Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Garrick, the first of speakers, often observed this rule with great success. This particular excellence Mr. Sterne has described in his usual sprightly manner. See the following work, Book VI. Chapter III.

Before a full pause it has been customary in reading to drop the voice in a uniform manner; and this has been called the cadence. But surely nothing can be more destructive of all propriety and energy than this habit. The tones and heights at the close of a sentence ought to be infinitely diversified, according to the general nature of the discourse, and the particular construction and meaning of the sentence. In plain narrative, and especially in argumentation, the least attention to the manner in which we relate a story, or support an argument in conversation, will show, that it is more frequently proper to raise the voice, than to fall it at the end of a sentence. Interrogatives, where the speaker seems to expect an answer, should almost always be elevated at the close, with a particular tone, to indicate that a question is asked. Some sentences are so constructed, that the last words require a stronger emphasis than any of the preceding; while others admit of being closed with a soft and gentle sound.

Where there is nothing in the sense which requires the last sound 10 be elevated or emphatical, an easy fall sufficient to show that the sense is finished, will be proper. And in pathetic pieces, especially those of the plaintive, tender, or solemn kind, the tone of the passion will often require a still greater cadence of the voice. But before a speaker can be able to fall his voice with propriety and judgment at the close of a sentence, he must be able to keep it from falling, and raise it with all the variations which the sense requires. The best method of correcting a uniform cadence is frequently to read select sentences, in which the style is pointed, and frequent antitheses are introduced, and argumentative pieces or such as abound with interrogatives.

RULE VIII. Accompany the Emotions and Passions which your words

express, by correspondent TONES, LOOKS, and GESTURES.

THERE is the language of emotions and passions as well as of ideas. To express the former is the peculiar province of words : to express the latter, nature teaches us to make use of tones, looks, and gestures. When anger,

E .

[ocr errors]

fear, joy, grief, love, or any other active passion arises in our minds, we naturally discover it by the particular man. ner in which we utter our words; by the features of the countenance, and by other well known signs. And even when we speak without any of the more violent emotions, some kind of feeling usually accompanies our words, and this, whatever it be, hath its proper external expression. Expression indeed hath been so little studied in public speaking, that we seem almost to have forgotten the language of nature, and are ready to consider every attempt to recover it, as the labored and affected effort of art. But nature is always the same ; and every judicious imitation of it will always be pleasing. Nor can any one deserve the appellation of a good speaker, much less of a complete orator, till to distinct articulation, a good command of voice, and just emphasis, he is able to add the various expressions of emotion and passion.

To enumerate these expressions, and describe them in all their variations, is impracticable. Attempts have been made with some success to analyze the language of ideas; but the language of sentiment and emotion has never yet been analyzed ; and perhaps it is not within the reach of human ability, to write a philosophical grammar of the passions. Or if it were possible in any degree to execute ibis design, I cannot think, that from such a grammar it would be possible for any one to instruct himself in the use of the language. All endeavours therefore to make men orators by describing to them in words the manner in which their voice, countenance, and hands, are to be employed in expressing the passions, must, in my apprehension, be weak and ineffectual. And, perhaps, the only instruction which can be given with advantage on this head, is this general one : Observe in what manner the several emotions or passions are expressed in real life, or by those who have with great la bour and taste acquired a power of imitating nature ; and accustom yourself either to follow the great original itself, or the best copies you meet with, always however, “ with this special observance, that you overstep not the modesty of nature."

In the application of these rules to practice, or order to acquire a just and graceful elocution, it will be necessary to go through a regular course of exercises ; beginning with such as are more easy, and proceeding by slow steps to such as are most difficult. In the choice of these, the practitioner should pay a particular attention to his prevailing defects, whether they regard articulation, command of voice, emphasis, or cadence: And he should content himself with reading and speaking with an immediate view to the correcting of his fundamental faults, before he aims at any thing higher. This may be irksome and disagreeable : it may require much patience and resolution ; but it is the only way to succeed. For if a man cannot read simple sentences, or plain narrative, or didactic pieces, with distinct azticulation, just emphasis, and proper tones, how can he expect to do justice to the sublime descriptions of poetry, or the animated language of the passions ?

