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564 Shakspeare 179, 180, 181, 182, 341,
344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 350,
279 351, 352, 533, 541, 545, 548
322 Sheridan, R. B. 4, 5, 502, 561
263 Story, J. .
47, 48, 49, 50
203, 205 Sumner, C. 138, 139, 369, 371, 372,
Webster, D. .. 144, 145, 147, 149, 151,
152, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 160,
365! 161, 163, 164, 165, 166, 168
285 Whittier, J. G.
470, 471, 473
397, 399, 400 Willis, N. P. 225, 226, 227, 230
410, 412, 414, 415
141 Winthrop, R. C. 54, 56, 360, 361
74, 75, 76
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS ON DECLAMATION.
It is not my purpose to present here a theory of elocution, or a systematic treatise on the art of speaking. My object will be accomplished if I succeed in furnishing a summary of practical suggestions and hints on the subject of declamation which shall prove useful both to students and to such teachers as have not made the study of elocution a specialty.
That a correct and impressive elocution is a desirable attainment, few will venture to deny. In my judgment it is the crowning grace of a liberal education. To the highest success in those professions which involve public speaking, it is, of course, indispensable. No person, whatever is to be his destination in life, who aspires to a respectable education and to mingle in good society, can afford to dispense with this accomplishment. If a young man means to succeed in life and attain distinction and influence, he should spare no pains in the cultivation of the faculty of speech. The culture of his vocal organs should keep pace with the culture of his mental powers. While acquiring a knowledge of literature and science, he should also form the habit of speaking his vernacular with propriety, grace, ease, and elegance, sparing no effort to acquire what has been aptly called “the music of the phrase ; that clear, flowing, and decided sound of the whole sentence, which embraces both tone and accent, and which is only to be learned from the precept and example of an accomplished teacher."
As a means of acquiring an appropriate, effective, and graceful elocution for the purposes of conversation, reading, and public speaking, the exercise of declamation, when properly conducted, cannot be too highly valued. It must be confessed, however, that the practice of declaiming as managed in some institutions, is comparatively useless, if not positively injurious. Hence arises the prejudice against it which exists in some quarters. And it is not surprising that the results of declamation should be unsatisfactory, considering the defective methods of conducting it, which are still prevalent in not a few places. What can be expected of declamation which consists in repeating on the stage a few pieces, - injudiciously selected and imperfectly committed, — without previous or accompanying vocal training ? The remarks of Dr. Rush, on this topic, though made more than a quarter of a century ago, are still to some extent applicable. Go to some, may I say all, of our colleges and universities, and observe how the art of speaking is not taught. See a boy of but fifteen years sent upon the stage, pale and choking with apprehension, in an attempt to do that, without instruction, which he came purposely to learn; and furnishing amusement to bis classmates, by a pardonable awkwardness, which should be punished in the person of his pretending but neglectful preceptor with little less than scourging. Then visit a conservatoire of music; observe there the orderly tasks, the masterly discipline, the unwearied superintendence and the incessant toil to produce accomplishment of voice; and afterward do not be surprised that the pulpit, the senate, the bar, and the chair of the medical professorship are filled with such abominable drawlers, mouthers, mumblers, clutterers, squeakers, chanters, and mongers in monotony; nor that the schools of singing are constantly sending abroad those great instances of vocal wonder, who draw forth the intelligent curiosity and produce the crowning delight and approbation of the prince and the sage."
This eminent writer's great work on the Philosophy of the Human Voice has done much to correct the evil which he so graphically described. There are now some schools and colleges to be found in which elocution is taught with much skill and success.
Among the disciples of Dr. Rush who have most successfully cultivated the art of elocution in America, the foremost place belongs to Professor William Russell, whose valuable and protracted labors in this department of education, both as an author and a practical instructor, merit the highest commendation.
As the first of my recommendations, I would, at the outset, strenuously insist on the importance of systematic vocal culture, which implies the training of the ear to perceive the various qualities and modifications of vocal expression, and the training of the voice to produce them. All the different functions of the voice employed in speech should be analytically exemplified by the teacher, and practised by the pupil, in the reading or recitation of short passages in which they are well illustrated, such as may be found in any good manual of elocution. This kind of teaching is to elocution what practice upon the scale is to music, and what the practice of the eye upon the harmony and contrast of colors is to painting.
