« ForrigeFortsæt »
PAUSES. Grammatical punctuation does not always demand a pause ; and the time of the pauses at various points is not correctly stated in many books on reading. In some treatises, the pause at the period is described as being uniformly four times as long as that at a comma ; whereas, it is regulated entirely by the nature of the subject, the intimacy or remoteness of the connection between the sentences, and other causes. “I am convinced,” says Mr. Knowles, “that a nice attention to rhetorical punctuation has an extremely mischievous tendency, and is totally inconsistent with nature. Give the sense of what you read — MIND is the thing. Pauses are essential only where the omission would obscure the sense. The orator, who, in the act of delivering himself, is studiously solicitous about parcelling his words, is sure to leave the best part of his work undone. He delivers words, not thoughts. Deliver thoughts, and words will take care enough of themselves.”
EMPHASIS. By emphasis is meant that stronger and fuller sound of voice, by which, in reading or speaking, we distinguish the accented syllable, or some word, on which we design to lay particular stress, in order to show how it affects the rest of the sentence. On the right management of the emphasis depend the whole life and spirit of every discourse. If no emphasis be placed on any word, not only is discourse rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning left often ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we pervert and confound the meaning wholly. In order to acquire the proper management of the emphasis, then, the great rule, and, indeed, the only unexceptional rule, is, that the speaker or reader study to attain a just conception of the force and spirit of those forms of expression which he is to pronounce.
To give a common instance : such a simple question as this, “ Do you ride to town to-day?" is capable of no fewer than four acceptations, according as the emphasis is differently placed on the words. If it be pronounced thus : Do you ride to town to-day? the answer may naturally be, No ; I send my servant in my stead. If thus : Do you ride to town to-day? Answer. No; I intend to walk. Do you ride to town to-day! No; I ride out into the fields. Do you ride to town to-day? No; but I shall to-morrow. And there is yet another expression that this little sentence is capable of, which would be given by placing the emphasis on the first word, do, being a necessary enforcement of the question, if the person asked had evaded giving a reply ; thus : “Do you ride to town to-day?” The tone implying : Come, tell me at once, do you, or do you not ?
There are four obvious distinctions in the sound of words, with respect to force. First, the force necessary for the least important words, such as conjunctions, particles, &c., which may be called feeble or unaccented. Second, the force necessary for substantives, verbs, &c., which may be called accented. Third, that force which is used for distinguishing some words from others, commonly called emphasis of force. Fourth, the force necessary for emphasis of sense. As opposition is the foundation of all emphasis of sense, whatever words are contrasted with, contradistinguished from, or set in opposition to, one another, they are always emphatic. Hence, whenever there is antithesis in the sense, whether words or clauses, there ought to be emphasis in the pronunciation.
The variations of emphasis are so numerous as to defy the formation of rules that can be appropriate in all cases. Give a dozen well-trained elocutionists a sentence to mark emphatically, and probably no two would perform the task precisely alike.
What though the field be lost?
And courage never to submit or yield, -
The following speech of Othello is an example of what is termed cumulative emphasis :
If thou dost slander her and torture me,
III. GESTURE. GESTURE, considered as a just and elegant adaptation of every part of the body to the nature and import of the subject we are pronouncing, has always been considered as one of the most essential parts of Oratory. Cicero says, that its power is even greater than that of words. It is the language of nature in the strictest sense, and makes its way to the heart without the utterance of a single sound. I may threaten a man with my sword by speech, and produce little effect ; but if I clap my hand to the hilt simultaneously with the threat, he will be startled according to the earnestness of the action. This instance will illustrate the whole theory of gesture. According to Demosthenes, action is the beginning, the middle, and the end of Oratory.
To be perfectly motionless while we are pronouncing words which require force and energy, is not only depriving them of their necessary support, but rendering them unnatural and ridiculous. A very vehement address, pronounced without any motion but that of the lips and tongue, would be a burlesque upon the meaning, and produce laughter ; nay, so unnatural is this total absence of gesticulation, that it is not very easy to speak in this manner. As some action, therefore, must necessarily accompany our words, it is of the utmost consequence that this be such as is suitable and natural. No matter how little, if it be but akin to the words and passion ; for, if foreign to them, it counteracts and destroys the very intention of delivery. The voice and gesture may be said to be tuned to each other ; and, if they are in a different key, as it may be called, discord must inevitably be the consequence.
“A speaker's body," says Fenelon, “must betray action when there is movement in his words ; and his body must remain in repose when what he utters is of a level, simple, unimpassioned character. Nothing seems to me so shocking and absurd as the sight of a man lashing himself to a fury in the utterance of tame things. The more he sweats, the more he freezes my very blood."
Mr. Austin, in his “ Chironomia," was the first to lay down laws for the regulation of gesture ; and nearly all subsequent writers on the subject have borrowed largely from his work. He illustrates his rules by plates, showing the different attitudes and gestures for the expression of certain emotions. Experience has abundantly proved that no benefit is to be derived from the study of these figures. They only serve as a subject for ridicule to boys; and are generally found, in every volume in use, well pencilled over with satirical marks or mottoes, issuing from the mouths of the stiff-looking gentlemen who are presented as models of grace and expression to aspiring youth.
