« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
our citizens is conclusive proof that there is a lamentable deficiency somewhere in their early training. That some are gifted beyond others in the matter of oratory cannot be denied, and that the great
majority of our people need nothing but proper training in the season of their youth to fit them the better to enter this department of public life, is equally undeniable. The low state of elocution in this country proceeds chiefly from the defective method adopted
in teaching it in our public institutions. Though it is gratifying to know that elocution is beginning to secure a portion of attention, corresponding, in some degree, with its importance, but still it is too
much neglected, not only by the community in general, but even by public speakers and teachers of youth.
Elocution in our schools should rank in consideration with the more important branches of geography, grammar and arithmetic. The teacher must him. self be a good reader, otherwise his scholars cannot become so; he should continually practice the scholars in declamation and drill them in the principles of elocution. It is unreasonable to expect the school-boy to
analyze the works of the great and unrivalled delineators of human character; the true mean. ing of the authors must be taught him by his instructor
and his voice trained to fullness and power, and stately elegance. If our youth be accustomed from their early scholastic life to address audiences even of their own school companions and acquaintances, much will be accomplished ward preparing them for proficiency in reading
The prime qualifications for an orator or reader are a pure and cultivated voice, and a correct and elegant articulation. The different intonations, cadences and inflections
of the human voice are to be acquired only by indefatigable study and practical effort, and the most assiduous and strict attention under the guidance and instruction of a teacher, competent and qualified to unfold the various beauties, ren
dering them and the science with which they are connected, equally beneficial and interesting to the man of business, the student, the statesman and the divine. The remarks of Sheridan in his lectures on the "Art of Reading" are as true of our own country as of England: "I appeal to the experience of mankind, whether in general anything else be taught, but the pronunciation of words, and the observations of the stops; we are taught to deliver our exercises or the words of others with little or no variation of voice, or else with some disagreeable, discordant cant applied to all sentences alike."
Dr. Channing, the literary and philosophical essayist, in a discourse delivered as long ago as 1836, on this subject clearly shows, that elocution is calculated to elevate the standard of morality, and moreover, sets forth, most hap
pily, its superiority over the drama. He says: "A people should be guarded against temptation to unlawful pleasures
by furnishing the means to innocent ones. There is an amusement, having an affinity with the drama, which might be usefully introduced among us-I mean elocution. A work of genius, recited by a man of fine taste, enthusiasm and good elocution, is a very pure and high gratification; were this art cultivated and encouraged, great numbers, now insensible to the most beautiful compositions, might be waked up to their excellence and power. It is not easy to conceive of a more effectual way Fig. 8. of spreading a refined taste through a community. The drama undoubtedly appeals more strongly to the passions than recitation, but the
latter brings out the meaning of the,
Elocution, it must be borne in mind, includes reading and conversation, as well as public speaking, and is a matter of nearly as much interest to ladies as to gentlemen, as the greater portion of the time of ladies is employed in conversation and reading; to be able to read and converse well is therefore a very desirable attainment.
The following extract from Mrs. Sigourney's excellent "Letters to Young Ladies," is commended to their perusal: "Reading aloud, with propriety and grace, is an accomplishment worthy of the acquisition of females. To enter
into the spirit of the author, and convey his sentiments with a happy adaptation of tone, emphasis and manner, is no common attainment. It is peculiarly valuable in our sex, because it so often gives them an opportunity of imparting pleasure and improvement to an assembled family, during the winter evening, or the protracted storm. In the zeal for female accomplishments it would seem that the graces of elocution had been too little regarded. Permit me to fortify my opinion by the authority of Rev. Mr. Galludet: 'I cannot understand why it should be thought, as it sometimes is, a departure from female delicacy, to read in a promiscuous social circle, if called upon to do so, from any peculiar circumstance, and to read, too, as well as Garrick himself. If the young lady possesses the power of doing it, why may she not do this, with as much genuine modesty and with as much of a desire to oblige her friends and with as little of ostentation, as to sit down in the same circle, to the piano, and play and sing in the style of the first masters? If to do the former is making too much of a display of her talents, why should not the latter be so? Nothing but some strange freak of fashion, can have made a difference; fine reading is an accomplishment where the inherent music, both of the voice and intellect, may be uttered, for
the scope and compass of each is often fully taxed and happily developed, in the interpretation of delicate shades of meaning and gradations of thought."" The beneficial effects
Fig. 11. DISLIKE.
of vocal gymnastics, judiciously conducted, upon health, are not yet fully appreciated. The following on this subject from the pen of Dr. Combe, is worthy of attention:
"Reading aloud and recitation are more useful and invigorating muscular exercises, than is generally imagined. In forming and undulating the voice, the chest and the diaphragm are in constant action, and communicate to the stomach a healthy and agreeable stimulus; and, consequently, where the voice is raised and elocution rapid, as in many kinds of public speaking, the mus cular effort is more fatiguing than the mental, especially to those who are unaccustomed to it.
"When care is taken, however, not to carry reading aloud or reciting so far at one time, as to excite the least sensation of soreness or fatigue in the chest, and it is duly repeated, it is extremely useful in developing and giving tone to the organs of respiration, and to the general system. As exercises in reading aloud, public speaking, and lecturing, require some exertion, they ought to be indulged in with prudence, and constant reference to the constitution and health of the individual. When early resorted to, and steadily persevered in, they are instrumental in warding off disease, and communicating strength to an important function."