief.

f Comon, or adverbial, f Generally thoro, ex-
\ or pronominal. \ cept in series.

r Con
\ orp
( ativ

Comon, or adverbial,
ronom i nal , or neg-

Partial, or thoro; or
downward interval,
or a direct wave.

(Comon, or adverbial, f Generally \
or pronominal : but .| nest down\
generaly a negative. ( val, or a di

Generally with anear-
iward inter-
irect wave.

III. Questions with diferent degrees of Force.



{ orT„"Ci '.1'"""' { «™"'"y p"'-'-

(Declaratory, or comon, f Thon
or adverbial, or pro- } figurt
nominal. j down

Thoro, except when
rative; and then

Vehement; with sur- Declaratory, or comon,
prise, or other excited I or adverbial, or pro-
"'''" nominal, or negative.


Emphatically thoro,
except when figura-
tive ; and then down-



IV. Questions under a Figurative Form.

Kind. Structure. Intonation.

Apealing. -| or pronominal, or


Comon, or adverbial, f a i j • a. i

' • , ' A downward interval,

or pronominal, or -^ ,• , '

/. ' or a direct wave,

negative. (.

(Comon, or adverbial, ( . j j • ^ i

' . , ' A downward interval,

or pronominal, or -^ j- ^

/■ ' ) or a direct wave,

negative. (


(Comon, or adverbial, f » j j • x i

• 1 ' ) A downward interval,

or pronominal, or -< -,. ^ '

'. ' 1 or a direct wave,

negative. (

{Comon, or adverbial, f . ■■ j • ^ i

' . , ' A downward interval,

or pronominal, or -^ j- ^ '

'. ' 1 or a direct wave,

negative. (_

From the detailed description and the Tabular view, on the
subject of Interogative sentences, we learn how variously their
forms are, in structure, meaning, and degree of force, under re-
ciprocal subjection to each other. The gramatical are changed
by the meaning, and by the degree of force ; the degree of force
by the meaning ; and the jxirtial overruled to the thoro, and even
to the downward intonation. Scarcely a single rule can be univer-
sally applied ; and all are more or less crosed by exceptions from
every side. Such is the unsetled state of the facts colected by our
imperfect analytic inquiry : and we leave others to reduce them to
a less uncertain arangement. For all the interchanges of interoga-
tive intonation are still directed by the uniform laws of Nature, in
the Mind, in Language, and in the Voice ; and where Nature, in
secrecy, is at her work of wisdom, we shall there find Order, when-
ever we, in imitation of her patience, industriously find her out.

We here learn that what we call Figurative questions, are by
their downward intonation not im])ropcrly included within the
section on Exclamatory sentences^ which we now procede briefly
to describe.


Many exclamations may be regarded as eliptical sentences.
The design of these broken phrases is to give a forcible picture
of the state of mind ; and as this is done with a brevity of style,
which sometimes might not clearly convey these several states, it
is necesary to employ aditional means, for their apropriatc intona-
tion. And hence arise the structure and the expresive character
of Exclamations.

The shortest exclamatory, like the shortest interogative sentence
consists of a monosylabic word ; and this may be any of the parts
of speech, if perhaps we except the article, conjunction and prepo-
sition ; the interjection being the most eomon. And here, as in
the monosylabic question, the power of intonation is remarkable ;
for it seems to be the art of speaking, almost without words.
From the monosylable, exclamations vary in extent from the
elipsis, to the full syntax of a sentence ; tho the greater part are
abreviated by pasionative haste. Exclamations might then be
aranged acording to their structure, as gramatically imperfect, or
as complete. I shall class them acording to their state of mind
or meaning.

The extent of the faling interval or the wave in exclamatory
sentences is in proportion to the energy of the expresion. The
folowing intcrjective apostrophe, from its moderate temper, might
require no more than the direct wave of the second, or semitone on
0, and the triad of the cadence, on the remaining three sylables.

O withered truth !

The energetic emphasis of Hamlet's revengeful exclamation at
the atrocity of the Kingj

O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

should receve on every sylable, either by slow or rapid concrete,
the deep and forcible descent of the octave.

Of the many kinds of exclamatory sentences, I shall only
notice, the Admiring, the Plaintive, the Scornful, and the Im-
I)erative; as these ilustrate the several forms of intonation re-
([uired by this impresive class of phrases.

The Admiring Exclamation. Admiration is an earnest apro-


batorv state of mind, under new and elevated perceptions. This
newnes of objects, or of our reflections upon them, involves in a
degree, an inquiry as to their character and cause ; and seems to
call for the use of the rising intervals. This state has not the
degree of force that requires a gramatical or a vocal question ; yet
there is in the character of Exclamation, a positive conviction of the
rare admirative importance of the object. It is from embracing
these two states of mind, that the admiring exclamation calls for
the direct wave, or union of the rising and the faling interval ;
the positive character of the exclamation, by the dowuAvard course
of the last constituent, predominating over whatever inquiry may
be indicated by the previous rise. Let us take as an example,
the folowing description of the asembling of the falen Angels at

So thick the airy crowd

Swarm'd and were straightened; till the signal given,

Behold a wonder I

Here the sylables hold and wond require the direct wave of the
fifth, which their indefinite quantity freely admits.

