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This Variation is so founded in Nature, that should you hear two People, in a Language you do not understand, talking together with Heat, the one in Anger, the other in Fear; one in Joy, the other in Sarrow, you might easily distinguish the Passions from each other by the different Tone, and Cadence of their Voice, as well as by their Countenance and Gesture; nay, a blind Man, who could not observe those, by the Voice would easily know the Distinction.fi
From this it is plain, that as this Variation of the Voice is founded in Naturę, for the nearer you approach to Nature, the nearer you come to Perfection; and the farther you are from her, the more vicious is your Pronunciation. The less affected the better, for a natural Variation is much the best ; the easiest way of arriving at which, is a juft Observation of common Difcourse, and to mind how you speak your self in Conversation ; how a Woman expresses her Passion for an Injury receiv'd, her Grief for the Loss of a Husband, or any thing dear to her, and from these Observations endeavour to form your Pronunciation in public, with this only difference, that you consider how much louder your Voice ought to be to be heard in all those Particulars, at such a Distance as the Stage, the Bar, or the Pulpit, The best Actors change their Voice according to the Qualities of the Persons they represent, and the Condition they are in, or the Subject of their Discourse ; always speaking in the famę Tone on the Stage,
as they would do in a Room, allowing for the Distance.
We must, therefore, vary the Voice, as often as we can; but the only Difficulty is to know how to do it artfully, and with Harmony; to the accomplishing which, I shall give the following Directions.
There are three chief Differences of Highnessor Lowness, of Vehemence and Softness, and Swiftness and Slowness. The Speaker therefore is toobferve a just Meafure in all these Distinctions thro’all that he has to say. He must be sure to keep a true Media um of theVoice, both the Extremes being vicious and disagreeable. First, as to its Height, you must have a Care of either raising it always to the highest Note it can reach, or letting it down to the lowest
. To ftrain it always to the Height, would be a Bawling or a Monotony, a Cant, or Identity of Sound. For besides the Ungenteel ness and Indecency of the Clamour and Noise to the Hearer, it wears the Throat of the Speaker into a Hoarseness, and the Ears of the Hearer into an Aversion. To sink the Voice likewise into the lowest and most base Note, and to keep it always in the fame Tone, would be to mutter, not to speak, and few of the Audience would be able to hear a Word, that was said.
Nor inuft a Man force his Voice perpetually to the last Extremity; for not being able to sustain it long in that Key, it would fail him all of a sudden, like the String of a Musical Inftrument, that breaks when screw'd up too high.
Without obferving these Directions, he would either like Adrian the Phoenician, mention'd by Philoftratus, lose his voice in the midft of his Discourse, and murmur out the later part in so low a Tone as not to be heard; or like Zofimus the Freedman of Pliny the younger, over-straining himself, vomit Blood, and endanger his Life. A Man of a weak Constitution, and in Years, ought to have a Care of such an intemperaté way of Speaking, left he incur the Fate of King Attalus. He (as I have read) made once a Speech at Thebes, in a public Affembly, in which being transported into an Action too violent for the Debility of his old Age, he was of a sudden struck speechless, and without the least Motion or Appearance of Life ; so that he was forc'd to be carry'd home to his Lodgings, whence foon after being convey'd to his Palace at Pergamus, he dy'd.
On the other side, you ought not to be too supine or remifs either in your Action or Speaking, because so effeminate and soft a Diffolution of the Voice betrays a Feebleness, and destroys the Energy of what you say, nor raises the Pallions of any one, that hears above a common and difpassionate Discourse.
Next, as to the Swiftness and Volubility, it ought not to be precipitate. This was the Fault of one Serapion, of whom Lucillius gives Seneca an Account, and says, That his Fancy flow'd so quick, that liudling Word on Word, one Tongue feem'd not fufficient for the Precipita
tion of his Pronunciation. But this, on several Accounts, is a very vicious way, of Speaking, This Vice is not only unseemly on all grave Subjects, but an Obstacle to the End propos’d by them, which is Persuasion. For without allowing Time to consider what you say, how can you convince? But on the Stage indeed the Case. is something different, because there are Parts, and some particular Speeches, where such an extravagant Volubility is beautiful ; as in several Places of the Part of True Wit in the Silent Woman, and fome other Parts: But that we shall feę anon, when we coine clofer to Particulars. This running on Post without any Pause, is al, so prejudicial to the Speaker himself; for there is nothing hurts the Lungs more, than such a Violence and Precipitation of Speech, as allows no Intermission for the regular drawing the Breath, which has cast fome into Consumptions, and cost them their Lives
.. But when I give Caution against this Vice, I would not have you throw your self into thę contrary Extreme ; for when I would not have you run so very fast with your Tongue, I would not have you suppose, that I prescribe such a Slowness of Utterance, that is like a sick Man's Walking, who can hardly draw one Leg after the other ; whereas what I alın at is, that the Tongue of the Speaker should keep Pace with the Ear of the Auditors, being neịther too swift for them to follow, nor too flow for their Attention, ļ find in an Author on this Subject,
Vicians noted for this, that his Slowness of Delivery was so great, that he spoke scarce three Words together without a Pause, or Intermiffion. But there can be no manner of Pleasure to hear a Man drawl out his Words at this Rate'; his Speech, to be of Value, must be more florid, but then it ought to glide like a gentle Stream, and not pour down like a rapid Torrent.
There is a certain Latitude for the Variation of the Voice, extending to five or fix Tones so that the Speaker has room enough for varying his Voice, without striking on the two Extremes, by forming out of these five or fix Notes a just and delightful Harmony.
Next, the Speaker must govern his Voice, in Regard of its Violence and Softness, with such a Moderation, thất tho he force it not to that last Extremity, which hurts Nature in himself, as well as jars upon the Ear of the Hearer nor languish, on the other hand, fo far, as to fali into the lowest Degree of Softness and Effeminacy, he may yet give his Pronúnciation inore for less Vehemence, or Mildnefs, according to the different State of his Subje&, and the Quality of his Speech. But in this, as well as in the Swiftness and Slowness, he must let the Subject and Passions of his Discourse be the Guide of his Judgmert. Nor must he, when he would vary his Voice; start out of one Tone into a1other with too remarkable à Diftinction of the latter from the former ; but flide from one to the other with all the Moderation, Softness