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the more prominent kinds of pieces with which readers and reciters will have to deal.
There is, for instance, the purely Narrative, which gives the widest scope both for voice and action. To tell a good story, or describe with vividness what has been seen, will command every conceivable variety of effort, as will be readily understood. But if it is needful to argue a point, or to urge the claims of any great question upon the consideration of an audience, it will be apparent that another class of voice and action will be required. The careful rendering of the following selection will at once show that to reproduce them will require infinite variety of tone and action ; so varied, indeed, will it become, that, as one says, it will be needful that, “like the measure in music, it should adapt itself to what is to be conveyed. Now grave and solemn, now light and rapid, with a guiding rein, slacking or urging the pace, becoming nervous or gentle, according to the occasion ; bursting forth at times with the vehemence of a torrent, and at times flowing gently with the clearness of a stream, or even trickling, drop by drop, like water noiselessly filtered ; which, at last, fills the vessel that receives it, or wears out the stone on which it falls."
The following is illustrative of the Narrative style, comprising all styles from grave to gay, and which will be found in the Chapter on Style and its Cultivation. This piece is a dream, and requires to be delivered in such a way as if a person was telling the dream to others.
A GLASS RAILROAD.
BY GEORGE LIPPARD. It seemed to me as though I had been suddenly aroused from my slumber. I looked around and found myself in the centre of a gay crowd. The first sensation I experienced was that of being borne along with a peculiar motion. I looked around and found that I was in a long train of cars which were gliding over a railway, and seemed to be many miles in length. It was composed of many cars. Every car, open at the top, was filled with men and women, all gaily dressed, and happy, and all laughing, talking, and singing. The peculiarly gentle motion of the cars interested me. There was no grating, such as we usually hear on the railroad. They moved along without the least jar or sound. This, I say, interested me. I looked over the side, and, to my astonishment, found the railroad and cars made of glass. The glass wheels moved over the glass rails without the least noise or oscillation. The soft, gliding motion produced a feeling of exquisite happiness. I was happy. It seemed as if everything was at rest within—I was full of peace.
While I was wondering over this circumstance, a new sight attracted my gaze. All along the road, on either side, within a foot of the track, were laid long lines of coffins on either side of the railroad, and every one contained a corpse dressed for burial, with its cold white face turned upward to the light. The sight filled me with horror ; I yelled in agony, but could make no sound. The gay throng who were around me only redoubled their singing and laughter at the sight of my agony, and we swept on, gliding on with glass wheels over the railroad, every moment coming nearer to the bend of the road, which formed an angle with the road far, far in the distance.
"Who are those ?” I cried at last, pointing to the dead in the coffins.
“ Those are the persons who made the trip before us," was the reply of one of the gayest of the persons near me. “What trip ?" I asked.
Why, the trip you are now making; the trip on this glass railway,” was the answer.
“Why do they lie along the road, each one in his coffin ?"
I was answered with a whisper and a half laugh, which froze my blood :
". They were dashed to death at the end of the railroad,” said the person whom I addressed. “You know the railroad terminates at an abyss which is without bottom or measure. It is lined with pointed rocks. As each car arrives at the end it precipitates its passengers into the abyss. They are dashed to pieces against the rocks, and their bodies are brought here and placed in the coffins as a warning to other passengers ; but no one minds it, we are so happy on the glass railroad.'
I can never describe the horror with which those words in. spired me.
“What is the name of the glass railroad ?” I asked.
The person whom I asked replied in the same strain. “The Railroad of Sinful Habits, and it is very easy to get into the cars, but very hard to get out. For, once in these, everybody is delighted with the soft, gliding motion. The cars move gently. Yes, this is a railroad of habit, and with glass wheels we are whirled over a glass railroad towards a fathomless abyss. In a few moments we'll be there, and they'll bring our bodies and put them in coffins as a warning to others; but nobody will mind it; will they ?”
