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Scene—Horatio, Hamlet, Marcellus, and Bernardo


Speech of the Hon. Charles Sumner against the Fugitive Slave



The Spouter

Manuscript 339

Scene - William Tell







Scene-Albert and Ges at the Gate Altorf


Scene—Sarnem, Tell, and Citizens


Speech on the Advantages and Pleasures of Scien.

tific Pursuits.

Brougham 354

Scene-Duke, Amiens, and other Lords

Shakspeare 356




The Art of Reading has sometimes, in books at least, been taught on principles not sufficiently simple to be useful. Writers on Elocution have occasionally introduced into their systems Rules and Exceptions too minute and perplexing ever to become practicable, and which they did not themselves exemplify in the ordinary business of their profession. They read and delivered correctly enough, but not always so as to recognise their own principles; proving that their theories were either too minute for every-day use, or that their views were not essential to the development of the reading art. It was only when some public display was made of the elocutionist's powers, when certain previously prepared passages were delivered with the avowed object of exemplification, that any close application of the principles in question could be discovered. The object of the present attempt, therefore, is to submit to the student what seems useful and practicable in the art, divesting it, as much as possible, of all unnecessary refinements and subtleties.

Every reader must have observed that certain ideas and forms of construction naturally suggest certain modulations that the same state of the voice does not suit every sentiment or form of sentence--that, for example, language expressive of denial requires a different intonation from that



of authority, or of mere affirmation—that the suspended division of a sentence, wherein the sense is delayed throughout a series of members, requires to be separated from the subsequent inference by a corresponding suspension of voice, and a modulation different from that of the inference itself. Hence the necessity of establishing some general system of intonation without extending its application beyond legitimate bounds—not advancing into the field of mere speculation, abandoning nature, the elocutionist's safest guide, and introducing theories that may convert the otherwise sensible reader into a speaking automaton.

The human voice is heard in three states. It is on the monotone; or is heard taking a rising modulation ; or, on the contrary, a falling. These modulations are sometimes so combined as to form a circumflex—the rising circumflex (°) consisting of a falling and rising modulation on the same syllable; the falling circuinflex), of a rising and falling. The monotone is that state wherein the voice continues on the same level—a monotonous speaker being one who enunciates too much in the same pitch of voice; whose ear is not musical, or whose taste is not cultivated; one who knows not, or cares not, to change from one note in the reading scale to a higher or lower, according to the sense or passion of his subject. The rising modulation is heard when the voice ascends from the previous monotone to a higher note; and the falling, when the voice takes a corresponding slide downwards to the former, or a still lower monotone. The term monotonous applies not only to such readers as do not sufficiently modulate individual members—it applies also to such as modulate upon one uniform pitch of voice. Some habitually commence, and others habitually close their sentences upon the same tone, thus inflicting a monotony as offensive to the ear, certainly as detrimental to the design of oratory, as that of those who do not nodulate at all. This monotony of voice is like that of gesture, prac

tised by some speakers, which disposes of the right hand and then of the left, the right again and then the left, alternately, as if at the bidding of some hidden machinery; irrespective altogether of feeling or sentiment. There are therefore, properly speaking, three monotonies of voicethe monotony of members, the commencing monotony, and the concluding monotony,-each of which should be carefully avoided by all who would preserve that pleasing variety of intonation on which the success of delivery so much depends.

It is to the proper regulation of the voice in these three states that the art of delivery chiefly directs the student's attention. There is required, first, the absolute control or flexibility of the voice in order to take, easily and precisely, these several changes ; and there is, secondly, the knowledge requisite for the proper direction of the modulations themselves. The reader must be able to give each of these changes at will,—a power which a correct ear confers; and he must know the principles by which these changes are regulated, which it is the province of the elocutionist to teach. He must be able to shift the pitch of voice at will, and know when to will it. Unless these two points are gained, he will make but little progress as an impressive reader. And yet, it is not to be supposed that these acquirements alone constitute the very perfection of delivery ; that by the mere knowledge of rules, success can be secured_far from it. Many instances of the contrary are daily witnessed; of individuals who, although fully conversant with the theory of the art, have never succeeded in properly arresting the attention of their audiences. Still it is obvious that mu the success of our public speakers does depend on their acquaintance with the rules of elocution, on their correct pronunciation, their judicious application of the emphatic force, and their skilful management of that vocal organization by which every successive passion or process of reasoning may be clearly and

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