Page images

Were, Where; Wet, Whet; Wine, Whine:-— The fourth rule treats of accent ; the fifth, of emphasis ; the sixth, of pause ; and under each canon are given quotations which supply convenient exercises.

At length, the author reaches his proper subject; which is to teach the attentions that are peculiariy requisite in public speaking. Here we will extract a page or two, and subjoin our comments:

• The Voice. · Rule 7.-- Begin gently. Let the tone of your voice, in read. ing and speaking, be natural and easy.

Rule 8.- Increase the force of your voice, so that you may be heard by the most distant person in the room. But do not bawl : a clear articulation and moderate force of voice will be sufficient,

• Rule 9.-If the voice should have imperceptibly become too loud, begin the next sentence with a much lower tone.

• Rule 10. - Vary your voice according to the nature of the subject ; the solemn, the serious, the vehement, the familiar, the gay, the humorous, or the ironical.

• Gesture.

Gesture for Reading • Rule 11.-Rest the whole weight of the body on the right leg; the other just touching the ground, at the distance at which it would naturally fall, if lifted up to shew that the body does not bear upon it. Let the knees be straight : and the body straight (yet not perpendicular) but inclining to the right.

• Rule 12.- Hold the book in the left hand.

• Rule 13.-Look at those who are hearing as often as possible: but do not lose the place or forget the words.

• Rule 14.-- Elevate the right hand when any thing sublime, lofty, or heavenly, is expressed.

• Rule 15.- Let the right hand (but not any single finger) point downwards, when any thing low or grovelling is expressed.

Gesture for Speaking. • Rule 16.- Begin as in reading. Let the whole weight of the body rest on the right leg ; the other just touching the ground, at the distance at wlrich it would naturally fall, if lifted up to shew that the body does not bear upon it. Let the knees be straight and firm, and the body straight, yet not perpendicular, but inclining to the right. Let both arms hang in their natural place by the side.

Rule 17.— Immediately after the first word has been spoken, let the right arm be held out, the palm open, the fingers straight and close, the thumb almost as distant from them as possible, and the flat of the hand neither vertical nor horizontal, but between both.

• Rule 18.-When one sentence has been pronounced in this posi. tion, and during the utterance of the last word, the right hand, as if lifeless, must drop down to the side. . Cc4 :

• Rule

[ocr errors]

.Rule 19.--At the beginning of the second sentence; the body, without moving the feet, must poise itself, on the left leg ; the left hand must be raised exactly as the right one was before, and continue in this position till the end of the sentence, and then drop as if lifeless.

" Rule 20. - At the third sentence, the body and hands to be as they were during the first : and so on alternately during the whole of the speech

• Rule 21.--Take care to end each sentence completely, before the next is begun.

• Rule 22.- In vehement, or otherwise impassioned passions, raise the arm which is in action, until it be on a level with the shoul. der : let the lower part of the arm (that is, from the elbow-joint,) be inclined toward the head, in the same manner as when taking off the hat ; and let the arm be suddenly straightened into its first position the very moment the emphatical word is pronounced.

• Rule 23.- In every movement of the arm, keep the elbow at a distance from the body.

Rule 24.- Let the eyes be directed to those who are addressed; excepting when the subject requires them to be raised

• Rule 25.- Endeavour to enter into the sense and spirit of every passage, and feel what is expressed. This is the best guide to em. phasis, tone, and gesture.'

Several of these rules are obviously just, if superfluously minute : but several others are exposed to the suspicion of being injudicious and improper. We would instance the 17th rule as containing a direction seldom expedient, and frequently absurd. Suppose the Lord's Prayer to be the subject of recitation ; how unmeaning, and without motive, would this quaint gesticulation appear? A speech most naturally opens with some such pantomime as a well-dressed man employs to separate a crowd, which he does not care to jostle. “Make way for me, I have claims on your deference.” This is a sentiment common to him who walks the beau, or who talks the orator, To win an easy way, each would naturally adopt similar action. Now this natural action does not display the palm, but the upper surface of the hand, as when a swimmer pushes back the wave on which he rises.

We would moreover instance the 18th ruie as containing a direction frequently unwise. The same purpose, or emotion, usually continues for the first three or four sentences of a discourse ; and, in this case, the accompanying descriptive gesture should also continue. An air of gentle intreaty, or of bespeaking attention, is commonly the behaviour which belongs to an exordium.

The 19th rule is perhaps applicable when the second sentence is a duplicate of the first, and repeated to the other side of the room, or when it is put in parallel opposition to the first sentence: but it is only in a case of tautology, or of antithesis, that the first two sentences can properly be executed with identical gestures from alternate sides of the body.

T'he 20th rule is here given seriously: but, if Martinus Şcriblerus had been made to bequeath to us an art of sinking in rhetoric, we much suspect that he too would have enforced this see-saw of the arms, - this right-hand and left, so ingeniously copied from the alternate dangling of kid-gloves which the Spaniard exhibits in his ininuet.

The 22d rule indicates a vague though a vehement panto. mime, somewhat resembling the action of a slinger, and therefore proper perhaps when a bold sentiment has been hazarded, of which the speaker awaits the impression: but here the action is commanded generally, without specifying the state of feeling with which it is naturally and necessarily associated ; as if any gesticulation could be in its place, which is not intimately connected with the drift and purpose of the discourse.

