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And darting and parting,
And gathering and feathering ;
V. “Humorous," or Playful, Style.
[In the reading of the following scene, the tone of humor is exemplified in the laughing and bantering utterance in which the audience make their remarks on the absurd attempts at sublimity, solemnity, and pathos, which are made by the clownish amateur actors. These worthies have, it may be recollected, volunteered a play on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, for the entertainment of the court of Theseus, " duke” of Athens, during a season of festivity.]
“ Enter Lion and Moonshine.
“ Lion. You ladies, you whose gentle hearts do fear The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor, May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here, When lion rough in wildest rage
Then know, that I, one Snug, the joiner, am, -
Lysander. This lion is a very fox for his valor.
Dem. Not so, my lord: for his valor cannot carry his discretion ; and the fox carries the goose.
Thes. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valor ; for the goose carries not the fox. It is well : leave it to his discretion; and let us listen to the moon.
Moon. "This lantern doth the horned moon present : ‘Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be.'
Thes. This is the greatest error of all the rest : the man should be put into the lantern. How is it else the man i' the moon ?
Dem. He dares not come there for the candle ; for, you see, it is already in snuff.
Hippolyta. I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!
Thes. It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is in the wane : but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.
Lys. Proceed, moon.
Moon. * All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the lantern is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thornbush my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.'
Dem. Why, all these should be in the lantern; for they are in the moon. — But silence! here comes Thisbe."
* The remarks which exemplify the mode of utterance mentioned before, are distinguished by Italics.
OROTUND QUALITY." “ Pure tone” is properly the perfection of vocal sound executed by human organs, in the form of music or of speech, in unimpassioned expression. Purity, as a quality of voice in utterance, is, so to speak, the investing property of the sounds in which gentle and moderate emotions are imparted to the ear. But this quality does not extend beyond the limits of solemnity, on the one hand, or of gaiety and humor, on the other. Its boldest effect is exhibited, as already mentioned, in the mechanical act of calling, which, although sometimes accompanied by intense emotion, is not, by any means, necessarily so attended. The call may be uttered, as among laborers at work, for a merely mechanical purpose of convenience.
But when we advance in the gradations of feeling, and come to the stage of impassioned utterance, and, more particularly, to that in which deep and forcible emotions are combined, mere purity of tone is not adequate to the effect which is to be produced on the ear. In the utterance of contemplative repose, nothing beyond pure quality of voice is needed, to give expression to feeling so gentle in its mood. Energy would, in such circumstances, seem violence: it would disturb the quiet of the scene.
Not so when passion rouses or inspires the soul. The intense excitement of feeling then demands that volume and force should predominate in expression. Purity of tone must, indeed, even in such cases, be preserved, to constitute that utterance which, while it assumes an intense energy, still indicates, in the pure quality of the vocal sound, the delight which the soul feels in the consciousness of powerful action. But the properties of voice which, in these circumstances, predominate in the utterance, and fall most impressively on the ear, are volume and energy.
We have a striking example of the species of voice under consideration, in the imagined rallying-shout of Satan to his fallen host, while they lie weltering on the infernal lake, when, — in the colossal image of the poet, “he called so loud, that all the hollow deep of hell resounded : "
“Princes! potentates !”
" Awake! arise ! or be for ever fallen ! The human voice, here superadding intense emotion to
the merely physical act of shouting and calling, becomes, as it were, translated to a sphere of superhuman force and grandeur.
In the “orotund quality" of utterance, volume and purity of tone, to the greatest extent of the one, and the highest perfection of the other, are blended in one vast sphere of sound, expressive of the utmost depth, intensity, and sublimity of emotion.
The voice, in the above case, inspired, expanded, and impelled, by the huge conception of the poet's imagination, becomes gigantic in its utterance. The force of the mental associations, imparts the impulsive energy, — and their conscious sublimity the "pure tone,” of the highest joy. Blend these two properties, and the result is what Dr. Rush has so appropriately termed “orotund”* utterance.
The quality of voice to which we now refer, is mentioned by Dr. Rush as the highest perfection of the cultivated utterance of the public speaker. It is also justly regarded by him as the natural language of the highest species of emotion. It characterizes the vivid utterance of children, in their tones of love, and joy, and ecstasy. It belongs to the audible expression of masculine courage, energy, delight, admiration, and to the deliberate language of vengeance, as distinguished from the aspirated and suffocated voice of anger and rage.
In the furious excitement of anger, however, which breathes a fiendish delight in the very consciousness of the destructive passion, the " orotund” will be found to return in the utterance, and predominate even in the scream or yell of the wildest frenzy of excitement.
The property of voice defined by the term “orotund," exists, also, in certain physical and mechanical relations of the corporeal organs. Thus, we hear it in the audible functions of yawning, coughing, and laughing, all of which, when forcibly performed, are attended with a sudden and forcible expansion of the organic parts, and a ringing fulness, roundness, and smoothness of sound.*
* From the Latin phrase "ore rotundo,” used by the poet Horace, in allusion to the round and full utterance and Áowing eloquence of the Greeks.
“ Orotund” quality may, in one of its aspects, be regarded as the maximum of “
united with the intensest force. Like the pure tone, however, it admits of degrees; and we find it existing, according to the greater or less intensity of emotion, in the different forms of “ effusive," “ expulsive,” and “explosive," force. — We proceed to the exemplification of the first of these gradations.
This designation is applied to that species of utterance in which the voice is not sent forth from the organs by any obvious voluntary expulsion, but is rather suffered to effuse itself from the mouth into the surrounding air. It resembles the insensible and unconscious act of tranquil breathing, as contrasted with the effort of panting. But though perfectly gentle in its formation, and passing but little beyond the limits of merely "pure tone,” it still obviously extends beyond that form of voice, and assumes a somewhat different character. “Pure tone,” in its “effusive” form, is executed principally by the full expansion of the chest, a large inhalation, but a very gentle and limited expiration; whilst effusive orotund” gives a very free egress to the breath, and, by its larger volume of sound, and greater emissive force, uses more breath, in the production of sound. Effusive pure tone” is obtained chiefly by skilful withholding of the breath, and using the larynx so gently and so skilfully, that every particle of air passing through it, is converted into sound. “ Effusive orotund” demands a wider opening of the organs, and a freer and firmer use of them, so as to produce a bolder and rounder tone. It resembles, however, in its style, the “effusive" function of
* For a more minute description of " orotund " quality, we refer to the work of Dr. Rush.