« PreviousContinue »
comfiture, that it is, perhaps, the very intensity of his feel. ing that hinders his utterance; and it is not till experience and practice have done their work, that he learns the primary lesson, that force of emotion needs a practised force of will, to balance and regulate it, and a disciplined control over the organs, to give it appropriate utterance.
The want of due training for the exercise of public reading or speaking, is evinced in the habitual undue loudness of some speakers, and the inadequate force of others; the former subjecting their hearers to unnecessary pain, and the latter to disappointment and uneasiness.
Force of utterance, however, has other claims on the attention of students of elocution, besides those which are involved in correct expression. It is, in its various gradations, the chief means of imparting strength to the vocal organs, and power to the voice itself
. The due practice of exercises in force of utterance, does for the voice what athletic exercise does for the muscles of the body: it im
wo great conditions of power, — vigor and pliancy.
“Vocal gymnastics" afford no discipline more useful than that which accompanies the daily practice of the various gradations of force. Exercises of this description, enable the public speaker to retain perpetually at command the main element of vivid and impressive utterance; and they furnish to young persons of studious and sedentary habit the means of thorough invigoration for the energetic use of the voice, required in professional exertions.
Vocal exercises of the kind now suggested, are also invaluable aids to health, and cheerfulness, and mental activity, in all who practise them, and are not less useful in training the voice for the gentle utterance required in the practice of reading in the domestic or the social circle, than in invigorating it for public performances.
The effect of vocal training in the department of force, is greatly augmented, when the bolder exercises are performed in the open air or in a large hall. A voice trained on this scale of practice, easily accommodates itself to a more limited space; while it is equally true, that a voice habituated to parlor reading only, usually fails in the attempt to practise in a room more spacious. Farther, the fact is familiar to instructors in elocution, that persons commencing practice with a very weak and inadequate voice, attain, in a few weeks, a perfect command of the utmost degrees of force, by performing their exercises out of doors, or in a hall of ample dimensions.
It is a matter of great moment, in practising the exercises in force, to observe, at first, with the utmost strictness, the rule of commencing with the slightest and advancing to the most energetic forms of utterance. When practice has imparted due vigor and facility, it will be a useful variation of order, to commence with the more powerful exertions of the voice, and descend to the more gentle. It is a valuable attainment, also, to be able to strike at once, and with perfect ease and precision, into any degree of force, from whispering to shouting.
As the exercises in the various “ qualities” of the voice, have already led us over the ground of " force,” in all its gradations, it will be sufficient to present them once in succession, without farther explanation.
The very shadow of thy waving hair,
Oh! bid the conflict cease!"
(“ Expulsive" utterance.)
• Sister spirit ! come away!'” *"Suppressed force is not limited exclusively to the forms of the whisper or the half-whisper. Still, it is usually found in one or other of these ; and, on this account, although sometimes intensely earnest and energetic in the expression of feeling, it is a gradation of utierance which, in point of“ vocality,” ranks below even the moderate ” and “subdued ” forms of "pure tone." We regard, at present, its value in vocal force,not in "expression."
("" Explosive" utterance.)
Fear. “Few minutes had passed, ere they spied on the stream, A skiff sailing light, where a lady did seem: Her sail was a web of the gossamer's loom, The glow-worm her wake-light, the rainbow her boom ; “A dim rayless beam was her prow, and her mast Like wold-fire at midnight, that glares o'er the waste !"
(" Explosive" utterance.)
“ Effusive" utterance.)
1. Pathos. “ It was thy spirit brother! which had made
The bright world glorious to her youthful eye, Since first, in childhood, 'midst the vines ye played,
And sent glad singing through the free blue sky. * The degree of force implied in the epithet "subdued," is equivalent, in Ye were but two,
and when that spirit passed, Woe to the one, the last ! Woe, yet not long ; — she lingered but to trace
Thine image from the image in her breast, Once, once again to see that buried face
But smile upon her, ere she went to rest. Too sad a smile! its living light was o'er,
It answered her's no more.
“The earth grew silent when thy voice departed,
The home too lonely whence thy step had fed ; What then was left for her, the faithful-hearted ?
Death, death, -to still the yearning for the dead. Softly she perished: - be the Flower deplored
Here with the Lyre and Sword !”
And stars to set ; but all
" We know when moons shall wane, When summer birds from far shall cross the sea,
When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grain; But who shall teach us when to look for thee?"
tall ash tree, from his mellow throat,
Chants forth his evening hymn. general, to that which, in music, would be indicated by the term "piano," and which suggests an obvious softening of the voice from even its moderate or ordinary energy: Pathos, solemnity, and tranquillity, when so arranged in succession, imply a slight increase of energy at each stage. But all three are still inferior to “ moderate" or ordinary force.
'T is twilight now: How deep is the tranquillity! — The trees Are slumbering through their multitude of boughs, Even to the leaflet on the frailest twig ! A twilight gloom pervades the distant hills ; An azure softness mingling with the sky.”
(*“Orotund quality :” “Effusive" utterance.)
1. Pathos and Sublimity.
Wolsey, (on his downfall.] “Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness ! This is the state of man: To-day he puts forth The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms, And bears his blushing honors thick upon him: The third day comes a frost, a killing frost; And, — when he thinks, good easy man, full surely His greatness is a-ripening, - nips his root; And then he falls as I do. I have ventured, Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders, This many summers in a sea of glory, But far beyond my depth : my high-blown pride At length broke under me, and now has left me, Weary and old with service, to the mercy Of a rude stream that must forever hide me!”
2. Solemnity and Sublimity.
“Oh! listen, man! A voice within us speaks that startling word, • Man, thou shalt never die!' Celestial voices Hymn it unto our souls; according harps, By angel fingers touched, when the mild stars Of morning sang together, sound forth still
* The effect of " orotund quality,” as transcending "pure tone,” is that of a deeper, fuller, rounder, and more resonant utterance, implying, therefore, an increase of force, although still a subdued,” or softened force, when compared with even an ordinary degree. In music, the distinction would still be that of" piano."