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The single word “ promotion” may suffice as an example of these faults. In the characteristic local accent of New England, the frequent use of the “wave," or " circumflex," and of consequent prolongation of sound, presents the word to the ear in the form of two separate words, or of systematic and formal syllabication in one ; thus, “pro motion,” or “ pro-motion.' The current usage of the Middle States, on the other hand, obscures the first o of the word, so as to reduce it nearly to a short u, and sinks the last o entirely. In this case, the word is pronounced průmoshn.
Few exercises would prove more useful for the purposes of education, in schools, or more serviceable to adult students, than the practice of reading aloud, daily, from the columns of a dictionary. Words, when contemplated in this detached state, make a more distinct impression, both on the eye and the ear, - as far as regards their component elements of letters and sounds, than when they are read in connexion in sentences, in which case the attention is always prone to slight the sound, and dwell upon the sense. Preparatory training, and remedial discipline, require, first, a thorough course of enunciation for the definite and exact execution of every sound and syllable, and, subsequently, a special series of exercises including the union of sound and sense, in connected and consecutive expression.
The exercises which were prescribed under the head of “ qualltity,” are so arranged as to admit of being converted into a systematic course of practice in accent, with a view to trace the constituent elements of syllables, in relation to accent, as always necessarily decided by the distinctions of “ indefinite," " mutable,” and “ immutable.” It is unnecessary, therefore, to repeat the syllabic exercises in the pages of the book. The teacher and the student can accomplish the object of practice, by reverting to them, and repeating such as best exemplify the different species of accent,
“ radical," crete," and " temporal.”
II.-"Rhythmical” Accent. The subject of accent is now to be considered in connexion not with single words, but the sequence of phrases, in the utterance of successive sentences, and as constituting an important part of the study of “time” applied to the current of the voice, in the continuous exercises of speech, reading, or recitation.
The first or lowest degree of musical accent, is called “ rhythm ;" the term, by its derivation, implying a comparison between the continuous flow of the voice in speech, and the motion of a stream, as contrasted with the still water of a lake. The voice, in the enunciation of a single sound or word, is comparatively stationary: in the utterance of successive sounds, it has something like progressive motion. This motion may be varied and irregular; or it may be uniform and measured; as the stream, when flowing over an uneven and rocky bed, may exhibit all varieties of motion, but when gliding along a smooth channel, may keep a regular rate of time, that may be exactly defined.
The “movement” of the voice in conversation, on light or ordinary subjects, is variable and irregular; on subjects of greater moment, it is more even and sedate; and, in the expression of deep and energetic sentiment, it becomes still more regular, and, perhaps, to a certain degree, measured, in its rate of “ movement.” Reading is a mode of voice yet more distinctly marked in “ movement,” by its partial uniformity of utterance; and declamation advances another degree, still, in “ rhythm,” by its deliberate and formal succession of sound. The reading or recitation of poetry, carries the “ ment” to its highest degree of fixed and well marked“ rhythm," as determined by the structure of verse, which derives its pleasing effect to the ear from the exact observance of a continued uniform, or correspondent “rhythm.” The word “metre, measure,” has accordingly its appropriate application to this species of "
As “time” includes the duration of pauses as well as of “quantities," and of “ movement,” it necessarily comprehends under“ rhythm” the exact proportion of pauses to sound, in the rate of utterance, when regulated by “rhythmical” accent. A part of the effect of “ rhythm” on the ear, must arise, therefore, from the “ time” of regularly recurring and exactly proportioned pauses. The full definition of " rhythm would, accordingly, be, the effect of “ time,” in regularly returning “quantity,” accent, and pause, in the successive sounds of the voice.
In the usual forms of familiar prose writing, little regard is paid to the placing of words, as respects the effect of accent. Words, in plain, unpretending composition, follow each other, with but slight reference to the result in mere sound. Some writers, however, are distinguished by a style which is more or less measured and rhythmical to the ear. The stately and formal style of oratorical declamation, sometimes assumes this shape, as does also the language of sublime, pathetic, and beautiful description. Some writers, by high excellence of natural or of cultivated ear, succeed in imparting an exquisite but unobtrusive melody to their sentences, which forms one of the principal attractions of their style. We have instances of these various effects of the selection and arrangement of words, in the
majestic and measured declamation of Chatham, or in the lofty and magnificent strains of Scripture. The cadences of Ossian exemplify, sometimes, the power and beauty of metrical arrangement, and, sometimes, the cloying effect of its too frequent and uniform recurrence. Every cultivated ear is familiar with the chaste and pleasing turn of the sentences of Addison, the easy flow of Goldsmith's, the ambitious swell of those of Johnson, the broken and capricious phrases of Sterne, the noble harmony of Burke, the abruptness of Swift, and the graceful smoothness of Irving.
