Abbildungen der Seite

the other foot assists merely for the purpose of keeping the body balanced in the position, and of preventing it from tottering. In the various positions of the feet, care is to be taken that the grace which is aimed at be attended with simplicity. The position of the orator is equally removed from the awkwardness of the rustic, with toes turned in and knees bent, and from the affectation of the dancing-master, whose position runs to the opposite extreme. The orator is to adopt such positions only as consist with manly and simple grace. The toes are to be moderately turned outward, but not to be constrained; the limbs are to be disposed so as to support the body with ease, and to admit of flowing and graceful movement. The sustaining foot is to be planted firmly; the leg braced, but not contracted; the other foot and limb must press lightly, and be held relaxed, so as to be ready for immediate change and action. In changing the positions of the feet, the motions are to be made with the utmost simplicity, and free from the parade and sweep of dancing. The speaker must advance, retire, or change, almost imperceptibly; and it is to be particularly observed that changes should not be too frequent. Frequent change gives the idea of anxiety or instability, both of which are unfavorable.” Nothing can be more unbecoming than for an orator to be constantly tripping from one side to the other, on the stand, and walking so fast as to seem to outrun his speech. Such an orator was said, anciently, to run after a cause, instead of pleading it; and it is stated of Flavius Virginius, that he asked a speaker, very much addicted to this habit, how many miles he had spoken that day. Of an orator, whose favorite action was rising on tiptoe, it was said, that he must have been accustomed to address his audience over a high wall.

The bow of the speaker to his audience, previous to his speech, should be graceful and dignified; as far removed from a careless, jerking abruptness, as from a formal and unnecessary flourish.

REGULATION OF THE HANDS, ARMS, &C. In Oratory, the regulation of the hand is of peculiar importance, not only as it serves to express passion, but to mark the dependence of clauses, and to interpret the emphasis. All action without the hand, says Quintilian, is weak and crippled. The expressions of the hand are as varied as language. It demands, promises, calls, dismisses, threatens, implores, detests, fears, questions, and denies. It expresses joy, sorrow, doubt, acknowledgment, dependence, repentance, number and time. Yet, the hand may be so employed as not only to become an unmeaning, but an inconvenient appendage. One speaker may raise his hands so high that he cannot readily get them down. One, cannot take them from his bosom. One, stretches them above his head; and another lays about him with such vigor, that it is dangerous to be within his reach.

In using the arms, a speaker should give his action in curves, and should bear in mind that different situations call for more or less motion of the limbs. The fingers of the hand should not be kept together, as if it were intended by nature that they should unite; nor should they be held forth unmeaningly, like a bunch of radishes; but they should be easily and naturally bent.

The speaker who truly feels his subject will feel it to his very finger-tips, and these last will take unconsciously the right bend or motion. Study well, therefore, what you have to say, and be prepared to say it in earnest.

The hand and arm should usually be moved gracefully in semi-circles, except in indicative passages, as thus : “ I charm thy life !” “Lord Cardinal, to you I speak !” To lay down rules as to how far the arms may be extended, or to what elevation the hand may be raised, would be superfluous. A speaker should avoid throwing his arms up, as if he were determined to fling them from him; and he should avoid letting them fall with a violence sufficient to bruise his thigh; yet it is indispensable that the arm should fall, and that it should not remain pinioned to the side.

It is as essential for a speaker to endeavor, hy his appearance and manner, to please the eye, as by his tones to please the ear. His dress should be decent and unaffected. His position should be easy and graceful. If he stand in a perfectly perpendicular posture, an auditor would naturally say, “ He looks like a post.” If the hands work in direct lines, it will give him the appearance of a two-handled pump. The first point to be attained is to avoid awkFard habits : such as resting the chief weight of the body first on one foot and then on the other; swinging to and fro; jerking forward the upper part of the body, at every emphatic word; keeping the elbows pinioned to the sides; and sawing the air with one hand, with one unvaried and ungraceful motion. As gesture is used for the illustration and enforcement of language, so it should be limited, in its application, to such words and passages as admit of or require it. A judicious speaker will not only adapt the general style and manner of his action to the subject, the place, and the occasion, but even when he allows himself the greatest latitude, he will reserve his gesture, or, at least, the force and ornament of it, for those parts of his discourse for which Le also reserves his boldest thoughts and his most brilliant expressions.

