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MANUAL OF ELOCUTION.
“ So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and ga'se the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” - Nehemiah viii. 8.
Elocution (derived from the Latin verb e-loquor, to speak out, and ion, the act of, — the literal meaning being, the act of speaking out) may be defined – vocal delivery.
“ Elocution is the art or act of so delivering our own thoughts and feelings, or the thoughts and feelings of others, as not only to convey to those around us, with precision, force, and harmony, the full import and meaning of the words and sentences in which these thoughts are clothed, but also to excite and impress upon the mind the feelings, imaginations, and passions by which these thoughts are dictated, or by which they should naturally be accompanied. Elocution, therefore, in its more ample and liberal signification, is not confined to the mere exercise of the organs of speech. It embraces the whole theory and practice of the exterior demonstration of the inward workings of the mind.
Eloquence may be considered the soul or animated principle of discourse. Elocution is the embodying form or representative power, depending upon exterior accomplishments and on the cultivation of the organs. Oratory is the complicated and vital existence resulting from the perfect harmony and combination of eloquence and elocution.” Bronson.
“If any one would sing, he attends a master, and is drilled in the very elementary principles; and only after the most laborious process, dares to exercise his voice in public. .... If he were learning to play on the flute for public exhibition, what hours and days would he spend, in giving facility to his fingers and attaining whe power of the sweetest and most expressive execution. If he
were devoting himself to the organ, what months and years would he labor, that he might know its compass, and be master of its keys, and be able to draw out, at will, all its various combinations of harmonious sound, and its full richness and delicacy of expression.
“And yet he will fancy that the grandest, the most various and most expressive of all instruments which the Infinite Creator has fashioned by the union of an intellectual soul with the powers of speech, may be played upon without study or practice; he comes to it a mere uninstructed tyro, and thinks to manage all its stops, and command the whole compass of its varied and comprehensive power. He finds himself a bungler in the attempt, is mortified at his failure, and settles it in his mind for ever that the attempt is vain."—Ware.
“The art of reading well is an accomplishment that all desire to possess, many think they have already, and that a few set about to acquire. These, believing their power is altogether in their genius, are, after a few lessons from an elocutionist, disappointed at not becoming themselves at once masters of the art; and with the restless vanity of their belief, abandon the study for some new subject of trial and failure. Such cases of infirmity result in part from the wavering character of the human tribe; but they chiefly arise from defects in the usual course of instruction. Go to some (may we say all ?) of our colleges and universities, and observe how the art of speaking is not taught there. See a boy of but fifteen years, with no want of youthful diffidence, and not without a craving desire to learn, sent upon a stage, pale and choking with apprehension ; being forced into an attempt to do that, without instruction, which he came purposely to learn; and furnishing amusement to his class-mates, by a pardonable awkwardness, that should be punished, in the person of his pretending but neglectful preceptor, with little less than scourging. Then visit a conservatorio of music; observe there the elementary outset, the orderly task, the masterly discipline, the unwearied superintendence, and the incessant toil to reach the utmost accomplishment in the Singing-Voice; and afterwards do not be surprised that the pulpit, the senate, the bar, and the chair of medical professorship, are filled with such abominable drawlers, mouthers, mumblers, clutterers, squeakers, chanters, and mongers in monotony; nor that the Schools of Singing are constantly sending abroad those great instances of vocal wonder who triumph along the crowded resorts of the world; why contribute to the halls of fashion and wealth their most refined source of gratification; who sometimes quell the pride of rank, by a momentary sensation of envy; and who draw forth the admiration and receive the crowning applause of the prince and sage.”-Rush.
“ The high accomplishments in Elocution are supposed to be universally the unacquired gifts of genius, and to consist of powers and 'graces beyond the reach of art.' So seem the plainest services of arithmetic to a savage; and so, to the slave, seem all the ways of music which modern art has so accurately penned, as to time, and tune, and momentary grace. Ignorance knows not what has been done; indolence thinks, nothing can be done; and both uniting, borrow from the abused eloquence of poetry an aphorism to justify supineness of inquiry.”—Ibid.
“Orthophony is, to elocution, what solfeggi and other rudimental exercises are to music: a course of elementary discipline for the systematic cultivation of the voice. We may, it is true, read well, just as we may sing well, by ear,' or the teaching of nature merely. But cultivation gives us, in both these uses of the voice, the immense advantages of knowledge, science, and skill. Furnished with these aids, and directed by discerning judgment and good taste, the cultivated reader or speaker has all the advantages of the cultivated singer, as regards the true and effective use of his organs.
