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and the thrilling, melting tones of whose voices came so melodiously, that
“Certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the undying music.” Books in which “a key of rhetorical notation," or "marks of inflection," are attached to the pieces, leave the pupil no opportunity to exercise his own good sense; and necessarily make him a mere automaton.
Walker, in his " Rhetorical Grammar," calls the inflections rising, falling, and circumflex; and other writers are chiefly indebted to him, for rules on the subject. He, however, recognized the difficulty if not the inexpediency, of attempting to reduce the doctrine of inflections to a system. The rising and falling inflections, to some extent, define themselves; the former ends higher than it begins; the latter turns the voice downward. The circumflex unites the two inflections, by beginning with the falling and ending with the rising slide, or by commencing with the rising and ending with the falling inflection. The monotone, which consists of sameness of sound, is another absolute modification of the voice. The rising inflection is marked thus ( 7 ); the falling thus (\); the circumflex thus (1); the monotone thus (-).
Let us consider the upward and downward slides of the voice to range one tone in music. It is an easy matter to give the inflections.
Did you say one or two?
voice ríse or fall ? “ Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kíss ?» Judas betrayed him in that manner. Did you say she shells ? No, I said sea shells. He said six slim, slick saplings; not six slim, sick sláplings. 6. The child is father of the màn.” “ To be, or not to bè; that is the question.”
“ Died Abner as a fool díeth ?" . If the falling inflection be given thus: Died Abner as a fool dieth, it implies that Abner, in the opinion of King David, died as a fool dieth.
“ He sees his fellow guilty of a skín, not colored like his own." The falling inflection thus: He sees his fellow guilty of a skin, conveys the idea that it is a crime to have a skin.
“The curfew tõlls; the knell of parting dày." The rising inflection thus: The curfew tólls the knell of parting dày, would convey the idea that it is the curfew which tolls the knell of parting day.
“No man lighteth a candle and putteth it under a bushel." The falling inflection thus: No man lighteth a càndle, implies either that nobody ever lights a candle, or that although men do not light candles, women may. If, when Hamlet says:
" To die? to sleep ; No môre”_ Shakspeare intends to convey the solemn idea, through the Prince of Denmark, that we fall into that sleep which knows no waking; the inflections should be given as indicated. If, on the other hand, those phrases imply that to die is merely to sleep—that is all—then, "no more," requires a rising, instead of a circumflex inflection.
"We mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fórtunes, and our sacred hònor."
“ Life is a torrid dây, parched by the wind and sün,
And death the calm cool night,
We sit lonely and weep. " The grāve õpens to recēive me, and I sink into its bosom." “Let the tomb open to Ossian. The sons of the song are gone to rēst, My voice remains like a blāst that roars lonely on a sea surrounded rock. The dārk möss whistles there."
“Röll on, thou dārk, deep, blue ocean.” “ Read this declaration at the head of the army. Send it to the public hàlls; proclaim it thère."
“ In the spring time, your fields shall grow green, but they shall not gladden your eyè; your flocks shall sport thereón, but it shall bring no delight to yoù; the brier and the thorn shall flourish around your hédge, because your hand is not there to prùne; your children shall prattle around the lonely fire-síde, but it shall bring no joy to your bòsom; the sun shall rise in its wonted splendor, and go down with all its gorgeous beauty, but the cold walls of a prison shall bound your vísion, confine your hópes, and prolong your woes.”
EXERCISES IN ELOCUTION.
1. ELOCUTION.—Dr. Channing.
1. A PEOPLE should be guarded against temptation to unlawful pleasures, by furnishing the means of innocent ones. There is an amusement, having an affinity with the drama, which might be usefully introduced among us, I mean elocution. A work of genius, recited by a man of fine taste, enthusiasm, and good elocution, is a very pure and high gratification.
2. Were this art cultivated and encouraged, great numbers, now insensible to the most beautiful compositions, might be waked up to their excellence and power. It is not easy to conceive of a more effectual way of spreading a refined taste through a community. The drama undoubtedly appeals more strongly to the passions than recitation, but the latter brings out the meaning of the author more.
3. Shakspeare, well recited, would be better understood than on the stage. Then, in recitation, we escape the weariness of listening to poor performers, who, after all, fill
most of the time at the theatre. Recitation, sufficiently varied, so as to include pieces of chaste wit, as well as of pathos, beauty and sublimity, is adapted to our present intellectual progress, as much as the drama falls below it.
