« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
necessarily, spring out of the subject. By this procedure he is sure to be right, for nature is never wrong. Then the monotonous habit of sawing the air, and in. deed all other bad habits in action, will be avoided. If we look into real life, we shall find gesture rather un. frequent than redundant.
A history of language from its barbarous origin to its present perfection, and the various laborious efforts by which it has advanced, is not the object of this Essay; but, now that the materials are abundantly supplied, the author trusts that he has shown how those materials may be used for the advantuge of our youth, in the display of one of the most noble structures that the genius of man can produce, or the perception of man can ene joy. The component parts of Eloquence are, sound judgment, well arranged method, a vivid imagination, retention of memory, a progressively rising elocution, and an excellent and varied diction, uniting the perfection of language with the sublimity of thought.
The author will close this essay by observing, that the student may, with a perfect knowledge of, and a strict adherence to, the rules here laid down, acquire allthe theory of elocution necessury for correct reading and speaking, all that is aimed at in this publication, but, although the theory be indispensably requisite to aid in the formation of an accomplished speaker, yet without practice, and that practice under a judicious master, whose taste is refined, and whose pronunciation is unvitiated by any provincial dialect, he can never attain this very desirable accomplishment.
END OF THE ESSAY.
READING PROSE, VERSE, AND BLANK VERSE.
The art of reading, so very essential in all ranks of society, and in all pursuits of life, is so imperfectly un. derstood, that not one out of ten thousand, even of those who are called educated, can properly be termed a good reader. When most persons take up a book, they imagine that nature and her inflections are to be lost sight of, and they proceed in a canting sing-song monotonous tone from the beginning to the end. This is owing to those persons not considering that reading and speaking are precisely the same thing, save that in reciting we have a greater intimacy with the subject, and are enabled to give a little more energy and action. The tones, emphasis, accent, and sense, are the same, whether we speak or read, for what is speaking but giving utterance to our own thoughts, and what is reading but giving utterance to the thoughts of others placed before our eyes? Do we not sometimes write our own thoughts for the purpose of reading them in public? Where then can be the difference between reading and speaking, except that when uttering our own thoughts, we are possessed of our own meaning, but when reading the thoughts of others, we have to seek for their sense, which is not always observable at first sight. It will be necessary, for those who wish to read correctly, either to a public assembly, or to friends in private, previously to look over the subject, so as to render themselves perfectly masters of it, or embarrassment, hesitation, and very often an entire failure of effect, will be the consequence.
The writer would not be understood to mean, by reading as we speak, tbat reading should, therefore, be like flippant and common-place conversation, as might erroneously be supposed; but that reading should be consonant with the subject which we utter. If the Supreme Being be addressed in an extemporary prayer, nature and good feeling will dictate a meek, solemn, and reverential tone and manner; so should the same subject, without the least deviation, be read. The meaning here wished to be inculcated is, that we should speak correctly and read as we speak. To prove that reading and speaking sound alike, let a competent judge place himself in an ante chamber where he may hear, but not see, a person reading, and he cannot be able to determine whether he is reading or reciting, provided the reader be a good one.
Independently of the pleasure afforded to the auditors by a perfect reader, he participates in that pleasure by being enabled, from his just conceptions, to develop the frequently profound or sublime meaning of his author, and at the same time dress it in all the fascination of eloquence. Who can hear “ Paradise Lost” properly read, and not be a convert to this opinion? One of the chief errors in young readers or speakers proceeds from a precipitancy of utterance, which is subversive of all good elocution; to avoid that fault, the beginner should be taught to read the observations on quantity, and follow them. Giving proper quantity will correct too quick utterance.
ON READING RÆYMING VERSE. Distinctness of utterance, and clearness of articulation, so indispensable in all kinds of oratorical exercises, must, in an especial manner, be attended to in reading verse, else that song so disgusting to good taste, and a perfect ear, will be the result. The material difference between reading prose and rhyming verse, rests in give ing more time between each word and sentence in verse than in prose; reading with very little reference to the jingle, or rhyme, but with great attention to the sense ; using the same inflections as in prose, and rather avoiding than encouraging that measured tone, improperly called musical; for if the harmony of that author's verse to whose sense we do justice, do not distinctly speak for itself, his claims to poetry must rest on a very slight foundation indeed.
ON READING BLANK VERSE. The correct delivery of blank verse, as well as of prose or rhyming verse, principally depends upon the reader's having a perfect knowledge of the subject which he is uttering.
The mode of reading blank verse, differs only in give ing more quantity and solemnity of tone, than in prose or rhyming verse.
What is meant by quantity, is taking nearly double the time in utterance, and with much more proximity lo the sublime in blank verse, than in prose or rhyming verse, and continually bearing in mind the slight suspensive pause, that is, keeping up the voice, until the period or full sense be arrived at.
Perhaps it may here be necessary to say more upon a subject, to the judicious use of which, all perfect, forcible, and elegant reading, and speaking owe so much.
In giving proper quantity, not only the accented and unaccented vowels must have their full, round, due proportion of sound, but the consonants also, and every word, syllable, and letter, should have its proper articu. late sound accorded to it.
The sublime passages of scripture ought to be read agreeably to the above directions.
The following example will sufficiently elucidate the propriety of keeping up the voice until the sense be completed, and the period arrived at.
« These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
MILTON'S MORNING HIM.