Page images

3.— Tranquillity.
“Oh! that this lovely vale were mine!
Then, from glad youth to calm decline,

My years would gently glide ;
Hope would rejoice in endless dreams,
And Memory's oft-returning gleams

By peace be sanctified !"

[blocks in formation]

Perfect purity of tone is indispensable not only to the effect of “ subdued " force, which corresponds to the gentle style of passages marked "pianoin music, and has been exemplified in the preceding exercises, but, likewise, to that degree of force which may be termed moderate, in contradistinction to the energetic style of declamation, the bold tones of impassioned recitation, or, on the other, hand, the suppressed or softened utterance of subdued emotion. “ Moderate force” is a convenient designation of the usual utterance of didactic sentiment, in the form of essays or scientific and literary discourses, doctrinal and practical sermons, and other forms of address, not distinguished by vivid narration, graphic description, or impassioned feeling. The style of utterance in the “ moderate " force of "

“pure tone,” is gentle “expulsion,” with a clear “radical movement,” which keeps it from subsiding into mere “ effusion,” and yet does not extend to "explosion." The degree of force implied in this technical use of the word “ moderate,” is merely that which audible utterance, distinct articulation, and intelligible expression, demand for the ordinary purposes of public speaking, in those forms which address themselves to the understanding rather than the heart, and in which the speaker's great object in communication, is to be understood, rather than to be felt. “ Pure tone" is, in these circumstances, of the utmost value to easy, distinct, and appropriate utterance; and any departure from it not only jars upon the ear, but impairs the clearness of the speaker's articulation, and detracts from the proper dignity of public address,- an exercise usually implying culture and taste on the part of the speaker.

Another consideration of great moment, in connection with this branch of elocution, is the unspeakable advantage of “pure tone, as a relief to the organs of the reader or speaker. The voice which obeys the laws of 6

pure tone,
easily fills a vast space.

The organic act becomes, in such cases, a spontaneous emission of sound,

- like the act of singing, when appropriately performed, — free from every jarring, agitating, irregular impulse, and therefore not attended with labor or fatigue. The skilful public speaker, like the skilful singer, gives forth his voice in those clear, smooth, and pure tones which make the function of utterance a pleasure and not a pain, and which make organic exertion a salutary instead of an unhealthful process. It is as true of speech as of any other muscular process, that appropriate practice gives the sleight” of execution, in consequence of which, powerful and long-sustained exertion is rendered an easy task.

“ Moderate force,” as a technical designation in elocution, 'exhibits pure tone in the following gradations.

1. — “GraveStyle. The “grave” style differs from the “solemn” in the fact that the former is not marked by “effusive” or “subdued” force, but on the contrary, assumes something of the “expulsive" tone of firmness and authority, although in a gentle and moderate style. The “grave” style differs farther from the “ solemn,” in not descending to so low a pitch,- as solemnity is not so deep-toned in its utterance as awe, nor awe so deep as horror. The disturbing cause which usually vitiates the purity of tone in

style, is a false, hollow, pectoral voice, which merely murmurs in the chest, without coming forth impressively to the ear. The deep effect of solemnity, or the sepulchral tone of horror, is, in this way, sometimes produced instead of the moderate character of a merely “grave

utterance. The learner, after having practised the example of "grave" style, should repeat, in that tone, all the “ tonic" elements,then, a selection from the tabular exercises on words; so as to acquire a perfect command of the force and pitch of "grave" style, as differing from the “ solemn,” on the one hand, and from the “ serious," on the other.

“ grave


ETERNITY OF God.- Greenwood. “The Throne of Eternity is a throne of mercy and love: God has permitted and invited us to repose ourselves and our hopes on that which alone is everlasting and unchangeable. We shall shortly finish our allotted time on earth, even if it should be unusually prolonged. We shall leave behind us all which is now familiar and beloved ; and a world of other days and other men will be entirely ignorant that once we lived. But the same unalterable Being will still preside over the universe, through all its changes; and from his remembrance we shall never be blotted. We can never be where He is not, nor where he sees and loves and upholds us not. He is our Father and our God forever. He takes us from earth, that He may lead us to heaven, that He may refine our nature from all its principles of corruption, share with us His own immortality, admit us to His everlasting habitation, and crown us with His eternity.”

2.—“SeriousStyle. This form of utterance differs from the preceding, in not possessing so low a pitch. It is a still milder form of the same general effect. The fault usually exhibited in “serious” style, is nearly the same with that mentioned above: it substitutes the deep and full-toned notes of the “grave" style for the moderate and less-marked character of the merely “ serious.” The purity of tone, in this style, is usually marred by the same cause as in the preceding instance of the “grave” utterance. The beauty and gentleness of the tone of serious feeling, are thus lost; and the "expression” is untrue to the intended effect.

