Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

66

[ocr errors]

accent.

The movement” of the voice in conversation, on light or ordinary subjects, is variable and irregular; on subjects of greater moment, it is more even and sedate; and, in the expression of deep and energetic sentiment, it becomes still more regular and, perhaps, to a certain degree, measured, in its rate of “movement." Reading is a mode of voice yet more distinctly marked in“ movement,” by its partial uniforinity of utterance; and declamation advances another degree, still, in “ rhythm,” by its de. liberate and formal succession of sound. The reading or recitation of poetry, carries the “ movement” to its highest degree of fixed and well marked “ rhythm,” as determined by the structure of verse, which derives its pleasing effect to the ear from the exact observance of a continued uniform, or correspondent “ rhythm.” The word “ metre,” or measure,” has accordingly its appropriate application to this species of " movement.”

As “ time” includes the duration of pauses as well as of " quantities," and of "movement," it necessarily comprehends under “rhythm” the exact proportion of pauses to sound, in the rate of utterance, when regulated by rhythmical

A part of the effect of "

rhythm on the ear, must arise, therefore, from the "time" of regularly recurring and exactly proportioned pauses. The full definition of “rhythm” would, accordingly, be, the effect of " time,” in regularly returning “ quantity,” accent, and pause, in the successive sounds of the voice.

In the usual forms of familiar prose writing, little regard is paid to the placing of words, as respects the effect of accent. Words, in plain, unpretending composition, follow each other, with but slight reference to the result in mere sound. Some writers, however, are distinguished by a style which is more or less measured and rhythmical to the ear. The stately and formal style of oratorical declamation, sometimes assumes this shape, as does also the language of sublime, pathetic, and beautiful description. Some writers, by high excellence of natural or of cultivated ear, succeed in imparting an exquisite but unobtrusive melody to their sentences, which forms one of the principal attractions of their style. We have instances of these various effects of the selection and arrangement of words, in the majestic and measured declamation of Chatham, in the lofty and magnificent strains of Scripture. The cadences of Ossian exemplify, sometimes, the power and beauty of metrical arrangement, and, sometimes, the cloying effect of its too frequent and uniform recurrence. Every cultivated ear is familiar with the chaste and pleasing turn of the sentences of Addison, the easy flow of Goldsmith's, the ambitious swell of those of Johnson, the broken and capricious phrases of Sterne, the noble harmony of Burke, the abruptness of Swift, and the graceful smoothness of Irving.

The characteristic melody of each of these authors, is owing,

[ocr errors]

as we find, on analysis, to more or less attention paid to the effect of “ rhythmical ”accent: it is, in fact, a species even of “metie" itself, or, at least, a close approach to it. Examined in detail, it will usually be found to consist in a skilful avoiding of “ abrupt elements," in securing the coincidence of emphasis with “ mutable” and “indefinite quantities,” but, more particularly an exact timing of the recurrence of accents at the end of clauses, and in the cadence of sentences; as these places are peculiarly adapted to sounds intended for effect on the ear, whether the design of the writer is to render them prominent and striking, or subdued and quiet. Such results tell, with equal power, on the hearer, whether they are studied or unconscious, on the part of the writer; and they demand equal attention on the part of the reader.

“Rhythm," then, the lowest gradation of "metrical movement,” exists in prose as well as poetry; and good reading preserves it distinctly to the ear.

It is a useful exercise, therefore, to study the styles of different authors, with reference to this point, and to read aloud, from characteristic passages, so as to become familiar with their peculiarities of " rhythm,” and to gain the power of giving these a distinct and perceptible existence in the voice, without carrying the effect so far that sense is in danger of being merged in sound, or the thought, of being lost in the language. Everything mechanical, in reading, is an offence to sound judgment and true taste.

The following examples of the notation of“ rhythmical” accent will serve to suggest to the student the exercise of marking with a pencil the “rhythm,” in passages of his own selection. The teacher may prescribe exercises of this sort to his pupils, by the use of the black board. The system of notation needs attention to the following explanatory statement.

The notation of rhythm” is founded on the theory of Steele, that utterance, in speech and in reading, may, like music, be divided into regular portions by accent, and indicated by “bars," as in music, when written or printed ; each “bar” commencing with an accented syllable, or an equivalent pause.

“Rhythm,” however, it must be remembered, in the practice of all such exercises as the following, is like every other requisite of elocution, - an aid and an ornament, within due limits of effect, but a deformity when rendered prominent and obtrusive. The wavering and unsteady voice of juvenile readers, and the unsatisfactory current of utterance in the style of some professional speakers, is owing to the want of a firmly marked “rhythm," - a fault which necessarily produces to the ear of the hearer a wandering uncertainty of effect. “ Time,” to which “ rhythm,' is subordinate, demands precision and exactness, when applied as a measure of speech. Some readers, however, err on the extreme of marking time too prominently, and with a jerking ac

cent, which offends the ear by causing reading to resemble a music lesson in “accent,” accompanied with a heavy “beat," for the sake of awakening the attention of a learner whose " organ of time” is dull.

The style of practice in the first stages, must, of course, he characterized by full and distinct effect, even at the hazard of seeming labored and forced, --if the reader's ear is not naturally susceptible, and requires powerful impressions. But much practice should be added, with a view to produce smoothness and delicacy; as the painter does not rest satisfied with the mere blocking out of light and shadow in his picture, but labors till he has secured that exquisite finish, which is the crowning grace, in every successful attempt of art; and art fails in its endeavors, if it does not present nature in the union of beauty and truth.