“ The preparatory training and discipline of the voice, for the purpose of reading, recitation, and declamation, are of incalculable value, whether as regards the organic results connected with the easy, vigorous, and salutary exertion of the voice, or the healthy expansion of the chest, and the inspiring glow of vivid emotion, which is indispensable to effective expression. Dr. Rush's exact and scientific analysis of elocution, in its connection with the action of the organs of voice, enables the teacher to carry elementary cultivation to an extent previously unattainable, and, even yet, too little known by those who have not paid special attention to the subject. The actual benefits, however, arising from the practical applications of Dr. Rush's system, are equally felt in the exactness of intelligence which it imparts, regarding all the expressive uses of the voice, and the force, freedom, and brilliancy of effect, which it gives to the action of the vocal organs, whether in the utterance of expressive emotion, or of distinctive meaning addressed to the understanding, by the process of unimpassioned articulation.”— Russell.
“The customary routine of academic declamation consists in permitting or compelling a student to speak,' and in pointing out his faults, after they have been committed. But it offers no genial in
ducement to the exercise, and provides no preventive iraining by which faults might be avoided. Eloquence, in his habits of voice and action, a student may bring with him to our literary institutions; but he will find little opportunity, there, of acquiring or of perfecting such accomplishments, till a correct and graceful elocution is duly recognized as a part of liberal education.” – Ibid.
“ If there were no other benefits resulting from the art of reading well than the necessity it lays upon us of precisely acquiring the meaning of what we read, and the habit thence acquired of doing this with facility, both when reading silently and aloud, they would constitute a sufficient compensation for all the labor we can bestow on the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourselves and others from a clear communication of ideas and feelings, and the strong and durable impressions made thereby on the minds of the reader and audience, are considerations which give additional importance to this delightful and useful art. The perfect attainment of it doubtless requires great attention and practice, joined to extraordinary natural powers; but as there are many degrees of excellence in the art, the student whose aims fall short of perfection will find himself amply rewarded for every exertion he may think proper to make.
“ To give rules for the management of the voice in reading, by which all the necessary pauses, emphases, tones, &c., may be discovered and put into practice, is not possible. After all the directions which can be offered these points, much will remain to be taught by the living instructor: much will be attainable by no other means than the force of example influencing the imitative powers of the learner. Some rules and principles on these heads will, however, be found useful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utterance, and assist in acquiring a just and accurate mode of delivery.” — Murray.
“The faultless reader should possess for various occasions all the qualities of the voice. The organs of articulation should be subjected to such a kind and degree of exercise as will best develop their powers, and enable them to act with force, rapidity, precision, and effect. Well-directed and vigorous exercises on inflection, and the various forms of stress, will extend the compass of the voice, and render it smooth, powerful, and melodious.
“Deep notes, extended quantity, and monotone should be under the command of the reader or speaker, for the expression of overwhelming sentiments; his tremor should be under his control for the occasions of grief and exultation; his judgment and observation must decide where emphasis is to be placed; his perception and good taste must determine what inflection, form of stress, and move. ment of the voice will best express the thought; and these should at all times be obedient to his will, when occasion calls for their use.” – Tower.
“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 develop their powers, and enable them to act with rapidity, 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.” Comstock.
“The methods of practical training, founded on the theory and suggestions of Dr. Rush, are attended by a permanent salutary influence of the highest value. They produce a free and powerful exertion of the organs of respiration, a buoyancy of animal life, an exhilaration of spirits, and an energetic activity of the whole corporeal frame, -all highly conducive to the well-being of the juvenile pupil, not less than to his attainment of a spirited, effective, and graceful elocution. The correspondent benefits conferred on adults, by a vigorous course of vocal gymnastics, are of perhaps still higher moment, for the immediate purposes of life and usefulness. The sedentary habits of students and professional men render them liable not only to organic disability of utterance, and to injury of the lungs, but to numerous faults of habit in their modes of exerting the organs of speech, — faults which impair or counteract the intended effect of all their efforts in the form of public reading or speaking. The daily practice of vocal exercises is the only effectual means of invigorating the organic system, or correcting faults of habit in utterance, and the surest means, at the same time, of fortifying the inward frame against the exhausting effects of professional exertion.” — Russell.
The following movements, breathings, and exercises of the voice suitable for the school-room, by expanding the chest, quickening the circulation, and imparting energy and pliancy to the respiratory and vocal organs, are of great service in developing the student's powers of elocution.