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INDEX OF AUTHORS.
Adams, John Quincy,
90 Marion, Francis,
113 Mitford, Miss Mary Russell, 16
20 North American Review, 7
101 Shakspeare, Wm. 13, 18, 29, 33, 34,
127 35, 42, 43, 63, 64, 85, 91, 94,96,97
89 Sigourney, Mrs. Lydia H. 2
69 | Sweet, S. N.
10 Thurlow, Lord Chancellor, 23
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE STEREOTYPE EDITION.
In putting forth this work, stereotyped, the author takes pleasure in tendering to the public his most cordial acknowledgments. More than two hundred gentlemen, distinguished alike for literary attainments and moras worth, among whom are, R. Hyde Walworth, chancellor of the state of New-York; Alfred Conkling, judge of the United States for the northern district; Ex-Governor William H. Seward ; George W. Eaton, D.D., and Asahel C. Kendrick, A. M., professors in the Hamilton Theological and Literary Institution; Ira Mayhew, Esq. superintendent of public instruction for the state of Michigan; Hon. Lysander H. Brown, chairman of the committee on education in the year 1845, in the legislature of the state of New-York, have furnished the author with written recommendations of the “ Elocution," to all of whom his thanks are due. AN
will always feel truly grateful to George A. Hollister, of Roches. ter, for aiding in publishing the first edition; to his brother, S. Rensselaer Sweet, of Rome, for his unwearied and successful efforts in introducing the book into schools. It was first published at Rochester, N. Y., in 1839, and having within a brief period, passed through three editions, consisting of 7500 copies; and having been adopted as a text and reading book in many of “ the people's colleges," i. e. common schools, as well as in the higher institutions of learning, the author has made an arrangement with Mr. E. H. Pease, a bookseller at Albany, to stereotype the work, and to supply the demand for it. To make it more valuable, the author has prepared and inserted a chapter on the inflections of the voice, with examples, illustrating its various modifications. Several selections contained in the three former editions, are omitted, and better ones substituted. To furnish an agreeable variety for exercises in schools, he has inserted a number of pieces which are as suitable for singing as for elocutionary reading, particularly pieces 36, 65, 66, 58, 69, 71, 102, 108, 118, 132.
The author regards explanatory notes, appended to pieces, as the sine qua non, the indispensable condition of correct and elegant recitation, and of good reading. They breathe into the pieces to which they relate, the breath of life. In this edition they are greatly improved, historically and otherwise, as well as in an elocutionary point of view. This is the first and only treatise on elocution, containing such notes. The 312 pages, which it contains, comprise 138 pieces, accompanied with explanatory notes, a phonological exhibition of the elementary sounds of the English language, illustrations of emphasis, quantity, rhetorical pauses, climax, gestures, inflections, &c.; in a word, of the principles upon which good reading and speaking are founded, -all well adapted to the wants of those, desirous of teaching or learning the art and science of phonology, reading, and public speaking. Elocution is the soul of oratory; and Demosthenes called it the first, second and last part of that sublime art.
The approbation and patronage extended to the work by the ladies, may perhaps be partly in consequence of my occasionally entwining a wreath of poetry with the more solid matter. To enable a person the more readily to find a piece, the names ofall the writers are arranged, alphabetically.
Good books" are the precious life blood of master-spirits, treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” May the blessing of heaven attend this book. OBSERVATIONS
E L O CU TION.
ELOCUTION is the art of reading and speaking well. It de-
. In order to read or speak well, the articulation must be correct and elegant, and the voice completely under the command of the will. A good articulation, it need not be said, is a primary beauty of elocution. It is to the ear, what fine penmanship is to the eye. Without it, no individual can be a correct reader or speaker. It is the first step towards becoming an elocutionist.
