Page images
[ocr errors]

phasis upon the word man's in the first line; and hence it would read thus:

“Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit," &c. But if it were a notorious truth, that mankind had transgressed in a peculiar manner more than once, the emphasis would fall on first; and the line be read,

“Of man's first disobedience," &c. Again, admitting death (as was really the case) to have been an unheard of and dreadful punishment, brought upon man in consequence of his transgression ; on that supposition the third line would be read,

“Brought death into the world," &c. But if we were to suppose that inankind knew there was such an evil as death in other regions, though the place they inhabited had been free from it till their transgression, the line would run thus :

“ Brought death into the world,&c. The superior emphasis finds place in the following short sentence, which admits of four distinct meanings, each of which is ascertained by the emphasis only.

“Do you ride to town to-day ?" The following examples illustrate the nature and use of the inferior emphasis :

Many persons mistake the love, for the practice of virtue."

“Shall I reward his services with fulschood? Shall I forget him who cannot forget me?"

"If his principles are false, no apology from himself can make them right: if founded in truth, no censure from oihets can make them wrong." “Though deep, yet clear ; though gentle, yet not dull;

Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full." * A friend exaggerates a man's virtues; an enemij, hi. crimes."

"The wise man is happy, when he gains bis own · hation; the fool, when he gains that of others."


The superior emphasis, in reading as in speakins, must be determined entirely by the sense of the passage, and always made alike: but as to the inferior emphasis, taste alone seems to have ihe right of fixing its situation and quantity.

Among the number of persons, who have had proper opportunities of learning to read, in the best manner it is now taught, very few could be selected, who in a given instance, would use the inferior emphasis alike, either as to place or quantity. Some persons, indeed, use scarcely any degree of it; and others do not scruple to carry it far beyond any, .thing to be found in common discourse; and even sometimes throw it upon words so very triliing in themselves, that it is evidently done with no other view, than to give a greater variety to the modulation.* Notwithstanding this diversity of practice, there are certainly proper boundaries, within which this emphasis must be restrained, in order to make it meet the approbation of sound judgment and correct taste. It will doubdess have different degrees of exertion, according to the greater or less degrees of importance of the words upon which it operates; and there may be very properly some variety in the use ot it: but its application is not arbitrary, depending on the caprice of readers.

As emphasis often falls on words in differept parts of the same sentence, so it is frequently required to be continued with a little variation, on two, and sometimes more words together. The following sentences exemplify both the parts of this position : “ If you seek to make one rich, study not to increase his stores, but to diminish his desires." "The Mexican figures, or picture writing, represent things, not words: they exhibit images to the eye, not iltus to the understanding."

By modulation is meant that pleasing, variety of voice, which is perceived'in uttering a sentence, and which, in its nature, is perfectly distinct from emphasis, und the tones of emo.. tion and passion. The young reader should be core ful to renter his modulation correct and easy; and, for this purpose,

W form it upim the model of the most judicious und accu

disobe; neers.


[ocr errors]

Some sentences are so full and comprehensive, that almost every word is emphatical: as, “ Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains !” or, as that pathetic expostulation in the prophecy of Ezekiel, “ Why will ye die!"

Emphasis, besides its other offices, is the great regulator of quantity. Though the quantity of our syllables is fixed, in words separat. y pronounced, yet it is mutable, when these words are armaged in sentences; the long being changed into short, the short into long, according to the importance of the word with regard to meaning. Emphasis also, in particular cases, aliers the seat of the accent, This is demonstrable from the following examples: “He shall increase, but I shall decrease. " There is a difference between giving and forgiving." "In this species of composition, plausibility is much more essential than probability;" In these examples, the emphasis requires the accent to be .placed on syllables, to which it does not commonly belong.

In order to acquire the proper management of the emphasis, the great rule to be given, is, that the reader study to attain a just conception of the force and spirit of the sentiments wh he is to pronounce. For to lay the emphasis with exact propriety, is a constant exercise of good sense and attention. It is far from being an inconsiderable attainment. It is one of the most decisive trials of a true and just taste; and must arise from feeling delicately ourselves, and from judging accurately of what is fittest to strike the feelings of others.

