« ÎnapoiContinuă »
ENLARGED STEREOTYPE EDITION.
To make this work more valuable and useful, the author has added fortyeight pages to the three hundred and twelve, which it heretofore contained. It is already adopted as a reading and text book in Elocution, in more than fifty academies in the state of New-York, under the care of the Regents of the University. It is also used as a reading book for the first class of scholars in a large and increasing number of public schools in cities, union schools in villages, and common schools in all parts of the state.
It now comprises three hundred and sixty pages; the first fifty-four of which are illustrative of the elementary sounds of our language, articulation, quantity, emphasis, irony, emphatic pause, climax, gestures, and the inflections of the voice.
The remaining three hundred and six pages, consist of one hundred and fifty-four pieces; each and all of which the author has accompanied with explanatory notes; a plan, at once original, and the adoption of which has received the warm and unqualified approbation of thousands of instructers and scholars, engaged in teaching and learning the science and art of reading and oratory.
We learn to read and speak from living models, and not from formal and perplexing rules. The author believes that all abstruse, complicated and artificial rules, particularly the division and subdivision of sentences into "close, loose, perfect loose, compact, and double compact," are useless, if not impracticable; and consequently are unattended with beneficial results. Appropriate explanatory notes breathe into the pieces, to which they relate, "the breath of life."
To enable the reader the more readily to find pieces, the names of all the known authors are arranged alphabetically.
This work, which now has a circulation of many thousand copies, contains the pieces and principles which the author has presented during the last quarter of a century, before more than five hundred thousand of his countrymen. Not less than three hundred distinguished gentlemen, among whom are Chancellor Walworth, Governor Seward, Judge Conkling, Hon. Albert H. Tracy, George W. Eaton, D. D. of the Madison University, and Asahel C. Kendrick, D. D. of the Rochester University, have furnished the author with written communications, expressive of their decided and cordial commendation. The author duly estimates the compliment implied in the confidence thus reposed in him by his fellow citizens, nor will he cease, while the power of recollection remains, to remember his patrons and friends with mingled emotions of gratitude and esteem. He earnestly hopes that all the lovers of learning and virtue, may participate largely in those intellectual and moral treasures, which constitute the richest source of usefulness and happiness.
"May peace round your dwellings her influence shed,
Till at length from these mansions our spirits have fled,
And we all to this world bid a final adieu."
ELOCUTION is the art of reading and speaking well. It demands of a reader, that he institute an inquiry into the meaning of an author; and, having ascertained it, that he convey it, not only correctly, but with force, beauty, variety, and effect. And it requires a speaker to impress the exact lineaments of nature upon his sentiments. In order to read or speak well, the articulation must be correct and elegant, and the voice completely under the command of the will. A good articulation, it need not be said, is a primary beauty of clocution. It is to the ear, what fine penmanship is to the eye. Without it, no individual can be a correct reader or speaker. It is the first step towards becoming an elocutionist.
In Austin's Chironomia, it is truly observed: "That a public speaker, possessed of only a moderate voice, if he articulate correctly, will be better understood, and heard with greater pleasure, than one who vociferates without judgment. The voice of the latter may, indeed, extend to a considerable distance, but the sound is dissipated in confusion; of the former voice, not the smallest vibration is wasted; every stroke is perceived at the utmost distance to which it reaches; and hence, it has often the appearance of penetrating even farther than one which is loud, but badly articulated. In just articulation, the words are not to be hurried over, nor precipitated syllable over syllable; nor, as it were, melted together into a
mass of confusion; they should not be trailed or drawled, nor permitted to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They are to be delivered out from the lips, as beautiful coins, newly issued from the mint, deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, in due succession, and of due weight."
The question arises, how shall a correct and elegant articulation be acquired? The answer is, by obtaining a knowledge of the elementary sounds of the English language. To be able to call letters by their names, is insufficient, a knowledge of their sounds in which their power consists, is essential to good articulation. Those who do not understand the elements, cannot analyze words, nor can they tell when errors in articulation are made. However multitudinous and gross may be their errors in that important branch of elocution, they are unconscious of them.
Our language, it is admitted, is imperfect. If our alphabet were perfect, the names of the letters would correspond with their sounds. A large portion of the letters are at variance with their sounds. They have generally been divided into vowels and consonants. But the classification and division of Dr. James Rush, of Philadelphia, in his "Philosophy of the Human Voice," is altogether better. Without regard to the order in which the letters now stand, he arranges them according to their sounds, under three general heads,-Tonics, Sub-tonics, and Atonics.
