« AnteriorContinuar »
exactly contrary to each other. When the child is taught, as he still is in many schools, to raise his voice in finishing a question, he finds it easy to do so in a case like this, -“Will you go to dáy?',-"Are they Hébrews ?" But when he comes to the indirect question, not answered by yes, or no, his instinct rebels against the rule, and he spontaneously reads with the falling slide,—“Why are you silent? Why do you prevaricate ?” Now, in this latter case, if the usual mark of interrogation were inverted, (:) when its office is to turn the voice downward, it would be discriminating and significant of its design. Nor would this discrimination require rhetorical skill in a printer. It would give him far less difficulty, than to learn the grammatical use of the semicolon. The same remarks apply to the note of exclamation.
As to the adjustment of pauses, to allow the speaker opportunity for drawing his breath, the difficulty seems to have been much overrated by writers and teachers. From my own experience and observation, I am inclined to think that no directions are needed on this point, and that the surest way to make even the youngest pupil breathe at the proper time, is to let him alone.
For the sake of those who feel any apprehension on this subject, it may be proper to say, that the opportunities for taking breath, in the common current of delivery, are much more frequent than one might suppose, who has not attended to this matter. There is no grammatical relation of words so close, as utterly to refuse a pause between them, except the article and noun, the preposition and noun, and the adjective and noun in their natural or der.
Supposing the student to be already familiar with the common doctrine of punctuation, it is not my design to discuss it here ; nor even to dwell upon the distinction between grammatical and rhetorical pauses. All that is necessary, is to remark distinctly, that visible punctuation cannot be regarded as a perfect guide to quantity, any more than to inflections. Often the voice must rest, where no pause is allowed in grammar; especially does this happen, when the speaker would fix attention on a single word, that stands as immediate nominative to a verb. A few examples may make this evident.
Industry is the guardian of innocence.
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease ;
Mirth I consider as an act, cheerfulness as a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient, cheerfulness fixed and permanent. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that glitters for a moment ; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind.
Here the words in Italic take no visible pause
after them, without violence to grammatical relation. But the ear demands a pause after each of these words, which no good reader will fail to observe.
The same principle extends to the length of pauses. The comma, when it simply marks grammatical relation, is very short, as “ He took with him Peter, and James, and John, his disciples." But when the comma is used in language of emotion, though it is the same pause to the eye, it may suspend the voice much longer than in the
former case; as in the solemn and deliberate call to attention ;-“ Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken.”*
This leads me to the chief point, which I had in view under this head, the emphatic pause. Garrick employed this on the stage, and Whitefield in the pulpit, with great effect. It occurs sometimes before, but commonly after a striking thought is uttered, which the speaker thus presents to the hearers, as worthy special attention, and which, he seems confidently to expect, will command assent, and be fixed in the memory, by a moment of uninterrupted reflection. More commonly, such a thought as admits the emphatic pause, drops the voice to a grave under-key, in the manner described at the close of the last article. Sometimes it breaks out in the figure of interrogation, with a higher note, and the eye fixed on some single hearer. To produce its proper effect, it must spring from such reality of feeling as defies all cold imitation; and this feeling never fails to produce, while the voice is suspended on the emphatic pause, a correspondent significance of expression in the countenance.
There is still another pause, so important in delivery, as to deserve a brief notice; I mean that with which a
* The rhetorical pause is as appropriate in music as in elocution. In this respect, a skilful composer always conforms to sentiment, in a set piece. In metrical psalmody, though this adaptation cannot be made by the writer of the tune, it ought to be made, in some good degree, by the performers. Instead of a tame subserviency to arbitrary quantity, they may often, with powerful effect, insert or omit a pause, as sentiment demands. I have scarcely ever felt the influence of music more, than in one or two cases where the stanzas, being highly rhetorical, were divided only by a comma, and the choir spontaneously rushed over the musical pause at the end of the tune, and began it anew, from the impulse of emotior. See example, Watts, Book 1. Hymn 3, 6 and 7-8 and 9 stanzas,
good speaker marks the close of a paragraph, or division of a discourse. The attempt to keep up an assembly to one pitch of interest, and that by one unremitted strain of address, is a great mistake, though a very common one, as it respects both the composition and the delivery of a discourse. It results from principles with which every public speaker ought to be acquainted, that high excitement cannot be sustained for a long time. He who has skill enough to kindle in his bearers, the same glow which animates himself, while he exhibits some vivid argument or illustration, will suffer them to relax, when he has finished that topic; and will enter on a new one, with a more familiar tone of voice, and after such a pause, prepares them to accompany him with renewed satisfaction.
It may be remarked in passing, that when the voice has outrun itself, and reached too high a pitch, one of these paragraph-rests affords the best opportunity to resume the proper key.
24] Sect. 6.-Compass of voice.
It may be thought that what has been said already, concerning high and low notes, is sufficient, on this part of modulation. My remarks on pitch, however, related chiefly to the predominant note which one employs in a given case; whereas I now refer to the range of notes, above and below this governing or natural key, which are required by a spirited and diversified delivery.
Sometimes from inveterate habit, and sometimes from incapacity of the organs, the voice has a strong, clear bots
tom, without any compass upwards. In other cases, it has a good top, but no compass below its key. Extreme instances to the contrary there may be, but commonly, I have no doubt that when a speaker uses only a note or two, above and below the key, it arises from habit, and not from organic defect. Few indeed have, or could by any means acquire, the versatility of vocal power, by which Whitefield could imitate the tones of the female or the infant voice, at one time, and at another, strike bis hearers with awe, by the thundering note of his under key. Nor is this power essential to an interesting delivery. On the other hand, there are few, if any, who could not, by proper pains in cultivating the voice, give it all the compass which is requisite to grave and dignified oratory.
As I cannot dwell on this point, it may be useful to say briefly, that when the voice of the young speaker is found to be wanting in compass, I would advise him, in the first place, to try an experiment, similar to that which was suggested, p. 107, for increasing strength or loudness of sound, without change of key. Suppose he takes the same line e ;
O, you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome !
and reads it first on the lowest note, on which he can articulate. Then let him repeat it a note higher, and so on, till he reaches the highest note of his voice. His compass being ascertained, by such an experiment, on a few words, he may then practise reading passages of some length, on that part of his voice which he especially wish- . es to improve; taking care, in this more protracted exercise, not to pitch on the extreme note of his voice, either