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The Hour of Prayer.......
...... Mrs. Hemans. 389
A N is designed for action. Na. ture has so constituted him, that both body and mind require daily exercise to develope their powers, and maintain them in a vigorous and healthy condition.
The truth of this remark is manifest from constant observation and experience — those who lead active, bustling lives, conjoined with temperance and prudence, commonly possess robust frames, and healthy constitutions; while the sedentary and the indolent are enervated and sickly.
We find the same results from the exercise of the mental faculties. He whose mind is constantly employed in the acquisition of knowledge, usually retains his mental faculties unimpaired to the last. But not so with the man of ease and indolence. After the meridian of life, the powers of his mind, with those of the body, become weaker, and weaker, and he finally leaves the world as he entered it - a child.
The health and strength of the body, therefore, mainly depend on the number of muscles that are frequently called into action, and the degree of rational exercise through which they pass. Now there are few, if any, whose daily avocations are so varied as to bring into requisition all the muscles of the body: hence the necessity of gymnastic exer. cises.
The term, gymnastics, in its widest sense, signifies all bodily exercises; in a more limited sense, “exercises systematically adapted to develope the physical powers, and preserve them in perfection, which constitutes the art of gym. nastics properly so called."
These exercises, when commenced in youth, develope the muscles, give agility to the limbs, and promote the various functions of the animal system: in this way they impart strength and consistency to the body, and lay the foundation of lasting health: and even when commenced in manhood, they invigorate the frame, and brace it against the infirmities of age.
By the frequent and energetic exercise of the muscles, they are brought completely under the control of volition, which is a powerful auxiliary to every variety of action. Hence Gymnastics are not only useful because they exert a healthful influence upon the body; but because they lay a good foundation for the easy acquisition of every mechanic art.
From what has been said of Gymnastics in general, it may readily be conceived that very important advantages may be derived from vocal gymnastics.
By the term, VOCAL GYMNASTICs, may be understood the principles of the human voice as employed in speech and song, as well as the training of the organs by which this voice is produced. The principles are the science of the voice — the training, the exercise of the organs, necessary to develope their powers, and enable them to act with rapid. ity, precision, and effect.
Vocal Gymnastics give the pupil complete command of the muscles of articulation, extend the compass of the voice, and render it smooth, powerful, and melodious. They not only call forth all the energies of the vocal organs, correct stammering, lisping, &c.; but they invigorate the lungs, and, consequently, fortify them against the invasion of disease.
All the blood, in the course of its circulation, passes through the lungs, where it undergoes a change, not only essential to health, but also to life. Whenever their function, therefore, is interrupted by debility, or disease, the blood is deteriorated, and the whole system suffers; in fact, the very citadel of life is sapped, and nothing but a restoration of these organs to their natural condition, will effect a return of general health. Indeed, the lungs are of so much impor.
tance in the animal economy, that the complete suspension of their office is followed by speedy dissolution.
Hence such healthful measures should be adopted as are calculated to invigorate the pulmonary apparatus, and enable it to maintain its integrity. One of the most hopeful expedients for this purpose, is a well-regulated and persevering course of vocal gymnastics.
Were we to exercise our voices a few minutes, every day, according to just principles, the number of deaths from pulmorary affections, especially consumption, I have no doubt, would be greatly diminished.
While Vocal Gymnastics give a keenness to appetite, they are a powerful means of promoting digestion. A young clergyman entered my Vocal Gymnasium, for the purpose of improving his elocution as well as his health. He laboured under dyspepsia which was attended with loss of appetite, general debility, languor, and dejection of spirits. But in twelve days after he commenced the exercises, there was a radical change in his mental and physical condition : he had become very cheerful; and, to use his own words, his appetite was ravenous. Nor is this a solitary case - numerous others might be cited with the like happy result.
My pupils have frequently told me that they always feel invigorated by the exercises. A gentleman who was formerly a pupil of mine, and who had been in the practice of resorting to a common gymnasium for the benefit of his health, assured me that he derived more advantage from his vocal, than from his athletic exercises. Let the individuals, therefore, who visit those gymnasia, designed only for the exercise of the limbs, not neglect the equally important gymnastics of the pulmonary organs.
As ELOCUTION is intimately connected with the voice, and as every reader may not be prepared to enter upon a minute development of its various principles, the following Prelimi. nary Observations may be of some advantage.
Voice is sound, produced by the agitation of air when forcibly expelled from the lungs.
The attributes of the voice, are general and special. The general attributes are pitch and force, and are common to all voices. The special attributes are those peculiarities which render one voice more agreeable, or disagreeable, than another, as sweelness, harshness, &c.
The acuteness and gravity of the voice depend on the contractions and dilatations of the vocal tube.
The degree of loudness of the voice, is in proportion to the expulsive effort, and to the resistance which the air meets on its passage through the glottis.
When air is forcibly expelled from the lungs, and not suf ficient resistance given to its egress to produce what is generally understood by the term voice, an aspirated, or whispered sound is the result.
From voice articulated by the motions of the lips, tongue, and other parts of the mouth, is produced oral language. Hence oral language is not inaptly termed articulated voice.
There are two varieties of oral language-song, and speech. In several respects they resemble each other. Thus the notes, both of song, and speech, vary in pitch, force, and time. The most striking difference between them, is this: a note of song is maintained in one range of pitch from its commencement to its termination; but a note of speech is varied in pitch during its prolongation. If you prolong the ietter a, in one range of pitch, thus:
you will have an example of a note of song. If you utter it interrogatively, and affirmatively, thus:
a'! you will have two varieties of the note of speech : the voice in the interrogation, moving from a grave pitch to one more acute; in the affirmation, from acute to grave.
Perhaps enough has been said by way of preliminaries. The principles here mentioned, together with the various others, are methodically presented, fully discussed, and diagramically illustrated, in the course of the work.