Of all the rules, the concluding one appears to us the best. If a person would acquire a gesticulation at once natural and expressive, let him accustom himself when alone to break loose into pantomime. Let the servants and the neighbours call him crazy, or report that he is going on the stage; he must not regard them, but continue to recite striking passages before his mirror; and to declaim aloud with hurried step, and reddening cheek, and twanging voice, Let anger tingle to his finger-ends ; let him clench the fist, and squeeze the lips. It is by accustoming the whole soul to rush with every idea into the appertaining fibre of the frame, that an animability of body is acquired, (if we may coin a word, -a ductile vivacity of feeling, -a susceptibility to various affections, a voluntary glow of emotion,-a readiness at exterior passion. When this quickness of pathetic impression is acquired, and it is especially favoured by dramatic exercitation, it will always suffice to let the body obey the soul. The presence of an audience will coerce the madman-like gesticulation of solitude, and subdue the carriage into the forms of grace : but, at first, without a little extravagance and raving and caricature, a youth cannot learn what are the powers of impression and expression which he possesses. Gentlemen seldom excel in gesticulation, because they dare not go beyond the gentleman during their apprenticeship.

A vast portion of this book consists of extracts from various authors, which the pupil is expected to read aloud, or to learn by heart. They are very moral, but not very appropriate. Who would expect, from a teacher of eloquence, se,

lect lect sentences like these? P. 64. Put a bridle on thy tongue; set a guard upon thy lips.' - P.65. ' A talkative man is a nuisance to society; the ear is sick of his babbling. • The tongue of the sincere is rooted in his heart; hypocrisy and deceit have no place in his words.' It is surely fair for us here to observe, that he will never excel in oratory who puts a bridle on his tongue, who shuns the reproach of talkativeness, or who is incapable of exerting himself for a client, and making his cause sincerely his own.

Other extracts contained in the second part are equally unskilful; as at p. 107. the fable of the dog and the shadow, which begins thus: 'A dog crossing a little rivulet, with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow represented in the water. This sentence is full of bad writing: 1st, How was the dog crossing? If he was wading, he could not lose the meat; if he was swimming, he could not see the reflection; it is necessary, therefore, to insert the circumstance that he was crossing on a foot-bridge. 2dly, Rivulet, being itself a diminutive, comprehends the idea of littleness: so that the epithet is a pleonasm, and, which is worse, draws attention to an idea that ought to have been suppressed, because the larger the stream the more probable the loss. 3dly, The dog might see his own shadow, but could not see his shadow represented: he saw himself represented in the water, or rather on the water. - Here are three gross faults in one short sentence. Such vicious writing should not be given as a model, nor indeed in any way exposed to the eye of a young person. Habitually to conteinplate the beautiful is the safest direction to the attainment of it.

The third part of this work, which begins at p. 226. gives some rules for English composition, a department of instruction that is too little regarded in our schools. Boys are sent home with a deep knowlege of Latin and Greek, who cannot write a plain common letter neatly, and to the purpose. As a first exercise, the author proposes definition, and he then defines wine to be the juice of the grape.' Here again is some want of critical skill; and it is necessary to insert the word fermented, since otherwise the definition is imperfect. In all exemplary exercises, and all patterns for imitation, it is important to choose a complete model.

The three concluding rules are thus expressed, and partake rather of the nature of definitions than of that of precepts :

• Rule 57. — Interrogation. When men are strongly moved, whatever they would affirm or deny with great earnestness, they put in the form of a questione

* Rule . Rule 58.-Exclamations are also the effect of strong emotions of the mind : such as surprise, admiration, joy, grief, and the like.

• Rule 59. — Amplification or climax, consists in heightening all the circumstances of an object or action which we desire to place in a strong light.'

If Mr. Rippinghain should ever be induced to undertake a second edition of this book, we recommend the total dismissal of those incipient chapters which treat of grammatical reading, or of the utterance of single words. With the fifth section, which treats of emphasis, begins the department of oratorical reading ; and this the rhetorician, not the mere school-master, is to teach. We farther advise a careful revision of his various examples; and a selection of them from purer and better writers,- from the great masters of composition, not from the rabble of mediocrity. We should also deem it desirable that no one rule should remain unexemplified : several directions here given leave the pupil at a loss as to the inference which he is to draw from them.

Rhetoric is to eloquence what criticism is to poetry, a system of rules inferred from the practice of successful authors : for, as Cicero observes, eloquence does not grow out of art, but art out of eloquence. In fact, the chief use of rules is to teach self-criticism. In practical conflict are formed the ready powers of argument and declamation : but by chastizing the extravagance, dropping the excess, abridging the detail, and smoothing the asperities of a hasty manner, oratory may gradually be rendered more and more beautiful. Vehemence is the gift of native feeling; decoration is the result of comprehensive study.

ART. VIII. Letters written in a Mahratta Camp during the Year

1809, descriptive of the Character, Manners, domestic Habits, and religious Ceremonies, of the Mahrattas. With ten coloured Engravings, from Drawings 'by a native Artist. By Thomas Duer Broughton, Esq., late Commander of the Resident's Escort at the Court of Scindia, 4to. pp. 358. 21. 8s. Boards. Murray. 1813 At the beginning of these letters, the reader is apprized 41 that Mr. Broughton had for some time declined to under. take a description of the Mahrattas and their customs, on account of the dullness and deficient interest of the subject. His friends, however, insisted that those incidents and usages, which had lost their attraction to a personal observer, possessed the charm of novelty to an English public; especially as, since the late war, the Mahratta name had become currently known


« PreviousContinue »