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(ö) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened.
-Gabriel to his next in power thus spake : (0°) Úzziel! || half these draw off, and coast the south, With strictest watch;-these other, || wheel the north. (..) He scarce had ceas'd, when the superior fiend Was moving tow'rd the shòre ;
He call'd so loud that all the hollow deep
Of hell resounded. (0°) Princes,-Potentátes,
WARRIORS! || the flower of heaven, once yours, now lòst....
If such astonishment as this can seize
In the following example, we see Satan lamenting his loss of heaven, and then in the dignity of a fell despair, invoking the infernal world. In reading this, when the apostrophe changes, the voice should drop from the tones of lamentation, which are high and soft, to those which are deep and strong, on the words, "Hail, horrors," &c.
(0) Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost archangel, this the seat,
That we must change for heaven? This mournful gloom ||
Farewell, happy fields
Receive thy new possessor!
This term I use, in rather a limited sense, to denote the proper influence of reverential and pathetic sentiment on the voice.
There is a modification of voice, which accompanies awakened sensibility of soul, that is more easily felt than described; and this constitutes the unction of delivery. Without this, thoughts that should impress, attract, or soothe the mind, often become repulsive.
The fact cannot have escaped common observation, that sorrow, and its kindred passions, when carried to a high pitch, suspend the voice entirely. In a lower degree, they give it a slender and tremulous utterance. Thus Aaron, when informed that his two sons were smitten dead, by a stroke of divine vengeance, “held his peace." The emotions of his heart were too deep to find utterance in words. The highest passion of this sort, is expressed by silence; and when so far moderated, as to admit of words, it speaks only in abrupt fragments of sentences. Hence it is, that all artificial imitation, in this case, is commonly so unlike the reality. It leads to metaphors, to amplification and embellishment, in language, and to either vociferation or whining in utterance. Whereas the real passion intended to be imitated, if it speaks at all, speaks without ornament, in few words, and in tones that are a perfect contrast to those of declamation. This distinction arises from those laws of the human mind, by which internal emotion is connected with its external signs.
The heart, that is bursting with grief, feels the sympathy that speaks in a silent grasp of the hand, in tears, or in gentle tones of voice; while it is shocked at the cold commiseration that utters itself in many words, firmly and formally pronounced.
Passion has its own appropriate language; and this, so far as the voice is concerned, is what I mean by expression. That this may be cultivated by the efforts of art, to some extent, is evident from the skill which actors have sometimes attained, in dramatic exhibition; a skill to which one of the fraternity alluded, in his remark to a dignitary of the church, the cutting severity of which consists in the truth it contains; "We speak of fictions as if they were realities; you speak of realities as if they were fictions."
The fact however, is, that the indescribable power communicated to the voice by a delicate sensibility, especially a Christian sensibility, it is quite beyond the reach of art to imitate.
Sect. 9.-Rhetorical Dialogue.
This takes place when one voice personates two individuals or more. It seems necessary to dwell a little on this branch of modulation, which has scarcely been noticed by
writers on oratory. Every one must have observed how much more interesting is an exhibition of men, as living agents, than of things in the abstract. Now when the orator introduces another man as speaking, he either informs us what that man said, in the third person, or presents him to us as spoken to, in the second person, and as speaking himself, in the first.
A thousand examples are at hand, to show the difference between telling us what was said by another man, and introducing that man to speak to us himself. "Jesus told Peter that he should deny him thrice," is narrative. "Jesus said, Peter, thou shalt deny me thrice," is representation. The difference between these two modes of communication it is the province of taste to feel, but of criticism to explain. Let us then analyze a simple thought, as expressed in these two forms; "Jesus inquired of Simon, the son of Jonas, whether he loved him." "Jesus said, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" The difference in point of vivacity is in? stantly perceived, but in what does this difference consistIn two things. The first manner throws verbs into past time, and pronouns into the third person, producing, in the latter especially, an indefiniteness of grammatical relation, which is unfriendly to the clearness and vivacity of language. At the same time, the energy arising from the vocative case, from the figure of tense, and of interrogation, is sacrificed. As a principle of composition, though commonly overlooked, this goes far to explain the difference. between the tame and the vivid in style.
But the same difference is still more striking, when analyzed by the principles of delivery. Transform an animated question into a mere statement of the fact, that such a question was asked, and all the intonations of voice are changed, so that you do not seem to hear a real person speaking, but are only told that he did speak. This change in expression of voice will be apparent in repeating the two forms of the example last quoted.
The reader will perceive, that the principle which I here aim to illustrate, though it belongs primarily to the philosophy of style, has a very extensive influence over every department of delivery.
The man who feels the inspiration of true eloquence, will find some of his happiest resources in this kind of representation. He can break through the trammels of a tame, inanimate address He can ask questions, and answer them; can personate an accuser and a respondent; can suppose himself accused or interrogated, and give his replies. He can call up the absent or the dead, and make them speak through his lips. The skill of representing two or more persons, by appropriate management of language and voice, is properly called rhetorical dialogue. It was thus that the great orators of antiquity, and thus that Chrysostom and Massillon held their hearers in captivity.
Sect. 10.-The reading of Poetry.
The genius of verse requires that it be pronounced with a fuller swell of the open vowels, and in a manner more melodious and flowing than prose. As the peculiar charms of poetry consist very much in delicacy of sentiment, and beauty of language, it were absurd to read it without regard to these characteristics. But on the other hand, to preserve the metrical flow of versification, and yet not impair the sense, is no easy attainment. The following general principles may be of use to the student.
1. In proportion as the sentiment of a passage is elevated, inspiring emotions of dignity or reverence, the voice has less variety of inflection, and is more inclined to the
2. When the sentiment of a passage is delicate and gentle, especially when it is plaintive, it inclines the voice to the rising inflection; and for this reason, poetry oftener requires the rising inflection than prose: yet,
3. The rights of emphasis must be respected in poetry. When the language of a passage is strong and discriminating, or familiarly descriptive, or colloquial,-the same modifications of voice are required as in prose. The emphatic stress and inflection, that must be intensive, in prose, to express a thought forcibly, are equally necessary in poetry.
Say first, of God above, or man below,
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is fed:
4. The metrical accent of poetry is subordinate to sense, and to established usage in pronunciation. That is a childish conformity to poetic measure, which we sometimes hear, as marked in the following examples.
False eloquence, like the prismatic glass,
Their praise is still, the style is excellent;
Where the metrical accent would do violence to every ear of any refinement, the best way of obviating the difficulty, is to give both the metrical and the customary accent; at least so far, that neither shall be very conspicuous; thus
Our supréme foe, in time may much relent.
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
I think of only two exceptions to these remarks on accent. The first is, where a distinguished poet has purposely violated harmony, to make the harshness of his line correspond with that of the thought.
-On a sudden open fly,
With impétuous recoil, and jarring sound,
The infernal doors; and on their hinges grate,
The other is where a poet of the same order, without any apparent reason, has so deranged the customary accent, that, to restore it in reading, would be a violation of euphony not to be endured; thus—
With glory attributed to the high
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
5. The pauses of verse should be so managed, if possible, as most fully to exhibit the sense, without sacrificing the harmony of the composition. No good reader can fail