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For the Monthly Magazine. On the Application of the Principles
of MUSICAL PROPORTION in the TREATMENT oflMPEDIMENTS o/"sPEECH.
DURING the ten years in which I have been professionally engaged in inculcating what appear to me to be the correct principles of English Elocution, and in exploding what I regard as the mischievous errors of established theories relative to that art, I have been so constantly solicitous for the diffusion of my science, and so little jealous of the advantages or reputation thatothcrprofessors urother writers, might derive from my discoveries, that I have omitted no opportunities, which professional engagements would permit, of putting the public in possession of the results of my enquiries and experiments. Time, indeed, lias not hitherto been found for any systematic or methodical work, even upon any single branch of this ex tensive subject; and, in my recent" Letter to Mr.Cline, circumstances have been explained, which throw additional obstructions in the way of such on undertaking: but my brief and occasional communications to your respectable miscellany, and some other periodical publications, have been, 1 trust, sufficiently explicit on some of the most difficult parts of my system, to shew that I was superior to the little selfishness of mysterious quackery; and when I propounded, as I did for several years successively, in my public lectures, (first in all the principal towns of the North, and afterwards, through two successive seasons, at my institution in London,) the whole scheme and theory of my system, not only to subscribers but to casual auditors, it was of course both in my calculation and in my wish, that my principles should be adopted, and acted upon by others.
When, therefore, in the year 1806, after the promulgation of my lectures in London, Mr. Odell published his " Essay on the Elements, Accents, and Prosody of the English Language," (although I could not but think that I discovered in that book, not only the acknowledged assistance derived from the invaluable work of Joshua Steele, but many traits of striking coincidence between the systems of the essayist and of the lecturer, which the mere perusal of that book could not account for,) I did not pertinaciously in. quire, whether this coincidence were more likely to have arisen from accidental sympathy of judgment, or unacknowledged imitation j though I believe it will
be admitted that the hue and cry of plagiarism has frequently been raised upon much slighter grounds of suspicion or provocation. The work, upon the whole, (though I have controverted several passage's in the margin of my copy) was ably executed; and 1 was not so pertinacious" as to be angry that another had executed a useful task, which it was probable I should myself never have the opportunity of performing. I could not, indeed, but accuse the writer, in my heart, of some little want of ingenuous liberality when I read the following paragraph, with which he concludes his work:
"I may be permitted, in my turn, tr» express my surprise, that to this day," (and he adds in a note, '25th November, 1802,') "the true nature of accent, explained nearly thirty years ago by Mr. Steele, appears to have been misunderstood or overlooked by all our writers, Mr. Walker himself only excepted."
With respect to Mr. Walker, perhaps, the expression ought not to have been only, but not excepted: for surely in the full extent and precise limitation of signification, in which Mr. Odell as well as myself uses the term accent, Mr. Walker cannot be said accurately to have under, stood the true nature of that property of speech; on the contrary, he is perpetually using the term in that vague and inapplicable way, which has been the source of so large a portion of the confusion in the modern systems of elocution. That Mr. W. did not understand the system of Mr. Steele, he has himself ac_ knowledged in the following note, p. 138, 'Key to the Clas. Pron. of Gr. and Lat, Prop. Names:
"The attempt of this gentleman is not so much to Illustrate the accent and quantity of the Greek language, as to prove the possibility of forming a notation of speaking sounds for our own; and of reducing them to a musical scale, anduiccoinpanying them with instruments. The attempt is undoubtedly laudable; but no farther useful than to show the impossibility of it, by the very method he has taken to explain it. For it is wrapped up in such an impenetrable cloud of music, as to be unintelligible to any but musicians: and the distinctions of sound are so nice and numerous, as to discourage the most persevering student from labouring to understand him."
I should be sorry to be suspected of injustice to the memory of Mr. W. whose merits in certain departments of elocution, and whose diligence, general accuracy curacy and nice precision, in all that relates to what, in the nomenclature of essential centra-distinctions, I should call enunciation, cannot be too highly applauded, and to whom I owe a personal obligation from his having, at the very outset ot my institution, recommended pupils to me, who had applied to him for instruction. But, in justice to iUr. Steele, 1 must be permitted to say, that without being a musician, I found the "Prvsodia Hutionutis,"(though requiring, indeed, reiterated reading and profound investigation) ultimately much more intelligible (because more correct in its principles, and more accurate in its discriminations) than the "Elements of Elocution."
But why did Mr. Odell, who published his " Essay" in 1B0G, after my lectures hud acquired some notoriety even in Londuii, introduce the saving clause of the " 25th November, 1802," and nothing more? Would not that ingenuous liberality which should ever distinguish the man of science (and such Mr. O. most unquestionably is) from the designing empiric, have suggested the propriety of announcing, wi;hout reserve, the demonstrated existence of a parallel discovery, rather than have satisfied itself with the silent evasion of a charge of imitation or plagiarism?
