Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

implies: that they are self-conceited, and entertain a poor opinion of us; *as, “ You are very wise men, deeply learned in the truth; we, weak, contemptible, mean persons.” The Queen of Denmark, in reproving her son Hamlet for his conduct toward his stepfather, whom she married shortly after the murder of the king, her husband, says to him emphatically, Hamlet, you have your father much offended.” He replies, with the circumflex that indicates a taunt, “Madamyou-have my father much offended.” While she meant that he had offended her second husband, he, using the same words, flings the reproach upon her that she had proven untrue to his own father; thus endeavoring to give expression to his suspicions and plant the dagger of remorse in her bosom.

Art, studied appreciatively, adds beauty, ease, and gracefulness to the promptings of nature, giving greater power for good or evil. Yet there is a distinction that must be made when art is studied and applied to evil purposes or to deceive; then it is leveled to trickery. But when it is sought for ennobling objects, for higher achievements, it becomes the handmaid of progress. Study it always in behalf of the latter, and you will help to bless the world.

Close and critical attention to these delicate slides of voice is allimportant. In speech, the right or wrong rendering of these gives a pervading character to the whole delivery, and the grace and refined ease of polished society is much indebted to the correct expression of inflections. Do not fear that time will be lost in the study and practice of these essential elements in good reading and speaking. The following examples may now be rendered:

"Moneys—is your suit.
What should I say to you? Should I not say,
Hath a dog money?—is it possible
A cur can lend—three thousand ducats ?"
"What says that fool of a Hagar's offspring ?”
“What!-can so young a thorn begin to prick ?”

“ How like a fawning publican he looks ?” "They tell us to be moderate; but they—THEY are to revel in profusion!”

i Then Satan—answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job-fear God-for naught? And Job answered—and said, No doubt—but YE-are the people, and wisdom-shall DIE with you."

In strongly impassioned sentences it frequently requires the slur of several notes on one word to express the intensity of scorn. The following reply of Death to Satan gives a striking example of this

4

3

[ocr errors]

Holy

length of circumflex. The scorn and contempt exhibited is so intense there is little danger of overdoing :

“And reckon’st thou thyself with spirits of HEAVEN, HELL-DOOMED, and breath'st defiance here and scorn, where I reign king, and to enrage thee more,--thy king, and Tord."

The circumflex is also used in grand and impressive passages. In the following example from Isaiah, so simple, yet so grand and comprehensive, is a fine illustration of the pitch of dignified descent or cadence of the slur, and of the intense monotone:

is the Lord God of Hosts.
Holy,

The whole earth-is full-
2
Holy,

of his GLORY. 1 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or-whom shallstand-in his holy place?

The following words which Shakespeare put into the mouth of the untamed Hotspur most perfectly expresses his opinion of an effeminate dandy. The recitationist should endeavor to look through the eyes of a blunt, straightforward, honest, earnest soldier, defending himself from an unjust accusation. It will be found that only a free use of the slender qualities of voice, made up largely of inflections and waves, can express the utter contempt and insignificance with which he regards the subject.

EXERCISE.
Hotspur. My liege,—I did deny no prisoners.
But I remember when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage, and extreme toil,
Breathless, and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord; neat, trimly dress'd;
Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin, new reap'd,
Showed like stubble-land-at harvest home.
He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He
gave
his nose.

And still he smil'd and talk'd;
And as the soldiers—bore dead bodies by,
He called them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly, unhandsome corse
Betwixt the wind—and his nobility.
With many holidayand lady terms
He question'd me; among the rest, demanded
My prisoners in her majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds, being galla

To be so pestered with a popinjay,
Out of my grief, and my impatience,
Answered negligentlyI know not what,-
He should, or should not; for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman
Of guns, and drums, and wounds (heaven save the mark !)
And telling me the sovreign'st thing on earth
Was spermaceti—for an inward bruise ;
And that it was a great pity (so it was)
That villainous saltpetre-should be digged
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns
He would himself have been a soldier.
This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord,
I answered indirectly, as I said;
And I beseech you let not his report
Come current, for an accusation,
Betwixt my love and your high majesty."

There have been many rules laid down and suggestions given in regard to the proper rendering of the emphatic words in sentences. With what degree of success they have been attended, or what actual guide they have been to the student, we will not discuss here.

Most readers and speakers, however, regard emphasis as a matter of private judgment, which their own taste and appreciation of the sentiment should dictate, and which can not be determined by fixed rules; forgetting that taste would lose its significance, or at least become very bad taste, if it failed to translate the author's sentiments correctly.

