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 39 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 39 of 59)
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T/iT/ king and lord I

Whoever will read, with its proper dramatic efect, the whole
scene in Milton's second book, from which these lines are taken,
will flndj the wave now under consideration may be set on the
sylable thy, as a full expresion of the positivenes, vaunting
authority, and self-admiration, on the part of Death.

To show the diference in character, between this direct wave
and its invented form, let the later be substituted in the above
reading. The interogation produced by the ascent of its last
constituent, will not only obscure the expresion of the poet, but
absolutely cross out his meaning ; for it will seem to make Death
insinuate a question, when he intends to be unanswerably afirm-

not a dextrous manuver, when the hands should be fixed, or only trembling
aghast. I would not here wish to insinuate, that the bonet is cast oft", to turn
aside or confuse a scrutiny of the faults of intonation and gesture; for with
that ' genius ' and acomplishment, which the Great Actor is siiposed to admire
and afectj the admision of eror, is imediately folowed by an atempt to corect it ;
but certain]}', nine-tenths if not more, of what ought at that moment to be a
listening Audience, are by forcible distraction, made to be only Spectators of
a Cap-trap on the floor.

After the date of our fourth edition, I saw an Actor, excelent in many
points, quite carefuly hand his cap .to an atondant. Oh, worse still! We
have now, time and quiet to muse upon the transfer : But, ' Zounds ! how had
he leisure,' to think upon it calmly then.



We need not give an example of the wave of the Third in its
equal-single form. If we supose a reduced degree of its expresionj
all that was said of the character of the wave of the fifth, both
direct and inverted, may be ascribed to the wave of this interval.
It is more comonly employed than the fifth.

0/ the Emphasis of the Unequal-single Wave.

It was said formerlyj the unequal wave is used for the ex-
presion of admiration and surprise, or of inquiry, acording to its
direct or its inverted course. With a wide variation of the relative
extent of its constituents, and its union with aspiration, or vanish-
ing stress, or gutural vibration, it becomes a forcible sign of scorn.
The last word of the folowing contemptuous retort of Coriolanus,
on the Volcian General who had caled him a ' boy of tears,' might
perhaps be given as an instance of the ascent of a fifth, and the
subsequent continuous descent of an octave.

False hound 1
If you have writ your anals true, 'tis there
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
Flutercd your Voices in Corioli ;
Alone I did it. Boy.

It is not here the place, to notice the strong aspiration nccesary
to exprcs the scornful stiite of the speaker. I have heard this syl-
able pronounced on the Stage, with the simple downward emj)hasis.
There is more cool wonder and self-satisfaction in this intonation,
than belongs to the vexed pride of the Roman, and to his vehe-
ment retort of a charge of inconstancy, which he nuist have half-
acknowledged to himself.

In the folowing lines, from the contention between Brutus and
Cassius, the word yea may bear a dircct-unocjual wave, consisting
of the rise of a tone or third continued into the fall of a third or



For, from this day forth,
I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter,
When you are waspish.

If this word be given without aspiration, vanishing stres, or
gutural vibration, the expresion will perhaps scarcely difer from
that of the equal wave. The sneer must therefore depend on a
union of some one or more of these several vocal signs, with the
simple uterance.

The intonation of complaint, on the word wrong, at its second
place, in the folowing line, may be taken as an example of the
emphasis of an unequal wave, with its first constituent, a semitone,
and its second, a downward third or fifth, acording to the force
required by the plaintive appeal.

You wrong me every way, you wrong me, Brutus.

I do not give an ilustration of the double wave of ^vider inter-
vals. Serious and elevated discourse can have all its purposes of
thot and pasion fulfiled without it ; and it is not the design of this
esay, to point out to children and drolls, the scientific mode of
derisively imitating the surprise of their neighbors, by the curling
mockery of this vulgar intonation. How far the double wave of
the second may be employed, for temporal emphasis, I leave others
to determine.

There is little to be said, on what, in the forty-first section, we
call the Time of the concrete, as a means of emphasis. Its varia-
tions are realy perceptible by strict atention ; but they are so
closely united with the forms of stres, that a separate coiLsideration
of them is unnecesary.


