ページの画像
PDF
ePub

qualities of utterance to great force, low pitch, and comparatively quick rate.

The change in the next sentence, (8,) is chiefly that to a slower rate; the voice adapting itself in this way to the dilation of the description. Great energy and the low pitch still prevail.

At the clause, “we passed over her," &c., the tone varies to one approaching the common manner of narrative; the circumstance introduced being mentioned as one inevitable and necessary. As the associations of the mind, however, are still those of awe and pity, the utterance is very slow, the pitch inclines to a low note, though higher than before, and the force is moderate. A slight acceleration, and increase of force, take place at the close, “and were hurried on our course.” This, as well as other changes which have been mentioned, is owing to the natural sympathy of the mind, arising from the interest excited by what is described. Care must always be taken, however, that this moderate and natural influence on the tone of the voice be not displaced by exaggeration and false extremes of expression. The utterance of feeling ever requires the exercise of discriminating judgment and true taste.

The commencing sentence of the second paragraph, (9,) is characterized by a progressive increase of force, a pitch gradually dropping, and a rate of utterance constantly accelerating till the close. This change is produced by the succession of circumstances of awe and terror, heightening from point to point, till they reach a climax. The tone of terror mingling with awe, as it becomes more and more intense, grows louder, lower, and more rapid in utterance. This tone is necessarily acquired from the sympathy of the mind with the scene presented to it; unless the reading proceeds from a mere mechanical attention to the words rather than the thoughts of the writer.

The next sentence, (10,) deepens the tone produced by the preceding, and, for the hurried expression of terror, substitutes the slow manner of solemnity, and its more moderate utterance as to force.

The tone changes, in the next sentence, (11,) to a

strain approaching that of ordinary narration, and resembling very closely that of the clause, “we passed over her," which occurred near the close of the first paragraph. The utterance is, in all respects, moderate, but inclines still to slowness.

The short sentence that follows, (12,) repeats the tone of that beginning, “I heard their drowning cry," &c., but with still more intensity in all respects; the emotion being that of horror, which is expressed by the greatest depth and force of utterance, uniting with the utmost slowness.

The ordinary style of serious narrative—that of moderate utterance in all respects—returns at the next sentence, (13,) and continues till the phrase, “but all was silent,” in the last sentence, (16,) which takes the low notes, slou utterance, and subdued force of solemnity. The concluding clause contains all these qualities more peculiarly marked, as the emotion passes from solemnity to awe. The emphatic manner of the conclusion, however, implies more energy of utterance than belongs to the preceding clause.*

The lively interest of narrative compositions produces more striking and more numerous variations of voice, than are usually required in the style of essays or discourses. But, even in this class of writings, there are frequent and obvious changes of tone, arising from the nature of the thoughts which are expressed, and their connexion and relations in the order in which they are presented to the mind. The following passage may be taken as an example.

1. “Even looking forward to a single day, the spirit may sometimes faint from an anticipation of the duties, the labours, the trials to temper and patience, that may be expected.—2. Now this is unjustly laying the burden of many thousand moments upon one.-3. Let any one resolve always to do right now, leaving then to do as it can; and if he were to live to

* The learner will perhaps acquire a more distinct idea of variation by repeating, in the manner described, the whole extract, before proceeding to other points in this lesson.

the age of Methuselah, he would never do wrong.-4. But the common error is to resolve to act righ. after breakfast, or after dinner, or to-morrow morning, or next time, but now, just now, this once, we must go on the same as ever.

5. It is easy, for instance, for the most ill-tempered person to resolve that the next time he is provoked he will not let his temper overcome him; but the victory would be to subdue tem per on the present provocation.-6. If, without taking up the burden of the future, we would always make the single effort at the present moment; while there would at any one time be very little to do, yet, by this simple process continued, every thing would at last be done.

7. It seems easier to do right to-morrow than to-, day, merely because we forget that when to-morrow comes, then will be now.–8. Thus life passes with many, in resolutions for the future which the present never fulfils."

