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guid manner. Even the falling of the voice may naged with spirit and variety.
III. As the art of reading greatly depends on the proper management of the breath, it should be used with economy. The voice ought to be relieved at every stop; slightly at a comma, more leisurely at a semicolon, or a colon, and completely at a period.
A due attention to this rule, will prevent a broken, faint, and languid voice, which is the usual fault of ignorant and vulgar readers. It will enable the reader to preserve the command of his voice; to pronounce the longest sentence with as much ease as the shortest; and to acquire that freedom and energy with which a person of judgment naturally expresses his perceptions, emotions, and passions, in common discourse.
The comma marks the shortest pause; the semicolon, pause double that of the comma; the colon, double that of the semicolon; and the period, double that of the colon. A dash following a stop, shows that the pause is to be greater than if the stop were alone; and when used by itself, requires a pause of such length as the sense alone can determine. A paragraph requires a pause double that which is proper at a period.
The points of interrogation and exclamation, are uncertain as to their time. The pause which they demand is equal to a semicolon, a colon, or a period, as the sense may require. They should be attended with an elevation of the voice. The parenthesis, unless accompanied with a stop, requires but a small pause. It gererally marks a mode rate depression of the voice.
IV. Let the tone of the voice, in reading, be the same as it would be in speaking on the same subject.
To render this rule proper and effectual, children should be taught to speak slowly, distinctly, and with due atten tion to the sentiments they express. The mode of speak ing is then only to be imitated by the reader, when it is just and natural.
V. Endeavour to vary and modulate the voice, accor ding to the nature of the subject whether it be in a so
lemn, a serious, a familiar, a gay, a humorous, or an iro nical strain.
It would be highly improper to read an interesting narrative, with an air of negligence; to express warm emotions of the heart, with cold indifference; and to pronounce a passage of Scripture, on a sublime and important subject. with the familiar tone of common conversation. On the other hand, it would be absurd to read a letter on trivial subjects, in a mournful strain; or a production of gaiety and humour, with grave formality.
VI. In reading verse, the same general directions must be observed, as have been given for reading prose.
Narrative, didactic, descriptive, and pathetic pieces, have the same peculiar tone and manner, in poetry as in prose. A singing note, and making the lines jingle by laying too great stress on the rhyming words, should be particularly avoided. A very small pause ought to be made at the end of a line, unless the sense, or some of the usual marks of pause, require a considerable one. The great rule for reading verse, as well as prose, is to read slowly, distinctly, and in a natural tone of voice.
We shall now caution young readers against some faults which many are apt to commit. In doing this, it will unavoidably happen, that a few of the preceding observations will, in some respects, be repeated: but this confirmation of the rules will, it is presumed, be no disadvantage to the learners. A display of the various errors in reading, incident to children, may make a greater impression, than directions which are positive, and point only to the propriety of pronunciation
1. Avoid too loud, or too low a voice.
In orerstrained voice is very inconvenient to the reader, as well as disgusting to the hearer. It exhausts the read er's spirits; and prevents the proper management and modulation of his voice, according to the sense of his subject; and it naturally leads into a tone. Too low à voice is not 60 incrinvenient to the speaker, as the other extreme: but it is very disagreeable to the hearer. It is always offensive to an audience, to observe any thing in the reader or speaker, that marks indolence or inattention. When the voice is naturaly too loud, or too low, young persons should correct it in cheir ordinary conversation: by this means they will learn to avoid both the extremes, in reading. They should begin the sentence with an even, moderate voice which will enable them to rise or fall as the subject re quires.
2. Avoid a thick, confused, cluttering voice.
It is very disagreeable to hear a person mumble, clip, or swallow his words ; leaving out some syllables in the long words, and scarcely ever pronouncing some of the short ones; but hurrying on without any care to give his words their full sound, or his hearers the full sense of them. This fault is not easily cured. The best means of mending it, is, to endeavour, both in conversation and reading, to pronounce every word in a deliberate, clear, and distinct
3. Be careful to read neither too quickly nor too slowly.
A precipitant reader leaves no room for pauses; fatigues himself; and lowers the dignity of his subject. His hearers lose much of what is delivered, and must always be dissatisfied with a reader who hurries and tires them. Children are very apt to read too fast, and to take a pleasure in it, thinking that they who pronounce the words with the greatest rapidity, are the best scholars.—The heavy, dronish, sleepy reader, and who often makes pauses where there should be none, is also very disagreeable. If he hems and
yawns between the periods, he is still more so. 4. Study to avoid an irregular mode of pronunciation.
It is a great fault in reading, to raise and fall the voico by fits and starts; to elevate and depress it unses
seasonably without regard to sense or stops; or always to begin a sentence with a high voice, and conclude it with a low one; or, on the contrary, to begin with a low voice, and conclude with a high one. To avoid these errors, the sentence should not be begun in too high, or too low a key; ragard should be had to the nature of the prints, and tho length of the periods : and the reader's mind should be attentive to tho subject, sense, and spirit of his author.
5. With the utmost care avoid a flat, dull, uniform voice, without emphasis or cadence, or a proper regard to the sense of what is reading.
This is a practice to which children who do not love learning, and who are tired with their lessons, are very prone. When this mode of reading becomes habitual, it is painful to the hearer, and very difficult to be remedied. The best means of cure are those prescribed for the preceding error: for if the mind be attentive to the sentiments delivered, the voice will be adapted to their nature and im portance.
6. Reading with an improper tone, is a great and common fault of learners, and must be carefully avoided.
No habit is more easy to be contracted than this, or haraer to be overcome. This unnatural tone in reading, is always disgusting to persons of sense and delicacy. Some have a squeaking tone. Persons whose voices are shrill and weak, or overstrained, are apt to fall into this tone. Some have a singing or canting note: others assume a high, swelling tone. These lay too much stress on every sentence, and violate every rule of decent pronunciation. Some affect an awful and striking tone, attended with solemn grimace; as if they wished to move the reader with every word, whether the weight of the subject supports them or not. Some have a set, uniform tone of voice, which has already been noticed. Others have a strange, whimsical, whining tone, peculiar to themselves, and not casy to be described. They are continually laying the emphasis on words which do not require or deserve it.
To avoid all kinds of unnatural and disagreeable tones, we should read with the same ease and freedom that would mark our private conversation, on the same subject. We do not hear persona converse in a tone : if we did, we should laugh at them. “Do not,” says Dr. Watts, “affect to change that natural and easy sound with which you speak, for a strange, new, awkward tone, as some do vlen they begin to read. We should almost be persuaded that the speaker and the reader were two different persons, if ous eyes did not tell us the contrary.”
We shall close these rules and observations, by a remark of considerable importance to young persons who are desirous of learning to read well. Few rules on the subiect are intelligible to children, unless illustrated by the voice of a competent instructer. They should, therefore, pay great attention to the manner in which their teacher, and other persons of approved skill, perform the business of reading. They should observe their mode of pronouncing the words, placing the emphasis, making the pauses, managing the voice, and adapting it to the various subjects they read ; and, in all these respects, endeavour to imitate them as nearly as possible.