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PART I

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

THE art of reading consists in speaking the words of another so as to bring out their full meaning. But words are not important in themselves; they are only the signs of things, of ideas about things, or of feelings awakened by these. That is, we usually speak, not to utter sounds merely, but to tell others what we think or feel, or to describe what we have seen or heard.

Literature is the effort of man to express himself by written language, and to read literature aloud requires not merely command of the voice, but complete understanding of and sympathy with the thoughts and emotions of the author. When the poet writes :

I would not enter on my list of friends
(Though graced with polished manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.

- COWPER, The Task. it is not merely for the amusement of composing verse, but because he hates cruelty and wishes to express his sentiments in language that shall not only be adequate to his meaning, but which, being cast in poetic form, will be more likely to be read and remembered than if it were in prose.

So, the reader of these lines must regard his art, not as a mere means of playing with sounds and emotions,

but of teaching the lesson of kindness. To say with real
expression: -

He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small,
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

COLERIDGE, Ancient Mariner. the speaker must believe what he says.

Not only must one believe, but he must wish to make others believe, and try to read so that they shall agree with him.

He will do this most effectively if he reads or speaks so well that his auditors forget that he is reading at all, and almost imagine that he is speaking his own words. The highest compliment that can be paid to a reader or reciter is not: “How well you recited that poem !” but “ What a beautiful poem you recited I” or “I never appreciated that poem until you interpreted it for me!”

That is the ideal toward which our studies should tend; and it-is as important for the student of oratory as for the elocutionist. So long as the audience are occupied with the gestures or even the language of the orator, he has failed. It is only when they become so interested in the matter that they forget the manner that he can be said to succeed. But this does not mean that manner should be neglected, for he who has a bad manner will find not only that it distracts the attention of his audience, but that the consciousness of awkwardness or inefficiency is a constant source of embarrassment to himself.

Words are not only signs of ideas; they picture or suggest pictures.

The words “a mad dog," for instance, call up at once in our minds, not the forms of the letters composing the words, or the mere sounds the letters make, but a mental

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“ image” or “picture.” Some of us who have vivid imaginations could, perhaps, see a very clear picture, with many accessories, such as people running away from the dog, the street or road where the beast is, even the size, color, and other peculiarities of the animal, the foam which flecks his snapping jaws, and the glare of his eyes as he rushes toward us. Perhaps some think they hear the cries of the frightened people or the fierce growls of the creature. This action of the mind in picturing is called imagination. But the thought or vivid image of a mad dog will probably call up something like the unpleasant feelings we should have if we really saw one, just as the thought of a long vacation causes pleasure. These and like feelings we know as emotions and sensations.

Thought, imagination, and feeling are the inner, or mental processes, which find expression in voice and action.

If we would express naturally, we must think and feel naturally.

Rules will help us, but they cannot supply the place of mental action.

In order to express our thoughts as we would wish, both voice and body must be trained to respond to the mind. Ease of manner is attained by command of the body and of the voice.

Our first exercises must necessarily be somewhat mechanical and less interesting than those that follow later, but in no art or accomplishment can skill be obtained without drudgery. Neglect of fundamentals is the cause of half the failures in life.

In this book we have no space for explaining the reasons for all our exercises, but the student may be sure that they have been tested by practical experience, and that, if faithfully practiced, they will lead to success.

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BRING the heels together and stand perfectly straight, as a soldier would, with arms at the sides, weight not on

the heels, but on the middle of the foot, “eyes front.” Avoid stiffness, but try to feel as tall as possible.

EXERCISE II

(1) Inhale through the nostrils slowly, filling the lungs from the waist to the top of the chest, but without lifting the shoulders. (2) Hold the breath. (3) Slowly exhale. Imagine you inhale the perfume of a rose. Be careful not to protrude the stomach when breathing, but rather to draw it in.

EXERCISE III

Breathing in the same way, (1) rise slowly but gently, as if trying to reach

the ceiling with your head, until the heels are as high off the floor as possible without loss of balance. (2) Keep this position and hold the breath. Imagine that the breath in your lungs holds you up as

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