« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
theless, there can be no greater fallacy than to suppose that by declining to submit them to a true artistic training we but elect to leave them to the operation of that pure abstract beneficence which men fondly call “nature.” Some one, pleading for the moral instruction of the children of the street, said, "Do not suppose that if we refuse this responsibility they will simply go untaught: if we do not teach them, you may be sure the devil will." So, in the matter of a right rhetorical delivery, we may undervalue the importance of training Young America into good habits, but the influences which induce bad ones will none the less continue to swarm around him like the motes of the sunbeam, and he will take them in at every pore. Not nature, but false art, will be imbibed-by the child from the very family at home, by the youth from the very atmosphere of the school-room, by the adolescent from the hoary abuses of the college and the still more abominable traditions of the stage, and by them all from nearly every pulpit, forum, and hustings in the land.
The whole matter may be summed up in the wellworn maxim of Ovid: “The safest path lies midway of the extremes.” The true doctrine is thus well expressed by another: “To be able to act upon the souls of men with an elevating and informing power, it is first of all necessary that an artist should cultivate the form of his art to its greatest possible perfection, and have such perfect command of it that the practical application of it is as natural to him as to breathe. For, empty and dead as all technical knowledge is unless it is animated with a soul, yet no product of art æsthetically beautiful is possible without a perfect technique."
The inquirer who desires to pursue this subject in detail may be commended to Helmholtz's Lehre von
den Tonempfindungen, Dr. Oscar Wolf's Sprache und Ohr, Carpenter's Human Physiology, and the writings of Max Müller, Czermak, Du Bois Raymond, etc. For popular reading we may refer to Tyndall's Lectures on Sound; to Mme. Emma Seiler's The Voice in Singing and The Voice in Speaking, which present the results of scientific investigation on the subject so far as practically valuable to the ordinary student; and to Dr. Mandeville's The Elements of Reading and Oratory.
REMINISCENCES OF PROF. RAYMOND'S
BY R. W. RAYMOND.
As remarked in the Editor's Introduction to this edition, and also explained by the author on p. 10, the preceding manual is confined to the department of
melody," which comprises, strictly considered, questions of pitch alone. Emphasis, for instance, is here treated only as it is secured by inflection, and not in its relation to other means, such as pause, stress (loudness or softness of voice), facial expression, attitude or gesture. Miss Conant's notes, in Appendix I., supply many desultory but useful hints of my father's method in those departments of which he left no systematic record; and it has appeared to me that, imitating her example, I might, though more incoherently and less authoritatively, render desirable aid to the students and teachers who use this book. But I must give frank warning that, after the forty-seven years which have elapsed since I enjoyed my father's instruction, I cannot always clearly distinguish between his precepts and the resulting views, developed from them through my own experience. I can only say that I have honestly set down what I either received from him, or believe to be the logical outcome of the principles in which he trained me.
Apart from many later conversations with him, I gained my personal knowledge of my father's instruction as a student under him at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where his department comprised rhetoric
( 178 )
and composition, as well as elocution. But these are so intimately connected that I shall make no apology for including in my reminiscences some things which belong to both.
The following paragraphs are, as will be seen, disconnected remarks or apothegms, not even arranged in perfect systematic order.
1. Correct reading is the proper basis of both oratorical and dramatic delivery, and should be so taught that the reader can convey the author's thought without the aid of gesture or stage-play. To convey not only the thought but the passion, or to indicate the persons as well as the thoughts, is the function of dramatic delivery, and should not be attempted until the art of correct reading has been mastered. The stage, the platform and even the pulpit are afflicted with those who try to express or produce emotion, without having learned how, accurately and effectively, to convey ideas and propositions.
2. The colloquial tones and inflections are the proper basis of all delivery, including the dramatic and the oratorical. The student should always begin by learning how to render a given passage in ordinary colloquial fashion. Upon that foundation, he may then build the superstructure appropriate to higher moods and purposes. But, apart from the inflections employed also in colloquial utterance, the use, for emphasis or impressive effect, of stress, pause, or gesture, should not, in general, alter the underlying principles of colloquial utterance. The key may be changed to express emotion; but the tune, expressing thought, must remain
practically the same. There are exceptional instances, in which ordinary rules are intentionally violated for dramatic effect. But these occur also in colloquial speech; and it is questionable, to say the least, whether they are, in any case, advisable.
3. Ordinary delivery for the conveyance of thought, oratorical delivery for the declaration or production of a common sentiment, and dramatic delivery for the expression of personality, scenery or action, are separate departments, and should not be confused without good reason. This is rather a warning than a rule. People of some temperaments or races talk dramatically on nearly all occasions; orators may properly become dramatic at times. There is no fixed rule; but there is a principle, namely, sincerity. And the besetting danger of readers and speakers is that of the conventional affectation of a dramatic impulse which they do not, or under the circumstances should not, really feel. If, in the course of his argument, an orator uses the phrase “from East to West,” he should not look, or wave an arm, alternately towards these points of the compass. Nobody cares at that moment where they are, or desires to have geographical considerations pictorially suggested in that way.
4. It is impossible to give perfect effect in delivery to bad rhetoric. The importance of the relation between thought and utterance, my father used to say, cannot be overrated. Not only is clearness of thinking a prerequisite of a good style, but clearness of style reacts upon the process of thought; and a vague, confused