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of his voice, which he involuntarily transfers to later stages of his progress in education, and even to professional efforts in mature years.
This objectionable tone would, like all others, be removed by the habit of attending to the meaning of what is read or spoken, more than to the phraseology. Written sentences differ from those of conversation chiefly in their inversion ; the most forcible and expressive phrases being generally placed last in order. This arrangement favours strength of style in composition; but it needs a sustained and regularly increasing force of voice, to give it just utterance. In good reading, accordingly, the tone strengthens progressively in a sentence,-especially if long or complex; whilst in feeble and unimpressive reading, the voice is gradually dwindling where the language requires increasing energy
The sinking cadence owes its peculiar tone, in part, to the habit of resuming a high pitch at the commencing word of every sentence. This tone prevents the expression of connected meaning; as it makes every sentence a separate object to the ear, and produces something like a sense of weariness in the hearer, by the continual recurrence of its dying note.
This fault arises in part, also, from the mechanical habit of attending to sentences as such, and not to their value, or their connexion in signification. When two sentences are connected in meaning, the latter, if appropriately read, commences on the low note used at the close of the former. The unity of sound thus produced, gives the sentences a unity to the ear. The rising of the voice to a new pitch, at the opening of a new sentence, indicates, by the change of note, a change of meaning, or a transition to a new and different thought.
Take, for example, the following sentences; and let them be read first in such a manner that the clause, "It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas," shall run upon the same note precisely with which the word “senses,” in the preceding sentence, was uttered ; -using that word for a key-note, as you would the sound of a pitch-pipe. In this reading, the tone of
connexion between the sentences is produced. Again, let the sentences be read with a new or high pitch upon the opening of the second ; and the voice obvi. ously wanders off, as if to express a distinct and unconnected idea.
"Our sight is the most perfect and most delightful of all our senses. It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas, converses with its objects at the greatest distance, and continues the longest in action without being tired or satiated with its proper enjoyments."
The uniform recurrence, then, of a high pitch at the beginning of every sentence, must have the effect of destroying the natural connexion of thought, and thus of obscuring or changing the sense. It is still a clear conception of meaning, however, on which the learner is to depend as the only guide to appropriate cadence. For the fault of a dwindling cadence would not occur, but for the mechanical change of pitch, which is at variance with meaning.
The fault which is mentioned last in the enumeration of errors, is the necessary result of the frequent repetition or constant recurrence of any one of the preceding faults. It implies, then, all the disadvantages of each singly, aggravated by perpetual reiteration, and thus leading to a sameness of sound, which is not less disagreeable to the ear, than the particular tone considered singly.
This, and all the other faulty habits of cadence, are greatly aggravated in verse. [See Reading of Poetry.]
SUGGESTIONS FOR PRACTICE. The personal tone of each pupil must regulate the adoption of expedients for the removal of habitual faults in regard to cadence. The chief thing to be impressed on the mind, is the deviation of the voice from the tone of the meaning; since all pupils do not possess a ready ear for the discrimination of sounds considered in relation to music, or even to general good taste. Imitation may sometimes be resorted to, on
the part of the teacher, with good effect; and, under due superintendence, mutual correction by the pupils themselves, may be very serviceable in correcting bad cadence.
The correction of the fault mentioned first, requires a complete renovation of mental habit, and a wakeful, active attention to what is read. Animated and interesting pieces, in familiar style, will afford the best subjects for practice, with a view to the removal of this fault. The same suggestion may be made in reference to the errors numbered second, third, and fourth. Lively and humorous pieces will be most useful, when the object of practice is to do away the diminishing and half-pathetic cadence.
The expedient of practising in company with the teacher, cannot be so freely recommended here as in other departments of elocution; since adults, and especially teachers, are generally prone to a degree of formality in cadence, which, when transferred to the style of the young, has a very unfavourable effect. The utmost care, too, is necessary in selecting pieces for practice; that when didactic and declamatory exercises are prescribed, they may not prove, as they too generally do, a source of irretrievable injury to tone and cadence, from the nature of the sentiments, and the forms of expression, prevailing in the passage which is read or spoken. Unintelligible ideas and formal language are the chief sources of false and unmeaning cadence, as well as of most other defects in reading and declamation.
READING OF POETRY.
General Observations. The reading of poetry differs from that of prose, chiefly in the following circumstances. Poetry, being the expression of imaginative states of mind, produces a much greater force, variety, and vividness of thought and feeling, than usually occur in prose, which is the language of sentiment in its ordinary form. The qualities of voice required by
the former, correspond to its peculiar traits of emotion, which are distinguished by great intensity; running sometimes to the extremes of tone, and often varying from one strain to another. Prose generally preserves à more moderate expression, and a more equable movement of voice, as coinciding with the plainer qualities of thought and language. The rhythmical flow of voice, produced by versification, combining, with the sense of poetic beauty of conception, naturally creates a musical or melodious strain of utterance, in the reading of poetry, which must be avoided in prose, as inconsistent with the practical style of sentiment and expression, and the irregular succession of sounds, which appropriately belong to this form of writing.
The chief requisites, then, for the appropriate reading of poetry, are a clear and distinct conception of the thoughts expressed in the passage which is read, a full and natural sympathy with the emotions which combine with these thoughts, and a discriminating ear for the melody and harmony of verse. The states of mind which produce vividness and variety of tone, have been already adverted to; and some of the most -striking instances of their occurrence have been pointed out, in the examples and explanations of the lesson on tones. It is to the effect of the rhythm of verse, therefore, that the present lesson is intended to direct the learner's attention.
DEFINITION. The chief affections or modifications of voice, arising from the utterance of verse, may be arranged in the manner observed in the lesson on tones, and classed under the heads of force, pitch, and rate. To these qualities we must add that of metre, or prosodial time, which gives character to rhythm, and to which rate' is, in fact, but subordinate.-Time, though it exists in the reading or speaking of prose, is not so distinctly perceptible in this form of utterance as in that of verse. This quality of vocal expression is that which keeps in just proportion the
length of every sound, the rate of the succession of sounds, and the duration of paises, whether arising from meaning or merely from versification.
The effect of time on a passage which expresses an emotion requiring a slow utterance, would be, (as in the following example of solemnity and reverence,) to prolong every single sound, to render the succession of sounds slow, to make the pauses long which arise from the sentiment, and those which belong to the verse, perceptible and distinct : “ These are thy glorious works, Parent of good, Almighty! thine this universal frame, Thus wondrous fair! thyself how wondrous then; Unspeakable! who sitt'st above these heavens, To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works.” A gay and lively strain of poetry, if correctly timed, would be distinguished, (as, for example, the lines from Milton's L'Allegro, page 157,) by brevity in single sounds, rapid succession of sounds, and short pauses, both as regards the meaning and the verse.
The proportion of sound, of its succession, and of its intervals, (as regulated by the metre, or measure, of time,) is, in both these instances, and not less in all other cases,-a main circumstance in the true poetic character of the utterance, and a point without which the language must deviate into the manner of prose. Time, indeed, is as essential to poetry as to music.
The modifications of tone arising from the influence of poetry, are chiefly the following:
1st. Rate. Poetry being, as far as the ear is concerned, a rhythmical succession of sounds, it becomes necessary, in point of fact, as well as agreeable to the ear, that every sound should be dwelt upon long enough to give a full impression of its true quantity or length. The reading of poetry, therefore, is distinguished from that of prose, by a comparative prolongation or indulgence of every sound.