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ART. I. An Efay towards establishing the Melody and Measure of Speech to be expreffed and perpetuated by peculiar Symbols. 4to. 10 s. 6 d.
NICERO, Quintilian, and other ancient writers might be cited, as hath been very lately obferved by Dr. Burney, in his Hiftory of Mufc*, to prove that not only musicians and actors, but even orators, had a notation, by which the inflexions of voice peculiar to their feveral profefiions of finging, declaiming, and haranguing in public, were afcertained.' Mr. Duclos †, he afterwards adds, denies the poffibility of fuch a notation; as the intervals are too minute to be afcertained; or, even granting the practicability of fuch a fcheme, this French writer thinks that "it would ferve no other purpose than to render actors cold and infipid; for by a fervile imitation they would destroy the natural expreffion which the fentiments inspire; and fuch notes would give neither the refinement, delicacy, grace, nor paffion, which conflitute the merit of an actor, and the pleasure of an audience."
After having made fome pertinent reflections relating to this fubject, Dr. Burney remarks, in oppofition to this laft obfervation of Mr. Duclos, that a well written, and well-fet fcene of recitative, from the mouth of a great finger, and good actor, overfets all his reafoning; for though confined to mufical notes, it has frequently great power over the paffions of that part of an audience who understand the language.' He afterwards obferves that he cannot help giving a place to the invention of characters for theatrical declamation, among mufical defiderata; -and that the notation of the tones, in which a favourite and
* See General Hiftory of Mufic, page 170, &c. † Encyclopedie. Art. Declamat, des Anciens. VOL. LV.
affecting fpeech was spoken by a Garrick, or a Cibber, would not only be an excellent leffon to inferior actors; but would be a means of conveying it to pofterity; who will fo frequently meet with their names and elogiums, in the hiftory of the ftage, and be curious to know in what manner they acquired fuch univerfal admiration.'
The fpeculations of the excellent judge above quoted, on this curious fubject, appear to be realifed, or at least a laudable attempt is here made for that purpose, by Mr. Steele, the Author of the prefent performance; in which he has endea voured to arrest the fleeting founds in human speech, and to afcertain them, as far as is practicable, by certain marks or fymbols denoting their gravity or acutenefs, measure, and other modifications: fo that, for instance, à paffage excellently spoken by an orator or actor, accompanied with the Author's marks or notation, may be repeated, or tranfmitted to pofterity on paper, as nearly as poffible, with the fame accent (ufing this term exclufively to exprefs melody of grave and acute, or diverfity of tone) quantity, emphasis, pause, and force, as were ufed by the original fpeaker, whofe tones and elocution are thus attempted to be conveyed by writing. In fhort, it is the Author's intention, in this performance, to fhew how, by means of certain characters, all the varieties of enunciation may be committed to paper, and read off as eafily as the air of a fong tune.'
The principal difficulty attending the practice of this art appears to us to arife from the great difference with respect to the particular article of melody; confidered as employed in finging, and recitative; or as ufed in common speech. In the two former, every tone or found is precisely ascertained, with respect to its gravity or acuteness, and is feparated from the preceding and fubfequent tone, by a void, diftinct, and affignable interval; or, the melody Skips, by abrupt bounds or leaps, never fmaller than the interval of a quarter tone. Hence, the facility of a notation for mufi al melody is apparent: whereas, in fpeech, the voice flides, or flows, from grave to acute, and from acute to grave, without any intervals, or diftinct feparation of the tones; and without continuing a fingle inftant on the level, or dwelling any perceptible time on any one tone, except perhaps the laft. The melody of difcourfe, and its various inflections or turns, may, as the Author remarks, be pretty well imitated by drawing the bow over a ftring of a violoncello; and fliding the finger alternately up and down the finger-board.
After having exemplified his rules, by fetting feveral paffages in different Authors, according to his new notation, the Author adds, that when this fyftem was explained to Mr. Gar
rick, among many judicious remarks and queries, he afked this question:
Suppofing a fpeech was noted, according to these rules, in the manner he spoke it, whether any other perfon, by the help of these notes, could pronounce his words in the fame tone and manner exactly as he did?
