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A MANUAL OF INSTRUCTION IN
VOCAL GYMNASTICS AND GESTURE,
WITH ILLUSTRATIVE DIAGRAMS AND
NUMEROUS READINGS AND RECITATIONS.
ANDREW COMSTOCK, M.D.,
LATE PROFESSOR OF ELOCUTION, PHILADELPHIA;
JAMES ALLAN MAIR,
AUTHOR OF “A HANDBOOK OF PROVERBS, QUOTATIONS, AND PHRASES.”
LONDON AND GLASGOW:
THIS little work is designed for the use of Schools and Colleges, as well as for the instruction of private individuals who desire to improve themselves in the art of reading and speaking. It consists of four parts (1.) Vocal Gymnastics, or the cultivation and management of the voice; (2.) Gesture; (3.) a series of exercises in Reading and Declamation for Junior Students; and (4.) a choice selection of Readings and Recitations for Senior Students.
The instructions in the various subjects of Articulation, Pitch, Force, Time, and Gesture, will be found to be of the simplest kind, offering no difficulties to persons of ordinary intelligence; and demanding from our youth nothing but a laudable ambition and common industry to enable them to rival those ancient orators whose eloquence, it is said, "shook distant thrones, and made the extremities of the earth tremble."
In ordinary works on Elocution, the inflections of the voice are given, but not the changes of pitch, which constitute melody. In this work, however, not only are the inflections and the melody given, but also those transitions in pitch, called modulation, or a change of key. The method of representing the melody and modulations of the speaking voice is original, and will prove of singular advantage to the Student in Elocution.
The Exercises in Reading and Declamation have been taken from some of the best authors, and are well adapted to the purposes of the Student in Elocution. They are divided into paragraphs, and subdivided into sections. The latter division is marked by vertical bars. In concert reading, as soon as a section is pronounced by the teacher, the members of the class should repeat it together in the proper pitch and time, and with the requisite degree of force. When a paragraph shall have been pronounced in this way, it should be read singly by each member of the class. Sometimes it will be found advantageous to let each pupil, in turn, give out a piece, and the other members of the class repeat it after him; the teacher, meanwhile, making the necessary corrections. In fine, the exercise of reading should be practised in a variety of ways according to circumstances. When a piece is given out with gesticulation, the members of the class should rise simultaneously immediately after the first section is pronounced, and repeat the
words and gesture. As the organs of speech require much training to enable them to perform their functions properly, the pupil should repeat the same exercise till he can articulate every element, and give to each syllable the pitch, force, and time which the sentiment demands.
The art of reading and speaking is not inferior in importance to any branch of learning, yet there is none more generally neglected. While many of the merely ornamental branches are cultivated with zealous assiduity, Elocution is allowed, at best, but a feeble support. Among the numerous colleges with which our country abounds, there is not, perhaps, a single one endowed with a professorship of Elocution! And among our numerous public speakers, how small a number can deliver a discourse without having half the body concealed by a desk or table! The orators of classic Greece never ensconced themselves behind elevated desks, nor "stood upon all fours," as some of our public speakers do; they were masters of their art. Hence they needed no screen to conceal uncouth attitudes and awkward gestures from the scrutinising eye of criticism; nor had occasion to present the crown of the head instead of the face to the audience to hide the blush of ignorance; they exposed the whole person to the audience; they stood erect in all the dignity of conscious worth; their attitudes were fit models for the statuary; their gestures were replete with grace and expression; their elocution defied criticism.
In selecting the Readings and Recitations for Senior Students, it has been thought desirable to insert those only which at once commend themselves to the reader by their appropriateness in character and subject, or which, being universal favourites, are entitled to a place in every work of this kind. No attempt has been made to swell the book with compositions puerile and stale, or otherwise unsuitable for the ends of such a publication, merely to fill up space; nevertheless, the contents, ranging, as they do, "from grave to gay, from lively to severe," will be found sufficiently varied to meet the wants of those for whom it is intended. It is believed THE MODEL ELOCUTIONIST forms at once a sound manual of instruction, and an entertaining companion for all who desire to excel in the art.
1st January 1874.