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to discover and correct those tones, and habits of speaking, which are grofs deviations from natyre, and as far as they prevail must destroy all propriety and grace of utterance; and to make choice of such a course of practical lessons, as shall give the speaker an opportunity of exercising himself in each branch of elocution; all this must be the effect of attention and labour; and in all this much assistance may certainly be derived from instruction. What are rules or lessons for acquiring this or any other art, but the observations of others, collected into a narrow compass, and digested in a natural order, for the direction of the unexperienced and unpractised learner? And what is there in the art of speaking, which should render it incapable of receiving aid from precepts ?
PRESUMING then, that the acquisition of the art of speaking, like all other practical arts, may be facilitated by rules, I proceed to lay before my readers, in a plain didactic form, such rules respecting elocution, as appear best adapt. ed to form a correct and graceful Speaker,
GOOD Articulation consists in giving a
clear and full utterance to the several simple and complex sounds. The nature of these sounds, therefore, ought to be well understood; and much pains should be taken to discover and correct those faults in articulation, which, though often ascribed to fome defect in the organs of speech, are generally the consequence of inattention or bad example. Many of these respect the founding of the consonants. Some cannot pronounce the letter l, and others the simple sounds r, s, tb, fb; others generally omit the aspirate b. These faults may be corrected, by reading fentences, so contrived as often to repeat the faulty sounds; and by guarding against them in familiar conversation.
OTHER defects in articulation regard the complex sounds, and consist in a confufed and cluttering pronunciation of words. The most effectual methods of conquering this habit, are, to read aloud paffages chosen for that purpose (such for
instance as abound with long and unusual words, or in which many short syllables come together) and to read, at certain stated times, much flower than the sense and just speaking would require. Almost all persons who have not studied the art of speaking, have a habit of uttering their words so rapidly, that this latter exercise ought generally to be made use of for a considerable time at first: for where there is a uniformly rapid utterance, it is absolutely impossible that there should be strong emphasis, natural tones, or any juft elocution.
Aim at nothing higher, till you can read distinctly and deliberately. LEARN to speak flow, all other
graces Will follow in their proper places.
R U L E 11.
Pronunciation be bold and forcible.
N insipid fatness and languor is an almost
universal fault in reading; and even public speakers often suffer their words to drop froin their lips with such a faint and feeble utterance, that they appear neither to understand or feel what they say themselves, nor to have any defire that it should be understood or felt by their audi
This is a fundamental fault: a speaker without energy, is a lifeless statue.
In order to acquire a forcible manner of pronouncing your words, inure yourself, while reading, to draw in as much air as your lungs can contain with ease, and to expel it with vehemence, in uttering those sounds which require an emphatical pronunciation ; read aloud in the open air, and with all the exertion you can command; preserve your body in an erect attitude while
you are speaking; let all the consonant sounds be expressed with a full impulse or percussion of the breath, and a forcible action of the organs employed in forming them; and let all the vowel founds have a full and bold utterance. Practise these rules with perseverance, till you have acquired strength and energy of speech.
But in observing this rule, beware of running into the extremne of vociferation. We find this fault chiefy among those, who, in contempt and
despite despite of all rule and propriety, are determined to command the attention of the vulgar. These are the speakers, who, in Shakespear's phrase, “ offend the judicious hearer to the soul, by tearing a passion to rags, to very tatters, to fplit the ears of the groundlings.” Cicero compares such speakers to cripples who get on horse-back because they cannot walk: they bellow, because they cannot speak.
R U L E
Acquire a compafs and variety in the beight of
HE monotony so much complained of in
public speakers, is chiefly owing to the neglect of this rule. They generally content themselves with one certain key, which they employ on all occasions, and on every subject: or if they attempt variety, it is only in proportion to the number of their hearers, and the extent of the place in which they speak; imagining, that speaking in a high key is the same thing as speaking loud; and not observing, that whether a speaker shall be heard or not, depends more upon the