« VorigeDoorgaan »
ibid. 390 ibid. 394
E LO CU TI O N.
UCH declamation has been employed to convince the world of a very plain truth, that to be able to speak well is an ornamental and useful accoma plishment. Without the laboured panegyrics of ancient or modern orators, the importance of a good elocution is sufficiently obvious. Every one will acknowledge it to be of some consequence, that what a man has hourly occasion to do, should be done well. Every private company, and almost every public assembly affords opportunities of remarking the difference between a juft and graceful, and a faulty and unnatural elocution; and there are few persons who do not daily experience the advantages of the former, and the inconveniences of the latter. The great difficulty is, not to prove that it is a desira •B
able thing to be able to read and speak with propriety, but to point out a practicable and easy method by which this accomplishment may be acquired.
Follow Nature, is certainly the fundamental law of Oratory, without a regard to which, all other rules will only produce affected declamation, not just elocution. And some accurate observers, judging perhaps, from a few unlucky fpecimens of modern eloquence, have concluded that this is the only law which ought to be prescribed; that all artificial rules are useless; and that good sense, and a cultivated taste, are the only requisites to form a good public speaker. But it is true in the art of speaking, as well as in the art of living, that general precepts are of little use till they are unfolded, and applied to particular cases. To observe the various ways by which nature expresses the several perceptions, emotions, and passions of the human mind, and to distinguish these from the mere effect of arbitrary custom or false taste; to discover and correct those tones, and habits of speaking, which are gross deviations from nature, and as far as they prevail must destroy all propriety and grace of utterance : and to make choice of such a course of practical lesfons, 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; 2
and in this much aslistance 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 fou cilitated by rules, I proceed to lay before my readers, in a plain didactic form, such rules respecting elocution, as appear best adapted to form a correct and graceful speaker.
R U LE I.
Let your ARTICULATION be DISTINCT and DELI
A GOOD Articulation consists in giving a clear
a and full utterance to the several simple and complex founds. The nature of these founds, 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