Billeder på siden

From this account of emphasis, the proper use of it in reading is, I think, clearly pointed out; and it is to be acquired by a due degree of attention and practice. Every one who understands what he reads, cannot fail of finding out every emphatic word; and his business then is to mark it properly; not by stress only, as in the accented syllable, but by change of note suited to the matter which constitutes the essence of emphasis. If it be asked how the proper note is always to be ascertained, my answer is, that he must not only understand but feel the sentiments of the author; as all internal feeling must be expressed by notes, which is the language of emotions; not words the language of ideas. And if he enter into the spirit of his author's sentiments, as well as into the meaning of his words, he will not fail to deliver the words in properly varied notes, unless the natural inflexions of his voice be vitiated or distorted by provicial tones or foreign accent: for there are few people, who speak English with these, who have not the most accurate use of emphasis and tone when they utter their sentiments in common discourse; and the reason that they have not the same use of them in reading aloud the sentiments of others, is owing to the very defective and erroneous method, in which the art of reading is generally taught; whereby all the various, natural, expressive tones of speech, and consequently from their intimate connexion, much of the force and correct influence of emphasis, is suppressed, and a few monotonous, unmeaning tones are substituted in their place. But, more of this when I treat of punctuation, and the inflexions of the voice.

The foregoing position with respect to antithesis being the source of emphasis, will not always bear that test; (although it generally will,) as in the prohibitory injunctions of the Decalogue: 'Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery," and similar sentences.


There is certainly no one principle in the art of reading, in which more frequent mistakes are committed than in this important one of emphasis, both with regard to stress and tone. The chief reason of this general abuse of emphasis seems to be, that persons so frequently read sentences which they do not understand; and as it is impossible to lay the emphasis rightly without perfectly comprehending the meaning of what is read, they get a habit either of reading in a monotonous tone, or if they attempt to distinguish one word from the rest, as the emphasis falls at random, the sense is usually perverted, or changed into nonsense. Emphasis, therefore, though essentially necessary to' give energy to language, must ever be considered as subject to the precision of grammatical truth: for if a correct observance of the laws of orthography and syntax do not accompany the reader's orthoepy and emphasis, his oratory will be but as "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." The object of language is to communicate information to the

mind or improvement to the understanding, which are certainly of more importance than merely impressing or pleasing the ear with the force of sound by emphasis: for though that may be necessary to awaken attention and thereby to enforce sentiment, it would be better that such attention should remain asleep, than be awakened by those means which serve to mislead the judgment and to communicate error.

Reading should be considered as nothing more than speaking at sight by the assistance of letters; in the same manner as singing at sight is performed in music by the assistance of notes. And as it is certain that Nature, if left to herself, directs every one in the right use of emphasis, when they utter their own immediate sentiments, they should have the same unerring rule to guide them after they have been written down, whether they are their own or the sentiments of others contained in books. The best method of correcting this false emphasis is frequently to read aloud some passages from books written in an easy familiar style, and particularly that of dialogue; and at the end of every sentence let the reader ask himself this question: How should I utter this were I speaking it as my own immediate sentiment? In that case, on what words should I lay the emphasis, and with what change of notes in the voice? Though at first sight he may find that his former habit will counteract his endeavours in this new way, yet by perseverance, he cannot fail of success; particularly if he will get each sentence by heart, for some time, and revolve it in his mind, with that view, without looking at the book. Nor should he be discouraged by frequent disappointments in the first attempts, but repeat the same sentence over and over till he is correct. For it is not the quantity read which is to be regarded in this case, but the right manner of doing it: and experience will convince him, that after having obtained the victory in some instances, he will soon make a rapid progress in accomplishing it in all.

All that passes in the mind of man may be reduced to two classesIdeas and Emotions. By ideas, I mean all thoughts which rise and pass in succession in the mind: by emotions, all exertions of the mind, which arise from the operation of the passions Words are the signs of the one, tones of the other. And there is not an exertion of the fancy, or emotion of the heart, which has not annexed to it a peculiar tone or note of the voice, by which they are to be expressed; and which, when Properly used, excite in the minds of the hearers analogous emotions.

Emphasis is the great regulator of quantity, and changes not only the quantity of words and syllables, but also, in particular cases, the seat of the accent, as in the following and similar instances: "He must increase, but I must 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 and properly belong.

In short, emphasis is the very life of reading, and therefore cannot be too carefully attended to.

The most elaborate and judicious discussion of this branch of our general subject, is that contained in Walker's Elements of Elocution, to which, as well as to other standard authors upon the art of reading, I refer you, for ampler and more minute information.

The subjects of Quantity, Pause, and Tone will be attended to in my next and the two following Lectures.


From the Original Spanish.

(Concluded from Volume I, page 494.)

GRATEFUL for this information, I left the room,

and saw pass in order the Greek, Latin, and other historians. Desirous to know them, I drew near Polidorus, who related to me their names and qualities as they passed.

