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HAVING had the honour, a few years ago, to give public lectures on English Pronunciation at the University of Oxford, I was fome time afterwards invited by several of the Heads of Houses to give private lectures on the Art of Reading, in their respective Colleges. So flattering an invitation made me extremely anxious to preserve the favourable impreffion I had made, and this put me upon throwing the inftruction. I had to convey into fomething that had the appearance of a fyftem. Thofe only who are thoroughly acquainted with the subject, can conceive the labour and perplexity in which this task engaged me: It was not a florid harangue on the advantages of good Reading that was expected from me, but fome plain practical rules in a fcholaftic and methodical form, that would convey real and ufeful inftruction.
This led me to a diftinction of the voice, which, though often mentioned by muficians, has been but little noticed by teachers of Reading;* which is that distinction of the voice in
* In the first edition of this work I expreffed myself with a fcrupulous caution, refpecting this distinction of voice; because, in a grammar written a century ago by Charles Butler, of Magdalen College, Oxford, I found a direction for reading the question beginning with the verb, not only in a higher tone, but with a different turn of the voice from the other question; and in a grammar by Mr. Perry, of Scotland, about thirty years ago, I found the same distinction of voice in the fame cafe: and, except in these two authors, I never met with this dif tinction in reading till the laft edition of Enfield's Speaker; where, in Rule VII. of the Effay on Elocution, instead of the old direction, Acquire a juft variety of Paufe aud Cadence, I found Acquire a juft variety of Pause and Inflexion; and though in the old Rule there was not a single word about inflexion of the voice, in the new one I found the inflexions of the voice divided into two kinds; the one conveying the idea of continuation, the other of completion; the former of which is called the fufpending, the latter the clofing paufe ;-though, in a few. lines after, we find what is called the closing pause, is often applicable to members, when the fenfe is fufpended. In these new directions, too, I found the queftion diftinguished into two kinds, and the fufpending and the clofing paufe applied refpectively to each. I could not help congratulating myself, that a doctrine I had published fo many years before, began to be adopted by fo judicious a writer as Mr. Enfield. But, when I found it had not only been adopted, but acknowledged, by Mr. Murray, the Author of the best Grammar and Selection of Leffons for Reading in the English Language, I found myfelf fully compensated for the misfortune of not being noticed by the Author of the Speaker.
to the upward and downward flide, into which all speaking founds may be refolved: The moment I admitted this diftinction, I found I had poffeffion of the quality of the voice I wanted; for though these flides or inflexions were indefinite as to their quantity or duration, they were ftill effentially distinct, and were never convertible into each other; whereas all the other diftinctions were relative; and what was high and loud in one cafe, might be soft and low in another. Accordingly I found, upon pursuing this diftinction, that, provided the proper flide was preferved on that word which the fenfe and harmony required, the other diftinctions of the voice were more eafily attained; and if they were not, the pronunciation was infinitely less injured, than if every other diftinction of the voice had been preferved, and this fingle one neglected. Here then commenced my fyftem; infinite were the difficulties and obfcurities that impeded my progrefs at firft; but perfeverance, and, perhaps, enthusiasm, at last brought it to a period.
Without any breach of modefty, it may be afferted, that the general idea is new, curious, and important and, without any falfe humility, I am ready to allow, that the manner of treating it has too many faults and imperfections. Befides thofe incorrectneffes which are
infeparable from the novelty and difficulty of the fubject, it partakes of that hafte, that interruption, and want of finishing, which muft neceffarily arife from a conftant and laborious attendance on pupils; for, though nothing but long practice in actual teaching could have enabled me to conftruct fuch a fyftem, it required the leisure and liberty of independence $ produce it to the beft advantage.
WHEN the first Edition of this Work was published, I confidered the human voice as divisible into two inflexions only. Some time after, upon re-confidering the fubject more maturely, I found there were certain turns of voice which I could not distinctly clafs with either of these two inflexions. This discovery mortified me exceedingly. I feared my whole labour was loft, and that I had been fatiguing myself with a diftinction which existed no where but in my imagination. None but those who have been fyftem makers, can judge of the regret and disappointment which this apprehenfion occafioned. It did not, however, continue long. The fame trial of the voice which affured me of the two oppofite inflexions, the rifing and falling, foon convinced me that thofe inflexions which I could not reduce to either of thefe two, were neither more nor less than two combinations of them and that they were real circumflexes; the one beginning with the rising inflexion, and ending with the falling upon the fame fyllable; and the other beginning with the falling, and ending with the rifing on the fame fyllable. This relieved me from my anxiety; and I confidered the