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In some sentences the antithesis is double, and even treble: this must be expressed in reading, by a corresponding combination of emphasis. The following instances are of this kind.
Anger may glance into the breast of a wise man, but rests only in the bosom of fools.
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
An angry man who suppresses his passion, thinks worse than he speaks; and an angry man that will chide, speaks worse than he thinks.
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.
He rais'd a mortal to the skies;
She drew an angel down.
When any term, or phrase, is used to express some particular meaning, not obviously arising from the words, it should be marked by a strong emphasis; as,
TO BE, contents his natural desire.
SIR Balaam now, he lives like other folks.
Then you will pass into Africa: WILL pass, did I say?
In expressing any maxim, or doctrine, which contains much meaning in a few words, the weight of the sentiment should be accompanied with a correspondent energy of pronunciation. For example:
One truth is clear; Whatever is, is right.
The principal words, which serve to mark the divisions of a discourse, should be distinguished in the same manner.
Emphasis may also serve to intimate some allusion, to express surprise, or to convey an oblique hint. For example: While expletives their feeble aid do join.
He said; then full before their sight
Lastly, Emphasis is of use in determining the sense of doubtful expressions. The following short sentence admits of three different meanings, according to the place of the emphasis:
Do you intend to go to London this summer?
For want of attending to the proper emphasis, the following passage of Scripture is often misunderstood:
If therefore the light that is IN thee be darkness, how great is THAT darkness!
In order to acquire a habit of speaking with a just and forcible emphasis, nothing more is necessary, than previously to study the construction, meaning, and spirit of every sentence, and to adhere as nearly as possible to the manner in which we distinguish one word from another in conversation; for in familiar discourse we scarcely ever fail to express ourselves emphatically, or place the emphasis improperly. With respect to artificial helps, such as distinguishing words or clauses of sentences by particular characters or marks; I believe it will be found, upon trial, that, except where they may be necessary as a guide to the sense, not leaving the reader at full liberty to follow his own understanding and feelings, they rather mislead than assist him.
The most common faults respecting emphasis are, laying so strong an emphasis upon one word as to leave no power of giving a particular force to other words, which, though not equally, are in a certain degree emphatical: and placing the greatest stress on conjunctive particles, and other words of secondary importance. This latter fault is humorously ridiculed by Churchill, in his censure of Mossop:
With studied improprieties of speech
He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach.
While principals, ungrac'd, like lackies wait;
HE, SHE, IT, AND, WE, YE, THEY, fright the soul.
Emphasis is often destroyed by an injudicious attempt to read melodiously. In reading verse, this fault sometimes arises from a false notion of the necessity of preserving an alternate succession of unaccented and accented syllables: a kind of uniformity, which the poet probably did not intend ; and which, if he had, would certainly, at least in a poem of considerable length, become insufferably tiresome. In read
ing prose, this fondness for melody is, perhaps, more commonly the effect of indolence, or affectation, than of real taste; but, to whatever cause it may be ascribed, it is certainly unfavourable to true oratory. Agreeable inflections and easy variations of the voice, as far as they arise from, or are consistent with, just speaking, may deserve attention. But to substitute one unmeaning tune in the room of all the proprieties and graces of elocution, and then to applaud this manner under the appellation of musical speaking, implies a perversion of judgment, which can admit of no defence. If public speaking must be musical, let the words be set to music in recitative, that these melodious speakers may no longer lie open to the sarcasm : Do you read, or sing? if you sing, you sing very ill. It is much to be wondered at, that a kind of reading, which has so little merit considered as music, and none at all considered as speaking, should be so studiously practised, and so much admired. Can a method of reading, which is so entirely different from the usual manner of conversation, be natural or right? Or is it possible, that all the varieties of sentiment, which a public speaker has occasion to introduce, should be properly expressed in one melodious tone and cadence, employed alike on all occasions, and for all purposes?
Acquire a just variety of Pause and Inflection. PAUSES are not only necessary, in order to enable the speaker to take breath without inconvenience, and hereby preserve the command of his voice, but in order to give the hearer a distinct perception of the construction and meaning of each sentence, and a clear understanding of the whole. An uninterrupted rapidity of utterance is one of the worst faults in elocution. A speaker, who has this fault, may be compared to an alarmbell, which, when once put in motion, clatters on till the weight that moves it is run down. Without pauses, the spirit of what is delivered must be lost, and the sense must appear confused, and may even be misrepresented
in a manner most absurd and contradictory. There have been reciters, who have made Douglas say to Lord Randolph :
We fought and conquer'd ere a sword was drawn*.
In executing this part of the office of a speaker, it will by no means be sufficient to attend to the points used in printing; for these are far from marking all the pauses, which ought to be made in speaking. A mechanical attention to these resting places has, perhaps, been one cause of monotony, by leading the reader to a uniform cadence at every full period. The primary use of points is to assist the reader in discerning the grammatical construction; and it is only indirectly, that they regulate his pronunciation. In reading, it may often be proper to make a pause, where the printer has made none. Nay, it is very allowable, for the sake of pointing out the sense more strongly, preparing the audience for what is to follow, or enabling the speaker to alter the tone or height of the voice, sometimes to make a very considerable pause, where the grammatical construction requires none at all. In doing this, however, it is necessary, that, upon the word immediately preceding the pause, the voice be suspended in such a manner as to intimate to the hearer, that the sense is not completed. The power of suspending the voice at pleasure is one of the most useful attainments in the art of speaking it enables the speaker to pause as long as he chooses, and still keep the hearer in expectation of what is to follow t.
In order to perceive the manner, in which this effect is produced, it is necessary to consider Pauses as connected with those inflections of the voice which precede them. These are of two kinds : one of which conveys the idea of continuation; the other, that of completion; the former may be called the suspending, the latter, the closing pause. Thus in the sentence;
Money, like manure, does no good till it is spread, the first and second pauses give the bearer an expectation of something farther, to complete the sense; the third pause denotes, that the sense is completed.
*Book ii, Chap. 18.
+Mr. Garrick's power of suspending the voice is well described by Sterne. See Book vi, Chap. 3, of this work.
There are, indeed, 'cases, in which, though the sense is not completed, the voice takes the closing, rather than the suspending pause. Thus, where a series of particulars are enumerated, the closing pause is, for the sake of variety, admitted in the course of the enumeration: but in this case the last word, or clause of the series, takes the suspending pause, to intimate to the hearer the connexion of the whole series with what follows. For example :
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things*.
On the contrary, interrogative sentences are terminated by the suspending pause; as in the following example :
Hold you the watch to night?-We do, my lord-Arm❜d, say you? —Arm❜d, my lord.-From top to toe?-My lord, from head to foot t. Except that, where an interrogative pronoun or adverb begins a sentence, it is usually ended with the closing pause; as,
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
and that, where two questions are united in one sentence, and connected by the conjunction ör, the first takes the suspending, the second, the closing, pause; as,
Would you have been Cæsar, or Brutus?
It may, notwithstanding, be received as a general rule, that the suspending pause is used where the sense is incomplete, and the closing, where it is finished.
The closing pause must not be confounded with that fall of the voice or cadence, with which many readers uniformly finish a sentence. Nothing can be more destructive of all propriety and energy than this habit. The tones and heights at the close of a sentence ought to be diversified, according to the general nature of the discourse, and the particular construction and meaning of the sentence. In plain narrative, and especially in argumentation, the least attention to the
* Philipp. iv, 8.
Book vi, Chap. 13. See a long series of Interrogations in Glouces ter's Speech to the Nobles, Book v, Chap. 14.