« PrécédentContinuer »
the information of the hearers, in the latter, it is ultimately their reformation. I shall not therefore hesi- . tate, in this place, to borrow aid from whatever may serve innocently to illustrate, enliven or enforce any part of my subject, and keep awake the attention of my hearers, which is but too apt to flag at hearing the most rational discourse, if there be nothing in it, which can either move the passions, or please the imagination. The nature of my department excludes almost every thing of the former kind, or what may be called pathetic. A little of the onction above explained is the utmost that here ought to be aspired to. There is the less need to dispense with what of the latter kind may be helpful for rousing attention. I hope therefore to be indulged the liberty, a liberty which I shall use very sparingly, of availing myself of the plea of the satirist,
Ridentem dicere verum
Quid setat? So much for the perspicuous and the affecting manner, qualities in the style which ought particularly to predominate in all discourses from the pulpit. There are other graces of elocution, which may occasionally find a place there, such as the nervous, the elegant, and some others, but the former ought never to be wanting. The former therefore are characteristic qualities. The latter are so far from being such, that sometimes they are rather of an opposite tendency. The nervous style requires a conciseness, that is often unfriendly to that perfect perspicuity which ought to predominate in all that is addressed to the christian people, and which leads a speaker rather to be diffuse in his expression, that he may the better adapt himself to ordinary capacities. Elegance too demands a certain polish, that is not always entirely compatible with that artless sim. plicity, with which when the great truths of religion are adorned, they appear always to the most advantage, and in the truest majesty. They are “ when unadorn’d, adorn'd the most."
We have now done with what regards in general the sentiment and the elocution. The next lecture shall be on the pronunciation.
I have in the two preceding discourses finished what regards in general the sentiments and the elocution proper for the pulpit ; I intend in the present discourse to discuss the article of pronunciation. This admits the same division, which was observed in the former branch, into grammatical and rhetorical. The former was by the Greeks denominated expwVnois, the latter U WOXELOIS. As it is of the utmost consequence, when we are entering on the examination of any article, that we form precise ideas of the subject of inquiry, and do not confound things in themselves distinct, I shall begin this lecture with a definition of each of these, to which I must beg leave to entreat your attention, that so none may be at a loss about the meaning or application of what shall be advanced in the sequel. As to the first then, grammatical pronunciation consisteth in articulating, audibly and distinctly, the letters, whether vowels or consonants, assigning to each its appropriated sound, in giving the several syllables their just quantity, and in placing the accent, or, as some call it, the syllabic emphasis, in every word on the proper syllable. As to the second, rhetorical pronunciation consisteth in giving such an utterance to the several words in a sentence, as shows in the mind of the speaker a strong perception, or, as it were, feeling of the truth and justness of the thought conveyed by them, and in placing the rhetorical emphasis in every sentence, on the proper word, that is, on that word which, by being pronounced emphatically, gives the greatest energy and clearness to the expression. Under this head is also comprehended gesture; as both imply a kind of natural expression, superadded to that conveyed by artificial signs, or the words of the language. Under the term gesture, I would be understood to comprehend not only the action of the eyes and other features of the countenance, but also that which results from the motion of the hands and carriage of the body. This together with the proper management of the voice was all comprised under the Greek word vwOXELOS, borrowed from the theatre, but which, for want of a term of equal extent in our language, we are forced to include under the name pronunciation. Now these two kinds of pronunciation, the grammatical and the rhetorical, are so perfectly distinct, that each may be found in a very eminent degree without the other. The first indeed is merely an effect of education ; in so much that one who has had the good fortune to be brought up in a place where the language is spoken in purity, and has been taught to read by a sufficient teacher, must inevitably, if he labours under no natural defect in the organs of speech, be master of grammati- . cal pronunciation. The second is more properly, in its origin, the production of nature, but is capable of being considerably improved and polished by education. The natural qualities which combine in producing it, are an exquisite sensibility joined with a good ear and a flexible voice. An Englishman, who hath been properly educated, and always in good company, as the phrase is, that is, in the company of those who, by a kind of tacit consent, are allowed to take the lead in language, may pronounce so as to defy the censure of the most critical grammarian, and yet be, in the judgment of the rhetorician, a most languid and inanimate speaker, one who knows nothing at all of the oratorical pronunciation. Speakers you will often find in the house of commons, who are perfect in the one and totally deficient in the other. On the other hand, you will find speakers of this country who in respect of the last, have considerable talents, insomuch that they can excite and fix attention, that they can both please and move, that their voice seems capable alike of being modulated to sooth the passions or to inflanie them, yet in whose pronunciation a grammarian may discover innumerable defects. There is this difference, however, between the two cases, that though the grammatical pronunciation may be perfect in its kind without the rhetorical, the last is never in perfection without the first. The art of the gramniarian in this, as in the former article of elocution, serves as a foundation to that of the orator. It will be proper therefore to begin with a few remarks upon the former.
That a right grammatical pronunciation will deserye some regard from us, appears from the same reasons, which evinced that grammatical elocution deserves some regard. Those reasons therefore shall not be now repeated. There is however, it must be acknowledged, a considerable difference between the two cases. And the former attempt is much more hazardous than