Obrazy na stronie

istic and noble powers of speech altogether to the direction of Chance, and the impulse of Nature.

When we reflect that not only every thing which is pleasing, every thing which is forcible and affecting in elocution, but also the most material points necessary to a full and distinct comprehension even of the sense of what is uttered, depend upon the proper use of tones, and their accompaniments, it may well astonish us to think that such essential parts of our own language should, in a civilised country, in one whose commerce is so extensive and various, and which has produced so many excellent classical scholars in the dead languages as ours, be so generally, I might indeed almost say, so totally neglected.

Of modern authors who have minutely attended to and written upon this subject, no one has more critically and judiciously discussed that branch of the subject which relates to the tones or inflexions of the human voice than the ingenious Mr. Walker, who tells us that “the primary division of speaking sounds is into the upward and downward slide of the voice, and that whatever diversity of time, tone, or force is added to speaking, it must necessarily be conveyed by these two slides. These two slides, or inflexions of voice, therefore, are the axis, as it were, on which the force, variety and harmony of speaking turn. They may be considered as the great outlines of pronunciation : and if these outlines can be effectually explained, and conveyed to a student, they must be of nearly the same use to him as the rough draft of a picture is to a pupil in painting.

By the rising or falling inflexion is not meant the pitch of 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 or falling inflexion. So important is a just mixture of these two inflexions, that the moment they are neglected our pronunciation becomes forceless and monotonous ; if the sense of a sentence require the voice to adopt the rising inflexion on any particular word, either in the middle or at the end of a phrase, variety and harmony demand the falling inflexion of one of the preceding words; and, on the other hand, if emphasis, harmony, or a completion of sense, require the falling inflexion on any word, the word immediately preceding almost always demands the rising inflexion ; so that these inflexions of voice are in an order nearly alternate.

This is very observable in reading a sentence, when we have mistaken the connexion between the members, either by supposing the sense is to be continued when it finishes, or supposing it finished when it is really to be continued: for in either of these cases, before we have pronounced the last word, we find it necessary to return pretty far back, to some of the preceding words, in order to give them such inflexions as are suitable to those which the sense requires on the succeeding words. Thus, in pronouncing the speech of Portius, in Cato, which is generally incorrectly pointed, as in the following example:

Remember what our father oft has told us,
The ways of Heaven are dark and intricate.
Puzzled in mazes, and perplexed with errors;
Our understanding traces them in vain,
Lost and bewildered in the fruitless search.

If, I say, from not having considered this passage, we run the second line into the third, by suspending the voice at intricate, in the rising inflexion, and dropping it at errors in the falling, we shall find the sentiment expressed, to be absolutely blasphemous, in charging the ways of Heaven with being puzzled and full of errors: but if, in recovering ourselves from that impropriety we take notice of the different manner in which we pronounce the second and third lines, when properly pointed, we shall find that not only the last word of these lines, but that every word alters its inflexion : for when we perceive that by mistaking the pause we have misconceived the sense, we find it necessary to begin the line again, and pronounce every word differently, in order to make it more harmonious: and at the same time convey the true sense. Thus,

Remember what our father oft has told us :
The ways of Heaven are dark and intricate.
Puzzled in mazes, and perplexed with errors,
Our understanding traces them in vain,
Lost and bewildered in the fruitless search.

But the great object of these harmonic inflexions is the forming of the cadence or close of a sentence. Here it is that harmony and variety are more peculiarly necessary, as the ear is more particularly affected by the close of a subject, or any branch of a subject, than by any other part of a composition, This observation may be exemplified by the following sentence from one of Addison's Spectators : “ One of the most eminent mathematicians of the age has assured me, that the greatest pleasure he took in reading Virgil was in examining Æneas's voyage by the map, as I question not but many a modern compiler of history would be delighted with little more in that divine author than the bare matter of fact.” Here we shall find, that, by placing the rising inflexion upon the word little, and the falling upon more ; and the falling upon divine and the rising upon author, we shall give both a distinctness and harmony to the cadence. Every person has a certain pitch of voice, in which he is most easy to himself, and most agreeable to others : this may be called the natural pitch; this is the pitch in which we converse; and this must be the basis of every improvement we acquire from art and exercise, aided by native taste, and an opportunity of frequently hearing and imitating the most masterly readers.

The circumscribed limits of a lecture not permitting a sufficiently ample discussion of so extensive a subject as that we are now considering, a subject which involves such variety of rule, and requires so copious a series of exemplification; I must, therefore, refer you to those two scientific and interesting productions, Walker's Elements of Elocution, and Rhetorical Grammar; in both of which, particularly the former, you will find this important principle of elocution explained and exemplified, with the utmost acuteness of criticism, and the most elaborate display of judicious example. To these may be added the lectures of Mr. Sheridan and Doctor Blair, and the Essays of lord Kaimes.

