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It may not, perhaps, be improper to inform the Reader, that if he wishes fully to understand the following Work, he must first apply himself closely to the acquiring of a just idea of the two radical distinctions of the voice into the Rising and Falling Inflection, as explained, Part I. p. 82 and 84 ; and Part II. p. 183. If, however, after all his labour, the Author should not have been able to convey an idea of these two distinctions of voice upon paper, he flatters himself that those parts of the Work, which do not depend upon these distinctions, are sufficiently new and useful to reward the time and pains of a perusal.
ELEMENTS OF ELOCUTION.
ELOCUTION, in the modern sense of the word, seems to signify that pronunciation which is given to words when they are arranged into sentences and form discourse.
Pronunciation, in its largest sense, may signify the utterance of words, either taken 'separately, or in connection with each other ; but the pronunciation of words, connected into a sentence, seems very properly specified by elocution.
Elocution, therefore, according to this definition of it, may have elements or principles distinct from those of pronunciation in its most limited sense ; and we may consider the elements of elocution, not as those principles which constitute the utterance of single words, but as those which form the just e. nunciation of words in dependence on each other for sense : at this point the present work commences. The delivery of words formed into sentences, and these sentences formed into discourse, is the object of it; and as reading is a correct and beautiful picture of speaking; speaking, it is presumed, cannot be more successfully taught, than by referring us to such rules as instruct us in the art of reading.
The art of reading is that system of rules, which teaches us to pronounce written composition with justness, energy, variety and ease. Agreeably to this definition, reading may be considered as that species of delivery, which not only expresses the sense of an author, so as barely to be understood, but which, at the same time, gives it all that force, beauty, and variety, of which it is susceptible : the first of these considerations belongs to grammar, and the last to rhetorick.
The sense of an author being the first object of reading, it will be necessary to inquire into those divisions and subdivisions of a sentence which are employed to fix and ascertain its meaning : this leads to a consideration of the doctrine of punctuation.
Punctuation may be considered in two different lights; first, as it clears and preserves the sense of a sentence, by combining those words together which are united in sense, and separating those that are distinct ; and secondly, as it directs to such pauses, elevations, and depressions of the voice, as not only mark the sense of the sentence more precisely, but give it a variety and beauty which recommend it to the ear; for in speaking, as in other arts, the useful and the agreeable are almost always found to coincide ; and every real embellishment promotes and effects the principal design.
In order, therefore, to have as clear an idea of punctuation as possible, it will be necessary to consider it as related to grammar and rhetorick distinctly. It will not be easy to say any thing new on punctuation, as it relates to grammar; but it will not be difficult to show, what perplexity it is involved in when reduced to enunciation ; and how necessary it is to understand distinctly the rhetorical as well as grammatical division of a sentence, if we would wish to arrive at precision and accuracy in reading and speaking; this will so evidently appear in the course of this essay, as to make it needless to insist farther on it here; and as the basis of rhetorick and oratory is grammar, it will be absolutely necessary to consider punctuation as it relates precisely to the sense, before it is viewed as it relates to the force, beauty, and harmony of language.
But the business of this essay is not so much to construct a new system of punctuation, as to endeavour to make the best use of that which is already established ; an attempt to reduce the whole doctrine of rhetorical punctuation to a few plain simple principles, which may enable the reader, in some measure, to point for himself: for this purpose, it will, in the first place, be necessary to exhibit a general idea of the punctuation in use, that we may be bet. ter enabled to see how far it will assist us in the practice of pronunciation, and where we must have recourse to principles more permanent and systematical.
A general Idea of the common Doctrine of Punctu
Some grammarians define punctuation to be the art of marking in writing the several pauses, or rests, between sentences, and the parts of sentences, ac. cording to their proper quantity or proportion, as they are expressed in a just and accurate pronunciation. Others, as Sir James Burrow and Dr. Bowles, besides considering the points as marks of rest and pauses, suppose them to be hints for a dif- . ferent modulation of voice, or rules for regulating the accent of the voice, in reading; but whether this modulation of the voice relates to all the points, or to the interrogation, exclamation, and parenthesis on
ly, we are not informed. Grammarians are pretty generally agreed in distinguishing the pauses into
and those pauses which are accompanied with an alteration in the tone of the voice, into
The period is supposed to be a pause double the time of the colon; the colon, double the semicolon ; and the semicolon, double that of the comma, or smallest pause: the interrogation and exclamation points are said to be indefinite as to their quantity of time, and to mark an elevation of voice; and the parenthesis, to mark a moderate depression of the voice, with a pause greater than a comma.
A simple sentence, that is, a sentence having but one subject, or nominative, and one finite verb, admits of no pause. Thus in the following sentence : The passion for praise produces excellent effects in women of sense. The passion for praise is the subject, or nominative case to the verb produces ; and excellent effects in women of sense, is the object or accusative case, with its concomitant circumstances or adjuncts of specification, as Dr. Lowth very properly terms them, and this sentence, says the learned bishop, admits of no pause between any of its parts; but when a new verb is added to the sentence, as in the following: The passion for praise, which is so very vehement in the fair sex, produces excellent effects in women of sense. Here a new verb is intro