Imágenes de páginas

Ways. Take the following as additional examples of the im.
portance of giving each sentence careful consideration
1. Words where the rising is followed by the falling :-

“Does he mean honestly-or dishonestly ?"
Does he pronounce correctly-or incorrectly ?"

“Does he act cautiously-or incautiously?"
II. Words where the falling is followed by the rising:-

" He meant honestly-not dishonestly."
“He pronounces correctly-not incorrectly."

“He acts cautiously-not incautiously." Sentences illustrative of the same principles :

No man can rise above the infirmities of nature,-unless assisted by God."

Cæsar was celebrated for his great generosity,-Cato for his unsullied integrity.”

As the beauty of the body always accompanies the health of it --so is decency of behaviour a concomitant of virtue.'

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to dochapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces."

4. ARTICULATION AND EMPHASIS.-Owing to habits acquired in early youth and often to defective education, many persons acquire the habit of mumbling their words instead of uttering them clearly. To utter sounds properly is absolutely needful to good reading or reciting. Hence we say learn to speak distinctly with an audible voice. Frequent and careful practice in the elementary words and sounds will, in almost every case, correct defects, and impart a ready and distinct utterance. Without this, prose or poetry is sure to be marred and the metre and rhythm of the verse destroyed. If you wish to succeed, seek to realise the vast importance of distinct utterance and proper emphasis. “It is this which draws the cutting edge of words across the ear and startles even stupor into attention ; this which lessens the fatigue of listening and outvoices the stir and rustle of an assembly."

Thorough emphasis is one of the most powerful weapons of oratory. It shows how true it is that a word fitly spoken is like a nail fastened in a sure place. Its effect when judiciously used is magical. It raises the feeling, kindles the emotions,


and stirs the very soul of an audience. While, on the contrary, if used injudiciously, it frequently degenerates into mere rant and noise, which only excites disgust and contempt in the mind of every intelligent hearer. “ Without its appeal to sympathy and its peculiar power over the heart, many of the most beautiful and touching passages of Shakespeare and Milton become dry and cold.”

Emphasis may be generally divided into two kinds : emphasis of sense and emphasis of feeling. We have already seen how the very meaning of a passage may be altered by placing the emphasis on each word in some sentences. We will, however, add other illustrations by way of giving emphasis to the importance of such care being bestowed :“ You blocks ! you stones ! you worse than senseless things.

Study to show thyself a man. " Then must the Jew be merciful." “ On what compulsion must I ? tell me that.”

Ignorance is the mother error." “ Learning is wealth to the poor, and an ornament to the


We can do nothing against truth, but for the truth.” “ Custom is the plague of wise men—and the idol of fools.".

“As it is the part of Justice, never to do violence; so it is of modesty, never to commit offence.

“A friend cannot be known in prosperity; and an enemy cannot be hidden in adversity.

It will thus be seen how true is the remark that “Emphasis is in speech what colouring is in painting. It admits of all possible degrees, and must, to indicate a particular degree of distinction, be more or less intense, according to the groundwork or current melody of the discourse." At the same time we must remember that VARIETY is the life of good speaking or reading, just as monotony is sure to mar the effect of both. We may secure the greatest variety by changing the key of the voice, or its tone, or by the rate, inflection, emphasis, modulation, accent, pause, or even by gesture. Indeed, the finest voice, or the most perfect action, will become painful unless it is varied. One kind of tone soon becomes monotonous, just as one kind of action soon loses its significance. Aim, therefore, to use the whole range of your voice, though not its whole power. Noise is not good speaking or reading ; nor is excessive action good acting.

When we talk naturally, we also use the greatest variety of inflections, hence the best speaking or reading will be that which is the most natural. There are generally one or two words in every well-constructed sentence that are its life and soul : these, of course, will need to be sought out and emphasised in a greater or less degree, and by doing so variety will be secured.

THE RATE.—In reading or speaking it is also of great importance to have the voice under complete control, so as to be able to vary it according to the character of the subject, or the nature of the words. It is usual to classify RATE or movement in reading or speaking under three divisions QUICK, MODERATE, or Slow.

