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But there are cases in which more than common stress belongs to several words in succession, forming an emphatic clause. In some cases of this sort, the several syllables have nearly equal stress: thus;
-Heaven and earth will witness,
Could we but climb where Moses stood,
Should fright us from the shore. In uttering the emphatic clause, in these cases, the voice drops its pitch, and proceeds nearly in a grave, deliberate monotone.
In other cases, such a clause is to be distinguished from the rest of the sentence, by a general increase of force; and yet its words retain a relative difference among themselves, in quantity, stress, and inflection. One example may make this last remark still plainer. Suppose Paul to have said merely, “ I came not to baptize, but to preach.” The contrast expressed, limits the emphasis to two words. But take the whole sentence, as it is in Paul's language,
I came not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel;'—and you have a contrast between an emphatic word, and an emphatic clause. And though the sense is just as before, you must change the stress in this clause from preach to gospel, or you utter nonsense. If
retain the stress on preach, the paraphrase is “I came not to baptize the gospel, but to preach the gospel.”
Double Emphasis. This is always grounded on antithetic relation, expressed in pairs of contrasted objects. It will be sufficiently illustrated by a very few examples.
“ The young are slaves to novelty, the old to custom."
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but .considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
There is but one remark, which is important to be made in this case. In attempting to give the utmost significance to each of the terms, standing in close succession, we are in danger of diminishing the amount of meaning, expressed by the whole. The only rule that can be adopted is, so to adjust the stress and inflection of voice, on the different terms, as shall most clearly, and yet most agreeably convey the sense of the entire passage. There is still another kind of sentences, in which there occurs what I would call CUMULATIVE EMPHASIS. This consists of a complex thought, made up of particulars, expressed in a succession of emphatic words. A striking example of this we have in Paul's indignant reply to the message from the magistrates, that he and his associates, unjustly imprisoned, might be released, and go quietly away. “But Paul said, they have beaten us, openly, uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison ; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out.”
Here there is no difficulty from that antithetic mixing of terms just now alluded to
This includes a number of distinct topics, which may perhaps with sufficient exactness be brought together in one chapter.
Sect. 1.–Faults of Modulation. 1. Monotony. The monotone, employed with skill, in pronouncing a simile, or occasionally an elevated or forcible thought, may have great rhetorical effect; just as other movements of the voice, are felt to be proper, when they are prompted by genius and emotion. But the thing I mean to condemn, is that dull repetition of sounds, on the same pitch, and with the same quantity, which the hearers ascribe to want of spirit in the speaker. Want of variety is fatal to vivacity and interest in delivery, on the same principle that it is so in all other cases. In music, a succession
of perfect concords, especially on the same note, would be intolerable.
2. Mechanical variety. An unskilful reader, perhaps resolved to avoid monotony, may think nothing more is necessary, than to employ the greatest possible number of notes; and thus his chief aim is to leap from one extreme to another of his voice. In a short time, this attempt at variety becomes a regular return of similar notes, at stated intervals.
Another defect, of the same sort, arises from an attempt to produce variety by a frequent and arbitrary change of stress. But here too the only advantage gained is, that we exchange an absolute for a relative sameness; for the favorite stress returns periodically, without regard to sense.
There is still another kind of this uniform variety, which is extremely common. It consists in the habit of striking a sentence at the beginning, with a high and full voice, which becomes gradually weaker and lower, as the sentence proceeds, especially if it has much length, till it is closed perhaps with one quarter of the impulse with which it commenced. Then the speaker, at the beginning of a new sentence, inflates his lungs, and pours out a full volume of sound, for a few words, sliding downwards again, to a feeble close.
1. The most indispensable attainment, towards the cure of bad habits in managing the voice, is the spirit of empha
Suppose a student of elocution to have a scholastic tone, or some other of the faults mentioned above;-teach him emphasis, and you have taken the most direct way to remove the defect. It is difficult to give a particular illus tration of my meaning, except by the living voice; but the experiment is worthy of a trial, to see if the fąulty manner cannot be represented to the eye. Read the following pas
sage from the Spectator;* recollecting, at the beginning of each sentence, to strike the words in the largest type, with a high and full voice, gradually sinking away in pitch and quantity, as the type diminishes, to the close.
OUR SIGHT IS THE MOST PERFECT, AND MOST DELIGHTFUL, OF ALL OUR SENSES. IT FILLS THE MIND WITH THE LARGEST VARIETY OF IDEAS, CONVERSES WITH ITS OBJECTS AT THE GREATEST DISTANCE, AND CONTINUES THE LONGEST IN ACTION, WITHOUT BEING TIRED OR SATIATED WITH ITS PROPER ENJOYMENTS. THE SENSE OF FEELING CAN INDEED GIVE US A NOTION OF EXTENSION, SHAPE, AND ALL OTHER IDEAS THAT ENTER AT THE EYE, EXCEPT COLORS. AT THE SAME TIME, IT IS VERY MUCH CONFINED IN ITS OPERATIONS, TO THE NUMBER, BULK, AND DISTANCE OF ITS PARTICULAR OBJECTS.
If you succeed in understanding the above illustration, then vary the trial on the same example, with a view to another fault, the periodic stress and tone. Take care to speak the words printed in small capitals with a note sensibly higher and stronger than the rest, dropping the voice immediately after these elevated words, into an undulating tone, on the following syllables,-thus:
Our sight is the most perfect, and most delightful, of all our senses. It fills the mind with the largest VARIETY of ideas, converses with its object at the GREATEST distance, and continues the longest in action, without being TIRED or satiated with its proper enjoyments. The sense of feeling can indeed Give us a notion of extension, shape, and all other ideas that ENTER at the eye, except colors. At the same time, it
is very much confined in its operations, to the number, bulk and distance of its particular objects.*
It is necessary now to give this same passage once more, so distinguishing the chief words, by the Italic character, as to exhibit the true pronunciation.
Our sight is the most perfect, and most delightful, of all our senses. It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas ; converses with its objects at the greatest distance; and continues the longest in action, without being tired or satiated with its proper enjoyments. The sense of feeling can indeed give us a notion of exténsion, shape, and all other ideas that enter at the eye, except colors. At the same time, it is very much confined in its operations, to the number, búlk, and distance of its particular objects.
But as no word in the foregoing passage, is strongly emphatic, my meaning may be more evident from an example or two, where a discriminating stress on a single word, determines the manner in which the following words are to be spoken.
Take this couplet from Pope, and read it first with the metrical accent and tone, thus;
What the weak head, with strongest bias rules,
Is pride, the never failing vice of fools. Now let it be observed that in these lines there is really but one emphatic word, namely pride. If we mark this with the strong emphasis, and the falling inflection, the following words will of necessity be spoken as they should be, dropping a note or two below the key note of the sentence,t and proceeding nearly on a monotone to the end ;
What the weak head, with strongest bias rules,
* Walker's ear, though in cases of emphatic inflection, very discriminating, seems in other cases to have been perverted by his theory of harmonic inflection, as appears from his manner of pronouncing the following couplet, which nearly coincides with the tone I am condemning.
A brave man struggling in the storms of fáte,
And greatly falling, with a falling state. + By key note, I mean the prevailing note, that which you hear when a man reads aloud in another room, while you cannot distinguish any words that he utters.