I was choked with horror. I struggled to breathe ; made frantic efforts to leap from the cars ; and in the struggle I
awoke. I know it was only a dream, and yet whenever I think of it I can see that long train of cars moving gently over the glass railroad. I can see cars far ahead, as they are turning the bend of the road. . I can see the dead in their coffins, clear and distinct, on either side of the road ; while the laughing and singing of the gay and happy passengers resound in my
I only see the cold faces of the dead, with their ghastly eyes uplifted, and their frozen hands upon their shrouds.
It was, indeed, a horrible dream. A long train of giass cars, gliding over a glass railway, freighted with youth, beauty, and music—while on either hand are stretched the victims of yesterday-gliding over the railway of habit toward the fathomless abyss.
There was a moral in that dream. Are you addicted to any sinful habit? If so, break it off at once, ere you dash against the rocks.”
POETICAL ELOCUTION, OR HOW TO READ POETRY. THERE is a wide difference between poetical prose and the prosy verse which is often miscalled poetry. True poetry will be found in the former, but never in the latter. When a writer or orator quits the ordinary common language of daily life, and soars with highly figurative language into the regions of fancy, we quickly come to the conclusion, whether the words are clothed in the garb of prose or poetry, that the true spirit of the poet is there. Hence everyone who has the slightest taste, or the smallest idea of propriety, will readily recognize the necessity that such lofty words and elevated ideas should be accompanied with appropriate rendering and suitable action ; inasmuch as it is only by this means the real effect intended can be produced. Who, for instance, could help imagining that the following extract from Edmund Burke's speech on the impeachment of Warren Hastings would of necessity command a truly exalted, dignified and elevated style of delivery to produce the greatest effect: “In the course of all this proceeding your lordships will not fail to observe, he is never corrupt but he is cruel ; he never dines with comfort, but where he is sure to create a famine. He never robs from the loose superfluity of standing greatness ; he devours the fallen, the indigent, the necessitous. His extortion is not like the generous rapacity of the princely eagle, who snatches away the living, struggling prey ; he is a vulture who feeds upon the prostrate, the dying and the dead. As his cruelty is more shocking than his corruption, so his hypocrisy has something more frightful than his cruelty. For whilst his bloody and rapacious hand signs prescriptions and sweeps away the food of the widow and the orphan, his eyes overflow with tears; and he converts the healing balm that bleeds from wounded humanity, into a rancorous and deadly poison to the race of men.
It is so with all imaginative writings. They demand of necessity a corresponding elevation in the style of delivery to bring out with effect all their beauty and force. Such being the case, we are prepared to consider more particularly the best methods of reading or reciting poetry with effect, and to do so, we will begin by noticing what is generally considered the easiest form of poetic composition—a ballad, or a simple story in verse. Now, although a ballad is very easy of utterance, the poet finds it by no means easy to unite simplicity with pure and strong emotion : hence, perfect ballads are by no means common, although those who compose for the people pieces after the character of "John Gilpin,” can be reckoned by numbers.
To deliver a ballad properly, it is absolutely necessary, first of all, to perfectly understand all the author's meaning; when that is done, each part will elicit the tone, emphasis, or action of the right character, but unless it is quite comprehended, failure is sure to be the result. Take for instance the following ballad by Edgar A. Poe, and while engaged in committing it to memory, seek fully to fathom its deep meaning, and then endeavour to give to it the earnestness which true pathos always inspires :
BY EDGAR A. Poe.
In a kingdom by the sea,
By the name of Annabel Lee;
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea :
I and my Annabel Lee ;
Coveted her and me.
In this kingdom by the sea,
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
And bore her away from me,
In this kingdom by the sea.
Were envying her and me
In this kingdom by the sea)
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
Oi those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we;
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee :
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee,
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee ;
in the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. We now come to blank verse. This is not easy to write or speak, although many persons think the contrary. Indeed, it requires the greatest skill, a musical ear, and intense enthu. siasm, to produce a poem full of harmony of measure and emphusis, and at the same time in unrhymed, running lines, but rhythmic all through.
In reading or reciting it is important to seek to intone, emphasise, and deliver the unrhymed lines or stanza just as if it