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It is therefore of the utmost importance to direct the attention of youth to every part of a good speech, a good essay, a good work, in order to mark the easy transitions of the orator or the writer from one style to another, as the varying nature of the subject and the sentiments may require. The best books that can be put into the hands of a boy, as soon as he has learned to read pretty well, and begin to understand what he reads, are the Spectator, because he will find there perfect models of that elegant simplicity of language, the attainment of which should be the first object of literary pursuit. Read every essay with him, and endeavour, in the way of agreeable conversation, to make him observe the peculiarities of manner that mark each of the different writers. You must continue this amusing exercise till he can readily distinguish their respective productions, particularly those of Addison, when you will have juster cause to rejoice at his proficiency, than if he could repeat from memory half the beauties of the Poets.
This method of reading the Spectator, with a view to the improvement of the pupil's taste and judgment, must be continued for a year at least, as I would only have him to read one Number every day, so that it may appear like a pleasant relaxation from his other School duties. After going through the whole of the eight volumes twice, he will derive much benefit from reading a third time the papers only that were written by Addison, in order to catch, if possible, some of the writer's spirit, and to become familiar with his mode of thinking, as well as of arranging and expressing his thoughts. Then, and not before, the pupil's exercises may be changed from the study to the imitation of his favorite author ; in which attempt you can render him essential service by the following method.
Fix upon any of the Numbers, with which you have perceived that your scholar is highly pleased, and shew him how to make a good analysis of it; and, in a few days after, when the exact words of the original may be supposed to have escaped his memory, let him endeavour to fill up the analysis ; and then compare his own language with that of Addison. These exercises frequently repeated will bring a boy of any abilities nearer and nearer to the wished-for resemblance; and will also give him a lasting dislike to the incorrectness, inelegance, turgidity, or affectation of other writers.
Every Tutor will readily perceive that I do not wish to confine youthful genius to servile imitation, but to place the purest models before the student, and give, at the same time, full scope to his own originality. I have entered into minuter details on this head, because I think that it is too much neglected. But I am not going to write a treatise on edacation, nor do I wish to interfere with the authority of any Teacher in the farther direction of his pupil's studies. What I have said of the best method of imitating the beautiful simplicity of Addison, may be applied to the attainment of any other style, or the imitation of any other writer. Extensive reading and imitative essays will gradually prepare the student for bolder attempts at original composition. Whatever may be his favorite pursuit, let him fix his eye upon some illustrious leader in the same walk ; and when he feels his own strength, let him exert it with all the ardor of noble emulation. The preference which he gives to a congenial writer, will not hinder him from availing himself of the thoughts and productions of others, which he knows how to assimilate to his own style, in the same manner as a vigorous and well-exercised stomach converts different sorts of food into one current of nutritious fluid.
OF THE FOURTH ESSENTIAL FUNCTION OF THE ORATOR.
I BEFORE observed that the old Rhetoricians included in the word Pronunciation every thing that related to voice, look, and gesture, or what are the same things, utterance, expression of countenance, and action. We now more frequently make use of the word Elocution in the like comprehensive sense; and volumes upon volumes have been written to facilitate so useful and important an accomplishment. Such a multitude of rules and instructions, however, serve only to give an appearance of difficulty to an attainment which may be acquired with great ease and pleasure. The principles of a just and graceful delivery are not many, and may be fully illustrated in half a dozen lessons: they do not depend upon caprice, upon fancy, or fashion : they are founded in nature : they despise the aid of artificial ornaments; and are always most impressive, when laid before us in their own genuine simplicity.
A slow, distinct articulation is obviously the first requisite. The finest sallies of wit and humor, all the force of the most persuasive arguments, would be lost in a confused, cluttering rapidity of utterance. Any bad habit of this sort must be corrected before we can aspire to higher graces; but is is a great satisfaction to be assured, that lisping, stammering, and most of the other impediments of speech, which are often falsely ascribed to nature, proceed wholly from the nursery, and will yield to judicious and persevering correctives. Here I cannot help expressing a wish, that, in the choice of a nurse, a little attention would always be paid to her tones of voice and her language, as well as to the physical properties of her breastmilk. From her and from the mother the child is to learn the first elements of speech; and the impressions then received, whether favourable or the contrary, will not be very easily effaced.
“ It is a circumstance of great importance,” says Cicero, “what sort of people we are used to converse with at home, especially in the more early part of life, and what sort of language we have been accustomed to hear from our tutors and parents, not excepting the mother. We have all read the letters of CorNELIA, and are satisfied that her sons were not so much nurtured in their mother's lap, as in the elegance and purity of her language *.”
But to resume our explanation of the principles of a just and graceful delivery, it is not enough to make ourselves clearly and distinctly heard. An uniform sameness of tone would soon tire, would soon disgust the ear. Besides, it would be expecting too great a tribute of politeness from others to suppose them alive and awake to every thing we may have to say. We must therefore seem to favor their indolence and languor, by passing in a low tone and hasty manner over the less important parts, and raising the voice on those words only which are peculiarly dear to us ; upon which the whole stress of the observation or sentiment rests ; and to which, therefore, we take care by the most commanding sound to rouse the attention of our hearers.
If all men were philosophers,-if we were all insusceptible of emotions and passions, -and were constantly swayed by the cool, temperate influence of reason alone, --then a clear distinct utterance, and a forcible emphasis, would require no farther graces to constitute an impressive mode of delivery. But we know from experience, that, in general, we must gain the hearts of men, before we can hope to convince their understandings :-we must not leave them cool approyers of our counsels, but hurry
* De claris Oratoribus
them on with irresistible impetuosity: the glowing words must often be charged with electric fire, to force their way to the inmost recesses of the soul.
-“ This magic art
Altered from SHERIDAN. To acquire then such a compass and variety in the tones of the voice, as to adapt them with ease to every sentiment, is the last attainment in the art of reading well. But let us here point out a very common mistake with many persons, whose voices are in other respects sweet and expressive. From a false notion of melody, they adopt a singing tone, and by the uniformly elevation and depression of the voice, compose us to sleep with their tuneful lullabies. Pope's remarks on true harmony in versification are equally applicable to the just modulations of the voice in reading and speaking:
" 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
Essay on Criticism.