« FöregåendeFortsätt »
This figure represents objects which have passed, or by anticipation maypass,or asabsolutely passing before our eyes. It should never be resorted to but when the author's vivid imagination inspires and carries him beyond himself; then his readers, by catching the corruscation from, and sympathizing with, will feel rapt and imbued with his illusion. Vision admits of as great a variety of delivery as the subjects which may be read or recited. The best method of giving such passages, is to thoroughly understand, feel, and enter into the spirit of them; sounderstanding and feeling, the reader cannot fail to produce the desired effect.
The first speech of the Wizard in Lochiel's Warning; the Last Man; also, Time, by Seleck Osborne.
Upon this subject, which at first sight may here appear irrelative, although in reality it is very material, the writer differs from those who have gone before him, and by whom systems have been laid down for the movement of every feature of the human face, and limb of the human form. Those systems are fallacious; for while the mind of the Tyro is busied in the consideration of how, or when, he shall point the toe, extend the arm, or knit the brow, the main spring, that very mind which should give all—life, motion and effect, is employed in a worse than secondary, while the primary cause is totally neglected. After a young man of education has been well instructed in those exercises which form a part of the external accomplishments of a gentleman, fencing and dancing, for instance, but particularly the former, to acquire a just expression, action and deportment, it will be necessary that he should leave both face and figure untrammeled, and thoroughly understand and feel his author; then the proper expression of face, and truth of deportment in action, will, 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 indeed all other bad habits in action, will be avoided. If we look into real life, we shall find gesture rather unfrequent 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 advantage 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 enjoy. 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 all the theory of elocution necessary 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.
READING PROSE, VERSE, AND BLANKVERSE.
The art of reading, so very essential in all ranks of society, and in all pursuits of life, is so imperfectly understood, 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 geeater 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 2 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, that 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, mature 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” proper§ 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 RHYMING 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 giving 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 giving 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 to 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 articulate 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.