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to observe the caesural pause, occurring after the fourth syllable, in these flowing lines;
Warms in the sun || refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars || and blossoms in the trees. Yet no good reader would introduce the same pause, from regard to melody, where the sense utterly forbids it, as in this line;
I sit, with sad || civility I read. There is another poetical pause, occurring at the end of the line. In blank verse, even when the sense of one line runs closely into the next, the reader may generally, not always, mark the end of the line, by a proper protraction and suspension of voice, on the closing syllable,-as in the following notation;
-Thus with the
Shook || but delayed to strike. “ The affectation,” says Walker, “ which most writers of blank verse have of extending the sense beyond the line, is followed by a similar affectation in the printer, who will often omit a pause at the end of a line in verse, when he would have inserted one in prose; and this affectation is still carried farther by the reader, who will run the sense of one line into another, where there is the least opportunity for doing it, in order to show that he is too sagacious, to suppose that there is any conclusion in the sense, because the line concludes."
In regard to rhyme, there can be no doubt that it should be so read, as to make the end of the line quite perceptible to the ear: otherwise the correspondent sound of the final syllables, in which rhyme consists, would be entirely lost.
6. The vowels e and o when apostrophized, in poetry, should be preserved in pronunciation. But they should be spoken in a manner so slight and accelerated, as easily to coalesce with the following syllable.-As;
But of the two, less dang'rous is th' offence.
Though the chief object of this book, is to regulate the voice, in reading and speaking, a few remarks on gesture, may be useful to those members of academies, and higher schools, who wish to acquire proper habits in exercises of declamation. These remarks I shall introduce, with a very brief view of some faults, not uncommon, as to management of countenance and attitude, in a speaker.
The eye is the only part of the face, that it falls within my design to notice here, both because this is the chief seat of expression, and because its significance is especially liable to be frustrated by mismanagement. The intercourse of soul, between speaker and hearers, is carried on more unequivocally through the eye, than in any other way. But if he neglects to look at them, and they in return neglect, (as they commonly will,) to look at him; the mutual reaction of feeling through the countenance is lost; and vocal language is all the medium of intercourse that remains. The
eye “ bent on vacuity,” as the artists call it, is the next most common defect, of this sort.
The glass eye of a wax figure at once tells its own character. There may be, in other respects, the proportion and complexion of a human face; but that eye, the moment it is examined, you perceive is nothing more, and, at best, it can be nothing more than a bungling counterfeit. So the eye of a speaker may be open, and yet not see; at least there may be no discrimination, no meaning in its look. It does not look at any thing. There is in its expression, a generality, a vacuity, so to speak, that expresses nothing. To the same class belongs that indefinite sweep of the eye, which
passes from one side to another of an assembly, resting no where; and that tremulous, waving cast of the eye, and winking of the eyelid, which is in direct contrast to an open, collected, manly expression of the face.
So fatal are these faults to the impression of delivery that too much care cannot be taken to avoid them.
Attitude I use, not in the theatrical sense of the word, (for this has no concern with oratory,) but as denoting the general positions of the body, which are becoming or otherwise, in a speaker. In some few instances, I have observed the head to be kept so erect, as to give the air of haughtiness. In others, it is dropped so low, that the man seems to be carelessly surveying his own person. In others, it is reclined towards one shoulder, so as to give the appearance of languor or indolen
As to the degree of motion that is proper for the body, it may be safely said, that while the fixedness of a post is an extreme, all violent tossing of the body from side to side, rising on the toes, or writhing of the shoulders and limbs, are not less unseemly.
The remarks which come next to be made on gesture, are more various.
One principal fault which I have noticed in this, is want of appropriateness. By this I mean that it is not sufficiently adapted to circumstances. An address to an assembly of common men, admits a boldness of action, that would be unseemly in one delivered to a prince.
More vivacity and variety is admissible in the action of a young speaker, than of one who is aged; and the same boldness of manner which is proper when the orator is kindled to a glowing fervor, in the close of a discourse, would be out of place at its commencement.
Yet the same action is used by some speakers, in the exordium, as in the conclusion; in cool argument to the understanding, as in impassioned appeals to the heart. Good sense will lead a
man, as Quintilian says, “ To act as well as to speak in a different manner, to different persons, at different times, and on different subjects.”
Nearly of the same class is another kind of faults, arising from want of discrimination. Of this sort is that puerile imitation which consists in acting words, instead of thoughts. The declaimer can never utter the word heart, without laying his hand on his breast; nor speak of God or heaven, in the most incidental manner, without directing his eye, and his gesture upwards. Let the same principle be carried out, in repeating the prophet's description of true fasting; “It is not for a man to bow down his head as a bulrush, &c.”—and every one would see that, to conform the gesture to the words, is but childish mimicry.
There is no case in which this want of discrimination oftener occurs, than in a class of words denoting sometimes numerical, and sometimes local extent, accompanied by the spreading of both hands; the significance of this gesture being destroyed by misapplication. The following exam ples may illustrate my meaning.
Exam. 1. " The goodness of God is the source of all our blessings.” The declaimer, when he utters the word God, raises his eye and his right hand; and when he utters the word all, extends both hands. Now the latter action confounds two things, that are very distinct, number and space. When I recount all the blessings of my life, they are very many; but why should I spread my hands, to denote a multiplicity that is merely numerical and successive? when the thought has no concern with local dimensions, any more than in this case: “All the days of Methusaleh were nine hundred and sixty-nine years."
Exam. 2. “ All the actions of our lives, will be brought into judgement.” Here again, the thought is that of arithmetical succession, not of local extent; and if any gesture is demanded, it is not the spreading of both hands.
Exam. 3. “I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Here the local extent which belongs to the thought, is properly expressed by action of both hands.
If there is language in action, it requires propriety and precision. The indiscriminate movement of the hands signifies nothing. Want of emphasis in this language is a great, but common fault. When the speaker, however, has an emphatic stroke of the hand, its effect is lost, if that stroke does not accompany the emphasis of the voice; that is, if it falls one syllable after the stress of voice, or if it is disproportionate in force to that stress, in the same degree, its meaning is impaired. The direction of the hand too, in which the emphatic stroke terminates, is significant. The elevated termination suits high passion; the horizontal, decision; the downward, disapprobation. And any of these may denote definitive designation of particular objects.
Another fault of action is excess. In some cases it is too constant. To enter on a discourse with passionate exclamations and high wrought figures, while the speaker and audience are both cool, is not more absurd than to begin with continual gesticulation. No man probably ever carried the language of action to so high a pitch as Garrick. Yet Dr. Gregory says of this great dramatic speaker; “He used less action, than any performer I ever saw; but his action always had meaning; it always spoke. By being less than that of other actors, it had the greater force.” But if constant action has too much levity, even for the stage, what shall we say of that man's taste, who, in speaking on a subject of serious importance, can scarcely utter a sentence without extending his hands? "Ne quid nimis.'*
* Fenelon says,—“Some time ago, I happened to fall asleep at a sermon; and when I awaked, the preacher was in a very violent agitation, so that I fancied at first, he was pressing some important