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action was used by the ancient Rhetoricians in a sense far more extensive than it is at present. It did not signity gesture alone, but “ the whole business of pleading a cause :" that is, elocution and gesture united, as they appeared in the actual delivery of an oration, in the Senate or the Forum.
From this view of the subject it appears, though Demos. thenes designedly intimated that action was the very soul of true eloquence; yet he never intended to sanction those
absurd extremes in which some have indulged; but which ut are, in many instances, rather the qualifications of a Harle. the quin than of him whose thundering eloquence shook the
throne of Macedon to its foundation.
Respecting gesticulation itself, every orator should con.
sult his own taste and feelings. The reader may have exHly pected in this work particular directions adapted to that 70,
subject; but it is the unequivocal opinion of the compiler, that written rules will never impart ease or elegance to the
gestures of him who cannot acquire it without them. Men, he
whose prevailing habits of thinking and speaking are bold, rapid, and energetic, must be allowed a greater number of gestures, than one who has less ardour, and whose enunciation is more deliberate. Gesture is never so acceptable as when dictated by the natural feelings, and restrained by the good judgment of the speaker. Dignity and moderation are, in general, the distinguishing features of refined eloquence; and whatever gestures are inconsistent with either must be avoided. Awkward or affected gestures are worse than none at all, and the judicious orator will generally find it necessary to employ greater care to avoid faults, than to attain to excellence. After all that has, or can be said, it is only shrewd observation, an acute judgment, a liberal mind, and some experience, that will enable a speaker to unite perfect liberty with due restraints upon his attitudes and gestures, and confer upon him the dignity and the lustre of real, exalted, and commanding eloquence.
The following Rules are extracted from WALKER'S Speaker :
Let your ARTICULATION be Distinct and Deliberate. A good articulation consists in giving a clear and full utterance to several simple and complex sounds. The nature of these sounds, therefore, ought to be well understood; and
much pains should be taken to discover and correct those faults in articulation, which though often ascribed to some defect in the organs of speech, are generally the consequence of inattention or bad example. Many of these respect the sounding of the consonants. Some cannot pronounce the letter 1, and others the simple sounds r, s, th, sh; others generally omit the aspirate h. These faults may be corrected, by reading sentences, so contrived as often to repeat the faulty sounds, and by guarding against them in familiar conversation.
Other defects in articulation regard the complex sounds, and consist in a confused and cluttering pronunciation of words. The most effectual methods of conquering this habit, are, to read aloud passages chosen for the purpose (such for instance, as abound with long and unusual words, or in which many short syllables come together) and to read, at certain stated times much slower than the sense and just speaking would require. Almost all persons, who have not studied the art of speaking, have a habit of uttering their words so rapidly, that this latter exercise ought generally to be made use of for a considerable time at first; for where there is a uniformly rapid utterance, it is absolutely impossible that there should be strong emphasis, natural tones, or any just elocution.
Aim at nothing higher, till you can read distinctly and deliberately.
Learn to speak slow, all other graces
Let your PRONUNCIATION be Bold and Forcible. An insipid fatness and languor is almost the universal fault in reading, and even public speakers often suffer their words to drop from their lips with such a faint and feeble utterance, that they appear neither to understand or feel what they say themselves, nor to have any desire that it should be understood or felt by their audience. This is a fundamental fault; a speaker without energy is a lifeless statue.
In order to acquire à forcible manner of pronouncing your words, inure yourself while reading, to draw in as much air as your lungs can contain with ease, and to expel it with vehemence, in uttering those sounds which require
an emphatical pronunciation ; read aloud in the open air, and with all the exertion you can command; preserve your body in an erect attitude while you are speaking; let all
the consonant sounds be expressed with a full impulse or o percussion of the breath, and a forcible action of the organs
employed in forming them; and let all the vowel sounds, have a full and bold utterance. Practice these rules with perseverance, till you have acquired strength and energy of speech.
But in observing this rule, beware of running into the extreme of vociseration. We find this fault chiefly among those, who, in contempt and despite of all rule and proprie
ty, are determined to command the attention of the vulgar. che These are the speakers, who in Shakespear's phrase, "ofin fend the judicious hearer to the soul, by tearing a passion to
rags, to very tatters, to split the ears of the groundlings.” Cicero compares such speakers to cripples, who get on
horseback because they cannot walk ; they bellow, because eir they cannot speak. ly
Acquire a compass and variety in the Height of your voice.
