Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

such as can never attach to any system heretofore promulgated. It will almost create a new department of criticism-furnishing to the critic in elocution the principles of his art, as well as the implements for its practice; and it will furnish the means by which the hitherto mysterious functions of speech can be accurately described, and any peculiar style of eloquence be handed down to all succeeding ages. And what would not the orator of our day give could he read, in a language which he could not misunderstand, a full description of the living, breathing intonations which infused life and energy into the speeches of the Grecian and Roman masters? or the Christian minister, could he hear the voice of the apostles or the reformers, as he can read their thoughts, or perchance see their features? The graphic art can catch and transmit to us the fleeting thought, the painter or the sculptor can sketch all the lineaments of the face and the form ; but hitherto we have had no means of seizing upon and preserving the modulations of the living voice. The tones of that eloquence which first proclaimed a free salvation to our fathers, and even of that which stirred them up to fight the battles of freedom, are fast dying away; and when a few more shall pass from among us, no record of them will remain among the living. The specific merits and defects of future speakers of eminence shall go down to posterity along with their fame.

The author's mode of illustrating this subject by diagrams and by the aid of the musical scale, is also singularly perfect. The simplicity and great excellence of this element in the work we cannot here present; but our admiration of it has been greatly heightened by comparing it with the other attempts to illustrate the functions of speech, by figures presented to the eye, which have fallen under our notice. Whoever will carefully examine Walker's illustrations of the Inflections, and compare them with those of our author, will settle down on the conclusion, that while the latter is an exact illustration of nature, as hourly presented to the ear, the former illustrates perfectly none of the vocal movements of the American speaker.

We feel now prepared to suggest, finally, as a crowning excellence of Dr. Rush's Philosophy of the Human Voice, that it furclature exhibited in the Philosophy of the Human Voice."--Lectures before the American Institute of Instruction, 1837, p. 248.

nishes the basis of a system of elocution which tends directly to the development of original genius. We can conceive that a system of artificial, or even of minute and technical rules, may serve but to cramp

and embarrass the action of genius; but this system puts the elements into the hands of the scholar, with some general principles to direct their application, while it leaves him to make for himself this application to the improvement and exercise of his various natural powers, which constitute his genius, so far as he may be its possessor. As we use the term genius in these remarks in the sense in which it is used by our author, we will let him define it :

look upon

Finally, I would recommend this analysis, and the practical inferences which have been drawn from it, to those who declare with contradistinguishing ascription, that elocution cannot be taught, but must be the work of genius alone. Such persons

the

powers of the mind as a kind of sleight: the ways and means of which are unknown and immeasurable. But genius, as far as it appears from its works, is only an aptitude for that deep, wide, and exclusive attention which perceives and accomplishes more than is done without it; and, therefore, is not altogether removed beyond the reach of rules; though in its course of instruction, genius is oftenest the pupil of itself.

“Let those who are deluded by this mystic notion of genius turn their

eyes from impostors who cannot define an attribute which they do not comprehend; let them look to the great sachems of mankind, and learn from the real possessors of it, how much of its manner may be described. They will tell us that genius, in its high meaning, is always enthusiastic: always characterized by passionate perseverance; by the love of an object in its means as well as its ends; by that unshaken confidence in its own powers, which converts the evils of discouragement into the benefits of success; which cares not to be alone, and is too much engrossed with its own truths to be disturbed by the opinions of others: with a disentangling spirit, to see things as they might be; and an economy of purpose to execute them as they ought to be ; soaring above that musty policy which, in its wary tact of the expedient, would with a world-serving quietude preserve them always as they are: having the power to accomplish great and useful works, only because it wastes no time on small and selfish ones, and passing a life of warfare in detecting the impostures and follies of its own age, that the next, like the consulted oracle of Delphi, may pronounce it the chief in wisdom and in virtue.”—P. 407.

As an act of justice to the author, as well as to the future reader of the Philosophy of the Human Voice, it ought perhaps to be more distinctly stated, that it is the work of a physiologist, and not of a rhetorician or an elocutionist. As such, by him who has little knowledge of the language or the practice of music, and who perhaps has taken little notice of the vocal functions in speech, this work can be studied only with great labor, except by the aid of a teacher. With the aid of the diagrams, however, and the welldefined vocabulary of terms, the musician, or he who is in any way versed in the science of the voice, with but a tithe of the perseverance that produced the work, will find in its study, even without the aid of a teacher, a rich reward. In regard to this view of the subject, the author discourses thus :

“When the ingenuous reader reviews the preceding history, I must beg him to bear in mind its object. The purpose was to analyze the functions of speech, without a strict limitation of the search to those points which might be readily cognizable in ordinary utterance, or practically important in oratorical instruction. I have recorded no phenomenon, the discovery of which has not been the result of patient observation and experiment. There are many parts of the detail that will at once be recognized by the competent critic: others will be afterward received into the growing familiarity of his inquiry: while some of the descriptions, even if admitted to be true, will still be considered as niceties of disputable application, and beyond the assigning power of rule. As a physiologist, I conceive I have done no more than my duty in this record, however presently useless some of its minutiæ may be. Much of the accumulated wealth of science is not at interest; but the borrowers may one day come.

