« PreviousContinue »
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
IF the conferring of benefits be what com
monly constitutes a Patron,-to Students in Elocution you are the greatest patron in the kingdom. You not only first awakened the public to an attention to their language, but, by an Herculean labour, afforded them a guide which has conducted them to a thousand improvements. This was sufficient to attract the admiration and acknowledgments of your country, if you had not shown, by your moral and critical writings, that, though you were the only person proper to undertake so laborious a task, you were almost the only one who ought to have been exempted from it. But though I am proud of an opportunity of confessing my obligations to your public labours, I am much more ambitious of telling the world that I have been long
honoured with the friendship and advice of him whose name will be mentioned among the Lockes, the Newtons, and the Fenelons, as the friend of Revelation, and whose life is an indisputable proof of the sincerity of his attachment to it.
With the greatest Respect,
No. 64, Harley-Street,
TO THE THIRD EDITION.
THE present edition is almost a new work.
The praxis of sentences, so arranged as to lead the pupil from the easiest to the most difficult, seemed better calculated for the lower class of pupils in reading than for students in rhetoric, and therefore this has been omitted. The want of Rules for Composition, so essential in rhetoric, has been supplied from the best source-Blair's Lectures: and what was deficient even in these has been furnished from Professor Ward's Lectures on Oratory:-so that with the original matter on the elegant pronunciation of words, on accent, emphasis, and inflexion of voice, and the proper pronunciation of the Figures of RI toric, it is presumed the present work is the most perfect of its kind in the language.
A powerful motive, indeed, for enlarging the Rhetorical Grammar to its present size, was, to give a complete idea of the two circumflexes of
the speaking voice. The two simple inflexions, the rising and falling, had been several times delineated on copper-plates, in Elements of Elocution; but the two complex inflexions, called circumflexes, though frequently described, had not been marked out to the eye; and these appeared so inseparable from the human voice, so new, and of such real utility in teaching to read and speak, that I could scarcely think I had discharged my duty to my country till I had given these modifications of the speaking voice as clear an explanation as I was able.
The sanguine expectations I had once entertained, that this analysis of the human voice would be received by the learned with avidity and applause, are now over. I have almost worn out a long life in laborious exertions; and, though I have succeeded beyond expectation in forming readers and speakers in the most respectable circles in the three kingdoms, yet I have had the mortification to find few of my pupils listen to any thing but my pronunciation. When I have explained to them the five modifications of the voice, they have assented and admired; but so difficult did it appear to adopt them, especially to those advanced in life, that I was generally obliged to follow the old method, (if it may be called so) " read as I read, without any reason for it."-But without pretending to
the gift of prophecy, I think I can foresee that sooner or later these distinctions of the voicemust become the vehicle of instruction in reading and speaking. It is not improbable that the active genius of the French, who are so remarkably attentive to their language, may first adopt this vehicle; and if this should happen, I hope it will be remembered, that an unassisted and unpatronised Englishman was the first who discovered and explained it.