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high value of eloquence; as to natural inability, every idea of such an impediment is to be rejected, as no less false than unworthy of a learned and independent people. An extreme attachment to every thing which bears the appearance of demonstration, may. also, in part, account for the paucity of orators among Accurate reasoners affect to despise the assistance of oratory, and to consider truth and reason, when fairly presented, sufficient to make their way. If sophistry could never delude, under the pretence of demonstration, and if men were constituted without passions, reason would indeed, be sufficiently powerful; but the passions hold such a dangerous correspondence with the understanding, that mere reason cannot always vindicate the truth; therefore, the aid of eloquence is required, in order to expose their treachery: and it were well for mankind, if the triple alliance of reason, truth and eloquence, proved always victorious.
Our public speakers, it has often been remarked, content themselves with reasoning well; and owing to some of the causes mentioned, indolence, inattention, and the want of splendid examples, aim at no higher excellence, and stop short of eloquence.
The true foundation of oratory, no doubt, is sound logic; but then, it should be remembered, that it is only the foundation; and that, to complete the plan, the superstructure, with all its accommodations, and with all its ornaments is wanting. To be an orator, is more difficult than to be a reasoner, and demands, in addition, many other talents and perfections, both natural and acquired. The consummate orator is therefore, rare, and a wonder in every age and in every country. And, perhaps, Demosthenes in Athens, and Cicero in Rome, were the only perfect orators (if even they reached perfection) whom the world has yet seen. But there are many degrees of excellence far below theirs, and below perfection, by reaching any of which, a public speaker may acquire considerable
fame and honour. The high degrees of exceller should a man aspire to them, can be attained only those whom nature has endowed with great abiliti and who attempt perfection itself. For this obje long and laborious exertion must be made; but very effort will bring its adequate reward in eve stage, and will carry the aspiring mind, farther a farther, beyond the dull boundaries of mediocrit and place him within the regions of honorable e cellence*.
A correct speaker, does not make a movement o limb or feature, for which he has not a reason. he addresses heaven, he looks upward. If he spea to his fellow creatures, he looks round upon ther The spirit of what he says, or is said to him, a pears in his look. If he express amazement, or wou excite it, he lifts up his hands and eyes. If he invit to virtue and happiness, he spreads his arms, an looks with benevolence. If he threatens the ver geance of heaven against vice, he bends his eye brows into wrath, and menaces with his arm an countenance. He does not needlessly saw the ai with his arm, nor stab himself with his finger. H does not clap his right hand upon his breast, unles he has occasion to speak of himself, or to introduc conscience, or something sentimental. He does no start back, unless he wants to express horror or aver sion. He does not come forward, but when he has occasion to solicit. He does not raise or lower his voice, but as the nature of the sentiment requires. His eyes by turns, according to the humour of the matter he has to express, sparkle fury; brighten into joy; glance disdain; melt into grief; frown disgust and hatred; languish into love, or glare distraction.
There is a true sublime in delivery, as in the other imitative arts, in the manner as well as in the matter of what an orator delivers. As in poetry, painting, sculpture, music, and the other elegances, the true sublime consists in a set of masterly, large, and noble
strokes of art, superior to florid littleness; so it is in delivery. The accents are to be clear and articulate ; every syllable standing off from that which is next to it, so that they may be numbered as they proceed. The inflexions of the voice are to be distinctly suited to the matter, and the humour or passions so oppositely applied, that they may be known by the sound of the voice, although the words cannot be heard. And the variations are to be, like the full swelling folds of the drapery in a fine picture or statue, bold, and free, and forcible. In a consummate speaker, whatever there is of corporeal dignity or beauty, the majesty of the human face divine, the grace of action, the piercing glance, gentle languish, or fiery flash of the eyes; whatever of lively passion, or striking emotion of mind; whatever of fine imagination, of wise reflection, or irresistible reasoning; whatever is excellent in human nature, all that the hand of the Creator has impressed of his own image, on the noblest creature with which we are acquainted; all this appears in the consummate speaker to the highest advantage. And whosoever is proof against such a display of all that is noble in human nature, must have neither eye, nor ear, nor passion, nor imagination, nor taste, nor understanding.
A proper application of the inflexions of the voice, constitutes a principal part of that beauty, variety and harmony, which afford so much pleasure in good reading and speaking.
Besides the pauses which indicate a greater or less separation of the parts of a sentence, and a conclusion of the whole, the peculiar inflexions of voice which ought to accompany these pauses, are equally necessary to the sense of the period, with the pauses
themselves. With whatever degree of accuracy w may pause between the different parts of a sentence unless we accompany each pause with that inflexio necessary to the sense, we will not only divest th composition of its true meaning, but produce a mean ing totally different from that intended by the author and uniformly destroy the beauty, variety, and har mony of the period.
All vocal sounds may be divided into two kinds speaking sounds, and musical sounds. They may be thus defined practically.
First, musical sounds: a series of sounds moving distinctly from grave to acute, or from acute to grave, either gradually, or by intervals, and always dwelling, for a perceptible space of time, on one certain
Second, speaking sounds, or the melody of speech, moves rapidly up or down by slides, wherein no graduated distinction of tones or semitones can be measured by the ear; nor does the voice, in our language, ever dwell distinctly, for any perceptible space of time, on any certain or uniform tone; except when the monotone is introduced, which approaches nearer to common music, than to any other sound used in speaking, and may be considered as more allied to musical, than to speaking sounds.
The inflexions of the voice are totally different from either the varieties of modulation, or the tones of passion. For whether we pronounce words in a high or low, in a loud or a soft tone; whether they are pronounced swiftly or slowly, forcibly or feebly, with the tone of the passion, or without it, they must necessarily be pronounced with the voice sliding upwards or downwards, with these two combined, or the voice must go into a monotone or species of song. These two inflexions of voice may, therefore, be considered as the axis, on which the beauty, variety, and harmony of speaking, turn.*
Those who wish to see a more minute investigation of this subject, may consult Steele Prosodia Rationalis, and Walker's Elements of Elocution.
The five following modifications of voice, therefore, may be considered as absolute; since they are the only possible ways of varying it, so as to make one mode different from another.
1st, The rising inflexion or upward turn of the voice, marked with the acute accent, thus (').This inflexion is not confined to any particular pause, though most generally used at a comma, and when a question is asked for the definite form.
2d, The falling inflexion or downward turn of the voice, marked with the grave accent, thus (`). This inflexion, like the above, is not confined to any particular pause, though most generally used at the semicolon, colon, and period; and when a question is asked in the indefinite form.
3d, The rising circumflex, which begins with the falling, and terminates with the rising inflexion, marked thus ().—
4th, The falling circumflex, which begins with the rising, and terminates with the falling inflexion, marked thus (). These two circumflexes are generally used to express irony, contempt, reproach, sneer, and raillery. The inflexions are made upon one syllable, as you, you; so, sô.
5th, The monotone is the continuation of the voice upon certain syllables without any variation, and may be marked thus ("). This modification of the voice may be used with wonderful effect, and peculiar beauty, in a solemn tone and sublime passages in poetry; and by the uncommonness of its use, when the subject is grand and the language dignified, it may be used in prose, where it adds greatly to that varie ty, with which the ear is so much delighted.
The following sentences are defined, and the manner of reading them pointed out, particularly with regard to the inflexions.