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ART OF ELOCUTION.
INTRODUCTION. The value of ELOCUTION; particularly to the Orator - Elocution a necessary part of Oratory _“Can Elocution be taught?” — Answer to the Right Reverend Dr. Whately's (Archbishop of Dublin) objections to a System of Elocu. tion—the arguments in his Elements of Rhetoric combated by his arguments in his Elements of Logic — Advice to the Student.
ELOCUTION, as its derivation (eloquor) indicates, is the art of speaking, or delivering language; and it embraces every principle and constituent of utterance, from the articulation of the simplest elementary sounds of language, up to the highest expression of which the human voice is capable in speech.
It has for object to give clearness and force to the meaning of what may be spoken, and full expression to the feelings under which it may be spoken. Perspicuity and energy are as essential to Elocution as they are to Rhetoric; of which Elocution is a part. For “ in its primary signifie cation Rhetoric had reference to public speaking alone, as its etymology implies.”
Elocution therefore is a most essential element of Rhetoric.
Whately's Elements of Rhetoric-Introduction.
Of the importance, if not the necessity, of such an art to a perfect system of education, one would think there could not be two opinioni. We must all speak; it must therefore be desirable to speak with propriety and force; as much so as regards the utterance of our language as its grammatical accuracy. And though any language, however meagre and however mean, and any utterance, however imperfect and inelegant, so that it be barely intelligible, may be sufficient for the comé monest purposes of speech, yet something more refined is surely necessary even to the ordinary conversation of the gentleman and the man of education.
Most of us are called upon occasionally in public, even though we may not belong to any of the learned professions, to express our opinions, to state our views, to offer our advice, or to justify some course we may have pursued in relation to affairs in which others besides ourselves are interested ; and on such occasions the advantage of a natural, elegant, and easy delivery cannot but have its effect in securing the ready attention and favour of the audience. Let me add, that a good Elocution will make itself felt in the reading aloud of even a paragraph from a newspaper; and will lend a charm to the tone of voice, and a polished ease to the common utterance of the man who has cultivated the art merely as a gentlemanly accomplishment.
But to him who desires to make a figure in the Pulpit, in the Senate, or at the Bar, a good delivery,
& nervous and elegant style of Elocution, are as essential, almost, as force of argument and grace of language. How many a good story is marred in tlie telling: how many a good sermon is lost in the preaching: how many a good speech, excellent in matter, argument, arrangement, language, falls listless on the ear, from the apathetic, inelegant, and powerless manner of the speaker! Elocution is indeed a part of oratory essential to its perfection. He who would touch the heart," and wield at w:]] the fierce democracie," must have
"wit, and words, and wor
And how is this power and grace of delivery to be acquired ?--for acquired it must be—it is born with no man: it is indeed to this part of oratory that the saying " orator fit” is peculiarly applicable. It is an art; and is to be attained by rule, by training and discipline, by constant and well regulated exercise, by using the mental faculties to a quick power of analysis of thought, and by the cultivation of the ear and vocal organs for a ready appreciation and execution of tone.
Let me here take the opportunity of answering the objections of those who are in the habit of promulgating the opinion, that Elocution cannot be taught—that is, that it is not an art; for to deny that it admits of rules, and principles, is to deny it the place of an art. The name of the Right Rev. Dr. WHATELY, Archbishop of Dublin, is the greatest that I find among the list of these objectors; and in answering his objections to all or any System of Elocution, I shall be able, I think, to dispose of the whole question—“Can Elocution be taught?"
Dr. Whately, in his ELEMENTS OF RHETORIC (Part IV. c. 2.), while he admits, and indeed insists on the importance of a good Elocution, emphatically protests against any system for its attainment; his own directions being that every person should read and speak in a natural manner; and he says (§ 3. p. 356.), “ that in reading the Bible, for example, or anything which is not intended to appear as his own composition, it is desirable that he should deliver it as if he were reporting another's sentiments, which were both fully understood and felt in all their force by the reporter.” Admitted : this is one of the objects of Elocution : and how is it to be attained ? He tells us -“the only way to do this effectually, with such modulations of voice, &c. as are suitable to each word and passage, is to fix the mind earnestly on the meaning, and leave nature and habit to suggest the utterance:" and for this plan “ he lays claim to some originality of his own" (Part IV.c. i. $ 1.), though he says (c. ii. & 2.) that “ it is not enough that the reader should himself actually understand a composition ; it is possible, notwithstanding, to read it as if he did not; and, in the same manner, it is not sufficient that he should himself feel and be impressed with the force of what he ulters; he may, notwithstanding, deliver it as if he