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Dotage, or infirm old age, shows itself by talkativeness, boasting of the past, hollowness of eyes and cheeks, dimness of sight, deafness, tremor of voice, the accents, through default of teeth, scarce intelligible; arms weak, knees tottering, head paralytic, hollow coughing, frequent expectoration, breathless wheezing, laborious groaning, the body stooping under the insupportable load of years which soon shall crush it into the dust, from whence it had its origin..
Folly, that of a natural idiot, gives the face an habitual thoughtless, brainless grin. The eyes dance from object to object, without ever fixing steadily upon any one. A thousand different and incoherent passions, looks and gestures, speeches and absurdities, are played off every moment.
Distraction, opens the eyes to a frightful wideness; rolls them hastily and widely from object to object; distorts every feature; gnashes with the teeth; agitates all parts of the body; rolls in the dust; foams at the mouth; utters with hideous bellowings, execrations, blasphemies, and all that is fierce and outrageous; rushing furiously on all who approach; and if not restrained, tears its own flesh and destroys itself.
Sickness, has infirmity and feebleness in every motion and utterance. The eyes dim and almost closed; cheeks pale and hollow; the jaw fallen; the head hung down, as if too neavy to be supported by the neck. A general inertia prevails. The voice trembling; the utterance through the nose; every sentence accompanied with a groan; the hand shaking, and the knees tottering under the body; or the body stretched helpless on the bed.
Fainting, produces a sudden relaxation of all that holds the human frame together, every sinew and ligament unstrung. The colour flies from the vermilion cheek; the sparkling eye grows dim. Down the body drops, as helpless and senseless as a mass of clay, to which, by its colour and appearance, it seems hastening to resolve itself. Which leads me to conclude with
Death, the awful end of all flesh; which exhibits nothing in appearance, different from what I have been just describing; for fainting continued ends in death; a subject almost too serious to be made a matter of artificial imitation.
Lower degrees of every passion are to be expressed by more moderate exertions of voice and gesture, as every public speaker's discretion will suggest to him.
Mixed passions, or emotions of the mind, require mixed
expression. Pity, for example, is composed of grief and love. It is therefore evident that a correct speaker must by his looks and gestures, and by the tone and pitch of his voice, express both grief and love, in expressing pity, and so of the rest.
It is to be remembered, that the action, in expressing the various humours and passions, for which I have here given rules, is to be suited to the age, sex, condition and circumstances of the character. Violent anger, or rage, for example, is to be expressed with great agitation, (See Anger) but the rage of an infirm old man, of a woman, and of a youth, are all different from one another, and from that of a man in the flower of his age, as every speaker's discretion will suggest. A hero may show fear or sensibility of pain, but not in the same manner as a girl would express those sensations. Grief may be expressed by a person reading a melancholy story, or a description in a room. It may be acted upon the stage. It may be dwelt upon by the pleader at the bar; or it may have a place in a sermon. The passion is still grief. But the manner of expressing it will be different in each of the speakers, if they have judgment.
A correct speaker does not make a movement of limb or feature, for which he has not a reason. If he addresses heaven, he looks upwards. If he speaks to his fellow creatures, he looks round upon them. The spirit of what he says, or is said to him, appears in his look. If he expresses amazement, or would excite it, he lifts up his hands and eyes. If he invites to virtue and happiness, he spreads his arms, and looks benevolent. If he threatens the vengeance of heaven against vice, he bends his eyebrows into wrath, and menaces with his arm and countenance. He does not needlessly saw the air with his arm, nor stab himself with his finger. He does not clap his right hand upon his breast unless he has occasion to speak of himself, or to introduce conscience, or somewhat sentimental. He does not start back, unless he wants to express horror or aversion. He does not come forward, but when he has occasion to solicit. He does not raise his voice, but to express somewhat peculiarly emphatical. He does not lower it but to contrast the raising of it. His eyes, by turns, according to the humour of the matter he has to express, sparkle fury; brighten into joy; glance disdain; melt into grief; frown disgust and hatred; languish into love; or glare distraction.
RULES RESPECTING ELOCUTION.
[EXTRACTED FROM WALKER'S SPEAKER.]
your ARTICULATION be Distinct and Deliberate.
A GOOD articulation consists in giving a clear and full utterance to the several simple and complex sounds. The nature of these sounds therefore ought to be well understood; and much pains should be taken to discover and correct those faults in articulation, which though often ascribed to some defects in the organs of speech, are generally the consequence of inattention or bad example. Many of these respect the sounding of the consonants. Some cannot pronounce the letter l, and others the simple sounds r, s, th, sh others generally omit the aspirate h. These faults may be corrected, by reading sentences so contrived as often to repeat the faulty sounds, and by guarding against them in familiar conversation.
