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12. Personification signifies the investing of inanimate things with the character of persons, or 'addressing dead or absent individuals as if they were present. It is one of the boldest and finest figures in rhetoric, and should be pronounced always in accordance with the subject in which it is employed. The observance of this rule only will enable the reader to do it justice. It should generally be read in a depressed monotone ; but when the object addressed is distant, or is abhorred, or is called from the grave, or should be awakened, a high pitch, and rapid movement, should be adopted.
• He stood, and measured the earth : he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow; his ways are everlasting. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by; the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
I did hear him groan:
S. Julius Cæsar.
* Ruin seize thee, ruthless king,
Confusion on thy banners wait !
13. Description consists in the representation of things, so as to make them seem painted before the hearer's imagination, and the reading of it requires the application of every principle in elocution.
« The only general rule, says Lord Kames, speaking on this subject,) is, to sound the words in such a manner as to imitate the things they signify. In pronouncing words signifying what is elevated, the voice ought to be raised above its ordinary tone; and words signifying dejection of mind, ought to be pronounced in a low note. To imitate a stern and impetuous passion, the words ought to be pronounced rough and loud; and a sweet and kindly passion, on the contrary, ought to be imitated by a soft and melodious tone of voice."
Now imitate the action of the tyger !
Rous’d from his trance, he mounts with eyes aghast,
Section II. Of Action. That in reading there should be some action, is almost uniMersally admitted; but the great difficulty of adapting it pro
perly to the matter read, should render us extremely careful how we use it. Unimpassioned pieces require little or no gesture. Private reading admits of less action than public recitation; and females should be more restrained in this part of elocution than males. The former, should aim at delicacy and gracefulness: the latter, at strength and dignity ; and both, at ease and naturalness. Simplicity, correctness, and beauty, are the principal characteristics of good action. By simplicity, is meant a strict adherence to the modesty of nature : by correctness, a proper adaptation of the “ action to the word;" and by beauty, gracefulness in contradistinction from awkwardness and affectation. On this subject, the best rule that can be given is, to “enter fully into the spirit of the author, and let your feelings prompt and govern your actions." Here again I would urge the necessity of being natural. And in doing this, I know I am not unintelligible: for there is in every reasonable human being, a something, which perceives and recognizes the inspirations of nature; and he that is without these, can never become an orator. The observance of written rules, may, indeed, diminish his faults ; but he will remain for ever destitute of the power, the witchery, and the soul of elocution. He may perchance exhibit the body of a good speaker, but the spirit, alas ! he will never acquire. An orator without feeling is an object which nature abhors. The moment the reader obtains a just sensibility to what he reads, the victory is half
On Cultivating the Voice. That voice is the most perfect which combines the greatest force, flexibility and compass with the greatest smoothness; which exhibits a firm, heavy opening, and a fine, delicate vanish; inclining generally to move on the lower pitches. Such a voice we should endeavour to acquire.
To this end, much practice on the Diatonic Scale is indispensable, passing upwards and downwards until we have acquired not only a knowledge of the characteristics of its several intervals, but a facility in striking any note, tone or semitone we please.
The learner should watch with great attention, the effects of Music and Public Speaking; the intonations of children, and persons under the influence of strong passion. Nature should be his oracle, and the voice of unsophisticated feeling his constant model.
He should abstain as much as possible from mental reading, and devote at least an hour a day to those exercises which require great variety of vocality. With a view to such exercises the following selections are presented :
For acquiring Low tones of Voice.
to Duncan. Oh, these flaws and starts,
-Thou slave! thou wretch! thou coward !
Been sworn my soldiers ? bidding me depend
-Poison be their drink, Gall, worse than gall, the daintiest meat they taste ; Their sweetest shade, a grove of cyprus trees! Their sweetest prospect, murd’ring basilisks ! Their softest touch, as smart as lizard's stings, Their music, frightful as the serpent's hiss ; And boding screech-owls make the concert full; All the foul terrors of dark-seated hell ! Shakspear.
Come hither, Hubert. O, my gentle Hubert,
Hub. I am much bounded to your majesty.
K. John. Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet, But thou shalt have--and creep time ne'er so slow, Yet it shall come for me to do thee good. I had a thing to say,-but let it go ; The sun is in the heav'n, and the proud day Attended with the pleasures of the world, Is all too wanton and too full of gaudes To give me audience. If the midnight bell Did with his iron tongue and brazen mouth Sound one unto the drowsy race of night; If this same were a church-yard where we stand, And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs ; Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes, Hear me without thine ears, and make reply Without a tongue, using conceit alone, Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words, Then in despight of broad-ey'd watchful day