Imágenes de páginas

Ist.“ Where and what art thou, execrable shape ?"

"Arm! warriors, arm for fight!"
"Wo unto you, Pharisees.!"

Angels, and ministers of grace, defend us !" [In the above examples the emphasis is absolute, there being no antithesis expressed or necessarily implied.)

2d. "I that denied thee gold, will give my heart."

[In this sentence the antithesis is expressed ; and we can hardly do other. wise than place the emphasis upon both gold and heart.)

3d. “Exercise and temperance strengthen even an indifferent constitution.”

[In this the antithetic idea is understood :-it is, that not a good constitution merely, is strengthened by exercise and temperance, but even an indifferent one.]

4th. "The pleasures of the imagination are not so gross as those of sense, nor so refined as those of the understanding."

(Here are two antitheses ; gross and refined forming one, and sense and un. derstanding the other.)

5th. "If his principles are false, no apology from himself can make them right ; if founded in truth, no censure from others can make them wrong."

[In this example, false stands opposed to truth, himself to others, and right to wrong. )

" In order to acquire the proper management of the emphasis," says Murray, " the great rule to be given is, that the reader study to attain a just conception of the force and spirit of the sentiments which he is to pronounce. For to lay the emphasis with exact propriety, requires a constant exercise of good sense and attention. It is one of the most decisive trials of a true and just taste, and must arise from feeling delicately ourselves, and from judging accurately of what is fittest to strike the feelings of others.”

IV. Inflections. INFLECTIONS are bendings or slides of the voice from one key to another. They may be divided into the rising inflection, the falling inflection, and the circumflex. In the use of the rising inflection, we strike the word to which it belongs, upon a note, on the scale of musical sounds, a little below the general key upon which we are speaking, and terminate upon a note about as much higher, turning the word with our voice in this direction, . The falling inflection is the reverse of this, (\) striking the word upon a key a little above, and terminating a little below the general speaking key.-By the general key we mean that sound of the voice which preponderates, and which would be heard at a distance too great to distinguish one word from another.—The circumflex is a bending of the voice downward, and returning with it in a curve, thus, (O) to the same key upon the same word.

Although the inflections are a distinct property of elocution, they are yet so intimately connected with emphasis, that in our remarks we shall consider them mostly as but a quality of it. The rising inflection is indeed often used without any emphasis ; as at the suspending pause which occurs in compound sentences, to denote the sentence is unfinished ;-the falling is used at the close of sentences;—and both the rising and falling often occur where there should be but little or no emphasis, and contribute in no small degree to the beauty of deli

very. But we shall now consider only the more important—the significant inflections ; those

upon the correct use of which the meaning and force of composition depend ;-leaving the learner, unincumbered by rules which perplex rather than instruct, to make a practical application of them to the less important parts of composition as his judgment

may direct.

[ocr errors]

Falling Inflection. The falling inflection is used where the language is bold and energetic; where a positive assertion is made; or where an indirect ques tion is asked.

[ocr errors]

it of you.

Who first seduced them to that foul revolt ?
The infernal sèrpent.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded.
But Jesus said, why tèmpt ye me, ye Hỳpocrites !
I insist upon this point; I urge you to it; prèss it; require it; nay, demand

What, Tubero, did that naked sword of yours mean, at the battle of Pharsalia? At whose breast was it aimed ? What was the meaning of your arms, pour spirit, your eyes, your hànds, your ardor of soul ?

Rising Inflection. The rising inflection accompanies the weaker emphasis, where the enunciation of thought is tender, conditional, or incomplete.

EXAMPLES And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, is this your younger brother of whom you spáke unto me?

If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive trée; boast not against the branches.

The beauty of a pláin, the greatness of a mountain, the ornaments of a building, the expression of a picture, the composition of a discourse, the conduct of a third person, the properties of different quantities and numbers, -all the ge. neral subjects of science and taste,-are what we and our companions regard, as having no peculiar relation to either of us.

