« PreviousContinue »
tation, denotes a familiarity and levity, never offered to a superior. To employ this in taking an oath, or in giving what is called the “ right hand of fellowship,” as a religious act, would be deemed rusticity or irreverent trifling.
Now so long as this general usage exists, without inquiring here into its origin, it is manifest that the left hand can never, without incongruity, assume precedence over the right, so as to perform alone the principal gesture, with the few exceptions mentioned below. To raise this hand, for example, as expressing authority; or to lay it on the breast, in an appeal to conscience, would be likely to excite a smile. Though it often acts with great significance, in conjunction with the right hand, the only cases, that I recollect, where it can with propriety act alone, in the principal gesture, are these:
First, when the left hand is spoken of in contradistinction from the right; “ He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” Secondly, when there is local allusion to some object on the left of the speaker. For example, if his face is to the north, and he points to the setting sun, it is better perhaps to do it with his left hand, than to turn his body, so as to make it convenient to do it with his right. Thirdly, when two things are contrasted, though without local allusion, if the case requires, that the one be marked by the action of the right hand, it is often best to mark the antithetic object with the left.
But I would not magnify, by dwelling on it, a question of so small moment. It would have been despatched in a sentence or two, had it not seemed proper to show, that what some are disposed to call an arbitrary and groundless precept of ancient rhetoric, has its foundation in a general and instinctive feeling of propriety. Still I would say, that when a departure from this precept results, not from affectation, but from emotion, it is far better than any minute ooservance of propriety, which arises from a coldly correct and artificial habit.
In finishing this chapter, the general remark may be made, as applying to action, and indeed to the whole subject of delivery, that many smaller blemishes are scarcely observed in a speaker, who is deeply interested in his subject; while the affectation of excellence, is never excused by judicious hearers. To be a first-rate orator, requires a combination of powers which few men possess: and no means of cultivation can ever confer these highest requisites for eloquence, on public speakers generally. But neither is it necessary to eminent usefulness, that these requisites should be possessed by all. Any man, who has good sense, and a warm heart, if his faculties for elocution are not essentially defective, and if he is patient and faithful in the discipline of these faculties, may render himself an agreeable and impressive speaker.
The selections in Part I. of these Exercises, are designed especially to exemplify the principles of rhetorical delivery, as laid down in the foregoing pages. These principles are the same as those contained in my Analysis, only thrown into a more brief and simple form, for a younger class of readers, than were contemplated in that work. I see no reason to change the original plan, of giving one series of exercises, with a rhetorical notation, throughout; and another series of miscellaneous pieces, in which such a notation is but partially applied.
These Exercises of the first part, are much the same as those of the ANALYSIS, chiefly because the examples were selected, with great expense of time, from the whole compass of English literature; and because it is not easy to make another selection, so well adapted to the various principles to be illustrated.
In using the Exercises of Part I. the student may be assisted by the following remarks.
1. At the head of each exercise, on the left hand, the page is noted, where the principle is contained, which the examples are intended to illustrate.
2. Under the several heads, a rhetorical notation, according to the Key given at the beginning, is so applied as
to designate inflection, emphasis, and towards the close, modulation. When emphatic stress is but moderate, it is often distinguished only by the mark of inflection; when the stress amounts to decided emphasis, it is denoted by the Italic type; and sometimes, when strongly intensive, by small capitals. In examples taken from the Scriptures, Italic words are used, not as in the English Bible, but solely to express emphasis.
3. In applying a rhetorical notation so as most fully to exhibit sentiment and emotion, there is often room for diversity of taste. Any amendments, in this respect, which may be suggested by Teachers or others will be gratefully received.
4. They who use these Exercises should be aware that examples, which apply exclusively to a single principle of elocution, are commonly very short. When longer ones are chosen, including other principles, besides the one especially in view, it will still be apparent from the notation, what is the point chiefly to be regarded.
5. Before attempting to read any Exercise, the principle intended to be illustrated should be well examined by the pupil. Especially under the head of Modulation, no example expressive of passion, should be read without being studied beforehand.
EXERCISES ON ARTICULATION.
EXERCISE 1. Page 24. Difficult articulation from immediate succession
of the same or similar sounds. 1. The youth hates study. 2. The wild beasts straggled through the vale. 3. The steadfast stranger in the forests strayed. 4. It was the finest street of the city. 5. When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw.
6. It was the severest storm of the season, but the masts stood through the gale. 7. That lasts till night.
That last still night.
He can debate on neither side of the question.
Who ever imagined such a notion to exist ?
Page 25. Difficult succession of consonants with remote accent.
1. He has taken leave of terrestrial trials and enjoyments, and is laid in the grave, the common receptacle and home of mortals.
2. Though this barbarous chief received us very courteously, and spoke to us very communicatively at the first interview, we soon lost our confidence in the disinterested ness of his motives.
3. Though there could be no doubt as to the reasonableness of our request, yet he saw fit peremptorily to refuse it, and authoritatively to require that we should depart from the country. As no alternative was left us, we unhesitatingly prepared to obey this arbitrary mandate.
EXERCISES ON INFLECTION.
EXERCISE 2. Page 29. The disjunctive (or) has the rising inflection
before, and the falling after it. 1. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing,