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to discover and correct thofe tones, and habits of speaking, which are grofs deviations from nature, and as far as they prevail must destroy all propriety and grace of utterance; and to make choice of fuch a course of practical leffons, as fhall give the speaker an opportunity of exercifing himself in each branch of elocution; all this must be the effect of attention and labour; and in all this much affiftance may certainly be derived from inftruction. What are rules or leffons for acquiring this or any other art, but the observations of others, collected into a narrow compass, and digefted in a natural order, for the direction of the unexperienced and unpractifed learner? And what is there in the art of fpeaking, which fhould render it incapable of receiving aid from precepts?
PRESUMING then, that the acquifition 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 refpecting elocution, as appear beft adapted to form a correct and graceful Speaker,
Let your Articulation be diftinct and deliberate.
GOOD Articulation confifts in giving a clear and full utterance to the several fimple and complex founds. The nature of these founds, therefore, ought to be well understood; and much pains fhould be taken to discover and correct thofe faults in articulation, which, though often afcribed to fome defect in the organs of fpeech, are generally the confequence of inattention or bad example: Many of these respect the founding of the confonants. Some cannot pronounce the letter 1, and others the fimple founds r, s, th, fh; others generally omit the afpirate b. These faults may be corrected, by reading fen tences, fo contrived as often to repeat the faulty founds; and by guarding againft them in familiar conversation.
OTHER defects in articulation regard the complex founds, and confift in a confused 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
inftance as abound with long and unusual words, or in which many fhort fyllables come together) and to read, at certain ftated times, much flower than the fenfe and just speaking would require. Almost all perfons, who have not studied the art of speaking, have a habit of uttering their words fo rapidly, that this latter exercise ought generally to be made use of for a confiderable time at firft: for where there is a uniformly rapid utterance, it is abfolutely impoffible that there should be ftrong emphafis, natural tones, or any juft elocution.
AIM at nothing higher, till you can read diftinctly and deliberately.
LEARN to speak flow, all other graces
your Pronunciation be bold and forcible.
N infipid flatnefs and languor is an almost univerfal fault in reading; and even public fpeakers often fuffer their words to drop from
their lips with fuch a faint and feeble utterance, that they appear neither to underftand or feel what they fay themfelves, nor to have any defire that it fhould be understood or felt by their audience. This is a fundamental fault: a speaker without energy, is a lifelefs ftatue.
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 founds 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 fpeaking; let all the confonant founds be expreffed with a full impulse or percuffion 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. Practife thefe rules with perfeverance, till you have acquired strength and energy of speech.
BUT in obferving this rule, beware of running into the extreme of vociferation. We find this fault chiefly among thofe, who, in contempt and defpite
despite of all rule and propriety, are determined to command the attention of the vulgar. These are the fpeakers, who, in Shakespear's phrafe, "offend the judicious hearer to the foul, by tearing a paffion to rags, to very tatters, to fplit the ears of the groundlings." Cicero compares fuch fpeakers to cripples who get on horfe-back because they cannot walk: they bellow, because they cannot speak.
Acquire a compass and variety in the height of your voice.
HE monotony fo much complained of in public speakers, is chiefly owing to the neglect of this rule. They generally content themfelves with one certain key, which they employ on all occafions, and on every fubject: 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 fpeak; imagining, that speaking in a high key is the fame thing as fpeaking loud; and not observing, that whether a speaker fhall be heard or not, depends more upon the diftinctness