“ The business of a lecturer," " says a celebrated modern writer, * “ is not so much to dilate and elucidate a subject with new thoughts and original suggestions, as to delineate the great outlines of it; to bring into an easy and comprehensive view the authorities on which his assertions are founded; and to commit the filling up of those outlines, and the completion of the work to the diligence and exertion of the student in his closet, by ia due consideration of the principles laid down, and an attentive peru sal of the authors referred to."

Having now completed my intended observations on the five essential principles of correct pronunciation, accent, quantity, emphasis, pause, and tone, I will conclude this address to you, by recapitulating, or rather condensing the substance of the foregoing lectures into the following short rules, a constant recollection and observance of which will very much facilitate the progress of the student in acquiring the art of reading well ; a good pronunciation consisting of nothing but a natural, easy, and graceful variation of the voice, suited to the nature and importance of the sentiments we utter.

1. Take pains to obtain a perfect knowledge of the sounds of all the letters in general.

2. Never guess at a word, or you will acquire a habit of reading falsely.

3. Pronounce every word with its proper accent, clearly and distinctly; a distinct articulation being essentially necessary to a good reader, and the very basis of the art.

Dr. Priestley:

4. Let the tones of your voice in reading be the same as in speaks ing.

5. Do not read in a hurry, or you will acquire a habit of hesitating and stammering

6. Read so loud as to be heard by all about you, but not louder.

7. Observe your pauses well, and never make any where the sense does not require it.

8. Consider well the place of the emphasis in a sentence, and pronounce it accordingly.

9. Be careful not to speak through the nose, or with the teeth closed, but open your mouth sufficiently to give a distinct utterance.

And lastly, Endeavour to enter into the spirit of your author, and to give every sentiment its appropriate expression.

A strict and uniform adherence to these principles cannot fail to effect that proficiency in the art of reading, which will render the communication of sentiment, not only pleasing to the ear of the hearer, but by being thus conveyed through an agreeable channel, it will make a more forcible impression upon his memory, and more successfully operate upon the feelings of his heart.




Descriptive of a Pedestrian Journey to the Falls of Niagara,

In the Autumn of 1804,*
By the Author of American Ornithology.

With a plate.
(Continued from Vol. II, page 565.)

BEYOND the woods where Erie's waves extend,
Behold, once more, the setting sun descend;
Lone chirping crickets hail the coming night,
And bats around us wheel their giddy flight;
The drumming pheasant vibrates on the ear;
The distant forests dimly disappear.

• In the former parts of this poem the date, 1803, has been introduced through mistake,

Slow sinks the day; and through th' impending woods,
Night spreads her wings, and deepening darkness broods.
A death-like silence reigns the forest through ;
At last the path evanishes from view.
Here as we stoop, our dubious course to steer,
Inhuman screams at once assail our ear;
The hollow, quivering, loud-repeated howl,
Full overhead, betrays the haggard owl;
Who, well for her, in muffling darkness past,
Else this heart-sinking scream had been her last.

Thus through the forest, wrapt in deepest shade,
Beneath black arms of tow’ring oaks we stray'd,
At solemn intervals the peace profound
Disturb'd by rattling nuts that dropt around.
Shrill, wildly issuing from a neigbouring height,
The wolf's deep howlings pierce the ear of night;
From the dark swamp he calls his skulking crew,
Their nightly scenes of slaughter to renew;
Their mingling yells sad savage woes express,
And echo dreary through the dark recess.
Steady along through swamps and pools we went;
The way-worn foresters fatigu'd and faint,
Scrambling o'er fallen logs that fractur'd lay,
Or stunn’d by viewless boughs that cross'd our way;
While glaring round, through roots and stumps decay'd,
Phosphoric lights their pallid gleams display'd.
Sudden a horrid human shriek we hear,
That shot its terrors through our startled ear;
“Ha! are you there!" the watchful Duncan cry'd,
" Halt! fix your bayonents, and look out ahead!"
A second scream announc'd the panther nigh,
The dark woods echoing back the rueful cry;
Still as the grave, suspending every breath,
Steady we stood to mark its passing path,
Prepar'd, and eager for one deadly aim,
To pour destruction through its tawny frame;
But vain our listening; nothing seem'd awake,
Save the lone murmur of the neighbouring lake;
All else lay dead and silent as before;
And even the distant wolf was heard no more.

Amidst this deep Egyptian darkness lost,
Our faithful pilot near forsook his post;
But knew, or seem'd to know, each swamp and pond,
And kept his steady course unerring on.

« PoprzedniaDalej »