« VorigeDoorgaan »
-Thou slare! thou wretch! thou coward !
And hang a calf's skin on those recreant limbs. Or where the duke of Suffolk, in Henry the Sixth, curses the objects of his hatred :
-Poison be their drink,
Instructions for acquiring high Tones of Voice. When we would strengthen the voice in a higher note, it will be necessary to practise such passages as reqire a high tone of voice: and if we find the voice grow thin, or approach to a squeak upon the high note, it will be proper to swell the voice a little below this high note, and to give it force and audibility, by throwing it into a sameness of tone approaching the monotone. A passage in the oration of Demosthenes on the crown will be an excellent praxis on this tone :
What was the part of a faithful citizen ? of a prudent, an active, and honest minister ? Was he not to secure Eubæa, as our defence against all attacks by sea ? Was he not to make Bæotia our barrier on the midland side? the cities bordering on Peloponnesus our bulwark on that quarter? Was he not to attend with due precaution to the importation of corn, that this trade might be protected through all its progress up to our own harbour ? Was he not to cover those districts which we commanded by seasonable detachments, as the Proconesus, the Chersonesus, and Tenedos i to exert himself in the assembly for this purpose? while with equal zeal he laboured to gain others to our interest and alliance, as Byzantium, Abydos, and Eubæa ? Was he not to cut off the best and most important resources of our enemies, and to supply those in which our country was defective ! And all this you gained by my counsels and my administration.
Leland's Demosthenes on the Crown. It will naturally occur to every judicious reader, that this series of questions ought to rise gradually in force as they proceed, and therefore it will be necessary to keep the voice under at the beginning ; to which this observation may be added, that as the rising inflection ought to be adopted on each question, the voice will be very apt to get too high near the end; for which purpose it will be necessary to swell the voice a little below its highest pitch ; and if we cannot rise with ease and clearness on every particular to the last, we ought to augment the force on each, that the whole may form a species of climax.
Instructions for the Management of the Voice. As the voice naturally slides into a higher tone, when we want to speak louder; but not so easily into a lower tone, when we would speak more softly : the first care of every reader and speaker ought to be, to acquire a power of lowering the voice when it is got too high. Experience shows us, that we can raise our voice at pleasure to any pitch it is capable of; but the same experience tells us, that it requires infinite art and practice to bring the voice to a lower key when it is once raised too high. It ought therefore to be a first principle with all public readers and speakers, rather to begin under the common level of their voice than above it.
Every one, therefore, who would acquire a variety of tone in public reading or speaking, must avoid, as the greatest evil, a loud and vociferous beginning; and for this purpose it would be prudent in a reader or speaker to adapt his voice as if only to be heard by the person who is nearest to him : if his voice has natural strength, and the subject any thing impassioned in it, a higher and louder tone will insensibly steal on him; and his greatest address must be directed to keeping it within bounds. For this purpose, it will be frequently necessary for him to recall his voice, as it were, from the extremities of his auditory, and direct it to those who are nearest to him. This it will be proper to do almost at the beginning of every paragraph in reading, and at the introduction of every part of the subject in discourse. Nothing will so powerfully work on the voice, as supposing ourselves conversing at different intervals with different parts of the auditory.
If, in the course of reading, the voice should slide into a higher tone, and this tone should too often recur, care must be taken to throw in a variety, by beginning subsequent sentences in a lower tone, and, if the subject will admit of it, in a monotone ; for the monotone, it is presumed, is the most efficacious means of bringing the voice from high to low, and of altering it when it has been too long in the same key. This may appear paradoxical to those who have not studied the subject ; but if every sentence begins high and
ends low, or inversely, though the sentences singly considered will have a variety, yet, if considered collectively, they will have a sameness ; so, by commencing sometimes with a monotone, though this monotone may have a sameness, yet, as associated with other tones, it will certainly augment the variety. Grand, solemn, awful subjects, admit best of the monotone : a beautiful example of this offers itself in Akenside's Pleasures of Imagination, on the power of novelty :
What need words
Each trembling beart with grateful terrors quell’d. In reading this passage the voice ought to assume a lower tone, approaching to a monotone, at the word hence, and to continue this tone for about two lines, when the voice will gradually go into a little variety, and slide into a somewhat higher tone; it must again fall into a lower tone; and be in a monotone at of shapes that walk at dead of night, &c. and continue in this tone, with very little alteration, to the end of the sentence. The rest of the passage must preserve the lower tone, and be pronounced so as to be in some measure descriptive of those pleasing, anxious terrours, so finely painted by the poet.
If we are speaking extempore, and want to lower the voice, we ought, if possible, to introduce some passion that naturally assumes a lower tone, such as scorn, indignation, &c. Let us try to illustrate this by an example:
Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Shakspeare's Julius Cæsar. The beginning of this speech naturally carries the voice into a high tone, and, the same passion continuing, there is no opportunity of lowering the voice till the eighth line, when indignation at Oh, I could weep my spirit from my eyes naturally throws the voice into a harsh, low tone, and gives it fresh force to pronounce the rest of the passage.