ページの画像
PDF
ePub

The room was hushed ; in silence rose

The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“ Be merciful to me, a fool!”

Edward Rowland Sill: The Fool's Prayer.

27. Toward the end of September, when school-time was draw

ing near and the nights were already black, we would begin to sally from our respective villas, each equipped with a tin bull's-eye lantern. The thing was so well known that it had worn a rut in the commerce of Great Britain ; and the grocers, about the due time, began to garnish their windows with our particular brand of luminary. We wore them buckled to the waist upon a cricket belt, and over them, such was the rigour of the game, a buttoned top-coat. They smelled noisomely of blistered tin; they never burned aright, though they would always burn our fingers; their use was naught; the pleasure of them merely fanciful; and yet a boy with a bull's-eye under his top-coat asked for nothing more. The fishermen used lanterns about their boats, and it was from them, I suppose, that we had got the hint; but theirs were not bull's-eyes, nor did we ever play at being fishermen. The police carried them at their belts, and we had plainly copied them in that; yet we did not pretend to be policemen. Burglars, indeed, we may have had some haunting thoughts of; and we had certainly an eye to past ages when lanterns were more common, and to certain story-books in which we had found them to figure very largely. But take it for all in all, the pleasure of the thing was substantive ; and to be a boy with a bull's-eye under his top-coat was good enough for us.

When two of these asses met, there would be an anxious “Have you got your lantern ?” and a gratified “Yes!” That was the shibboleth, and very needful too; for, as it was the rule to keep our glory contained, none could recognise a lantern-bearer, unless (like the pole-cat) by the smell. Four or five would sometimes climb into the belly of a ten-man lugger, with nothing but the thwarts above them - for the cabin was usually locked, or choose out some hol

low of the links where the wind might whistle overhead. There the coats would be unbuttoned and the bull's-eyes discovered; and in the chequering glimmer, under the huge windy hall of the night, and cheered by a rich steam of toasting tinware, these fortunate young gentlemen would crouch together in the cold sand of the links or on the scaly bilges of the fishing-boat, and delight themselves with inappropriate talk. Woe is me that I may not give some specimens - some of their foresights of life, or deep inquiries into the rudiments of man and nature, these were so fiery and so innocent, they were so richly silly, so romantically young. But the talk, at any rate, was but a condiment; and these gatherings themselves only accidents in the career of the lantern-bearer. The essence of this bliss was to walk by yourself in the black night; the slide shut, the top-coat buttoned; not a ray escaping, whether to conduct your footsteps or to make your glory public: a mere pillar of darkness in the dark; and all the while, deep down in the privacy of your fool's heart, to know you had a bull's-eye at your belt, and to exult and sing over the knowledge.

[ocr errors]

II

It is said that a poet has died young in the breast of the most stolid. It may be contended, rather, that this (somewhat minor) bard in almost every case survives, and is the spice of life to his possessor. Justice is not done to the versatility and the unplumbed childishness of man's imagination. His life from without may seem but a rude mound of mud; there will be some golden chamber at the heart of it, in which he dwells delighted ; and for as dark as his pathway seenis to the observer, he will have some kind of a bull's-eye at his belt.

And so with others, who do not live by bread alone, but by some cherished and perhaps fantastic pleasure; who are meat salesmen to the external eye, and possibly to themselves are Shakespeares, Napoleons, or Beethovens; who have not one virtue to rub against another in the field of active life, and yet perhaps, in the life of contemplation, sit

with the saints. We see them on the street, and we can count their buttons; but Heaven knows in what they pride themselves! Heaven knows where they have set their treasure !

There is one fable that touches very near the quick of life: the fable of the monk who passed into the woods, heard a bird break into song, hearkened for a trill or two, and found himself on his return a stranger at his convent gates; for he had been absent fifty years, and of all his comrades there survived but one to recognise him. It is not only in the woods that this enchanter carols, though perhaps he is native there. He sings in the most doleful places. The miser hears him and chuckles, and the days are moments. With no more apparatus than an ill-smelling lantern I have evoked him on the naked links. All life that is not merely mechanical is spun out of two strands: seeking for that bird and hearing him.

Stevenson : The Lantern-Bearers. 1 Copyright, 1905, by Charles Scribner's Sons. Used with the kind permission of the publishers.

1

CHAPTER III

PITCH VARIATION

9. The cause of pitch variation ALL normal speech is characterized by variety in pitch and range of the voice. If you listen closely to one in earnest conversation, you will observe that the numerous tone changes do not come by chance, although the speaker may not be at all conscious of what the voice is doing, but that they are determined by the thought and the intention of the speaker. Every departure from monotone is significant and indicates the particular meaning the speaker attaches to the words he utters, and every change in the melody of a phrase or sentence changes its meaning to the listener. Obviously, then, a reader must make sure that he understands the author's thought before he ventures to speak his words. Note how the following portion of a line from Othello, as read by a student, was perverted from its serious import to a meaning of ludicrous implication. The true sense may be expressed something like this: :

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

10. Inflection and change of pitch The two factors of pitch variation by which words are made to express accurately the speaker's purpose are inflection (vocal glides), and change of pitch (vocal leaps). The rise or fall of the voice during the utterance of a word is called inflection; the leap of the voice from one key to another during intervals of silence between words, phrases, and sentences is called change of pitch. These modulations supplement each other, and are firmly allied in showing the relation of words, phrases, and sentences. Speaking generally, the upward trend of the voice, whether limited to the glide on a particular word or to the melody of the whole phrase, indicates incompleteness of thought; the falling, completeness. Both are illustrated in the following sentence:

k
shall
ye

n

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

f their By

them. 1 If there were no consonants in our language which interrupt vocalizatio: in the utterance of phrases, the melody of phrases would be made us largely of glides merging into each other. (See paragraph 3, page 32.) Within the phrase there would be few leaps of the voice other than those that might occur for emphasis. The phrase “We all know how well we are spoken with a melody made up entirely of glides of varying length and direction. Such combinations rarely occur, however. The flow of the voice is often broken by consonants, and the range between syllables and words beginning or ending with stop-consonants is effected by vocal leaps, thus:

thick

fog
den
Ao

is. to-day.
ci

tal. The

may be

« 前へ次へ »