« AnteriorContinuar »
ing voice with the single remark, that whatever of intricacy or of complexity has appeared in this chapter, it has not been produced by us.
Speech is the characteristic of man. Nature has been profuse in those gifts which are connected with this divine power. The learner can find nothing here of our own, or of invention. If indeed he finds here delineated all the resources which nature has placed at man's command, it is perhaps more than we ought to hope. We shall see however, as we proceed with the next chapter, that even with these resources the power and variety of human expression may become almost infinite.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES.
We have now presented to the reader what we deem to be the most important functions of the speaking voice. These are not matters of invention, nor can any of the elements of effective delivery be properly such. They must be dictated by nature herself, and must be drawn out from her great store house. When by analysis we have discovered and examined them, and by practice and familiarity have made them our own, we then ourselves become masters of the resources of nature.
The exercises of the foregoing chapter have had reference chiefly to the mechanical part of the orator's art; still we have as yet little more than presented the learner with the implements of his future trade. The principal office of Elocution remains, which is, to teach their use-to teach the application of these principles to practice. And then, if the organs of speech, or indeed any of the vocal organs, are defective, even the mechanical part cannot be performed; but if they are perfect, and yet there is a defective intellect, a bad taste, or a feeble will, they cannot make a perfect orator. Great excellence in oratory must doubtless have as a basis a well-balanced mind:- ;-an intellect
capable of a full development, sensibilities lively and susceptible of powerful action, and the elements of a will adequate to the control and regulation of all the powers of the mind. The possession of these must be accompanied with judicious and various exercise: the mind must be stored with knowledge, the reasoning power improved, the judgment matured and perfected, the powers of invention and memory strengthened, and the imagination cultivated and chastened; the original susceptibility of emotion must be kept alive and a good taste grafted thereon ; and the will must be trained to a perfect self-possession. If to these natural powers, thus trained, we add a knowledge of human nature, a command of language, a sound body and a good moral character, little can be wanting—but the power of mechanical execution.
The lessons of this chapter, it is believed, will have a tendency further to discipline the voice, at the same time that they improve the judgment, and chasten and correct the taste. The attention of the learner will be successively called to Accent, Emphasis, Expression, the Drifts of Melody, Transition, and Cadence.
ACCENT consists in distinguishing one or more syllables of a word from the others, by some peculiarity in the utterance; and such are the laws of the English language, that every word which consists of more than one syllable, has at least one to be thus characterized, whether uttered singly or in current discourse. Accent then must be given irrespective of feeling or expression; and hence may be defined the inexpressive distinction made between the syllables of a word. This obviously plays but a subordinate part in speech; but yet it is a great source of variety, at the same time that it is the principal instrument in our versification.
In determining what syllables are to be marked by accent, taste or feeling has nothing to do; this is settled by usage.
Words however, spelled in the same way but having different meanings, often have the place of their accent changed: Thus désert, a wilderness ; desert', merit or demerit ;-con'duct, behavior; conduct', to lead or manage. And so of many others. But though good taste has nothing to do with determining what syllables are to receive the accent, it has much to do with the manner in which they are to be thus distinguished.
There are three ways in which accent may be given; by extending the natural time of the syllable, by giving it throughout more than its natural force, and by laying a stress on the radical point of the syllable. Here we are presented with time, and two of the forms of stress, before explained, to wit, the loud concrete and the radical, as elements which may be used in accent. The three forms of accent thus defined may be designated as the Temporal, the Forcible, and the Radical. The Temporal accent is confined to syllables of indefinite quantity; but since in English the accented syllables are generally the longest in the word, this form of accent in current speaking and reading is the most common. The accent of force
The accent of force may be given to all but the immutable syllables, and to these the Radical accent is specially appropriated.
EXAMPLES. 1. Temporal Accent. 2. Forcible Accent. 3. Radical Accent. Be-hav-ior.
A-but-ment. The principal point to be observed here is, that the Temporal accent is more melodious than either of the others, while the Radical accent is least agreeable of the three. To substitute either of the others for the first is, then, obviously a violation of melody; and the last should be confined to immutable syllables. It is a great accomplishment in the poet, so to arrange his verses that the accent shall in all cases be that of quantity; and just so far as he approaches to this, will his lines, when properly read, flow softly and strike musically upon the ear. But even this excellence of an author might be annulled by the defective mode of giving the accent, on the part of the reader. To him then who is found inclined to substitute either of the others for the Temporal accent, set exercises should be assigned in the reading of dignified prose and verse.
While accent is employed without regard to feeling or expression, Emphasis on the contrary implies emotion. Em