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defined to be that system of rules which teaches us to pronounce written or extemporaneous composition with justness, energy, variety and ease ; and, agreeally to this definition, good reading or speaking may be considered as that species of delivery which not only expresses the sense of the words so as to be barely understood, but at the same time gives them all the force, beauty ead variety, of which they are susceptible.
ELOCUTION AMONG THE ANCIENTS.
Th. Greeks and Romans paid great attention to the study of elocution They distinguished the different qualities of the voice by such terms as hard, smooth, sharp, clear, hoarse, full, slender, flowing, flexible, shrill, and rigid. They were sensible to the alternations of heavy and light in syllabic utterance ; they knew the time of the voice, and regarded its quantities in pronunciation ; they gave to loud and soft appropriate places in speech ; they perceived the existence of pitch, or variation of high and low ; and noted further that the rise and fall in the pronunciation of individual syllables are made by a concrete or continuous slide of the voice, as distinguished from the discrete notes produced on musical instruments. They designated the pitch of vocal sounds by the term accent ; making three kinds of accents, the acute (TM), the grave (), and the circumflex("), which signified severally the rise, the fall, und the turn of the voice, or union of acuto and grave on the same syllable.
MODERN THEORIES OF ELOCUTION,
THE MEASURE OF SPEECII.
For the modern additions to elocutionary analysis, we are indebted nainly to the labors of Steele, Walker, and Dr. James Rush of Philadelphin.
The measure of speech is elaborately explained by Mr Steele, in his “ Prosodia Rationalis.” According to his analysis, measure, as applied to speech, consists of a heavy or accented portion of syllabic sound, and of a light or unaccented portion, produced by one effort of the human voice. In forming the heavy or accented syllable, the organs make a stroke or beat, and, however instantaneous, are placed in a certain position, from which they must be removed before they make another stroke. Thus, in the repetition of fast, fast, there must be two distinct pulsations ; and a pause must occur betwixt the two, to enable the organs to recover their position. But the time of this pause may be filled up with a light syllable, or one under remission ; thus, faster, faster, occupy the same time in the pronunciation as fast, fast. This remiss or light action of the voice may extend to two and three syllables, as in circumstance, infinitely, &c. The stroke or pulsative effort of the voice, then, can only be on one syllable ; the remission of the voice can give several syllables after the pulsation. This pulsation and remission have been illustrated by the planting and raising of the foot in walking ; hence the Thesis and Arsis of the Greeks. The first is the pulsative, the second the remiss action. Now, apart from the pauses of passion and connection, there must be frequent paures arising from the nature of the organs of speech ; these are denoted in exan.. ples marked, according to Steele's system, by the figure, and the pulsatie and remiss syllables by ... and ... It has been said that the pulsative effort can be made only on one syllable; if the syllable have extended quantity, it may be pronounced both with the pulsative eifort and die away in the remizsion ; but if it is short in quantity, a pause must occur before the pronunciation of the next syllable. One syllable, then, may occupy what is called a measure, the voice being either prolonged, or the time being made up with & pause. This pause, as already remarked, is denoted by the figure; 3 repetition of the same figure is used to denote the longer pauses, which are determined by passion, or the intimacy and remoteness of the sense. Stecie's system has been adop by several teachers of elocution ; by Mr. apman
in his Rhythinical Grammar, and by Mr. Barber, in his Grammar of Floca von The following lines are marked according to Mr. Steele's plan
Hail | aoly | light offspring of | Heaven | first? | born. I
WALKER'S ELEMENTS OF ELOCUTION. INFLECTIONS OF THE VOICE.
Towards the close of the last century, Mr. John Walker, author of the excel ient“ Criticai Pronouncing Dictionary” which bears his name, promulgated his analysis of vocal iutlection. He showed that the primary division of speaking sounds is into the upward and downward slide of the voice; and, that what. ever other diversity of time, tone or force, is added to speaking, it must necessarily be conveyed by these two slides or inflections, which are, therefore, the axis, as it were, on which the power, variety, and harmony of speaking turn. In the following sentence :-- “ As trees and plants necessarily arise from seeds, so are you, Antony, the seed of this most calamitous war,”
- the voice slides up at the end of the first clause, as the sense is not perfected, and slides down at the completion of the sense at the end of the sentence. The rising slide raises expectancy in the mind of the hearer, and the ear remains unsatisfied without a cadence. Walker adopted the acute accent () to denote the rising inflection, and the grave accent (') to denote the falling inflection ; as thus
Does Cæsar deserve fame' or blame'? Every pause, of whatever kind, must necess
cessarily adopt one of tnese two infiections, or continue in a monotone. Thus, when we ask a question without the contrasted interrogative words, we naturally adopt the rising inflection on the last word; as,
Can Cæsar deserve blame'? Impossible'! Here blame - the last word of the question — has the rising inflection, con trary to the inflection on that word in the former instance ; and impossible, with the note of admiration, the falling. Besides the rising and falling inflection, Walker gives the voice two complete sounds, which he terms circumflexes : the first, which he denominates the rising circumflex, begins with the falling and ends with the rising on the same syllable ; the second begins with the rising and ends with the falling on the same syllable. The rising circumJlex is marked thus, V; the falling, thus, ^. The monotone, thus marked,
---, denotes that there is no inflection, and no change of key.
