« EelmineJätka »
Pronunciation or Delivery.
advantage. Every speaker should study to preserve as much dignity as possible, in the attitude of his body. He should generally prefer an erect posture ; his position should be firm, that he may have the fullest and freest command of all his motions. If any inelination be used, it should be toward the hearers, which is a natural expression of earnestness. The countenance should correspond with the nature of the discourse ; and, when no particular emotion is expressed, a serious and manly look is always to be preferred. The eyes should never be fixed entirely on any one object, but move easily round the audience. In motion, made with the hands, consists the principal part of gesture in speaking. It is natural for the right hand to be employed more frequently than the left. Warm emotions require the exercise of them both together. But whether a speaker gesticulate with one, or with both his hands, it is important that all his motions be easy and unrestrained. Narrow and confined movements are nsually ungraceful; and consequently motions made with the hands should proceed from the shoulder, rather than from the elbow. Perpendicular movements are to be avoided. Oblique motions are most pleasing and graceful. Sudden and rapid motions are seldom good. Earnestness can be fully expressed without their assistance.
We cannot conclude this subject without earnestly admonishing every speaker to guard against all affectation, which is the destruction of good delivery. Let his manner, whatever it be, be his own; neither imitated from another, nor taken from some imaginary model which is unnatural to him. Whatever is native, though attended by
Means of improving in Eloquence.
several defects, is likely to please, because it shows us the man; and because it has the appearance of proceeding from the heart. To attain a delivery extremely correct and graceful, is what few can expect; since so many natural talents must concur in its formation. But to acquire a forcible and persuasive manner is within the power of most persons. They need only to dis- .. miss bad habits, follow nature, and speak in public as they do in private, when they speak in earnest and from the heart.
MEANS OF IMPROVING IN ELOQUENCE.
To those who are anxious to excel in any of the higher kinds of oratory, nothing is more necessary than to cultivate habits of the several virtues, and to refine and improve their moral feelings. A true orator must possess generous sentiments, warm feelings, and a mind turned toward admiration of those great and high objects which men are by nature formed to venerate. Connected with the manly virtues, he should possess strong and tender sensibility to all the injuries, distresses and sorrows of his fellow-creatures.
Next to moral qualifications, what is most requisite for an orator, is a fund of knowledge. There is no art by which eloquence can be taught in any sphere, without a sufficient acquaintance with what belongs to that sphere. Attention to the ornaments of style can only assist an orator in setting off to advantage the stock of materials Means of improving in Eloquence. which he possesses; but the materials themselves must be derived from other sources than from rhetoric. A pleader must make himself completely acquainted with the law; he must possess all that learning and experience which can be useful for supporting a cause, or convincing a judge. A preacher must apply himself closely to the study of divinity or practical religion, of morals, and of human nature; that he may be rich in all topics of instruction and persuasion. He who wishes to excel in the supreme council of the nation, or in any public assembly, should be thoroughly acquainted with the business that belongs to such assembly; and should attend with accuracy to all the facts which may be the subject of question or deliberation.
Beside the knowledge peculiar to his profession, a public speaker should be acquainted with the general circle of polite literature. Poetry he will find useful for embellishing his style, for suggesting lively images, or pleasing illusions. His. tory may be still more advantageous; as the knowledge of facts, of eminent characters, and of the course of human affairs, finds place on many occasions. Deficiency of knowledge even in subjects not immediately connected with his profession, will expose a public speaker to many disadvantages, and give his rivals who are better qual. ified, a decided superiority.
To every one who wishes to excel in eloquence, application and industry cannot be too much recommended. Without this it is impossible to ex. cel in any thing. No one ever became a distinguished pleader, or preacher, or speaker in any assembly, without previous labour and application.
Means of improving in Eloquence.
Industry indeed is not only necessary to every valuable acquisition, but it is designed by Providence as a seasoning of every pleasure, without which life is doomed to languish. No enemy is so destructive both to honorable attainments, and to the real and spirited enjoyment of life, as that relaxed state of mind which proceeds from indolenee and dissipation. He who is destined to excel in any art, will be distinguished by enthusiasm for that art; which, firing his mind with the object in view, will dispose him to relish every necessary labour. This was the characteristic of the great men of antiquity; and this must distinguish moderns who wish to imitate, them. This honorable enthusiasm should be cultivated by students in oratory. If it be wanting to youth, manhood will flag exceedingly.
Attention to the best models contributes greatly to improvement in the arts of speaking and writing. Every one indeed should endeavour to have something that is his own, that is peculiar to himself, and will distinguish his style. Genius is certainly depressed, or want of it betrayed, by slavish imitation. Yet no genius is so original as not to receive improvement from proper examples in style, composition, and delivery. They always afford some new ideas, and serve to enlarge and correct our own. They quicken the current of thought, and excite emulation.
In imitating the style of a favorite author, a material distinction should be observed between written and spoken language. These are in reality two different modes of communicating ideas. In books we expect correctness, precision, all redundancies pruned, all repetitions avoided, lanMeans of improving in Eloquence. guage completely polished. Speaking allows a more easy, copious style, and less confined by rule; repetitions may often be requisite; parentheses may sometimes be ornamental; the same thought must often be placed in different points of view ; since the hearers can catch it only from the mouth of the speaker, and have not the opportunity, as in reading, of turning back again, and of contemplating what they do not entirely comprehend. Hence the style of many good authors would appear stiff, affected, and even ob. scure, if transferred into a popular oration. How unnatural, for instance, would Lord Shaftsbury's sentences sound in the mouth of a public speaker? Some kinds of public discourse, indeed, such as that of the pulpit, where more accurate preparation, and more studied style are allowable, would admit such a manner better than others, which are expected to approach nearer to extemporaneous speaking. But still there is generally sach a difference between a composition intended only to be read, and one proper to be spoken, as should caution us against a close and improper imitation.
The composition of some authors approaches nearer to the style of speaking than that of others, and they may therefore be imitated with more safety. In our own language, Swift and Bolingbroke are of this description. The former, though correct, preserves the easy and natural manner of an unaffected speaker. The style of the latteris more splendid ; but still it is the style of speak.
! ; ing, or rather of declamation.
Frequent exercise both in composing and speaking is a necessary mean of improvement. That kind of composition is most useful which is con