But even for the latter purpose, if I had been disposed to captious controversy, tiie cautious date of 180U, could not have been sufficient; for my lectures began in the principal towns of Yorkshire, in November 1801, in which my theory of accents and tmphascs, and indeed the general outline of my whole system, were promulgated. In March 1802, my system was not suggested but confirmed, by my becoming acquainted with Mr. Steele's book; and eier since that time, I have been labouring incessantly to tiring it into notice.
I should not, however, have troubled you, Sir, or the world, with these circumstances, if my attention had not been called to the subject by a more recent occurrence, in which the interests of science are mora deeply concerned than my personal feelings or reputation : for the Essay of Mr. Odell being, upon the whole, a valuable and nscful work, I rejoiced in its publication; and I am not at all apprehensive that it should not be ultimately known what share I have had in restating the neglected science of Joshua Steele, the further development of the principles of English accent, i liyth
mus, and prosody, and the super-addition ol" those physiological discoveries, by means of which, the admirable theory and practical illustrations of the "Prosodia Ratior.alis" may be rendered subservient to the great purposes of benevolence, in removing the most afflicting impediments of speech. If the author, or rather compiler,of "A practical Grammar ol English Pronunciation," had executed his task with equal ability, it is mora than probable that I should have suffered the flagrant and unacknowledged liberties he has taken with my discoveries, to pass by alike unnoticed. It is true that, after having read through many successive pages of the most barefaced plagiaiy, from my scattered essays, sketches, and outlines, and from my public lectures, it could not have been possible that the following sentence should not have excited some emotions of contempt and pity, for the head and the heart of the writer. "It has been conceived," says Mr. Smart, «' that a knowledge of these laws," (the metrical laws of musical, or, as Mr. S. calls them, of measured propoition in the delivery of speech), •'an enforcing the necessity of an even and well ordered movement in discourse, might be attended with the best effects"—(in the treatment of impediments.) "This plan," procceda this very ingenuous author, " having been found to answer, there will be given, in the chapter on quantity, some few instructions on this head, particularly directed to persons who labour under the impediment."
I shall not stoop at present to the critical enquiry, what specific impediment is to be considered as understood and referred to by the specific article the, ill this instructive paragraph. But by whom docs Mr. S. mean to insinuate, that the idea in question has been conceived and brought to the test of successful experiment? Was it by the compiler of the Practical Grammar of English Pronunciation r If no', why was not the author of the discovery fairly and candidly quoted? If Mr. S. can point out a single authority or suggestion on the subject, prior to the delivery of my lectures, and mention an individual who is known to have tried the experiment, prior to myself, he will confer an obligation upon me, which I shall thankfully acknowledge; because it will open to me fresh sources of information, upon a, topic relative to which I find that there is yet much to leuiu. The only writers
1 know whom I hope will yet be prevailed upon to oblige the world with an improved and more ample development of his system. But neither t»f these, as far a? 1 can remember, had any idea of applying their principles for the remedy of impediments ef speech, and, indeed, as neither of them seem to have had any conception of the physiological facts and principles •ut of which the laws of musical proportion have, perhaps, arisen, (and with the necessities of which those laws must, in their application, so exactly coincide, if they are to produce any operation in cases of serious impediment,) if they had conceived any such idea, it must of necessity, have been exceedingly dim a-id imperfect. But I repeat it: whatever contempt I might have felt for the individual who could condescend to the disingenuousness of such a passage, as well as to the multiplied plagiaries with which the book abounds, if .Mr. S. had really so illustrated what he has made free with that his publication had been likely to be assistant in the prevention or the removal of impediments, I should readily Inve pardoned the action, though I despised the actor; and have exulted in the prospect that my principles, however surreptitiously purloined, were in the way of obtaining a wider diffusion among mankind than I have leisure or opportunity to give them. So far, indeed, did the tendency to this sort of feeling operate upon me, that the report of the plagiary was reiterated from several quarters, befure I had even the curiosity to enquire into the extent to which it had been carried j nor did I, at Inst, give myself the trouble of perusing the woik, till the intelligence that an erroneous and mischievous application Was made of my stolen goods, roused me to a sense of the duty
I know of, prior to the recent publication are well Arranged, tolerably digested, and
by Mr. Odell, that seem to have had any intelligibly explained. But to no part
idea of the genuine principles of musical of this praise can I admit that his system
proportion, as applicable to the rhythmus of rhythmus and musical proportions, (if
of spoken language, are Mr. Steele in hit proportions they eau be called), or hi*
Prosodia, and my enlightened friend and practical applications of what he lias pur.
