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or of withholding from you the credit which ought to be given to painstaking and earnest effort.
You will thus see how important it is never to consider any of these little matters too insignificant for your careful and constant attention. Depend upon this, you will find that it will only be by the faithful study of what some people would call the small details that success in any department of life is secured. “Rome was not built in a day,” it is often said, neither is perfection in any department of life attained all at once. Speaking of the celebrated painter, Vigneul Marville says :
" When I was at Rome I frequently saw Claude, who was then patroniscal by the most eminent persons in that city ; I frequently met him on the banks of the Tiber, or wandering in the neighbourhood of Rome, amidst the venerable remains of antiquity. He was then an old man, yet I have seen him returning from his walk with his handkerchief filled with mosses, flowers, stones, etc., that he inight consider them at home with that indefatigable attention which rendered him so exact a copier of nature. I asked him one day by what means he arrived at such an excellency of character among painters in Italy. 'I spare no pains whatever, even in the minutest trifles,' was the modest reply of this venerable genius.” With these preliminary remarks, let us now proceed to notice some of the principal
RULES FOR GOOD DELIVERY. Every sensible person will be prepared, we think, at once to acknowledge that there must be some rules for good reading and speaking, just as we know there are rules for writing correctly. It is quite true that each person may, and indeed ought, to have a special style of his own, both as to what he says, and how he says it; yet, as in writing all are bound to observe certain general rules, and also to conform to well-recognised essentials in the mode of spelling, writing, constructing sentences, &c.—so in speaking or reading there are rules to which all must be willing to conform, if they wish to be considered qualified to command respect or secure attention.
What does the word ELOCUTION itself strictly mean? The art of delivering either written or extemporaneous composition with proper effect, perfect ease, and suitable effort or energy. Bell says, " The art of reading and speaking with expressive
distinctness constitutes what is now called elocution.” If this is correct, it follows that everyone who wishes to succeed with proper effect, perfect ease, suitable energy, or expressive dis. tinctness, must be willing to do all that is possible to conform to the best rules. To some of these we now briefly call attention.
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING.—No one rightly understand or deliver a piece with proper effect which is beyond the reach of the natural powers of the mind, or the habits of thought peculiar to his being. Hence Horace wisely says :“Examine well, ye writers (or readers), weigh with care
What suits your genius ; what your strength will bear." Before attempting either to read or recite in public you must be willing to devote special attention to reading over and over, and yet over and over again, the piece you select, and never attempt to appear in public until you feel sure you fully under. stand the author's meaning, or can realise as completely as pos. sible, and to the fullest extent, the main points upon which he dwells. In this way the subject will in reality become your own, and you will be able to do justice to its requirements. Remember, he who undertakes either to instruct or amuse others, and in this way to enlighten and influence them, practi. cally offers the results of his own efforts and study. It must be evident, therefore, that, the more complete his own knowledge and application, the better will be his chances of accomplishing, his purpose. This habit of patient and persistent effort must become a regular thing with all who desire to excel. It is only by thus carefully and patiently reflecting on the subject in all its aspects that anyone can prepare properly to read or recite to others. It is related of Newton, the great astronomer, that when he was asked the secret of the discoveries he made so far beyond any of his fellow-men, he answered—“By thinking."
Never for a moment suppose that just a casual perusal will be sufficient. You must study words if you are to realise in all its fulness the hidden meaning of many an author. Dean Trench has beautifully illustrated this in his valuable little book on the "Study of Words,” and you cannot do better than make that one of your books of reference. It is said that an
eminent actor studied Hamlet ten years, and to this he owed his great success in depicting the character with so much perfection and power.
In like manner, if you wish correctly to interpret the utterances of others yourself, and so be qualified to convey a like impression to others, you must study assiduously the words-yea, every word-ere you will be able to thoroughly realise the fulness of the meaning of much which they have written.