The following is an enumeration of some of the most frequent gestures, to which the various members of the body contribute :
The Head and Face. The hanging down of the head denotes shame, or grief. The holding it up, pride, or courage. To nod forward, implies assent. To toss the head back, dissent. The inclination of the head implies bashfulfulness or languor. The head is averted in dislike or horror. "It leans forward in attention.
The Eyes. The eyes are raised, in prayer. They weep, in sorrow. Burn, in anger. They are cast on vacancy, in thought. They are thrown in different directions, in doubt and anxiety.
The Arms. The arm is projected forward, in authority. Both arms are spread extended, in admiration. They are held forward, in imploring help. They both fall suddenly, in disappointment. Folded, they denote thoughtful
The Hands. The hand on the head indicates pain, or distress. On the eyes, shame. On the lips, injunction of silence. On the breast, it appeals to conscience, or intimates desire. The hand waves, or flourishes, in joy, or contempt. Both hands are held supine, or clasped, in prayer. Both descend prone, in blessing. They are clasped, or wrung, in affliction. The outstretched hands, with the knuckles opposite the speaker's face, express fear, abhorrence, rejection, or dismissal. The outstretched hands, with the palms toward the face of the speaker, denote approval, acceptation, welcoming, and love.
The Body. The body, held erect, indicates steadiness and courage. Thrown back, pride. Stooping forward, condescension, or compassion. Bending, reverence, or respect. Prostration, the utmost humility, or abasement.
The Lower Limbs. Their firm position signifies courage, or obstinacy. Bended knees, timidity, or weakness. Frequent change, disturbed thoughts. They advance, in desire, or courage. Retire, in aversion, or fear. Start, in terror. Stamp, in authority, or anger. Kneel, in submission and prayer.
Walker says that we should be careful to let the stroke of the hand which marks force, or emphasis, keep exact time with the force of pronunciation; that is, the hand must go down upon the emphatic word, and no other. Thus, in the imprecation of Brutus, in Julius Cæsar :
When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous,
Dash him in pieces ! Here, says Walker, the action of the arm which enforces the emphasis ought to be so directed that the stroke of the hand may be given exactly on the word dash; this will give a concomitant action to the organs of pronunciation, and by this means the whole expression will be greatly augmented.
Archbishop Whately contends, on the contrary, that the natural order of action is, that the gesture should precede the utterance of the words. emotion, struggling for utterance, produces a tendency to a bodily gesture, to express that emotion more quickly than words can be framed; the words follow as soon as they can be spoken. And this being always the case with a real, earnest, unstudied speaker, this mode, of placing the action foremost, gives (if it be otherwise appropriate) the appearance of earnest emotion actually present in the mind. And the reverse of this natural order would alone be sufficient to convert the action of Demosthenes himself into unsuccessful and ridiculous mimicry.'
Where two such authorities clash, the pupil's own good taste must give the bias to his decision.
“ The gracefulness of motion in the human frame,” says Austin, in his Chironomia, “consists in the facility and security with which it is executed; and the grace of any position consists in the facility with which it can be varied. Hence, in the standing figure, the position is graceful when the weight of the body is principally supported on one leg, while the other is so placed as to be ready to relieve it promptly, and without effort. The foot which sustains the principal weight must be so placed that a perpendicular line, let fall from the pit of the neck, shall pass through the heel of that foot. Of course, the centre of gravity of the body is, for the time, in that line; whilst the other foot assists merely for the purpose of keeping the body balanced in the position, and of preventing it from tottering. In the various positions of the feet, care is to be taken that the grace which is aimed at be attended with simplicity. The position of the orator is equally removed from the awkwardness of the rustic, with toes turned in and knees bent, and from the affectation of the dancing-master, whose position runs to the opposite extreme. The orator is to adopt such positions only as consist with manly and simple grace. The toes are to be moderately turned outward, but not to be constrained; the limbs are to be disposed so as to support the body with ease, and to admit of flowing and graceful movement. The sustaining foot is to be planted firmly; the leg braced, but not contracted; the other foot and limb must press lightly, and be held relaxed, so as to be ready for immediate change and action. In changing the positions of the feet, the motions are to be made with the utmost simplicity, and free from the parade and sweep of dancing. The speaker must advance, retire, or change, almost imperceptibly; and it is to be particularly observed that changes should not be too frequent. Frequent change gives the idea of anxiety or instability, both of which are unfavorable." Nothing can be more unbecoming than for an orator to be constantly tripping from one side to the other, on the stand, and walking so fast as to seem to outrun his speech. Such an orator was said, anciently, to run after a cause, instead of pleading it; and it is stated of Flavius Virginius, that he asked a speaker, very much addicted to this habit, how many miles he had spoken that day. Of an orator, whose favorite action was rising on tiptoe, it was said, that he must have been accustomed to address his audience over a high wall.
