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Desd. My mother had a maid, called Barbara;
And sing it like poor Barbara. Pr'ythee, dispatch.
This Lodovico is a proper man.
Certain passions have their relief in others; this may be termed the succession or alternation of passion. Thus, on receiving an injury, resentment is often followed by grief; and anger often finds relief in assumed contempt and irony.
Worcester, get thee gone, for I see danger
You have good leave to leave us; when we need
A violent passion does not long keep possession of the mind. It has a train of feelings flowing from it, and the pronunciation must be varied accordingly. There is a beautiful exemplification of this in the reply of Coriolanus to Aufidius on being taunted as a boy. Aufidius. Name not the god,
Thou boy of tears.
Coriolanus. Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart Too great for what contains it.
Boy! Cut me to pieces, Volscians: men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. Boy!
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
That, like an eagle in a dove-cot, I
Fluttered your Volscians in Corioli:
In this piece, the word "boy" is repeated thrice; and an inexperienced speaker might rise in intensity on each succeeding reiteration. But a little reflection will show that each succeeding "boy" should sink in intensity, the last being merely slightly contemptuous. In the first part of the quotation, astonishment and rage completely occupy the mind, and the word boy is given full and prolonged, with the rising inflexion. But a man in vehement commotion soon becomes ashamed of his own situation: if he is proud, his mind whispers to him that he is giving his enemy an advantage by acknowledging that he has the power of moving him so much; in such situations, the mind will suddenly adapt ironical and sneering language which may argue contempt and coolness. ""Twas there, that, like an eagle in a dove-cot, I fluttered your Volscians in Corioli." After this, the mind, as if it felt that it had got satisfaction for the insult by the taunt thrown out, acquires more calmness, and the last "boy" is slightly contemptuous. So quickly has the passion exhausted itself, that, in the end, prudence has obtained a place. "But let us part, lest my rash hand should do a hasty deed my cooler thought forbids."
An attention to the principle of dominant and inferior passions will prevent that absurd mimicry which is often adopted when we repeat the words of others. Thus, in Cassius's speech against Cæsar, the words "Give me some drink, Titinius," are not pronounced in the attenuated voice of a sick person, but partake of the scorn and contempt with which Cassius was overflowing.
He had a fever when he was in Spain;
This holds not only in acting, but also in recitation; for although the reciter is not supposed to be so occupied with passion as an actor, he has still an impress of the passion which he describes, and must not condescend to throw himself so much out of the character as to enter into another inferior one, especially if it is mean, and merely incidental. It must be obvious that this mimicry would be still more unbecoming in a dignified orator. In light and comic acting, it is introduced with propriety.
To acquire variety of tone, the reading of dialogues, where the characters are affected by different passions, is very useful. Thus, the tones of stern and deep resolve are strongly set off by those of tenderness and innocent fear, in the following dialogue:
Othello. Have you pray'd to-night, Desdemona?
Oth. If you bethink yourself of any crime Unreconcil'd as yet to heaven and grace,
Solicit for it straight.
Desd. Alas! my lord, what may you mean by that ?
No, heaven forefend! I would not kill thy soul
Oth. Ay, I do.
Desd. Then, heaven have mercy on me!
Desd. If you say so, I hope you will not kill me.
Desd. And yet I fear you; for you are fatal then
Desd. That death's unnatural, that kills for loving.
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame :
They do not point on me.
Oth. Peace and be still.
The voice of Desdemona is high, soft, clear, slow, and tremulous; that of Othello, deep, compressed, slow, and aspirated. Dialogues, when the characters are male and female, as in the above, afford the best exercises, as the voice makes a natural effort to contrast them.
In all languages, there is a connection betwixt certain words and their pronunciation, naturally significant of the ideas which they represent. In those words which signify objects with which sound and motion are associated, the connection is obvious; by a natural association, this imitation is extended to the qualities of roughness, smoothness, height, extension, &c., and also to the metaphysical qualities of gentleness, melancholy, &c. To heighten this imitation in common conversation, or in plain reading, would be ridiculous; but in descriptive reading, the voice enters into the imitation, and seems to endeavour to give every word a natural expression.
Immensity, sublimity, are naturally expressed by a prolongation and swell of the voice.
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll,
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain.
The adoption of a tone little varied in the inflexion is necessary in such passages, the wave of the voice not exceeding a half note. Thou glorious mirror! where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed, in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Dark heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime.
The reader's admiration of a passage is conveyed to another by a subdued imitation, and a long interval betwixt the words. I notice this, although it does not come within the legitimate sphere of ornamental reading, as it is a practice of daily occurrence, and as it is frequently employed by the intelligent reader to convey to others the full beauty, force, and sublimity of a passage. In such reading, there is a tone of wonder and admiration; and the frequent pauses are made, that the hearer may have leisure to see the composition in all its meaning.
Motion and sound, in all their modifications, are, in descriptive reading, more or less imitated. To glide, to drive, to swell, to flow, to skip, to whirl, to turn, to rattle, &c., all partake of a peculiar modification of voice. This expression lies in the key, force, and time of the tones, and the forcible pronunciation of certain letters which are supposed more particularly to express the imitation.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance ;
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
The rhythmus of speech is significant of various kinds of
Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone.
The pauses which must necessarily occur betwixt high, hill, huge, round, and stone, are eminently descriptive of slow motion. The necessity of these pauses is shown in what follows on the measure of speech.
First march the heavy mules securely slow;
O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks they go.
The regularity of the cadence here, as is afterwards seen in the Measure of Speech, is peculiarly appropriate.
Besides the pauses of passion, and those which are denoted by grammatical punctuation, there are short pauses at the termination of those clusters of words which have been termed oratorical, and others which are regulated by the rhythmus of speech. The latter are explained under the head Measure of Speech; the former, which have obtained the name of Rhetorical Pauses, may be quickly understood by the following rule and examples.
Pause before the nominative, if it consists of several words, or if it is one important word; before and after an intermediate clause; before the relative; before and after clauses introduced by prepositions; before conjunctions; and before the infinitive mood, if any words intervene betwixt it and the word which governs it.
The experience of want | enhances the value of plenty. Truth is the basis of excellence.
Trials in this state of being | are the lot of man.
From the right exercise
which brings our affections to the
of our intellectual powers | arises]
one of the chief sources of our happiness. We applaud virtue | even in enemies.
Honour and shame | from no condition rise.
A public speaker | may have a voice that is musical | and of great compass; but it requires much time and labour | to attain its just modulation and that variety of flexion and tone which a pathetic discourse requires.
These pauses are generally shorter in their duration than those at the grammatical points. The duration of the various pauses will be exemplified in the examples on the Measure of Speech; in the meantime it may be noticed, that grammatical punctuation does not