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may hope to attain a style of Composition, Declamation, and Gesture, clear, manly, forcible and graceful.
With these acquirements united, he may go forth with confidence to address any assembly in the world : his basis will be sure; practice will give ease and confidence to his efforts; and exercise and perseverance amid the “forensis strepitus,” or whatever other public arena he may choose as the scene of his exertions, will make him a valuable ally, a safe defender, a dangerous antagonist, a skilful debater, a PERFECT ORATOR !
ART OF ELOCUTION.
Articulation.Pronunciation. “The end of oratory is to persuade. We cannot persuade without being first clearly understood; we cannot be clearly understood without distinct utterance,-that is, a clear
This is the first requisite in the reading both of prose and poetry. Without it, the metre and rhythm of verse are destroyed; many words are not distinguishable in sound from others of somewhat similar form, though of widely different signification; and the whole delivery is confused and inelegant. With a distinct articulation, a speaker of only moderate power of voice is heard in any place or assembly, much more easily, and with less effort to himself, than one of much greater power of organ, whose articulation is imperfect: for it has been observed, that loud, confused noise, even though much greater in degree, does not travel as far as pure and musical sound.
Hence the necessity, before all other things, of a clear, pure articulation.
To acquire this perfectly, it is necessary to recur to the first principia,—that is, the ELEMENTARY SOUNDS of our language.
Speech is articulate vocal sound. That sound is represented to the eye by signs: these signs are letters, combined into syllables, which syllables are combined into words—the perfect signs of things; and the vocal utterance of these signs is speech.
Brutes have vocal sounds, but not speech : for the sounds they utter are not articulate. It is given to Man alone to shape his voice into intelligible articulate sound, which can communicate thought, desire, passion, to his fellow-men.
Perfect articulation, then, depends on the clear enunciation of certain elementary sounds, whose combination forms words.
The signs or letters representing these sounds, and forming the alphabet of our language, have been classified by grammarians, principally as vowels and consonants ; and they define a vowel as a simple sound, perfect in itself,—and a consonant, as a sound that cannot be uttered without the addition or help of a vowel.
But this nomenclature and definition is imperfect as a guide and mark of the articulate sounds, whatever may
be its value as a classification of the alphabetical signs of our language. It is true, indeed, that a consonant (so called from its supposed dependence for its sound on an attendant vowel,) cannot be individually
named without the help of a vowel: that is to say, the sign or letter B is named be, C se, D de, and so on; but these consonants, in their combination with other signs, do not require for their perfect utterance the aid of a vowel at all; so that their names as signs are as distinct from their power as sounds, as the names alpha, beta, theta, of the Greek alphabet, are distinct from the value or power of the sounds of a, b, d, when combined into syllables and words.
For, if a consonant required, of necessity, an attendant vowel before it could be uttered, we never could enunciate at all such words as black, brandy, claim, draw, flow, grow, throw, strike, and other words commencing with two or three successive consonants without the interposition of any vowel : for it will be clear to any one who will commence the utterance of any such word, and break off before arriving at the vowel, that he can and must complete the sounds of the consonants without its assistance.
Thus, let any one begin to utter the word brandy, (br-andy,) and suddenly arrest his voice upon br, and he will perceive that he has uttered a sound and tone without the aid of a vowel; and so of cl-ose, th-row, fl-ow, cr-owd, sh-ame, p-ray, &c.; and it is really the same with words commencing with a single consonant only, as b-ad, c-old, r-ide, m-ake, &c. Each sign, whether a vowel or a consonant, has its proper
elementary sound or sounds, however different in quality or degree of tone those sounds may be. Again, the SEVEN VOWEL SIGNs in our language,
A, E, I, O, U, W, Y,