The chief modifications of voice in this piece, are as follows. The tone of the first sentence is in the deliberate and distinct manner with which a piece in the didactic style usually commences; the object being generally a clear and correct communication of thought, rather than the expression of emotion; or, at least, the former preponderating in the utterance. In the reading of narrative and descriptive pieces, there is less danger of misapprehension or mistake; and the greater interest naturally attached to these forms of writing, more readily secures the attention. No effort, therefore, is required on the part of the reader, in commencing a piece, to produce the right effect; and the tone, when appropriate, intimates no anxiety for the result. Didactic compositions, on the contrary, being often designed to express distinctions of thought, to enforce truth, or inculcate opinions, naturally require a more attentive and exact style of reading, distinguished more by distinct enunciation, correct emphasis, and appropriate pauses, as the natural characteristics of intellectual expression. The tone of didactic reading, therefore, differs from that of narration or description, in commencing with a

[ocr errors]

fuller degree of energy, and a more regular slowness of articulation; as the very first point in a train of thought is of the utmost importance to a clear and correct conception of the whole, and requires a full and distinct expression.

The tone of the second sentence differs from that of the first, in commencing on a low strain, and gradually rising towards the close,-a tone arising from the argumentative character of the sentence, and its close connexion with the preceding. The same manner of commencing prevails in the third and fourth sentences, and also in the opening of the second paragraph, for the same reason as before. This last sentence being intended as an illustration or example to the preceding, and thrown in somewhat as a parenthesis commonly is,-suspending, for a moment, the train of thought,-it is to be read in the parenthetic manner of low note, diminished force, and quicker rate of utterance.

The second sentence of the second paragraph returns to the general style of thought throughout the piece, and is not so closely connected with antecedent meaning as the sentences which precede it. The tone of voice, therefore, resumes the ordinary strain of didactic expression, as at the commencement of the first sentence. In passing, accordingly, into this sentence, from the preceding, the utterance becomes higher in pitch, is increased in force, and adopts a slower rate.

The third paragraph commences with a sentiment still more general than that expressed in the preceding sentence. The tone of voice will consequently be of the same character as before, but with an additional degree of each quality.

"The concluding sentence of the extract forms the conclusion of a train of thought, and is read with the tone of a closing remark-on a lower strain of voice, with a forcible though somewhat moderate utterance, and a slow, deliberate movement. These characteristics in the tone are rendered more distinct, in this instance, by the serious and impressive cast of thought introduced in the sentence.

Errors. The common faults, in single tones, are:

1st. A mechanical unmeaning sameness of voice, which indicates the absence of appropriate feeling, and deprives spoken language of its natural expression, by divesting it of the tones of feeling.

2d. A want of force and vividness in tone, though otherwise appropriate,-a fault which renders delivery feeble, uninteresting, and unimpressive.

3d. An excessive force of tone, usually attended by a mouthing or a drawling manner,-a style utterly repugnant to correct taste, and subversive of genuine emotion.

4th. An habitual and personal tone, which characterizes the individual speaker merely, and is not the appropriate expression of feeling, but rather interferes with and prevents it.

The first two of these faults would be avoided by entering deeply and fully into the sentiment which is expressed in the language of the piece read or spoken. This can be done only by giving to it that earnest and steadfast attention, which is required to produce interest and sympathy in the mind, -the true source of appropriate and natural tones.

The third error arises from the habit of allowing the attention to float on the stream of language, instead of directing it to the thoughts expressed in what is read. The harmonious succession of the words, and not the force or beauty of the ideas, becomes involuntarily the object which occupies the mind; and hence arises a measured and rythmical flow of tone, adapted to clauses and sentences according to their sound, rather than their sense. This fault is usually exemplified in the recitation of poetry, or in the speaking of declamatory pieces in prose, and particularly on 'exhibition' occasions, at schools and colleges. This habit of tone would be overcome by directing the attention to the thought as exclusively as possible;—not suffering the mind to linger upon the phraseology, but endeavouring to attune the ear

« 前へ次へ »