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-Farewell, happy fields,
-in mid air, aloud thus cried,
VANGUARD ! -to right and left the front unfold.* But the reader must now be reminded, that while it is often indispensable to prolong, and fill out the sound of a word, under strong emphasis, it would be preposterous to speak common words in this manner.
No variety of tones could produce the thrilling effects of music if every note were a semibreve. So in elocution, if every word and syllable were uttered with the same length, the uniformity would be as intolerable as the worst monotony.
The easy flow of delivery, requires that particles, and subordinate syllables, should be touched as lightly as is consistent with distinctness; while both sentiment and harmony demand, that the voice should throw an increase of quantity upon important words by resting on them, or by swell and protraction of sound, or both. He whose voice habitually prolongs short syllables, and such words as and, from, to, the, &c. must be a heavy speaker.
But time in elocution, has a larger application than that which respects words and clauses, I mean that which respects the general rate of delivery. In this case, it is not practicable, as in music, nor perhaps desirable, to establish a fixed standard, to which every reader or speaker shall conform. The habits of different men may differ considerably in rate of utterance, without being chargeable with fault. But I refer rather to the difference which emotion will produce, in the rate of the same individual. I have said before, that those passions which quicken or retard a man's step in walking, will produce a similar effect on his voice in speaking. Narration is equable and flowing; vehemence, firm and accelerated ; anger and joy, rapid. Whereas dignity, authority, sublimity, awe,-assume deeper tones, and a slower movement.
ACcordingly we sometimes hear a good reader or speaker, when there is some sudden turn of thought, check himself in the full current of utterance, and give indescribable power to a sentence, or part of a sentence, by dropping his voice, and adopting a slow, full pronunciation.
Sect. 5.--Compass of Voice. In this I refer to the range of notes, above and below
* See APPENDIX for more examples, under this head.
the governing or natural key, which are required by a spirited and diversified delivery.
Sometimes from inveterate habit, and sometimes from incapacity of the organs, the voice has a strong, clear bottom, without any compass upwards. In other cases, it has a good top, but no compass below its key. Extreme instances to the contrary there may be, but commonly, I have no doubt that when a speaker uses only a note or two, above and below the key, it arises from habit, and not from organic defect.
Directions on this subject would be comparatively easy, if all who need them were acquainted with music. But experience taught me long ago, that no theories in elocution, which presuppose learners in this art to possess skill in musical sounds, can be generally useful Multitudes must be taught reading and speaking, who cannot accurately distinguish musical intervals of notes. Those who can do it, will find great facility in cultivating quantity and compass of voice. To such I recommend a course of experiments on different vowel sounds, such as occur in the examples of emphatic words under the last head. Thus, begin with hail, and speak it rather feebly, on the lowest note of
Then repeat it, a note higher, and so on through the oo tave, but still in a small voice. Then do the same thing with increase of strength, as you raise the note, that is, growing louder as you proceed. Finally, do the same thing with a view to prolongation of sound, uttering the word hail, with one beat, then with two, three, &c. If you attempt to combine in one experiment, compass, loudness, and length of sound, the trial of voice will be severe, and should be continued but a short time at once.
When this experiment is finished, it may be renewed on other words, as arm, charge, hopc; the ultimate aim being in each case, to accustom the voice to notes high and low, loud and long.
When the student has ascertained his compass, by such experiments on single words, he may then practice reading passages of some length, on that part of his voice which he especially wishes to improve; taking care, in this more protracted exercise, not to pitch on the extreme note of his voice, either way, so far as to preclude some variety above os below, to correspond with natural delivery.
I would advise him next to read passages where the sentiment and style are specially adapted to the purpose he has in view. If he wishes to cultivate the bottom of his voice, he may take passages of poetry, in which the simile occurs, a figure that generally requires a low and equable movement of voice.
If he wishes to increase his compass on the higher notes, let him choose passages in which spirited emotion prevails; especially such as have a succession of interrogative sentences. Instead of giving examples here, I refer the reader to EXERCISES on compass of voice.
Sect. 6.-Rhetorical Pause, Rhetorical punctuation has a few marks of its own, the point of interrogation, and of admiration, the parenthesis, and the hyphen, all of which denote no grammatical relation, and have no established length. And there is no good reason, if such marks are used at all, why they should not be rendered more adequate to their purpose.
