« AnteriorContinuar »
gant simplicity on pictures of easy beauty and unaffected grandeur
The progress of the fine arts in the human mind may be fixed" at three remarkable degrees from their foundation to the loftiest height. The basis is a sense of beauty and of the sublime the second step" we may call taste and the last“ genius
A sense of the beautiful" and of the great“ is universal - which appears from the uniformity thereof“ in the most distant ages and nations What was engaging and sublime in ancient Greece and Rome is so at this day and as I observed before there is not the least necessity of improvement or science to discover the charms of a graceful or noble deportment There is a fine but an ineffectual" light“ in the breast of man
After nightfall“ we have admired the planet Venus? the beauty and vivacity of her lustre the immense distance from which we judged her beams issued and the silence of the night all concurred to strike us with an agreeable amazement But she shone in distinguished beauty" without giving sufficient light“ to direct our steps or show us the objects around. Thus in unimproved nature the light of the mind is bright" and useless. In utter barbarity our prospect of it is still less fixed it appears and then again seems wholly to vanish in the savage breast like the same planet Venus-when she has but just raised her orient beams to mariners above the waves and is now descried“ now lost through the swelling billows
The next step is taste the subject of our inquiry which consists in a distinct“ unconfused knowledge of the great and beautiful. Although you see not many possessed of good taste yet the generality of mankind" are capable of it. The very populace of Athens had acquired a good taste by habit and fine examples so that a delicacy of judgment seemed natural" to all who breathed the air of that elegant city We find a manly and elevated sense distinguish the common people of Rome and of all the cities of Greece while the level of mankind" was preserved in those cities while the plebeians had a share in the government and an utter separation was not made between them and the nobles by wealth and luxury But when once the common people are rent asunder wholly" from the great and opulent" and made subservient" to the luxury of the latter then the taste of nature infallibly takes her flight from both parties? The poor" by a sordid habit" and an attention wholly confined to mean views and the rich" by an attention to the changeable modes of fancy" and a vitiated preference for the rich and costly"- lose the view of simple beauty and grandeur
It may seem a paradox- and yet" I am firmly persuaded that it would be easier at this day to give a good taste to the young savages of America than to the noble youth of Europe |
Genius the pride of man" as man is of the creation has been possessed but by few even in the brightest ages. Men of superior genius while they
see the rest of mankind painfully struggling to comprehend obvious truths- glance themselves through the most remote consequences like lightning through a path that cannot be traced They see the beauties of nature with light and warmth and paint them forcibly without effort as the morning sun" does the scenes he rises upon and“ in several instances communicate to objects a morning freshness and unaccountable lustre" that is not seen in the creation of nature The poet" the statuary the painter“ have produced images that left nature far behind
The human voice is to be considered as a musical instrument-an organ; constructed by the hand of the Great Master of all Harmony. It has its bellows, its pipe, its mouth-piece; and when we know the “ stops” “it will discourse most eloquent music.” It has its gamut, or scale of ascent and descent; it has its keys, or pitch,-its tones,-its semi-tones, its bass, its tenor, its alt-its melody, its cadence. It can speak as gently as the lute, like the sweet south upon a bed of violets," or as shrilly as the trumpet; it can tune the “silver-sweet” note of love, and “the iron throat of war;" in fine, it may be modulated by art to any sound of softness or of strength, of gentleness or harshness, of harmony or discord. And the art that wins this music from the strings is ELOCUTION. The niceties and refinements of this art are to be acquired, step by step, by well-directed practice.
At present, let us learn a simple ascent, (or rise,) and descent, (or fall,) of the voice ; of the range of say one tone in music, upwards or downwards. This ascent or descent of the voice is called by Elocutionists, INFLECTION,* and they have two
The rising inflection, marked with the acute accent thus on the inflected word.
The falling inflection, marked with the grave accent, thus
* The correct term for this slide of the voice, or change of
The student may always, at will, strike these inflections with certainty by asking himself the following question, (which can hardly be spoken without making the inflections distinctly, as they are marked :)
Did I rise or fall ?
In which the rising inflection occurs on the word rise, and the falling inflection on the word fall. It can therefore never be forgotten, and may serve as a mnemonic or key to these two simple inflections.
This and similar questions run on an ascending and descending scale of the voice, which may be thus marked :
In which the voice descends on “ Do 1,”—ascends on the pitch being at the highest on “or,” when the voice immediately descends on " fall."
pitch from low to high, is doubtless accent. We derive the grave and acute accents from the Greeks, who, it is supposed, used them to denote the slides of the voice from grave to sharp, or low to high ; so that, it is believed that the speeches of their orators were marked, almost as minutely as a musical score,
for the direction of the voice. But the term accent has, by custom, now grown to be so constantly applied to stress upon a syllable, that I prefer to adopt the less technically correct, but equally intelligible term, inflection, to denote the slides of the voice; and to use the term accent in its present popularly received sense.