The characteristic melody of each of these authors, is owing, as we find, on analysis, to more or less attention paid to the effect of “ rhythmical ” accent : it is, in fact, a species even of " metre itself, or, at least, a close approach to it. Examined in detail, it will usually be found to consist in a skilful avoiding of " abrupt elements,” in securing the coincidence of emphasis with “mutable” and " indefinite quantities,” but, more particularly, an exact timing of the recurrence of accents at the end of.clauses, and in the cadence oi sentences; as these places are peculiarly adapted to sounds intended for effect on the ear, whether the design of the writer is to render them prominent and striking, or subdued and quiet. Such results tell, with equal power, on the hearer, whether they are studied or unconscious, on the part of the writer; and they demand equal attention on the part of the reader.
“Rhythm," then, the lowest gradation of "metrical movement,” exists in prose as well as poetry; and good reading preserves it distinctly to the ear.
It is a useful exercise, therefore, to study the styles of different authors, with reference to this point, and to read aloud, from characteristic passages, so as to become familiar with their peculiarities of “ rhythm,” and to gain the power of giving these a distinct and perceptible existence in the voice, without carrying the effect so far that sense is in danger of being merged in sound, or the thought, of being lost in the language. Everything mechanical, in reading, is an offence to soun: judgment and true taste.
The following examples of the notation of “rhythmical” accent will serve to suggest to the student the exercise of marking with a pencil the rhythm,” in passages of his own selection. The teacher may prescribe exercises of this sort to his pupils, by the use of the black board. The system of notation needs attention to the following explanatory statement.
The notation of “rhythm” is founded on the theory of Steele, that utterance, in speech and in reading, may, like music, be divided into regular portions by accent, and indicated by “bars," music, when written or printed; each “bar” commencing with an accented syllable, or an equivalent pause.
Rhythm,” however, it must be remembered, in the practice of all s'ich exercises as the following, is like every other requisite of elocution, - an aid and an ornament, within due limits of effect, but a deformity when rendered prominent and obtrusive. The wavering
and unsteady voice of juvenile readers, and the unsatisfactory current of utterance in the style of some professional speakers, is owing to the want of a firmly marked " rhythm,” a fault which necessarily produces to the ear of the hearer a wandering uncertainty of effect. " Time," to which “rhythm,” is subordinate, demands precision and exactness, when applied as a measure of speech. Some readers, however, err on the extreme of marking time too prominently, and with a jerking accent, which offends the ear by causing reading to resemble a music lesson in " accent,” accompanied with a heavy “ beat,” for the sake of awakening the attention of a learner whose organ of time” is dull.
The style of practice in the first stages, must, of course, be characterized by full and distinct effect, even at the hazard of seeming labored and forced, — if the reader's ear is not naturally susceptible, and requires powerful impressions. But much practice should be added, with a view to produce smoothness and delicacy ; as the painter does not rest satisfied with the mere blocking out of light and shadow in his picture, but labors till he has secured that exquisite finish, which is the crowning grace, in every successful attempt of art; and art fails in its endeavors, if it does not present nature in the union of beauty and truth.
1.- Declamatory Style.
[FROM A SERMON OF ROBERT HALL.] “It re- | mains with | you then 1 to de- | cide | whether that | freedom at , whose | voice the kingdoms of Europe Ma- | woke from the sleep of ages, to | run a ca- | reer of | virtuous | ’ emu- | lation | in | everything | great and good ; 101 the freedom which dispelled the mists of | ? super- I stition, and in- | vited the | nations to be- | hold their | God; 141whose | magic | touch | kindled the rays of | genius, the en- | thusiasm of poetry, and the flame of | eloquence; 1914 the | freedom which | poured into our | lap | opulence | and | arts, and em- | bellished | life with in- | numerable ? insti- tutions and im- provements,
till it be- I came a | theatre of wonders ; it is for | you to decide whether this freedomshall | yet sur- | vive, or perish for- | ever.”
2.- Poetic expression in Prose. [PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE INTRODUCED IN THE BURIAL SERVICE.] “Il am the l’ Resur- , rection and the | life, y saith the Lord; he that believeth in me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live: 1
and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never | die. 141
I know that my Re- deemer | liveth, and that he shall | stand at the latter day upon the | , earth, and though I worms destroy this body, I
1 yet in my | flesh shall I see | God." || |
3.- Sentiment, in Didactic Style. [GOLDSMITH.] “ Writers of every | age have en- | deavored to | show that pleasure is in us, and not in the objects offered for our a- | musement. 11 If the soul be happily dis- | posed, everything be- | comes capable of af- | fording | enter- | tainment; 1 1 and dis- | tress will almost | want a | name.
14 | Every oc- | currence 14 | passes in re- / view 1 I like the figures of a pro- | cession; | - | some may be awkward, 4 others ill dressed; but none but a fool is, for this, I | raged with the master of the ceremonies. 1491
4.- Splendor and Pathos. [BURKE's DESCRIPTION OF MARIE ANTOINETTE.] “ It is now, | sixteen or | seventeen | years | since I | saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Ver- sailles : 4144 1 and surely | never | lighted on this . orb, which she hardly | seemed to | touch, 1 a | more de- | lightful | vision. 1401 I | saw her | just a- | bove the ho- | rizon, decorating and cheering in the | elevated sphere | she just be- gan to / move
1 A “ secondary," instead of the usual "primary,” accent.