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pathos when it is sad. Abandon yourself to the spirit of the poet, and let your utterance be the faithful echo of his, even when he rises to rapture. Do not fear to overact; there is no fear of this fault in the reading of poetry. Mould your style to his. This you cannot do, of course, without thoroughly understanding him, and for that purpose it will not suffice to trust to the apprehension of the moment, or even to a hasty previous reading ; you must study him, line by line and word by word, until you have mastered his full meaning, and then
you will be able to give effect to it when you convey it to an audience.
Observe, too, that as a rule you should raise your voice at a pause, instead of dropping it, as is the frequent habit, and especially if that pause falls at the end of a line. I have already remarked upon the importance of this practice, as giving life and spirit to reading of all kinds ; but it is particularly requisite with poetry, because of the natural tendency of metre to monotony.
In unlearning your probable bad habits in the reading of poetry, as in learning how to read it rightly, you should adopt a scheme of lessons, so as to accustom yourself to the change by steps. Begin with poetry which has no rhyme, and in which the metre is not very decidedly marked.
o Paradise Lost” will be an excellent lesson to start with. I do not mean that you should read the whole, but select portions of it. On careful reading you will observe that the pauses are not measured ; they do not fall at the end of the lines, but are scattered all over them ; and if you strictly keep to these, you must avoid both sing-song and chant. For instance, take the “Invocation to Light,” noted as before described.
Hail,—holy LIGHT !- -offspring of heav'n first born-.
dwelt then in THEE-
-and find no dawn-
-or sunny hill-
Here, you will observe, the pauses fall at every part of the verse.
This practice will make the first breach in your bad habit of measuring every line. Then betake yourself to some poetry having rhymes, but irregular verse ;
then to such whose metres are still more unusual, until, at length, you may venture upon the metres that most tempt to sing-song, such as that of “ The Exile of Erin.” And I would especially commend to you, as one of the best exercises for the purpose of unlearning singsong, the frequent rendering of “ Julia's Letter” in Byron's “ Don Juan.” Whenever you feel yourself relapsing into the old habit, read this passage halfa-dozen times, with careful observance of the singularly varied pauses, and it will revive your lessons in the art.
I append it. Observe, that it is made up of a series of short sentences, and must be so read. With great delicacy in the management of your voice, you may contrive to strike the very slightest chord of the rhyme upon the listener's ear; but you must be careful, in attempting this, not to destroy the fine effect of the severed sentences—which may be described as sobs of words—and should be almost uttered as such. They tell me 'tis DECIDED.
Mine is the victim and would be AGAIN-
I write in haste- -and if a stain
-'tis not what it appears My eyeballs burn :-- and throb - but have no TEARS I loved ------I LOVE you
for this LOVE have lost State-station HEAVEN -Mankind's
esteem And yet cannot regret what it hath cost
So dear is still the memory of that dream
Yet -if I name my guilt 'tis not to boast
None can deem harsher of me than I deem
-Man may range
church the vessel and the martSword
gown- -gain -glory-offer in exchange Pride-fame- AMBITION -to fill up his heart
And few there are whom these cannot estrange-
-all is o'er
My shame—and sorrow -DEEP in my HEART's coreThese I could bear- -but cannot cast aside
The passion which still RAGES as before And so
FAREWELL - forgive me—LOVE me--no-That word is idle now—but let it go. My breast has been all weakness- --- IS 80-yet
But still-I think I can collect my mindMy blood still rushes where my spirit's SET —
As roll the waves before the settled wind.
To all—except ONE image-madly blind-
And dare not set my seal upon this sheet-
My misery can scarce.be more complete-
Death shuns the wretch who fain the blow would MEET-
READING OF NARRATIVE, ARGUMENT AND
Few special instructions are needed for the reading of narrative. Your chiefest care will be to avoid monotony. For the most part, there is an even flow of ideas, and a smooth stream of words, tending unconsciously to produce in you an uniformity of expression and tone that is apt to lull the listener to sleep. A continual effort will consequently be required on your part to counteract that tendency, by throwing into your reading as much liveliness of manner and variety of expression as the matter will permit; and it is better to hazard the charge of over-acting, than to find your hearers nodding, starting, and staring, with that extravagant endeavour not to look sleepy by which drowsiness always betrays itself.
First, think what a narrative is. You are telling a story from a book instead of from memory—that is all. But when you tell a story, you do not drawl it, or gabble it, or sing it, or run right through it without a pause, or in the same tone, or without a change of expression. On the contrary, you vary your voice with every varia