« PreviousContinue »
very. But we shall now consider only the more important—the significant inflections; those upon the correct use of which the meaning and force of composition depend ;-leaving the learner, unincumbered by rules which perplex rather than instruct, to make a practical application of them to the less important parts of composition as his judgment
Falling Inflection. The falling inflection is used where the language is bold and energetic; where a positive assertion is made; or where an indirect ques tion is asked.
it of you.
EXAMPLES. Who first sedùced them to that foul revolt ? The infernal sèrpent. Where is bdasting then ? It is excluded. But Jesus said, why tèmpt ye me, ye Hypocrites ! I insist upon this point; I urge you to it; prèss it; require it; nay, demand
What, Tubero, did that naked sword of yours mean, at the battle of Pharsalia ? At whose brèast was it aimed ? What was the meaning of your arms, your spirit, your eyes, your hands, your ardor of soul ?
Rising Inflection. The rising inflection accompanies the weaker emphasis, where the enunciation of thought is tender, conditional, or incomplete.
EXAMPLES. And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's són, and said, is this your younger brother of whom you spáke unto me?
If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive trée, wert grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive trée; boast not against the branches.
The beauty of a pláin, the greatness of a mountain, the ornaments of a build. ing, the expression of a picture, the composition of a discourse, the conduct of a third person, the properties of different quantities and numbers, -all the general subjects of science and taste,-are what we and our companions regard, as having no peculiar relation to either of us.
This inflection is also used with the direct question, or that which admits of yes or no for the answer; às,-Are you going to Genéva ?
Do you go to-dáy ?-But if the same question be repeated, as if at first not heard or understood, it takes in the repetition the more forcible emphasis of the falling inflection; as, Are you going to Genéva? Are you going to Genèva ?—Is this your book ?-_"Sir ?!_Is this your book?
When the disjunctive or connects words or phrases, it has the rising inflection before, and the falling after it.
Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil ?-10 save life, or to destroy it?
Has God forsaken the works of his own hands for does he always gracious ly preserve, and keep, and guide them ?
But when or is used conjunctively, it has the same inflection after as before it; as,
Would a belief of divine revelation contribute to make rulers less tyránnical, or subjects less governable ?--He is a man of wisdomn; or, at least, of great learning
When afirmation' and negation are opposed to each other, that which affirms has generally the falling, and that which denies the rising inflection.
Think not that the influence of devotion is confined to the retirement of the clóset, and the assenbly of the saints: Imagine not, that, unconnected with the duties of life, it is suited only to those enraptured souls, whose feelings perhaps you deride as romantic and visionary:- It is the guardian of innocence-it is the instrument of vìrtue—it is a mean by which every good affection may be formed and improved.
The Circumflex. The circumflex is used to express ideas ironically, hypothetically, or comparatively; or when something is rather insinuated than strongly expressed.
If men see our faults they will talk among themsělves, though we refuse to let them talk to us.
He has more art than science.
Were we to ask a physician concerning a sick person, and receive in reply—“He is better? -we might suppose him to be yet dangerously sick,—the circumflex giving us an idea only of a slight, or comparative amendment,—but were he to say—He is better-our anxiety for his safety would be at once removed.
The following example will more clearly show the controlling influence which the infection has upon the sense, without changing the seat of the emphasis
In church I am unable to suppress evil thoughts. The idea, which this sentence is intended to convey, is, that the person making the assertion is subject to evil thoughts, which, not only most places of resort but even the sacredness of a church does not enable him to suppress. Hence it should be read with the strong emphasis and the falling inflection upon church; thus" In chùrch I am unable to suppress evil thoughts." -But if the circumflex be used with the emphasis, a different idea will be conveyed,—it will be, that the person, although in most places not subject to evil thoughts, is in church peculiarly afflicted by, and unable to suppress them; thusIn church I am unable to suppress evil thoughts. We will take another example. Horatio in the Fair Penitent says:
"I will not turn aside from my loose pleasure, though all thỹ force be armed to bar iny way."
The circumflex upon thy implies that Horatio looked upon
the posing force with contempt; and is equivalent to saying, “I might turn aside for a respectable opposition, but thy force is not worth ne garding." But place the falling inflection upon thy, and it makes it a matter of greater moment:-while it compliments the opposing force, it declares a determination to resist it, great as it is.
In examining the principles of vocal inflection, the ingenious scho lar will find both amusement and instruction. Without being understood, they are practised by all, intuitively, when the stronger emotions are excited; and if persons could strictly pursue the dictates of nature in these respects, they would never err.* But the force of habit is almost irresistible; and when this is formed on the side of error, nothing but the strongly excited emotions can disengage its bonds. It will be in vain, therefore, to depend upon the dictation of these emo tions; for they will be found unerring only in the expressions of original thought, -and then only under circumstances as above described. It becomes necessary, then, that the doctrine of inflections be studied, that they may be applied in unimpassioned discourse, and to the composition of others-studied, not under the impression that the principles of nature are to be subverted, but discovered, and strictly followed.
Porter, in speaking of the importance of a knowledge of the principles of inflection, says: Analysis of vocal inflections bears the same relation to oratory, that the tuning of an instrument does to music. The rudest performer in this latter art knows, that his first business is to regulate the instrument he uses, when it is so deranged as to produce no perfect notes, or to produce others than those which he intends. The voice is the speaker's instrument, which, by neglect or mismanagement, is often so out of tune as not to obey the will of him who uses it. To cure bad habits is the first and hardest task in elocution. Among instructors of children, scarcely one in fifty thinks of carrying his precepts beyond correctness in uttering words, and a mechanical attention to pauses; so that the cliild who speaks the words of a sentence distinctly and fluently, and “minds the stops," as it is called, is without scruple pronounced a good reader. Hence, among the multitude who consider themselves good readers, there are 80 few that give by their voice that just expression of sentiment, which constitutes the spirit and soul of delivery.'