Can anything be more ridiculous than to hear any person trying to recite or read a piece which he evidently does not understand-using words like a parrot, which do not convey to his own mind any clear or intelligent idea ? Is it likely to be very distinct to his hearers ? It is like listening to a would-be musician trying to play a first-class piece of music, before he has ever mastered the difficulty of playing an ordinary tune with care and precision. Even intelligent critics will always prefer to listen to the honest efforts of anyone whom they perceive doing his best with what he evidently understands, while they will smile with contempt at the vanity and conceit of the make-believe. The secret of success lies in the fact of your possessing, and also knowing you possess, the author's conception. This is the surest way of catching the inspiration which is needful to render you able to give it expression in the best possible manner. This will also of necessity prompt you to copy the inflections, tones, and variations of the voice requisite to produce the most natural effect in the easiest manner, and in this way make the subject actually live before your hearers in all the vivid reality of an embodied fact.
Remember, as we have said, it is not enough to read good writers. They must be carefully studied.
Every passage should be well and earnestly considered. The painter does not rest satisfied with a single look at a fine picture, does he ? No! He carefully examines its design and its execution. He seeka to know why it gives pleasure, and how such an effect has been produced. It is in this way, also, his own taste is improved, as it becomes assimilated with the excellences of those he tries to become acquainted with. It is so with music. No one expects, by just running over a piece carelessly once or twice, to be able to render it as períectly as those who, by continous effort, master every part. It is only the student and worker that have any right to expect to succeed in attaining anything like perfection, or even moderate success. And even when you have done all this, you will discover that you will require to exercise your good sense, sagacity, and especially tact. You will need your good sense to see things in their true light, or in the most favourable aspects, so as to bring out in prominence the best and most attractive parts, and to leave in the shade whatever may not aid you in making the subject interesting. But to do this with neatness, clearness, and effect, something more than a hasty glance, or an imperfect knowledge of the subject you wish to read, will be needful, in order to attain a calm and well-conceived idea of the real merits of the author's intention, and also of the manner with which he has been enabled to put into words the thoughts of his mind. To realise this you must be willing to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” your subject until it practically becomes part and parcel of your very being. Hence we most earnestly press upon you the vast and indeed the paramount importance of resolving to
2. CAREFULLY STUDY THE IMPORTANT WORDS OF EACH PIECE YOU SELECT.-If you do this it will help you to realise where to place the proper emphasis. Indeed, if you do not, much of the meaning will be lost to yourself, and of course you will not be able to convey it with proper effect to your listeners. Never consider any time lost or effort wasted in seeking thus to thoroughly understand what you wish to recite. Read over and over again slowly and carefully every word, and pause now and then to ask yourself, “Do I know what that sentence means ?” or “Do I know the proper meaning of each of those words ?” If you have the slightest doubt, get a dictionary and see what it has to say, or even ask some intelligent friend if your impressions about it are right.
It may, perhaps, help you to understand the importance of doing this, if you will read over slowly the following, and place the emphasis on the word in each line marked in italics :
Did you walk home to-day ?
You will see that the meaning is actually altered each time you alter the place upon which you lay the stress. Every kind of writing is governed by this law, and it is only by the greatest care and attention you will be able to find out where you
should place the emphasis properly. To deliver one word after another without, would be like expecting to make the same sound on a musical instrument produce the effect of a tune on the minds of those who heard it.
The poet Churchill has very happily illustrated the absurdity of this in the following lines on
vigour on the nervous line ;
HE, SHE, IT, AND, WE, YE, THEY, fright the soul. Bishop Burnet, in his injunction to young ministers, well says:
The great rule which the masters of rhetoric so much press can never be enough remembered, that to make a man speak well and pronounce with a right emphasis, he ought thoroughly to understand all that he says, be fully persuaded of it, and bring himself to have those affections which he desires to infuse into others. He that is inwardly persuaded of the truth of what he says, and that hath a concern about it in his mind, will pronounce with a natural vehemence that is far more lively than all the strains that art can lead to. An orator must endeavour to feel what he says, and then he will speak so as to make others feel.
This may, perhaps, be even better realised if we quote the testimony of“ Chambers's Encyclopædia,” where, in the article on “Reading and Speaking,” among other useful things, it is said :
The first requisite for effective reading is a clear conception of the author's intentions, together with such a command