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technical designation of this property of vocal sounds, is “quantity,”—implying quantity of time, or duration. The a of male, is accordingly termed a “long,” the a in female, a short quantity." Such is the usual distinction recognized in prosody, and applied to versification.

Syllables, when regarded in connexion with the "quantities” of their component elements, and classified for the purposes of elocution, have been arranged by Dr Rush, under the following denominations :

Ist. “Immutable,” or such as are, from the nature of their constituent sounds, incapable of prolongation. These are immutably fixed to the shortest " quantity" exhibited in an elementary sound, and cannot, even when accented, and uttered in solemn or in poetic expression, be prolonged, in any degree, without pesitive mispronunciation or destruction of the peculiar accent of the language; as the i, for example, in the word sick, or in the verb convict. mutable" syllables terminate with an abrupt, or “ atonic" element, preceded by a short “ tonic,” as in the above examples.

The propriety of the designation“ immutable” will be apparent, on referring to the following examples, in the utterance of which, although there is the utmost intensity of emotion, the elements ic oppose an insuperable resistance to any attempt to heighten the expression of passion by prolonging the sound of the syllable or word in which they predominate.

66 Im


ABSENCE FROM THE CAMP AT SHREWSBURY.] — Shakspeare. “ Sick now! droop now! This sickness doth infect The very life-blood of our enterprise.”


“ Tried and convicted traitor!- Who says this? Who 'll prove it, at his peril, on my head ?”

2d. “Mutable” syllables are such as are constituted like the preceding, but are capable of a slight degree of prolongation. Their

time,” therefore, is mutable, or admits of gradation, according to the length or shortness of sound, in their constituent elements, as pronounced with more or less emotion of a nature which requires slow, rapid, or moderate utterance of the words or phrases in which they occur. The monosyllable yet, or the accented syllable of the word beset, uttered in the tone of any vivid emotion, will furnish an example. An instance occurs in the scene of the combat between Fitz James and Roderic Dhu, when the latter makes the taunting exclamation, “ Not yet prepared ?" - and another in Blanche's dying warning,

“The path 's beset, by flood and fell!” 3d. “ Indefinite " syllables, or those which contain, or terminate with, a 66 tonic

element, or with any “ subtonic" but b, d, or g. The 66

quantity” of the predominating element in such syllables, even when it is not positively long, admits, without offence to the ear, of a comparatively indefinite prolongation ; as the a in the words man, unmannerly, pronounced with emotion. The time occupied in the enunciation of such sounds, is properly determined by the degree of feeling which they are, for the moment, used to express ; as we perceive in the different tones of the following examples: the first in Hamlet's admiring exclamation, “ What a piece of work is a man!” and Lady Macbeth's indignant and reproachful interrogation addressed to her husband, when he stands horror-stricken at the vision of the ghost of Banquo, “ Are you a man?”

The power and beauty of vocal “expression,” are necessarily dependent, to a great extent, on the command which a reader or speaker possesses over the element of “quantity.” Poetry and eloquence derive their audible character from this source, more than from any other. The music of verse is sacrificed, unless the nicest regard be paid to “quantity,” as the basis of rhythm and of metre ; and, with the exception of the most exquisite strains of well-executed music, the ear receives no pleasure comparable to that arising from poetic feeling, imbodied in the genuine melody of the heart, as it gushes from the expressive voice which has the power of

"Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony."

Milton, in his Paradise Lost, affords innumerable examples of the majestic grandeur of long “ quantities ” in epic verse; and without · the just observance of these, the reading of the noblest passages in that poem, becomes flat and dry. The same is true, still more emphatically, of the magnificent language of the poetic passages of . Scripture, in those strains of triumph and of adoration, which abound in the book of Psalms, and in the prophets.

The necessity, on the other hand, of obeying the law of " immutable quantity,” even in the grandest and most emphatic expression, is an imperative rule of elocution. A false, bombastic swell of voice, never sounds so ridiculous as when the injudicious and unskilful reader or speaker attempts to interfere with the conditions of speech, and to prolong, under a false excitement of utterance, those sounds which nature has irrevocably determined short. We have this fault exemplified in the compound of bawling, drawling, and redoubled wave,

,” which some reciters contrive to crowd into the small space of the syllable vic, in the conclusion of Moloch's war-speech,

- Which if not victory is yet revenge.” The fierce intensity of emotion, in the true utterance of this syllable, brings it on the ear with an instantaneous ictus, and tingling effect, resembling that of the lash of a whip applied to the organ. A simi

lar case occurs in Shylock's fiendish half-shriek, on the word hip, in his exclamation referring to Antonio,

“ If I do catch him once upon the hip,

I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him!” The sprawling, expanded utterance, which the style of rant preposterously endeavors to indulge, on this word, causes the voice, as it were, to fall in pieces in the attempt, and to betray the falsity of the style which it affects.

But it is in the chaste yet generous effect of the judicious prolongation and indulgence of " mutable quantities,” that the skill of the elocutionist, and the power and truth of expression, are peculiarly felt. It is in these, that the watchful analyst can trace, at once, the full soul and the swelling heart, which would impel the speaker to prolong indefinitely the tones of passion, to give " ample scope and verge enough” to overflowing feeling, — but, not less surely, the manly force of judgment, and the disciplined good taste, which forbid any display of mere sound, in the utterance of earnest émotion.

