Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

way, so far as to preclude some variety above or below, to correspond with natural delivery.

In the second place, I would advise him to read passages where the sentiment and style are specially adapted to the purpose he has in view. If he wishes to cultivate the bottom of his voice, selections from narrative or didactic composition may be made, which will allow him to begin a new sentence, in a note nearly as low, as that in which he finished the preceding. Or he may take passages of poetry, in which the simile occurs, a figure that generally requires a low and equable movement of voice.

If he wishes to increase bis compass on the higher notes, let him choose passages in which spirited emotion prevails ; especially such as have a succession of interrogative sentences. These will incline the voice, spontaneously, to adopt those elevated tones on which he wishes to cultivate its strength. Instead of giving examples here to illustrate these principles, I refer the reader to EXERCISES, [24] where a few selections are made for this purpose.

25] Sect. 7.--Transition.

By this I mean those sudden changes of voice which often occur in delivery. This article, and those which follow upon modulation, are chiefly intended to combine and apply the principles of the preceding sections. The whole object is, to elucidate that one, standing law of delivery, that vocal tones should correspond, in variety, with sentiment; in contradistinction from monotony, and from that variety which is either accidental or mechanical. In

this spontaneous coincidence, by which the voice changes its elevation, rate, strength, &c. in conformity with emotion, consists that excellence which is universally felt and admired, in the manner of a good speaker.

To designate these changes, besides the rhetorical marks already employed to denote inflection, it will be necessary to adopt several new ones; and the following may answer the purpose; signifying that the voice is to be modified, in reading what follows the marks respectively thus : (°) high.

(6) low. high and loud.

(oo) low and loud. slow.

(1) rhetorical pause. plaintive. In respect to the five first, when one of them occurs, it must be left to the reader's taste to determine how far its influence extends in what follows. In respect to this mark ( - ) it may be used to signify a considerable protraction of sound on that syllable, which precedes it, and then it will be inserted in the course of the line, without brackets.

EXAMPLES.

[ocr errors]

Heaven and earth will witness,
If ROME • MUST .. FALL that we are innocent.

-Thus these two,
Imparadis'd in one another's arms,
The happier Eden, shall enjoy-

-while I to HELL • am thrust. When the same mark is designed to signify that a passage is to be uttered with a slow rate, it will be inserted thus () where that passage begins,—the extent of its influence being left to the reader's taste; or it may be com

bined with another mark, thus, ( 3 ) which would signify low and slow.

I beg leave to add, that as the utility of this notation may be doubted by some, and as I am not sanguine respecting it myself, it is suggested only as an experiment, on a most difficult branch of elocution. If applied with judgment, it may be useful; and it will at least be harmless to those who choose to pass it by.*

I proceed now to explain myself more fully on the subject of vocal transition, admonishing the reader, that, in the examples, and in the Exercises, a word in Italic has the common emphasis, while small capitals are occasionally used to denote a still more intensive stress.

Any one who has a good command of his voice, can use it with a higher or lower, a stronger or feebler note, at pleasure. This distinction is perfectly made, (as I have said before,) even by a child, in speaking to one who is near, and to one who is distant. In rhetorical reading, when we pass from simple narrative to direct address, especially when the address is to distant persons, a correspondent transition of voice is demanded. Many examples of this sort may be found in the Paradise Lost, from which the following are selected :

-The cherubim,
Forth issuing at the accustom'd hour, stood arm'd
To their night watches, in warlike paráde,

When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake :
() Uzziel ! || half these draw off, and coast the south,

With strictest watch ;-these other, ll wheel the north ;
Our circuit meets full west.

* Since the first edition was published, I have become satisfied that no part of the book is more adapted to be useful than this.

Every reader of taste will perceive, that the three last lines, in this case, must be spoken in a much bolder and higher voice than the preceding.

Another fine example may be seen in the sublime description of Satan, which ends with a speech to his associates, full of authority and reprehension. It is so long, that I shall give only parts of it, sufficient to show the transition.

( :-)He scarce had ceas'd, when the superior fiend

Was moving tow'rd the shère ; his pond'rous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon.-

-on the beach
Of that inflamed sea he stood, || and call's
His legions, angel forms ;
He call'd so loud that all the hollow deep
Of hell .. resounded. (0) Prínces,- Potentátes,
WA'RRIORS! || the flower of heaven, once yours, now lòst -
If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal spirits.-

Here again, where the thought changes, from description to vehement address, to continue the voice in the simple tones of narrative, would be intolerably tame. It should rise to a higher and firmer utterance, on the passage beginning with, “ Princes --Potentates," &c.

In these cases, the change required consists chiefly in key and quantity. But there are other cases, in which these may be included, while the change consists also in the qualities of the voice.

It was remarked [10] p. 54, that tender emotions, such as pity and grief, incline the voice to gentle tones, and the rising slide; while emotions of joy, sublimity, authority, &c. conform the tones to their own character respectively. It is where this difference of emotion occurs in the same connexion, that the change I have mentioned in the quality of voice, is demanded, analogous to the difference between plaintive and spirited expression, or piano and forte, in music. To illustrate this I select two stanzas from a hymn of Watts, and two from a psalm ; one being pathetic and reverential, the other animated and lively. These stanzas I arrange alternately, so as to exhibit the alternation of voice required by sentiment.*

(0) Alas! and did my Savior bléed ?

And did my Sovereign die ?
Would he devote that sacred head,
For such a worm as 'I ?

(°°) Joy to the world !-the Lòrd is come!

Let earth receive her King;
Let every heàrt prepare him room,

And heav'n and nature sing.
(Was it for crimes that I had done,

He groan'd upon the trée ?
Ama .. zing pity! grace unknown !
And love || beyond degree !

(0) Joy to the earth! the Sàvior reigns !

Let men thèir songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hilis, and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy.

* In the first and third, the voice should be plaintive and soft, as well as high.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »