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to a style of utterance flowing from the energy and harmony of thought, rather than of expression.
The fourth class of errors, being as various as the habits of individuals, cannot be specifically described. They are necessarily points of attention between teachers and pupils individually.
Among the errors which may be traced in the tones of the voice, when considered as occurring in succession, is an inflexible sameness of voice, varying nothing in pitch, force, or rate;-words and sentences being merely pronounced as so many groups of syllables, and no change of note or of tone indicating any transition of thought or feeling.
Another error lies in an affected and rhetorical manner, which introduces arbitrary changes of tone, without regard to meaning; the voice of the speaker rising and falling, swelling and diminishing at intervals, merely for the sake of variety to the ear.
The bad consequences of these faults are obvious. By monotony in reading, we lose as much nearly as we should in conversation by-pronouncing every word exactly in the same key: the voice becomes insipid and childish in its tone; meaning is entirely extracted from it; sense is sacrificed to timidity or awkwardness of habit; and the mental power of utterance is exchanged for a dull and lifeless uniformity or organic exercise,-unworthy of a human being, and resembling rather the reiterated sound of a machine.
Rhetorical affectation, on the other hand, is disgusting in its effect; it obscures or changes meaning by illjudged and unnecessary variations of voice; it obtrudes the speaker to the exclusion of his subject, and substitutes a ridiculous parade of art for the simple and unstudied eloquence of nature.
RULE I. Let every tone have its true and full, but chaste expression,—whether that of energy and loudness, or of pathos and tenderness.
II. Let the tone vary with the sentiment, in successive clauses and sentences.
III. In the tones of energetic delivery let there be no mouthing force or drawling sound.
IV. Guard against false inflections and wrong cadences.
V. Sentences characterized by moderate emotion, but which are nearly related in signification,—whether by direct connexion, as intimated by a conjunction, or in the particularizing, amplifying, or illustrating of one thought by another,-are read with a tone which preserves, at the opening of every new sentence, the lowest note of the cadence of the preceding sentence.
VI. Sentences not connected as above, require a new pitch at the commencement of each, expressive of a new or unconnected thought. This pitch should be more or less high, as the idea embodied in the sentence is more or less distinct from those contained in that which precedes it, or the sentiment is more or less grave in its character, and inclines accordingly to a low tone.*
SUGGESTIONS FOR PRACTICE. Instructors commonly consider this branch of elocution as one of late and difficult attainment, or as a finishing accomplishment in this department of education, and accordingly omit it entirely in early instruction. As a consequence of this neglect, juvenile tones in reading are usually so defective, that nothing is more common than to designate a mechanical and inexpressive style of voice as a 'school-boy' tone. The origin of faults of this description is not in the difficulty of the thing itself, but in the methods which are adopted in teaching, and the general custom of requiring that
* The last two rules may be illustrated by referring to the second prose extract given as an illustration of successive tones.
school-boys should read what they either do not fully understand or cannot take an interest in. This last circumstance is, in fact, the great cause of the prevalence of unmeaning and inappropriate tones at school. For let the young be required to read only what is adapted to their capacities and taste; and, if wrong habit has not become previously fixed by wrong exercises, the vivacity of the young mind, and the fresh and pliant tones of the juvenile voice, will give an expression infinitely more true and eloquent than we ever hear from adults.
Early practice in modulation is of the utmost importance, as the foundation of good habit; and this department of elocution, instead of being deferred till late in the course, should be introduced as early as possible, and cultivated with the utmost attention. It is in the very earliest stage of education that the false tone so commonly heard in school, is contracted; and the recent improvement in elementary books, affords at least a few pieces, in most, which young readers feel to be natural to their minds, and which they can read with true tones. Lessons of this sort should be repeatedly and carefully read for practice in tones, apart from the other objects of reading, with a view to direct the attention of young learners more clearly and more successfully to this point.
The first object of attention in practising, in this department of elocution, should be to eradicate faulty personal tones, as influenced by habits of utterance, articulation, inflection, emphasis, or cadence. The imitation of incorrect tones may sometimes be necessary, to give the learner a distinct conception of his fault. This may be done by the teacher or by the pupils mutually, as may seem expedient.
The next point is to succeed in producing force and appropriateness in tone and facility in variation. One expedient for this purpose is, by frequent illustrations
and repetitions to impress on the pupil's mind the dif- ference between true and false tones of voice,-those
of dignified conversation, and those of familiar talk, or of mechanical and monotonous reading. Another means of rectifying errors of this class, is, by interesting conversation and illustrative anecdote to bring the learner's mind into the right mood of emotion, for the full expression of sentiment; and this is peculiarly important when pieces have been previously and repeatedly read, as a matter of routine, till the attention has become dull and the feelings indifferent.
The pupil's own attentive study of the meaning of what he reads, however, is the best security for natural force and variation of tone. Little improvement can be made in intonation, till the learner has acquired the power of abstracting his attention from a mechanical enunciation of the words he is reading, and can fix his mind with such force on the thoughts as to make them his own. He must get rid of the idea of words and phrases, clauses and sentences, and fasten on the mental objects presented to him; so that he may express these as if they rose before him at the moment of utterance. Sameness of tone arises from too exclusive attention to words. In the mechanical and monotonous exercise of adding syllable to syllable, and word to word, the free play of the mind is lost, and its power over the voice consequently diminished. This effect is a very natural result of the usual method of instruction in the elements of reading; and to shake off the habits caused by such influence, is the first step towards improvement.
The teacher may, by his selection of exercises in reading, do much to favour the acquisition of easy and natural tones of voice; if care is only taken that no piece be read which is above the comprehension of young readers, or not adapted to their taste, Monotonous dulness and forced variety of tone, are equally caused by promiscuous and inappropriate reading. Where the mind has not the command of thought and feeling, it will naturally flow into a mechanical attention to words; and in reading or speaking, the tones of the voice, (as they are always a true echo to the actual state of feeling,) will indicate the fact by formal and unmeaning utterance.
In practising on particular passages which are found difficult, the teacher must show the pupil the nature of the tone or of the variation required-by practical illus
tration; guarding, however, against the pupil's imitating or rather mimicking his teacher's tone, instead of acquiring one of his own; since a natural manner, though tame, is preferable to one which borrows its liveliness from affectation.
A great advantage may be derived from illustrations drawn from the tones of inusic, when pupils possess a sufficient knowledge of that art;-its terms being more definite and exact than those of elocution.
Exercises in dialogue and in dramatic pieces, if judiciously selected, are of great practical utility, as means of imparting animation and variety of tone.
Force or loudness : 1. Again to the battle, Achaians !
Our hearts bid the tyrants defiance. *** we've sworn, by our country's assaulters,
By the virgins they've dragg'd from our altars, By our massacred patriots, our children in chains, By our heroes of old, and their blood in our veins,
That living, we will be victorious,
The sword that we've drawn we will sheath not; Its scabbard is left where our martyrs are laid, And the vengeance of ages has whetted its blade.
Earth may hide-waves ingulph-fire consume us,
But they shall not to slavery doom us :If they rule, it shall be o'er our ashes and graves; But we've smote them already with fire on the waves,
And new triumphs on land are before us:
To the charge! Heaven's banner is o'er us. 2. Scots, who have with Wallace bled,
Scots, whom Bruce has often led,
Or to victory!