« PoprzedniaDalej »
ful influence it may have on the pupils of these Seminaries, will be a clear gain in my own official duties, in respect to such of these pupils as may afterward come under my instruction. The fewer bad habits are carried from elementary schools to the college, and from the college to professional studies, the easier, at each stage, becomes the progress of improvement. And the more deeply the spirit of improvement in Elocution takes hold of young men, in our literary institutions, the greater will be their annual contribution of eloquent men for the pulpit, as well as for secular professions. The fifteen years in which I have been connected with a Theological Seminary, which receives its members from all the Colleges, have enabled me to observe, as I have done with much satisfaction, a gradual and growing advance, in our educated young men, as to the spirit of delivery. This advance has been especially obvious since several of these Colleges have had able Professors of Rhetoric and Oratory, a department of instruction in which it is presumed none of them can much longer remain deficient, consistently with the claims of public opinion.
Had I been fully aware of the labor it would require to select the examples, and apply the notation, in the first part of the Exercises, I should have been deterred from the undertaking. With much pleasure I acknowledge my obligations to Mr. GEORGE Howe and Mr. SAMUEL C. JACKSON, for the important assistance they have rendered, especially in correcting the press, and selecting pieces for the second part of the Exercises. This assistance has been the more necessary on account of my infirm health, and the urgency of official duties.
I add only two remarks here. One is, that I consider this little book as an experiment, on a subject environed with difficulty, both from the inadequate attention it has hitherto received, in our systems of education, and from the prevalence of conflicting tastes respecting it. The other is, that, having transferred all pecuniary concern in this publication to the Rhetorical Society abovementioned, I have no personal interest in its success, beyond the hope that it may, in some degree, promote the purposes to which my life is devoted.
DIRECTIONS TO TEACHERS.
To those who may use this book, I have thought it proper to make the following preparatory suggestions.
1. In a large number of those who are to be taught reading and speaking, the first difficulty to be encountered arises from bad habits previously contracted. The most ready way to overcome these, is to go directly into the analysis of vocal sounds, as they occur in conversation. But to change a settled habit, even in trifles, often requires perseverance for a long time; of course it is not the work of a moment, to transform a heavy, uniform manner of delivery, into one that is easy, discriminating, and forcible. This is to be accomplished, not by a few irresolute, partial attempts, but by a steadiness of purpose and of effort, corresponding with the importance of the end to be achieved. Nor should it seem strange if, in this process of transformation, the subject of it should at first appear somewhat artificial and constrained in manner.
More less of this inconvenience is unavoidable, in all important changes of habit. The young pupil in chirography never can become an elegant penman, till his bad habit of holding his pen is broken up; though for a time the change may make him write worse than before. In respect to Elocution, as well as every other art, the case may be in some measure similar. But let the new manner become so familiar, as to have in its favour the advantages of habit, and the difficulty ceases.
2. The pupil should learn the distinction of inflections, by reading the familiar examples under one rule, occasionally turning to the Exercises, when more examples are ne
cessary; and the Teacher's voice should set him right whenever he makes a mistake. In the same manner, he should go through all the rules successively. If he acquires the habit of giving too great or too little extent to his slides of voice, he should be carefully corrected, according to the suggestions given, p. 43, 50, 51, and 88.-After getting the command of the voice, the great point to be steadily kept in view, is to apply the principles of emphasis and inflection, just as nature and sentiment demand. In respect to those principles of modulation, in which the power of delivery so essentially consists, we should always remember too, that, as no theory of the passions can teach a man to be pathetic, so no description that can be given of the inflection, emphasis, and tones, which accompany emotion, can impart this emotion, or be a substitute for it. No adequate description indeed can be given of the nameless and ever varying shades of expression, which real pathos gives to the voice. Precepts here are only subsidiary helps to genius and sensibility.
3. Previous attention should be given to any example or exercise, before it is read to the Teacher. At the time of reading, the student should generally go through, without interruption; and then the Teacher should explain any fault, and correct it by the example of his own voice, requiring the parts to be repeated. It would be useful often to inquire why such a modification of voice occurs, in such a place, and how a change of structure would vary the inflection, stress, &c. When the examples are short, as in all the former part of the work, reference may easily be made to any sentence; and in the long examples, the lines are numbered, on the left hand of the page, to facilitate the reference, after a passage has been read.
4. When any portion of the Exercises is committed to memory for declamation, it should be perfectly committed, before it is spoken ; as any labor of recollection is certainly fatal to freedom, and variety, and force in speaking. In general it were well that the same piece should be subsequently once or more repeated, with a view to adopt the suggestions of the Instructer. The selected pieces are short, because, for the purpose of improvement in elocution, a piece of four or five minutes, is better than one of fifteen. And more advance may be made, in managing the voice and countenance, by speaking, several times, a short speech, though an old one, like that of Brutus on the death of Cæsar, (if it is done with due care each time to correct what was amiss,) than in speaking many long pieces, however spirited or new, which are but half committed, and in the delivery of which all scope of feeling and adaptation of manner, are frustrated by labor of memory. The attempt to speak with this indolent, halting preparation, is in all respects worse than nothing.
(..) low and loud.