correspondent, Mr. Kichard Jloe in his Joined to the treatment of impediments,
Klements of English Metre: the latter of are in any degree entitled. At least, I
must be permitted to declare, that hii mode of practical application is not my mode; and that if, by such an admeasurement of speech at he dictates, he can cure even the solitary disease of stammering (for this is the only species of impediment which he seems to regard as capable of any remedy) I give him joy of the discovery; for my own part, if I comprehend at all his system of admeasurement and notation, I should sooner have su-pected it of having been invented for the purpose of teaching the fluent to stammer, than of enabling the stammerer to be fluent and emphatic. I say nothing at present of the gross, but popular error, of measuring the cadences from light to heavy,
Resound | ve woods J resound | my mourn | •
f»l lay | instead of from heavy to light:
Rt|sound ye | woods re-lsound my I mournful | lay—
a principle, which, if admitted, would throw our rhythmus into all the confusion it lias been taxed wiih; and justify tlie else most untenable hypothesis of our mere finger-counting critics, that there is no such thing as'admeasurable quantity in the prosody of the English language. Neither shall I pause for any considerable time, nt present, upon the strange assertion, thatstisa mere matter of election, on the part of the h?arert whether the measure shall be considered as proceeding from light to heary (or a» Mr. S., by another misnomer, which betrays his imperfect acquaintance with the subject, denominates the metroinetic qualities, veak nn<\ strong) ur (mm heavy to light; only, I shall just observe, that this is so fur from a mere fanciful election of the ear, that it is a matter of practical
I owed to society, and called upon me election on the part of the reader or reto examine whether what began to be citcr; that t he superior effect produced by
talked of as a transcript of my system, was, in reality, such as ought to be laid, by popular rumour, at my door. I have examined accordingly; and that I may keep myself as much aloof as possible from the uncandid meanness of Mr. S. I will do him the justice to admit, that
the latter modeof admeasurement, is nne of the most positive discriminations of a good styl« of utterance; that as far as relates to the effect upon the hearer, it were better that the speaker had no idea of systematic admeasurement whatever, than that his imagination should be im
titre are pan* in hit compilation that prwted with the opposite mode; unci
finally, that an acute and accurate comprehension nr" the practical difference of tntse two modes ot' admensurcment, is <i*e of the most indispensable requisites ■'I'he treatment of every species of irwpfdimeiit, and in the aitainment of the hipier accomplishments of no harmoniotif elocution. But what shall we say t»lhe"octasyllabic feet" ofthis profound prmnclist?—and one of his octosyllabic fett(if my fingers can enable me to count so far) has actually nine syllables! See p. 360.
ln'\timacy mib tin iuftrir.un'\dint."
What is the stammerer; what is any speaker, who has the superfluous ambition of being intelligible; what is the time Ualir to do with such feet as these? How shall we measure, by what denominator shall we appreciate, the proportions of their integral parts? How shall we bring tbtm into comparison; by what Procrustean artifice, distort or contract them into equal quantity, (while toe or finger beats the time, according to the direction of Mr. S.) with his dissyllabic, and monosyllabic, feet? Let us, for the wke of illustration, bring two of Mr. S.'s own feet of these latter descriptions, "iio immediate association with this nine-syllabled octosyllabic. The pale |raoon'| is in in1 \timacy nith the superintend dunt. Perhaps 1 might have fraud a more proper person than the tuperinlendant, to bring into such intimacy: but let us Hike it as.it is. What shall be the denominator of the quantity °' the syllable noon—minim, scmi"feve, or breve? and what of the nine integers of its octasyllabic companion— dotrhtts, quavers, or stmi quavers? or "«H quaver, semiquaver, demi-semiqiiaTer, and double-deint-scmiquaver, be mingled together in decimal variety, '" torture them into proportioned quantity? * *
Hie author, however, admits, that
'nere may be "some readers," though
°f their presumption,- it is evident, he
Cannot by any means approve, who
would probably" venture to divide some
°f his heptnsvllabic and r ctasylhibic feet
"to two; as, for example, "opportu'
mlii nf rr/a/io'ltion," into "opportu'
mly uf rWa('|/a|tion;" and the above
tautilid nine-svlitibled octasy'labic into
imtitr.acy uilh the su'|^en'n/cn'|dant."
It nm.-t he confessed, that this would not
be any vciy great improvement; at least
.'.'.;.i fuimer instance: and 1 cannot but
suspect that the two little syllables i~d, if thus divided, under the strict regulation of ihe time-beater, must be disposed to stare a little, at finding themselves thus miraculously extended to an equal dimension with their five heretofore not less athletic brethren.
My objections to several other parti of the prosodial scheme of Mr. S. are not a whit less serious; and to his notions concerning the blank verse of Melton, and his proposed method of reading the divine verses of that immortal author, in particular: backed though he is, to a certain degree, by the high authority of Mr. Walker.
