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be acquired by chance, even allowing the best models for imitation.
With regard, in the second place, to the accents of the voice, by which we modulate our sentences and fix their meaning, it must be allowed that, living where the language is politely spoken, we need no instruction for the spontaneous delivery of unstudied sentences. But may the same be affirmed when the language is of a more artificial character ? and particularly when we pronounce the language of others from the
page of the ready volume ? Consider what habits of modulation must grow out of an apprenticeship to literature, if special instruction not at present an essential part of the system, is not called in to prevent them. When we first learn to read, we drop the accents — the tunes which give meaning to our sentences in speech - and pronounce with tunes which equally suit all sentences ; a necessary consequence of not being able to take in large portions of meaning with the eye, so as to modulate sentences from their beginning, with a view to their conclusion, and their connexion
with what is to follow. But at length when the
power of Auent reading is gained, will the unmeaning modulation spontaneously disappear? A dull pupil finds a convenience in it, and even a bright one, whose mind is awake to the business of the page, is unable to break through the habit which has been gradually fixing itself, promoted as it is by the contagion of example, and the necessity of using it on other exercises when the sense can scarcely assist him
; as, for instance, in pronouncing from languages imperfectly understood; in the mechanical repetition of technical phrases that occur in construing, parsing, and scanning; not to mention the habitual monotony of those “murmuring labours” that precede these various exercises. The consequence of all this, with the absence of that instruction which would counteract it, is precisely what might be anticipated : we seldom hear the language of books, or the artificial periods of oratory, delivered as they should be, but there is one mode of modulating sentences for discourse, another for reading and for studied speaking; the
cantus dicendi of the pulpit, the senate, and the bar, being not only different in degree (which it ought to be), but different also in kind, from the cantus dicendi of polished conversation. The latter continually varies with the meaning and construction of sentences ; the former is known by the formal notes that return at regular intervals, and particularly by the characteristic jerking accent that finishes every sentence *
* An author who has lately produced an excellent treatise on the Improvement of the Voice and Ear, observes, that "it would be finical in the last degree in our great orators to mar their efforts by the petty rules of slides or inflections of the voice”. Undoubtedly it would ;-it would appear finical if any rules whatever, except those of correct reasoning, should seem to interfere, when questions of public moment are deliberating; and an orator in this country would scarcely be listened to, who should seem to care about the means, when his mind ought to be wholly engrossed by the end. Yet every one who knows human nature is aware, that the graces of oratory, and of modulation among the number, are of the utmost importance toward success: only they must seem natural, and not sought for. Now the external graces of oratory which we call natural, are in truth nothing but habits; and how is the habit of a graceful modulation to be formed? Our great speakers in
Thirdly, with regard to the tones, and other signs of earnestness and emotion which naturally unite with words when the feelings are real, it is at once evident that no instruction can be necessary while words are used to express our own thoughts at the time they arise. But the great business of education is to open to the pupil the stores of other minds — the master spirits
of our species — and make him think and feel as they have thought and felt: and the best proof he can give of the reality of every impression, is the delivery of their language with the expression that belongs to it. May this result be expected without whom this particular has been left to chance, may be said to cover the defect of an ungraceful modulation by higher and nobler excellences; but assuredly they cannot in general claim praise for excellence of this kind. It may however be true, that, for purposes of practical instruction, Mr. Walker's rules for the slides or inflections of the voice are too minute. A series of exercises formed on the more general principles, and tending to give a practical feeling of the use, power, and variety of the accents, is likely to be more serviceable. As to the necessity of caricaturing the accents in order to teach their use, the author referred to is entirely mistaken. A proper method of instruction tends to the opposite effect.
the aid of example to bring it forth ? "It is a constant subject of regret that men whose learning, intelligence, and sensibility, cannot be doubted, are habitually cold and languid in the delivery of written composition, however impassioned. What can have produced so unnatural a separation between the words and the tones of emotion, but the absence of that instruction which would have kept them united ?
The Art which the foregoing suggestions are meant to recommend (at present, by an unclassical diversion of the word, called Elocution,) has, within the last fifty or sixty years, been the subject of many ingenious treatises, and given employment to several teachers of acknowledged talent and repute. Yet these labours have not produced the effect, which, if the observations are just, certainly ought to have ensued—the admission of the art, as a branch of regular discipline, into every system of liberal education. It is not enough for the purpose to make the pupil occasionally learn and repeat by heart selected passages of
prose or poetry, unless he is taught at the same time the ob