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In the following example, we see Satan lamenting his loss of heaven, and then in the dignity of a fell despair, invoking the infernal world. In reading this, when the apostrophe changes, the voice should drop from the tones of lamentation which are high and soft, to those which are deep and strong, on the words, “ Hail, horrors,” &c.
() Is this the region, this the soil, the cilme,
Said then the lost archangel, this the seat,
Farewell, happy fiélds,
26] Sect. 8.-Expression.
This term I use, in rather a limited sense, to denote the proper influence of reverential and pathetic sentiment on the voice. A partial illustration of this has been given in the foregoing section, but its importance calls for some additional remarks.
There is a modification of voice, which accompanies awakened sensibility of soul, that is more easily felt than described ; and this constitutes the unction of delivery. Without this, thoughts that should impress, attract, or soothe the mind, often become repulsive. I have heard the language of our Lord, at the institution of the sacramental supper, read with just those falling slides on a high
note, which belong to the careless, colloquial tones of fainiliar conversation, thus ; “Take, èat ;--this is my body.” Even the Lord's prayer, I have sometimes beard read with the same irreverent familiarity of manner. This offence against propriety, becomes still more violent, when the sentiment is not only solemn but pathetic, requiring that correspondent quality of voice, to which I have repeatedly alluded.
Should I attempt fully to explain the principles on which this pathetic quality of the voice depends, it would lead us into a somewhat extended view of the philosophy of emotion, as connected with modulation of speaking
A few remarks, however, must suffice. The fact cannot have escaped common observation, that sorrow, and its kindred passions, when carried to a high pitch, suspend the voice entirely. In a lower degree, they give it a slender and tremulous utterance. Thus Aaron, when informed that his two sons were smitten dead, by a stroke of divine vengeance, “held his peace. The emotions of his heart were too deep to find utterance in words. The highest passion of this sort, is expressed by silence; and when so far moderated, as to admit of words, it speaks only in abrupt fragments of sentences. Hence it is that all artificial imitation, in this case, is commonly so unlike the reality. It leads to metaphors, to amplification and embellishment, in language, and to either vociferation or whining in utterance. Whereas the real passion intended to be imitated, if it speaks at all, speaks without ornament, in few words, and in tones that are a perfect contrast to those of declamation. This distinction arises from those laws of the human mind, by which internal emotion is connected with its external signs. A groan or a shriek is instantly understood, as a language extorted by distress, a language which no art can counterfeit, and which conveys a meaning that words are ulterly inadequate to express. The heart, that is bursting with grief, feels the sympathy that speaks in a silent grasp of the hand, in tears, or in gentle tones of voice; while it is shocked at the cold commiseration that utters itself in many words, firmly and formally pronounced.
If these views are correct, passion has its own appropriate language; and this, so far as the voice is concerned, (for I cannot here consider looks and gesture,) is what I mean by expression. That this may be cultivated by the efforts of art, to some extent, is evident from the skill which actors have sometimes attained, in dramatic exhibition ; a skill to which one of the fraternity alluded, in his remark to a dignitary of the church, the cutting severity of which consists in the truth it contains; “We speak of fictions as if they were realities; you speak of realities as if they were fictions." But the dignity of real eloquence, and peculiarly of sacred eloquence, disclaims alt artifice ; and the sensibility which would be requisite to render imitation successful, would at the same time render it needless ; for why should one aim to counterfeit that, of which he possesses the reality?
The fact however, is, that the indescribable power communicated to the voice by a delicate sensibility, especially a Christian sensibility, it is quite beyond the reach of art to imitate. It depends on the vivid excitement of real feeling; and, in Christian oratory, implies that expansion and elevation of the soul, which arise only from a just feeling of religious truth. The man whose temperament is so phlegmatic, that he cannot kindle with emotion, at least with such degree of emotion as will shew itself in his countenance and voice, may be useful in some departments of learning, but the decision of his Creator is stamped upon him, that he was not made for a public speak
27] Sect. 9.—Representation.
This takes place when one voice personates two individuals or more. It seems necessary to dwell a little on this branch of modulation, which has scarcely been noticed by writers on oratory. Every one must have observed how much more interesting is an exhibition of men, as living agents, than of things in the abstract. Now when the orator introduces another man as speaking, he either informs us what that man said, in the third person ; or presents him to us as spoken to, in the second person, and as speaking himself, in the first. So far as the principles of style are concerned, the difference between the two methods, in point of vivacity, is easily explained. The former is mere description, the latter is representation. A cold narrator would have said that Verres was guilty of flagrant cruelty, in scourging a man who declared himself to be a Roman citizen. But Cicero shows us the man
* In regard to the preacher, these obstacles from mental temperament, are rendered more certainly fatal to success in delivery, if combined with a syste of belief, or a state of religious eling, 80 phlegmatic as to suppress, rather than awaken, his spiritual energies.
writhing under the lash of the bloody Prætor, and exclaiming; 66 I am a Roman citizen.”
A thousand examples are at hand, to show the difference between telling us what was said by another man, and introducing that man to speak to us himself. “The wise men said that they had seen his star in the east, and had come to worship him,"is narrative. 66 We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him," is representation. “Jesus told Peter that he should deny him thrice,” is narrative. “ Jesus said, Peter, thou shalt deny me thrice," is representation. The difference between these two modes of communication it is the province of taste to feel, but of criticism to explain. Let us then analyze a simple thought, as expressed in these two forms; “ Jesus inquired of Simon, the son of Jonas, whether he loved him.” “ Jesus said, Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” The difference in point of vivacity is instantly perceived, but in what does this difference consist? In two things. The first manner throws verbs into past time, and pronouns into the third person, producing, in the latter especially, an indefiniteness of grammatical relation, which is unfriendly to the clearness and vivacity of language. At the same time the energy arising from the vocative case, from the figure of tense, and of interrogation, is sacrificed. As a principle of composition, though commonly overlooked, this goes far to explain the difference between the tame and the vivid in style.
But the same difference is still more striking when analyzed by the principles of delivery. Transform an animated question into a mere statement of the fact, that