Having esplained the inflections, Walker proceeds to deduce the law of delivery from the structure of sentences, which he divides into compact, loose, direct periods, inverted periods, &c. By the term series, he denotes an enumeration of particulars. If the enumeration consists of single words, it is called a simple series ; if it consists of clauses, it is called a compounit stries. When the sense requires that there should be a rising slide on this last particular, the series is called a commencing series; and when the series requires the falling slide on the last particular, it is termed a concluding Beric: The simple commencing series is illustrated in the following sentence haring two (1'2') members :
“ Honor' and shame' from no conditica rise.” The simple concluding series is illustrated in the following sentence of four (12 34 ) members : “Remember that virtue alone is bɔnor', glory wealth, and happiness' ”
Among the Ruies laid down by Walker and his followers are the following, which we select as the most simple. The pupil must not take them, bowever, as an infallible guide. Some are obvious enough ; but to others the exceptions are numerous, - so numerous, indeed, that they would be a buribensomo charge to the memory. The Rules, however, may be serviceable in cases where the reader desires another's judgment in regard to the inflection of voice that is most appropriate .
Rule L. When the sense is finished, the falling infliction takes place as, " Nothing valuable can be gained without labor! "
II. In a compact sentence, the voice slides up where the meaning begins to be formed; as, “ Such is the course of nature', that whoever lives long, must outlive those whom he loves and honors."
There are many exceptions to this rule. For instance, when en emphatic word is contained in the first part of the compact sentence, the filling intlection takes place; as, “ He is a traitor to his country', he is a t:aitor to the human kind', he is a traitor to Heaven', who abuses the talen's which God has given him."
III. In a loose sentence, the falling inflexion is required; as, “ It is of the last importance to season the passions of a child with de ro'tion ; which seldom dies in a mind that has received an early tincture of it."
IV. In a compound commencing series, the falling inflection takes place on erery member but the last; as, “ Our disordered hearts', our guilty passions', our violent prejudlices', and misplaced desires', are the instruments of the trouble which we endure."
V. In a compound concluding series, the falling inflection takes place on erery member except the one before the last; as, “ Chaucer most frequently describes things as they are' ; Spenser, as we wish' them to be ; Shakspeare, as they would be ; and Milton, as they ought' to be.”
VI. In a series of commencing members forming a climax, the last member, being strongly emphatic, takes a fall instead of a rise; as, “ A youth', a boy', a child', might understand it.”
VII. Literal interrogations askel by pronouns or adverbs (or questions requiring an immediate ansuer) end with the fulling inflection; as, “Where are you going'? What is your name'?” Questions asked by veros require the rising inflection, when a literal question is asked; as, “ Are you coming'? Do you hear'?"
To these rules the exceptions are numerous, however. Emphasis breaks tlırough them continually ; as,
Was erer woman in this humor wooed' ?
Was ever woman in this humor won'? VIII. The inflection which terminates an exclamation is regulated by the common rules of inflection. This rule is, of course, brokerı through by passion, which has slides and notes of its own. As a general rule, it may be stated that exclamations of surprise and indignotion take a rising slile in a loud tone; those of sorrow, distress, pity and love, the rising slide in a gentle tone; and those of adoration, awe and despair, the falling infleslion.
IX. Any intermediate clause affecting the sen:e of the sentence (generally termed the modifying clause) is pronounced ir a different key from that in which ihe rest of the sentence is spoken. As the intermediate words are frequentiy ine pivot on which the sense of the entence turns, the mind is directed to it by a change of voice. The voice sinks at the beginning of the clause, but rises gradually towards the conclus on; as, “ Age, in a virtuous person, carries in it an authority which makes it preferable to all the pleasures of youth."
... The Parenthesis is an intermediate clause, not necessary do the sense His pronounced in a different key from that in which the sentence is prou nounced, in order to distinguish it from the body of the sentence ; and it is pronounced more quickly, that the hearer may not be diverted by it into jorgetting the connection of the sentence. It generally terminates with the inflection of the clause preceding it. When it contains a strongly emphatie word, the fulling inflection is necessary:
Let us (since life can little more suppl
A mighty maze! but not without a plan. XI. An ecl.o, or the repetition of a word or thought introductor y to 80 mA particulars, requires the high rising inflection, and a long pause ofter it. This is frequently the language of excitement; the mind recurs to the exciting idea, and acquires fresh intensity from the repetition of it; as, “ Can Parliament be so dead to its dignity and duty as to give its sanction to measures thus obtruded and forced upon it! - Measures', my Lords, which have reduced this late tlourishing Kingdom to scorn and contempt."