V. Monotone. MONOTONE is a sameness of sound upon a succession of syllables, like the repeated strokes upon a bell. It has the peculiar property of rendering composition either sublime or ridiculous, according as it may be judiciously or injudiciously used. Nothing is more disgusting thai a dull repetition of sounds upon the same pitch of the voice, resulting from a dullness in the reader or speaker, and applied in common dis
It is notwithstanding used with the most happy effect, in grave delivery, in the expression of sublime and reverential emotions, and in elevated description. The following examples will illustrate it as used with propriety:
"If a man should discover his own house on fire, he would not, like a dia cant and disinterested observer, cry, fire! fré! !--but we uld hear his more expressive exclamation of fire! fire! fire!
“Shall an inferior magistrate, a governor, who holds his whole power of the Roman people, in a Roman province, within sight of Italy, bīnd, scourge, tor. ture with red hot plātes of iron, and at last put to the infamous death of the cross, a Roman citizen!"
"High on a throne of royal state, which far
Satan exalted sat" In the foregoing, the monotone adds much to the dignity of the composition. The examples which follow present a striking contrast:—to read them with the monotone would make them insipid and di rusting
“What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
By reason, my life let me square;
VI. Modulation. By Modulation is understood that pleasing variety in the management of the voice, which constitutes a graceful delivery. It is one of the most important acquisitions of a good speaker, and at the same time the most difficult to define.-In an extended sense, it may be understood as including every modification of which the voice is capable.
It is easier to point out the defects in modulation, than to define the constituents of its excellence :-Of those we shall notice a few. But in order to be fully understood, we will caution the learner against confounding high with loud, and low with soft sounds. A person may pronounce a word in a voice hardly audible, and again very loud, upon the same key, or equally low. He may do the same upon a key equally high. This distinction between pitch and volume of sound, must be clearly understood. Let the following line,
“Shall Rome be taken while I am Consul ?" be read on a low key note, and with a small voice. Let it be repeated several times in succession, a little louder each time, without varying the pitch or key note, and the difference will be very apparent.
This distinction being understood, the first prominent defect in modulation that we shall notice, consists in inflating the lungs at the beginning of each sentence, and pouring out a volume of sound, which in every stage of progression is graduated by the stock of breath on hand. The first part of the sentence, therefore, is uttered with a loud voice, and generally upon a high key; but terminates in a low and feeble close. This manner of reading, which is common, is illustrated by the following example.—The capital letters represent the greatest strength of sound, which gradually falls away to the ita
“GENTLENESS IS THE GREAT AVENUE TO MUTUAL enjoyment. AMIDST THE STRIFE OF INTERFERING INTERESTS, IT TEMPERS THE VIOLENCE OF CONTENTION, AND KEEPS ALIVE the seeds of harmony. IT SOFTENS ANIMOSITIES, RENEWS ENDEARMENTS, AND RENDERS THE COUNTENANCE OF MAN a refreshment to man.”
Another great defect in modulation arises from an unskillful effort to avoid the monotone. It consists in a periodical elevation of the voice, both in pitch and volume, on one or more words in every sentence; while it gently undulates upon the rest, varying but little from the monotone. Let the words in small capitals in the following exampie, be pronounced with a fuller voice, and on a higher key than the rest, and this manner of reading will be exhibited.
"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 GREATEST distance, and continues the longest in action without being TIRED or satiated with its proper enjoyments”
There is one other manner of reading deserving of notice. It is sometimes adopted in the pulpit, from the mistaken notion that it adds solemnity to the subject matter. It consists in adopting two tones of voice, generally two or four notes distant from each other, and pronouncing every word upon these notes, changing alternately from one to the other. The difference between this manner, and that exhibited in the last example, is, that in this, several words are often sounded upon the higher note in succession, and on the remaining words there is no variation from the monotone. This manner may be exhibited by reading the words in Roman letters, in the example following, in a strictly monotonous manner, and the words in Italic a minor third, or tone and semitone above them :
"I tell you though you, though all the world, though an angel from heaven, should declare the truth of it, I would not believe it."
The learner will find much benefit in practicing upon examples like the foregoing: by doing it understandingly, he will be led to the discovery of his own peculiarity of manner, if he have any, and be able to apply the corrective.
VII. The reading of Verse. The same rules may in general be observed in the reading of verse, that apply to prose. There is, however, a peculiar charm in poetry, which entitles it to a few additional remarks.
First-Although the beauty of poetry consists in the smoothness and harmony of its numbers, the poetic measure should not be permitted to destroy the sense by usurping the proper emphasis or accent. We sometimes hear sentences like the following, read thus:
“False elo-quence, like the prismatic glass,
, from lov'd ones far away,
An exile from Ameri-ca." In some cases, when the metrical and the customary accent do not unite upon one syllable, they can both be indulged, as in the following :
“Our su-preme foe in time may much relent." It is a general rule, however, that neither the rights of the customary accent, nor the emphasis, should be infringed.
There are two kinds of pauses which belong to poetry: the cæsural pause, which falls about the middle of the line, and the pause at the end of it. In poetry in which the cæsural pause unites with a division made by the sense, the line is harmonious, as in the following :