Page images

On Reading Verse.



15. SORROW.—Countenance dejected, eyes castdown, arms hanging loose, the voice plaintive and interrupted by sighs.

16. REMORSE.—Head hangs down, the voice low and harsh.

17. DESPAIR can only be touched by an accomplished actor. The amateur should attempt nothing beyond reading or reciting the passage, depicting it in a deep and solemn tone.

18. SURPRISE may be expressed by the mouth and eyes being wide open; the voice in the upper pitch. WONDER, AMAZEMENT, and ADMIRATION, come under this head.

19. PRIDE assumes a lofty look; the eyes well open, the words uttered in slow, stiff, affected style.

20. CONFIDENCE-COURAGE.-In both the head is erect, the breast projected, the countenance clear and open, the voice loud, round, and not too rapid. BOASTING exaggerates these by noise and blustering.

21. PERPLEXITY, with which may be classed IRRESOLUTION and ANXIETY, requires an expression of thoughtful consideration ; the motions of the body are restless, the pauses long, the tone of the voice uneven.

22. VEXATION expresses itself with looks of perplexity; the tones are sharp and broken; the hands restless.

23. Envy.--Envy arises from a mixture of joy, sorrow, and hatred; it sometimes assumes a mocking tone.

24. MALICE sends flashes from the eyes and closes the teeth. The voice is expressed as in anger.

25. JEALOUSY displays itself in such a variety of forms that it may embrace any of the foregoing; the text of the author will discover which

26. MODESTY bends the body forward, and has a placid, downcast countenance; the tone of voice is low.

27. SHAME turns away the face from the beholders, casts down the eyes ; the voice is confused and faltering.

28. GRAVITY.—The posture of the body and limbs is composed and without much motion; the speech slow and solemn, the tone without much variety.

29. ADMONITION assumes a grave air, bordering on severity; the voice assumes the low tone, bordering on the monotone.

30. REPROOF puts on a stern aspect and roughens the voice; it is sometimes accompanied by threatening gestures.

A number of other examples might be given, but the pupil who has mastered the above will scarcely need further instruction.



1. WHERE the opportunity is afforded you, try the acoustic properties of the room in which you are to recite beforehand. You will thus ascertain the proper pitch on which to commence.

2. If the room be large and resonant, be careful to speak slowly, allowing time for the voice to travel; otherwise the words will become jumbled, run one within another, and indistinctness will result. The attention with which you are listened to will soon convince


if you are heard or not. 3. Never read in public a piece with which you are previously unacquainted : you must, in order to give the proper emphasis to the lines before you, be acquainted with what is to follow. At least one perusal of the piece you may be called on to read should be insisted on.

4. To preserve the voice, bathe and gargle the throat morning and evening, using cold water. As a rule, muffling up the throat is relaxing and injurious, but it is advisable to do so when going from a warm room into the cold air. Keep the mouth closed until you have walked some time or reached home, and you may then speak at pleasure.

5. If you have to read or recite for some time you may just moisten the lips with cold water, but avoid drinking it in any quantity. Good bottled stout, which has been drawn sufficiently long for the froth to subside, is the best thing to sing or speak on. Especially avoid sherry and spirits neat or diluted. A glass or two of old, dry port wine may be taken with advantage before commencing, or in the interval, where one is afforded.

6. Never speak through a confirmed hoarseness, if it can be avoided. If your voice is out of order a new-laid egg beaten up with a tea

[blocks in formation]


spoonful of the compound tincture of cinnamon may be taken with advantage, but avoid all nostrums for the voice; many of them contain opium, and will ultimately and permanently injure it. For nervousness a couple of teaspoonfuls of sal volatile in a wineglass of water will be found useful. Spirits or spiritsand-water cause a dryness of the tongue, and will only increase your misfortune.

7. It is a too common fault with many speakers and readers to imitate the voice and manner of some particular actor; your own natural and ordinary voice should alone be used, except in a reading embracing a personation, such as of an Irish, Scotch, or Yorkshireman, &c., and these should be studied from actual observation, and not from hearing others imitate them. This, however, may be styled mimicry,-it cannot be called elocution.

8. The H is silent in heir, honest, honour, hospital, hour, humble, humour, and the words derived from them.

9. The careless or ignorant speaker will often trip in the following words, which are vulgarisms to be specially avoided; viz., feller for fellow-winder for window-lor for law-sor for sawvoilet for violet-voiolent for violent-moi for my-as well as using an aspirate in an improper place, as hair for air-hoil for oil, &c.

