Billeder på siden


there is no need of the prefixed signatures of flats and sharps : the naked lines and spaces of the staff, denoting the extent and relationships of pitch, afford sufficient means for illustrating the intonation of speech.

The term modulation is used, in music, to signify the transitions of melody and of harmonic composition, from one key to another. The question of the propriety of this term, as significative of analogous changes in the melody of speech, is involved in the question of the propriety of the application of the musical term key to the mere variations of pitch in the speaking voice: and we have seen the almost universal difference between the regular system of keys in music, and the melodial method of speech

The preceding remarks, on the musical and speaking scales, were intended to exhibit the relationships between their respective functions: but it appears from comparison, that there is no systematic analogy to justify the transfer of the terms key and modulation from music to speech. The transfer was, however, long ago made, and the terms are still continued under a total ignorance of the nature of the speaking scale. When the truth of the analysis, set forth in this section, shall be admitted, it will be obligatory on all those who take delight in accuracy of knowledge, to distinguish, by appropriate names, those ideas which negligence will have suffered to pass as identical. If the musical terms key and modulation had not received an unmeaning admission into the nomenclature of the speaking voice, the description of its melody would not, in these last pages, have been complicated with the record of the waste work of investigation, which the inquirer loves to expunge and forget, after he has made out the simple story of truth. And had the hitherto untried subject of melody been happily exculpated from the prejudice and false witnessing of its adopted nomenclature, the unargued and unbiassed history of its changes would have been given thus :

The melody of the speaking voice, may be led, ascending and descending, through its whole compass, by a certain mode of diatonic succession : and may be brought to the satisfactory close, heard at a full period of discourse, by the descent of radical pitch through three conjoint degrees with a final downward concrete, from any point within the compass.

If I have not here followed the preferred brevity, nor omitted the detail which produced the conclusion that the doctrine of key and modulation is hardly applicable to speech ; it was because I certainly anticipated the inquiries which the habit of nomenclature would suggest; and because I chose, perhaps advantageously, to introduce, into the recorded investigation, some further or varied views upon the melody of speech.

In reviewing the subject just closed, I fear the described phenomena of sound, may not be immediately recognised, nor the system of their combination definitely comprehended. These defaults may proceed not only from the inaptitude of the mind to embrace newly offered subjects of knowledge, but likewise from the connected system of such subjects being

dimly arrayed before the very sight which was able to discover & their insulated truths. The art of observation is but a matter

of apprenticeship and practice; and it is the time of employ no less than the mode of handling, that produces the high excellence of a master. Thoughts which are not impressed by the deep sealing of time, nor familiarized by the near acquaintance of habit, are feeble or deluding agents in the arduous task of comparison and arrangement: for it will be found that the author who begins or who renovates a science, rarely adds the clearest economy of system to his work. To look widely, yet closely, is the paradox of the powers of heaven ; and he who can span the broad compass of a science, whilst he touches its divisions and points, is partially raised above the bounded prospects of humanity, by this humble tendency towards omniscience. To him is due that rich compliment by the sagacious Greek ; who knowing upon what transcendent faculty to affix the crown of intellectual glory, declared, that—he who can arrange and define well, might be fit company for the Gods.


Of the Expression of Speech.

In the preceding section 1 pointed out the mode of utterance in plain narrative and description : comprehending under these terms that portion of discourse, which conveys the mere thoughts of the speaker, exclusively of those sentiments or feelings which require a different form of melody and a higher coloring of intonation. Schoolmen make a distinction between thoughts and feelings, and common usage has adopted their language. This is not the place for controversy on this point: nor is it necessary to inquire, deliberately, whether the above distinction refers to the essential nature of the things, or to their degrees. Some whose powers of analysis enable them to see beyond the common reach, may be disposed to adopt the system that supposes thoughts and feelings to be various degrees of intensity in ideas : since that function which may be noted as a mere thought in one, has in another, from its urgency, and without apparent specific difference, the bright hue of a feeling; and since in the same person at different times, like circumstances produce, according to the varied susceptibility of excitement, the mental condition of either a feeling or a thought. Perhaps it might not be a difficult or tedious task, to show that these functions of the mind have many accidents in common; and that no definite line of demarkation can be drawn between them. However inseparably involved these accidents may be, at their points of affinity, they are in their more remote relationships, either in kind or degree distinguishably different. The effect of the voice in conveying these manifest peculiarities of sentiment or feeling, is called, in the language of Elocution, the Expression of speech.

