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The design of this work is, to furnish a text-book for the systematic teaching of reading and declamation. Of the reading books already in general use, some, though possessed of high literary merit, afford no aid to instruction in elocution; while others offer but a few desultory remarks, and disconnected rules, which do not insure either an adequate knowledge of principles, or a regular progress in the art of reading.
These defects in existing compilations, are, to teachers generally, the grounds of just objection and complaint; and the compilers of the present work have been repeatedly solicited to prepare a volume such as is now offered. Speaking with reference to a work of this nature, the late Rev. Dr. Porter, of Andover Theological Seminary, in his Analysis of Rhetorical Delivery,' says, " The man who shall prepare a schoolbook, containing proper lessons for the management of the voice, will probably do a greater service to the interests of elocution, than has yet been done by the most elaborate works on the subject, in the English language.” And, in a note appended to this passage, “Since this remark was made in my pamphlet on Inflections, several small works, well adapted to the purpose above mentioned, have been published ; and one is now in press, entitled, Lessons in Declamation, by Mr. Russell, of Boston, concerning the utility of which, high expectations are justified by the skill of the author, as a teacher of elocution."*
To some persons, the Rhetorical Reader,' founded on Dr. Porter's Analysis,' may seem to occupy the ground claimed for the present publication. The compilers would offer, in explanation, not merely their own impressions, but the express objections made by many teachers, when requesting the aid of a book more exactly adapted to the wants felt in actual instruction. The Rhetorical Reader contains, it is admitted, many excellent suggestions on elocution, and many pieces of emi. nent merit as to their matter. But the marking of inflections, in particular, contravenes, in many parts of that book, the rules and principles of the work itself, and is wholly at variance with appropriate style in reading. The pieces are, to a great extent, of a character better suited to adults and professional readers, than to young persons at school; and the style of language, in some, is equally negligent and incorrect.
* The publication of the book mentioned above, of which the late Dr. Porter had seen the proofs of the first half of the volume, was unavoidably suspended, in consequence of a change of business, on the part of the publishers who had undertaken it. But tho substance of that work is embodied in Part I. of this Reader.
A single word of explanation, perhaps, is due, in relation to the apparent coincidence of plan and rule, in some parts of the present work, with those of the Rhetorical Reader.' The Analysis,' on which the
Rhetorical Reader,' was founded, was compiled, to a considerable extent, as regards rules and examples, from materials handed, for that purpose, to the Rev. Dr. Porter, by one of the editors of the present volume; and the latter's mode of teaching, as an elocutionist, being, of course, modified by the principles embodied in these materials, a manual of instruction, if prepared by him, must necessarily produce a partial resemblance of method to that of a work partly constructed on the same data.
The compilers of the following work, have drawn, it will be perceived, to a considerable extent, from that invaluable source of instruction in elocution, the Philosophy of the Human Voice, by Dr. James Rush, of Philadelphia. The clearness of exposition, and the precision of terms, in that admirable work, have greatly facilitated, as well as clearly defined, the processes of practical teaching, in whatever regards the discipline of the organs of speech, or the functions of the voice, in utterance and articulation, in emphasis, inflection, modulation, and every other constituent of elocution.
The pieces for practice in reading and speaking, which form the larger portion of this volume, have been selected with great care, as regards their character, not only in relation to the purposes of practice in reading, but with reference to the influence of a high standard of excellence,—both in subject and style,—on the mind and taste of young readers. Regard, also, has constantly been paid to the effect which the pieces seemed adapted to produce, as favoring the cultivation of elevated sentiment, and of practical virtue.
The preparation of the pieces for the purpose of applying the rules of elocution, has been regulated by a regard to the importance of placing before the reader, but one principle or rule at a time, of presenting i: clearly, and of repeating it with sufficient frequency to fix it firmly on the mind. The marking by which the modifications of the voice are indicated, is, accordingly, restricted, principally, to one subject in each ; so as to avoid confusion, and to secure a full and lasting impression of each rule or principle. In modulation and expression, however, where there exists a natural complexity in the subject itself, the marking is, of course, more intricate. Still, it will be found, we trust, clear and defi. nite. The suggestive notation has been limited to such a number of pieces, as seemed requisite to fix the prominent principles of elocution permanently in the memory. But most of the lessons have been left unmarked, in order to have the reader exert his own judgment in applying the rules, with the aid, when necessary, of the teacher.