Of the Emphads of the Tremor.

The tremor may be aplied to a limited succesion of svlables, and
in a maner, constitnte small portions of a tremulous melody. We
have here to consider its ocasional aplication to one or two words,
in the curent of speech.

The tremor on a single tonic, or subtonic element, in any inter-
val except the semitone, is the sign of laughter ; and consequently
joins to the emphatic meaning of words, the expresion of joy and

Thou art the ruins of the noblest man,
That ever lived in the tide of times.

There is a degree of dignified exultation, and a suj^erlative
compliment in this eulogy, that cannot be properly expresed by
the simple movement of the concrete. The first sylable of the
emphatic word noblest, utered with the tremulous intonation of the
wave of the third or second, on the subtonic n, as well as the tonic
0, gives a vocal consumation to the earnestnes of the admirative
state of the speaker.

The tremor of the semitone or its waves, on a single tonic ele-
ment, constitutes the function of crying. In the chromatic melody,
it gives a marked distinction to emphatic words of tendernes, grief,
suplication, and other related states of mind.

The folowing lines from a dramatic part of Paradise Lost, in
the tenth bookj if read with the personal action of the dialogue,
call for the highest coloring of the semitone, and of the tremulous

Forsake me not thus, Adam ; witnes, Heaven,

Wliat love sincere and reverence in my heart

I l)car thee, and unweeting have ofended,

Dnhapily deccvcd; Thy siipliant,

I hog, and clasp thy knees ; berove me not,

AVhereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid,

Tiiy counsel, in this utermost distres.

My only strcngtii and stay. Forlorn of thee.

Whither shall I betake me, where subsist?

While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps.


Between us two let there be peace : both joining,
As join'd in injuries, one enmity
Against a foe by doom expres asign'd us,
That cruel serpent. On me exercise not
Thy hatred for this misery befalen ;
On me already lost, me than thyself
More miserable ; Both have sin'd ; but thou
Against God only ; I against God and thee ;
And to the place of judgment will return.
There with my cries importune Heaven ; that all
The sentence, from thy head remov'd, may light
On me, sole cause to thee of all this wo,
Me, me only, just object of his ire.

By the lines that folow in the Poem, Eve is said to have ' ended
weeping/ and her suplication, to have been acompanied ^with
tears that ceased not ilo^ving. ' Speech atended with tears always
employs more or less tremor. Should the semitonic tremor how-
ever, be aplied on the whole of these lines, the efect would be
monotonous, and the characteristic concrete of speech be lost in
the agitated voice of crying. The mingled expresion of these two
forms of intonation may be apropriately shown, by using the
tremor, only on selected emphatic words. It may be well however
to remark, that the above lines are not entirely subservient to the
maner of uterance here required; for some of the sylables em-
bracing the deepest contrition, have not suficient quantity to alow the
eminent intonation of the tremor. The word beg, and the acented
sylable of utermost are of this character ; and tho they admit of
the tremulous function to a slight degree, still their limited time
does not fuly satisfy the demand, for a free extension of the voice.
The words bereave, only, forlorn, thee and more, by their indefinite
quantity, give ample measure to intonation. On these and others
that might here be pointed-out, the tremor may be efectively set ;
the rest of the melody having the smooth concrete of the semitone.


A Recapitulating View of Emphasis.

On a close consideration of the foregoing subject, it will be difi-
cult to draw a definite line of separation between emphatic words
and the rest of a ciirent melody ; inasmuch as some of the fainter
cases of emphasis may scarcely difer from the simply acentual and
temporal distinction of sylables.

To what case then is the term emphasis to be aplied ? Not to
that of one sylable, which difers in any measure of time, or degree
of stres from another. For by this rule, we may consider half the
words of language emphatic ; as they are perpetualy inter- varying
by slight diferences in force, and quantity. Still however, certain
impresive forms of uterance always atract the atention of an audi-
tory. Marked degrees of stres with abruptnes, extreme length in
quantity, wide and impresive intervals of pitch, and a peculiar
vocality, when set on certain words, are variously the constituents
of emphasis. But under what mental state, these atractive signs,
first become emphasisj and at what point, in the respective grada-
tions of stres and time, the emphatic character excedes the comon
quantity and acent of the melody, cannot be asigned, and perhaps
need not be known.