In short, notwithstanding the reports that have gone abroad, and the claim I lay to the subject matter, and modes of reasoning and illustration in several of the earlier pages of Ins volume, I must entirely exonerate Mr. S. from any suspicion of having purloined from me any part of his concluding chapter, "ox QUANTITY,Oa PltOSoDI ACAT, ADMEASUAEMrs?;" or of his "Method of Curing Stammering." His principles, in these respects, are not my principles; aurl either be, or I, know very little of the matter. Should he, at any time hereafter, make himself really acquainted, in all their comprehensive application, with those genuine principles of physiological and musical science, upon which the management of impediments depends, (and the means uf information upon this subject, are now in part before the public:—I shall probably seize an early opportunity of subraiiiing them more explicitly to the world): he will then know better thtin to publish to the world such discouraging nonsense as the following -. that " If the tongue be materially disproportioned, if the palate have an .aperture," &c. "instruction can "then d»" little;" (p. 40). or that those cases of impediment are not likely to be cured '• where the spasmodic alfeciion is very violent, and takes place in an equal degrce, whether the person converses with friends or strangers; when he reads aloud to himself, as well as when he reads to others; when he is not influenced by eagerness or emotion, as well a< when lie is," (p. 2ll»2). I deny most positively, I am authorised by experience to deny, (wherever there is intellect, application, and perseverance) all distinction of curable and incurable cases. Different eases require undoubtedly different degrees of time and of exertion, different
pontons tonions of labour and of perseverance, oth in the tutor and the pupil; but these preliminaries admitted, all impediments are curable. I have happily demonstrated, beyond my own most •anguine anticipations, that, by the diligent applicatiini of my principles, even those persons who have fissures and deficiencies of the palate, may neveitheless .be taught to speak with a perfect enunciation, and an agreeable tune of voice, without the troublesome and dangerous application of artificial organs.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. SIR,
I AM a freeman of the city of London, but through unavoidable misfortunes, have been compelled with my wife and family to seek refuge in St. Luke's Workhouse, where my wife lately lay-in. During that time, the parish-officers took •way our only girl, litlie more than eleven years of age, and against our consent bound her apprentice to n cotton manu. factory, upwards of two hundred miles from London. A respectable friend made application to the overseers, and offered to take her, but they would not let him have her, nor would they let me out of the gate from the time they took her out and bound her, till after she had been sent into the country. My wife, at the time, had not iain-in more than a week ; and thus to lose her daughter, nearly deprived her of her reason. ■ I wish some of your correspondents, learned in the laws, would condescend to inform a poor man, whether it is legal for a child of her tender age, to he thus bound and sent away without the consent of her parents; if.such binding can stand good; and if not, whether, and by what means, I can compel them, to return her to her distressed and unhappy parents. July 20, 1810. J. W. Gascoioke.
stem and root of the plant should be dried, or whether any preparation is necessary, before it is smoked*
Chester, B. C.
July 30, 1810.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
IT appears to me that many writers! make use of the particle at improperly, as in the following sentence: "A woman must know, that her person cannot he as pleasing to her husband as it was to her lover; and if she be offended with him for being a human creature, she may as well whine about the loss of his heart as about any other foolish thing." —M. Wollitonecraft. Every reader, I think, will say that so should take the place of as, before the word pleasing, m the quoted sentence. I remember no rule in any English grammar for this preference of so to as; but I think the following would be correct: So, should not be used within any comparatives, but the comparative of inferiority. Examples: That rule is not so good as this: this rule is as good as that: Coinp. equality. It is thrice as far from London to C. as from C. lo R., &c. Comp. superiority. M. August, 1810.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
HAVING read in your Monthly Magazine of June Uit, Number 109, a letter signed Verax, recommending the use of the plant Stramonium in cases of spasmodic asthma, and being myself occasionally much afflicted with that disorder, it would be of much benefit to me, amongst others of his fellow.sufferers, if Verax would inform us, through the medium of your publication, whether the
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
J WISH to inquire of some of your philological readers, the authority for a mode of expression very frequently made use of by the writers in the Edinburgh Review, and by some other Scotcli authors, which differs from the custom of English writers. I allude to the use of the word that, after a comparative adjective, in cases where, in this county, wo usually employ because. Thus the writers above-mentioned would say—" This is the more extraordinary, that, ccc.—We have dwelt the more on this point, thatt ccc." The same mode of expression is frequently used by professor D. Stewart, iti his " Philosophy of the Human Mind." I have some faint recollection of having; seen this expression enumerated in a list of Scotticisms; yet one would hardly think such a writer as professor Stewart, would be guilty of a Scotticism so obviously such, as to have been mentioned long ago, as one of the more glaring instances of impropriety in language.
II. Y. Z.