To which he was anfwered thus:
Suppofe a first-rate mufician had written down a piece of mufic, which he had played exquifitely well on an exceeding fine toned vialin; another performer with an ordinary fiddle might undoubt edly play every note the fame as the great mafter, though perhaps with lefs eafe and elegance of expreffion; but, notwithftanding his correctnefs in the tune and manner, nothing could prevent the audience from perceiving that the natural tone of his inftrument was execrable: fo, though thefe rules may enable a mafter to teach a juft application of accent, emphafis, and all the other proper expreffions of the voice in fpeaking, which will go a great way in the improvement of elocution, yet they cannot give a fweet voice where nature has denied it.'
We do not think that the Author has, in the preceding paragraph, given a perfectly fatisfactory anfwer to Mr. Garrick's queftion; with respect at least to the objection which we have made above, and which we fuppofe to have been implied in it. For though his answer is juft, fo far as it goes it does not reach what we conceive to be the principal difficulty attending the atte rpt to put his fcheme in execution. Mr. Steele has indeed contrived a good fet of fymbols, accompanied with ingenious remarks on their ufe, in which the rhythmus, the rests or paufes, the forte and piano, &c. are fufficiently marked: but how, we would ask, is the just intonation to be known, and written down, from the mouth of a fpeaker, or to be executed on the view of his notes ?-Or what ear can be fo quick, nice, and difcerning, as to keep pace with, difcriminate, and ascertain the rapid and evanefcent mufical flides of the human voice, up and down the fcale, in common fpeech, or even in theatrical declamation; fo as to enable a perfon to mark the limits of each fyllable, with regard to gravity and acuteness, and to exprefs them on paper? The Author indeed allows a latitude in
By tone we should imagine Mr. Garrick to have meant—at lealt, fuch would be our meaning in ftating the fame question - the eleva tions, or depreffions, of the voice, as regulated, and limited, within certain determinate bounds, with refpect to acutene's or gravity, by the Author's notes, or fymbols:whereas Mr. Steele, in his anfwer, confiders the phrafe as denoting nothing more than the fweetness of tone, or other excellence of the vocal organ, or pipe of the speaker; in the same sense in which the French ufe the term Tymbre d'un violen, ou d'un voix.
this matter; but this allowance, in our apprehenfion, though it leffens, does not by any means remove the difficulty; as we have found when we have attempted, vivâ voce, to reduce this part of his fcheme to practice-even with a violoncello under our hands, as a guide and prompter.
Let us, for inftance, by way of praxis in this particular branch of this new art, take only the fingle monofyllable, and interjection, Oh!-which the Author has fet to music as an example to illuftrate his method of delineating notes or characters to represent the melody of the flides made by the voice in common fpeech. The performer, that is, the fpeaker, begins, according to the Author's diagram, at B natural, and is directed to flide up to Ex, that is, to E diefis, or E+ tone: having arrived there, he is inftantly to flide down to C*; the whole flight, up and down, being equal to eighteen enharmonic intervals, or quarter tones.-Now thofe who can execute this fingle Oh! accurately, or even within an intire tone or more; or who can judge when another has done fo;-or can even tell at what quarter tone, half tone, or tone, the fpeaker who should execute it, began and ended, so as to be able to found the initial and final element of the rapid modulation, in unifon, on a violoncello,-muft have more attentive ears, a quicker apprehenfion, and much more flexibility of throat, and command of his vocal organ, than we are poffeffed of; though we do not rank ourselves among the Auro.
By offering the preceding objections or doubts with respec to a part of the Author's fcheme, we do not mean to depreciate his attempt to reduce to rule the art of fpeaking, by means of appropriate fymbols. He has clearly fhewn that there is a mufical melody in common speech, and that it is formed by flides, or fluxions: though we difpute the practicability of afcertaining or even eftimating the pitch, or extent, of thefe flides in practice. The characters which he has invented to express the quantity, or time to be allowed to each note or fyllable, the refts or paufes, the forte and piano, and the other modifications of fpeech, and his rules relative to the ufe of them, feem well adapted to the purpose of greatly improving those who will attentively study them, in the practice of a proper and graceful elocution. His differtation likewife contains many ingenious obfervations on language, both made by himfelf, and by the learned Author of the philofophical treatife On the Origin and Progress of Language; whole correfpondence with the Author relative to his fyftem, and the Author's anfwers to his queries and obfervations, throw much new light upon the fubject.
ART. II. The Lufiad, concluded: fee Review for May. HE truly claffical Camoëns has, in imitation of his great predeceffors in the Epic, indulged his genius in palatial defcription. Soon after we enter upon the fixth book, we find the following animated and picturefque view of the palace of Neptune :
Deep where the bafes of the hills extend,