Emphasis has, in the preceding parts of this section, been re-
garded as thotive, interthotive, and pasionative, under the agency
of the five modes of the voice.

Emphasis may likewise be considered in reference to other
Purposes. These are : First ; to raise one or more words above
the vocal level of tlie rest of the sentence, Avithout regard to their
special cxpresion, or antithesis. Second ; to contrast certain words
with each other, or to contradistinguish them. Third ; to suply
an clipsis, and thereby complete to the ear the gramatical con-
struction. Fourth ; to mark the syntax, on ocasions when it
might be doubtful without i\\c a.sistance of cnqihasis.

Another view of this subject might be taken, under the divisions
of the Parts of Speech. When om])hnsis is laid on the article, it
contradistingm'slics a subject as definite or indefinite, singular or
plural. On a noun, it may either point out the relation of exist-


ence, or of genus, species, and individual ; or it may raise one
substantive-thot above the rest of the sentence, without the ime-
diate view of any special antithesis. On an adjective, the rela-
tions of atribute and degree. On pronouns, its distinctions are
relative to gender, numbei^, case, and person ; or it may indicate,
as on the article, the definite character of a subject. On the verb,
it may show the relationship of states of being, acting, and suf-
ering, of time, and number ; or distinguish without palpable an-
tithesis. On the adverb, the distinction of time, place, negation,
afirmation, and inference. On the preposition, the antithesis of
motion, position, and cause. On conjunctions, the contrast of
conjunctive and disjunctive relations, and of condition. On the
interjection, emphasis serves only for pasionative expresion, with-
out embracing an antithesis.

On the whole, whatever is the meaning of any part of speech,
emphasis may not only raise it into imjiortance, and distinguish
it from some other meaning, but may likewise suply an elipsis,
and point out the syntax.

It has been said j every case of emphasis includes contrast. This
does not seem to be true of emphatic interjections ; at least the
antithesis is not obvious. And with regard to the cases included
under the detail of other Parts of speech, the contrast in many
instances is not at the moment, a subject of atention, even should
an antithesis be embraced within the th5t. Nor does it apear to
be true of the ElipsLs, and of the Punctuative, and the Emphatic tie.

It • is not within the range of my design, to ilustrate all the
cases of emphasis, set-forth in the above surs-ey of the parts of
speech. I here exemplify the four general heads, of its Purposes.

First. The distinction of one word above others, without the
striking perception of antithesis, is here shown.

But see! the angry victor hath recal'd
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit,
Back to the gates of Heaven.

The first phrase contains an interjective emphasis ; yet I cannot
conceve with what see is in contrast. Surely Satan, in drawing
the atention of the eyes of Beelzebub, did not mean to signifyj
he should not otherwise perceve the recal of the pursuit : and to


supase see to be in antithesis to his not having looked before, or
to his having a contrasted interest with some previous purpose, is
a mere refinement. The case is the same with most interjections,
whether they are properly the simple tonic elements, or with
greater latitude, any of the several parts of speech.

Second. The marked antithesis is exemplified in the folowing
lines :

I yielded ; and from that time see

How beauty is excel'd by 7nan\y grace,

And wisdom which alone is truly fair.

This is the most frequent form of emphasis.

Third. The use of strong emphasis, in an eliptical sentence, is
remarkable in the folowing example, from the first book of Milton.

Into what pit thou seest !
From what hight fall'n ! so much the stronger prov'd
He with his thunder.

