« AnteriorContinuar »
thing, which he cannot easily understand. When he has thus identified himself with the author, he has the substance of all rules in his own breast. It is by going to nature that we find rules. The child or the savage orator, never mistakes in inflection, or emphasis, or modulation. The best speakers and readers are those who follow the impulse of nature as felt in their own hearts, or most closely imitate it as observed in others. As the first and most important step, then, let the reader or speaker enter deeply into the feelings and sentiments, which he is about to express in the language of another. This direction is placed at the threshold of this subject, because the prevailing fault in reading is listlessness and dullness, and the principal cause of this fault, is want of interest in the subject which is or ought to be before the mind.
The directions which follow upon the subject of reading, are derived from observing the manner in which the best and most natural speakers and readers express themselves, and are presented to the learner as a standard for imitation, and by which he may judge of his deficiencies and departure from nature, and correct himself accordingly.
QUESTIONS.-What is the chief design of reading? In order to do this, what is first necessary? If a person reads without understanding the subject, what is the consequence? What method of communicating ideas was used in ancient times? When is a person qualified to read well? Repeat the rule. For the purpose of being able to observe this rule, what must be done? From whence are all rules derived? Why is the direction, given in the rule, placed here?
THE subject, first in order and in importance, requiring attention, is ARTICULATION. And here, it is taken for granted, that the reader is able to pronounce each word at sight, so that there may be no hesitating or repeating; that he has been taught to read with a proper degree of deliberation, so that there may be no confusion of sounds; and that he has learned to read exactly what is written, leaving out no words and introducing none. The object to be accomplished, under this head, may be expressed by the following general direction.
Give to each letter (except silent letters), to each syllable, and to each word its full, distinct, and appropriate utterance.
For the purpose of avoiding the more common errors under this head, it is necessary to observe the following rules.
RULE I.—Avoid the omission or improper sound of unaccented vowels, whether they form a syllable or part of a syllable; as,
Sep'-rate for sep-a-rate; met-ri-c'l for met-ric-ul; 'pear for ap-pear; com-p'tent for com-pe-tent; pr'-cede for pre-cede; 'spe-cial for es-pe-cial; ev'-dent for ev-ident; moun-t'n for mount-uin (pro. mount-in); mem'ry for mem-o-ry; 'pinion for o-pin-ion; pr'pose for pro-pose; gran❜lar for gran-u-lar; par-tic'lar for par-tic-u-lar.
In the above instances the unaccented vowel is omitted; it may also be improperly sounded as in the following examples; viz.,
Sep-er-ate for sep-u-rate; met-ric-ul for met-ric-al; up-pear for ap-pear; comper-tent for com-pe-tent; dum-mand for de-mand; ob-stur-nate for ob-sti-nate; mem-er-y for mem-o-ry; up-pin-ion for o-pin-ion; prup-pose for pro-pose; granny-lar for gran-u-lar; par-tic-er-lar for par-tic-u-lar.
In correcting errors of the above kind, or of any kind, in words of more than one syllable, it is very important to avoid a fault which is the natural consequence of an effort to articulate correctly. Thus, in endeavoring to sound correctly the a in metric-al, the pupil is very apt to say met-ric-al', accenting the last syllable instead of the first. In correcting the sound of o, in pro-pose', he will perhaps pronounce it pro'-pose. This change of the accent, and all undue stress upon the unaccented syllable, should be carefully avoided.
RULE II.-Guard particularly against the omission, or the feeble sound of the terminating consonant.
Upon a full and correct sound of the consonants, depends very much, distinctness of utterance. The following are examples of the fault referred to in the rule; viz.,
An' or un for and; ban' for band; moun' for mound; morn-in' for morn-ing; dess for desk; mos' for mosque; near-es' for near-est; wep' for wept; ob-jec' for ob-ject; &c.
This omission is still more likely to take place, where several consonants come together; as,
Thrus' for thrusts; beace for beasts; thinks' for thinkst; weps' for wept'st; harms' for barmst; wrongs for wrongd'st;. twinkles' for twinkl'd'st; black'ns' for black'n'd'st, &c.
In all cases of this kind, these sounds are omitted, in the first instance, merely because they are difficult, and require care and attention for their utterance, although, after a while, it becomes
a matter of habit. The only remedy is, to devote that care and attention, which may be necessary. There is no other difficulty, unless there should be a defect in the organs of speech, which does not often happen.
RULE III. Avoid uniting into one word, syllables which belong to different words.
This fault, when united with that last mentioned, forms perhaps the most fruitful source of error in articulation. The following lines furnish an example.