The following example requires attention and careful practice, to preserve its exact pitch and appropriate force.

When the "serious” tone has come fully under the student's command, by practice on the exercise subjoined, the repetition of the elements, syllables, and words, will serve to fix it definitely in the memory.


THE BEAUTY OF VIRTUE. Blair. “ There is no virtue without a characteristic beauty to

make it particularly loved of the good, and to make the bad ashamed of their neglect of it. To do what is right, argues superior taste as well as morals; and those whose practice is evil, feel an inferiority of intellectual power and enjoyment, even where they take no concern for a principle.

“Doing well has something more in it than the fulfilling of a duty. It is the cause of a just sense of elevation of character; it clears and strengthens the spirits; it gives higher reaches of thought; it widens our benevolence, and makes the current of our peculiar affections swift and deep."

3.-"Animated," or Lively, Style. This mode of voice differs, in three respects, from the “ serious :" it has more force, a higher pitch, and a quicker movement; and the comparatively greater force renders the purity of the tone still more conspicuous.

The common fault, as regards this style, is a dull or deadened tone, instead of that of animation. The dulness of the objectionable tone, arises from keeping the pitch as low, perhaps, as that of the “serious ?

tone, from withholding the due force of animated utterance, and from allowing the voice to move too slowly. Along with these faults usually goes an impure, husky quality of voice, instead of the clear resonant sound which belongs to animation of manner.

It is unnecessary to expatiate on the effects of a style so obviously bad as that of dulness and monotony. In consequence of indulging this habit, the school-boy reads with the tone of apparent reluctance, indifference, or stupor, and the man speaks as if his intention were to lull his audience to sleep. The origin of this false tone is to be found in the fact that elementary teachers too generally permit reading to be dull work, and that reading-books abound in dull or unintelligible lessons. The tones of life and interest, are not cultivated and cherished at the period when the style of the voice is forming; and neglected habit is attended, here, as elsewhere, with every evil : the voice is killed; the spirits are quenched; and the reader or speaker has apparently neither will nor power to awaken his own soul to perception and feeling, nor to arouse the hearts of others.

The following example should be attentively practised with reference to liveiy and spirited effect.

The exercise in "animated” utterance should be extended, as a matter of practice, to the elementary sounds, and to the repetition of the tables of words as far, and as often, as individuals or classes may seem to require.



ANIMAL HAPPINESS. Paley. “ The air, the earth, the water, teem with delighted exist

In a spring noon, or a summer evening, on whichever side we turn our eyes, myriads of happy beings crowd upon our view.

• The insect youth are on the wing.' Swarms of new-born flies are trying their pinions in the air. Their sportive motions, their gratuitous activity, their continual change of place, without use or purpose, testify their joy, and the exultation which they feel in their lately discovered faculties.”

4.-"Gay," or Brisk, Style. This mode of utterance has all the characteristics of the “ animated” style, carried to a greater extent. The tone to which we now refer, being that of exhilarated feeling, its piich is higher, its force is greater, and its “movement” quicker than that of an utterance, which, as in the preceding instance, does not go beyond the style of animation or liveliness, merely.

Gaiety and vividness of expression, are, in their proper sphere, as important to appropriate effect in reading, as any of the opposite qualities of seriousness and gravity are in theirs. without these properties of voice, give natural expression to many of the most pleasing forms of composition, — to such, in particular, as derive their power over sympathy, from their presenting to us what the poet has termed “ the gayest, happiest attitude of things,' or from the glowing and exhilarating colors in which language sometimes delights to invest the forms of thought. Dramatic scenes, sketches of life and manners, vivid delineations of character, all demand the utterance of exhilarated emotion. Unaided by the effect of such expression, the finest compositions fall flat and dead upon the ear, and leave our feelings unmoved or disappointed.

The lifeless routine of school habit, is too generally the early cause of the formation of such tones ; and the chief expedient for removing them, is to enter, with full life and spirit, into the sentiments and emotions which we utter in reading.

The practice of the following and similar examples, should be carefully watched, with a view to this end; and the exercise of brisk and exhilarated utterance, should be repeatedly practised on the elements, syllables, and words contained in the tables, as a means of fixing definitely and permanently in the ear the requisite properties of voice. The learner is imperfect in practice, as long as there

We can never,

« PreviousContinue »