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The following extract from the North American Review is inserted here for
the benefit of teachers and others interested in the education of youth.
"It ought to be a leading object in our schools to teach the art of reading. It ought to occupy three-fold more time than it does. The teachers of these schools should labor to improve themselves. They should feel, that to them, for a time, are committed the future orators of the land. We had rather have a child, even of the other sex, return to us from school, a first-rate reader, than a first-rate performer on the piano-forte. We should feel that we had a far better pledge for the intelligence and talent of our child. The accomplishment, in its perfection, would give more pleasure. The voice of song is not sweeter than the voice of eloquence. And there may be eloquent readers, as well as eloquent speakers. We speak of perfection in this art; and it is something, we must say in defence of our preference, which we have never yet seen. Let the same pains be devoted to reading, as are required to form an accomplished performer on an instrument; let us have our phonasci, as the ancients had,—the formers of the voice, the music-masters of the reading voice; let us see years devoted to this accomplishment, and then we shall be prepareu to stand the comparison. It is, indeed, a most intellectual accomplishment. So is music, too, in its perfection. But one recommendation of the art of read. ing is, that it requires a constant exercise of mind. It demands continual and close reflection and thought, and the finest discrimination of thought It involves. in its perfection, the whole art of criticism on langriage."
SIMPLIFIED FROM THE WORKS OF
PORTER, WALKER, AND RUSH. All who attentively observe the movements of the voice in reading or in speaking, will perceive that it rises and falls as in singing. Let any one count slowly, and he will easily discover these variations of the voice, ass, onè, two, thrèe,-four, five, six ;—here it will be seen that the voice varies in its tones. Let these words drawl off the tongue and these slides of the voice will be still more apparent. In the question and answer,-Will you go to-day? No—any one will easily perceive that the voice is inclined up. wards on the word day, and downwards on no. These movements, or slides of the voice are called inflections, which include all those gradual waring variations which are heard in good reading, or in animated conversation.
The modifications of the voice are four-viz. The rising inflection, which turns the voice, upwards, marked thus ()--the falling inflection, which turns the voice downwards, marked thus (the circumfle.c, which is a union of the falling and rising inflections, marked thus (0-and the monotone, which is a sameness of sound, marked thus (-). That the learner may acquire a practical knowledge of these inflections, it is important that he should be exercised on examples like the following, till he can easily distinguish one from the other.
RISING INFLECTION. FALLING INFLECTION.
-or poòr ?
-or ignorant ?
-or read? You must not say nó
So am 'I.
I am idle.
I am poòr.
I shall walk.
I shall ride. Rule 1. When interrogative sentences, connected by the disjunctive or, succeed each other, the first ends with the rising inflection, the latter with the falling; as,
you say nó– -or yès? Did you rún
-or walk? Will you write
-or read ? Rule 2. A direct question, or that which admits the answer of yes or no, has the rising inflection, and the answer has the falling; as,
Did you say fáme? Nò. I said name.
Will you ride? I will walk.
Why are you idle? I have no book.
learn. What is your name? A good sch lar
Will you gó
Rule 4. When a sentence is composed of a positive and negative part, which are opposed to each other, the positive must have the falling inflection and the negative the rising; as,
He did not say yoúrs—but minè.
Study not for amusement-but for impròvement. Rule 5. Commands, denunciation, reprehension, generally require the falling inflection; as,
Give me the boòk. Hènce! bégone! away!
Wo unto you Phàrisees! Why tèmpt ye me. Rule 6. When two members consisting of single words commence a sentence, the first has the falling, the second the rising inflection; as,
Idlèness and ignorance are inseparable companions. Rule 7. The final pause, or that which denotes the sense to be finished, requires the falling inflection; as,
Love, joy, peace; long-suffering , gentlenéss, goodness, faith', meekness', and temperánce, are the fruits of the Spirit. Rule 8. Tender emotions require the rising infection; as,
Jesus saith unto her, Máry.
You too, Brútus. Rule 9. The circumflex is generally applied to phrases that are of a hy. pothetic nature, and to negations contrasted with affirmations; as,
If ye lóve mé, keep my commandments.
PAUSES. Pauses are distinguished into two kinds; viz. The Grammatical Pause, designated by points, and addressed to the eye; and the Rhetorical Pause, dictated by the sense, and therefore addressed to the ear.