A long-continued practice on the elements of the language, on syllables, words, and phrases, will be well bestowed in the endeavor to acquire a perfect command of “ quantity.”

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The following exercises need close attention to the firmness, clearness, decision, and purity of the opening “ radical,” and the delicacy and distinctness of the “ vanish.” The latter should be occasionally practised in that long-protracted form, which, as Dr. Rush has expressively said, “ knits sound to silence.”! The elements may be practised in “effusive," " expulsive,” and “6 explosive ance, on all the chief intervals of " slide” and “wave,” commencing with the " second,” and extending to the octave, both upward and downward, - and on the various degrees of " force" and modes of “stress,” together with the distinctions of “pitch," and the “ pression ” of the chief characteristic emotions; as awe, reverence, fear, horror, despair, anger, grief, joy, love, &c.


1. Examples of Long Quantities," and "Indefinitesylla



A-11 A-rm Ai-r
a-we a-h! h-gi-r
b-a-11 t-a-rn d-a-re
aw-ful b-a-lmy c-a-reless

Oo-ze O-r

m-orn p-00-r f-o-rm m-oo-nless o-rder

ea-r e-vil

1 The same thought is expressed, with inimitable beauty, in the lines of Sheridan Knowles :

“I hear a sound so fine, there's nothing lives
'Twixt it and silence ! »

al-ways h-a-rmless w-a-ry ea-sy S-00-ner 0-rphan au-gur t-a-rnish

r-a-rely fee-ble C-oo-ling O-rgan app-a-ll af-a-r bew-a-re rev-ea-1 rem-o-ve ad-o-rn bef-a-ll dis-a-rm ensn-a-re conc-ea-l unm-00-r acc-o-rd rec-a-ll bec-a-lm decl-a-re app-ea-l repr-o-ve forl-o-rn A-le

I-ce 0-ld Ou-r Oi-l U-se ai-d 2-sle ow-n Ow-1

j-oi-n you ai-m d-ie o-de


d-ew b-a-leful i-vy

h-ow-ling v-oi-celess d-u-ly h-ai-ling dy-ing o-nly d-ow-nward n-oi-sy p-u-rer w-ai-ling h-i-ghly h-o-ly b-ou-ndless p-oi-son m-u-ral unv-ei-l repl-y bel-ow

reb-ou-nd enj-oy ref-u-se recl-ai-m def-y foreg-o res-ou-nd rej-oi-ce disd-ai-n den-y beh-o-ld unh-ou-sed empl-oy den-u-de




2.- Short Quantities,and ImmutableSyllables.' B-a-ck b-e-ck p-i-ck d-o-ck d-u-ck h-a-ck n-e-ck s-2-ck m-o-ck t-u-ck b-a-ckward b-e-ckon w-i-cked S-o-cket l-u-ckless l-a-ckey sp-e-ckled f-i-ckle kn-o-cking b-u-cket att-a-ck bed-e-ck unp-i-cked bem-o-ck





str-a-pping tr-i-pping







3.--Variable " Quantities," and "Mutable" Syllables. A-pe Wh-a-t B-e-t A-dd B-i-g O-dd C-u-b

1“ Immutable” syllables do not admit of " effusive" utterance. They are best adapted to the display of “explosive” style, although they occur also in “expulsive” and “declamatory expression."

g-ai-t n-0-t d-e-bt b-a-d d-i-g g-o-d d-u-b f-a-te g-o-t P-e-t

m-a-d f-i-g n-o-d t-u-b b-a-sely d-o-tted b-e-tter s-a-dden g-i-ggle b-o-dy b-u-bble W-a-kefulc-o-ttage p-e-ttish m-a-ddest d-z-gger s-o-ddend-o-uble



1.- Long Quantities,and IndefiniteSyllables. [The object in view in these exercises, is, to enable the student to trace distinctly the wide scope of “expression " afforded by " indefinite" syllables, for the full prolongation of all elements which imbody the sounds of passion and emotion. • Time," in elocution, is the opportunity of effect, which inattention and rapidity throw away. Young readers, in particular, need much practice in this department; as they incline to haste and slight“ expression.” The mode of performing these exercises, should be regulated with a view, at first, to the fullest effect of expressive sound. Afterwards, the style may be reduced in effect, as the consecutive reading of whole pieces may require. In vocal training, as in athletic exercise, the object of practice is, sometimes, to execute a given feat, with a view to its effect on habit, — to gain the power of putting forth, on requisite occasions, a maximum of effort, in an easy, graceful, and appropriate manner.] Grief :-Oh! I have lost


Parents, and home, and friends."
Courage : —“Come one, come all !- this rock shall fly

From its firm base as soon as I.”
Awe:- .“ My heart is awed within me, when I think

Of the great miracle that still goes on

In silence round me.”Sublimity : -" Hail! holy Light! offspring of Heaven first

born.” Disdain :- “ None left but by submission; and that word

Disdain forbids me.” Shouting: .“ To arms! to arms! to arms !' they cry.” Regret :-"Ah! why will kings forget that they are men,

And men that they are brethren?” Delight :-" The balmy breath of incense-breathing morn”

"O my soul's joy!Fear :-“While the deep thunder, peal on peal, afar”. Triumph : To! they come, they come!”

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