The classifications of science were instituted to assist the memory and imagination ; but while they fulfil the purpose of communicating and preserving knowledge, they unfortunately produce the undesigned hindrance of its alteration or advancement, by their vain assumption of its completion. The numberless revolutions in scientific arrangements are full of admonitions : yet we forget how often the fictitious affinities and the distinctions of system, have on the one hand presumptuously united the real divisions of nature, and on the other broken the beautiful connexion of the circle of truth. ; In submission to common phraseology and to the necessities of instruction, I have, in this essay, separated the history of that part, which, for the want of a better term, was called the simple narrative of speech, from that which treats of its expressive signs; with the hope that future observation may determine their real relationships, by a full development of the nature of the mind and the voice. For I can as well suppose all those works of usefulness are already accomplished, which are foretold by the scope of human faculties, as that the arts which employ taste, have yielded up all the accuracy of their principles, and their sources of enjoyment. Let us leave the seventh day of rest, to the holiday rejoicing of patriots and politicians, who look upon their copied creations, and cunning schemès for human misery, and pronounce them original and finished and good. Let them build strongly around the perfection of their Chartas and Constitutions. Let them guard the ark of a forefather's wisdom, and proclaim its holiness to the people, for the safety, honor and emolument of the keeper. The real creators of Knowledge have never yet found, and perhaps never will find, their day of rest : and the proud forefathers of all the great works of usefulness and of glory, are, by means of that same magic which raised their own extraordinary creations, transmuted to corrigible children in the eye of the advancing labour of a later age.

It has been alleged of the expression of speech, that the discrimination of its modes is beyond the ability of the human ear. If the term human ear is sarcastically used for that fruitlessly busy and slavish organ, which has so long listened for the clear voice of nature, amid the conflicting tumult of opinion and authority, we must admit the truth of the assertion. But it is not true of the keen, industrious, and independent exercise of the senses: nor can it be affirmed, without profanity, of that supreme power of observation which was deputed at creation, for the effective gathering of truth, and the progressive improvement of mankind.

Our conquests in knowledge must be the joint achievement of numbers and time. Leaving then to futurity the completion of my design, I looked around for present assistance : and having often, with more need than hope, consulted the thoughts of others, on the possibility of delineating the signs of expression, I generally received some query like this :-Is it possible to recognize and measure all those delicate variations of sound, which have passed so long without detection, and which seem scarcely more amenable to sense than the atoms of air on which they are made?-It is possible to do all this : and if we can not find a way for this victory over nature, let us,'—with the maxim, and in the contriving spirit and resolution of the great Carthagenian Captain, let us make one.'

It will not be denied, that the sounds constituting expression may be distinctly heard, and that there is no danger of mistaking the sentiments which dictate them. No:-it is the measurable nature and commingling variety of these sounds that can not be distinguished. I leave it to those who make this objection, to reflect on the truism, that there is nothing in the nature of sound but audibility : and, as our feelings are so readily recognized in its varieties, to ask themselves whether a distinct measurement is not implied in that recognition. The truth is, the delicate sounds of expression are always distinctly heard, and so far as quick perception of their sentiments, may prove the assertion, are actually measured in the strictest meaning of the word: but they have never been named. And although all persons who are observant in this way, have nearly an equally acute perception of the expression of speech, they have no language for designating those delicate discriminations which are every day unconsciously made even by the popular ear. I propose to devote the remaining sections of this essay to an analysis of expression: to point out its symbols, and to assign a definite nomenclature to them.

There is perhaps no vain confidence in supposing, that the reader is now well acquainted with the properties of the radical and vanishing movement. This wide reaching function, and master principle of the voice, has been represented under its varied phases, in speech, song and recitative. We have traced

« ForrigeFortsæt »