It is taken for granted that the learner is already acquainted with the first, which renders it unnecessary to give any explanation of it here.
The Rhetorical Pause is that cessation of the voice which the reader oi speaker makes after some important word in a sentence, and upon which he wishes to fix the attention of the hearer.
When a proper name, or a word which stands for the subject of a discourse, begins a sentence, it requires a pause after it, although the grammatical relation would allow no visible punctuation; as
Hypocrisy is a homage that vice pays to virtue.
Homer was the greater génius; Virgil the better artist. Here, although the grammatical relation would admit no visible pauso after the words in Italic, yet the ear demands one, which no good reader would fail to make. The following examples are marked to show more fully the use of this pause.
Some-place the bliss in action, some-in ease;
Thouart the man.
Memory-is the purveyor of reason.
The great pursuit of man-is after happiness. The good reader will perceive the propriety of pausing after the first word, as the subject of the sentence. By this pause the mind is fixed upon the principal object of attention, and prepared to proceed with clearness and deliberation to the reception of what follows.
PITCH OF VOICE. By Pitch of Voice is meant those high and low tones which prevail in speaking. Every person has three pitches of voice, which are easily distinguished; viz.—the natural or middle pitch,—the high pitch,--and the low pitch. The natural or middle pitch is that which is heard in common conversation. The high pitch is used in calling to one at a distance. The low pitch is employed when we speak to one quite near,
and who, though surrounded by many, is the only one supposed to hear.
The learner must be informed here, that high and loud, and low and soft, have not the least affinity. To render the different pitches of the voice clear and intelligible to the learner, the following diagram is inserted, exhibiting to the eye a scale of speaking tones, similar to that used in music.
Let the learner commence in as low a bass-key as possible, and count up the diagram, rising a tone* each number, the same as sounding the eight notes in music, and he will easily discover that the degrees of pitch in speaking, are the same as those in singing: This scale of speaking tones, may seem difficult at first, but a very little practice will render it easy. Let the learner speak oné in as low a bass-key as possible—then two, &c. and he will find that he can speak these with as much ease and correctness as he cañi sinig them. When he has acquired a knowledge of these different pitches and tones—let him take a sentence and read it on the lowest note-then read it on a note higher, and so on, till he has reached the highest note of his voice. Take the following line.
On-on-to the just and glorious strife." • The Semitone between the 3 and 4 is not noticed here, being unnecessary in the present case.
A litile practice, it is believed, will give the reader a perfect command of his voice in all the degrees of tone from the lowest to the highest notes to which the voice can be raised.
ACCENT. Accent is a stress of voice given to a particular syllable to distinguish it from others in the same word; as in the word a-tone'-ment, the stress is laid on the second syllable. Accent is, in a measure, dependent on emphasis, and is transposed where the claims of emphasis require it; as when words occur, which have a partial sameness in form, but are contrasted in sense; as,
Neither jústice nor injustice.
EMPHASIS. Emphasis is a stress of voice laid on particular words in a sentence, to distinguish them from others, and convey their meaning in the best manner; as, “ You were not sent here to play, but to study.” The learner will perceive that the words play and study are pronounced with more force than the rest of the sentence, and are therefore termed the emphatical words.
A word, on which the meaning of a sentence is suspended, or placed in contrast, or in opposition to other words, is always emphatical.
As to the degree or intensity of force that the reader or speaker should give to important words in a sentence, no particular rules can be given. He must enter into the spirit of what he reads-feel the sentiment expressed, and he will seldom fail in giving each word its proper force, or emphatic stress. Emphasis is ever associated with thought and emotion; and he who would become eminent as a reader, or speaker, must re ber that the “soul of eloquence is foeling."
EXAMPLES FOR EXERCISE.
'Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in uriting or in judging ill.
A METHOD OF MARKING THE DIFFERENT FORCES OF WORDS. Various methods have been devised to mark the different forces of words in sentences, in such a manner as to convey clear idea of the pronunciation. The most simple and practical method is to unite the unaccented words to those that are accented, as if they were syllables of them. This classification naturally divides a sentence into just so many portions, as it contains accents; as in the following sentence:
Prosperity | gains friends and adversity | tries them. When there is no uncommon emphasis in a sentence, we can pronounce it with more or fewer accents, without materially affecting the sense. The