There is one error, against which it is particularly proper to caution the learner ; namely, that of multiplying emphatical words too much, and using the emphasis indiscriminately. It is only by a prudent reserve and distinction in the use of them, that we cai: give them any weight. If they recur too often; if a reader attempts to render every thing he expresses of high importance, by a mulitude of strong emphasis, we soon learn to pay little regard to them. To crowd every sentence with emphatical words, is like crowding all the pages of a book with Italic characters ; which, as to the effect, is just the same as to use no such distinctions at all.


Tones. Tones are different both from emphasis and pauses; consisting in the notes, or variation of sound which we employ, in the expression of our' sentiments. Emphasis affects particular words and phrases, with a degree of tone or inflexion of voice; but tones, peculiarly so called, affect sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes even the whole of a discourse.

To show the use and necessity of tones, we need only observe, that the mind, in communicating its ideas, is in a constant state of activity, emotion, or agitation, from the different effects which those ideas produce in the speaker. Now the end of such communication being, not merely to lay open the ideas, but also the different feelings which they excite in him who utters them, there must be other signs than words, to manifest those feelings; as words ut-: tered in a monotonous manner can represent only a similar state of mind, perfectly free from all activity and emotion. As the communication of these internal feelings was of much more consequence in our social intercourse than the mere conveyance of ideas, the Author of our being did not, as in that conveyance, leave the invention of the language of emotion to man; but impressed it himself upon our nature, in the same manner as he has done with regard to the rest of the animal world; all of which express their various feelings, by various tones. Ours, iadeed, from the superior rank that we hold, are in a high degree more comprehensive; as there is not an act of the mind, an exertion of the fancy, or an emotion of the heart, which has not its peculiar tone, or note of the voice, by. which it is to be expressed; and which is suited exactly to the degree of internal feeling. It is chiefly in the proper use of these tones, that the life, spirit, beauty, and harmouy of delivery consist.

The limits of this introduction do not admit of exámples, to illustrate the variety of tones belonging to the different passions and emotions. We shall, however, select one, which is extract:d from the beautiful lamentation of David over Saul and Jonathan, and which will, in some

degree. elucidate what has been said on this subject. “The beauty of Ísrael is slain upon thy high places; how are the might fallen! Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice; Jest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away; the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.” The first of these itvisions expresses sorrow and lamentation : therefore the note is low. The next contains a spirited command, and should be pronounced inuch higher. The other sentence, in which he makes a pathetic address to the mountaius where his friends had heen slain, must be expressed in a note quite different from the two former; not so low as the first, nor so high as the second, in a manly, firm, and yet plaintive tone.

The correct and naturl language of the emotions is not so difficult to be attained, as most readers seem to imagine. If we enter into the spirit of the author's sentiments, as well as into the meaning of his words, we shall not fa' to deliver the words in properiy varied tones.

For there are few people, wlio speak goglish without a provincial note, thet have not an accurate use of tones, when they utter their sentiments in earnest discourse. And the reason that they bave pot the same use of them, in reading aloud the sentiments of others, may be traced to the very defective and erroneous anythod, in which the art of reading is taught: whereby all the various, natural, expressive tanes 01 speech, are suppressed; and a few artificial, umeanins reading notes, are substituted for them,

But when we recommend to readers, an attention to the true and language of emotioas, we must be understood in do it with proper limitation. Moderation is necessary in this point, as it is in other things. ' For when reading becomes suicilt initative, it assumes a theatrical manner, and must be loghly improper, as well as to give offence to the nearers; because it is inconsistent with that delicacy and modesty, which are indispensable on such occasions. The speaker who delivers his own emotions must be su;!posed to be more vivid and animatexi, than would be pri povj is the person who relates them ai second hand.


« PreviousContinue »