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MANUAL OF ELOCUTION.
READING-BREATH-SPEECH-AIR-MANNER OF BREATHING.
The elements and principles of reading and speaking have been arranged in essays, for reading-lessons; so that they can not by any possibility be overlooked or neglected by either teacher or pupil. They constitute the important part of the work, and are not placed here simply to fill a book.
The want of a knowledge of these principles is very obvious. It is difficult to find the public speaker or elocutionist who does not exhibit a lack of proper training in articulation and pronunciation, to say nothing of the higher and more elegant graces of the art of delivery. By the unprofessional, particularly the youths of our land, the sounds of letters are things not taken into consideration. But if teachers and parents are ignorant, we should not chastise the children.
One of the most effective sounds of our language is almost entirely ignored by a large class of persons—the r; and we could spare almost any other subvowel better; for, when properly enunciated, it gives dignity to the language—when neglected, the result is weakness and affectation.
We therefore make the Elements of Speech the prominent feature of this work.
To become a good reader involves certain conditions which must be complied with or excellence can not be achieved in this art.
The first condition is to have developed a clear, round, smooth voice; the second is a perfect control of the vocal organs, comprising a distinct articulation of all the elements of sound as expressed by the letters of our alphabet; third, perfect self-possession. “No man can serve two masters.” If fear or distrust of our powers has the control, art can not be represented.