We might, with as much propriety, use the same liberty with the accentuation of syllables, or declare that individual taste should settle the various parts of speech. Emphasis is either something or nothing. It has a specific use or it has no use. If it has a legitimate place, it must be amenable to some law.

Then who is to decide this matter, it is asked. Is not one person as good authority as another? To the first question we would reply, nature is to decide; to the second, they are the best authority who have studied most closely natural effects. People in earnest, animated conversations and discussions, in asking or answering questions, always place the emphasis on the proper word, and would not deviate in rendering the ideas of others if they had not been erroneously taught by those who have ignored nature's invaluable lessons.

We will give some specimens where taste and appreciation of sentiment decided the emphatic words.

EXAMPLE 1.—The first sentence in the soliloquy of Macbeth when he is debating the murder of King Duncan—"If it were done when 't is done, then it were well it were done quickly.

Any one who has observed critically the rendition of this passage by different professional readers and actors will have heard it emphasized in the following various styles: "If it were done when 't is done, then it were well it were done quickly.” The sense of which is: “If it were done when 't is, it were well.Here the sense is already completed, and “it were done quickly” becomes a meaningless clause, having no reference to what precedes it.

EXAMPLE 2.—“If it were done when 't is done, then it were well it were done quickly.” “If it were when 't is” is without meaning. If it is, it absolutely is; there is no “if it were” about it. By such emphasis we are led to this conclusion, that “if it were when 't is, then it were well it were."

The true idea to be conveyed is that the act does not prevent consequences following it; that committing the murder is no surety that the business will be finished—the object attained.

Let us substitute the word finished for the first “done,” and we will have no trouble in placing the emphasis : “If it were finished when 't is done, then it were well it were done quickly.Of course we can not help wishing that Macbeth had possessed a more copious language, and had not been obliged to use the same word three times in a sentence. But the office of the elocutionist is to find the meaning of the author and give it the proper expression, no matter how much it may be hidden by inexpressive words. We will give one other example, from Paul:

“O death! where is thy sting?

O grave! where is thy victory?” The majority of persons who read these sentences place the emphasis on is, which conveys the idea that the sting of death and the victory of the grave are things the reader is searching to find and eager to possess. They are simply exclamations of triumph, in consequence of the resurrection having gained the victory over death and the grave. This having been fully demonstrated, the apostle bursts forth with this pæan, placing the emphasis on where; meaning, where now is thy sting:

O death! where is thy sting?

O grave! where is thy victory?"

[ocr errors]

We hope these quotations will be sufficient to convince both reader and student that emphasis must be governed by fixed rules, inherent in the nature of things.

As we have shown that emphasis placed on the wrong words entirely changes the meaning of the author, it will be further seen that close and critical analysis is required, not only to find the truly emphatic word in a sentence, but to ascertain in what way it is controlled by something previously expressed.

RULE.-Simple courtesy requires that all proper names, when introduced for the first time, should receive emphasis.

This rule must also be observed in presenting people to each other ; and further, when several names are spoken in succession, each must receive stress, and must not be pronounced in the same pitch of voice nor with the same breath.

EXAMPLE. —George and Mary, James and Cynthia, John and Eliza attended the celebration." These persons are distinctly and separately introduced, and each individual name must be pronounced with different emphasis (or pitch of voice) from the preceding one.

We can readily see the folly of disregarding this rule if we present a number of persons in succession, trying to pronounce their .names with one breath and in exactly the same pitch of voice. Certainly nothing could be more disrespectful. Therefore we see here a law, founded on the nature of things, to neglect or disobey which would be inexcusable.

The above rule applies also to objects and topics when first presented. It is but an act of politeness, due to the listeners, that they may become acquainted with a new subject demanding their consideration. If this is neglected, the subject—its acts, qualities, etc. mingle in inextricable confusion in the mind of the listener.

NOTE.-After a formal, emphatic presentation of nouns has taken place, according to the preceding rule, on their recurrence they do not take the same prominence; but their acts and qualities are next in order to receive stress.

EXAMPLE.-It rained, it hailed, it blew, making the storm terrific." Storm does not receive stress, because it stands in the position of a recurrence of the word. But the writer has introduced three distinct acts to express the character of the storm, and these should not be spoken on the same pitch of voice. As they all mean different things, different qualities of voice are required.

Therefore all students of elocution should analyze each sentence, for the purpose of gaining the author's full meaning. This, of course, involves an amount of study that may be discouraging to those who

« AnteriorContinuar »