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INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL ELEMENTS OF ELOCUTION.
21. Intellectual Character of Elocution.-ELOCUTION is far more comprehensive and subtle in its laws and powers than would appear simply from those mechanical elements already described. It is pre-eminently intellectual and emotional. It is the art by which mind and heart produce the greatest effect on mind and heart. It is almost inexhaustible in its resources, and makes subservient to its purposes nearly all modes of acting upon the human soul.
22. Relation of Sound to Thought.-Consider first its relation to sounds. Some sounds intrinsically suggest certain thoughts and feelings. It is not a matter of association, but of intuition. Even a young animal can distinguish between a call, and a cry of alarm and warning, made by its mother. Is a human being inferior, in this matter, to a brute? Does a child need to be taught that the roar of a lion or the barking of a dog is disagreeable, that the hissing of a snake is hateful, or that the singing of a bird is melodious? How early does an infant distinguish the meaning of the various voices of the mother! In these facts we see the germ of music, whose wondrous power has been the theme of many an oration and poem.
But, developed in a different direction, sounds made by the human voice become significant, wholly independent of the meaning arbitrarily associated with words. There is a certain amount of vocal language without articulation. A man who speaks only a foreign language can communicate many ideas by his voice. A new word invented for the occasion, or a word of another language not understood, may be so uttered, or intoned, as to indicate successively a request, a command, pleasure, pain, laughter, indignation and scorn. Indeed were men confined to inarticulate language, it might, by culture, become no mean vehicle of thought and emotion. It is said that Whitefield, by the repetition of the word Mesopotamia, could make many of his hearers shed tears. Sounds alone, especially musical notes, can awaken, or subdue, or modify passion. It is not a matter of fashion or caprice, that public prayers are intoned, or uttered in a peculiar voice, which would be ridicu lously inappropriate in conversation or in a secular oration. There are peculiar tones of voice appropri ate to the expression, respectively, of plaintive emotion, entreaty, love, reverence, fear, anger, authority, surprise, awe, instruction, suggestion, denial, resolution, and almost all other passions and states of the mind.
EFFECT OF VARIOUS SOUNDS.
23. Employment of this Principle by Oratory. The accomplished orator uses these various tones and kinds of voice, and blends their influence with the meaning of the words which he utters. A sentence uttered by him means little or much, as he desires to have it. It
may communicate a thrill of emotion to an audienco that can not be seen in the mere words spoken. The speeches of good orators, when printed, seldom show the secret of their power.
24. Slides, Accents, Tones of Voice. In speech this power of impressing others by the voice is not lost, but should be legitimately exercised. This is the foundation of the various slides and stresses and accents and tones of the voice, which are detected in the most efficient speaking, and are systematically described in elementary treatises on Elocution.
The voice, it is evident, must preserve one uniform monotone, or slide upward, or slide downward in speech. In fact, when well employed, in the utterance of thought and emotion, it maintains, at intervals, all these three modes. In the use of direct questions, that can be answered by Yes or No, it properly assumes the rising inflection; but if the question is not designed to be answered, nor even to suggest any want of information or any doubt on the part of the speaker, it assumes the falling inflection. Observe the very different sentiment expressed by this question: "Will you cut down this tree ?" when uttered first with the rising inflection and then with the falling inflection.
25. Emphatic Pauses.-The slides, whether upward or downward, tend to lengthen the syllable on which they are uttered, and are consequently followed by a pause, longer or shorter, according to their frequency and the emotion of the speaker. Pauses of suspension, or when the sense is not complete, or, in a long sentence, the last pause but one, and expressions of
RULES NEED NOT EMBARRASS.
tender emotion, all naturally assume the rising inflection. Indirect questions, the completion of the sense, all expressions that do not suggest a continuance of expression to bring out the thought, require a falling inflection.
It would be useless to present a thorough analysis of this subject without many examples, but all who purpose to excel as public speakers should thoroughly practice the examples given by some extended work on this subject, and test for themselves the effect on their own mind and heart of the directions given. Practice is needed to give compass to the voice in its intonations as well as in its volume, for if all the various modulations of voice have been once thoroughly made in practice, they will be likely spontaneously to arise in actual work.
26. Attention to Rule need not embarrass a Speaker.— Whately says that, a speaker's "attention being fixed on his own voice, the inevitable consequence would be that he would betray more or less his studied and artificial delivery." Not at all. Apprentices are always awkward till they become familiar with their tools. No man is a first-class speaker till he becomes so absorbed in his subject as to lose all active selfconsciousness, but then, in the highest heat of earnestness, he will act not only according to nature, but according to previously-formed habits of position, voice, intonation, gesticulation, and all other modes of expression. It would be well therefore to study and execute all the variations of voice pointed out in some elementary treatise on the subject, repeatedly and
thoroughly, till the vocal apparatus is rendered flexible and manageable, and then, when actually speaking an original production, utterly to abandon all thought of intonation.* The great deficiency of many speakers arises from the fact that they have never actually made all the various sounds that full speaking requires, and therefore when a passion is excited it has no adequate mode of representation. In this sense many public speakers are partially dumb. Their vocabulary of intonation is narrow. Their voice and body are poor and inefficient machines. They may have power, but it is concealed from others, perhaps from themselves. As gymnastic exercises train the body for any demand for exertion that may arise in practical life, so a rigid and thorough investigation and practice of all the various kinds and degrees of voice secures to the speaker an exhaustless reservoir from which he may draw as the occasion demands. It would be well even for accomplished and successful speakers frequently to review the elements of Elocution, and to keep themselves in practice, just as the most successful musicians do in their art.
27. True Eloquence requires a noble Character.-But Elocution embraces an element still higher than the mechanical part, and an intellectual appreciation of the power of voice and manner. It is pre-eminently a virtue, and summons to its aid all modes of legiti mate influence by which mind acts upon mind. A
*Part I. of the "Fifth Reader of the School and Family Series, by Marcius Willson," contains an excellent summary and illustration of the elements of Elocution.