Page images
PDF
EPUB

768.
How sweetly slow the liquid lay
In holy hallelujahs rose.

769.
Let lords and ladies laugh and sing
As loudly and as light;
We beggars too can dance and fling
Dull care a distant flight.

770.
Ruin seize thee ruthless king.

771.
Around the hearth the crackling faggots blaze.

772.
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
The armed rhinoceros, the Hyrcan tiger.

773.
The master current of her mind,

Ran permanent and free. After the pupil has sufficiently practised the utterance of the various sounds of vowels and consonants, both separately and in combination, it is recommended that he daily exercise himself in reading or speaking with all his powers of loudness and force. This habit will contribute much to the acquisition of strength of voice. But above all, let him remember that distinctness of articulation is of the utmost importance in utterance; and that a weak voice with this quality can be heard and understood at a much greater distance than a strong one without it.

Again; the pupil will find much benefit in the practice of swelling and diminishing the power of his voice. For this purpose let him begin a long sentence softly, slowly, and in a low tone, and gradually swell his voice in pitch, power, and rapidity, till he has attained the utmost extent of those qualities of which it is susceptible; and then let it descend and fade away by degrees till it becomes almost imperceptible.

And, lastly, reading with rapidity, (simply as an exercise of the voice,) will contribute much to the ease and

power of utterance. But the pupil must never allow his words to pass from his mouth indistinctly. How rapidly soever he may read, as an exercise, he must be careful to give each syllable and each letter its distinct appropriate sound.

To these directions for the improvement of the voice, may be added the caution, to open the mouth when speaking, in such a manner as to afford an easy passage for the sound. Many persons have contracted a habit of reading and speaking with the lips compressed in such a manner as entirely to alter the tone of the voice and destroy its distinctness of utterance. This caution must be particularly regarded by all who aim at excellence in the ART OF READING.

An eminent writer mentions four different kinds of voice; namely, the NATURAL, the FALSETTE, the WHISPERING, and the OROTUND, which are thus described :

The NATURAL VOICE is that which we employ in ordi. nary speaking.

The FALSETTE is that peculiar voice in which the higher degrees of pitch are made, after the natural voice breaks, or outruns its power. The cry, scream, yell, and all shrillness, are various modes of the falsette.

The WHISPERING voice needs no description; but it may be observed that some persons are endowed with such clearness and distinctness in this kind of voice, that they can make themselves heard at a great distance when speaking in this way.

By the OROTUND voice is meant that natural or improved manner of uttering the elements, which exhibits them with a fulness, clearness, strength, smoothness, and a ringing or musical quality, rarely heard in ordinary speech; but which is never found in its highest excellence, except through long and careful cultivation.

In conclusion, it may be stated, that all who aim at excellence as Readers and Speakers, should endeavour to attain this last described quality of voice. For their encouragement it may be added, that it has frequently been acquired by those whose voices were naturally weak and ineffective—and that no one, therefore, should despair of the attainment;—for WHAT MAN HAS DONE, MAN CAN DO.

EXERCISES FOR READING.

PARALLEL BETWEEN POPE AND DRYDEN.

774. Pope professed to have learned his poetry from Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was presented, he praised through his whole life with unvaried liberality; and perhaps his character may receive some illustration, if he be compared with his master.

Integrity of understanding, and nicety of discernment, were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden than to Pope. The rectitude of Dryden's mind was sufficiently shown by the dismission of his poetical prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and professed to write, merely for the people, and when he pleased others, he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers; he never attempted to make that better which was already good, not often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little consideration; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind; for when he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude.

775. Pope was not content to satisfy; he desired to excel, and therefore always endeavoured to do his best; he did not court the candour, but dared the judgment of his reader, and, expecting no indulgence from others, he showed none to himself. He examined lines and words with minute and punctilious observation, and retouched every part with indefatigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven.

a

For this reason he kept his pieces very long in his hands, while he considered and reconsidered them. The only poems which can be supposed to have been written with such regard to the times as might hasten their publi. cation, were the two satires of Thirty-eight : of which Dodsley told me that they were brought to him by the author, that they might be fairly copied. “Every line," said he, was then written twice over; I

gave

him clean transcript, which he sent sometime afterwards to me for the press, with every line written twice over a second time.”

776. His declaration, that his care for his works ceased at their publication, was not strictly true. His parental attention never abandoned them: what he found amiss in the first edition, he silently corrected in those that followed. He appears to have revised the Iliad, and freed it from some of its imperfections, and the Essay on Criticism received many improvements after its first appearance. It will seldom be found that he altered without adding clearness, elegance, or vigour. Pope had perhaps the judgment of Dryden; but Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope.

777. In acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more extensive circumference of science. Dryden knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation, and those of Pope by minute attention. There is more dignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope.

778. Poetry was not the sole praise of either; for both excelled likewise in prose; but Pope did not borrow his prose from his predecessor. The style of Dryden is capricious and varied; that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind. Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid ; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.

779. Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet; that quality without which judgment is cold, and knowledge is inert ; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates; the superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred that of this poetical vigour Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more; for every other writer since Milton must give place to Pope; and even of Dryden it must be said, that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. Dryden's performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestic necessity; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What his mind could supply at call,.or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought, and all that he gave. The dilatory caution of Pope enabled him to condense his sentiments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce, or chance might supply. If the flights of Dryden, therefore, are higher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden's fire the blaze is brighter, of Pope's the heat is more regular and constant. Dryden often surpasses expectation, and Pope never falls below it. Dryden is read with frequent astonishment, and Pope with perpetual delight.

This parallel will, I hope, when it is well considered, be found just: and if the reader should suspect me, as I suspect myself, of some partial fondness for the memory of Dryden, let him not too hastily condemn me ; for meditation and inquiry may, perhaps, show him the reasonableness of my determination.-Johnson.

CHARACTER OF COLUMBUS.

780. A peculiar trait in his rich and varied character, remains to be noticed; that ardent and enthusiastic imagination, which threw a magnificence over his style of thinking. Herrera intimates that he had a talent for poetry, and some slight traces of it are on record, in the book of prophecies, which he presented to the Catholic sovereigns. But his poetical temperament is discernible throughout

« PreviousContinue »