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in Basil Hall's Travels, or a page in Emmons' Fredoniad, or a critique on an American writer in the London Quarterly, than to have my nerves agitated, my understanding stultified, and my patience exhausted, by listening to such a vile performer on the grand harmonicon of human language. I would rather listen to the croaking of frogs in the winter-I would sooner hear an owl hoot on a Sunday, or a simpering dandy chat with a belle—I would sooner listen to the buzzing of a moscheto of a hot summer's night, or to a patent-jenny-spun speech in Congress on the Tariff Bill, or to the thrumming of a dandyzette at her piano, or to a band of musicians playing upon bassviols and bassoons—I would rather hear the jingling of broken glass upon a pavement, or the trampling of feet through crusted snow, or a group of madcap boys bellowing after a fire-engine, or the refusal of a friend to lend me money– I would sooner hear a' woman scold, or a child squall, than be compelled to listen to an affected speaker, or a bad reader.
anoman scopa friend tol boys
efectedd, or a chilend me
ELOCUTION may be treated under the six following, general heads: 1. ARTICULATION,
(Embracing Accent and Emphasis,) 2. TONES,
5. TIME, (Including Modulation)
(Including Pauses,) 3. INFLECTIONS,
6. ACTION. # The first four of these divisions are merely the names of
properties or qualities belonging to the human voice; the fifth
is a circumstance accompanying its movements; and the sixth, t's a concomitant of good delivery.
OF ARTICULATION. A good ARTICULATION consists in a clear, full, | and distinct utterance of words, in accordance with 'the best standard of pronunciation.
Importance of Articulation. A distinct and an accurate articulation forms the groundwork of good delivery. So important a quality is this to a reader or a speaker, that, without possessing it, in some tolerable degree, he will never be listened to with attention or interest.
A clear and distinct ARTICULATION, so far from consti. tuting, as is too often supposed, merely an incidental and in
different characteristick of a good reader or speaker, is, in fact, . a primary BEAUTY,-indeed, the GRAND BASIS upon which
all other beauties and excellencies of enunciation rest: and any
one may readily convince himself of its vast importance, and i its superiority over any and every other good quality of utterit
ance, only by attentively observing a few of our best and of our worst speakers and readers.
What was that mighty charm by which the late John Ran. dolph bound the senses, and seized the passions, of his auditors? As far as his manner of delivery was concerned, it must doubt. less be obvious to every one that ever listened to him, that the grand secret of his masterly power in oratory, lay in the dis. tinctness of his ARTICULATION. The same may be said of our Durbin: and, indeed, with him this appears to be, not only the primary, but the PRINCIPAL, ingredient of that eloquence by which he lays hold of the sympathies, and, as it were, with a Timothean power, takes the hearts, of his hearers captive at his will, and transports them to the haven of bliss.
In farther confirmation of what I would enforce, I might cite the example of Henry Clay, of Daniel Webster, of William Wirt, of Alexander Hamilton, of Fisher Ames, of Henry Bascom, of John M. Duncan, of Alexander McClelland, -of a Summerfield, a Mason, and even a Master Burke, together with a hundred other master spirits whose glowing geniuses adorn, or have adorned, our western hemisphere. But the citation would be gratuitous. No one has any thing more to do than to open the eyes of his understanding, to look, OBSERVE, and BE CONVINCED. Let conviction then lead to attention and PRACTICE. To young gentlemen, especially, who are just launching their bark upon the waves of a professional life, this appeal should be IRRESISTIBLE.
Who ever listened with rapture, or even delight, to a reader or a speaker, whose articulation was indistinct? The thing is impossible,--an absurdity,-a mockery, which tramples upon the philosophy of the human voice, and the elementary principles of human nature.
The first example cited, is, moreover, a remarkable instance of the wonderful effects of industry and perseverance in overcoming the obstacles of nature in order to the attainment of excellence in oratory; for who, unless it was Demosthenes himself, (whose voice was by no means similar,) ever possessed, naturally, a more disagreeable, uncouth, piping, creaking voice,
than John Randolph of Roanoke? And yet, whose voice, by cultivation, ever became so alluring, so fascinating, as his? It fell on the ear like a soft strain of musick, and haunted the hearer like the spell of an enchantress, or the soft murmur of a distant waterfall. And the second example is no less remarka. ble in showing what a bewitching charm,—what a mighty power may be wielded, by a voice naturally fine and feeble. These examples are, also, both instructive, as evincing the importance of a reader or a speaker's adhering to the natural tones of his voice, be they at first, ever so peculiar, disagreeable, or unpromising. Although natural tones may be softened down and attuned by cultivation, yet they must never be ex. changed for artificial ones; for the same holds true with the voice, as with the sentiments, of an orator: both must be real, and his own, or they will be rejected by his auditors, on whom it is impossible to palm counterfeit ware. These examples should also excite emulation in others. If, when labouring under so great disadvantages, men have, by dint of application, and attention to distinctness of articulation, attained such lofty heights of excellence in the field of eloquence, what encourage. ments are not held forth to those whose voices are naturally strong and melodious!
Let no one plead, that, because a good articulation is geneÝ rally neglected, it, therefore, becomes a matter of little moment.
It is a paltry trick of sophistry to bring forward the faults of s others for the purpose of extenuating our own misdeeds. This : mischievous delusion must always result disadvantageously to
him who adopts it. No malefactor ever found the halter less severe on account of the numerous victims which the gallows claims; nor did a damned soul ever experience a mitigation of the torments of hell in consequence of the vast multitudes that throng in at its gates.
It is a great mistake to suppose, that, in order to fill an ex. tensive space, so as to be clearly understood by the most distant hearer, a reader or a speaker must necessarily raise the pitch, and increase the volume and force, of his voice. Who has not observed, that partially deaf persons much more readily appre
hend what is said to them in a clear, moderate tone of voice that is perfectly distinct, than what is uttered in a loud tone, and in a rapid and indistinct manner? Of course, the same holds true in addressing an audience or an individual whose sense of hearing is not impaired: and it is not a little singular, that a consideration so important to publick speakers, is, by them, so gen. erally disregarded. If they would only reflect, that the clear and distinct enunciation even of a feeble voice, is far more effica. cious than the boisterous precipitancy of a strong one, it is apparent, that, at the bar, in the sacred desk, in our legislative halls, and elsewhere, we should have more... speaking, and less...bawling. With distinctness, the sing-song whine of the most canting speaker, does more execution than the voice of a Stentor without it. Although a fluent, and even a rapid, flow of words, where the sentiments uttered, render it proper, is often advantageously adopted by a reader or a speaker, yet his fluency should never be permitted to encroach upon a distinct articulation.
We readily understand, then, why the ancients regarded arTICULATION as the primary requisite in delivery. This grand quality being overlooked, all other acquisitions in oratory will prove unavailing, or, in other words, will fall short of their object, just in proportion to the neglect with which articulation is treated.
The persevering efforts of Demosthenes, who, in order to correct his faults in articulation, betook himself to speaking with pebbles in his mouth, also when undergoing the labour of walking up hill, and likewise amid the roar of dashing waves, is as familiar to every one as an ordinary nursery tale—and about as much regarded! But it would be doing great injustice to that illustrious orator to bring his genius down to the same level with his who should, in our day, by the cultivation of his vocal powers, attain the same height in eloquence that he did. The modern candidate for oratorical fame, stands on very different, and far more advantageous, ground, than that occupied by the young and aspiring Athenian, especially since a correct analysis of the vocal organs, and a faithful record of their operations,