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read Verse with proper Pause, Emphasis and Cadence, and a Pronunciation varied and governed by the Sense, it be not harmonious and beautiful, the Fault is not in the Reader but the Author. And if the Verse be good, to read it thus will improve its Harmony; because it will take off that Uniformity of Sound and Accent which tires the Ear, and makes the Numbers heavy and disagreeable.
III. Another important Rule to be observed in Elocution is, Study Nature. By this I mean
1. Your own natural Dispositions and Affections. And thofe Subjects that are most suitable to them, you will eafily pronounce with a beautiful Propriety: And to heighten the Pronunciation, the natural Warmth of the Mind Ihould be permitted to have its Course under a proper Rein and ReguJation.
2. Study the natural Dispositions and Affections of others. For some are much more eafily impreffed and moved one way, and some another. And an Orator should be acquainted with all the Avenues to the Heart.
3. Study the most easy and natural Way of expressing yourfelf, both as to the Tone of Voice and the Mode of Speech. And this is best learnt by Observations on common Conversation; where all is free, natural and eafy; where we are only intent on making ourselves understood, and conveying our Ideas in a strong, plain, and lively Manner, by the most natural Language, Pronunciation and Action. And the nearer our Pronunciation in Public comes to the Freedom and Ease of that we use in common Discourse (provided we keep up the Dignity of the Subject, and preserve a Propriety of Expression) che more juft and natural and agreeable it will generally be.
Above all Things then study Nature; avoid Affectation; never use Art, if you have not the Art to conceal it: For whatever does not appear natural, can never be agreeable, much less persuasive.
IV. Endeavour to keep your Mind collected and composed,
Guard against that Flutter and Timidity of Spirit, which is the common Infelicity of young, and especially bashful Perfons, when they first begin to speak or read in Public. This is a great Hinderance both to their Pronunciation and Invention; and at once gives both themselves and their Hearers an urinecessary Pain. It will by constant Opposition wear off.
And the best way to give the Mind a proper Degree of
1. To be entire Master of your Subject; and a Consciousness that you deliver to your Audience nothing but what is well worth their hearing, will give you a good Degree of Couragé.
2. Endeavour to be wholly engaged in your Subject ; and when the Mind is intent upon and warmed with it, it will forget that awful Deference it before paid to the Audience, which was so apt to disconcert it.
3. If the Sight of your Hearers, or any of them, discompose you, keep your Eyes from them.
V. Be sure to keep up a Life, Spirit, and Energy in the Expression ; and let the Voice naturally vary according to the Variation of the Stile and Subject.
Whatever be the Subject, it will never be pleasing, if the Stile be low and fat; nor will the Beauty of the Stile be difcovered, if the Pronunciation be fo.
Cicere observes, there must be a Glow in our Stile, if we would warm our Hearers. And who does not observe how ridiculous it is to pronounce the ardens Verbum in a cold lifeless Tone? And the Transition of the Voice (as before observed) must always correspond with that of the Subject, and the Paffions it was intended to excite.
VI. In order to attain a just and graceful Pronunciation, you should accustom yourselves frequently to hear those who excel in it, whether at the Bar or in the Pulpit ; where you will see all the fore-mentioned Rules exemplified, and be able to account for all those Graces and Beauties of Pronunciation which always pleased you, but you did not know why.
And indeed, the Art of Pronunciation, like all others, is better learnt by Imitation than Rule : But to be first acquainted with the Rules of it, will make the Imitation more easy. And beyond all that hath been said, or can be described, you will observe a certain Agreeableness of Manner in some Speakers that is natural to them, not to be reduced to any Rule, and to be learnt by Imitation only; nor by that, unless it be in some Degree natural to you.
Lastly, You Thould frequently exercise yourself to read aloud according to the foregoing Rules.
It is Practice only that must give you the Faculty of an elegant Pronunciation. This, like other Habits, is only to be attained by often repeated Acts,
· Orators indeed, as well as Poets, must be born so, or they will never excel in their respective Arts : But that part of Oratory which consists in a decent and graceful Pronunciation (provided there be no Defect in the Organs of Speech) may be attained by Rule, Imitation, and Practice; and, when attained, will give a Beauty to your Speech, a Force to your Thoughts, and a Pleasure to the Hearers, 'not to be expressed; and which all will admire, but none can imitate, unless they are first prepared for it by Art and Nature.
In fine, the great Advantage of a just Pronunciation is, that will, please all, whether they have no Taste, a bad Taste, or a good Taste.
