Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

effect can

In the former, art and labour may be suffered to appear; in the latter no proper

be

produced, unless it be the work of nature only. Hence all digressions should be avoided which may interrupt or turn aside the swell of passion. Hence comparisons are always dangerous, and commonly quite improper in the midst of the pathetic. It is also to be observed, that violent emotions cannot be lasting. The pathetic therefore should not be prolonged too much. Due regard should always be preserved to what the bearers will bear; for, he who attempts to carry them farther in passion than they will follow him, frustrates his purpose. By endeavouring to warm them too much, he takes the surest method of freezing them completely.

Concerning the peroration or conclusion of a discourse, a few words will be sufficient. Sometimes the whole pathetic part comes in most properly at the conclusion. Sometimes, when the discourse has been altogether argumentive, it is proper to conclude with summing up the arguments, placing them in one view, and leaving the impression of them full and strong on the minds of the bearers. For the great rule of a conclusion, and what nature obviously suggests, is, place that last, on which you choose to rest the strength of your cause.

In every kind of public speaking it is important to hit the precise time of concluding; to bring the discourse just to a point; neither ending abruptly and unexpectedly, nor disappointing the expectation of the hearers, when they look for the end of the discourse. The speaker should always close with dignity and spirit, that the minds of the hearers may be left warm, and that they may depart with a favourable impression of the subject and of himself.

PRONUNCIATION OR DELIVERY. Thegreat objects to which every public speaker should direct his attention, in forming his delivery, are, first, to speak so as to be fully and easily understood by his hearers; and next, to express himself with such grace and energy, as to please and to move them.

To be fully and easily understood, the chief requisites are, a due degree of loudness of voice, distinctness, slowness, and propriety of pronunciation.

To be heard is undoubtedly the first requisite. The speaker must endeavour to fill with his voice the space occupied by the assembly. Though this power of voice is in a great measure a natural talent, it may receive considerable assistance from art. Much depends on the proper pitch and management of the voice. Every man has three pitches in his voice; the high, the middle, and the low. The high is used in calling aloud to some one at a distance; the low approaches to a whisper; the middle is that, which is employed in common conversation, and which should generally be used in public speaking. For it is a great error to suppose, that the highest pitch of the voice is requisite, to be well heard by a great assembly. This is confounding two things materially different, loudness or strength of sound with the key or pole en wbich we speak. The

roice may

be rendered louder without altering the key; and the speaker will always be able to give most body, most persevering force of sound, to that pitch of voice, to which in conversation, he is accustomed. Whereas, if he begin on the highest key, he will fatigue himself and speak with pain; and wherever a man speaks with pain to himself, he is always heard with pain by his audience. Give the voice, therefore, full strength and swell of sound, but always pitch it on your ordinary speaking key; a greater quantity of voice should never be uttered, than can be afforded without pain, and without any

extraordinary effort. To be well heard, it is useful for a speaker to fix his eye on some of the most distant persons in the assembly, and to consider himself as speaking to them. We naturally and mechanically utter our words with such strength, as to be heard by one, to whom we address ourselves, provided he be within the reach of our voice. This is the case in public speaking, as well as in common conversation. But it must be remembered, that speaking too loudly is peculiarly offensive. The ear is wounded, when the voice comes upon it, in rumbling, indistinct masses; beside, it appears, as if assent were demanded by mere vehemence and force of sound.

To being well heard, and clearly understood, distinctness of articulation is more conducive, perbaps, than mere loudness of sound. The quantity of sound, requisite to fill even a large space, is less than is commonly supposed; with distinct articulation, a man of a weak voice will make it extend farther, than the strongest voice can reach without it. This therefore demands peculiar attention. The speaker must give every sound its due proportion, and make every syllable, and even every letter be heard distinctly. To succeed in this, rapidity of pronunciation must be avoided. A lifeless, drawling method, however, is not to be indulged. To pronounce with a proper degree of slowness, and with full and clear articulation cannot be too industriously studied, nor too earnestly recommended. Such pronunciation gives weight and dignity to a discourse, It assists the voice by the pauses and rests which it allows it more easily to make; and it enables the speaker to swell all his sounds with more energy and more music. It assists him also in preserving a due command of himself; whereas a rapid and hurried manner excites that flutter of spirits, which is the greatest enemy to all right execution in oratory.

To propriety of pronunciation nothing is more conducive, than giving to every word which we utter, that sound which the most polite usage ap: propriates to it, in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial pronunciation. On this subject, however, written instructions avail oothing. But there is one observation which it may be useful to make. In our language, every word of more syllables than one, 'has an accepted syllable. The genius of the language requires the voice to mark that syllable by a stronger percussion, and to pass more slightly over the rest. The same accent should be given every word in public speaking and in common discourse. Many persons err in this respect. When they speak in public and with solemnity, they pronounce dif- ' ferently from what they do at other times. They

dwell upon syllables, and protract them; they multiply accents on the same word, from a false idea that it gives gravity and force to their discourse, and increases the pomp of public declamation. But this is one of the greatest faults which can be committed in pronunciation ; it constitutes wbat is termed a theatrical or mouthing manner, and gives an artificial, affected air to speecb, which detracts greatly from its agreeableness and its impression.

We shall now treat of those higher parts of delivery, by studying which, a speaker endeavours, not merely to render himself intelligible, but to give grace and force to what he utters. These may be comprehended under four heads, emphasis, pauses, tones, and gestures.

By emphasis is meant a fuller and stronger sound of voice, by which we distinguish the accented syllable of some word, on which we intend to lay particular stress, and to show how it affects the rest of the sentence. To acquire the proper management of emphasis, the only rule is, study to acquire a just conception of the force and spirit of those sentiments, which you are to deliver. In all prepared discourses, it would be extremely useful, if they were read over or rehearsed in private, with a view of ascertaining the proper emphasis, before they were pronounced in public; marking at the same time the emphatical words in every sentence, or at least in the most important parts of the discourse, and fixing them well in memory. A caution, however, must be given against multiplying emphatiçal words too much. They become striking, only when used with prudent reserve. If they recur

« AnteriorContinuar »