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Voni 100 · The Life of Mr. Tho. Betterton. cife, which has been judg'a beneficial to the Health, provided, that you do not overstrain your Voiće. Thus we find in Plutarch, (for I read all the Ancients i can ineet with in French or Englisi y? whilft 'he advises other bodily Exerciles for the Health of others, to those who speak in Public, be it on the Stage, or elsewhere, he prescribes Discoursing, or making Speeches often, or Reading with as exalted a Voice, as Nature will well bear; and he fays, 'It is his Opinioni tWat this Exercise is more healthy, and useful for this End, than all others; fincé while the other Motions sét only the Limbs ftrengthens the Lungs, from which it receives its Breath it augments the natural Heat, thins the blood, cleanses the Veitis, opens all the Arteries, prevents every Obstruction, and hinders the gross Humours from thickening into Diftèmpers.
Let every Syllable have its distinct and full Sound and Proportion, 'Wheíi you use this Exercise, and then you need not fear muffling your Words, or Stammering. But besides this Vice of Utterance, you must avoid a broad way of fpeaking with your Mouth wide open, and of béllowing süt a great Sound, but fo confus'd and itartica late that thô you may be heard a great way off, yet the Sound will convey no of á Balli or any other Beast. This proceeds
from an Affectation, and a false Opinion, that this enormous Loudness
gives a Majesty and Force to what they say, whereas it robs it of its Articulation, which is the very being of Speech, and hinders its being understood, which is the very End of Speaking a
There are, in short, two things to make the Speaker heard and understood without Difficulty; first, a very distinct and articulate Voice, and next a very strong, and vigorous Pronunciation. The first is the most important; for an indifferent Voice, with a distinct Pronunciation, shall be far more easily understood, than one, that is stronger and more. audible,
audible, but which does not articulate the Words so well.
But it is not sufficient to be heard without Difficulty, but it ought to be the object of your Endeavours, to be heard with Pleasure and Satisfaction. To this End you must consider, whether your Voice have any of the fore-inention'd Vices or Defects, whether it be harsh, hoarse, or obsequious, and enquire into the Cause, whether it be from Nature, or an ill Habit ; for 'tis your Business to render your Voice as sweet, soft, and agreeable to the Ear, as you possibly can. If the Defect proceeds from only an ill Habit, you ought to practice a contrary manner, if you would make your self fit for this Affair, But if it proceed from Nature, in the Defect of any, or all of the Organs of the Body employed in it, tho we have the Examples of Çiçero and Demofthenes of Success, yet
at this time, and in this Employ, I think, it is scarce worth the while to aim, by a great deal of uncertain Labour, at the corre&ing Nature, when there are other 'Employments fitter
Next to the Fineness of the Tone, the Vari. ation of it is what will make the Auditors pleas'd and delighted with wliat they hear; you ought therefore to employ much Care and Time in learning the Art of varying the Voice, according to the Diversity of the Subjects, of the Passions you would express or excite, stronger or weaker, higher or lower, as will be most agreeable to what you say. Tho I have already touch'd on this Point both
Remarks on what I quoted from Shakee Spear about Speaking, and in the Paper inserted on the Virtues of Pronunciation, yet I cannot dismiss this Subject without some farther Reflections, because we have had fome Actors of Figure, who have an admirable Tone of Voice, the Beauty of which they have perverted into a Deformity, by keeping always in the very fame Identity of Sound, in the very fame Key, nay, the individual Note; for as in Music, so in Speaking, 'tis the Variety, which makes the Harmony , and as for a Fidler or Lutinist, or any other Performer in Mufic, to strike always the same String and Note, would be so far from tolerable Music, that it would be ridiculously insufferable and dull, fo can nothing grate the Ear so much, or give the Auditors a greater
Difguft, as a Voice still in the fame Tone, without Division or Variety,
'Tis true, this Vice is too general among moft Speakers, but not in the last Degree. Few arrive to the true Art of varying the Voice with that Beauty and Harmony, which is in Nature, becaufe they do not ftudy what the Words, Subject, and Passion to be exprefs'd properly require. A good Voice, indeed, thoill manag’d, may fill the Ear agreeably, but it would be infinitely more pleafing, if they knew how to give it the just Turns, Rifings, Fallings, and all other Variations suitable to the Subjects and Passions. But those very fine Voices, which in spight of their be ingill govern'd please, are very uncommon. But this Vice renders such Voices, as are ordinarily met with, to the last Degree disagreeable.
But this ftiff Uniformity of Voice is not only displeasing to the Ear, but disappoints the Effect of the Discourse on the Hearers ; firft, by an equal way of Speaking, when the Pronuncia. tion has every where, in every Word and every Syllable the same Sound, it must inevitably render all parts of the Speech equal, and so put them on a very unjust Level. So that the Power of the Reasoning Part, the Luftre and Ornament in the Figures, the Heart, Warmth, and Vigor of the passionate part being exprefs'd all in the same Tone, is flat and insipid, and loft in a supine, or at least immusical Pronunciation, So that, in short, that which ought to strike and stir up the Affections, because 'tis spoken all
Distinction or Variety, moves thein not at all. Next there is no greater Opiate in Speaking, nothing so dull and heavy, and fit to lul us asleep, as a whole Discourse turning still on the same Note and Tone; and indeed it fayours of the Cant, which was formerly in some of the Dissenter's Pulpits, which they have of late very much reformid in their
I believe a great deal of this is owing to our erroneous way of Education, where the SchoolMistresses first, and afterwards the Masters, teach or suffer the Boys to cant out their Lesfons in one unvary'd Tone for so many Years, which grows up with us, and is not overcome at last without Application ; tho Nature and Reason, if we would consult them, would guide us into a more pleasing and excellent Road.
Nature tells us, that in Mourning, in Melancholly, in Grief, we must and do express our felves in another sort of Tone and Voice, than in Mirth, in Joy, in Gladness : Otherwise in Reproof of Crimes, &c. than in Comforting the Amicted : Otherwise when we upbraid a Man with his Faults, than when we alk Pardon for our own; otherwise when we threaten, than when we'promise, pray, or beg a Favour; 0+ therwise when we are in a good Humour, the Passions all calm, and the Mind in perfect Tran quillity, than when we are rais’d with Anger, or provokd by ill Nature,