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beginning low and sliding higher without any perceptible intervals, or beginning high and sliding lower in the same manner; which is essential to all speaking sounds the two last of these may be called simple slides or inflections; and these may be so combined as to begin with that which rises and end with that which falls, or to begin with that which falls and end with that which rises; and if this combination of inflection is pronounced with one impulse or explosion of the voice, it may not improperly be called the circumflex or compound inflection; and these are the only possible modifications the human voice is susceptible of. For first, if there is no turn of voice, it must continue in a monotone; secondly, if the voice be inflected, it must be either upwards or downwards, and so produce either the rising or falling inflection; thirdly, if these two be united on the same syllable, it can only be by beginning with the rising, and ending with the falling inflection, or vice versa, as any other mixture of these opposite inflections is impossible.
A writer,* who seems to have taken up two of the distinctions of voice I have been describing, tells us, that the two inflections of voice, which accompany the pauses, are, that which conveys the idea of continuation, and that which conveys the idea of completion; but nothing can be less satisfactory than this account of the use of these inflections: for the first, which is said to imply continuation, ought always to be used at the end of an interrogative sentence beginning with the verb, and almost always at
* Enfield's Speaker, page xxvi. See also Preface to Elements of Elocution, page viii.
the end of a sentence which terminates with a nega tive member, as is abundantly shown in Elements of Elocution, page 143, 144, &c.; and for the second, which is said to imply completion, we find it so often introduced where the sense is incomplete; particularly in the series, which see hereafter, and in those sentences where we enforce a concession in order to strengthen the conclusion, and in a thousand instances, where emphasis occurs, that scarcely any thing can be more vague and uncertain than the rule laid down by this author.
The truth is, nothing will enable us to adapt these inflections properly, but distinguishing sentences into their various kinds, and considering nicely the structure and meaning of these sentences, and the several 'distinctions to which these modifications of voice are liable; which is too delicate as well as too laborious a task for the generality of writers, and therefore it is no wonder we find such superficial directions as the bulk of our treatises on this subject abound in. I flatter myself I have led the way in this laborious task, in Elements of Elocution, to which the curious reader must be referred for full satisfaction. In the present work I purpose to confine myself to what may be considered as more immediately necessary to practice; for which purpose, after explaining these turns of voice to the ear as accurately as possible, I shall endeavour to assist the ear by the eye, in comprehending the several modifications of voice, and then attempt to apply them to the several sentences and parts of sentences according to their different structure and meaning.
Explanation of the Inflections of the Voice.
Though we seldom hear such a variety in reading or speaking as the sense and the satisfaction of the ear demand, yet we hardly ever hear a pronunciation perfectly monotonous. In former times we might have found it in the midnight pronunciation of the bell-man's verses at Christmas; and now, the towncrier, as Shakspeare calls him, sometimes gives us a specimen of the monotonous in his vociferous exordium, "This is to give notice !"-the clerk of a court of justice also promulgates the will of the court by that barbarous metamorphosis of Oyez! Oyez! Hear ye! Hear ye! into O yes! O yes! in a perfect sameness of voice. But, however ridiculous the monotone in speaking may be in the above-mentioned characters, in certain solemn and sublime passages in poetry it has a wonderful force and dignity; and, by the uncommonness of its use, it even adds greatly to that variety with which the ear is so much delighted.
This monotone may be defined to be a continuation or sameness of sound upon certain syllables of a word, exactly like that produced by repeatedly striking a bell;-such a stroke may be louder or softer, but continues exactly in the same pitch. To express this tone upon paper, a horizontal line may be adopted; such a one as is generally used to express a long syl-* lable in verse; thus (−).
The grand description of the riches of Satan's throne, in the beginning of Milton's second book of the Paradise Lost, affords us an opportunity of exemplifying the use of this tone:
High on a throne of royal state, which far
The rising inflection is that upward turn of the voice we generally use at the comma, or in asking a question beginning with a verb: as, Nó, say you; did he say Nó? This is commonly called a suspension of voice, and may not improperly be marked by the acute accent, thus (').
The falling inflection is generally used at the semicolon and colon; and must necessarily be heard in answer to the former question, He did; He said No. This inflection, in a lower tone of voice, is adopted at the end of almost every sentence, except the definite question, or that which begins with the verb. To express this inflection the grave accent seems adapted: thus (`).
The rising circumflex begins with the falling inflection, and ends with the rising upon the same syllable, and seems as it were to twist the voice upwards. This inflection may be exemplified by the drawling tone we give to some words spoken ironically; as the word Clodius, in Cicero's oration for Milo. This turn of the voice is marked in this manner (v).
But it is foolish in us to compare Drusus, Africanus, and ourselves with Clodius; all our other calamities were tolerable, but no one can patiently bear the death of Clodius.
The falling circumflex begins with the rising inflection, and ends with the falling upon the same syllable, and seems to twist the voice downwards. This inflec tion is generally used to express reproach; and may be exemplified by the drawling tone we hear on the
word you, in Hamlet's answer to his mother, who says
Queen. Hamlet, you have your father much offended.
This turn of the voice may be marked by the common circumflex: thus (^).
Both these circumflex inflections may be exemplified in the word so, in a speech of the Clown in Shakspeare's As You Like It.
I knew when seven justices could not make up a quarrel; but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an if; as if you said so, then I said sô; and they shook hands and were sworn brothers.
The slightest attention to those turns of voice on the word so, which every one who has the least idea of comic humour must necessarily adopt in reading this passage, will sufficiently exemplify the existence and utility of these two circumflexes.
These five modifications of the voice may be called absolute; as they are the only possible ways of varying it so as to make one mode essentially different from the other. High and low, loud and soft, quick and slow, which may accompany them, may be called comparative modifications, as what is high in one case may be low in another, and so of the rest.
Explanation of Plate I.
By the foregoing analysis of the voice, we perceive it is divisible into two simple inflections; the rising and falling inflection; and each of these again is divisible into two sorts of the same kind. The rising inflection is divisible into that which marks a pause where the members are intimately connected in sense, (as at the word satisfactorily, No. V.) and that where