Taking these lin&s as a complete construction, they are un-
gramatical, and uninteligible. To one acquainted with the con-
text, it is scarcely necesary to remark that the Poet meant to sayj
See to what a dreadful pit we are doomed, consider from what an
imeasurable hight we have been hurled, and learn thereby the
degree of his superior power. Or again; as far as the horors
and the depth of this pit are removed from the bliss and hight
of heaven, so far has the thunder of the Almighty surpased the
strength of our colected arms. This full meiining can be clearly
brought-out from the eliptical phraseology of the Poet, only by
skilful emphatic intonation. If the word icluit, in its two })laces,
limited as it is in quantity, be given with an emphasis of the rapid
downward-octave, forcibly aspirated, and with a loud concrete ;
and if the suceding words within the notes of admiration, be
also intonated with downward intervals, but of diminished extent,
it will vocaly denote an astonisliment at the precipitation and at
the doom, not fuly conveyed by the words alone. And further,
if a cadence and a pause be made at falCn, and if so much be
strongly emphatic, in any form that seems j)refcrable; the com-
parison of the degree of strength in the thunder, to tlie measure


of the hight, will be obvious ; and the whole thot and expresion
■svill come upon the ear, with tliat laconic eloquence, in which the
admirers of the Poet will be ready to beleve, they Avere united
and condensed, in the excursive and selecting circuit of his per-

Fourth. When the structure of a sentence is so much involved,
as to produce a momentaiy hesitation in an audience, about its con-
cord or government, the syntax may be rendered perspicuous by
means of emphasis, as in this example :

He stood, and call'd
His legions, Angel forms, who lay entranc'd
Thick as Autmnnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades,
High over-arch 'd, imbower ; or scater'd sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm'd
Hath vexed the Red-sea coast.

If this passage were readj Thick as autumnal leaves in Val-
lombrosa, or scater'd sedge ajioatj the gramatical construction would
be clear. But the chain of parenthetic specifications between leaves
and or, together with the picturesk alasion, and the beauty of its
phraseology, makes us for a moment lose sight of that intended
transition to another subject of ilustration, which should be im-
ediate and perspicuous : the substitutive purpose of the conjunc-
tion or, not being at once aparent, the phrase scater'd sedge, might
at the instant, be prospectively taken as a nominative in some
new course of the description. Sliould then, the phrase thick as
autumnal leaves, be emphatically raised into memorable notice j
and the suceding words, extending to the semicolon, be huried yet
becomingly, and with a somewhat monotonous course of melodyj
a subsequent emphasis on scater'd sedge afloat, will at once refer
the ear back to the last similar emphatic distinction of the voice,
on auiumnal leaves, and indicate, that the Angel forms lay likewise
as thick as the scatered sedge afloat.

This maner of denoting the syntax and the meaning was caled,
in the section on Grouping, the Emphatic tie ; and certainly in the
present case, it has no other object than to join these disevered
thots; for a more direct and perspicuous arangement would not


require the emphatic distinction. And the same is true of the
like empliatic use of the Punctuative reference.

Having enumerated the various modes of time, vocality, force,
abruptnes, and intonation, hy which certain words or sylables are
strongly urged upon the ear, the Reader is prepared to receve the
term emphasis, with a wider definition than is usually given of it.

Emphasis is a generic term for the extraordinar}' impressivenes
of the tliotive, interthotive, and pasionative meaning of words;
these three species of impresion being respectively produced by
the varied uses of the several Modes of the voice.

From this view it apears, that Emphasis, and Avhat we have
caled th(3tive and expressive speech, may be considered in most
cases, as convertible generic terms : for emphatic ■words difer from
such as are unemphatic, only in the use of those vocal signs which
denote the mental states of thot and pasion.

The preceding analysis Avill enable us to display the whole com-
pas of the art of reading, with some amplitude of plan and acuracy
of delineation. Words may be considered as representing simple
thot ; an enforcing of it ; and as expresive of pasion. The prog-
res of the voice in speaking is caled melody. The course of melody
under the direction of simple thot, is by the interval of a tone in
the radical sucesion, with a concrete rise of a tone from each of
the radicals. But the portions of discourse representing simple
thot are limited ; thots are to be enforced, and pasions to be ex-
presed. The drift of the simple diatonic melody is therefore often
interupted, by an ocurence of longer quantity and of Nvider inter-
vals of the scale, both in the concrete and discrete forms. It was
shown, at the close of the sixteenth section, that besides the seven
forms of radical pitch, caled the phrases of melody, other radical
sucesions of wider intervals were by the requisitions of speech, in-
troduced into the Curent ; and on the same ]MMn('ij)le which directed
the construction of those i)hrases, we have the phrases of the third,
fiftii, and octave, both in the rising, and the falling succession.
Having learned liow these wider phrases are employed, in \\\v im-


portant purpose of emphasis, we may distinguish them by an apro-
priate term. And as we called those formed on the radical suces-
ions of the secondj the phrases of melody or the Diatonic Phrases,
let us call those formed on the radical transitions of wider intervalsj
the Expresive Phrases, or Phrases of Emphasis.