10. For hoarseness chew a small piece of horse-radish frequently, or take a cayenne lozenge. Braham is said to have bitten a piece out of the back of a red-herring to effect a speedy cure, but the relief could only have been temporary. For hoarseness arising from over-exertion of the voice a small piece of gum catechu dissolved in the mouth has been recommended.

11. Loud speaking, long continued, with the lungs but partially distended, is very injurious to those organs; it is apt to occasion a spitting of blood, which is not unfrequently a precursor of pulmonary consumption. But loud speaking, with proper management of breath, is a healthful exercise; besides strengthening the muscles which it calls into action, it promotes the decarbonization of the blood, and consequently exerts a salutary influence on the system generally.-COMSTOCK.

12. “A public speaker, possessed of only a moderate voice, if he


[ocr errors]

articulates correctly, will be better understood, and heard with greater pleasure, than one who vociferates without judgment. The voice of the latter may, indeed, extend to a considerable distance, but the sound is dissipated in confusion. Of the former voice not the smallest vibration is wasted; every stroke is perceived at the utmost distance to which it reaches; and hence it has often the appearance of penetrating even farther than one which is loud, but badly articulated.

“In just articulation the words are not to be hurried over, nor precipitated syllable over syllable; nor, as it were, melted together into a mass of confusion : they should not be trailed, or drawled, nor permitted to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They should be delivered from the lips as beautiful coins just issued from the Mint, deeply and accurately impressed, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, in due succession, and of due weight.”. Austin's Chironomia.

13. All sound is audible in a greater or less degree, according to the density or resistance of the aerial fluid. If that fluid is rendered considerably thinner, the voice is diminished; but if it is altogether removed, as in an empty receiver, no sound can be excited. Hence the philosophical cause why the voice is more easily heard in a room when it is cold than when it is warm, when it is empty than when it is full.—HERRIES.

14. Writers on elocution have frequently attempted to describe the formation of the various articulate sounds, for the benefit of those whose articulation is imperfect; but it is almost impossible to clearly describe the formation by words, and engravings show but a part of the process. The best method of correcting defective speech, when not arising from organic defect, is to exercise the pupil before a mirror, that he may observe the contrast between the movements of his own mouth, and those of the master. This

practice will also be found highly beneficial to persons learning to sing, or the pronunciation of foreign languages. Defective articulation frequently arises from endeavouring to speak too fast. Time is not given for the organs to form the correct sounds, and habit confirms the false. Children ought not to be allowed to repeat their lessons in a hurried manner, either while committing them to memory, or

[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]

repeating them to the teacher. Mrs. Siddons' first direction to her pupils was

“ Take time.” Consonants should not be preceded by any confused sound of their own.

The not attending to this in pronouncing the letter 8, has been the chief cause of our language being called by foreigners the hissing language, though, in reality, it does not abound so much in that letter as either the Greek or the Roman ; the final : with us having, for the most part, the sound of Z. But if care be not taken early in forming the pronunciation, people are apt to contract a habit of hissing before they utter the sound of s, at the beginning of syllables, as well as of continuing it at the end. Expression does not reside in the mere letters which comprise the words; it depends on the due force given to them in utterance. No letter so harsh which may not be softened; so strong, which may not be weakened; and viceversâ. The long may be shortened, and the short lengthened. And all this depends upon


management of the voice. Whenever the power of the consonants is particularly suited to the expression, their sound should be enforced; when otherwise, softened.”—SHERIDAN's Art of Reading.

15. A proof of the importance of delivery may be drawn from the additional force which the actors give to what is written by the best poets, so that what we hear pronounced by them gives infinitely more pleasure than when we only read it. I think I may affirm, that a very indifferent speech, well delivered, will have a greater effect than the best, if destitute of that advantage.QUINTILIAN.

16. If the student has any provincialism or peculiarity, he should exercise himself


sounds of letters, but when this is necessary it would be better to apply to a master, as his own ear will be but little guide. Every one studying elocution should desire his hearers to tell him if they observe any imperfection in his articulation or error in his pronunciation, as it should be kept in mind that purity and correctness are the basis of all excellence in the art.-TYRRELL.

17. The student would do well to wile away an hour sometimes in a sculpture gallery, and afterwards endeavour to realize the attitudes he has there observed. But all action must be suggested by


« PreviousContinue »