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anged method, a progressively rising elocution, and in excellent and varied diction, uniting the perfection of language with the sublimity of thought.
The author will close this essay with observing, that the student may, by a perfect knowledge of, and a strict adherence to, the rules here laid down, acquire all the theory of elocution necessary for correct reading and speaking, all that is aimed at in this publication, but, although the theory be indispensably requisite to aid in the formation of an accomplished speaker, yet without practice, and that practice under a judicious master, whose taste is refined, and whose pronunciation is unvitiated by any provincial dialect, he can never attain this very desirable accomplishment.
END OF THE ESSAY
The art of reading, so very essential in all ranks of society, and in all pursuits of life, is so imperfect. ly understood, that, not one out of ten thousand, even of those who are called educated, can properly be termed a good reader. When most persons take up a book, they imagine that nature and her inflections are to be lost sight of, and they proceed in a canting sing-song monotonous tone from the beginning to the end. This is owing to those persons not considering that reading and speaking are precisely the same thing, save that in reciting we have a greater intimacy with the subject, and are enabled to give a little more energy and action. The tones, emphasis, accent, and sense, are the same, whether we speak or read, for what is speaking but giving utterance to our own thoughts, and what is reading but giving utterance to the thoughts of others placed before our eyes? Do we not sometimes write our own thoughts for the purpose of reading them in public? Then where can be the difference between reading and speaking, except that when uttering our own thoughts, we are possessed of our own meaning, but when reading
the thoughts of others, we have to seek for their sense, which is not always observable at first sight; therefore it will be necessary, for those who wish to read correctly, either to a public assembly, or to friends in private, previously to look over the subject, so as to render themselves perfectly masters of it, or embarrassment, hesitation, and very often an entire failure of effect, will be the consequence.
The writer would not be understood to mean, by reading as we speak, that reading should, therefore, be like flippant and common placed conversation, as might erroneously be supposed; but that reading should be consonant with the subject which we utter. If the Supreme Being be addressed in an extemporary prayer, nature and good feeling will dictate a meek, solemn, and reverential tone and manner; so should the same subject, without the least deviation, be read. The meaning here wished to be inculcated is, that we should speak correctly and read as we speak. To prove that reading and speaking sound alike, let a competent judge place himself in an anti-chamber where he may hear, but not see, a person reading, and he cannot be able to determine whether he is reading or reciting, provided the reader be a good one.
Independently of the pleasure afforded to the auditors by a perfect reader, he participates in that pleasure by being enabled, from his just conceptions, to develop the frequently profound or sublime meaning of his author, and at the same time dress it in all the fascination of eloquence. Who can hear “ Paradise Lost” properly read, and not be a convert to this opinion? The rules given in this book for Elocution, answer for reading also. One of the chief errors in young readers or speakers proceeds from a precipitancy of utterance, which is subversive of all good elocution; to avoid that fault, the beginner should be taught to go into the other
extreme, then, by practice, he will find the medium, or proper utterance. One of our high authorities says,
66 Learn to speak slow, all other graces
Will follow in their proper places." Distinctness of utterance, and clearness of articulation, so indispensable in all kinds of oratorical exercises, must, in an especial manner, be attended to in reading verse, else that song so disgusting to good taste, and a perfect ear, will be the result. The material difference between reading prose and rhyming verse, rests in giving more time between each word and sentence in verse than in prose; reading with very little reference to the jingle, or rhyme, but with great attention to the sense; using the same inflections as in prose, and rather avoiding than encouraging that measured tone, improperly,called musical; for if the harmony of that author's verse, to whose sense we do justice, do not distinctly speak for itself, his claims to poetry must rest on a very slight foundation indeed.
INSTRUCTORS OF THE ART OF ELOCUTION.
THE following observations are respectfully offered to those who have the tuition of youth. He who teaches, should cause his pupils to transcribe such subjects as he wishes them to commit to memory, without reference to the pauses in books, which are frequently erroneous, particularly in an oratorical point of view. Two good purposes, at once, result from this plan, as the student improves his hand writing, at the same time that he more firmly fixes in his memory the task allotted to him. The pupils should read or recite the subject, and mark the emphatical words and sense agreeably to their own ideas; then the preceptor should make such corrections as may be necessary; give his reasons for such alterations, and read or recite the subjects himself, so continuing until the class become perfect, and the course be completed.
Exercises or lectures should be delivered three or four times in each month. They should be written in a nervous, clear, and undecorated style, adapted to the comprehension of youthful understanding. Pupils should be alternately exercised in reading and reciting.