This, he said, who walks with slow and circumspect step, is Thucydides; to emulate the glory of Herodotus, he undertook to write the wars of the Peloponnesus.

There, with a profound air, is Polybius, who wrote, in forty books, the history of the Romans, of which only five have escaped the destroying power of Time, but not the malice of Sebastian Maccio, who ignorantly criticised them, forgetting that in his great learning he abounds more in thoughts than in words.

Next to him, habited in smooth and ample garments, on whose forehead is delineated a candid and prudent soul, free from the slavery of adulation, you perceive Plutarch, so versed in politics and military art, that as Bodius observes, he might be taken for arbiter in either.

[blocks in formation]

The other with calm and gentle countenance, who with sweetness and tenderness in his eyes, attracts all souls, is Xenophon. Diogenes Laertius called him the attic Muse; others, with more propriety, the attic Bee.

He whose robe is short but smooth, is Sallust, the enemy of Cicero, in whose brevity is comprehended all that eloquence can dictate, though Seneca says that he is obscure, daring in his transpositions, and that his sentences are too abrupt.

He is followed by Cornelius Tacitus, with falling eyebrows and an aqueline nose, wearing large spectacles; bold and courteous; who with short steps gains more ground than all his predecessors; and was so esteemed by the Emperor Claudius that he ordered his picture to be put in all the libraries, and his books to be recopied ten times a year. But even this care did not prevent the greatest part of them from being buried in oblivion, and the rest were not heard of for many years, till a Fleming restored them to mankind, who have ever since protected his memory and honoured his virtues; for even virtue needs protectors! Yet I am doubtful whether he has not exposed public tranquillity more than even the inventor of gunpowder. Such is his impatience with corruption and vice, and so irresistible are the doctrines he inculcates. Budias on that account considered him as the most dangerous of writers, but this is softened by the encomiums he received from others. Pliny calls him eloquent, Vopisco fertile, Esparciano pure and candid, Bodino penetrating, and Sidonius worthy of all praise.

I remarked the ornamented habit of one whose projecting lip seemed to drop honey, and learned that he was Titus Livius, of Padua, not of less glory to the Romans than the greatness of their empire. To avoid the impiety of Polybius, he fell into superstition; thus often by seeking to shun one fault, we fall into the opposite.

Not less consideration merits Suetonius, who followed in a robe so perfectly finished, that whoever would attempt to improve would spoil it. In his face was discovered the impatience of his disposition; incapable of flattery, or of tolerating the crimes of Princes, even though trifling, if any can be called so of which those are guilty whose actions the people blindly imitate without considering whether they are good or bad.

He, who, with a sword in one hand and a pen in the other, no less terrific to his enemies by his courage, than attractive by his elegance to his friends, is Julius Casar, the most perfect production of Nature in genius, valour, and judgment.

Succeeding him in the robes of a courtier, though without jewels or ornament, you see Philip Comines, lord of Argenton, on whose forehead Nature stamped the profundity of his sense.

Next with a long beard and loose attire comes Guicciardini, the enemy of the house of Urbino. By his side, wrapped in a mantle of fur, which can scarcely keep him warm, walks Paul Jovius, adulator of the Marquis of Basto, of the Medicis, and declared enemy of the Spaniards, faults which leave his works devoid of the energy of truth.

The last in long and floating vestments is Zunita, with Don Diego de Mendoza, prudent and lively in their movements; and Mariena, who, to acquire credit with other nations excused nothing in his own ; he affects antiquity of style, and as some stain their hair to look young, he discolours his to appear old.

Being informed of the character of these historians, we passed on, and saw seated beneath a group of trees the seven sages, so celebrated in Greece. Pride is the daughter of Ignorance, Modesty the offspring of Wisdom; and these sages showed in our presence how much they merited their renown; for some fishermen having drawn in a net from the sea, a golden tripod made by Vulcan consulted the Oracle of Delphos to avoid disputes to whom it should belong. The reply was, "to the wisest," and having offered it to Thales, he modestly gave it to another, and this to a third, till it came to Solon, who presented it to the Oracle, saying, that it belonged to God, in whom alone existed true wisdom: an action which might cure many of presumption and igno


By the side of a fountain, Socrates, Plato, Clitomachus, Carneades, and many other academic philosophers, were seated, always doubting, never affirming anything as certain, but by force of reasoning and argument, they gave a direction to the understanding, and disposed it to adopt one opinion in preference to another.

Further on were the Sceptics, Pyrrhus, Zenocrates, and Anaxarchus, who were positive only in doubts, shrugging up their shoulders at all questions, and saying that we know nothing; wisely cautious appeared to me these philosophers; and not without foundation their little confidence in human knowledge.

In another part was the dogmatic philosophers, who gave their opinions as decisive, pronouncing some things good, others bad. They lived in continual inquietude; avoiding this and seeking that; more deserving of applause, the Stoics considered all events indifferent; neither desired nor feared them, nor did their happiness or unhappiness depend on enjoyment or loss.

« ForrigeFortsæt »