In performing these exercises, the learner should daily read aloud by himself, and as often as he has an opportunity, under the direction of an instructer or friend. He should also frequently recite compositions memoriter. This method has several advantages : it obliges the speaker to dwell upon the idea which he is to express, and thereby enables him to discern their particular meaning and force, and gives him a previous knowledge of the several inflexions, emphasis, and tones which the words require. And by taking his eyes from the book, it in part relieves him from the influence of the school-boy habit, of reading in a different key and tone from that of conversation; and gives him greater liberty to attempt the expression of the countenance and gesture.

It were much to be wished, that all public speakers would deliver their thoughts and sentiments, either from memory or immediate conception: For, besides that there is an ar. tificial uniformity which almost always distinguishes reading from speaking, the fixed posture, and the bending of the head, which reading requires, are inconsistent with the freedom, ease, and variety of just elocution. But if this is too much to be expected, especially from preachers, who have so much to compose, are so often called upon to speak in public; it is however extremely desirable, that they should make themselves so well acquainted with their discourse, as to be able with a single glance of the eye, to take in several clauses, or the whole of a sentence.

PART I.

LESSONS IN READING.

SECTION I.
SELECT SENTENCES."

MAN'S chief good is an upright mind, which no earthly power can bestow, nor take from him.

We ought to distrust our passions, even when they appear the most reasonable.

It is idle as well as absurd, to impose our opinions upon others. The same ground of conviction operates differently on the same man in different circumstances, and on different men in the same circumstances.

Choose what is most fit; custom will make it the most agreeable.

A cheerful countenance betokens a good heart. · Hypocrisy is a homage that vice pays to virtue.

Anxiety and constraint are the constant attendants of pride.

Men make themselves ridiculous, not so much by the qualities they have, as by the affectation of those they have not.

Nothing blunts the edge of ridicule so effectually as good humour.

To say little and perform much, is the characteristic of a great mind.

A man who gives his children a habit of industry, provides for them better than giving them a stock of money.

II. OUR good or bad fortune depends greatly on the choice we niake of our friends.

The young are slaves to novelty, the old to custom.

No preacher is so successful as time. It gives a turn to thought to the aged; which it was impossible to inspire while they were young.

Every man, however little, makes a figure in his own eyes.

Self partiality hides from us those very faults in ourselves, which we see and blame in others.

The injuries we do, and those we suffer, are seldom weighed in the same balance.

Men generally put a greater val'e upon the favours they bestow, than upon those they receive.

He who is puffed up with the first gale of prosperity, will bend beneath the first blast of adversity.

Adversity borrows its sharpest sting from our impatience.

Men commonly owe their virtue or their vice, to education as much as to nature.

There is no such fop as my young master, of his lady mother's making. She blows him up with self-conceit, and there she stops. She makes a man of him at twelve, and a boy all his life after.

An infallible way to make your child miserable, is to satisfy all his demands. Passion swells by gxatification; and the impossibility of satisfying every one of his desires, will oblige you to stop short at last, after he has become headstrong.

III.

WE esteem most things according to their intrinsic merit; it is strange MAN should be an exception. We prize a horse for his strength and courage, not for his furniture. We prize a man for his sumptuous palace, his great train, his vast revenue ; yet these are his furniture, not his mind.

The true conveniences of life are common to the king with his meanest subject. The king's sleep is not sweeter, nor his appetite better.

The pomp which distinguishes the great man from the mob, defends him not from the fever nor from grief. Give a prince all the names of majesty that are found in a folio dictionary, the first attack of the gout will make him forget his palace and his guards. If he be in choler, will his princedom prevent him from turning pale, and gnashing his teeth like a fool? The smallest prick of a nail, the slightest passion of the soul, is capable of rendering insipid the monarchy of the world.

Narrow minds think nothing right that is above their own capacity.

Those who are the most faulty, are the most prone to find faults in others.

« AnteriorContinuar »