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DEFINITIONS OF ELOCUTION
AND OBSERVATIONS THEREON.
“ ELOCUTION is the just and graceful management of the voice, countenance, and gesture in everything necessary to a good delivery.
“ In Elocution, the two great articles are force and grace ; the one has its foundation chiefly in nature, the other in art. Nature can do much without art ; art but little without nature. Force of speaking will produce emotion and conviction ; grace only excites pleasure and admiration.”
“ The delivery of words formed into sentences, and these sentences formed into discourse, is the object of Elocution ; and as reading is a correct and beautiful picture of speaking, speaking, it is presumed, cannot be more successfully taught than by referring us to such rules as instruct us in the art of reading."
1 Sheridan, Lect. ii. and vii. 2 Walker's “Elements of Elocution," p. 1.
OBSERVATIONS ON READING AND SPEAKING,
(FROM SHERIDAN’S LECTURES ON ELOCUTION.) To be read occasionally by the Teacher to the Pupils, or by some
Selected Pupil to a Class.
THE bad manner of reading and speaking which so generally prevails, may often be traced to these sources :—1st, we are taught to read with different tones and cadences from those which we use in speaking; and 2nd, this artificial manner is commonly used instead of the natural one in reading, repetitions and recitals at school. (p. 4.).
A just delivery consists in a distinct articulation of words, pronounced in proper tones, suitably varied to the sense, and the emotions of the mind ; with due observation of accent; of emphasis, in its several gradations; of rests or pauses of the voice, in proper places and well measured degrees of time; and the whole accompanied with expressive looks and significant gesture. (p. 10.)
The chief source of indistinctness is too great precipitancy of speech. The boy who at first is slow in knowing words is slow in uttering them, but as he advances in knowledge, he mends his pace; and not being taught the true beauty and propriety of reading, he thinks all excellence lies in the quickness and rapidity with which he is able to do it. He sets out at a gallop, and continues his speed to the end, without regarding how many letters or syllables he drops by the way, or how many words he jostles into one another. (p. 25.)
In order to be heard with satisfaction, it is necessary that the speaker should deliver himself with ease. But if he do not know how to pitch his voice properly, he can never have the due management of it, and his utterance will be painful to himself and irksome to his hearers. (p. 82.)
The middle pitch ought generally to be used, for two reasons ; first, because the organs of the voice are stronger and more pliable in this pitch, from constant use; and secondly, because it is more easy to rise or fall from that pitch to high or low with regular proportion. Many persons through want of skill and practice, when they read or speak in public, fall into one of the extremes. (pp. 82-3.)
Those who speak in a large room, or before a numerous assembly, sometimes appear to conclude that it is impossible they should be heard in their common pitch of voice, and therefore change it to a higher. Thus they confound two very distinct things, making high and low the same with loud and soft. Loud and soft in speaking only refers to the different degrees of force in the same key, whereas high and low imply a change of key. A man may speak louder or softer in the same key; when he speaks higher or lower, he changes his key. So that the business of every one is to proportion the force or loudness of voice to the room and number of his auditory, in its usual pitch. If it be larger than ordinary, he is to speak louder, not higher; in his usual key, not in a new one.
(p. 83.) In a large room or building, the speaker, after having looked round upon the assembly, should fix his eyes upon that part of the auditory which is furthest from him, and he will mechanically endeavour to pitch his voice so that it may reach them. (p. 87.)
In Elocution, the two great articles are force and grace; the one has its foundation chiefly in nature, the other in art. When united, they mutually support each other ; when separated, their powers are very different. Nature can do much without art; art very little without nature. Nature affects the heart ; art plays upon the fancy. Force of speaking will produce emotion and conviction ; grace only excites pleasure and admiration. (p. 121.)
The office of a public speaker is to instruct, to please and to move. If he does not instruct, his discourse is impertinent; if he does not please he will not have it in his power to instruct, for he will not gain attention ; and if he does not move, he will not please, for where there is no emotion there can be no pleasure. (p. 133.)
I.--PRELIMINARY DIRECTIONS .
(1.) Vowel Sounds
(5.) Vulgarisms .
(1.) Principal Divisions of a Sentence
(4.) The Context
Extracts from the “ Art of Reading"
Extracts from Ewing, Scott, Walker, and Sheridan
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