The interrogative mark, for example, is used to denote, not length of pause, but appropriate modification of voice, at the end of a question. But it happens that this one mark, as now used, represents two things, that are exactly contrary to each other. When the child is taught, as he still is in many schools, always to raise his voice in finishing a question, he finds it easy to do so in a case like this,“Will you go to dáy ?"_" Are they Hébrews ?” But when he comes to the indirect question, not answered by yes, or no, his instinct, as I have said before, rebels against the rule, and he spontaneously reads with the falling slide, “ Why are you silent? Why do you prevaricate?” Now, in this latter case, if the usual mark of interrogation were inverted, (i) when its office is to turn the voice downward, it would be discriminating, and significant of its design.
Supposing the student to be already familiar with the common doctrine of punctuation, it is not my design to discuss it here; nor even to dwell upon the distinction between grammatical and rhetorical pauses. All that is necessary, is to remark distinctly, that visible punctuation cannot be regarded as a perfect guide to quantity, any more than to inflections. Often the voice must rest, where no pause is allowed in grammar; especially does this happen, when the speaker would fix attention on a single word, that stands as immediate nominative to a verb. As,
Prosperity gains friends, adversity tries them.
Here the words in Italic take no visible pause after them, without violence to grammatical relation. But the ear demands a pause after each of these words, which no good reader will fail to observe.
The same principle extends to the length of pauses. The comma, when it simply marks grammatical relation, is very short, as “ He took with him Peter, and James, and John, his disciples.” But when the comma is used in language of emotion, though it is the same pause to the eye, it may suspend the voice much longer than in the former case; as in the solemn and deliberate call to attention ;
Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken.” *
This leads me to the chief point, which I had in view under this head, the emphatic pause. It occurs sometimes before, but commonly after a striking thought is uttered, which the speaker thus presents to his hearers, as worthy to command assent, and be fixed in the memory, by a moment of uninterrupted reflection.
There is still another pause, so important in delivery, as to deserve a brief notice; I mean that with which a good speaker or reader marks the close of a paragraph, or division of a discourse. When he has finished one topic, he will enter on a new one, with a more familiar tone of voice, and after such a pause, as prepares the hearers to accompany him with renewed satisfaction.
When the voice has outrun itself, and reached too high
*The rhetorical pause is as appropriate in music as in elocution. In this respect a skilful composer always conforms to sentiment, in a set piece. In metrical psalmody, though this adaptation cannot be made by the writer of the tune, it ought to be made in some good degree, by the performers. Instead of a tame subserviency to arbitrary quantity, they may often, with powerful effect, insert or omit a pause, as sentiment demands. I have scarcely ever felt the influence of music more, than in one or two cases where the stanzas, being highly rhetorical, were divided only by a comma, and the choir spontaneously rushed over the musical pause at the end of the tune, and began it anew,
from the impulse of emotion. See example, Watts, Book I. Hymn 3, 6 and 7-8 and 9 stanzas.
a pitch, one of these paragraph-rests affords the best oppor-, tunity to resume the proper key.
By this I mean those sudden changes of voice which often occur in delivery.
To designate these changes, besides the rhetorical marks already employed to denote inflections, it will be necessary to adopt several new ones; and the following may answer the purpose; signifying that the voice is to be modified, in reading what follows the marks respectively, thus:( ) high.
(..) slow. (°°) high and loud.
(=) quick .
(<) increase. In respect to these marks, except the last, I observe that, when one of them occurs, it must be left to the reader's taste to determine how far its influence extends in what follows. In respect to this mark ( - ) it may be used to signify a considerable protraction of sound on that syllable, which precedes it, and then it will be inserted in the course of the line, without brackets; As,
Heaven and earth will witness, If ROME .. MUST · FALL -- that we are innocent. When the same mark is designed to signify that a passage, is to be uttered with a slow rate, it will be inserted thus ( - ) where the passage begins,--the extent of its influence being left to the reader's taste; or it may be combined with another mark, thus, () which would signify low and slow, as (2) would high and quick, or (2) high and plaintive.