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some of our actors do, I had as lieve the town-crier spoke my lines." By 'trippingly on the tongue,' he means the bounding from accent to accent; tripping along from word to word, without resting on syllables by the way. And by 'mouthing,' is meant, dwelling upon syllables that have no accent, and ought therefore to be uttered as quickly as is consistent with distinct articulation; or prolonging the sounds of the accented syllables, beyond their due proportion of time. The least degree of faultiness in this respect, gives an arti ficial air to language; inasmuch as it differs from the usual, and what is commonly called, natural manner of utterance; and is on that account, of all others, to be avoided most by public speakers; whose business it is industriously to conceal art. If any one pronounces the words fór-túne, en'-croac'h-me'nt, con'-jéctúre, gráť'í-túde, tómorrów, hap'pine'ss, patience; he does not utter words, at least not English words, but syllables; which with us, are always tied together by an accent; as fortune, encroachment, conjec'ture, grat'itude, tomorrow, hap'piness, patience. And yet, this is an error, which almost all persons who speak with solemnity, run into, for want of knowing in what true solemnity of delivery consists. Which, though it may demand a slower utterance than usual, yet, requires that the same proportion in quantity be observed in the syllables, as there is in musical notes, when the same tune is played in quicker or slower time. But of this I shall have occasion to speak more at large hereafter.
The only rule, with regard to this head, necessary to be observed by all public speakers, who can pronounce English properly, is to lay the accent always on the same syllables, and the same letter of the syllable, which they usually do in common discourse, and to take care not to lay any accent or stress, upon any other syllable. A rule so plain and easy, that nothing but affectation, or bad habits, contracted from imitating others, can prevent its always taking place. And yet the want of knowing, or attending to this rule, is one of the chief sources, of the unnatural manner of declaiming, which is so generally complained of, though few can tell exactly where the fault lies.
I shall only add upon this head, that there are few things in our language, so regular, and well settled, as the article of accent. It is true there are some words that have occasioned many disputes about the seat of the accent, and have had their different partisans; such as con'cordance or concor'dance, refractory or refrac'tory, cor'ruptible, or corrup'tible, accen'ted, or ac'cented; the accenting of these being doubtful, every man is at liberty to choose which he likes best; and in giving the preference, the ear beyond all doubt ought to be consulted, as to that which forms the most agreeable sound, rather than an absurd, pedantic rule, attempted to be laid down, that of throwing the accent as far back as possible; which has no foundation in the genius of our tongue, and must frequently produce the most discordant sounds. And if any one who has the liberty of choosing, should prefer the sound of con'cordance, to concórdance; refractory to refrac'tory,
meaning to words, which they would not have in their usual acceptation, without such emphasis.
The opinion that emphasis is only a more forcible accent than ordinary laid upon the word to which it belongs, and that it is exactly of the same nature, differing only in degree of force; is one, which to the great prejudice of elocution, has too generally prevailed.
But there is an absolute and constitutional difference, between accent and emphasis, as certainly there ought to be, which consists in this; that every emphatic syllable, besides a greater stress, is marked also by a change of note in the voice. To shew the necessity of this, we need only observe, that the mind, in communicating its ideas, is in a continual state of activity, emotion, or agitation, from the different effects which those ideas produce on the mind of the speaker. Now, as the end of such communication is not merely to lay open the ideas, but also all the different feelings which they excite in him who utters them, there must be some other marks, besides words, to manifest these; as words uttered in a monotonous state, can only represent a similar state of mind, perfectly free from all activity or emotion. As the communication of these internal feelings was a matter of much more consequence in our social intercourse, than the mere conveying of ideas, so the Author of our being did not leave the invention of this language, as in the other case, to man, but stamped it himself upon our nature, in the same manner as he has done with regard to the rest of the animal world, who, all express their various feel
ings, by various tones. Only ours from the superior rank that we hold, is infinitely more comprehensive; as there is not an act of the mind, an exertion of the fancy, or an emotion of the heart, which have not their peculiar tone, or note of the voice, by which they are to be expressed, all suited in the exactest proportion, to the several degrees of internal feeling. It is in the proper use of these tones chiefly that the life, spirit, grace, and harmony of delivery consist; and the reason that this is a talent so rarely to be found, is, that almost all the nations of the world have lost sight of this language of nature, and substituted fantastical and artificial notes in its room.
Languages may be divided into two classes, accentual, and emphatical. The accentual are those, in which various notes, or inflexions of the voice, are affixed to words, either in their separate state, or when united in sentences, without any regard to their meaning. The emphatical are those, in which all the various notes and changes of the voice, are wholly regulated by the meaning of the words, and the sentiments which they contain.
Having defined the nature of the two kinds of language, as distinguished into accentual, and emphatical; it may be a matter of curiosity, to examine which of the two, upon a fair comparison, merits the preference? Though the discussion of this point may be considered as of little use, farther than speculation, yet if it leads us to a discovery, that the mode of utterance which has fallen to our share, is in its own nature superior to that of the ancients, it may induce us, to take pains, to
carry it to perfection, and obtain that superiority over them, to which we are thus entitled. In comparing them, let us suppose them both in a state of perfection. The accentual, certainly was among the ancients: the emphatical, through want of attention, never has been so among us. But as the former has been wholly lost to us, the comparison can never be brought to the test of experiment; and therefore we are reduced to the necessity of considering the point only hypothetically.
In order to judge which kind of language is best, we must first consider what are the ends, which ought to be proposed, in all attempts to bring language to perfection. They are two; one for use, the other for pleasure. To attain the useful end, it is necessary to be able to communicate, all that passes in the mind of one man, to others. To attain the pleasurable end, that this should be done in such a way, as to delight and flatter the ear. The former is the essential, the latter, the ornamental part of discourse. All that passes in the mind of man may be reduced to two classes, which I shall call, ideas, and emotions. By ideas, I mean, all thoughts which rise, and pass in succession, in the mind of man: by emotions, all exertions of the mind, in arranging, combining, and separating its ideas, as well as all the effects produced on the mind itself, by those ideas, from the more violent agitation of the passions, to the calmer feelings, produced by the operations of the intellect and fancy. In short, thought is the object of the one; internal feeling of the other. That which serves to express the former, I call the language of ideas; and the latter, the language of emotions. Words