Page images

dia Rationalis, and Chapman's Rhythmical Gramma and Music and Melody of the English Language. To these works the Author is indebted for all that he has thought it necessary to say respecting Quantity and Rhythm, and he would recommend them to the attention of those who wish to enter more deeply into the subject.

For many valuable suggestions in various parts of his work the Author has also to acknowledge his obligations to John M. Vandenhoff, Esq., of Liverpool, whose exquisite reading in private is equalled only by his striking representation of character and passion on the stage.

32, UNIVERSITY STREET, LONDON, March 25th, 1833.

In this Second Edition some corrections are made, and some new illustrations introduced; but no essential principle of the first edition is touched.

November 18th, 1833.


Mr. Wood's Terms for Tuition may be known, by applying at Mr. Taylor's, Upper Gower Street.


Page 16, line 14, for deserved read deserve.

Page 19, line 7 from bottom, dele "the preposition." Page 120, note, for 96 read 97.



THAT a good Elocution is a highly useful accomplishment, is a truth too obvious to require any laboured proof. Every one must acknowledge it to be desirable that whatever be read or spoken should not only be barely understood, but conveyed with its full force and spirit to those to whom it is addressed. The object of all public speaking is either instruction or persuasion, or both; and it is certain that these objects will be but imperfectly accomplished, by him whose enunciation is hurried and indistinct, whose tone is monotonous, or whose gesture is awkward and inappropriate. We are always pleased with the speaker whose manner of delivery is just and graceful, though his matter be of little weight; and we are equally wearied with him whose manner is faulty and unnatural, though his matter may be fitted to instruct or to convince us.

But, although the importance of a good elocution is generally acknowledged, this accomplishment is seldom


possessed. Few of our public speakers can be accounted finished orators; and it is a general complaint against the great majority, that there is something in their delivery which is disagreeable, or at best uninteresting. The mannerism of the Senate is almost proverbial; at the Bar there is comparatively but a small number of speakers who can address a Jury with effect; and in the Church there is even more to be complained of than either in Parliament or the Courts of Law; for nothing is more common than to hear people assign as a reason for their absence from public worship, that their Preacher is so inaudible, so ungraceful, or so dull, that they can derive but little either of pleasure or profit from attending on his ministry.

As the first step to the removal of an evil is the knowledge of its cause, it is important to inquire, To what are we to attribute this want of a good elocution? To this the answer is obvious, that no man can be expected to excel in that in which he has never been instructed-in other words, that it would be unreasonable to look for good public speakers, in a country in which elocution forms no regular part of a liberal education. Those of our youth who are the expectants of an ample fortune, or who are destined for a profession, are instructed at our Colleges in the whole circle of the sciences; they spend year after year in the acquisition of the dead languages and of profane and sacred learning; but in reading and speaking they have either no instruction at all given them, or such only as is very general and insufficient. They are supplied with abundance of learning, but as to the art of applying it directly to the instruction and persuasion of their fel

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »