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In these, however, and in many other circumstances, whereon the beauty of reading and speaking chiefly depends, the import of the subject, the nature of the audience, and the place the speaker occupies, must all be judiciously considered, in order properly to regulate his pronunciation and delivery.
General Rules and Observations on Reading and Recitation.
1. GIVE the letters their
proper sounds. 2. Pronounce the vowels a, e, i, o, u, clearly, giving to each its proper
quantity. 3. The liquids l, m, n, should be pronounced with a considerable degree
of force. 4. Distinguish every accented letter or syllable by a peculiar stress of the
voice. 5. Read audibly and distinctly, with a degree of deliberation suited to the
subject. 6. Pause at the points a sufficient length of time ; but not so long as to
break that connexion which one part of a sentence has with another. 7. The meaning of a sentence is often considerably elucidated by pausing where none
of the usual marks could properly be inserted. 8. Give every sentence, and member of a sentence, that inflection of voice,
which tends to improve either the sound or the sense. 9. Monotones, judiciously introduced, have a wonderful effect in diversi.
fying delivery. 10. Every emphatical word must be marked with a force corresponding
with the importance of the subject. 11. At the beginning of a subject or discourse, the pitch of the voice
should, in general, be low :-to this rule, however, there are some
exceptions in poetry, and even in prose. 12. As the speaker proceeds, the tones of his voice should swell, and his
animation increase with the increasing importance of his subject. 13. At the commencement of a new paragraph, division, or subdivision of
a discourse, the voice may be lowered, and again allowed gradually
to swell. 14. The tones of the voice must, in every instance, be regulated entirely
by the nature of the subjeci. 15. In recitation, the speaker must adopt those tones, looks, and ges
tures, which are most agreeable to the nature of whatever he de. livers :-he must “suit the action to the word, and the word to the action ;” always remembering, that “rightly to seem, is tran. siently to be.”
TABLE of the Two SLIDES or INFLECTIONS of the Voice
1. Did they act prop'erly, or improperly ? 16. They acted properly, not im'properly.
trary to it.
21. He said caution, not cau'tion.
22. He said wisely, not wise'ly.
23. He said val'ue, not val'ue.
24. He said wisdom, not wis'dom.
25. He said fame', not fame'. 11. You must not say fa'tal, but fatal.
26. You must say fatal, not fa'tal. 12. You must not say e'qual, but equal.
27. You must say e'qual, not e'qual. 13. You must not say i'dol, but i'dol.
28. You must say i dol, not i'dol. 14. You must not say o'pen, but o 'pen.
29. You must say open, not o'pen. 15. You must not say du'bious, but du'bious. 30. You must say du 'bious, not du'bious.
The acute accent (') denotes the rising, and the grave accent (1) the falling inflection. On the INFLECTIONS of the VOICE. Besides the pauses, which indicate a greater or less separation of the parts of a sentence and a conclusion of the whole, there are certain inflec. tions of voice, accompanying these pauses, which are as necessary to the sense of the sentence as the pauses themselves ; for, however exactly we may pause between those parts which are separable, if we do not pause with such an inflection of the voice as is suited to the sense, the composi. tion we read will not only want its true meaning, but will have a meaning very different from that intended by the writer.
Whether words are pronounced in a high or low, in a loud or soft tone ; whether they are pronounced swiftly or slowly, forcibly or feebly, with the tone of passion or without it; they must necessarily be pronounced either sliding upwards or downwards, or else go into a monotone or song.
By the rising or falling inflection, is not meant the pitch of the voice in which the whole word is pronounced, or that loudness or softness which may accompany any pitch ; but that upward or downward slide which the voice makes when the pronunciation of a word is finishing, and which may, therefore, not improperly be called the rising and falling inflection.
We must carefully guard against mistaking the low tone at the beginning of the rising inflection for the falling inflection, and the high tone at the beginning of the falling inflection for the rising inflection, as they are not denominated rising or falling from the high or low torie in which they are pronounced, but from the upward or downward slide in which they terminate, whether pronounced in a high or low key.
THE FINAL PAUSE OR PERIOD.
Rule I.—The falling inflection takes place at a period.
1. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona'.
2. The pleasures of the imagination, the pleasure arising from science, from the fine arts, and from the principle of curiosity, are peculiar to the human' species.
When a sentence concludes an antithesis, the first branch of which being emphatic, requires the falling inflection ; the second branch requires the weak emphasis, and rising infection.
Note.-_When there is a succession of periods or loose members in a sentence, though they may all have the falling inflection, yet every one of them ought to be pronounced in a somewhat different pitch of the voice from the other.
EXAMPLES. 1. If we have no regard for our own' character, we ought to have some regard for the character of others'.
2. If content cannot remove' the disquietudes of mankind, it will at least alleviate them.
NEGATIVE SENTENCE. Rule II.—Negative sentences, or members of sentences, must
end with the rising inflection.
1. The region beyond the grave is not a solitary' land. There your fathers are, and thither every other friend shall follow you
in due season. 2. True charity is not a meteor, which occasionally' glares; but a luminary, which, in its orderly and regular course, dispenses a benignant influence.
PENULTIMATE MEMBER.* RULE III.-The penultimate member of a sentence requires
the rising inflection.
1. We were now treading that illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge', and the blessings of religion.
2. Mahomet was a native of Mecca, a city of that division of Arabia, which, for the luxury of its soil and happy temperature of its climate, has ever been esteemed the loveliest and sweetest region in the world, and distinguished by the epithet of Happy. LOOSE SENTENCE.* Rule IV.-The member that forms perfect sense must be
* Penultimate signifies the last but one.
separated from those that follon by a long pause and the falling inflection.
1. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God'; so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear.
2. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed'; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
Note. When a sentence consists of several loose members which nei. ther modify nor are modified by one another, they may be considered as a compound series, and pronounced accordingly.
ANTITHETIC MEMBER.+ RULE V.-The first member of an antithesis must end with
the long pause and the rising inflection.
1. The most frightful disorders arose from the state of feudal anarchy. Force decided all things. Europe was one great field of battle, where the weak struggled for freedom', and the strong for dominion. The king was without power', and the nobles without principle. They were tyrants at home', and robbers abroad. Nothing remained to be a check upon ferocity and violence.
2. Between fame and true honour a distinction is to be made. The former is a blind and noisy' applause: the latter a more silent and internal homage. Fame floats on the breath of the multitude': honour rests on the judgment of the thinking. Fame may give praise, while it withholds esteem': true honour implies esteem, mingled with respect. The one regards particular distinguished' talents : the other looks up to the whole character.
3. These two qualities, delicacy and correctness, mutually imply each other. No taste can be exquisitely delicate without being correct; nor can be thoroughly correct without being deli
* A loose sentence is a member containing perfect sense by itself, fol. lowed by some other member or members, which do not restrain or qualify its signification. + Antithesis opposes words to words, and thoughts to thoughts.