If the foregoing history has been suficiently clear, the Reader
may now be able to take a discriminative survey of that prearanged
system of plain melody, and contrasted expresion, which has been
so long bearing its part in the course of human th5t and pasion,
without an ear to measure j and a tongue to name its well adjusted
waysj or a voice, with a use of the perceptive means, to fulfil its
purposes : and if his mind is large and liberal enuf to let in
other thots than those of profit and fame, he may herein posses
and contemplate at least the picture of a wise and beautiful ordi-
nation of Nature, if he cannot, ambitiously offer it either for gain
or aplause.

The exercise of an atentive ear, together with a resolute prac-
tice, will be necesary for the precise recognition and skilful em-
jDloyment of the various forms of vocal expresion. But as all the
constituents of speech are on ocasions, at the comand of every
tongue, however eroneously they may be apliedj a full perception
of the principles that should govern an educated and elegant use
of these constituents mayj even without the power properly to
execute themj enable us to overlook the exercises of others, with
the decisive comendation or censure of an inteligent criticism;
and as in Painting, knowledge alone, without an aplication of the
rules that direct an Artist, may authorize a conclusion on the
merit of his workj so, in the art of Reading, founded upon science,
the silent aplication of its precepts may, without our being practical
Elocutionists, equaly authorize us to cary the steady arm of knowl-
edge against the self-conflicting councils, and changeful orders of
individual, or conventional caprice ; to hold-out against eror with
the strong defenses of a learned and cultivated taste ; and to join
the delightful but pasing perceptions of the ear, with the continued
and busy pleasures of mental discrimination.

When the Reader reviews the preceding history, he is requested
to consider j its purpose has been to record the phenomena of speech,
without a limitation of that purpose, to points readily conizable in


ordinary uterance, or practically important in oratorical instruction.
As these phenomena were heard, so in strictest acordance, were
they set-down; for there is in this Work, no Contribution to
knowledge, which has not been drawn from Nature, by patient
observation and experiment, conducted within the limits of that
little space, between the Tongue and the Ear. Many parts of the
detail will at once be recognized by the competent Header ; others
will be afterwards receved into the growing familiarity of his in-
quiry ; whereas some of the descriptions even if admited, will still
be considered as refinements, beyond the reach of perception and
of rule. As a physiologist, I have done no more than my duty,
in this abundant record, however aparently useles some of its
minutiae may be. Much of the acumulated wealth of science is
not at interest ; but the borroAvers may one day come. It is readily
granted, that some distinctions in this history may be at present
practicaly disregarded. The several forms of stres are described
as palpably difering functions^ and they are so in speech ; yet I
have not ventured to insist on the importance of the diference in
all cases. So in describing the intervals of the scale, it was not
designed to exclude the fourth, sixth and seventh, or intervals even
beyond the octave, from the speaking voice. Nor is it to be sup-
osed that some of the intervals of intonation may not on ocasions,
be used as substitutes for each other, without afecting the force
or precision of speech. I was also, far from ascribing particular
expresions to all the posible forms of the wave.

In here opening the way for the change of Elocution, from an
imitative Manerism, witli its inherent defects, to a directive Science,
or rather, an Art Founded on Nature, with all its constituent use-
fulnes and beauty, it was necesary to set-forth every function of
the voice ; that the materials might be thereby furnished towards
the future establishment of a system of instruction, for tlK)se who
have the rare aim in scholarships of seeking its liighor acom[)lish-
ments, in the abundant encompasing of principles, and the con-
densing economy of systematic means. Tliat the investigation of
this subject has produced much that will be imperceptible to the
first scrutinies of the general ear, nuist be infored from ihe past
history of human improvement. Tlie mysterious subject of the
Speaking Voice has been at all times so despairingly considered

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 39 of 59)