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There are, in every sentence, some word or words, on which the sense of the rest depends; and these must always be distinguished by a fuller and stronger sound of voice, whether they are found in the beginning, the middle, or the end of the sentence. It is highly improper to lay an emphasis on words of little importance. Words put in opposition to each other are always emphatical : as, “ Here I am miserable ; but there I shall be happy.” “Children,” says Beattie, “ are not often taught to read with proper emphasis. When books are put before them which they do not understand, it is impossible they should apply it properly. Let them, therefore, read nothing but what is level to their capacity. Let them read deliberately, and with attention to every word. Let them be set right, not only when they misapply the emphasis ; but also cautioned against the opposite extremes of too forcible and too feeble an application of it: for, by the former of these faults, they become affected in their utterance ; and by the latter, insipid.” That children may be enabled to apply the emphasis with judgment, they should carefully study the subject, and ascertain the meaning of every difficult word and sentence, previous to their being called to read to the teacher.
An emphasis consists in raising the voice, cadence signifies the falling of it. Towards the close of a sentence, the cadence takes place, unless the concluding words be emphatical. It should always be easy and gradual, not abrupt; and should never be expressed in a feeble and languid manner. Even the falling of the voice may be managed with spirit and variety
III. As the art of reading greatly depends on the proper management of the breath, it should be used with economy. The voice ought to be relieved at every stop ; slightly at a comma, more leisurely at a semicolon, or a colon, and completely at a period.
A due attention to this rule will prevent a broken, faint and languid voice, which is the usual fault of ignorant and vulgar readers. It will enable the reader to preserve the command of his voice; to pronounce the longest sentence with as much ease as the shortest; and to acquire that freedom and energy, with which a person of judgment naturally expresses his perceptions, , emotions and passions, in common discourse.
The comma marks the shortest pause; the semicolon, a pause double that of the comma; the colon, double that of the semicolon; and the period, double that of the colon. A dash following a stop, shows that the pause is to be greater than if the stop were alone; and when used by itself, requires a pause of such length as the sense alone can determine. agraph requires a pause double that which is proper at a period.
The points of interrogation and exclamation, are uncertain as to their time. The pause which they demand is equal to a semicolon, a colon, or a period, as the sense may require. They should be attended with an elevation of the voice. The parenthesis, unless accompanied with a stop, requires but a small pause. It generally marks a moderate depression of the voice.
IV. Let the tone of voice in reading be the same as it would be in speaking on the same subject.
To render this rule proper and effectual, children should be taught to speak slowly, distinetly, and with due attention to the sentiments they express. The mode of speaking is then only to be imitated by the reader, when it is just and natural.
V. Endeavour to vary and modulate the voice according to the nature of the subject, whether it be in a solemn, a serious, a familiar, a gay, a humorous, or an ironical strain.
It would be highly improper to read an interesting narrative, with an air of negligence; to express warm emotions of the heart, with cold indifference : and to pronounce a passage of Scripture, on a sublime and important subject, with the familiar tone of common conversation. On the other hand, it would be absurd to read a letter on trivial subjects, in a mournful strain; er a production of gaiety and humour, with grave formality.
VI. In reading verse, the same general directions must be observed, as have been given for reading prose.
Narrative, didactic, descriptive, and pathetic pieces, have the same peculiar tone and manner, in poetry as
A singing note, and making the lines jingle by laying too great stress on the rhyming words, should be particularly avoided. A very small pause
ought to be made at the end of a line, unless the sense, or some of the usual marks of pause, require a considerable one. The great rule for reading verse, as well as prose, is to read slowly, distinctly, and in a natural tone of voice,
We shall now caution the young readers againstsome faults which many are apt to commit. In doing this, it will unavoidably happen, that a few of the preceding observations will, in some degree, be repeated : but this confirmation of the rules will, it is presumed, be no disadvantage to the learners. A display of the various errors in reading, incident to children, may. make a greater impression, than directions which are positive, and point only to the propriety of pronunciation.
1. Avoid too loud, or too low a voice.
An overstrained voice is very inconvenient to the reader, as well as disgusting to the hearer.
It ex. hausts the reader's spirits; and prevents the proper management anił modulation of his voice, according to the sense of his subject; and it naturally leads into a tone. Too low a voice is not so inconvenient to the speaker, as the other extreme; but it is very disagreeable to the hearer. It is always offensive to an audience, to observe any thing in the reader or speaker, that marks indolence or inattention. When the voice is naturally too loud, or too low, young persons should correct it in their ordinary conversation : by
this means they will learn to avoid both the extremes, in reading. They should begin the sentence with an oven, moderate voice, which will enable them to rise or fall as the subject requires.
2. Avoid a thick, confused, cluttering voice.
It is very disagreeable to hear a person mumble, clip or swallow his words ; leaving out some syllables in the long words, and searcely ever pronouncing some of the short ones; but hurrying on without any carc to give his words their full sound, or bis hearers the full sense of them. This fault is not easily cured. The best means of mending it, is, to endeavour, both in conversation and reading, to pronounce every word in a deliberate, clear and distinct manner.
3. Be careful to read neither too quick nor too slow.
A precipitant reader leaves no room for pauses ; fatigues himself; and lowers the dignity of his subject. His hearers lose much of what is delivered, and must always be dissatisfied with a reader who hurries and tires them. Children are very apt to read too fast, and to take pleasure in it, thinking that they who pronounce the words with the greatest rapidity, are the best scholars. The heavy, dronish, sleepy, reader, and who often makes pauses where there should be none, is also very disagreeable. If he hems and yawns between the periods, he is still more so.
4. Study to avoid an irregular inode of pronuncias tion.