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THE third of the elements of expression is quan tity, or the length of time taken up in pronouncing a syllable. The great rule which must be always borne in mind in using this element, is this. On solemn subjects we speak slowly, on more lively ones we commonly speak quickly. Read the words, 'Our Father, who ărt în heaven,' with a rapid utterance, or ā pretty fellow you are!' with a slow one, and the inconsistency will be at once apparent to every one.
This would perhaps seem to be almost enough to say on this subject, and it would be so in reality, if every body could only give long or short quantity, without losing the proper sound of the syllables on which we would show it. We find that most people, when they try to speak rapidly, clip their words so as to make them hardly intelligible to persons near them, and quite inaudible to any one who may be a little way off. So, too, when they try to speak slowly, we are almost sure to find, in their delivery, either what we call singing, or else drawling. It is therefore necessary, in a book on Elocution, to show how, by practice, all these common faults may be got rid of.
The common fault, then, into which people fall in giving short quantity, is that of not pronouncing their words correctly. To avoid this, it will be necessary for the pupil to practise diligently the sounding of every one of the vocal elements, as they have been
explained in the first chapter, till he can give them all with perfect ease and accuracy. He must then sound them in their several combinations, as given in the three tables for practice on the vocal elements, till he feels confident, that he is able to sound them or any others easily, without altering in the least their proper pronunciation. He should then begin to practise the utterance of elements and words one after another, as quickly as he can, still taking care that no sound whatever, which ought to be heard in them, be suffered to escape him. A great part of this practice has been already directed to secure a distinct articulation. It must now be repeated, as far as may be necessary to insure the power of articulating, not only well, but also quickly.
In giving long quantity, again, we have said most persons either sing or drawl. How are these faults to be avoided? To answer this question, it will be only necessary to repeat a part of what had been already said on the subjects of pitch and force.
First, then, the voice in speaking, ought never to rest for a single instant on the same pitch. In every syllable after it has once begun, it must be all the while either rising or falling. If we neglect this rule, we shall make a sound like that which is heard
in singing. Every one, who, in trying to read slowly, sings his long syllables, will be found to make this mistake. He will have run along a part at least of the sound on the same pitch, instead of making it rise or fall throughout. To get rid of this fault, therefore, we must persevere in practising the different slides and waves, till it becomes unnatural to us,
even when making them as long in their sound as possible, not to sound them correctly.
The second fault is drawling. This must be corrected by the proper use of the element of force. There have been explained five different ways in which force may be applied to a syllable; the first being the natural radical and vanish, which adds no emphasis to it, and the other four being the different modifications of emphatic force, or stress. It has been also shown, that of these four kinds of stress, the first, which has been called radical stress, can never be applied to a syllable without making us sound it short: the other three require the syllable to be naturally long.
Now, in each of these five ways of applying force, the loudness of the voice is continually changing, throughout the word. Whenever we suffer it to remain through any considerable part of the sound, for two or three words together, we shall find that we have got into a drawl. If any one will listen to the way in which a young child reads his alphabet, or spells short words, they will find, in the sounds he makes, a good example of both these faults which we have been explaining. a-b-c.-A long sound is given to the name of each letter: but the voice runs along through each on a level pitch, and with very nearly the same degree of force.
In order, then, to correct this second fault, it will be only necessary to practise sounding syllables wit long quantity, taking care to give them always either the natural radical and vanish, or else either vanishing, compound, or median stress.
It should be stated, however, that in almost every case where very long quantity is required, it will be best given by the combination of the equal waves with median stress. This therefore should be first practised. After we have mastered this point, it may be well to proceed to practise quantity on the simple slides, with the natural radical and vanish of the voice. If the pupil have strictly followed the directions given for practice on vanishing and compound stress, it will be hardly required for him to repeat that exercise. For the two exercises we have here prescribed, the tables given under the head of median stress will be found sufficient. On them, however, he must practise till he can perform the exercise well.
One point alone remains now to be noticed on this subject. In reading a sentence slowly, it will never do to give the same long quantity to every syllable in it. There are a great many syllables on which, from the natural shortness of the elements which compose them, we cannot possibly increase the length at all. Such words as bit, tap, hate, fop, pettish, can only be made long by altering their sound entirely. We call such syllables immutable.
There is a second class, again, which we can lengthen a little, but not much. These we call mutable. Can, mad, ban, in, are examples.
The third class only are capable of receiving very
long quantity. Hail, wo, throne, high, power, are
of this character. They are called indefinite.
In reading solemn passages, then, we must recollect that we are never to attempt to lengthen an immutable syllable at all, nor a merely mutable one
much. The use of the waves, and of median or compound stress, is confined to indefinite syllables; radical stress requires us to sound a syllable, to whatever class it may belong, as if it were immutable; vanishing stress may be given to either mutable or indefinite syllables. The natural radical and vanish, and the simple slides, may be given to all.
A remark or two should be made on the way in which we are to lengthen mutable syllables. Most of them have their tonic element naturally short. C-a""-n, -n, b-a""-n, e-nd. In such words no attempt must be made to lengthen out the tonic sound. All the quantity which may be given to the syllable must be given on the subtonic elements:-c-a""-N, 'N, b-a""-N, e-N-D.
In the same way, in lengthening indefinite syllables, much of the quantity must be given to the subtonic elements in them th-r-O-N (throne), s-OU-ND (sound), r-O-L (roll), m-A-D (made). It will not do, however, in either case, to lengthen a subtonic element at all, if it comes BEFORE the tonic element in the syllable. This would sound very affectedly; indeed it would almost make two syllables of it:p-L-e'-N-D-e'-R (plunder), M-a""-D (mad), k-L-A-мM (claim), N-o-N (known).
It will probably be difficult, at first, for the pupil to lengthen his subtonic elements, even where they ought to be lengthened. This difficulty must be removed by practising on the following tables. The first contains a list of the subtonics, which admit of being lengthened. On each of these let the pupils practise, first the slides, and then the equal waves,