Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

faults in elocution. One very important instrument for giving expression and life to thought is thus lost, and the hearer soon becomes wearied and disgusted.

REMARK 2.-There is another fault of nearly equal magnitude, and of very frequent occurrence. This consists in varying the pitch and force without reference to the sense. A sentence is commenced with vehemence and in a high key, and the voice gradually sinks until, the breath being spent, it dies away in a whisper.

NOTE.—The power of changing the key at will is difficult to acquire, but of great importance.

REMARK 3.—The habit of sing-song, so common in reading poetry, as it is a variation of pitch without reference to the sense, is a species of the fault above mentioned.

REMARK 4.-If the reader or speaker is guided by the sense, and if he gives that emphasis, inflection, and expression required by the meaning, these faults speedily disappear.

REMARK 5.—To improve the voice in these respects, practice is necessary. Commence, for example, with the lowest pitch the voice can comfortably sound, and repeat whole paragraphs and pages upon that key with gentle force. Then repeat the paragraph with increased force, taking care not to raise the pitch. Then rise one note higher, and practice on that, then another, and so on, until the highest pitch of the voice is reached. Reverse the process, and repeat as before until the lowest pitch is obtained.

NOTE.-In these and all similar exercises, be very careful not to confound pitch and force.

QUANTITY AND QUALITY.

The tones of the voice should vary also in quantity, or time required to utter a sound or a syllable, and in quality, or expression, according to the nature of the subject.

REMARK.-We notice a difference between the soft, insinuating tones of persuasion; the full, strong voice of command and decision; the harsh, irregular, and sometimes grating explosion of the sounds of passion; the plaintive notes of sorrow and pity; and the equable and unimpassioned flow of words in argumentative style.

The following direction, therefore, is worthy of attention.

The tones of the voice should always correspond both in quantity and quality with the nature of the subject.

EXAMPLES.

Passion

and Grief.

“Come back! come back!” he cried, in grief,

“Across this stormy water,
And I'll forgive your Highland chief,

My daughter! O, my daughter!”

Plaintive.

I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf:
And that which should accompany old age,
As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have.

Calm.

A very great portion of this globe is covered with water, which is called sea, and is very distinct from rivers and lakes.

Fierce Anger.

Burned Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,

And—“This to me?” he said;
“And 't were not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared

To cleave the Douglas' head !

Loud

and Explosive.

“Even in thy pitch of pride,
Here, in thy hold, thy vassals near,

I tell thee thou’rt defied !
And if thou said'st I am not peer
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or Highland, far or near,

Lord Angus, thou hast lied !”

REMARK 1.-In our attempt to imitate nature it is important to avoid affectation, for to this fault even perfect monotony is preferable.

REMARK 2.—The strength of the voice may be increased by practicing with different degrees of loudness from a whisper to full rotundity, taking care to keep the voice on the same key. The same note in music may be sounded loud or soft. So also a sentence may be pronounced on the same pitch with different degrees of loudness. Having practiced with different degrees of loudness on one key, make the same experiment on another, and then on another, and so on. This will also give the learner practice in compass.

VII. POETIC PAUSES.

În poetry we have, in addition to other pauses, poetic pauses. The object of these is simply to promote the melody.

At the end of each line a slight pause is proper, whatever be the grammatical construction or the sense. The purpose of this pause is to make prominent the melody of the measure, and in rhyme to allow the ear to appreciate the harmony of the similar sounds.

There is, also, another important pause, somewhere near the middle of each line, which is called the cæsura or cæsu

In the following lines it is marked thus (II).

ral pause.

EXAMPLES.

There are hours long departed || which memory brings,

Like blossoms of Eden || to twine round the heart,
And as time rushes by || on the might of his wings,

They may darken awhile || but they never depart.

REMARK.-The cæsural pause should never be so placed as to injure the sense. The following lines, if melody alone were consulted, would be read thus:

With fruitless la || bor Clara bound,
And strove to stanch || the gushing wound;
The Monk with un || availing cares,
Exhausted all || the church's prayers.

This manner of reading, however, would very much interfere with the proper expression of the idea. This is to be corrected by making the cæsural pause yield to the sense. The above lines should be read thus:

With fruitless labor || Clara bound,
And strove || to stanch the gushing wound;
The Monk || with unavailing cares,

Exhausted || all the church's prayers.
(5.-3.)

EXERCISES.

I. DEATH OF FRANKLIN.

(To be read in a solemn tone.)

Franklin is dead. The genius who freed America', and poured a copious stream of knowledge throughout Europe', is returned unto the bosom of the Divinity'. The sage to whom two worlds' lay claim, the man for whom science and politics are disputing, indisputably enjoyed an elevated rank in human nature.

The cabinets of princes have been long in the habit of notifying the death of those who were great', only in their funerar orations! Long hath the etiquette of courts', proclaimed the mourning of hypocrisy'. Nations' should wear mourning for none but their benefactors'. The representatives' of nations should recommend to public homage' only those who have been the heroes of humanity.

II. BONAPARTE.

He knew no motive' but interest'; acknowledged no criterion' but success'; he worshiped no God but ambition'; and with an eastern devotion', he knelt at the shrine of his idolatry'. Subsidiary to this, there was no creed that he did not profess', there was no opinion' that he did not promulgate': in the hope of a dynasty', he upheld the crescent'; for the sake of a divorce', he bowed before the cross'; the orphan of St. Louis', he became the adopted child of the republic'; and, with a parricidal ingratitude', on the ruins both of the throne and the tribune, he reared the throne of his despotism'.

At his touch crowns' crumbled"; beggars' reigned'; systems' vanished"; the wildest theories' took the color of his whim'; and all that was venerable', and all that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama'. Nature had no obstacle' that he did not surmount'; space, no opposition' he did not spurn'; and whether amid Alpine rocks', Arabian sands',-or Polar snows', he seemed proof against peril, and empowered with ubiquity'.

III. HAMLET ON SEEING THE SKULL OF YORICK.

Alas, poor Yorick'! I knew him!, Horatio'; a fellow of infinite jest', of most excellent fancy! He hath borne me on his back' a thousand times'; and now', how abhorred my imagination is! My gorge rises' at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed', I know not how oft'. Where be your gibes', now? your gambols"? your songs? your flashes of merriment', that were wont to set the table on a roar!? Not one', now, to mock your own grinning"? quite chop-fallen'? Now get you to my lady's chamber', and tell her', let her paint an inch thick', to this favor she must come'; make her laugh at that!

IV. DESCRIPTION OF A BATTLE.

Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight', while fiercer grew

Around, the battle yell.
The border slogan rent the sky',
A Home!! a Gordon'! was the cry';

Loud were the clanging blows';
Advanced',—forced back',—now low',—now high',

The pennon sunk'—and rose";
As bends the bark's mast in the gale',
When rent are rigging' shrouds', and sail',

It wavered 'mid the foes!.
The war, that for a space did fail',
Now trebly thundering swelled the gale,

And Stanley'! was the cry;
A light on Marmion's visage spread',

And fired his glazing eyel:-
With dying hand', above his head',
He shook the fragment of his blade',

And shouted',—“Victory !
Charge', Chester', charge! On, Stanley', on!"-

Were the last words of Marmion.

« ElőzőTovább »