To those who may use this book, I have thought it proper to make the following preparatory suggestions.

1. In a large number of those who are to be taught reading and speaking, the first difficulty to be encountered arisesfrom bad habits previously contracted. The most ready way to overcome these, is to go directly into the analysis of vocal sounds, as they occur in conversation. But to change a settled habit, even in trifles, often requires perseverance for a long time; of course it is not the work of a moment, to transform a heavy, uniform movement of voice, into one that is easy, discriminating, and forcible. This is to be accomplished, not by a few irresolute, partial attempts, but by a steadiness of purpose, and of effort, corresponding with the importance of the end to be achieved. Nor should it seem strange if, in this process of transformation, the subject of it should at first, appear somewhat artificial and constrained in manner. More or less of this inconvenience is unavoidable, in all important changes of habit. The young pupil in chirography never can become an elegant penman, till his bad habit of holding the pen is broken up; though for a time the change may have made him write worse than before. In respect

to Elocution, as well as every other art, the case may be in some measure similar. But let the new manner become so familiar, as to have in its favor the advantages of habit, and the difficulty ceases.

2. The pupil should learn the distinction of inflections, by reading the familiar examples under one rule, occasionally turning to the Exercises, when more examples are necessary; and the Teacher's voice should set him right whenever he makes a mistake. In the same manner, he should go through all the rules successively. If he acquires the habit of giving too great or too little extent to his slides of voice, he should be carefully corrected, according to the suggestions given, p. 27 and 110.-After getting the command of the voice, the great point to be steadily kept in view, is to apply the principles of emphasis and inflection, just as nature

and sentiment demand. In respect to those principles of modulation, in which the power of the voice so essentially consists, we should always remember too, that, as no theory of the passions can teach one to be pathetic, so no description that can be given of the inflection, emphasis, and tones, which accompany emotion, can impart this emotion, or be a substitute for it. No adequate description indeed can be given of the nameless and ever varying shades of expression, which real pathos gives to the voice. Precepts here are only subsidiary helps to genius and sensibility.

3. Before any example or exercise is read to the Teacher, it should be studied by the pupil. At the time of reading, he should generally go through, without interruption; and then the teacher should explain any fault, and correct it by the example of his own voice, requiring the parts to be repeated. It would be useful often to inquire why such a modification of voice occurs, in such a place, and how a change of structure would vary the inflection, stress, &c.; in other words to accustom the pupil to paraphrase the meaning conveyed by different expressions of voice; as in the example p. 32 at the close of Rule IV. and p. 43, bottom. When the examples are short, as in all the former part of the work, reference may easily be made to any sentence; and in the long examples, the lines are numbered, on the left hand of the page, to facilitate the reference, after a passage has been read. If an Exercise is read by a class in turn, it would be useful, at least occasionally, to call on two or more of the number to remark on the manner of the reader, proposing corrections, with reasons, before the remarks of the teacher are made. This will render them vigilant and intelligent, in the constant, practical application of theoretic principles; thus leading them to regard a proper management of voice as both an art and a science.

4. When any portion of the Exercises is about to be committed to memory for declamation, the pupil should first study the sentiment carefully, entering as far as possible, into the spirit of the author; then transcribe it in a fair hand; then mark with pencil, the inflections, emphasis, &c. required on different words;-then read it rhetorically to his Teacher, changing his pencil marks as the case may require; and then commit it to memory perfectly, before it is spoken; as any labor of recollection is certainly fatal to freedom, and variety, and force in speaking. In general it were well that the same piece should be subsequently once or more repeated, with a

view to adopt the suggestions of the Instructer. For the pur pose of improvement in elocution, a piece of four or five m utes, is better than one of fifteen; and more advance ma ̧ be made, in managing the voice and countenance, by speaking several times, a short speech, though an old one, (if it is done with due care each time to correct what was amiss,) than in speaking many long pieces, however spirited or new, which are but half committed, and in the delivery of which all scope of feeling and adaptation of manner, are frustrated by labor of memory. The attempt to speak with this indolent, halting preparation, is in all respects worse than nothing.

[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »