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  • SECTION III.


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    Particular Rules for varying the Voice.

    1. IF you speak of natural things, merely to make the hearers understand them, there needs only a clear and distinct voice. But if you would display the wisdom and power of God therein, do it with a stronger and more solemn accent.

    2. The good and honorable actions of men should be; described with a full and lofty accent; wicked and infamous actions with a strong and earnest voice, and such a tone as expresses horror and detestation.

    3. In congratulating the happy events of life, we speak with a lively and cheerful accent; in relating misfortunes; (as in funeral orations,) with a slow and mournful one.

    4. The voice should also be varied according to the greatness or importance of the subject; it being absurd, either to speak in a lofty manner, where the subject is of little concern, or to speak of great and important affairs with a low, unconcerned, and familiar voice.

    5. On all occasions let the thing you are to speak be; deeply imprinted on your own heart; and when you are sensibly touched yourself, you will easily touch others, by adjusting your voice to every passion which you feel.

    6. Love is shown by a soft, smooth, and melting voice; hate, by a sharp and sullen one; joy, by a full and flowing one; grief, by a dull, languishing tone, sometimes interrupted by a sigh or groan; tear is expressed by a trembling and hesitating voice; boldness, by speaking loud and strong; anger is shown by a sharp and impetuous tone, taking the breath often, and speaking short; compassion requires a soft and submissive voice.

    7. After the expression of any violent passion, you should gradually lower your voice again. Readiness in varying it on all kinds of subjects, as well as passions, is best acquired by frequently reading or repeating aloud either dialogues, select plays, or such discourses as come nearest to the dramatic style.

    8. You should begin a discourse low, both as it expresses modesty, and as it is best for your voice and strength; and yet so as to be heard by all that are present. You may afterwards rise as the matter shall require. The audience likewise, being calm and unmoved at first, are best suited by a cool and dispassionate address.

    9. Yet this rule admits of some exceptions; for on some extraordinary occasions you may begin a discourse abruptly and passionately, and consequently with a warm and passionate accent.

    10. You may speak a little louder in laying down what you design to prove, and explaining it to your hearers. But you need not speak with any warmth or emotion yet; it is enough if you speak articulately and distinctly.

    11. When you prove your point, and refute your adversary’s objections, there is need of more earnestness and exertion of voice. And here chiefly it is that you are to vary your voice, according to the rules above recited.

    12. A little pause may then precede the conclusion, in which you may gradually rise to the utmost strength of pronunciation; and finish all with a lively, cheerful voice, expressing joy and satisfaction.

    13. An exclamation requires a loud and strong voice; and so does an oath or strong asseveration; as, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” “I call God to record upon my soul.”

    14.. In a prosopopæia, the voice should be varied according to the character of the persons introduced; in an apostrophe, according to the circumstances of the person or thing to which you address your speech; which, if directed either to God, or to inanimate things, ought to be louder than usual.

    15. In reciting and answering objections, the voice should be varied as if two persons were speaking. And so in dialogues, or whenever several persons are introduced as disputing or talking together.

    16. In a climax, the voice must be gradually raised to answer every step of the figure. In an aposiopesis, the voice, which was raised to introduce it, must be lowered considerably. In an antithesis, the points are to be distinguished, and the former to be pronounced with a stronger tone than the latter; but in an anadiplosis the word repented is pronounced the second time louder and stronger than the first.

    17. Take care never to make a pause in the middle of a word or sentence; but only where there is such a pause in the sense as requires, or, at least, allows of it. You may make a short pause after every period; and begin the next generally a little lower than you concluded the last; but on some occasions a little higher; which the nature of the subject will easily determine.

    18. I would likewise advise every speaker to observe those who speak well, that he may not pronounce any word in an improper manner: And, in case of doubt, let him not be ashamed to ask how such a word is to be pronounced; as neither to desire others that they would inform him whenever they hear him pronounce any word improperly.

    19. Lastly, take care not to sink your voice too much, at the conclusion of a period; but pronounce the very last words loud and distinct, especially if they have but a weak and dull sound of themselves.

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