Page images
PDF
EPUB

“For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,

Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return,

Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share.”

2. Solemnity and Sublimity combined. “Hail ! holy Light, - offspring of Heaven, first-born, Or of the Eternal coeternal beam May I express thee unblamed ? since God is light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt from eternity, — dwelt then in thee, Bright effluence of bright Essence increate ! Or hearst thou, rather, pure ethereal stream, Whose fountain who shall tell ? — Before the sun, Before the heavens thou wert, and, at the voice Of God, as with a mantle didst invest The rising world of waters, dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite."

3. Reverence. “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty; who coverest thyself with light as with a garment; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain : who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters; who maketh the clouds His chariot ; who walketh upon the wings of the wind; who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.”

[blocks in formation]

This form of the “orotund," or full utterance of public reading and speaking, bears precisely the same relation to the preceding, that “ expulsive” bears to “effusive" "pure tone."

It arises from the forcible action of the abdominal muscles, added to full expansion of chest, and deep inspiration. It has the same laryngial property which justifies the application of the term “orotund” to the “effusive" style of that form of utterance.

“Expulsive orotund " belongs appropriately to earnest or vehement declamation, to impassioned and poetic excitement of emotion, and consequently to whatever language is uttered in the form of shouting.

The first mentioned of these styles, — the declamatory, is exemplified in public address or debate, on exciting occasions. The second is heard in the utterance of passion, when the reader or speaker passes beyond the mere voluntary and conscious force of " declamatory” utterance, and, in part, becomes himself, in common with his audience, an unconscious and involuntary subject of the impelling emotion which he expresses. The third form of “expulsive orotund," is at once, the impassioned and the voluntary burst of emotion which transcends the customary forms and effects of speech, and, in the spirit of enthusiastic excitement, utters itself in shouts and exclamations.

[ocr errors]

This form of utterance,

the expulsive orotund,” is one of the noblest functions of the human voice. It is this which gives to the ear the full effect of the majesty of man, as a being of heart and will and imagination. Without the full command of this property of utterance, the public reader or speaker falls short of whatever effect naturally belongs, in human speech, to the union of depth, force, and grandeur of emotion. The language of the loftier feelings of the soul, unaided by this natural advantage, becomes familiar, low, and trivial.

The forcible and manly eloquence of Demosthenes or of Chatham, divested of the full “expulsive " utterance of deep and powerful emotion, would become ridiculous in its effect on the ear and the imagination. The same would be true of the style of our own eminent cotemporary and countryman, Webster. Depth, weight, and fulness of tone, form one powerful assemblage of effects, in all his utterance on great and exciting occasions.

To form the voice to the extent of the full property of expulsive orotund,” care should be taken to maintain a

perfectly erect attitude of body, the chest fully expanded, and projected, and the shoulders depressed, — to maintain, also, a vigorous play of the abdominal muscles, and to practise the organic act of prolonged coughing, in a moderate form, which is the natural mechanical function most nearly resembling "expulsive orotund." The elements of the language should be practised in a similar style; and to these exercises should be added the repeated and energetic practice of the following examples.

Practice on the “crying" voice, or weeping utterance of sorrow, is another expedient for rendering nature's processes conducive to culture. The act of crying, being, in its mechanism, a perfect "expulsive orotund."

Examples of Expulsive Orotund."

1.-DeclamatoryStyle. “ Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote !”

“Sir, before God, I believe the hour is come. My judgment approves this measure ; and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off, as I began, that, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the declaration. It is my living sentiment; and, by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment: - independence now, and INDEPENDENCE FOREVER !

2. — “ Impassioned" Poetic Style.
“Where rests the sword? — where sleep the brave?
Awake! Cecropia's ally save

From the fury of the blast!
Burst the storm on Phocis' walls,-
Rise! or Greece forever falls :

Up! or Freedom breathes her last !”

3.- Weeping Utterance. (“Crying" Voice.) “ Prince Arthur, (to Hubert, whose attendants are binding the prince, for the purpose of putting out his eyes.]

“ Alas! what need you be so boisterous rough?
I will not struggle, — I will stand stone still.
For Heaven's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound !
Nay, hear me, Hubert! drive these men away,
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb:
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the irons angerly.
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to!”

4. - Shouting. “ Advance your standards, draw your willing swords ! Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully! God, and Saint George ! Richmond and victory!

[blocks in formation]

The “explosive" form of the “orotund" utterance, bears the same relation to effusive" and expulsive orotund,” that “explosion” in breathing or whispering, bears to “ effusion” and “ expulsion," in those forms. It implies an instantaneous burst of voice with a quick, clear, sharp, and cutting effect on the ear.

This mode of voice proceeds from a violent and abrupt exertion of the abdominal muscles, acting on the diaphragm, and thus discharging a large volume of air, previously inhaled. The breath, in this process, is, as it were, dashed against the glottis or lips of the larynx, causing a loud and instantaneous explosion. In the act of “explosion,” the chink of the glottis is, for a moment, closed, and a resistance, at first, offered to the escape of the breath, by a firm compression of the lips of the larynx, and downward pressure of the epiglottis. After this instant pressure and resistance, follows the explosion caused by the appulsive act of the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm, propelling the breath, with powerful and irresistible volume, on the glottis and epiglottis, which at length give way, and suffer the breath to escape, with a loud and sudden report, of a purely explosive character.

The preceding and accompanying state of the organs, in the act of “explosion," sufficiently indicates the propriety of this mode of utterance being termed " orotund ;” as it possesses all the depth, roundness, and fulness of the other forms of that “ quality,” which have been already discussed, and implies farther, that these are now compacted and condensed, to an extraordinary degree, so as to make the sound of the voice resemble, in its effect on the ear, that of a firm and hard ball striking against the surface of the body.

Explosive orotund” is the language of intense passion : it is heard when the violence of emotion is beyond the control of the will, and a sudden ecstasy of terror, anger, or any other form of intensely excited feeling, causes the voice to burst forth involuntarily from the organs, with all the sudden and startling effect that would arise from its sound being forced out, by a sudden blow, applied to the back of the speaker. It exists only in the extremes of abrupt emotion, as in the burst of anger, or the shout of courage, and admits of no gradations.

This form of the human voice is one of the most impressive in its effect. By a law of our constitution, it acts with an instantaneous shock on the sympathetic nerve, and rouses the sensibility of the whole frame; it summons to instant action all the senses; and in the thrill which it sends from nerve to brain, we feel its awakening and inciting power over the mind. With the rapidity of lightning it penetrates every faculty, and sets it instinctively on the alert. It seems designed by nature as the note of alarm to the whole citadel within the soul.

We hear the “ explosive orotund quality” exemplified in the sudden alarm of fire, in the short and sharp cry of terror or of warning, at the approach of instant and great danger, in the eruptive curse of furious anger, in the abrupt exclamation of high-wrought courage, and in the burst of frantic grief. In reading and recitation, it belongs appropriately to the highest ecstatic effects of lyric and dramatic poetry, as the language of intense passion.

« PreviousContinue »