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READINGS FROM RICHARD III
Volumnia, the mother of Caius Marcius, in scenes imagined to
The pride of the patrician orders, and the factious character
READINGS FROM ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
AUDIBLE READER OF THE FOLLOWING PAGES.
All that the following pages present to the eye has been prepared with a view to audible reading; and there is nothing which is not meant to be so read, except the name of the person before each speech, and the suggestion every now and then for a pause: and these are kept separate from what is to be uttered aloud, by being placed in brackets. Dispensing with the technical stage directions found in play-books, and with all formal introduction of the persons speaking, other than is supplied by the context, or by descriptive passages not included in brackets, the reader is left to his own resources to make his audience understand the business of every passing scene, and imagine the circumstances necessary to its interest. That he may accomplish this, the description and dialogue are so arranged, that, with very little change of voice and manner, such as can hardly fail to suggest itself to even a reader of moderate powers, every speech will be easily recognised as proper alone to the person who is supposed to utter it. And this effect which, as the several Readings are arranged, will be found within the scope of only ordinary ability, may be exceedingly heightened by a reader who has the power of discriminating character and passion, and will take some pains to prepare himself for each reading, so as not to be compelled to keep his eye constantly on the page. In this case, holding the book freely in one hand, or placing it on a
desk, he will use his eyes and his hands to assist his voice, and produce the desired effect on the imagination of his auditors. The hand, for instance, may mark the relative place of each speaker in the dialogue ;-it may point out, in conjunction with the looks, the side at which a new speaker enters; and some of the gesture, or special actions, which the imagined speaker's words imply, may accompany the representative delivery-as the pointing up or down, or to an object distantly descried ; not to mention whatever passionate action the language may require, without “o'erstepping the modesty of nature," or quite converting reading into acting. The (pauses] so denoted will, it is hoped, supply many opportunities for expressive look or gesture; and where these are not needed, it is expected that the short silence itself will suggest a something that may advantageously be imagined to take place, before the dialogue recommences.
To read Shakspeare we'l, it is indispensable that the exquisite rhythm of his blank verse should be felt, and that, being enforced by the reader, the delivery should nevertheless have the easy, and apparently inartificial drift of unpremeditated prose. As this volume is meant for young persons as well as others, some pains have been taken, by extra apostrophes and other marks, to assist the reader in meeting these demands of practical prosody; and that they may not perplex, or be mistaken, a few observations are subjoined.
First be it noticed, that except the elisions usual in the pronunciation of our language, many of which have their actual correspondent elisions in print,* the marks are not
* For instance the e in the preterit and participle, when it is actually sunk, as in lov’d, pleas'd, begg's. But the written contraction as being unnecessary, is not made, the e being always audibly ab. sent, in the termination of such words as envied, pitied, denied, supplied,