This course of training naturally divides itself into two departments : first, that which is mechanical; and, secondly, that which relates to the expression of thought and emotion.
I. THAT WHICH IS MECHANICAL. Breathing. The human voice is a musical instrument, - an organ of exquisite contrivance and adaptation of parts. Breath being the material of its sound, vocal training should begin with the function of breathing. Vigorous respiration is as essential to good elocution as it is to good health. To secure this it is necessary, in the first place, to attend to the posture, taking care to give the utmost freedom, expansion, and capacity to the chest, and then to exercise and develoj all the muscles employed in respiration, so that they may be habitually used with energy and power, both in the inhalation and expulsion of the breath. Whenever the voice is to be used in speaking, reading, singing, or animated conversation, the pupil should be required to assume the proper position, and to bring into exercise the whole muscular apparatus of the vocal organs, including the muscles of the abdomen, of the back, of the ribs, and of the chest. Elocutionary exercises, especially that of declamation, thus practised with a due regard to the function of breathing, become highly beneficial in a hygienic point of view, imparting heaith and vigor to the whole physical system. The want of this kind of training is the cause of much of the bronchial disease with which clergymen and other public speakers are afflicted. In the excellent work on Elocution, by Russell and Murdock, the following exercises in breathing are prescribed and explained :—“ Attitude of the body and position of the organs; deep breathing; diffusive or tranquil breathing; expulsive or forcible breathing; explosive or abrupt breathing; sighing ; sobbing; gasping; and panting,"
Experience has proved that the respiratory organs are susceptible of a high degree of development, and it is well known that the strength öf the voice depends on the capacity, health, and action of those organs. It is therefore of paramount importance that elocutionary culture should be based on the mechanical function of respiration. And while the elocutionist trains his pupils in such breathing exercises as are above named, he is at the same time giving the very best part of physical education ; for the amount of vital power, as well as the amount of vocal power, depends upon the health and vigor of the respiratory process. Few are aware how much may be effected by these exercises, judiciously practised, in those constitutions where the chest is narrow, indicating a tendency to pulmonary disease. In all such cases, regularly repeated deep inspirations are of the highest value. It should be observed that these exercises are best performed in the open air, or, at least, in a well-ventilated room, the windows being open for the time. But no directions however wise or minute, can supersede the necessity of a competent teacher in this branch of physical and vocal training, and I cannot dismiss this topic without expressing my high appreciation of the value of the labors of that great master of the science of vocal culture, Prof. Lewis B. Monroe, of Boston, who is probably unsurpassed in this, or any other country as a practical teacher of the mechanism and physiology of speech Already the benefit of his instruction in this department of education is widely felt, and I omit no opportunity to advise teachers to avail themselves of a longer or shorter course of his admirable training: For if there is any accomplishment which a teacher should be unwilling to forego, it is that of skill in elocution.
Articulation. A good articulation consists in giving to each letter its appropriate sound, and to each syllable and word an accurate, forcible, and distinct utterance, according to an approved standard of pronunciation.
This is what constitutes the basis of all good delivery. It has been well said that good articulation is to the ear what a fair hand or a clear type is to the eye. Austin's often-quoted description of a good articulation must not be omitted here. “ 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 be neither abridged nor prolonged, nor swallowed, nor forced; they should not be trailed, nor drawled, nor let 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.” Good articulation is not only necessary to the speaker, as a condition of being heard and understood, but it is a positive beauty of delivery, for the elementary sounds of speech, when properly uttered, are in themselves both agreeable and impressive. For the attainment of this desirable accomplishment, three classes of exercises are necessary. 1. Upon the separate elemeutary sounds of the language, both vowels and consonants. 2. Upon their various combinations, both such as constitute syllables and such as do not, and especially the more difficult combinations of consonants ; and, 3. Upon words ; spelling them by sounds, that is, uttering the elementary sounds separately, and then the whole word.
Respecting these exercises, Dr. Rush observes : “ When the elements are pronounced singly, they may receive a concentration of organic effort, which gives them a clearness of sound, and a definiteDess of outline, if I may so speak, at their extremes, that make a fina