“In thus opening the way for a change of elocution from an imitative art, with its inherent defects, to a science with all its constituent usefulness and beauty, it was necessary to set forth every existing function: that the materials might thereby be furnished toward the future establishment of a system of instruction, for those who have the rare aim in scholarship of seeking high accomplishment, through the abundant encompassing of principles, and the condensing economy of systematic

That the inquiry into this subject has produced much that will be imperceptible to the first scrutinies of the general ear, I must be convinced from the past history of human improvement. The work of vocal mystery has been at all times so despairingly abandoned, as beyond the reach of analytic perception, that this supposed impossibility alone will form a heavier argument against its admission than the real but surmountable difficulty of encountering nature in new fields of sensation. Many who in fine organization of ear, and a capability of delicate analysis, possess the means of successful investigation, will, too probably, shrink from the labors of experiment, and seek to justify infirmity of resolution by defensively assuming the hopelessness of trial.”—Pp. 315, 316.

means.

It seems but proper, in conclusion, to allude to the spirit with which Dr. Rush has prosecuted and presented to the public these laborious investigations, which are so imperfectly set forth in this article :

“The reception,” says he, “which may await the following work, can be of no imporsang interest te me. By taking care to antedate the season of its rewards and punishments, I have already found them in the varied pleasure and perplexity of its acçomptistmeñt. I leave it, therefore, for thie serice of; him who may in future desire to read the history of his voice. The system here exhibited will satisfy much of his curiosity: for I feel assured, by the result of the rigid mode of observation employed throughout the inquiry, that if science should ever come to one consent on this point, it will not differ essentially from the ensuing record. The world has long asked for light on this subject. It may not choose to accept it now; but having idly suffered its own opportunity for discovery to go by, it must, under any capricious postponement, at last receive it here.

“Sir Joshua Reynolds has a pretty thought on the labors of ambition and the choice of fame. I do not remember his words exactly ; but he figures the present age and posterity as rivals—and those who receive the favor of the one, as being outcasts from the other. This condition, while it allows a full but transient satisfaction to the zeal which works only for a present reward, does not exclude all prospect from those who are contented in the anticipation of deferred success. Truth, whose first steps should be always vigorous and alone, is often obliged to lean for support and progress on the arm of time; who then only, when supporting her, seems to have laid aside his wings.”Introduction, pp. xxix, xxx.

It is about fourteen years since the Philosophy of the Human Voice was first published; and by about that time is its author in advance of his age. The work has passed through but two editions ; of which the publication of the first was declined " by the foremost publishing patron of American works,” on the express ground that it was not suited to this country. But never has truth leaned more securely for support and progress on the arm of time, as another age will show, than she has done in the present case. While this work shall secure to its author an enduring fame, it will reflect honor on the country and the age that has produced it.

Dickinson College, March 22, 1841.

Art. V.- Democracy. in America. Part_II. The Social In

flucnce of Democracy. By A LEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, Member of the Institute of France and of the Chamber of Deputies, &c., &c. Translated by HENRY REEVE, Esq. With an Original Preface by John:C: SPENCER, Gounsellor at Law. NewYork: J. & H. G. Langley, 57 Chatham-sircct.

The existence of a government like that of the United States, continued, as it has been, through more than half a century without material change, and controlling a territory nearly equal to two-thirds of the entire continent of Europe, with a rapidly increasing population, which has already reached about seventeen millions of souls, prosperous, enterprising, and happy, presents, to the nations of the old world, a problem, at once so novel and so difficult of solution as to have made it a study of no ordinary interest. Hence the great variety of books on America, descriptive, abusive, and philosophical, which have teemed from the press, and the greedy avidity with which every thing on this topic has been received by our transatlantic brethren.

Nor is this at all surprising. A democracy like that under which we live is an anomaly in the history of the world. Such a degree of human liberty as we enjoy seems never to have entered into the conceptions of the most enlightened political philosopher, much less to have been ingrafted on any particular form of government. From the days of Adam downward, political freedom has been no part of the policy of nations; although it has gradually been gaining a foothold as light and knowledge have been diffused among the masses of mankind, and the gloomy superstition of past ages has been lost in the beams of that glorious reformation in which we live.

The empires of Alexander and of the Cesars were a vast improvement on the grand and gloomy despotisms of China and Egypt; and the rude tribes of the north who despoiled the great Roman empire, and parceled out its walled cities and cultivated fields among their warrior chiefs, unconsciously adopted into their feudal governments those elements, which, like the leaven “hid in the three measures of meal,” have ever since been silently working the melioration of our race, and have carried on the great reform : but still the cause of human rights, as it pursued its “course of empire" from the ancient despotisms of the East toward the setting

« FöregåendeFortsätt »