is submitted to you as a lesson in those graces of reading that are common to compositions of all kinds. The subject of this poem demands a serious and somewhat solemn mood of the reader's mind, and as the mind is so will be the tones of the voice, without an effort of your own.

There is much use of emphasis and pause throughout, but little or no variation of manner. Great feeling should be thrown into it, and, when well read, there are few passages in English literature more effective. It never fails to touch, and therefore to please, an audience, however miscellaneous :

Not a drum was heard not a funeral note

As his corpse to the ramparts we hurried-
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot

O'er the grave where our HERO we buried.-
We buried him darklyat dead—of NIGHT-

The sods with our BAYONETS turning-
By the struggling moonbeams' misty light

And the lantern—dimly burning-
No useless COFFIN enclosed His breast-

Nor in sheet—nor in shroudwe wound him-
But he LAY- like a warrior taking his rest-

With his martial cloak around him.
Few and short were the prayers we said-

And we spoke not a word of sorrow-
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the DEAD—

And bitterly thought of the morrow. -
We thought- as we hollowed his narrow bed

And smooth'd down his lonely pillow
How the FOE and the STRANGER would tread o'er his head

And we-FAR away on the billow !
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone

And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him-
But little he'll reck- -if they let him sleep on

In the grave—where a BRITON has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done

When the clock told the hour for retiring-
And we heard the distant and random gun

That the foe was sullenly firing.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down

From the field of his fame fresh and gory!
We carved not a LINE—we raised not a STONE-

But we left him ALONE-in his GLORY. The last two lines must be read with increased emphasis-very slowly-in a voice slightly elevated, and with a tone changed from sadness to triumph. Repeat them many times until you are enabled to give to this fine verse its full expression. I can but faintly convey it to you by types and dashes.



I ASK you now to study one of the most difficult readings in our language, and therefore excellent practice. It was indeed never read to perfect satisfaction save by one actor and reader-CHARLES KEMBLE. To estimate its difficulties, you should first read it right on, as if it were an ordinary narrative, and regardless of effect. Then read it with care, designing to give to every word its right expression, and you will be surprised to find how dissatisfied you will be with your own performance,

Observe, that it is an exquisite piece of pleasantry, by a professed wit. It is not humorous, nor farcical, but admirably fanciful and witty. Therefore it is not to be blurted out like a bit of fun, nor cracked like a joke, but uttered in the light, but still musical and graceful, strain of pleasantry, in the manner of a polished gentleman. A smile should just hover upon the lips, but without breaking into a laugh. Nor is it a soliloquy, but a story told to companions as cheerful and light-hearted as the teller. This manner of reading it I cannot illustrate ; I


can only suggest it to you—the pauses and the emphasis I exhibit as before.

Oh-then I see - Queen Mal hath been with you-
She is the fairies' MIDWIFE

and she comes In shape

-no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman-
Drawn with a team of LITTLE atomies
Athwart men's NOSES- - as they lie asleep-
Her waggon-spokesmade of long spinners' legs—
The COVER of the wings of grasshoppers-
Her TRACES of the SMALLEST spider's web
Her COLLARS of the moonshine's watery beams-
Her WHIP- of cricket's bone-

-the LASH of film-Her WAGGONER

-small- -gray-coated
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid-

an empty hazel nut
Made by the joiner squirrel- -or old grub
Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers-
And in this state she GALLOPS- -night by night-
Through lovers' BRAINS- and then- they dream of LOVE-
On courtiers' KNEES that dream of court'sies straight-
O’er lawyers' FINGERS- -who straight dream on FEES-
O'er ladies' LIPS- —who straight on KISSES dream-
Which oft the angry Mab with BLISTERS plagues
Because their BREATHS with sweetmeats TAINTED are.
Sometimes she gallops o'era COURTIER's nose--
And then dreams he- of SMELLING OUT-a suit-
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig's TAIL
Tickling a PARSON'S nose as he lies asleep
Then dreams her of another benefice-
Sometimes she driveth o'er a SOLDIER'S NECK-
And then dreams HE of cutting foreign throats-
Of breaches- -ambuscadoes -Spanish blades,
Of healths-five-fathoms—deep and then anon
Drums in his ear- at which he starts—and WAKES-
And—being thus FRIGHTED swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again- -This is that very MAB
That plats the manes of horses in the night-


And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish lairs
Which- once untangled much misfortune BODES-

This exquisite passage of wit is to be pronounced “ trippingly on the tongue,” and not to be mouthed. It should be spoken as lightly as such a light-hearted fellow as Mercutio would utter a piece of pleasantry. A smile should hover upon the lips, but never break into a laugh. As he is addressing three or four of his gay companions, and he turns from one to the other, as he points the illustration to them individually, it is not spoken right on, like a speech, but with frequent and long pauses, and with such slight hesitancies as serve to show that it is an invention of the moment and not a composition committed to the memory. The difficulty of the passage is very great and it grows with acquaint

After twenty readings you will be less satisfied with your rendering of it than at the first. But, per

It is because of its difficulty that I have selected it for an exercise. When you are able to read this well, you will have made great progress in the art. Do not leave it until you have mastered it. I do not desire that you should read this, or any other of these illustrations, twenty times in one day; you would not improve by such rapid repetitions ; but read them three or four times at a sitting, and repeat them day by day for weeks, until you or your friendly counsellor shall be completely satisfied with the performance.

I will now take you to another passage-short, but demanding extraordinary expression to give full effect to it.

This, too, was deemed by Mr. Thelwall to be a testpassage, and he read it with wonderful power. Rightly to measure it, begin by reading it without any emphasis, simply uttering the words with the proper pauses. Then


« ElőzőTovább »