This classification, which appears to be more philosophical than any other, is the foundation of the one adopted in this work. The terms, Tonics, Sub-tonics, and Atonics, have, at the suggestion of the author's brother, Stephen R. Sweet, been changed to Vocals, Sub-vocals, and Aspirates, as being more expressive, at least to an English ear, of the nature and power of those several classes of letters respectively. Other alterations have also been made, for which the author is indebted to the same friend.
The voice, as well as the articulation, may be greatly improved by the practice of pronouncing these elements. The voice, should be exercised on each element, separately, and then, on their most difficult combinations. This elementary exercise constitutes a kind of gymnastic training of the voice. The Greeks acquired great physical strength, by engaging in the Olympic games. The Roman soldiers qualified themselves
to handle a sword skilfully in actual battle, by using, in their preparatory exercises, heavy armor. By giving the elements, and reciting some of the best pieces of Shakspeare, Milton, Byron, and other distinguished writers, with all possible force of voice, an individual may acquire the ability to converse and read in the social circle, with perfect ease and gracefulness, and to address large audiences with great power and effect, and that, too, without any apparent, or much real effort of the organs of speech.
The voice has been aptly and justly compared to an instrument of music. Every person knows that if the strings of a musical instrument are imperfect, either in quality or number, or are not in harmony, the keys may be struck in vain by the most skilful hand: no music can be produced upon them. So, if the voice be defective,-if it be harsh or creaking,-in a word, if it be in an uncultivated condition, the speaker, although he may be master of his subject, will utterly fail of unfolding the beauties, and displaying the striking expressions of that elocution, which, like poetry, has its dwelling place in nature. If, on the other hand, the strings of an instrument are perfect and in harmony, and its keys are properly struck, a tune will be produced. The voice, when highly cultivated, swells to chords of grandeur, or is softened to cadences, which would almost suspend
"An angel's harmony to listen."
Let it not be said that our language is unadapted to the purposes of oratory. The English language, although imperfect, is excellent. Many different fountains have contributed to enlarge its stream. It flows from no particular spring. It is enriched with the spoils of several other languages. It is the most universal language on earth. It is in general use by the inhabitants on this continent, and by multitudes abroad. It rolls its swelling flood into the residences of uncounted millions. Its wealth is drawn from foreign mines; but it is none the less valuable on that account. It is our own native language. We shall be likely to use it, at every period of our lives. It furnishes rich and abundant materials for expressing every conception of the mind, and every emotion of the heart. If, then, those who use it, do not attain renown as orators,—if. in the words of Shakspeare, "we are underlings," the fault is not in our language, "but in ourselves."
"To command the applause of listening senates," requires, it must be acknowledged, a combination of natural and acquired abilities which very few possess. It is a matter of rejoicing, that there are some such orators in the United States,orators, who have the power of instructing and delighting their audiences, and to whom, the poet's lines apply in all their forceabeauty:
"Like fabled gods, their mighty war
Shook realms and nations in its jar;
But the voices of our distinguished orators and statesmen, will, ere long, cease to be heard in the ccils of the nation. When their career is terminated, who shall succeed them? The question is submitted to the decision of American young Shall we permit railroad, bank, and land speculations, to occupy our whole time? Is money the only thing worthy of the attention of mortal and immortal man? PERISH THE THOUGHT! Our cry is,-give us knowledge,-valuable knowledge. We want, too, that kind of knowledge, which, while it increases our own happiness, enables us to be useful to others.
Elocution is a powerful engine of operation upon public opinion. It is the mirror of the mind of man. It is, moreover, an emendation of morals. A taste for it, prompts an individual to occupy his leisure moments in imparting sound and useful knowledge to the people; and in that manner, he aids in elevating the standard of morals.
Elocution is also essential to the cause of liberty. When Cicero's eloquence shook the forum, Rome was recognized as the "mistress of the world." In vain, then, did Cataline lift up his traitorous arm against her. But when Cicero was murdered, "the eternal city," jostled over the precipice of faction, and her sun went down in blood. The eloquence of Demosthenes animated the Greeks, to stretch out the mighty arm of freedom, against the usurpations of Philip. When Demosthenes was put to death, the fetters of tyranny were fastened upon the citizens. If, then, we would perpetuate the existence of our country's freedom, let us put forth our ut most energies, to restore elocution to that elevated position in the United States, which it occupied in Greece and Rome, during the flourishing ages of those republics.