The bow of the speaker to his audience, previous to his speech, should be graceful and dignified; as far removed from a careless, jerking abruptness, as from a formal and unnecessary flourish.
REGULATION OF THE HANDS, ARMS, &C. In Oratory, the regulation of the hand is of peculiar importance, not only as it serves to express passion, but to mark the dependence of clauses, and to interpret the emphasis. All action without the hand, says Quintilian, is weak and crippled. The expressions of the hand are as varied as language. It demands, promises, calls, dismisses, threatens, implores, detests, fears, questions, and denies. It expresses joy, sorrow, doubt, acknowledgment, dependence, repentance, number and time. Yet, the hand may be so employed as not only to become an unmeaning, but an inconvenient appendage.
One speaker may raise his hands so high that he cannot readily get them down. One, cannot take them from his bosom. One, stretches them above his head; and another lays about him with such vigor, that it is dangerous to be within his reach.
In using the arms, a speaker should give his action in curves, and should bear in mind that different situations call for more or less motion of the limbs. The fingers of the hand should not be kept together, as if it were intended by nature that they should unite; nor should they be held forth unmeaningly, like a bunch of radishes; but they should be easily and naturally bent.
The speaker who truly feels his subject will feel it to his very finger-tips, and these last will take unconsciously the right bend or motion. Study well, therefore, what you have to say, and be prepared to say it in earnest.
The hand and arm should usually be moved gracefully in semi-circles, except in indicative passages, as thus: “I charm thy life !” “Lord Cardinal, to you I speak !” To lay down rules as to how far the arms may be extended, or to whai elevation the hand may be raised, would be superfluous. A speaker should avoid throwing his arms up, as if he were determined to fling them from him; and he should avoid letting them fall with a violence sufficient to bruise his thigh; yet it is indi le that the arm should fall, and that it should not remain pinioned to the side.
It is as essential for a speaker to endeavor, by his appearance and manner, to please the eye, as by his tones to please the ear. His dress should be decent and unaffected. His position should be easy and graceful. If he stand in a perfectly perpendicular posture, an auditor would naturally say, “He looks like a post.” If the hands work in direct lines, it will give him the appearance of a two-handled pump. The first point to be attained is to avoid awk. ward habits : such as resting the chief weight of the body first on one foot and then on the other; swinging to and fro; jerking forward the upper part of the body, at every emphatic word; keeping the elbows pinioned to the sides; and sawing the air with one hand, with one unvaried and ungraceful motion. As gesture is used for the illustration and enforcement of language, so it should be limited, in its application, to such words and passages as admit of or require it. A judicious speaker will not only adapt the general style and manner of his action to the subject, the place, and the occasion, but even when he allows himself the greatest latitude, he will reserve his gesture, or, at least, the force and ornament of it, for those parts of his discourse for which he also reserves his boldest thoughts and his most brilliant expressions.
As the head gives the chief grace the person, so does it principally contribute to the expression of grace in delivery. It must be held in an erect and natural position. For, when drooped, it is expressive of humility; when turned upwards, of arrogance; when inclined to one side, it expresses languor; and when stiff and rigid, it indicates a lack of ease and self-possession. Its movements should be suited to the character of the delivery; they should accord with the gesture, and fall in with the action of the hands, and the motions of the body. The eyes, which are of the utmost consequence in aiding the expression of the orator, are generally to be directed as the gesture points; except when we have occasion to condemn, or refuse, or to require any object to be removed; on which occasion, we should at the same moment express aversion in our countenance, and reject by our gesture. A listless, inanimate expression of countenance, will always detract from the effect of the most eloquent sentiments, and the most appropriate utterance.
TRAINING AND STRENGTHENING THE VOICE.
In order to read and speak well, it is necessary to have all the vocal elements under complete command, so that they may be duly applied whenever they are required for the vivid and elegant delineation of the sense and sentiment of discourse. The student, therefore, should first practise on the thirty-five alphabetic elements, in order to insure a true and easy execution of their unmixed sounds. This will be of more use than pronouncing words in which they occur; for, when pronounced singly, the elements will receive a concentration of the organic effort, which will give them a clearness of sound and a definite outline, if we may so speak, at their extremes, making a fine preparation for their distinct and forcible pronunciation in the compounds of speech. He should then take one or more of the compound sounds, and carry it through all the degrees of the diatonic and concrete scales, both in an upward and a downward direction, and through the principal forms of the wave. He should next take some one familiar sentence, and practise upon it with every variety of intonation of which it will admit. He should afterwards run through the various vocal keys, and the forms of the cadence; and, lastly, he should recite, with all the force that he can command, some passage which requires great exertion of the voice. If he would acquire power and volume of utterance, he must practise in the open air, with his face to the wind, his body perfectly erect, his chest expanded, his tongue retracted and depressed, and the cavity of his mouth as much as possible enlarged; and it is almost unnecessary to add, that anything which improves the general tone of the health will proportionably affect the voice. If to this elementary practice the student add a careful and discriminating analysis of some of the best pieces which our