Imatges de pÓgina

into the other, i. e. of not using a sufficiency of action to give effect to their subjects. This objection may have some foundation in fact, but if they err in this particular, it is certainly on the side of safety and de


It was the intention of the writer to have marked the examples in this book with italics, but he was deterred from doing so by the objections which upon deliberation seemed to oppose such a plan, especially when Dr. Blair is with him, an author who has done so much for the eloquence of the English language, and who must remain a source of admiration to the enlightened, and of instruction to those who seek for Rhetorical and Belles Lettres information.

NOTE. The above tribute to departed merit, is not invidiously paid with a view of derogating from the merits of subsequent and powerful writers on the same subject; but in justice to the pioneer who cleared the soil, and rendered it receptive of the high cultivation since bestowed upon it.




ELOCUTION, which is the power of fluent speech, the flow of language, of expression and diction, the art of speaking with accuracy, elegance and perspicuity, may be said to be comprised under the following heads: Articulation, Pronunciation, Accent, Emphasis, Climax, Anti-climax, Suspension, Parenthesis, Antithesis, Monotony or Monotone, Modulation, Enumeration or Amplification, Pauses, Irony, Alliteration, Iteration, Interrogation, Personation, Metaphor, Comparison, Personification or Prosopopola, Apostrophe, Vision, Action. They shall be treated of in their turns.


Articulation is the production of distinct sounds, formed by the unition of the organs of speech, an especial mark of favor allotted to us by the Deity, and one of the most estimable of his gifts.

Articulation should be clear and distinct, not in syllables and words only, but even to the very letter; for as in the formation of the most noble architectural structure, a union of various blocks of granite, marble, or other solid substance is indispensable, so in the formation of language, a distinct articulation unites the

various parts, and, from what would otherwise be an unintelligible mass, produces a perfect and harmonious whole. Those rules already published upon this subject, preclude the necessity of further remark here, as they are sufficiently luminous.


The most celebrated Orator of the ancients called pronunciation not only the chief part of oratory, but oratory itself; without going so far, it certainly may be considered its foundation, or the key-stone of the arch, for unless master of it no man can be a perfect speaker. It is a combination of articulation, accent, and emphasis. A vulgar pronunciation will mar the finest composition; on the contrary, a correct one will give grace to that which is even imperfect. Those who are unfortunate enough not to be able to pronounce words beginning with the letters V, W, and H, with propriety, and who confound one with the other, should constantly exercise themselves in pronouncing sentences, wherein those words frequently occur.


How my arm aches beating this hack horse !" would, pronounced by such as are above mentioned, be "ou my harm hakes beating this ack orse!" Again, 66 I want white wine vinegar with my veal ;" viciously pronounced would be, "I vont vite vine winegar vith my weal!"

I cannot here resist mentioning two ludicrous perversions of pronunciation, in the words curiosity and suit, which occurred in Ireland. A clown having pronounced the first mentioned word curosity in hearing of the great Curran and an Englishman, the latter remarked that the fellow had murdered English; the former wittily_replied, "oh no, he has only knocked an i out!" The other was that of a gun-maker's wife, of Dublin, who finding a foppish customer very difficult to please in the choice of a case of duelling pistols, and after having shown many to no purpose, at length exultingly said, at

[ocr errors]

the same time presenting one at him, "oh! here's wan that I am shure will shoot you, sir!" "Indeed! madam," replied the witling, walking leisurely away, "then upon my honor I'll not have anything to do with it."

The best method of acquiring a just pronunciation, is to study those lexicographers who have written most ably upon the subject, and to observe and follow the manner in which persons of education, and those in polished society, pronounce their words.



Accent consists in laying a particular stress on a certain syllable, or the syllables of a word, which gives such syllable or syllables, force, and marks the grammatical form.

[blocks in formation]

The change of accent altering the part of speech from a substantive to a verb.

Emphasis alters the regular seat of accent.


Some poets may be compared with others, but Milton and Shaks peare are in'comparable.

The regular accent would be incom'parable.


Emphasis produces a primary beauty of oratory; it gives the nice distinctions of meaning, the refined conceptions which language is capable of expressing, and imparts a force and harmony to composition which its absence would render lifeless, and frequently unintelligible.

*See Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary.

The following question will prove the great nicety and utility of emphasis; for the mode of emphasising it, will give four different meanings: "Do you go to Europe this year?" If the question be asked without a stress on any particular word, the replicant may say yes, or no; if on you, he may say no, I send. If on Europe, he may say no, to India. If on this year, he may say no, next year. The best rule for emphasising justly, is to study the true meaning of the author, and lay the stress upon such words as you would make impressive, were you conversing upon the same subject. The following examples will sufficiently elucidate the force and beauty of Emphasis.

"It must be so-Plato thou reason'st well-
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?

Or whence this secret dread and inward horror
Of falling into nought? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heav'n itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.

Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought
Thro' what variety of untry'd being,
Thro' what new scenes and changes must we pass?
The wide, th' unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. there's a pow'r above us,
And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Thro' all her works, he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in, must be happy.
But when? or where ?-This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures-this must end 'em.

Thus am I doubly arm'd. My death and life,
My bane and antidote are both before me.
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secur'd in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point:
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age and nature sink in years:
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,

The wreck of matter and the crush of worlds."


« AnteriorContinua »