This inflection is also used with the direct question, or that which admits of yes or no for the answer; as,-Are you going to Genéva?

Do you go to-dáy ?-But if the same question be repeated, as if at first not heard or understood, it takes in the repetition the more forcible emphasis of the falling infection; as-Are you going to Genéva? Are you going to Genèva ?—Is this your book ?" Sir?”—Is this your book? i When the disjunctive or connects words or phrases, it has the rising Inflection before, and the falling after it.

EXAMPLES. Did he act courageously, or cowardly? Do you go to New York, or to Boston ? Would you be happy, or unhappy? Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil ?-to save life, or to destroy it?

Has God forsaken the works of his own hands 2-or does he always gracious. ly presèrve, and keep, and guide them ?

But when or is used conjunctively, it has the same inflection after as before it; as,

Would a belief of divine revelation contribute to make rulers less tyrannical, or subjects less governable ?–He is a man of wisdom; or, at least, of greai learning.

When affirmation and negation are opposed to each other, that which affirms has generally the falling, and that which denies the rising inflection.

EXAMPLES. I spoke of his intègrity, not of his talent. I am going to Rochester, not to Buffalo. He was not esteemed for his wealth, but for his wisdom. I have not been reading Mīlton, but Hòmer. Think not that the influence of devotion is confined to the retirement of the clóset, and the assembly of the saints: Imagine not, that, unconnected with the duties of life, it is suited only to those enraptured souls, whose feelings per. haps you deride as romantic and visionary : It is the guardian of innocenceit is the instrument of vìrtue—it is a mean by which every good affection may be formed and improved.

The Circumflex. The circumflex is used to express ideas ironically, hypothetically, or comparatively; or when something is rather insinuated than strongly expressed

EXAMPLES. They tell ús to be moderate; but thěy, thěy are to revel in profusion. : If men see our faults they will talk among themsělves, though we refuse to let them talk to us.

He has more art than science.
You were paid to fight against Alexander, not to răil at him.
It may teach us průdence, if we derive from it no dther benefit.

Were we to ask a physician concerning a sick person, and receive in reply—“He is better”—

we might suppose him to be yet dangerously sick,—the circumflex giving us an idea only of a slight, or comparative amendment,—but were he to say–He is better-our anxiety for his safety would be at once removed.

The following example will more clearly show the controlling influence which the inflection has upon the sense, without changing the seat of the emphasis :

In church I am unable to suppress evil thoughts. The idea, which this sentence is intended to convey, is, that the person making the assertion is subject to evil thoughts, which, not only most places of resort but even the sacredness of a church does not enable him to suppress. Hence it should be read with the strong emphasis and the falling inflection upon church; thus“In chùrch I am unable to suppress evil thoughts.”—But if the circumflex be used with the emphasis, a different idea will be conveyed, -it will be, that the person, although in most places not subject to evil thoughts, is in church peculiarly afflicted by, and unable to suppress them; thus In chủrch I am unable to suppress evil thoughts. We will take another example. Horatio in the Fair Penitent says:

"I will not turn aside from my loose pleasure, though all thy force be armed to bar my way."


[ocr errors]

The circumflex upon thy implies that Horatio looked upon the opposing force with contempt; and is equivalent to saying, “I might turn aside for a respectable opposition, but thy force is not worth ro garding.” But place the falling inflection upon thy, and it makes it a matter of greater moment :-while it compliments the opposing force, it declares a determination to resist it, great as it is.

In examining the principles of vocal inflection, the ingenious scholar will find both amusement and instruction. Without being understood, they are practised by all, intuitively, when the stronger emotions are excited; and if persons could strictly

pursue the dictates of nature in these respects, they would never err.* But the force of habit is almost irresistible; and when this is formed on the side of error, nothing but the strongly excited emotions can disengage its bonds. It will be in vain, therefore, to depend upon the dictation of these emon

for they will be found unerring only in the expressions of original thought, and then only under circumstances as above described. It becomes necessary, then, that the doctrine of inflections be studied, that they may be applied in unimpassioned discourse, and to the composition of others-studied, not under the impression that the principles of nature are to be subverted, but discovered, and strictly followed.

