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the words in Italics ? Where is the difficulty then of placing such a mark on these turns of voice, that they may be transferred to any other word ? This simple principle suggested to Walker his notation of sounds for the eye ; and incomplete as it is, something of the kind is so necessary to the student of elocution, that, without it, the aid of a living teacher cannot supply the defect. And in most cases, nothing is wanting to derive advantage from such a theory but a little patience and perseverance in its application.*
* A few years since, I desired a young gentleman to take the following sentence; “I tell you though you, though all the world, though an angel from heaven, should declare the truth of it, I could not believe it ;''-and read it to me in four different ways, which I described to him in writing, without making with my voice any of the sounds which I wished him to represent. My directions were these;
1. Read it with the monotone.
2. Without any slide on the emphatic words, raise them one note above the key tone of the sentence, and read the rest in the monotone.
3. Give the emphatic words the rising slide through three or four notes above the key, and end with the common cadence.
4. Give the same words the falling slide, with increase of force as you proceed ; beginning the slide, on you one note above the key, that on world two, and that on heaven three.-The young gentleman, without having acquired, so far as I knew, any uncommon skill in vocal infections, at the appointed time repeated the passage according to my directions, and almost exactly in the manner I had intended.
The last mode of reading is that which I described at page 62; and the other three modes I may leave without farther elucidation to those who have the curiosity to engage in such an exercise. The second mode, it will be seen, is one species of what is often called the conventicle tone; and another sort of this cant, would be represented by reading all the words in monotone except the parts in the following specimen printed in Italic, which should be raised two notes above the key. 56 I tell you though you, though all the' world, though an angel from heaven, should declare the truth of it, I could not believe it.” Such an exercise might well seem trifling in a man of elevated views, were it not important to bring his voice under discipline, by analysing its powers, and that for the purpose of correcting his own faults in modulation.
It was my intention to remark, at more length than my limits in this place will allow, on the benefit which a public speaker may derive from acquaintance with vocal music. The want of this does by no ineans imply a correspondent deficiency in elocution. There have been orators who had no skill in music. And constant observation shows that a man may be a fine singer, and yet
be Vocal organs and skill, of the first order, he may possess, and yet have neither the strength nor furniture of intellect, nor the high moral sensibility, which eloquence de'mands. As a speaker, he may fail too in modulation of voice, so as not even to read well. But while all this is admitted we must say of this good singer and bad reader, what we cannot always say of another man, he is utterly without excuse. With discriminating ear, and perfect command of his voice, why has he a bad modulation in delivery? His talent is hid in a napkin ;--he is too slothful to use a gift of his Creator, which in possession of another man, might be an invaluable treasure. Paradox as it may seem, it is only the plain statement of a well known fact, to say, that many a man, while devoting ten years to studies preparatory to professional life, deliberately looks forward to his main business, as one in which his success and usefulness must depend on his talent in speaking,—yet takes no pains to speak well! Perhaps of these ten years, he does not employ one entire week in all, to acquire this talent, without which all other acquisitions are, to his purposes, comparatively useless ! Without
enthusiastic estimate of the collateral advantages which the student of oratory might derive from musical skill, it may be said that the same strength, dis
tinctness, smoothness, and flexibility of voice, which music both requires and promotes, are directly subservient to the purposes of elocution. And at least so much practical knowledge of music, as readily to mark with the ear and voice, the difference between high and low, strong and feeble notes, greatly facilitates that analysis of speaking tones, which enables one to understand his own faults, and to make such a sound, in a given case, as he wishes to make.
I might add here, that I am not advancing any new theory on this subject. Quinctilian devotes a chapter to the connexion between eloquence and music; and advises the young orator to study this latter art, as an important auxiliary in the care and management of his voice. And a spirited French writer, speaking of bad tones in the pulpit, says, “I much wish that young preachers would not neglect any means of forming their voice and improving their ear; for which purpose, the knowledge and practice of vocal music, would be very useful to them."
There are indeed weighty reasons, not applicable to other men, why they who are devoted to the sacred office should cultivate an acquaintance with this sacred, fine art.
It elevates and sanctifies the taste of Christian scholar. It prepares the minister of the gospel to employ an influence in regulating the taste of others; an influence that shall be salutary, and becoming his office, or at least, not pernicious, in regard to the style of music that is adapted to public devotion. Till Christian pastors become generally better qualified to exert such an influence, it will not be strange if this department of public worship shall continue in the hands of authors, and teachers, and
performers, who will so conduct its solemn services as to extinguish rather than inspire devotional feeling. Besides, the minister who knows nothing of the science of adaptation, as applied to music and poetry, will often select hymns so unpoetical that they cannot possibly be sung with discrimination and spirit; or perhaps a hymn, that is full of inspiration, he will read with so little feeling, that it will almost of course be sung in a manner equally inanimate.
Sect. 3.-Pitch of Voice.
This is a relative modification of voice; by which we mean that high or low note, which prevails in speaking, and which has a governing influence upon the whole scale of notes employed. In every man's voice, this governing note varies with circumstances, but it is sufficiently exact to consider it as threefold ; the upper pitch, used in calling to one at a distance ; the middle, used in conversation; and the lower, used in cadence, or in a grave, emphatic under key. Exertion of voice on the first, exposes it to break; and on the last, renders articulation thick and difficult, and leaves no room for compass below the pitch. The middle key, or that which we spontaneously adopt in earnest conversation, allows the greatest variety and energy in public speaking, though this will be raised a little by the excitement of addressing an assembly. To speak on a pitch much above that of animated conversation, fatigues and injures the lungs; though this, of all mistakes, is the one into which weak lungs are most likely to fall. The speaker then, by his own experiment, or, (if he wants the
requisite skill,) by the aid of some friend, should ascertain the middle key of his own voice, and make that the basis of his delivery. Whether this is high or low, compared with that of another man, is not essential, provided it be not in extreme. Among the first secular orators of Britain, some have spoken on the grave, bass-key ; while Pitt's voice, it is said, was a full tenor, and Fox's a treble.
The voice that is on a bass-key, if clear and well toned, bas some advantages in point of dignity. But a bigh tone, uttered with the same effort of lungs, is more audible than a low one. Without referring to other proofs of this, the fact just now mentioned is sufficient, that we spontaneously raise our key in calling to one at a distance; for the simple reason that we instinctively know he will be more likely to hear us in a high note than a low one. So universal is this instinct, that we may observe it in very little children, and even in the call and response of the parent bird and her young, and in most brute animals that have voice. The same principle doubtless explains another fact, recently alluded to, that feeble lungs are inclined to a high pitch; this being the effort of weakness, to make up what it lacks in power, by elevation of key; an effort which succeeds perfectly for a few words, but produces intolerable fatigue by being continued.
The influence of emotion on the voice, is also among the philosophical considerations pertaining to this subject. A man under strong intellectual excitement, walks with a firmer and quicker step than when he is cool; and the same excitement which braces the muscles, and gives en