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exist, although elocutive knowledge will not make us orators, yet it will cause us to be fearless and correct speakers in a land like ours, where the humblest of her sons has continually occasion to address his fellow-citi
Eloquence has frequently been objected to, as having a tendency to bewilder the understanding by dressing fiction in the garb of truth; but admitting that to be the case, are we to argue the exception against the general rule? To decry oratory because an abuse of it may occur, would be as absurd as to find fault with Christianity, because some, not following its precepts, use the semblance of it hypocritically, and as a cloak for their own selfish and wicked purposes.
As well may we abuse the blessed sun which sheds life, and light, and lustre all around, because the intenseness of his rays sometimes engenders putridity and pestilence.
"For nought so vile that on the earth doth live,
Such objections generally spring from minds incapable of conceiving the inexpressible delights which flow from eloquence, delights which do not rest merely in being capable of comprehending and feeling the orations of a Demosthenes, a Cicero, a Curran, or the senatorial harangues of a Chatham, a Burke, a Fox, a Pitt, a Sheridan, without reference to all the rest, whose names alone would fill a volume, but in the highly fraught mental enjoyment of speaking peace and pardon to, and smoothing the pillow of the dying, and perhaps before desponding sinner; of advocating the cause of defrauded orphanage, or unprotected widowhood; of arousing the spirit of a country to the asser
tion of its rights; of unlocking the stores of affluence for the godlike purpose of drying the tears of penury; of vindicating our brethren and ourselves, and of upholding the religion of our Maker against the dark and self immolating doctrines of the pitiable unbeliever. Who can reflect upon such advantages, and not exult that Providence, in its munificence, has strewed that sweet and pleasant flower in the probationary and thorny path of wandering man?
Were the Author asked what oratory is, he would answer, mind-but he would be qualifiedly understood. This bears an equivocal meaning, something similar to that which the great father of eloquence wished to inculcate when being asked what oratory was, he answer. ed action. So aware were the ancients of the impetus which utterance gave to gesture, that they frequently called pronunciation action. Yet action is the last and least of its parts, which are, mind, that enables us to invent, memory, the repository of our own thoughts and those of others, imagination, which imparts brilliancy to our language, disposition or arrangement, which places our matter in a proper point of view, utterance or pronunciation, which gives effect to our invention, feeling, which gives it force, then action.
It must be allowed that in the time of the ancients, action had more influence in eloquence than at the present time. The style of their orators being consonant with it, and the number of their auditors requiring it as a type of words, which could not always be distinctly heard by such multitudes; therefore a style of action which was admissible in them, would in us be deemed extravagant and unnatural; but in avoiding the one extreme the British are said, by foreigners, to have fallen
into the other, i. e. of not using a sufficiency of action to give effect to their subjects. This objection may have some foundation in fact, but if they err in this particular, it is certainly on the side of safety and de
It was the intention of the writer to have marked the examples in this book with italics, but he was deterred from doing so by the objections which upon deliberation seemed to oppose such a plan, especially when Dr. Blair is with him, an author who has done so much for the eloquence of the English language, and who must remain a source of admiration to the enlightened, and of instruction to those who seek for Rhetorical and Belles Lettres information.
NOTE. The above tribute to departed merit, is not invidiously paid with a view of derogating from the merits of subsequent and powerful writers on the same subject; but in justice to the pioneer who cleared the soil, and rendered it receptive of the high cultiva tion since bestowed upon it.
ELOCUTION, which is the power of fluent speech, the flow of language, 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 Prosopopeia, Apostrophe, Vision, Action. They shall be treated of in their turns.
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.
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.
"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