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ner? Can that reason be made intelligible? Doubtless it may, if it is founded on any stated law of delivery. The pupils then, need not rest in a servile imitation of their teacher's manner, but are entitled to ask why his emphasis, or inflection, or cadence was so, and not otherwise; and then they may be able to transfer the same principles to other cases. Then too one skilful teacher, by means of such intelligible analysis, may assist other teachers, whose capacity is equal to his own, but whose experience has been less than his. For myself, I must say, that after all I have read of Garrick, I had no distinct conception of his manner in delivering any given passage, till I saw Walker's description of his inflections in the grand and terrible adjuration of Macbeth. [See Ex. p. 202.] If Quinctilian had given me the same precise information respecting the turns of Cicero's voice, in some interesting passage of his orations, it would be no small gratification of my curiosity.
Now, while every tyro has known for centuries, that the verb has a stated, grammatical relation to its nominative, and while certain tones have occurred in as stated a relation to certain sentiments of the mind; it is but a short time since the tones of articulate language have been considered as capable of any useful classification. Several years of childhood are particularly devoted to acquire a correct orthography and accentuation; and to promote a knowledge of these and of syntax, rules have been framed with great care. But what valuable directions have our elementary books contained as to the management of the voice in reading?—an art which lies at the bottom of all good delivery. Here our embryo orators, on their
way to the bar, the senate, and the pulpit, are turned off with a few meagre rules, and are expected to become accomplished speakers, without having ever learned to read a common passage, in a graceful and impressive manner. Fifty years ago the general direction given by teachers in reading was, that in every sort of sentence the voice should be kept up in a rising tone till the regular cadence is formed, at the close. This was exactly adapted to ruin all variety and force, and to produce a set of reading tones completely at variance with those of conversation and speaking. The more particular directions as to voice, formerly given in books for learners, are the three following: that a parenthesis requires a quick and weak pronunciation ;--that the voice should rise at the end of an interrogative sentence,-and fall at the end of one that is declarative. The first is true without exception ;-the second, only in that sort of question which is answered by yes or no ; and the third is true with the exception of all cases where emphasis carries the voice to a high note at the close of a sentence. So that, among the endless varieties of modification which the voice assumes in speaking, but one was accurately marked before the time of Walker. To his labors, imperfect as a first effort of the kind necessarily must be, the world will ultimately acknowledge great obligations. Such, however, is the intrinsic difficulty of representing sounds, by symbols adapted to the eye, that no precepts on this subject can be made completely intelligible, without the aid of exemplification by the teacher's voice. The ear too is an organ, which in different men, possesses various degrees of sensibility and accuracy in discriminating sounds; though it may acquire
a good degree of skill in speaking tones, without skill in music, as appears from the case of Walker himself.
SECT. 3. Description of Inflections.
The absolute modifications of the voice in speaking are four; namely, monotone, rising inflection, falling inflection, and circumflex. The first may be marked to the eye by a horizontal line, thus, (−) the second thus, (~) the third thus, (`) the fourth thus, (~).
The monotone is a sameness of sound on successive syllables, which resembles that produced by repeated strokes on a bell. Perhaps this is never carried so far as to amount to perfect sameness; but it often approaches this point, so as to be both irksome and ludicrous. Still, more or less of this quality belongs to grave delivery, especially in elevated description, or where emotions of sublimity or reverence are expressed. Any one would be shocked, for example, at an address to Jehovah, uttered with the sprightly and varied tones of conversation. The following lines have often been given as a good example of the dignity and force attending the monotone when properly used.
High on a throne of royal state, which far
The rising inflection turns the voice upward, or ends higher than it begins. It is heard invariably in the direct question; as, Will you go today?
The falling inflection turns the voice downwards, or ends lower than it begins. It is heard in the answer to a question; as, Nò; I shall go tomorrow.
As the whole doctrine of inflections depends on these two simple slides of the voice, one more explanation seems necessary, as to the degree in which each is applied, under different circumstances. In most cases where the rising slide is used, it is only a gentle turn of the voice upwards, one or two notes. In cases of emotion, as in the spirited, direct question, the slide may pass through five or eight notes. The former may be called the common rising inflection, the latter the intensive. Just the same distinction exists in the falling inflection. Many, not aware of this difference, have carried Walker's principles to an extreme. In the question, uttered with surprise, “Are you going to-day ?" the slide is intensive. But in the following case, it is common, " as fame is but breáth, as riches are tránsitory, and life itself is uncertain, so we should seek a better portion." To carry the rising slide in the latter case, as far as in the former, is a great fault, though not an uncommon one. See p. 88 and 226.
The circumflex is a union of the two inflections, sometimes on one syllable, and sometimes on several. Walker's first example extends it to three syllables, though his description limits it to one. It begins with the falling and ends with the rising slide. This turn of the voice is not so of ten used, nor so easily distinguished as the two simple slides just mentioned; though it occurs, if I mistake not, especially in familiar language, much oftener than Walker seems to suppose. In many cases where it is used, there is something conditional in the thought; as, I may go tomorrow, though I cannot go today. Irony or scorn is also expressed by it; as, "They tell us to be moderate; but they, they are to revel in profusion." On the words marked in these examples, there is a significant twisting
of the voice downwards and then upwards, without which the sense is not expressed.*
As to Mr. Walker's remarks on another circumflex, which he calls the falling, I must doubt the accuracy either of his ear or my own; for in his examples I cannot distinguish it from the falling slide, modified perhaps by circumstances, but having nothing of that distinctive character, which belongs to the circumflex just described. In mimickry and burlesque, I can perceive a falling circumflex, in a few cases, but it is applicable I think very rarely, if ever, in grave delivery.†
Besides these absolute modifications of voice, there are others which may be called relative, and which may be classed under the four heads of pitch, quantity, rate, and quality. These may be represented thus;
(high; Quantity. soft
loud; Rate. quick;
As these relative modifications of voice assume almost an endless variety according to sentiment and emotion in a speaker, they belong to the chapter on modulation.
*We may take an example, which gives these three inflections of voice successively; though perhaps it will hardly be intelligible to a mere beginner. The abrupt clause in Hamlet's soliloquy,-To die, to sleep, no more, is commouly read with the falling slide on each word, thus; to die, to sleep no more, expressing no sense, or a false one; as if Hamlet meant, "When I die, I shall no more sleep." But place the rising inflection on die, the falling on sleep, and the circumflex on no more, and you have this sense; "To die? --what is it?--no terrible event;--it is merely falling asleep :"-thus, to die,--to sleep,--no more. Some skilful readers give the rising slide to the last clause, turning it into a question or exclamation ;--no móre !--" is this all?" But the circumflex seems better to represent the desperate hardihood with which Hamlet was reasoning himself into a contempt of death.
+ I am aware that some, whose opinion I greatly respect, think Walker to be right on this point. Doubtless they mean something by falling circumflex, of which I have been able to gain no distinct apprehension, except as stated above.