ePub 版

anger or rage, and to pour forth lamentations and sorrows not only with different tones, but different elevations of voice. Men at different ages of life, and in different situations, speak in very different 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 variety of speakers, on such as relate dialogues, observing the height of voice which is proper to each, and endeavouring to change them as nature di


Pronounce every word consisting of more than one syllable with its proper Accent.-There is necessity for this direction, because many speakers have affected an unusual and pedantic mode of accenting words, laying it down as a rule, that the accent should be cast as far backwards as possible; a rule which has no foundation in the construction of the English language, or in the laws of harmony. In accenting words, the general custom and a good ear are the best guides. Only it may be observed that accent should be regulated, not by any arbitrary rules of quantity, or by the false idea that there are only two lengths in syllables, and that two short syllables are always equal to one long, but by the number and nature of the simple sounds.

Accompany the Emotions and Passions which your words express, by correspondent tones, looks and gestures.-There is the language of emotions and passions, as well as of ideas. To express the former is the peculiar province of words; to express the latter, nature teaches us to make use of tones, looks and gestures.-When anger, fear, joy, grief, love, or any other active passion arises in our minds, we naturally discover it by the particular manner in which we utter our words; by the features of the countenance, and by other well known signs. And even when we speak without any of the more violent emotions, some kind of feeling usually accompanies our words, and this, whatever it be, hath its proper external expression. Expression indeed hath been so little studied in public speaking, that we seem almost to have forgotten the language of nature, and are ready to consider every attempt to recover it, as the laboured and affected effort of art. But nature is always the same; and every judicious imitation of it will always be pleasing. Nor can any one

deserve the appellation of a good speaker, much less of a complete orator, till to distinct articulation, a good command of voice, and just emphasis, he is able to add the various expressions of emotion and passion.

To enumerate these expressions, and describe them in all their variations is impracticable. Attempts have been made with some success to analyze the language of ideas; but the language of sentiment and emotion has never yet been analyzed; and perhaps is not within the reach of human ability, to write a philosophical grammar of the passions. Or if it were possible in any degree to execute this design, I cannot think, that from such a grammar it would be possible for any one to instruct himself in the use of the language. All endeavours therefore to make men orators by describing to them in words the manner in which their voice, countenance, and hands are to be employed, in expressing the passions, must, in my apprehension, be weak and ineffectual. And, perhaps, the only instruction which can be given with advantage on this head, is this general one: Observe in what manner the several emotions or passions are expressed in real life, or by those who have with great labour and taste acquired a power of imitating nature; and accustom yourself either to follow the great original itself, or the best copies you meet with, always however, with this special observance, that you overstep not the modesty of nature.”

In the application of these rules to practice, in order to acquire a just and graceful elocution, it will be necessary to go through a regular course of exercises; beginning with such as are most easy, and proceeding by slow steps to such as are most difficult. In the choice of these, the practitioner should pay a particular attention to his prevailing defects, whether they regard articulation, command of voice, emphasis or cadence: And he should content himself with reading and speaking with an immediate view to the correcting of his fundamental faults, before he aims at any thing higher. This may be irksome and disagreeable; it may require much patience and resolution; but it is the only way to succeed. For if a man cannot read single sentences, or plain narrative, or didactic pieces, with distinct articulation, just emphasis, and proper tones, how can he expect to do justice to the sublime descriptions of poetry, or the animated language of the passions?

In performing these exercises, the learner should daily read aloud by himself, and as often as he has an opportunity, under the direction of an instructor or friend. He should also frequently recite compositions memoriter. This method has several advantages: It obliges the speaker to dwell upon the idea which he is to express, and hereby enables him to discern their particular meaning and force, and give him a previous knowledge of the several inflections, emphasis, and tones which the words require. And by taking his eyes from the book, it in part relieves him from the influence of the school-boy habit of reading in a different key and tone from that of conversa tion, and gives him greater liberty to attempt the expression of the countenance and gesture.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]

THE subjoined Narrative exhibits Religion in the light of a feeling, not as a system, as appealing to the sentiments of the heart, not to the disquisitions of the head, and is, therefore, not only admissible into a work of this description, but (in the opinion of the Compiler) worthy of the prominent place it occupies.

It contains much of that picturesque description, and of that power of awakening the tender feelings, which so remarkably distinguishes the composition of the gentleman whose writings have been so often read with pleasure.

[The interest of the literary reader will be greatly increased when informed that an impression has obtained, in some of the polite circles, that the Philosopher mentioned, was the celebrated David Hume, Esq.] H.


La Roche.

1. More than forty years ago, an English Philosopher, whose works have since been read and admired by all Europe, resided at a little town in France. Some disappointments in his native country had first driven him abroad, and he was afterwards induced to remain there, from having found, in his retreat, where the connections even of nation and language were avoided, a perfect seclusion and retirement, highly favourable to the development of abstract subjects, in which he excelled all the writers of his time.

2. Perhaps, in the structure of such a mind as the Philosopher's, the finer and more delicate sensibilities are seldom known to have place, or, if originally implanted there, are in a great measure extinguished by the exertions of intense study and profound investigation. Hence the idea of philosophy and unfeelingness being united, has become proverbial, and in common language, the former word is often used to express the latter.

3. Our Philosopher has been censured by some, as deficient in warmth and feeling: but the mildness of his man

B 2

ners has been allowed by all; and it is certain, that, if he was not easily melted into compassion, it was, at least, not difficult to awaken his benevolence.

4. One morning, while he sat busied in those speculations, which afterwards astonished the world, an old female domestic, who served him for a housekeeper, brought him word, that an elderly gentleman and his daughter had ived in the village, the preceding evening, on their way to some distant country, and that the father had been suddenly seized, in the night, with a dangerous disorder, which the people of the inn, where they lodged, feared would prove mortal: that she had been sent for, as having some knowledge in medicine, the village-surgeon being then absent; and that it was truly piteous to see the good old man, who seemed not so much afflicted by his own distress as by that which it caused to his daughter.

5. Her master laid aside the volume in his hand, and broke off the chain of ideas it had inspired. His night-gown was exchanged for a coat, and he followed his housekeeper to the sick man's apartment. 'Twas the best in the little inn where they lay, but a paltry one notwithstanding. The Philosopher was obliged to stoop as he entered it. It was floored with earth, and above were the joists not plastered, and hung with cobwebs.

6. On a flock bed, at one end, lay the old man he came to visit; at the foot of it sat his daughter. She was dressed in a clean white bed-gown; her dark locks hung loosely over it as she bent forward, watching the languid looks of her father. The Philosopher and his housekeeper had stood some moments in the room without the young lady's being sensible of their entering it.

7. "Miss!" said the old woman, at last, in a soft tone.She turned and showed one of the finest faces in the world. It was touched, not spoiled with sorrow; and when she perceived a stranger, whom the old woman now introduced to her, a blush at first, and then the gentle ceremonial of native politeness, which the affliction of the time tempered, but did not extinguish, crossed it for a moment, and changed its expression. "Twas sweetness all, however, and our Philosopher felt it strongly.

8. It was not a time for words; he offered his services in a few sincere ones. "Monsieur lies miserably ill here," said the housekeeper; "if he could possibly be moved any

« 上一頁繼續 »