XII. When words are in contradistinction to other woriis, either expressed or understool, they are pronounced with emphatic force, when the contra distinction is not expressed, the emphasis must be strong, so as to surgest the word in contradistinction; as, “How beautiful is nature in her wildest' scenes !” That is, not merely in her soft scenes, but even in her wildest
“ It is deplorable when age' thus errs.” Not merely youth, but age. XIII. A climax must be read or pronounced with the voice progressively ascending to the last member · accompanied with the increasing energy, animation or pathos, corresponding with the nature of the subject.
See, what a grace was scated on this brow!
RUSII'S PIILOSOPHIY OF THE HUMAN VOICE.
Dr. Rush, whose “ Philosophy of the Human Voice" presents the most minute and scientific analysis of the subject that has yet appeared, adopts an arrangement of the elementary sounds of our language into tonics, subtonics, atonics and aspirates. He distinguishes the qualities of the voice under the following heads : the Orotund, which is fuller in volume than the common Toice ; tlie Tremor ; the Aspiration ; the Guttural; the Falsette ; and the Whisper. The complex movement of the voice occasioned by the union of the rising and falling slides on the same long syllable he calls a wave. It is termed by Steele and Walker the circumflex accent. Dr. Rush illustra:cg the sliiles of the voice by reference to the Diatonic scale, consisting of a quocession of eight sounds, either in an ascending or descending series, and embracing seven proximate intervals, five of which are Tones, and two Semi
Each sound is called a Note; and the changes of pitch from any one note to another are either Discrete or Concrete, and may be either rising cr falling. Concrete changes of Pitch are called slides ; and of these movements there are appropriated to speech the slides through five different intervals, the Semitone, the Second, the Third, the Fifth, and the Octave. By a careful analysis of the speaking voice, Dr. Rush shows that its movements can be measured and set to the musical scale ; and that, however various the combi. nations of these vocal movements may at first appear, they may readily be
reriaced to sis, called Phrases of Melody. These are the Monotone, the Rising and Falling Ditone, the Rising and Falling Tritone, and the Alternate Phrase. By a more careful analysis, we ascertain that some of the simpler styles of delivery take their character from the predominance of some one of these piirides of melody. Thus we have the Diatonic Melody, the Melody of the Monotone, if the Alternate Phrase, and of the Cadence ; and to these are added the Chro matic Melody which arises from the predominance of the Semitone, and the Brcken Melody.
INSUFFICIENCY OF ARBITRARY SYSTEMS OF ELOCUTION. It would be impossible, in the space we have giren to the subject, to do justice to any one of these ingenious analyses; and it would be quite urprofitable to enumerate the many systems that have been deduced from them up to the present time. The important question is, Do they establish, severally or collect. ively, a positive science of clocution, which will justify the pupil in laboring to master it in its details, and to accomplish himself according to its rules of practice? We believe there are very few, students, who have given mach time and attention to the subject, who will not render a negative reply. The shades of expression in language are often so delicate and undistinguishable, that intonation will inevitably vary according to the temperament of the speaker, his appreciation of the sense, and the intensity, with which he enters into the spirit of what he utters. It is impossible to establish rules of mathematical precision for utterance, any more than for dancing. Take the first line of Mark Antony's harangue :
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears ! An ingenious speaker will give, at one time, the falling inflection, and at another the rising, to the word countrymen; and both modes shall seem equally expressive and appropriate. Nay, he will at one moment place the chief stress upon lend, and the next upon ears; and he will make either mode of rendering the verse appear appropriate and expressive. We do not deny that there are passages in regard to which there can be little doubt as to the inflection and emphasis to be employed; but these are precisely the passages in reference to which rules are not needed, so obvious is the sense to every intelligent reader, and so unerringly does nature guide us.
“ Probably not a single instance,” says Archbishop Whately, “could be found, of any one who has attained, by the study of any system of instruction that has appeared, a really good delivery; but there are many — probably nearly as many as have fully tried the experiment -- who have by this means been totally spoiledl.” There is one principle, he says, radically erroneous, which must vitiate every system founded on it, — the principle, “ that, in order to acquire the best style of delivery, it is requisite to study analytically the emphasis, tones, pauses, degrees of loudness, 8c., which give the proper effect to each pass: ge that is well delivered; to frame Rules foundleg on ihe observation of these; and then, in practice, deliberately and carefully to conform the utterance to these rules, so as to form a complete artificial systein of Elocution." "To the adoption of any such artificial scheme there are three weighty objections : first, that the proposed system must necessarily ha imperfect'; secondly, that if it were perfect, it would be a circuitous path to the object in view; and thirdly, that even if both these objections were removed, the object would not be effectually obtained.”
The first of those objections, which is not denied by the most strenuous advocates of the artificial systems, would seem to be all-sufficient. Any number of Rules must needs leave the subject incomplete, inasmuch as the analysis of Bentences, in their structure, and their relations to vocal intlection, may be carried to almost any extent. Few Rules can be laid down to which many unforeseen exceptions cannot be made. Mr. Walker, in his “ Rhetorical