Porter, in speaking of the importance of a knowledge of the prin. ciples of inflection, says: “Analysis of vocal inflections bears the same relation to oratory, that the tuning of an instrument does to music. The rudest performer in this latter art knows, that his first business is to regulate the instrument he uses, when it is so deranged as to produce no perfect notes, or to produce others than those which he intends. The voice is the speaker's instrument, which, by neglec. orimismanagement, is often so out of tune as not to obey the will of him who uses it. To cure bad habits is the first and hardest task in elocution. Among instructors of children, scarcely one in fifty thinks of carrying his precepts beyond correctness in uttering words, and a mechanical attention to pauses; so that the child who speaks the words of a sentence distinctly and fluently, and “minds the stops," as it is called, is without scruple pronounced a good reader. Hence, among the multitude who consider themselves good readers, there are 60 few that give by their voice that just expression of sentiment, which constitutes the spirit and soul of delivery.'

V. Monotone. MONOTONE is a sameness of sound upon a succession of syllables, like the repeated strokes upon a bell

. It has the peculiar property of rendering composition either sublime or ridiculous, according as it may be judiciously or injudiciously used. Nothing is more disgusting than a dull repetition of sounds upon the same pitch of the voice, resulting from a dullness in the reader or speaker, and applied in common discourse. It is notwithstanding used with the most happy effect, in grave delivery, in the expression of sublime and reverential emotions, and in elevated description. The following examples will illustrate it es used with propriety:

[ocr errors]

• If a man should discover his own house on fire, he would not, like a distant and disinterested observer, cry, fire! firé ! firé !--but we should hear hia more expressive exclamation of fire! fire! fire!

“Shall an inferior magistrate, a governor, who holds his whole power of the Roman people in a Roman province, within sight of Italy, bīnd, scourge, tor. ture with red hot plātes of iron, and at last put to the infamous death of the crom, Roman citizen!"

"High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Inde;
Or whēre the gorgeous Eāst, with rīchest hand,
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,

Satan exalted sat" In the foregoing, the monotone adds much to the dignity of the composition. The examples which follow present a striking contrast:-to read them with the monotone would make them insipid and disgusting :

“What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is pride, the never failing vice of fools."
"With passions unruffled, untainted by pride,

By reason, my life let me square;
The wants of my nature are cheaply supplied;
And the rest are but folly and care.

VI. Modulation. By Modulation is understood that pleasing variety in the management of the voice, which constitutes a graceful delivery. It is one of the most important acquisitions of a good speaker, and at the same time the most difficult to define.--In an extended sense, it may be understood as including every modification of which the voice is capable.

It is easier to point out the defects in modulation, than to define the constituents of its excellence:-Of those we shall notice a few. But in order to be fully understood, we will caution the learner against confounding high with loud, and low with soft sounds. A person may pronounce a word in a voice hardly audible, and again very loud, upon the same key, or equally low. He may do the same upon a key equally high. This distinction between pitch and volume of sound, must be clearly understood. Let the following line,

“ Shall Rome be taken while I am Consul ?" be read on a low key note, and with a small voice. Let it be repeated several times in succession, a little louder each time, without varying the pitch or key note, and the difference will be very apparent.

This distinction being understood, the first prominent defect in modulation that we shall notice, consists in inflating the lungs at the beginning of each sentence, and pouring out a volume of sound, which in every stage of progression is graduated by the stock of breath on hand. The first part of the sentence, therefore, is uttered with a loud voice, and generally upon a high key; but terminates in a low and feeble close. This manner of reading, which is common, is illustrated by the following example.—The capital letters represent the greatest strength of sound, which gradually falls away to the italic:


« AnteriorContinuar »