The Plaintive Exclamation. It was shown in the nineteenth
section, in what maner a plaintive interogation may be made, by a
junction of the semitonic expresion with the wider upward inter-
vals. The plaintive exclamation is produced by a rise of the
semitone continued into the downward third, or fifth, or octave,
as the energy of the case may require ; constituting a direct wave
of unequal intervals. The unequal wave of the rising semitone
and faling fifth gives the proper expresion to the acented and long
sylabic quantities of the folowing plaintive exclamation of Macduff:

O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master's murdered !

The Scornful Exclamation. It was said in the thirty-first
section, that Scorn, acording to its degree, is exprcsed by the
simple rise or fall of the wider intervals, or by the various forms
of tlie wave, when made with an aspirated or a gutural voice ; the
simple rise and the fall being apropriate to sneer ; and the wider
waves, to the deepest contempt and cxccmtion. When therefore


these states of mind arc conveyed by short emphatic sentences,
tliey produce what is here caled the Scornful Exclamation ; as in
the foloNvin;;, from the Merchant of Venice.

Bassanio. This is signior Antonio.

Shi/lock. How like & fawning publican he looks!

This last line will be properly exprcscd, if the sylables in
italics rcccve the unequal wave of the rising fifth and faling
octave, under a slight degree of gutural aspiration ; and the rest
of the sentence, the faling fifth, as a rapid concrete, with the like

The Imperative Exclamation. An imperative pur2)ose in speech
universaly requires a doM'nward interval, or a direct wave. Other
functions, such as stres, aspiration, and gutural grating^ to be
spoken of hereafter, mark the degrees of force or authority in the
comand. The folowing- exclamation of Macbeth to the Ghost
of Banquo, calls for the downward fifth or octave on every syla-
ble ; acording to the degree of energy the speaker may think
apropriate to it.

Hence horible shadow,
Unreal mockery hence !

We need not pui'sue this subject further. Exclamations are
but forcible interjective expresions; and there may be as many
kinds, as varieties of pasionativc states of mind ; for every montiil
energy may be found in discourse, under the exclamatory form.
\j(ii others define and divide them. Perhaps the nomenclature,
and examples here given, may asist the work of inquiry and
clasification : and when hereafter. Elocution shall be raised into
a Science, and cease to be, at least in intonation, no more than a
comon animal instinctj all those things in the art, that can be
to me sul)jccts only of hope, may, in the fulnes of knowledge,
be acomplished by others.

Upon the subject of the intermingling of Interogative, and
Exclamatory intonation, it is to be remarked, that in some cases,
emphatic distinction may require the use of a downward interval
or a direct wave, among the rising intervals of partial interoga-
tives ; and a rising interval, among the downward concretes and


direct waves of exclamation ; the contrasts in such instances, con-
stituting one of the characteristics of what is caled emphasis, or
an impresive designation of single words.

In reviewing our acount of the oposite indications of these two,
and of other important divisions of speechj we perceve how they
sometimes ajiear to cross and to contravene each other. The
prevalent and cloudy, system of Elocution j and much more, our
metaphysical and mudled Fictions on the Mind, by resisting the
clarifying influence of a strict observation, still keeps us carelesly
ignorant of the natural diference between th5t and pasion, with
their several vocal signs ; and prevents our exact perception, why
their phenomena, tho aparently, are in no way realy, inconsistent
with the purpose of their ordination. So it is. And so perhaps,
the self-contented and so called philosophic world will have it.
Just as in government, religion, morals, the social relations, and
medicinej with all our majesterial boasts of power and progresj we
have not the perception, knowledge, truth, virtue, and honor, to
save us from still prevailing confusion, dispute, and disasterj in
our restles atempts to rectify these subjects of conventional trade,
human ambition, and for all their pretended purposes, as yet of
deplorable failure.


The Tremor of the Voice.

If the Reader has borne in mind the explanations in the first
section of this essay, he must be aware that the forms of pitch so
far described, are, severaly, phenomena of the concrete, the dis-
crete, and the chromatic scales. He has now to learn the means
of expresion derived from the Tremulous scale.

This scale consists of a rise and fall on a tonic or subtonic
element, thru the whole compas of the voicej by a more delicate
exercise of that ])articular vibration in the throat, caled in comon
language, gurgling. Altho the Tremor has always been known


as a vocal function, it is lierc first analyzed, and its use and man-
agement in speech described.

In our first section there is a general acount of the Tremulous
scjile. We must now be more particular.

It has been shownj every efort of the voice is necesarily in the
radical and vanishing movement ; and that the audible character-
istic of the several intervals of the scale may be distinctly recog-
nized by their ejects^ even on the shortest imutable sylables.

As then each of the tonic and subtonic elements does, in its
shortest time, always pass rapidly by the concrete, it folows, that
however quickly sucesive they may be repeated, each impulse must
be a concrete interval. When therefore the tremor is made on
any of the above named elements, either alone or in sylabic com-

Online LibraryJames RushThe philosophy of the human voice : embracing its physiological history; together with a system of principles, by which criticism in the art of elocution may be rendered inteligible [i.e. intelligible], and instruction, definite and comprehensive to which is added a brief analysis of song and recita → online text (page 32 of 59)