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way, at once, the most enticing and delightful. In this respect, he possesses so enviable an advantage over common people as to render it a matter of astonishment that we so seldom meet with one thus endowed. When occasion calls forth his peculiar talent, he appears among them like the stately magnolia, towering above the vulgar trees of the forest, and shedding upon them the sweet fragrance of its blossoms.
But what a disagreeable contrast is presented in the performance of a bad reader! In his hands, the most glowing sentiments appear tame; the most burning thoughts are congealed; attick wit becomes burlesque; satire is rendered pointless; beauty is transformed into deformity; and all ornaments of style wither; and thus, a piece of the most polished and eloquent composition, appears to as great a disadvantage as would a pleasure-garden with its walls overturned, its gravelwalks marred, its fountains and statues dilapidated, its trees and shrubbery scathed, and its plants and flowers trodden down.
Who can behold, with delight, a racehorse with a broken limb ? a bird with a crippled wing ? a plant growing crooked? or a beautiful stream choked up with sedges and rubbish? And yet, how often do we witness a far more painful spectacle in the exhibition of one of those literary monsters vulgarly called bad readers! Before the performance commences, we have displayed the insipid formalities of the prelusive scene, during which our champion of vocal utterance is devoutly engaged in bringing his body to an artificial bearing, in adjusting his collar and cravat, in smoothing down his visage, and in putting his mouth in a proper posture for the wordy combat. A few moments having been taken up in acting this distressing prologue, he at length gets under way; but having mistaken his key-note, our ears are assailed with a piercing and unseemly shrillness of tone, which affects us about as agreeably as the unexpected cry of a snipe or a killdee, or the creaking of a rusty hinge; or he advances in a hoarse, dissonant, croaking tone, as if in imitation of the combined powers of the peacock, the bullfrog, and the alligator, which may be supposed to have joined in a concert; or, perhaps, with a view of correcting his mistake, he suddenly falls into a dull, disagreeable, dragging, humdrum monotone; or gallops off on the sharp back of a quaver: and not to be daunted by the most gigantick obstacle, he prances, and paces, and hobbles, and flounders along through his performance, to the infinite disgust, and inexpressible mortification, of his hearers. His articulation is indistinct; his pronunciation, affected; his accentuation, erroneous; his emphasis, misapplied ; all
propriate inflections are reversed; pauses are either perverted or trampled under foot; melody is put upon the rack, and harmony expires; all rules are set at defiance; correct taste is put out of countenance; the meaning of the author takes the alarm and escapes from view; the modesty of nature is put to the blush; and the whole group of proprieties is sent jibbering down to chaos.
To see a piece of elegant composition tattered and torn, and mutilated and mangled, by such a reader, is severer torture than to listen to the jarring notes of a discordant choir, to an untuned organ, or to a cracked fiddle. I would rather ride post over a hubby road in December; walk barefoot over a sandy plain in July; or be compelled to live a fortnight in a smoky house; or to devour a Ratcliffe novel at one meal; or to read a chapter 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 baseviols 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.
To urge upon this community the importance of this science, may, nevertheless, be considered, by many, like attempting to prove the correctness of the plainest, self-evident proposition; but when we reflect, that in our seminaries of learning, the study of elocution meets with greater neglect than any other of equal importance, and that the consequent ignorance of its principles, often betrayed by tutors and learned professors in the presence of their pupils, by students in their recitations and declamations, by publick speakers in the pulpit
, at the bar, in publick assemblies, and in our legislative halls; ignorance which, were it evinced by the same individuals, in any other equally important branch of learning, would inevitably expose them to the pity, if not to the contempt, of their auditory ;-—when we bring these
facts into consideration, is it not clear, that every argument should be adduced, every honourable motive urged, and every passion addressed, which is calculated to awaken the attention of the young, and direct it to the momentous advantages resulting from the proper cultivation of this science? To say nothing of the arguments which might be drawn from the devotion of the ancients to this subject, there is one of sufficient weight nearer at hand, arising out of the mortification experienced by every person of correct taste who is compelled frequently to listen to a bad reader: for, indeed, how few there are that can take up a book, and enunciate even an ordinary passage, without causing the words to blush at the indignity cast upon them, and the sentiments to tremble for their safety!
To be answered by the learner. Of what does Elocution treat ? What is the difference between Elocution and Orthoepy? What is effected by Elocution, taken in its most comprehensive sense ? What is the first, second, third, and last object of Elocution ? Does the meaning of a sentence ever depend on its Elocution ?
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, a concomitant of good delivery.
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 constituting, as is too often supposed, merely an incidental and indifferent characteristick of a good reader or speaker, is, in fact, a primary BEAUTY,-indeed, the GRAND BASIS upon which all other beauties and excellences of enunciation rest. The learner must not, therefore, be either discouraged or disgusted with the dryness and tediousness of the following explanations
and exercises upon the elementary sounds of the language; but he ought resolutely to persevere until he gains a complete mastery over them. When he has at command a clear and distinct articulation, he will be prepared to prosecute, to advantage, those higher and more interesting parts of elocution.
The most important directions for acquiring a good articulation, will doubtless be found most convenient if presented in the form of Rules.
Particular regard should be paid to a clear and distinct pronunciation of the elementary sounds employed in vocal utterance. OF THE ELEMENTARY SOUNDS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
There are thirty-five elementary sounds* employed and combined by the voice in pronouncing the various words of our language. Some of these sounds are represented by the twenty-six letters which constitute the English Alphabet; and others, by combinations of two or more of these letters.
A perfect Alphabet would consist of a separate symbol for every elementary sound; but the letters of our alphabet, being imperfect in this respect, are employed to represent the
sounds which denote their names, and, also, other elementary sounds employed in the utterance of syllables. Hence, there is often á material difference between the elementary sounds heard in pronouncing syllables, and represented by particular letters, and those sounds which constitute merely the names of the same letters. A few examples may serve to point out this difference, which ought to be specially attended to in practising upon the elementary sounds of the human voice.
In the words a-pe, a-che, a-te, the sound of the element a, corresponds with the sound given to the name of that letter ; but a different elementary sound is represented by the same letter in the words a-ll, b-a-11, f-a-ll; and a sound still different in a-t, h-a-t, th-a-t; and yet another sound in b-a-r, m-a-r, a-rbour. In the word n-o-te, the letter ó, represents the sound given to its name; but in the word n-o-t, it is the representative of quite
# Dr. Rush.