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ELEMENTS OF ELOCUTION
IN THREE PARTS.INFLECTIONS OF VOICE;
EXPRESSION OF SENTIMENT;
READING OF SUBJECTS.
REV. CHARLES RICHSON, M.A.
CANON OF MANCHESTER.
SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND IMPROVED.
EDINBURGH: THOMAS LAURIE.
HAMILTON, ADAMS & CO.
260. 9. 266.
This Work makes no pretension to supply Rules and Exercises which will produce the finished Elocutionist ; indeed, it has been repeatedly asserted with truth, that no rules or artificial system can be effectual for such a purpose, and that a studied system of Elocution always results in offensive affectation and mere display.
But if assistance cannot supply the place of natural power, it may occasionally render good service, where such power is not entirely wanting; and in the present instance, although rules and directions can never supply either voice, sentiment, or emotion, they may aid in the removal of defects, the explanation of right principles, and the discipline of correct practice.
No one will deny that carelessness, monotony, hurry, indistinctness, and want of expression, are inconsistent with good natural reading ; nor that such are too commonly the characteristics of school-reading badly taught, and even of the reading of many persons occupying positions wherein correct and expressive enunciation are of great importance. Much has been done already, and many publications issued, to assist in the removal of these defects, but a work still appears to be wanting for elementary schools, clear in the enunciation of its principles, systematic in its arrangement, practically useful for the teacher, the proper sequent of an ordinary course of Reading Books, and generally available from the cheapness of its price. The object of this work is to supply that want.
AND VIVA VOCE ILLUSTRATIONS.
The use of ACCENTS (''), HYPHENS (-), &c., to indicate the modulations of the voice, is intended to be suggestive only. Such assistance, having no similarity with its object, and no authority or common agreement for its use, is at the best indefinite, and liable to convey very different ideas to different persons. But as some means are necessary, in the earliest chapters of a work like the present, to mark the inflections and pauses which the author wishes the pupils to observe, the symbols here adopted have been selected as those most commonly used for the like purpose.
At the same time, the teacher who can himself read well, will give his pupils a much better idea of the necessary variation and intonations of voice, by reading the Examples to them, than by allowing them to rely, in any degree, upon the artificial agency which is here introduced.
“Nothing would be more easy,” observes Mr. Sheridan, “ than to instruct children in the most perfect use of EMPHASIS, complex as well as simple ; at the same time that they learn to read, and to make the same progress in the one as in the other. The yet uncorrupt ear and the flexiblé organs of speech would be capable of receiving, distinguishing, and uttering all the variety of tones in their just proportions, in the same manner as singing, were there but Preceptors equally qualified to teach them by Rules, Examples, and Practice.” (Lecture iv. p. 69.)
DEFINITIONS OF ELOCUTION
AND OBSERVATIONS THEREON.
“ ELOCUTION is the just and graceful management of the voice, countenance, and gesture in everything necessary to a good delivery.
“In Elocution, the two great articles are force and grace; the one has its foundation chiefly in nature, the other in art. Nature can do much without art ; art but little without nature. Force of speaking will produce emotion and conviction ; grace only excites pleasure and admiration.”l
“ The delivery of words formed into sentences, and these sentences formed into discourse, is the object of Elocution ; and as reading is a correct and beautiful picture of speaking, speaking, it is presumed, cannot be more successfully taught than by referring us to such rules as instruct us in the art of reading.”
1 Sheridan, Lect. ii. and vii.
OBSERVATIONS ON READING AND SPEAKING,
(FROM SHERIDAN'S LECTURES ON ELOCUTION.)
To be read occasionally by the Teacher to the Pupils, or by some
Selected Pupil to a Class.
THE bad manner of reading and speaking which so generally prevails, may often be traced to these sources : 1st, we are taught to read with different tones and cadences from those which we use in speaking; and 2nd, this artificial manner is commonly used instead of the natural one in reading, repetitions and recitals at school. (p. 4.)
A just delivery consists in a distinct articulation of words, pronounced in proper tones, suitably varied to the sense, and the emotions of the mind ; with due observation of accent; of emphasis, in its several gradations; of rests or pauses of the voice, in proper places and well measured degrees of time; and the whole accompanied with expressive looks and significant gesture. (p. 10.)
The chief source of indistinctness is too great precipitancy of speech. The boy who at first is slow in knowing words is slow in uttering them, but as he advances in knowledge, he mends his pace; and not being taught the true beauty and propriety of reading, he thinks all excellence lies in the quickness and rapidity with which he is able to do it. He sets out at a gallop, and continues his speed to the end, without regarding how many letters or syllables he drops by the way, or how many words he jostles into one another. (p. 25.)
In order to be heard with satisfaction, it is necessary that the speaker should deliver himself with ease. But if he do not know how to pitch his voice properly, he can never have the due management of it, and his utterance will be painful to himself and irksome to his hearers. (p. 82.)
The middle pitch ought generally to be used, for two reasons; first, because the organs of the voice are stronger and more pliable in this pitch, from constant use ; and secondly, because it is more easy to rise or fall from that