The propriety and the advantage of any system of notation, for the purposes of study in elocution, have been, by some writers, considered doubtful. On this subject, Dr. Porter has made the following just observations :
“If there could at once spring up in our country a supply of teachers, competent, as living models, to regulate the tones of boys, in the forming age,-nothing more would be needed. But, to a great extent, these teachers are to be themselves formed. And to produce the transformation which the case demands, some attempt seems necessary to go to ihe root of the evil, by incorporating the principles of spoken language with the written. Not that such a change should be attempted with regard to books generally; but in books of elocution, designed for tiuis single purpose, visible marks may be employed, sufficient to desig. nate the chief points of established correspondence between sentiment and voice.
These principles oeing well settled in the mind of the pupil, may be spontaneously applied, where no such marks are used.”
Objections are made by some authors,—whose judgment and taste, on other subjects, are unquestionable,—not only to any system of notation indicating the modifications of voice which characterize appropriate reading, but to any systematic instruction in the rules and principles of elocution themselves.
Persons, even, who admit the use rules on other subjects, contend, that, in reading and speaking, no rules are necessary; that a correct ear is a sufficient guide, and the only safe one. If, by a correct ear,' be meant a vágue exercise of feeling or of taste, unfounded on a principle, the guidance will prove to be that of conjecture, fancy, or whim. But if, by a "correct ear,' be meant an intuitive exercise of judgment or of taste, consciously or unconsciously recognizing a principle, then is there virtually implied a latent rule ; and the instructor's express office, is, to aid his pupil in detecting, applying, and retaining that rule.
Systematic rules are not arbitrary; they are founded on observation and experience. No one who is not ignorant of their meaning and application, will object to them, merely because they are systematic, well defined, and easily understood : every reflective student of any art, prefers systematic knowledge to conjectural judgment, and seizes with avidity on a principle, because he knows that it involves those rules which are the guides of practice.
• When a skilful teacher," says Dr. Porter, “has read to his pupils a sentence for their imitation, is there any reason why he should have read it as he did ?—or why he or they should read it again in the same manner ? Can that reason be made intelligible? Doubtless it may, if it is founded on any stated law. The pupils, then, need not rest in a servile imitation of their teacher's manner, but are entitled to ask why his emphasis, or inflection, or cadence, was so, and not otherwise : and then they may be able to transfer the same principles to other cases."
“Should some still doubt whether any theory of vocal inflections can de adopted, which will not be perplexing, and, on the whole, injurious, especially to the young, I answer, that the same doubt may as well be extended to every department of practical knowledge. To think of the rules of syntax, every sentence we speak, or of the rules of orthography and style, every time we take up our pen to write, would indeed be perplexing. The remedy prescribed by common sense, in all such cases, is, not to discard correct theories, but to make them so familiar as to govern our practice spontaneously, and without reflection."
J. G. W. R.
AMERICAN COMMON-SCHOOL READER AND
PART 1.-RULES OF ELOCUTION.
ANALYSIS OF THE VOICE. If we observe attentively the voice of a good reader or speaker, we shall find his style of utterance marked by the following traits. His voice pleases the ear by its very sound. It is wholly free from affected suavity; yet, while perfectly natural, it is round, smooth, and agreeable. It is equally free from the faults of feebleness and of undue loudness. It is perfectly distinct, in the execution of every sound, in every word. It is free from errors of negligent usage and corrupted style in pronunciation. It avoids a measured, rhythmical chant, on the one hand, and a broken, irregular movement, on the other. It renders expression clear, by an attentive observance of appropriate pauses, and gives weight and effect to sentiment, by occasional impressive cessations of voice. It sheds light on the meaning of sentences, by the emphatic force which it gives to significant and expressive words. It avoids the “school” tone of uniform inflections, and varies the voice upward or downward, as the successive clauses of a sentence demand. It marks the character of every emotion, by its peculiar traits of tone; and hence its effect upon the ear, in the utterance of connected sentences and paragraphs, is like that of a varied melody, in music, played or sung with ever-varying feeling and expression.
* The analysis of the voice, for the purposes of instruction and practice in reading and declamation, may be extended, in detail, to the following points, which form the essential properties of good style, in reading and speaking. 1. Good Quality' of Voice; 6. Appropriate Pauses; 2. Due Quantity', or Loud- 7. Right Emphasis; ness;
8. Correct ·Inflections'; 3. Distinct Articulation; 9. Just Stress '; 4. Correct Pronunciation; 10. ·Expressive Tones'; 5. True Time;
11. Appropriate ·Modulation'. * The larger type distinguishes those portions of Part I. which are most important to the learner, and which should be, in substance, im. pressed on the memory.