페이지 이미지

livered by the use of mere words, in one dull uniform tone. On the same account it is fortunate, that tones have also been made the marks of the several pauses; and the links which unite together, the several members of sentences and periods.

But beside the use of tones in the exertion of his animal and intellectual faculties, there is another part of man's nature which seems to be the link that joins the other two, a great part of whose exertions, have their very essence, so far as they are communicated by the voice, in tones; I mean the fancy.-To one branch of this part of his frame, nature herself has furnished matter for a language, different in its kind from all other, and peculiar to man; I mean, risibility; and this matter, according to the exertions of fancy, is to be modified into an infinity of shapes. There is a laugh of joy, and a laugh of ridicule; there is a laugh of anger, and a laugh of contempt. Nay there are few of our passions, to which fancy cannot adapt, and associate this language. And should we trace it through all its several modifications and degrees, from the loud burst of joy, to the tones belonging to the dry sneer of contempt; we should find, that an extensive, and expressive language, independent of words, belongs to this faculty alone. Let any one who has been present at a well acted comedy, only reflect, how very different the sentiments, characters, and humour have appeared, in the representation, from what was conveyed to him by the mere perusal of the words in his closet, and he will need no other proof to shew him how necessary, and how extensive a part, the tones make, of the language of fancy.


From what has been said, it will sufficiently appear, how grossly they are mistaken, who think that nothing is essentially necessary to language, but words; and that it is no matter, in what tones their sentiments are uttered, or whether there be any used, so that the words are but distinctly pronounced, and with such force of voice as to be clearly heard. For it must be allowed, that the use of language is not merely to communicate ideas, but also all the internal operations, emotions, and exertions, of the intellectual, sensitive, and imaginative faculties of man: It must also be allowed, that from the frame of our language, our very ideas cannot be communicated, nor consequently our meaning understood, without the right use of tones; as many of our ideas are marked and distinguished from each other by tones, and not words. It must further be admitted, that the connexion or repugnance of our ideas, their relationship or disagreement, and various dependence on each other in sentences, are chiefly pointed out by tones belonging to the several pauses.

When, therefore, we reflect, that not only every thing which is pleasurable, every thing which is forcible and affecting in utterance, but also the most material point necessary to a full and distinct comprehension of the sense of what is uttered, depends upon tones; it may well astonish us to think, that so essential a part of language, should in a civilized country be wholly neglected. Nay worse, that our youth should not only be uninstructed in the true use of these, but in the little art that is used, they should be early perverted by false rules, utterly repugnant to those which nature has

clearly pointed out to us. In consequence of which, all the noble ends which might be answered in a free state, by a clear, lively, and affecting public elocution, are in a great measure lost to us. And how can it be otherwise, when we have given up the vivifying, energetic language, stamped by God himself upon our nature, for that which is the cold, lifeless work of art, and invention of man? and bartered that which can penetrate the inmost recesses of the heart, for one which dies in the ear, or fades on the sight.

I should now proceed to lay down some practical rules and observations, with regard to this material article, but that there is another branch of language so nearly connected with this, that all rules in regard to the one, have a necessary relation to the other; and therefore it will be both the shortest, and clearest method, to place them together in view. The branch which I mean, is that part of language which is manifested to sight, by the expression of the countenance and gesture: of which I shall treat in the next chapter.



As nature has annexed tones to the passions, to make their exertions known through the ear; so has she associated to them looks and gestures, to manifest them to the eye. The one, may be justly called the speech, the other, the hand-writing of nature. And her handwriting, like her speech, carries evident marks with it, of its divine original; as it corresponds exactly to its archetype, and is therefore universally legible, without pains or study; and as it contains in itself a power, of exciting similar, or analogous emotions. Not like the writing of man, which having no affinity with its archetype, can be understood only by pains and labor; and containing no virtue of its own, can of itself, communicate no emotion.

Nor is the written language of nature less expressive, or less copious, than her speech. They seem nicely suited to each other, in degree and power; in their effects exactly similar, having no other difference, but what arises from the difference of the organs, through which they are conveyed. As every passion has its peculiar tone, so has it, its peculiar look or gesture. And in each, the several degrees are marked, with the nicest exactness. Both indeed proceeding from the touching of one master-string, internal feeling, must always answer to each other, if I may so speak, in

perfect unison. Thus far they are equal in point of expression, and with respect to copiousness; as it has been before observed, that the human voice is furnished with an infinite variety of tones, suitable to the infinite variety of emotions in the mind; so are the human countenance and limbs, capable of an infinite variety of changes, suitable to the tones; or rather to the emotions, whence they both take their rise. To this purpose every nobler organ in man's complicated frame, and the whole animal economy contribute. The muscles, nerves, the blood and animal spirits, all are at work to shew internal commotion. The contraction or remission of the solids, shewn by courageous exertion of action, or pusillanimous trembling; the rushing or withdrawing of the fluids, seen in blushing or paleness; are strong and self-evident characters. But of all the organs, the eye, rightly called the window of the soul, contains the greatest variety, as well as distinction and force of characters. In rage it is inflamed, in fear it sickens; it sparkles in joy, in distress it is clouded. Nature has indeed annexed to the passions of grief, a more forcible character than any other, that of tears; of all parts of language, the most expressive. And justly was this extraordinary sign of passion, annexed to the nature of man; the child of sorrow, and inhabitant of the vale of wo: not only to ease the burthened heart, but more powerfully to excite his fellow creatures to pity, and to relieve his distress. Thus, at once affording balm to the afflicted, and inciting mankind to the exercise of their noblest quality, benevolence. On which account, this single character,

« 이전계속 »