Obrázky stránek


diftinctness and force with which he utters his words, than upon the height at which he pitches his voice.

BUT it is an effential qualification of a good speaker, to be able to alter the height, as well as the ftrength and the tone of his voice, as occafion requires. Different fpecies of speaking require different heights of voice. Nature instructs us to relate a story, to fupport an argument, to command a fervant, to utter exclamations of anger or rage, and to pour forth lamentations and forrows, not only with different tones, but different elevations of voice. Men at different ages of life, and in different fituations, fpeak in very different keys. The vagrant, when he begs; the foldier, when he gives the word of command; the watchman, when he announces the hour of the night; the fovereign, when he iffues his edict; the fenator, when he harangues; the lover, when he whispers his tender tale; do not differ more in the tones which they ufe, than in the key in which they fpeak. Reading and fpeaking, therefore, in which all the variations of expreffion in real life are copied, must have continual variations in the height of the voice.

To acquire the power of changing the key on which you speak at pleasure, accuftom yourself to pitch your voice in different keys, from the lowest to the highest notes you can command. Many of these would neither be proper nor agreeable in fpeaking; but the exercise will give you fuch a command of voice, as is fcarcely to be acquired by any other method. Having repeated this experiment till you can speak with ease at feveral heights of the voice; read, as exercises on this rule, fuch compofitions as have a variety of fpeakers, or fuch as relate dialogues, obferving the height of voice which is proper to each, and endeavouring to change them as nature directs.

In the fame compofition there may be frequent occafion to alter the height of the voice, in pafing from one part to another, without any change of perfon. Shakespear's "All the world's aftage," &c. and his defcription of the Queen of the Fairies, afford examples of this. Indeed every fentence which is read or spoken, will admit of different elevations of the voice in different parts of it; and on this chiefly, perhaps entirely, depends the melody of pronunciation.



Pronounce your words with propriety and elegance.

IT is not eafy to fix upon any standard, by

which the propriety of pronunciation is to be determined. Mere men of learning, in attempting to make the etymology of words the rule of pronunciation, often pronounce words in a manner, which brings upon them the charge of affectation and pedantry. Mere men of the world, notwithstanding all their politenefs, often retain fo much of their provincial dialect, or commit fuch errors both in fpeaking and writing, as to exclude them from the honour of being the standard of accurate pronunciation. We should perhaps look for this standard only among those who unite these two characters, and with the correctnefs and precifion of true learning, combine the eafe and elegance of genteel life. An attention to fuch models, and a free intercourse with the polite world, are the best guards against the peculiarities and vulgarifms of provincial dialects. Those which refpect the pronunciation of words. are innumerable. Some of the principal of them


are omitting the afpirate b where it ought to be ufed, and inferting it where there should be none; confounding and interchanging the v and w; pronouncing the diphthong ou like au or like oo, and the vowel like si ore; and cluttering many confonants together without regarding the vowels. Thefe faults, and all others of the fame nature, must be corrected in the pronunciation of a gentleman who is fuppofed to have seen too much of the world, to retain the peculiarities of the diftrict in which he was born.


Pronounce every word confifting of more than one fyllable with its proper ACCENT.



HERE is a neceffity for this direction, becaufe many speakers have affected an unufual and pedantic mode of accenting words, laying it down as a rule, that the accent fhould be caft as far backwards as poffible; a rule which has no foundation in the conftruction of the English language, or in the laws of harmony. In accenting words, the general cuftom and a good, ear are the best guides: only it may be observed that

that accent fhould be regulated, not by any arbitrary rules of quantity, but by the number and nature of the fimple founds.

[blocks in formation]

In every fentence diftinguish the more fignificant words by a natural, forcible, and varied EM


MPHASIS points out the precife meaning of a sentence, fhews in what manner one idea is connected with, and rifes out of another, marks the feveral clauses of a sentence, gives to every part its proper found, and thus conveys to the mind of the reader the full import of the whole. It is in the power of emphasis to make long and complex fentences appear intelligible and perfpicuous. But for this purpose it is neceffary, that the reader fhould be perfectly acquainted with the exact conftruction and full meaning of every sentence which he recites. Without this it is impoffible to give those inflections and variations to the voice, which nature requires: and it is for want of this previous ftudy, more perhaps than from any other cause, that we so often hear perfons

« PředchozíPokračovat »