« PreviousContinue »
THE favourable reception of the large Volume of ELEGANT EXTRACTS in PROSE, has fufficiently expressed the public opinion refpecting the utility of fuch Compilations. It has, however, been fuggefted to the Proprietors, that the fize to which the Work was extended, rendered it inconvenient, to several descriptions of purchasers; and that an abridgement of it, adapted to the pocket, was much wished for by many Conductors of School Education. The fame obfervation was applied to the ELEGANT EXTRACTS in POETRY. On this account the PROSE EPITOME, and the POETICAL EPITOME, have been published; that it may be in the option of Masters, or Scholars, to provide themselves either with these smaller Works, or with the LARGE OCTAVO Volumes, as shall best suit their own convenience.
PRONUNCIATION, OR DELIVERY,
FROM DR. BLAIR'S LECTURES.
WOW much ftrefs was laid upon Pro
end of all public fpeaking, Perfuafion; and therefore deferves the study of the moft grave whofe only aim is to please.
For, let it be confidered, whenever we addrefs ourselves to others by words, our inten tion certainly is to make fome impreffion on thofe to whom we fpeak; it is to convey to them our own ideas and emotions. Now the tone of our voice, our looks and geftures, interpret our ideas and emotions no less than words do; nay, the impreffion they make on others, is frequently much ftronger than any that words can make. We often fee that an expreffive look, or a paffionate cry, unaccom.
eloquent of all orators, Demofthenes, appears from a noted faying of his, related both by Cicero and Quintilian; when being afked, What was the first point in oratory? he anfwered Denvery; and being afked, What was the fecond? and afterwards, What was the third he still answered Delivery. There is no wonder, that he should have rated this fo | high, and that for improving himself in it, he Thould have employed thofe affiduous and painful labours, which all the Ancients take fo much notice of; for, beyond doubt, nothing is of more importance. Tofuperficial think-panied by words, conveys to others more ers, the management of the voice and gefture, in public speaking, may appear to relate to decoration only, and to be one of the inferior arts of catching an audience. But this 1 far from being the cafe. It is intimately cted with what is, or ought to be, the
forcible ideas, and roufes within them stronger paffions, than can be communicated by the moft eloquent difcourfe. The fignification of our fentiments, made by tones and geltures, has this advantage above that made by words, that it is the language of na
obfervations as appear to me most useful to be made on this head.
The great objects which every public speakwill naturally have in his eye in forming his Delivery, are, firft, to speak fo as to be fully and eafily understood by all who hear him; and next, to speak with grace and force, fo as to please and to move his audience. Let us confider what is moft important with refpect to each of these **.
In order to be fully and cafily understood, the four chief requifites are, A due degree of loudnefs of voice; Diftinctnefs; Slowness; and Propriety of Pronunciation.
tare. It is that method of interpreting our
He prays but faintly, and would be denied ;
But, I believe it is needlefs to say any more, in order to fhew the high importance of a good Delivery. I proceed, therefore to fuch
The first attention of every public fpeaker, doubtlefs, muft be, to make himself be heard by all thofe to whom he speaks. He must endeavour to fill with his voice the space occupied by the affembly. This power of voice, it may be thought, is wholly a natural talent. It is fo in a good meafure; but, however, may receive confiderable atiiftance from art. Much depends for this purpose on the proper pitch, and management of the voice. Every man has three pitches in his voice; the high, the middle, and the low one. The high, is that which he ufes in calling aloud to fome one at a distance. The low is, when he approaches to a whisper. The middle is, that which he employs in common converfation, and which he thould generally ufe in public difcourfe. For it is a great mistake. to imagine that one must take the highest pitch of his voice, in order to be well heard by a great affembly. This is confounding two things which are different, loudnefs, or
*On this whole fubje&t, Mr. Sheridan's Lectures on Elocution are very worthy of being confulted; and feveral hints are here taken from them. A 2
appearance of one who endeavours to compel affent, by mere vehemence and force of found. In the next place, to boing well heard, and clearly understood, diftinctness of articulation contributes more, than mere loudness of found. The quantity of found neceffary to fill even a large space, is smaller than is commonly ima
of a weak voice will make it reach farther, than the strongest voice can reach without it. To this, therefore, every public fpeaker ought to pay great attention. He must give every found which he utters its due proportion, and make every fyllable, and even every letter in the word which he pronounces, be heard diftinetly; without flurring, whispering, or fuppreffing any of the proper founds.
ftrength of found, with the key, or note on | which we speak. A fpeaker may render his voice louder, without altering the key; and we fhall always be able to give moft body, moft perfevering force of found, to that pitch of voice, to which in confervation we are accuftomed. Whereas, by fetting out on our highest pitch or key, we certainly allow our-gined; and with diftinct articulation, a man felves lefs compafs, and are likely to ftrain our voice before we have done. We fhall fatigue ourselves, and fpeak with pain; and whenever a man speaks with pain to himself, he is always heard with pain by his audience. Give the voice therefore full ftrength and fwell of found; but always pitch it on your ordinary fpeaking key. Make it a conftant rule never to utter a greater quantity of voice, than you can afford without pain to yourfelves, and without any extraordinary effort. As long as you keep within thefe bounds, the other organs of fpeech will be at liberty to difcharge their feveral offices with eafe; and you will always have your voice under command. But whenever you tranfgrefs thefe bounds you give up the reins, and have no longer any management of it. It is an ufeful rule too, in order to be well heard, to fix our eye on fome of the moft diftant perfons in the affembly, and to confider ourselves as fpeak ing to them. We naturally and mechanically utter our words with fuch a degree of ftrength, as to make ourselves be heard by one to whom we addrefs ourselves, provided he be within the reach of our voice. As this is the cafe in cominon converfation, it will hold alfo in public fpeaking. But remember, that in public as well as in converfation, it is poffible to offend by fpeaking too loud. This extreme hurts the ear, by making the voice come upon it in rumbling indiftinct maffes; befides its giving the speaker the difagreeable
In the third place, in order to articulate diftinctly, moderation is requifite with regard to the fpeed of pronouncing. Precipitancy of fpeech confounds all articulation, and all meaning. I need fcarcely observe, that there may be alfo an extreme on the oppofite fide. It is obvious, that a lifelefs, drawling pronunciation, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always outrunning the speaker, must render every difcourfe infipid and fatiguing. But the extreme of speaking too faft is much more common, and requires the more to be guarded againft, becaufe when it has grown up into a habit, few errors are more difficult to be corrected. To pronounce with a proper degree of flownefs, and with full and clear articulation, is the first thing to be ftudied by all who begin to fpeak in public; and cannot be too much recommended to them. Such a pronunciation gives weight and dignity to their difcourfe. It is a great affiftance to the voice, by the paufes and reits which it allows it more eafily to make; and it enables the fpeaker to fwell all his founds, both with