Page images
PDF
EPUB

force upon an emphatic word, you fail unless you give that word its proper stress.

PITCH, TIME, SLIDE.

Good readers do not pitch their voice as high as poor ones, nor do they read as rapidly as poor ones. Guard against these two errors. In any sentence where a doubt is indicated use the rising slide, in other cases the falling. · When in doubt concerning which should be used, always use the downward slide.

GRAMMATICAL AND RHETORICAL PAUSES.

No definite idea can be formed of the exact length of pauses. The reader must be governed wholly by the style of the selection. The rhetorical pause has a power that all public speakers and readers soon learn. We give this one general rule. Before every important word or sentence, make a pause. Silence always commands attention; having gained that, the word or sentence will fall with double weight.

POSITION, ACTION, GESTURE.

Gesture can be taught, and can be learned. History has confirmed this assertion many times. Nor will a person's gestures be necessarily mechanical, because he has attained the elements of true grace and action by studying the best models. One might as reasonably argue that the rules of grammar and rhetoric tend to crample a man's language, as that taught gestures tend to promote stiffness and mannerism. Gesture can be learned by careful study and practice; yet I would state here that gesture must be natural, and consistent throughout.

Let the position be erect, the eyes not set, nor elevated too much, and the body kept firm. Guard against making too many gestures; and though enthusiasm is the great secret of success, be not carried away with it. One gesture marks one idea. The palm of the hand should generally be turned

ELOCUTION AND DECLAMATION.

15

toward the audience. The hand should leave the body more closed than when it strikes the position Avoid all angular movements, ever keep a circle in mind. At times, the hand may be placed on certain parts of the body to mark important thoughts. There is a power, a beauty, in gesture. Cultivate it and learn its mighty force.

EXPRESSION.

The countenance is the index of the mind. Horace has said, “ Nature forms us first within to all the outward circumstances of fortune.” The thought should be expressed upon the countenance ere the words are spoken. Certain attitudes

may

be assumed at times to more fully express the idea.

PERSONATION.

The importance of personation is ofttimes overlooked. It forms a leading feature in all critical reading. You must first clearly understand the character you wish to personate; then you must study the peculiarities of such a character; and your work, then, is to imitate true to life. Action, which includes position, gesture and expression, forms an important element in personation. Numerous examples in personation will be found under Part Second, so we will cite none here.

THE INTERJECTION.

The interjection indicates a sigh, groan, surprise, fear, or some sudden emotion of the mind.

It is not necessary always to give the sound indicated by the letters expressed. Simply a sigh generally expresses what the writer intends to convey by the words, Oh! and Ah! yet in some cases a scream should be given.

We cite a few sentences below for class and individual practice. They form a fine elocutionary drill for concert exercises. We leave the student to determine the emphatic words, the slide, and the tones of voice.

EXERCISES.

(1.) “ The glad cry of victory, cheer upon cheer.” (2.) “ Here sleeps he now alone.” (3.) “I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him." (4.) “ Have you forgotten, General,” the battered soldier cried,

The days of eighteen hundred twelve, when I was at your

side." (5.) “ Tell father when he comes from work, I said good night to

him.”

6

(6.) “And hark! the deep voices replying

From the graves where your fathers are lying :

Swear! Oh! swear!'" (7.) “I will not, must not, dare not grant your wish."

(8.) “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying: 'Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.''

(9.) “I would uncover the breathless corpse of Hamilton; I would take from his wound the bloody mantle, and would hold it up to Heaven before them; and I would ask-in the name of God I would ask, whether, at sight of it, they felt no compunction.” (10.) " Signor Antonio, many a time and oft,

In the Rialto you have rated me

About my moneys and my usances. (11.) “Grant me but one day-an hour.” (12.) “Sink or swim, live or die, I am for the declaration." (13.) “ See how the timbers crash beneath his feet !

0, which way now is left for his retreat ?”

TRUE ELOQUENCE.-Webster.

(14.) When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions are excited, nothing is valuable, in speech, farther than it is connected with high, intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force, and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence indeed does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in

ELOCUTION AND DECLAMATION,

17

vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but
they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject,
and in the occasion.
Subdued Example.
(15.) “If you're waking, call me early, call me early, mother

dear,
For I would see the sun rise upon the glad New-Year,
It is the last New-Year that I shall ever see,
Then you may lay me low in the mould and think no more of me.
To-night I saw the sun set! he set and left behind
The good old year, the dear old time, and all my peace of mind,
And the New-Year's coming up, mother, but I shall never see
The blossom on the blackthorn, the leaf upon the tree.”

From the Merchant of Venice.

(16.) PORTIA. Do you confess the bond ?
ANTONIO. I do.
PORTIA. Then must the Jew be merciful.
SHYLOCK. On what compulsion must I ? Tell me that.
PORTIA. The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd ;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes ;
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The thronéd monarch better than his crown;
It is enthronéd in the hearts of kings ;
It is an attribute of God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.”

HINTS TO TEACHERS.

To be successful in teaching elocution, one must be able to throw life and enthusiasm in the class. This can be reached by no better means than through the medium of concert exercises. These will inspire confidence, and by this means, will the teacher succeed in bringing out the voices of the class. Too great an amount of matter is frequently passed over by classes. Sparticus” will alone afford any class material for several weeks' study. Yet classes need

66

variety; a whole recitation should never be spent on a single selection. The sentences given at the close of the introduction will aid the teacher in securing variety. Other directions will be found under the head of “ Voice," “ Embarrassment,” “ Action,” etc.

Concerning the study of colloquies, this thought should be borne in mind by the student: that he must forget self and live for the time in that character. Too great stress cannot be placed upon action and position in producing colloquies on the stage at school exhibitions.

« PreviousContinue »