The monotony so much complained of in public speakers, is chiefly owing to the neglect of this rule. They generally content themselves with one certain key which they employ on all occasion, and on every subject; or if they attempt variety, it is only in proportion to the number of their hearers, and the extent of the places in which they speak ; imagining that speaking in a high key, is the same thing as speaking loud ; and not observing, that whether a speaker shall be heard or not, depends more upon the dis
tinctness and force with which he utters his words, than 31 upon the height, at which he pitches his voice. ir
But it is an essential qualification of a good speaker, to be able to alter the height, as well as the strength and the
tone of his voice, as occasion requires. Different species it
of speaking require different heights of voice. Nature instructs us to relate a story, to support an argument, to command a servant, to utter exclamations of
and to pour forth lamentations and sorrows, not only with dif
ferent tones, but different elevations of voice. Men at difg
ferent ages of life, and in different situations, speak in veel ry diffent keys. The vagrant, when he begs; the soldier,
when he gives the word of command; the watchman, when
he announces the hour of the night; the sovereign, when he issues his edict; the senator, when he harangues ; the lover, when he whispers his tender tale, do not differ more in the tones which they use, than in the key in which they speak. Reading and speaking, therefore, in which all the variations of expression in real life are copied, must have continued variations in the height of the voice.
To acquire the power of changing the key on which you speak at pleasure, accustom yourself to pitch your voice in different keys, from the lowest to the highest notes you command. Many of those would neither be proper nor agreeable in speaking; but the exercise will give you such a command of voice as is scarcely to be acquired by any other method. Having repeated the experiment till you can speak with ease at several heights of the voice; read, as exercises on this rule, such compositions as have a vari ety of speakers, or such as relate dialogues, observing the height of voice which is proper to each, and endeavoring to change them as nature directs.
In the same composition there may be frequent occasions to alter the height of the voice, in passing from one part to another, without any change of person. Shakespear's “ All the world's a stage,” &c. and his description of the Queen of the Faries, afford examples of this. Indeed every sen. tence which is read or spoken will admit of different elevations of the voice in different parts of it; and on this chiefly, perhaps entirely, depends the melody of pronunciation.
PRONOUNCE your words with propriety and elegance.
It is not easy indeed to fix upon a standard, by which the propriety of pronunciation is to be determined. Mere men of learning, in attempting to make the etymology of words the rule of pronunciation, often pronounce words in a manner, which brings upon them the charge of affectation and pedantry. Mere men of the world, notwithstanding all their politeness, often retain so much of their provincial di. alect, or commit such errors both in speaking and writing, as to exclude them from the honour of being the standard of accurate pronunciation. We should perhaps look for this standard only among those who unite these two characters, and with the correctness and precision of true learning combine the ease and elegance of genteel life. An attention to such models, and a free intercourse with the polite world, are the best guards against the peculiarities and vulgarisms of provincial dialects. Those which respect the pronunciation of words are innumerable. Some of the principal of them are, omitting the aspirate h where it ought to be used, and inserting it where there should be none: Confounding and interchanging the v and w; pronouncing the dipthong ou like au or oo, and the vowel i like oi or é ; and cluttering many.consonants together without regarding the vow. els. These faults, and all others of the same nature, must be corrected in the pronunciation of a gentleman, who is supposed to have seen too much of the world, to retain the peculiarities of the district in which he was born.
In every Sentence, distinguish the more SIGNIFICANT WORDS
by a natural, forcible, and varied emphasis. Emphasis points out the precise meaning of a sentence, shows in what inanner one idea is connected with and rises out of another, marks the several clauses of a sentence, gives to every part its proper sound, and thus conveys to the mind of the reader the full import of the whole. Iť is in the power of emphasis to make long and complex sentences appear intelligible and perspicuous. But for this purpose it is necessary that the reader should be perfectly acquainted with the exact construction and full meaning of every sentence which he recites. Without this it is impossible to give those inflections and variations to the voice, which nature requires ; and it is for want of this previous study, more perhaps than from any other cause, that we so often hear persons read with an improper emphasis, or with no emphasis at all, that is, with a stupid monotony. Much study and pains are necessary in acquiring the habit of just and forcible pronun. ciation ; and it can only be the effect of close attention and
long practice, to be able with a mere glance of the eye, to 7. read any piece with good emphasis and good discretion. 1
It is another office of emphasis to express the opposition between the several parts of a sentence where the style is pointed and antithetical. Pope's Essay on Man, and his Moral Essays, and the Proverbs of Solomon, will furnish many proper exercises in this species of speaking. In some sentences the antithesis is double, and even treble; these must be expressed in reading, by a very distinct emphasis on each part of the opposition. The following instances are of this kind :