« PreviousContinue »
And at other times, in order to give the greater force to his argument, he seems, as it were, by this figure to recall and correct what he had said before : as in his oration for Milo :
But it is foolish in us to compare Drusus Africanus, and ourselves, with Clodius; all our other calamities were tolerable, but no one can patiently bear the death of Clodius.
In pronouncing the first of these passages, we should assume an overacted approbation, and such a tone of voice as seems to exclude all doubt of the integrity of the person we sneer at: this tone is low and drawling, and must be accompanied by a lifting up of the hands, as if it were a crime to think otherwise than we speak.
In the second passage we must assume a fear, as if occasioned by the most terrible danger. The voice must be in a high, tremulous tone, and the hands lifted
up, with the palms and fingers open, as if to defend us from approaching ruin.
In the third passage we must assume a disapprobation, approaching to contempt: the voice must be in a low tone, and the right hand with the palm and fingers open, waved from the left to the right, as if to set aside something too insignificant to be attended to; but the last member must have the tone of approbation, as if the objeet of it were something very noble and sacred. For this sentence, see pp. 87 and 88, and the plate annexed.
Satan beheld their plight,
front And breast (what could we more ?) propounded terms Of composition, straight they chang'd their minds,
Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell
Milton's Paradise Lost, b. vi. v. 609. This passage, as Mr. Addison observes, is nothing but a string of puns, and those very bad ones too : but whatever may be its merits in other respects, it affords an excellent opportunity of practising the pronunciation of irony. It must begin by an affected surprise, and proceed with a seriousness and seeming sincerity till the seventh line, when the word for is to have an emphasis with the rising inflection, and to be pronounced with an air of uncertainty whether it were a dance or not. A sneer commences at perhaps, which must be pronounced with a sly arch tone, as if perfectly secure of the consequences of another onset.
Exclamation and Interrogation have been treated at large in the former part of this work; but there they have been considered only with respect to pause and inflection of voice : here it will be necessary to consider them more rhetorically, and to endeavour to show what tones, passions, and gestures, they demand.
Ecphonesis, or Exclamation, is a figure which shows that the mind labours with some strong and vehement passion. It is generally expressed by such interjections as 0! Oh! Ah! Alas! and the like, which may be called the signs of this figure.
But first we may observe, that while other figures are confined to some particular passion, this seems to
extend to all, and is the voice of nature under any kind of commotion or concern : this voice, however, is not (as we are told in our grammars) always in a high and elevated tone : strong passion is not unfrequently expressed by a low tone; for, though both loudness and highness generally accompany any sudden emotion of soul, it is certain that we may cry out in a loud and high tone without much emotion, provided it is not sudden, without being either very high or very loud. The tone of the passion, therefore, must direct the tone of the voice in this figure. Accordingly we find that joy unexpected adopts this figure, and elevates the voice to the highest pitch.
O my soul's joy!
Revenge, act üi. Sorrow in the extreme likewise adopts this figure, and raises the voice into a high tone : thus Lady Constance, in King John, cries out,
I am not mad I would to heav'n I were !
Oh if I could, what grief should I forget! But a slight degree of sorrow, or pleasing melancholy, adopts this figure in a soft middle tone of voice : thus the duke, in Shakspeare's Twelfth Night, relieving his melancholy with music, says:
That strain again! it had a dying fall!
While the contemptuous reproach and impatience of Lady Macbeth uses the exclamation in a harsh and lower tone of voice :
O proper stuff!
Thus Cicero, speaking of his banishment, from which he had been so honourably recalled, begins in a low and mournful tone, but ends in a high and exulting
Oh mournful day to the senate and all good men ! calamitous to the senate, afflictive to me and my family; but to posterity glorious, and worthy of admiration!
Pro Sexl. eap. 12. Again, in his defence of Cælius, endeavouring to expose his accusers to the indignation of the court, he cries out, in a loud and high tone,
Oh! the great and mighty force of truth, which so easily supports itself against all the wit, craft, subtlety, and artful designs of men ! At other times he adopts this figure to express disdain or contempt; as when speaking of Pompey's house, which Mark Antony had purchased, he says to him, in a low, contemptuous tone,
Oh consummate impudence! dare you go within those walls ? dare you venture over that venerable threshold, and show your audacious countenance to the tutelar deities which reside there?
Phillipic ii. c. 26. Thus we see the exclamation adapts itself to the passion which adopts it, and is either in a high or low tone of voice, as the passion requires ; but as it is seldom adopted, but when there is a strong emotion of soul, it is generally heard in a loud tone, though not always in a high one : this distinction of voice is so little understood or attended to, that it is no wonder we find our grammars echoing from each other that this figure always requires a high and elevated tone.
Erotesis, or Interrogation, is a figure by which we express the emotion of our mind, and infuse an ardour and energy into our discourse by proposing questions.
This figure, as it relates to grammar, has been already treated of at large, and that slide or inflection of voice which distinguishes one species of it has been fully explained and inculcated : for, as the learned professor Ward observes, “ Every interrogation or question is not figurative. When we inquire about a thing that is doubtful, in order to be informed, this is no figure, but the natural form of such expressions ; as if I ask a person, where he is going ? or what he is doing ? But it then becomes figurative, when the same thing may be expressed in a direct manner: but the putting it by way of question gives it a much greater life and spirit: as when Cicero says, Catiline, how long will you abuse our patience? Do not you perceive your designs are discovered ? He might indeed have said, You abuse our patience a long while : you must be sensible your designs are discovered. But it is easy to perceive how much this latter way of
expression falls short of the force and vehemence of the for
This figure, like the last, is the vehicle of every passion and emotion of the mind. But if we consider it only as a departure from the declarative form, and not accompanied by any passion, it wonderfully varies and enlivens the style, by holding personal con