As the head gives the chief grace to the person, so does it principally contribute to the expression of grace in delivery. It must be held in an erect and natural position. For, when drooped, it is expressive of humility; when turned upwards, of arrogance; when inclined to one side, it expresses languor; and when stiff and rigid, it indicates a lack of ease and self-possession. Its movements should be suited to the character of the delivery; they should accord with the gesture, and fall in with the action of the hands, and the motions of the body. The eyes, which are of the utmost consequence in aiding the expression of the orator, are generally to be directed as the gesture points; except when we have occasion to condemn, or refuse, or to require any object to be removed; on which occasion, we should at the same moment express aversion in our countenance, and reject by our gesture. A listless, inanimate expression of countenance, will always detract from the effect of the most eloquent sentiments, and the most appropriate utterance.

TRAINING AND STRENGTHENING THE VOICE. In order to read and speak well, it is necessary to have all the vocal elements under complete command, so that they may be duly applied whenever they are required for the vivid and elegant delineation of the sense and sentiment of discourse. The student, therefore, should first practise on the thirty-five alphabetic elements, in order to insure a true and easy execution of their unmixed sounds. This will be of more use than pronouncing words in which they occur; for, when pronounced singly, the elements will receive a concentration of the organic effort, which will give them a clearness of sound and a definite outline, if we may so speak, at their extremes, making a fine preparation for their distinct and forcible pronunciation in the compounds of speech. He should then take one or more of the compound sounds, and carry it through all the degrees of the diatonic and concrete scales, both in an upward and a downward direction, and through the principal forms of the wave. He should next take some one familiar sentence, and practise upon it with every variety of intonation of which it will admit. He should afterwards run through the various vocal keys, and the forms of the cadence; and, lastly, he should recite, with all the force that he can command, some passage which requires great exertion of the voice. If he would acquire power and volume of utterance, he must practise in the open air, with his face to the wind, his body perfectly erect, his chest expanded, his tongue retracted and depressed, and the cavity of his mouth as much as possible enlarged; and it is almost unnecessary to add, that anything which improves the general tone of the health will proportionably affect the voice. If to this elementary practice the student add a careful and discriminating analysis of some of the best pieces which our

language contains, both in prose and verse, and if he strenuously endeavor to apply to them all the scientific principles which he has learned, there can be no doubt that he will acquire a manner of delivery which will do ample justice to any subject on which he may be called to exercise his vocal owers. p In all reading and public speaking, the management of the breath requires great care, so as not to be obliged to divide words from one another which have so intimate a connection that they ought to be pronounced in the same breath, and without the least separation. Many sentences are marred, and the force of the emphasis totally lost, by divisions being made in the wrong place. To avoid this, every one, while he is reading or speaking, should be careful to provide a full supply of breath for what he is to utter. It is a great mistake to imagine that the breath must be drawn only at the end of a period, when the voice is allowed to fall. It may easily be gathered at intervals of the period, when the voice is only suspended for a moment; and, by this management, we may have always a sufficient stock for carrying on the longest sentence, without improper interruptions. The importance of a skilful management of the breath in utterance will be made apparent by a little practice. It is a good exercise for the pupil to repeat the cardinal numbers rapidly up to twenty, inhaling a full breath at the commencement. He may, by practice, make his breath hold out till he reaches forty and more, enunciating every syllable distinctly. It must always be part of a healthful physiological regimen to exercise the voice daily, in reading or speaking aloud. The habit of Demosthenes, of walking by the sea-shore and shouting, was less important, in accustoming him to the sound of a multitude, than in developing and strengthening his vocal organs. The pupil will be astonished to find how much his voice will gain in power by daily exercise. “Reading aloud and recitation,” says Andrew Combe, “are more useful and invigorating muscular exercises than is generally imagined; at least, when managed with due regard to the natural powers of the individual, so as to avoid effort and fatigue. Both require the varied activity of most of the muscles of the trunk to a degree of which few are conscious till their attention is turned to it. In forming and undulating the voice, not only the chest, but also the diaphragm and abdominal Inuscles, are in constant action, and communicate to the stomach and bowels a healthy and agreeable stimulus.” How doubly important does the judicious and methodical exercise of the voice thus become to him who would make it at once an effective instrument of conveying truth to his fellow-men, and of improving his own physical strength and capacity

[ocr errors]

The length of a vowel is indicated by a horizontal line (–) over it; as, Latinus. Its shortness is marked by a curve ('); as, Regilus.

If two vowels, which, in ordinary circumstances, form a diphthong, or are likely to be fused together in their utterance, are to be pronounced separately, the second is marked with (") ; that is, a diaeresis; as, atrial. This rule is not always observed in familiar instances.