Other defects in articulation regard the complex sounds. and consist in a confused and cluttering pronunciation of words. The most effectual methods of conquering this habit are, to read aloud passages chosen for the purpose, (such for instance as abound with long and unusual words, or in which many short syllables come together) and to read at certain stated times, much slower than the sense and just speaking would require. Almost all persons, who have not studied the art of speaking, have a habit of uttering their words so rapidly that this latter exercise ought generally to be made use of for a considerable time at first; for where there is a uniformly rapid utterance, it is absolutely impossible that there should be strong emphasis, natural tones, or any just elocution.
Aim at nothing higher, till you can read distinctly and deliberately.
Learn to speak slow, all other graces,
your PRONUNCIATION be Bold and Forcible.
AN insipid flatness and languor is almost the universal fault in reading, and even public speakers often suffer
their words to drop from their lips with such a faint and feeble utterance, that they appear neither to understand or feel what they say themselves, nor to have any desire that it should be understood or felt by their audience. This is a fundamental fault; a speaker without energy, is a lifeless statue.
In order to acquire a forcible manner of pronouncing your words, inure yourself while reading, to draw in as much air as your lungs can contain with ease, and to expel it with vehemence, in uttering those sounds which require an emphatical pronunciation; read aloud in the open air, and with all the exertion you can command; preserve your body in an erect attitude while you are speaking; let all the consonant sounds be expressed with a full impulse or percussion of the breath, and a forcible action of the organs employed in forming them; and let all the vowel sounds have a full and bold utterance. Practise these rules with perseverance, till you have acquired strength and energy of speech.
But in observing this rule, beware of running into the extreme of vociferation. We find this fault chiefly among those, who, in contempt and despite of all rule and propriety, are determined to command the attention of the vulgar. These are the speakers, who, in Shakespeare's phrase, "offend the judicious hearer to the soul, by tearing a passion to rags, to very tatters, to split the ears of the groundlings." Cicero compares such speakers to cripples who get on horseback because they cannot walk; they bellow because they cannot speak.
Acquire a compass and variety in the height of your Voice.
THE monotony so much complained of in public speakers, is chiefly owing to the neglect of this rule. They generally content themselves with one certain key which they employ on all occasions, and on every subject; or if they attempt variety, it is only in proportion to the number of their hearers, and the extent of the places in which they speak; imagining, that speaking in a high key is the same thing as speaking loud; and not observing that whether a speaker shall be heard or not, depends more upon the distinctness and force with which he utters his words, than upon the height at which he pitches his voice.
But it is an essential qualification of a good speaker to be able to alter the height, as well as the strength and the tone of his voice, as occasion requires. Different species of speaking require different heights of voice. Nature instructs us to relate a story, to support an argument, to command a servant, to utter exclamations of anger or rage, and to pour forth lamentations and sorrows, not only with different tones, but different elevations of voice. Men at different ages of life, and in different situations, speak in very different keys. The vagrant, when he begs; the soldier, when he gives the word of command; the watchman, when he announces the hour of the night; the sovereign, when he issues his edict; the senator, when he harangues; the lover, when he whispers his tender tale; do not differ more in the tones which they use, than in the key in which they speak. Reading and speaking therefore, in which all the variations of expression in real life are copied, must have continued variations in the height of the voice.
To acquire the power of changing the key on which you speak at pleasure, accustom yourself to pitch your voice in different keys, from the lowest to the highest notes you command. Many of those would neither be proper nor agreeable in speaking; but the exercise will give you such a command of voice, as is scarcely to be acquired by any other method. Having repeated the experiment till you can speak with ease at several heights of the voice; read as exercises on this rule, such compositions as have a variety of speakers, or such as relate dialogues, observing the height of voice which is proper to each, and endeavouring to change them as nature directs.
In the same composition there may be frequent occasions to alter the height of the voice, in passing from one part to another, without any change of person. Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage," &c. and his description of the queen of the fairies, afford examples of this. Indeed every sentence which is read or spoken, will admit of different elevations of the voice in different parts of it; and on this chiefly, perhaps entirely, depends the melody of pronunciation.
PRONOUNCE your Words with Propriety and Elegance.
IT is not easy indeed to fix upon any standard, by which the propriety of pronunciation is to be determined.