[blocks in formation]

1.- Declamatory Style.

[From a Sermon of Robert Hall.] “ It re- | mains with | you then | * to decide / whether that | freedom at whose voice the kingdoms of Europea- | woke from the sleep of ages, to run a ca-1 reer of | virtuous | femu- | lation in everything I great and good ; 190 19the freedom which dis- | pelled the mists of † super- | stition, and in- | vited the nations to be- | hold their | God; 1991 whose | magic | touch | kindled the | rays of | genius, the en- | thusiasm of poetry, and the flame of | eloquence; 1991 the freedom | which I poured into our | lap | opulence and | arts, 91 and em- | bellished | life with in- | numerable | | insti- | tutions and im- | provements, | till it became a | theatre of wonders ; 1981

it is for you to de- | cide 91 whether this freedom | shall | yet sur- | vive, or | perish for- | ever.”

2. - Poetic expression in Prose. [Passages of Scripture introduced in the Burial Service.]

l'II am the 1 | Resur- | rection and the | life, I saith the Lord; 1991 he that be- | lieveth in | me, though he were | dead, 100 | yet shall he | live : 19 and "Rhythmical”

pause.
+ A " secondary," instead of the usual “primary," accent.

* «

| whoso- | ever | liveth, 1 and be- | lieveth in | me,' shall | never | die. 1992 1991

I know that my Re- deemer | liveth, | | and that he shall | stand | at the latter | day 1 upon the earth, 19919 and though | worms de- / stroy this body, 19 yet in my | flesh shall I see | God." 1991

3.- Sentiment, in Didactic Style. [Goldsmith.] “ Writers of every | age have en- | deavored to show that | pleasure is in | us, and not in the l objects 15

| offered for our a-I musement. I 91 If the soul be happily dis- posed, 99 everything becomes capable

of af- fording entertainment; 199 and dis- | tress 9 will almost | want a | name. 197199 | Every oc- | currence

| passes in re- / view like the figures of a pro- | cession ; 19 some may be | awkward, 19 others will dressed; but | none but a | fool is for this, en | raged | with the master of the ceremonies. 19 1

4. Splendor and Pathos. [Burke's Description of Marie Antoinette.] “ It is | now, | sixteen or seventeen / years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, Hat Ver-1 sailles: 1991 and surely | never | lighted on this orb, नान which she hardly | seemed to | touch, Walmore de- | lightful | vision. 19019911 | saw her | justa- | bove the ho- | rizon, decorating and cheering the elevated | sphere | she just be- / gan to move in : 1 | glittering, 1 like the morning star; 19 full of life, and splendor, and joy.1991199

Oh! | what a | revo-. | lution ! 1991 and I what a heart 1 must I | have, to con- | template | with- | out e- | motion, I that ele- | vation and that I fall.”.9199199

5. — Oratorical Declamation. [Lord Chatham.] “I| cannot, 19 my | Lords, 713 I will not, I join in con| gratu- | lation on mis- | fortune and dis-Igrace. 199190 | This my lords, 71 is a, perilous, and tre- mendous moment; 1 0 19 it is not a | time for | adu- | lation : 1991 the smoothness of | flattery | cannot | save us in this rugged and | awful | crisis. 191991 It is now | necessary

to in- / struct the throne in the | language of truth. 1 91901We must, if possible, dis- | pel the de- | lusion and darkness which en- | velope it ; 1991 and dis-/ play, in its | full | danger and genuine | colors, the |

which is brought to our | doors."

ruin |

6. – Sentiment, in Didactic Style. [Addison.] “I know but | one way of | forti- | fying my soul | a-1 gainst | gloomy | presages and | terrors of mind; 1991 and that is, by se- | curing to my- | self the friendship 19 and pro- | tection of that | Being | who dis- | poses of e-l vents and governs fu- | turity. 1990 | He sees 910 at / one / view, the whole / thread of my ex- - | istence,

not I only | that | part of it I which I have al- | ready | passed | through, but | that which runs | forward | into | all the | depths of e-| ternity. When I lay me down to | sleep, I recom- - | mend myself to his | care ; 1901 when I

awake, I give myself up to his di- | rection. 1991 Amidst | all the evils that | threaten me, | I will look | up to him for | help; 1991 and question not but he will | either a- 1 vert them, or turn them | to my ad- | vantage. |

1 Though I know | neither the time nor the | manner of the death | I am to | die, I am not at | all 80- | licitous a- I bout it; 10 be- | cause I am sure that | he | knows them | both, 1991 and that he will not | fail to | comfort and sup- | port me | under them.” |

7.

Sentiment in Didactic Style. [Johnson.] “ Kindness is pre- | served by a constant | recipro- cation of | benefits or | interchange of pleasures ; | goy but | such | benefits only I can be be- | stowed, as | others are | capable of receiving, and such pleasures im- | parted, 1 as others are qualified to en- | joy. 1901991

ü By | this de- / scent from the ) pinnacles of | art 1 ano | honor | will be lost; 1991 for the conde- | scensions of learning are always lover- paid by Igratitude. 191991

« PreviousContinue »