QUICK RATE is used to express joy, mirth, confusion, violent and sudden fear, as The lake has burst! The lake has burst!

Down through the chasms the wild waves flee :
They gallop along with a roaring song,

Away to the eager awaiting sea !”
And there was mounting in hot haste : the steed,

The mustering squadron, and the clattering car
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,

And swiftly forming in the ranks of war.

[ocr errors]

MODERATE RATE is used in ordinary assertion, narrative, and description ; in cheerfulness, and the gentler form of the emotions ; as

“ When the sun walks upon the blue sea-waters,

Smiling the shadows from yon purple hills,
We pace this shore, -I and my brother here,
Good Gerald. We arise with the shrill lark,
And both unbind our brows from sullen dreams;
And then doth my dear brother, who hath worn
His cheek all pallid with perpetual thought,
Enrich me with sweet words; and oft a smile
Will stray amidst his lessons, as he marks
New wonder paint my cheek, or fondly reads,
Upon the burning page of my black eyes,
The truth reflected which he casts on me.

[ocr errors]

Slow RATE is used to express grandeur, vastness, pathos, solemnity, adoration, horror, and consternation; as " O thou Eternal One! whose presence bright All space doth occupy,

all motion guide ;
Unchanged through time's all-devastating flight;

Thou only God! There is no God beside !
Being above all beings ! Mighty One,

Whom none can comprehend and none explore !
Who fill’st existence with Thyself alone-

Embracing all, supporting, ruling o'er-
Being whom we call God, and know no more !"
“ The curfew tolls the knell of parting day ;

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea ;
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

CHAPTER III. ON THE MANAGEMENT OF THE BODY, OR ACTION. As there is a tone of voice which best conveys the force and meaning of certain words and emotions, so also there are appropriate positions for the body, and proper expressions of the countenance, which do the same. To be perfectly motionless while delivering words of energy and force, or to be noisy and full of motion when using words of a pathetic or sad character would be so out of place that even a child could readily perceive the great mistake. Seeing, therefore, that it is needful some kind of action should accompany certain words, it is of great importance that every endeavour should be made to make such action suitable, and also natural. An awkward action, or such as would be out of keeping with the words employed, would be sure to mar the effect of the best delivery, even if accompanied with the best voice, besides giving rise to painful emotions instead of pleasure ; while, on the other hand, appropriate action would intensify the good effect and increase the pleasure in every way. Hence we say seek to :SUIT THE ACTION TO THE WORD AND THE WORD TO


Now, action, to be perfect, should never be devoted to the mere illustration of any single word which may occur, but to the GENERAL IDEA contained in the piece. To get at this will need great care, and when you have done so, then endeavour to let the subject matter of your piece be the one thing you desire to be realized, rather than yourself either be seen or heard. Action, even of the best kind, should never be overdone. Study to be natural both in attitude and in the general movements of your body or countenance. Shakspeare well illustrates this where he advises, “Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the action ; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature ; for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was, and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature ; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one must, in your allowance, o'erweigh a whole theatre of others."

To do this will require the greatest judgment you can command. Ever remember that in descriptive passages neither the words nor the ideas alone are sufficient to guide you. You must judge of the general idea, rather than the single words. Unless you do this, you may be led into many serious mistakes. The fact is, it is impossible that the action should suit every word in the strict sense of the term, and in nothing have people made greater mistakes than in slavishly adopting Shakspeare's advice, “Suit the action to the word,” regardless of the sense or propriety of so doing. The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, in his admirable “Lectures to my Students,” well illustrates the importance of expressive and appropriate action, by the following remarks: “We cannot express so much by action as by language, but one may express a few things with even greater force. Indignantly to open a door and point to it, is quite as emphatic as the words, “Leave the room.' To refuse the hand when another offers his own, is a very marked declaration of ill-will, and will probably create a more enduring bitterness than the severest words. A request to remain silent upon a certain sub

« AnteriorContinuar »