With some difficulty these lines may be deciphered to mean as follows:
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
Exercises and directions for practice under this head, may be found in the Eclectic Third Reader of this series, to which it is supposed the reader has already paid some attention. In every reading lesson, this subject should receive its appropriate attention. Prefixed to many of the lessons in this book, also, are examples, constituting a series of exercises upon difficult.combinations, and upon vowel sounds, which, it is believed, will be found of great utility, and to which the learner is directed for practice.
The teacher will recollect, that in correcting a fault, there is always danger of erring in the opposite extreme. Now, properly speaking, there is no danger of learning to articulate too distinctly, but there is danger of contracting a habit of drawling, and of pronouncing unimportant words with too much prominence. This should be carefully guarded against. It is a childish fault, but is not always confined to children.
QUESTIONS.-What subject is first in importance to the reader? Repeat the general direction. Repeat the first rule. Give some examples in which the vowel is left out. Give some in which it is improperly sounded. In correcting these errors, what fault is it necessary to guard against? What is the second rule? Give examples. When is the omission still more likely to take place? Give examples. What is the cause of this defect? What is the remedy? Is there often any defect in the organs of speech? What is the third rule? Illustrate it by an example. What kind of exercises are adapted for improvement in articulation? What error must be guarded against?
If any one will notice closely a sentence as uttered in private conversation, he will observe, that scarcely two successive words are pronounced in exactly the same tone. At the same time, however, there is a certain pitch or key, which seems, on the whole, to prevail. This key note or governing note, as it may be called, is that upon which the voice most frequently dwells, to which it usually returns when wearied, and upon which a sentence generally commences, and very frequently ends, while, at the same time, there is a considerable play of the voice above and below it.
This note may be high or low. It varies in different individuals, and at different times in the same individual, being governed by nature of the subject, and the emotions of the speaker. The range of the voice above and below this note, is called its compass. When the speaker is animated, this range is great; but upon abstract subjects, and with a dull, lifeless speaker, it is small. If, in reading or speaking, too high a note be chosen, the lungs will soon become wearied; if too low a pitch be selected, there is danger of indistinctness of utterance; and, in either case, there is less room for variety of tone, than if one be taken between the two extremes.
On this point, let the following rule be observed.
RULE I.-The reader or speaker should choose that pitch, on which he can feel himself most at ease, and above and below which he may have most room for variation.
Having chosen the proper key note, he should beware of confining himself to it. This constitutes monotony, one of the greatest faults in elocution. One very important instrument for giving expression and life to thought, is thus lost, and the hearer soon becomes wearied and disgusted.
There is another fault of nearly equal magnitude, and of very frequent occurrence. This consists in varying the tones without any rule or guide. In cases of this kind, there seems to be a desire to cultivate variety of tone, without a knowledge of the principles upon which it should be done. Sometimes, also, there is a kind of regular variation, but still not connected with the sense. A sentence is commenced with vehemence, and in a high tone, and the voice gradually sinks, word by word, until, the
breath being spent, and the lungs exhausted, it dies away at the close in a whisper.
The habit of sing-song, so common in reading poetry, as it is a variation of tone without reference to the sense, is a species of the fault above mentioned.
If the reader or speaker is guided by the sense, and if he gives that emphasis, inflection, and expression, required by the meaning, these faults will speedily disappear.
The tones of the voice should vary, also, in quantity or expression, according to the nature of the subject. We notice, very plainly, a difference between the soft, insinuating tones of persuasion; the full, strong voice of command and decision; the harsh, irregular, and sometimes grating explosion of the sounds of passion; the plaintive notes of sorrow and pity; and the equable and unimpassioned flow of words in argumentative style. In dialogue, common sense teaches, that the manner and tones of the supposed speaker should be imitated. In all varieties of style, this is equally proper, for the reader is but repeating the language of another, and the full meaning of this cannot be conveyed, unless uttered with that expression which we may suppose the author would have given to it, or in other words, which the subject itself demands.
The following direction, upon this point, is worthy of attention.
RULE II.-The tones of the voice should always correspond with the nature of the subject.
If the following extracts are all read in the same tone and manner, and then read again with the expression appropriate to each, the importance of this point cannot fail to be, at once, perceived.
"Come back! come back!" he cries with grief,
And I'll forgive your Highland chief,
My daughter! oh, iny daughter!"
I have lived long enough: my way of life
A very great portion of this. globe is covered with water, which is called the sea, and is very distinct from rivers and lakes.