4. Should this exhibition be introduced among us successfully, the result would be, that the power of recitation would be extensively called forth, and this would be added to our social and domestic pleasures.
The above extract is from a discourse, delivered before the Massachusetts Temperance Society, in the year 1836, by the Rev. William E. Channing, of Boston. It shows clearly that Elocution is calculated to elevate the standard of morality. It, moreover, sets forth, most happily, its supe riority over the drama. Dr. Channing was born at Newport, in Rhode Island, on the seventh day of April, 1780, and he died at Bennington, Vermont, October 20, 1842. As a literary and philosophical essayist, he ranks high abroad, as well as at home. His name has been rendered familiar in foreign countries, by his articles on Fenelon, Milton, and Napoleon. England has, at length, unequivocally acknowledged the capability of America of producing native writers of the first order. When Spurzheim, the celebrated phrenologist, was asked, what prompted him to leave Europe and visit the United States, he replied: “Shall I not see Dr. Channing ?" It has been too much the custom in the mother country, to undervalue their transatlantic rivals. She is justly proud of Fox, Pitt, Sheridan, and Brougham. America, too, has produced men of surpassing intellect. The writings of Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, Wirt, Channing, Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, J. C. Calhoun, Gerrit Smith, and Washington Irving, are not inferior to the best productions of those great men.
The first ten pieces in this “ Elocution," like all others which are not of an unusually solemn nature; or, of a rhetorical character, require a collo quial manner of reading.
2. ELOCUTION OF LADIES.—Mrs. Sigourney.
1. Reading aloud, with propriety and grace, is an accomplishment worthy of the acquisition of females. To enter into the spirit of an author, and convey his sentiments with a happy adaptation of tone, emphasis, and manner, is no common attainment. It is peculiarly valuable in our sex, because it so often gives them an opportunity of imparting pleasure and improvement to an assembled family, during the winter evening, or the protracted storm. In the zeal for feminine accomplishments, it would seem that the graces of elocution had been too little regarded.
2. Permit me to fortify my opinion, by the authority of the Rev. Mr. Gallaudet. “I cannot understand why it should be thought, as it sometimes is, a departure from female delicacy, to read in a promiscuous, social circle, if called upon to do so, from any peculiar circumstance, and to read too, as well as
Garrick himself, if the young lady possesses the power of doing it. 3. Why may
she not do this, with as much genuine modesty, and with as much of a desire to oblige her friends, and with as little of ostentation, as to sit down in the same circle, to the piano, and play and sing in the style of the first masters? If, to do the former, is making too much of a display of her talents, why should not the latter be so? Nothing but some strange freak of fashion, can have made a difference.”
4. Fine reading is an accomplishment, where the inherent music, both of the voice and of the intellect
, may be uttered; for the scope and compass of each, is often fully taxed, and happily developed, in the interpretation of delicate shades of meaning, and gradations of thought. Its first element, to be clearly understood, is often too much disregarded, so that, with some who are pronounced fashionable readers, low, or artificial intonations so perplex the listener, as to leave it donbtful whether the uncertain sound was piped or harped.”
As elocution includes conversation and reading, as well as public speaking, it is a matter of nearly as much interest to ladies, as to gentlemen. A large portion of the time of ladies, is employed in conversation and reading. To read and converse well, is, therefore, a very desirable attainment. The above extract from Mrs. Sigourney's excellent "Letters to Young Ladies,” is commended to their perusal, in the hope that they will be induced to acquire a pure, polished, and graceful elocution.
-ITS EFFECTS UPON HEALTH.—Dr. A. Combe.
1. Reading aloud and recitation are more useful and invigorating muscular exercises, than is generally imagined. In forming and undulating the voice, the chest and the diaphragm are in constant action, and communicate to the stomach a healthy and agreeable stimulus; and, consequently, where the voice is raised and elocution rapid, as in many kinds of public speaking, the muscular effort is more fatiguing than the mental, especially to those who are unaccustomed to it.
2. When care is taken, however, not to carry reading aloud or reciting so far at one time, as to excite the least sensation of soreness or fatigue in the chest, and it is duly repeated, it is extremely useful in developing and giving tone to the organs