The acute accent () is employed to indicate that the vowel over which it is placed is not merged in the preceding syllable ; as, blesséd, Tompé ; the accent showing that these words are to be pronounced in two syllables. In poetry, the past participle, which in prose is in one syllable, often has to be pronounced in two, to preserve the harmony of the verse.




1. TRUTH THE OBJECT OF ALL STUDIES. – Original Translation.

THE supreme want, as well as the supreme blessing of man, is truth; yes, truth in religion, which, in giving us pure and exalted ideas of the Divinity, teaches us, at the same time, to render Him the most worthy and intelligent homage;— truth in morals, which indicates their duties to all classes, at once without rigor and without laxity; — truth in politics, which, in making authority more just and the people more acquiescent, saves governments from the passions of the multitude, and the multitude from the tyranny of governments; — truth in our legal tribunals, which strikes Vice with consternation, reassures Innocence, and accomplishes the triumph of Justice;— truth in education, which, bringing the conduct of instructors into accordance with their teaching, exhibits them as the models no less than the masters of infancy and youth; — truth in literature and in art, which preserves them from the contagion of bad taste, from false ornaments as well as false thoughts; — truth in the daily commerce of life, which, in banishing fraud and imposture, establishes the common security; — truth in everything, truth before everything, — this is, in effect, what the whole human race, at heart, solicit. Yes, all men have a consciousness, that truth is ever beneficent, and falsehood ever pernicious.

And, indeed, when none but true doctrines shall be universally inculcated, - when they shall have penetrated all hearts, – when they shall animate every order of society, - if they do not arrest all existing evils, they will have, at least, the advantage of arresting a great many. They will be prolific in generous sentiments and virtuous actions; and the world will perceive that truth is, to the body social, a principle of life. But, if, on the other hand, error, in matters of capital import, obtain dominion in the minds of men, – especially of those who are called to serve as guides and models, — it will mislead and confound them, and, in corrupting their thoughts, sentiments and acts, it will become a principle of dissolution and death.

2. IMMORTALITY. - Original Translation from Massillon. JEAN BAPTISTE MASSILLON, one of the most eloquent preachers of any age, was born in Pro vence, France, in 1663. He became so celebrated for his eloquence, that he was called to Paris, where he drew crowds of hearers. In 1717, he was made Bishop of Clermont ; and died, 1742.

Ir we wholly perish with the body, what an imposture is this whole system of laws, manners and usages, on which human society is founded! If we wholly perish with the body, these maxims of charity, patience, justice, honor, gratitude and friendship, which sages have taught and good men have practised, what are they but empty words, possessing no real and binding efficacy? Why should we heed them, if in this life only we have hope? Speak not of duty. What can we owe to the dead, to the living, to ourselves, if all are, or will be, nothing? Who shall dictate our duty, if not our own pleasures, — if not our own passions ? Speak not of morality. It is a mere chimera, a bugbear of human invention, if retribution terminate with the grave.

If we must wholly perish, what to us are the sweet ties of kindred ? what the tender names of parent, child, sister, brother, husband, wife, or friend? The characters of a drama are not more illusive. We have no ancestors, no descendants; since succession cannot be predicated of nothingness. Would we honor the illustrious dead ? How absurd to honor that which has no existence! Would we take thought for posterity ? How frivolous to concern ourselves for those whose end, like our own, must soon be annihilation ! Have we made a promise ? How can it bind nothing to nothing? Perjury is but a jest. The last injunctions of the dying, - what sanctity have they, more than the last sound of a chord that is snapped, of an instrument that is broken?

To sum up all : If we must wholly perish, then is obedience to the laws but an insensate servitude ; rulers and magistrates are but the phantoms which popular imbecility has raised up; justice is an unwarrantable infringement upon the liberty of men,

- an imposition, an usurpation; the law of marriage is a vain scruple; modesty, a prejudice; honor and probity, such stuff as dreams are made of; and incests, murders, parricides, the most heartless cruelties, and the blackest crimes, are but the legitimate sports of man's irresponsible nature; while the harsh epithets attached to them are merely such as the policy of legislators has invented, and imposed on the credulity of the people.

Here is the issue to which the vaunted philosophy of unbelievers must inevitably lead. Here is that social felicity, that sway of reason, that emancipation from error, of which they eternally prate, as the fruit of their doctrines. Accept their maxims, and the whole world falls back into a frightful chaos ; and all the relations of life are confounded; and all ideas of vice and virtue are reversed ; and the most inviolable laws of society vanish ; and all moral discipline perishes ; and the government of states and nations has no longer any cement to uphold it; and all the harmony of the body politic

« ZurückWeiter »