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AN ESSAY

ON

ELO CUTION.

ELOCUTION, which is the power of fluent speech, the flow of lunguage, of expression and diction, the art of speaking with accuracy, elegance and perspicuity, may be said to be comprised under the following heads: Articulation, Pronunciation, Accent, Emphasis, Climax, Anti-climax, Suspension, Parenthesis, Antithesis, Monotony or Monotone, Modulation, Enumeration or Amplification, Pauses, Irony, Alliteration, Iteration, Interrogation, Personation, Metaphor, Comparison, Personification or Prosopopoeia, Apostrophe, Vision, Action. They shall be treated of in their turns.

I. ARTICULATION.

Articulation is the production of distinct sounds, formed by the unition of the organs of speech, an especial mark of favor allotted to us by the Deity, and one of the most estimable of his gifts.

Articulation should be clear and distinct, not in syllables and words only, but even to the very letter; for as in the formation of the most noble architectural structure, a union of various blocks of granite, marble, or other solid substance is indispensable, so in the formation of language, a distinct articulation unites the various parts, and, from what would otherwise be an unintelligible mass, produces a perfect and harmonious whole. Those rules already published upon this subject, preclude the necessity of further remark here, as they are sufficiently luminous.

II. PRONUNCIATION.

The most celebrated Orator of the ancients called pronunciation not only the chief part of oratory, but oratory itself; without going so far, it certainly may be considered its foundation, or the key-stone of the arch, for unless master of it no man can be a perfect speaker. It is a combination of articulation, accent, and emphasis. A vulgar pronunciation will mar the finest composition; on the contrary, a correct one will give grace to that which is even imperfect. Those who are unfortunate enough not to be able to pronounce words beginning with the letters V, W, and H, with propriety, and who confound one with the other, should constantly exercise themselves in pronouncing sentences, wherein those words frequently occur,

Examples.

“How my arm aches beating this hack horse !” would, pronounced by such as are above mentioned, be “ou my harm hakes beating this ack orse !” Again, “I want white wine vinegar with my veal;” viciously pronounced would be, “I vont vite vine winegar vith my weal!”

I cannot here resist mentioning two ludicrous perversions of pronunciation, in the words curiosity and suit, which occurred in Ireland. A clown having pronounced the first mentioned word curosity in hearing of the great Curran and an Englishman, the latter remarked that the fellow had murdered English; the former wittily replied, “oh no, he has only knocked an i out !” The other was that of a gun-maker's wife, of Dublin, who finding a foppish customer very difficult to please in the choice of a case of duelling pistols, and after having shown many to no purpose, at length exultingly said, at the same time presenting one at him, “oh! here's wan that I am shure will shoot you, sir!” “Indeed! madam,” replied the witling, walking leisurely away, “then upon my honor I'll not have anything to do with it.” The best method of acquiring a just pronunciation, is to study those lexicographers who have written most ably upon the subject,” and to observe and follow the manner in which persons of education, and those in polished society, pronounce their words.

III. ACCENT.

Accent consists in laying a particular stress on a certain syllable, or the syllables of a word, which gives such syllable or syllables, force, and marks the grammatical form.

Examples.
A compound. To compound
A ferment. To ferment'.
A contest. To contest.
A contract. To contract’.

The change of accent altering the part of speech from a substantive to a verb. Emphasis alters the regular seat of accent.

Example. Some poets may be compared with others, but Milton and Shaks. peare are in'comparable. The regular accent would be incom'parable.

IV. EMPHASIS.

Emphasis produces a primary beauty of oratory; it gives the nice distinctions of meaning, the refined conceptions which language is capable of expressing, and imparts a force and harmony to composition which its absence would render lifeless, and frequently unintelligible.

*See Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary.

The following question will prove the great nicety and utility of emphasis; for the mode of emphasising it, will give four different meanings: “Do you go to Europe this year?” If the question be asked without a stress on any particular word, the replicant may say yes, or no; if on you, he may say no, I send. If on Europe, he may say no, to India. If on this year, he may say no, next year. The best rule for emphasising justly, is to study the true meaning of the author, and lay the stress upon such words as you would make impressive, were you conversing upon the same subject. The following examples will sufficiently elucidate the force and beauty of Emphasis.

“It must be so—Plato thou reason'st well–
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread and inward horror
Of falling into nought 7 Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heav'n itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity thou pleasing, dreadful thought
Thro' what variety of untry'd being,
Thro' what new scenes and changes must we pass?
The wide, th' unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a pow'r above us,
And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Thro' all her works, he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in, must be happy.
But when? or where?—This world was made for Caesar,
I'm weary of conjectures—this must end 'em.
Thus am I doubly arm'd. My death and life,
My bane and antidote are both before me.
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secur'd in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point:
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age and nature sink in years:
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter and the crush of worlds.”
TRAGEDY or CAT0.

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : It is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above the scepter'd sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself: -
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.”

MERCHANT of WENICE.

“And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, there were two men in one city; the one rich and the other poor. “The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds; “But the poor man had nothing save one little ewe-lamb, which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drink of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. “And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. “And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, as the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; “And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. “And Nathan said to David, thou art the man.” 2d SAMUEL, 12th CHAPTER.

W. CLIMAX.

A climax is a figure in rhetoric, which rises in force and dignity of expression with the sense, and is productive of much grandeur and effect. The rule for reading or speaking a climax, is to raise the voice progressively with the subject, until you come to its close.

Examples.

“The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temple—”
PLAY or THE TEMrssr.

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