But as under the Word. [Pronunciation] the Ancients comprekended Action as well as Elocution; and as a few general : Rules concerning that may be of use to such as speak in
Public, it may not be iniproper here briefly to fubjoin them. 1. The Action then should be as easy and as natural as the Elocution; and, like that, must be varied and directed by the Passions.
An affected Violence of Motion is as disgustful as an -": affected Vehemence of Voice; and no Action, as bad as no
Emphasis : Which two Faults commonly go together, as do the other two, just before mentioned.
Those Parts of the Body that are to be principally employed . in Oratorical Action are the Head, the Face, the Eyes, the Hands, and the upper part of the whole Body.
J. The Head. This should generally be in an erect Porture; turning sometimes on one side, and sometimes on the other, that the Voice may be heard by the whole Audience, and a Regard paid to the several Parts of it.
It should always be on the same Side with the Action of the Hands and Body, except when we express an Abhorrence, or a Refusal of any thing, which is done by rejecting it with the Right-hand, and turning away the Head to the Left; as in that Sentence-Dii talem terris avertete pestem where such an Action is very proper in pronouncing the Word avertete.
2. The Countenance. In this is the Seat of the Soul, and the very Life of Action. Every Passion, whilst uttered with the Tongue, should be painted in the Face. There is often more Eloquence in a Look than any Words can express. By this we are awed, charmed, incensed, softened, grieved, rejoiced, raised, or dejected, according as we catch the Fire of the Speaker's Passion from his Face. In short, there is no End in recounting the Force and Effects of this dumb Oratory; which Nature only teaches, and which Persons of low
Paffions lose all the Advantages of. Look well upon a good Piece of Painting where the Passions are strongly expressed, and you will conceive the Power of it.
3. The Eyes. These should be carried from one Part of the Audience to another, with a modest and decent Respect ; which will tend to recall and fix their Attention, and animate your own Spirit by observing their Attention fixed. But if their Affections be strongly moved, and the observing it be a Means of raising your own too high, it will be necessary then to keep the Eye from off them. For though an Orator should always be animated, he should never be overcome by his Passions.
The Language of the Eye is inexpreffible. It is the Window of the Soul; from which sometimes the whole Heart looks out at once, and speaks more feelingly than all the warmest Strains of Oratory; and comes effectually in Aid of it, when the Passion is too strong to be uttered.
4. The Hands,
The Left-hand should never be used alone; unless it be to attend the Motion of the Head and Eyes in an Address to the Audience on the left Side.
The Right-hand may be often used alone, When you speak of the Body, you may point to it with the middle Finger of your Right-hand.
When you speak of your Soul or Conscience, you may lay your Right-hand gently on your Breast.
It should be often displayed with an easy Motion to favour an Emphasis ; but seldom or never be quite extended
All its Motions should be from the Left to the Right.
Both the Hands displayed, and the Arms extended, is a violent Action, and never just or decent unless the Audience be noisy, and Part of them at a Distance from the Speaker, and he is labouring to be heard ; and then they should never be extended higher than the Head, unless pointing at something above the Audience. *
The Motion of the Hand should always correspond with those of the Head and Eyes'; as they should with the Passions expressed.
In deliberate Proof or Argumentation, no Action is more proper or natural, than gently to lay the first Finger of the Right-hand on the Palm of the Left.
Of what great use the proper Motion of the Hand is in affifting Pronunciation, and how many Passions may be strong
** See Raphael's Cartoon, representing St. Paul preaching at Ashens;
ly indicated thereby, when attended with that of the Head and Eyes, is not easy to be described, but is foon observed in common Conversation.
Lastly, The Posture of the Body.
This should be usually erect; not continually changing, nor always motionless : Declining in Acts of Humiliation; in Aets of Praise and Thanksgiving, raised.
It should always accompany the Motion of the Hands, Head, and Eyes, when they are directed to any particular Part of the Audience; but never so far as to let the Back be turned to any part of it.
But let it suffice just to hint at these Things. They who desire to see them more largely treated of, may consult Quintilian de Institutione Oratoriâ, lib. xi. cap. 3.
After all, with regard to Action, the great Rule is (the same as in Pronunciation) to follow Nature, and avoid Affectation. The Action of the Body, and the several Parts of it, must correspond with the Pronunciation, as that does with the Stile, and the Stile with the Subject. A perfect Harmony of all which compleats the Qrator. *
* Thcfe who desire to be more parţicularly acquainted with this Subject, and the several other Branches of Oratory, I would advise not to trust altogether to the Rules of modern Writers, but to repair to the Fountain Head ; and converse with the great Masters and Teachers of this Art among the Ancients ; particularly Diony. fous of Halicarnasus, Cicero, Quintilian, and Longinus,