In Austin's Chironomia, it is truly observed: “That a public speaker, possessed of only a moderate voice, if he articulate correctly, will be better understood, and heard with greater pleasure, than one who vociferates without judgment. The voice of the latter may, indeed, extend to a considerable distance, but the sound is dissipated in confusion; of the former voice, not the smallest vibration is wasted; every stroke is perceived at the utmost distance to which it reaches; and hence, it has often the appearance of penetrating even farther than one which is loud, but badly articulated. In just articulation, the words are not to be hurried over, nor precipitated syllable over syllable; nor, as it were, melted together into a
mass of confusion; they should not be trailed or drawled, nor permitted to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They are to be delivered out from the lips, as beautiful coins, newly issued from the mint, deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, in due succession, and of due weight."
The question arises, how shall a correct and elegant articulation be acquired? The ansiver is, by obtaining a knowledge of the elementary sounds of the English language. To be able to call letters by their names, is insufficient,-a knowledge of their sounds in which their power consists, is essential to good articulation. Those who do not understand the elements, cannot analyze words, nor can they tell when errors in articulation are made. However multitudinous and gross may be their errors in that important branch of elocution, they are unconscious of them.
Our language, it is admitted, is imperfect. If our alphabet were perfect, the names of the letters would correspond with their sounds. A large portion of the letters are at variance with their sounds. They have. generally been divided into vowels and consonants. But the classification and division of Dr. James Rush, of Philadelphia, in his “ Philosophy of the Human Voice,” is altogether better. Without regard to the order in which the letters now stand, he arranges them according to their sounds, under three general heads,— Tonics, Sub-tonics, and Atonics.
This classification, which appears to be more philosophical than any other, is the foundation of the one adopted in this work. The terms, Tonies, Sub-tonics, and Atonics, have, at the suggestion of the author's brother, Stephen R. Sweet, been changed to Vocals, Sub-vocals, and Aspirates, as being more expressive, at least to an English ear, of the nature and power of those several classes of letters respectively. Other alterations have also been made, for which the author is indebted to the same friend.
The voice, as well as the articulation, may be greatly improved by the practice of pronouncing these elements. The voice should be exercised on each element, separately, and then, on their most difficult combinations. This elementary exercise constitutes a kind of gymnastic training of the voice. The Greeks acquired great physical strength, by engaging in the Olympic games. The Roman soldiers qualified themselves to handle a sword skilfully in actual battle, by using, in their preparatory exercises, heavy armor. By giving the eiements, and reciting some of the best pieces of Shakspeare, Milton, Byron, and other distinguished writers, with all possible force of voice, an individual may acquire the ability to converse and read in the social circle, with perfect ease and gracefulness, and to address large audiences with great power and effect, and that, too, without any apparent, or much real effort of the organs of speech.
The voice has been aptly and justly compared to an instrument of music. Every person knows that if the strings of a musical instrument are imperfect
, either in quality or number, or are not in harmony, the keys may be struck in vain by the most skilful hand : no music can be produced upon them. So, if the voice be defective,--if it be harsh or creaking,-in a word, if it be in an uncultivated condition, the speaker, although he may be master of his subject, will utterly fail of unfolding the beauties, and displaying the striking expressions of that elocution, which, like poetry, has its dwelling place in nature. If, on the other hand, the strings of an instrument are perfect and in harmony, and its keys are properly struck, a tune will be produced. The voice, when highly cultivated, swells to chords of grandeur, or is softened to cadences, which would almost suspend
"An angel's harmony to listen.” Let it not be said that our language is unadapted to the purposes of oratory. The English language, although imperfect, is excellent. Many different fountains have contributed to enlarge its stream. It flows from no particular spring. It is enriched with the spoils of several other languages. It is the most universal language on earth. It is in general use by the inhabitants on this continent, and by multitudes abroad. It rolls its swelling flood into the residences of uncounted millions. Its wealth is drawn from foreign mines; but it is none the less valuable on that account. It is our own native language. We shall be likely to use it, at every period of our lives. It furnishes rich and abundant materials for expressing every conception of the mind, and every emotion of the heart. If, then, those who use it, do not attain renown as orators,—if, in the words of Shakspeare, " we are underlings," the fault is not in our language, “but in ourselves,"