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the leading passions, anger and contempt, have proper possession of him, they will keep him from a too servile imitation of the object of his resentment; but that a considerable degree of imitation should be al-, lowed in the pronunciation of this passage is not to be disputed. The same observations hold good in pronouncing the words of Cæsar, in a speech of Cassius, where he is describing that hero under the paroxysms of a fever :
I did hear him groan :
Shakspeare's Julius Cæsar. If these words of Cæsar, Give me some drink, Titinius, were to be pronounced untinctured with that scorn and contempt with which Cassius is overflowing, and the small feeble voice of a sick person were to be perfectly imitated, it would be unworthy the character of Cassius, and fit only for the buffoon in a farce.
These observations will lead us to decide in many other cases. There is a beautiful prosopopeia of a hoary-headed swain in Gray's Elegy in a Country Church Yard :
- For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate,
Some kindred spirit should inquire thy fate,
Ost have we seen him, at the peep of dawn,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn," &c. Nothing can be conceived more truly ridiculous, in reading this passage, than quitting the melancholy tone of the relator, and assuming the indifferent and rustic accent of the old swain : and yet no error so
likely to be mistaken for a beauty by a reader of no taste : while a good reader, without entirely dropping the plaintive tone, will abate it a little, and give it a slight tincture only of the indifference and rusticity of the person introduced.
But where the personification is assumed instantaneously, and does not arise out of any other passion, provided we are reading to the public, it ought to have exactly the same force and energy as in dramatic composition. Thus the sublime rage of Gray's Bard:
Ruin seize thee, ruthless king
Confusion on thy banners wait!
They mock the air in idle state,
From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears. These lines, I say, demand an elevation of voice, and an expression of the utmost rage and resentment; but in this expression we must attend more particularly to the caution of Shakspeare, “that in the very torrent, tempest, and I may say, whirlwind of our passion, we must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.”
The personification of pride, in Pope's Essay on Man, is not preceded by any other passion, and may therefore be allowed a forcible expression.
Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine,
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise,
My footstool earth, my canopy the skies." This passage admits of a certain splendour in the pronunciation expressive of the ostentation of the speaker, and the riches and grandeur of the objects introduced.
Many other figures of rhetoric might be adduced; but as few of them deserve the appellation, and none seem to have any thing to entitle them to a peculiarity of pronunciation, I shall at present content myself with those I have given, and hope the reader will not find the directions I have added entirely useless.
MODULATION AND MANAGEMENT OF THE
ONE of the most difficult things in reading and speaking, where the subject is varied and impassioned, is the modulation and management of the voice : and this perhaps of all the parts of elocution is the least capable of being conveyed by writing ; but general rules and useful hints may, certainly be given, which will put the pupil in a capacity of feeling his own powers, and of improving himself. Such rules and hints we shall endeavour to lay down in as clear and summary a manner as possible.
The first object of every speaker's attention is to have a smooth, even, full tone of voice : if nature has not given him such a voice, he must endeavour as much as possible to acquire it : nor ought he to despair; for such is the force of exercise upon the organs of speech, as well as every other in the human
body, that constant practice will strengthen the voice in any key we use it to; that key therefore, which is the most natural, and which we have the greatest occasion to use, should be the key which we ought the the most diligently to improve.
Every one has a certain pitch of voice, in which he is most easy to himself and most agreeable to others; this may be called the natural pitch: this is the pitch in which we converse ; and this must be the basis of every improvement we acquire from art and exercise. In order, therefore, to strengthen this middle tone, we ought to read and speak in this tone as loud as possible, without suffering the voice to rise into a higher key : this, however, is no easy operation : it is not very difficult to be loud in a high tone; but to be loud and forcible, without raising the voice into a higher key, requires great practice and management. The best method of acquiring this power of voice is to practise reading and speaking some strong, animated passages in a small room, and to persons “placed at as small a distance as possible : for, as we naturally raise our voise to a higher key when we speak to people at a great distance, so we naturally lower our key as those we speak to come nearer: when, therefore, we have no idea of being heard at a distance, the voice will not be so apt to rise into a higher key when we want to be forcible: and consequently exerting as much force as we are able in a small room, and to people near us, will tend to swell and strengthen the voice in the middle tone. A
A good practice on this tone of voice will be such passages as Macbeth's challenge to Banquo's ghost, or any other that are addressed immediately to a person near us,
What man dare I dare :
Instructions for acquiring low Tones of Voice. As few voices are perfect,—those which have a good bottom often wanting a top, and inversely,—care should be taken to improve by practice that part of the voice which is most deficient : for instance ; if we want to gain a bottom, we ought to practise speeches which require exertion, a little below the common pitch; when we can do this with ease, we may practise them on a little lower note, and so on till we are as low as we desire; for this purpose, it will be necessary to repeat such passages as require a full, audible tone of voice in a low key: of this kind are those which contain hatred, scorn, or reproach; such as the following from Shakspeare, where Lady Macbeth reproaches her husband with want of manliness :
O proper stuff!
You look but on a stool. Or when Lady Constance, in King John, reproaches the duke of Austria with want of courage and spirit: