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humorous, or serious and solemn ; and endeavor to represent naturally every shade of emotion. If it be a narrative we are reading, our utterance should be the same as if we were relating it in our own language if a conversation, we should refer with just discrimination to the persons engaged in it; and try to represent, by our tones and manner, the distinct peculiarities of each: if an essay, a sermon, an oration, we should put ourselves, as nearly as we can, in the place of the author, and read just as if the thoughts and words came warm and fresh from their original fountain; and so of every other kind of writing.
Hence the necessity of a quick eye to mark the sense; for no one can read or speak well whose thoughts do not go some way before his utterance. He must understand the subject, and the exact import of all the words; his pronunciation must always be in critical accordance with the best usage; his voice must be cultivated, so as to be flexible, full, forcible and mellow; his éar so instructed, as readily to detect the least deviation from strict propriety of tone; and all his external movements such as to appear natural, easy, and dignified.
Taking these brief outlines for the only correct standard, how rarely do we meet with a truly good reader and yet how seldom do we listen to a person who really thinks himself a poor one! We are in general the last to discover our own faults; and when they are shown to us by the friendly hints and criticisms of others, we are naturally slow to apprehend, and often still slower to acknowledge and to correct them.
But how happens it, that while few are insensible to the charms of a good elocution, we find so many bad readers and speakers, even among those who are esteemed well educated? No doubt, in the majority of cases, the cause can be traced to a defective mode of early instruction; or perhaps to the misfortune of falling, at a later period, into the hands of a conceited elocutionist.
Children, in their first attempts to read, find great difficulty in making out the right pronunciation of the separate words; they are necessarily so intent upon this, as almost wholly to lose sight of connection, sense, and sentiment; and thus they contract a habit, which is apt to abide long after the cause that produced it has ceased to operate. Hence we may see how important it is to keep children to the same reading lesson, till it is rendered so familiar, that they can speak the words with ease, and connect them with the appropriate colloquial utterance; and also to limit their attention to subjects suited to their comprehension, their tastes, and feelings. To put them to lessons above their comprehension is the most direct way to induce habits of reading wholly artificial; each separate word may have the right pronunciation; but the spirit of a just utterance will not be there.
These lessons, the result of much expérience, much study and care, are intended to meet what seem to be the special wants of the pupil; and, like a kind and judicious friend, to take him, as it were, by the hand; to help him to correct whatever is found to be faulty, to guard him against whatever is fanciful, or conceited; and to lead him on, by a gentle, plain, and natural
course of instruction, to the attainment of an easy, manly, and graceful elocution.
Elocution is simply an appropriate utterance. As a science, its office is to teach an easy, correct, and expressive manner of speaking; whether in conversation, in speaking in public, or in reading aloud to others. It comes from two Latin words-ex, signifying from, or out of, and loquor, to speak: it means to speak out distinctly and impressively, from right thoughts and feelings, in the most becoming manner.
READING AND PUNCTUATION.
THE first object of the reader or speaker should be to graduate the force of his utterance to the space necessary to be reached, so as to make every word plainly audible to the persons addressed: that is, to speak just loud enough to be heard with ease, and no louder, unless to give prominence to some particular thought; and to pronounce with such distinctness, that not a word can be misapprehended, or mistaken for any other than the very word he designs to utter; and, at the same time, so as to avoid all harshness of tone cr vociferation, and every appearance of preciseness and formality.
It is well ever to bear in mind, that reading aloud, as well as talking and speaking in public, is for the ears of others; and that the special characteristic of good
utterance is to present the words with as much distinctness to the ear of the hearer, as the fairly written or printed page does to the eye of the reader.
Pains must be taken also, not only to deliver the words distinctly and audibly, but with just such pause, quantity, inflection, tone, emphasis, and cadence; and to vary them with just such a degree of slowness or quickness, as will best convey the sense, and be most agreeable to the ear. And here again we must look to colloquial utterance as the best illustration.
In the natural flow of conversation, we perceive pauses of various lengths-some scarcely perceptible, others long enough to afford the speaker time to breathe, others much longer; nearly all accompanied with different tones and inflections of the voice; and it is needless perhaps to say, that all these must be fully copied in reading.
The points used in printing are called punctuation. They divide a printed or written discourse into distinct parts, just as they happen to be more or less separated in sense, and they afford to the reader a partial guide for pauses. These are called the comma (, ), semicolon ( ; ), colon ( : ), period ( . ), paragraph ( . ), interrogation (?), exclamation ( ! ), dash (—), and parenthesis ( ).
The (,) is a curved dot; the ( ;) is a dot with a comma under it; the (:) is two dots, one over the other; the (.) is one dot; the paragraph generally ends with a period, and is distinguished from it by a break in the line after it, and the next line beginning a little farther from the margin; the (?) resembles the figure (5) inverted; the (!) resembles the letter (i) in
verted; the (-) is a horizontal line, longer than the hyphen; and the ( ) is two curved lines, pointing towards each other.
Of all the pauses indicated by these points, the comma is the shortest: some fix it at a second of time, or while one syllable can be uttered; the semicolon, double that of the comma; the colon, double that of the semicolon; the period, double that of the colon, and the paragraph nearly double that of the period. The pause of the interrogation and exclamation may be varied to equal that of the comma, the semicolon, colon, period, or paragraph: the paragraph may also be terminated by the interrogation or exclamation. The dash requires a pause longer or shorter according to the sense, and the parenthesis, unattended by any other point, needs but a slight pause. But the sense often requires innumerable variations from the above scale.
The interrogation is used at the end of a question; as, What are you reading? The exclamation, after a word or words expressing some emotion; as, What folly! what wickedness for youth to waste so much precious time ! How fleeting is life!
The dash is used to indicate a sudden interruption, or a sudden change of thought it is used sometimes to give a marked prominence to the word or clause that follows; also to show an ellipsis, or blank; or to intimate that what follows is an explanation of what came before;—and some writers use it for the parenthesis.
The parenthesis includes a passage or phrase inserted in the body of a sentence, not necessary to the construction, though it may be to the sense; as, Pride (I use the