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Stand in the Speaker's Position. Hold the book unless too heavy, with one hand only-that on the strong side, supporting the back with three fingers, and holding down the leaves by means of the thumb and little finger. Accustom yourself to use either hand. Keep the book at one side and well away from your eyes, so that those in front of you can see your face.
I. Read to bring out ideas, not words.
A group of words combined to express an idea is called a phrase, and the grouping of words as we read them, so as to convey the right meaning, is called phrasing.
2. Try to think each idea yourself before speaking it.
3. Pause after each word or group of words that expresses a separate idea, both to give your hearers time to understand, and to give yourself an opportunity to master the next idea. Do not confine yourself to pausing at the marks of punctuation; they are intended for the eye, not the ear. A good reader will
often make a long pause where there is not even a comma, and pause longer at a comma in one place than at a period in another.
(a) The books which help you most
are those which make you
think the most.
The hardest way of learning is by easy read
There's no rain left in heaven,
is a ship
In both the examples above, we make many pauses besides those indicated by the marks of punctuation; indeed, sometimes a single word will be of sufficient importance to demand a pause. In the second example, which is light and joyous, the pauses are much shorter than in the other, but they must be perceptible, however slight they may be.
Here is an example of bad phrasing, such as occurs very frequently:
Listen my children and you shall hear ||
or worse still:
Of the mid night ride | of Paul Revere. |
The first phrase is nonsense.
How can one "listen
my children" or listen any one else's children for that matter? Evidently we must correct that by pausing
after "listen," as the thought is complete there—we are told to listen. Again, we should not pause after "hear," because the idea is incomplete; we are not to listen in order that we may hear merely, but that we may hear of "the midnight ride of Paul Revere," or, if we wish to be very careful in our phrasing, "of the midnight ride of Paul Revere," but certainly not "of the midnight" or "of the mid."
Correctly phrased, these lines would be read:
Listen | my children | and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride | of Paul Revere,
the pause after "ride" being comparatively slight. 4. Accustom yourself to take in one or more phrases at a glance, so that you can raise your eyes from the book and speak the words directly to your audience, as if they were your own.
EXAMPLES FOR PRACTICE.
Point out the errors in the following examples. Notice that most of these and similar mistakes arise from the bad habit of "sing-songing" poetry, instead of reading it for the thought. Avoid this fault.
I'm not a chicken | I have seen |
Full many a chill | September ||
The wind whisked off | my palm-leaf hat |
For me two storms | were brewing!-Holmes.
Do not look for | wrong and | evil—
Look for goodness | look for | gladness, |
Indicate the pauses in the following examples:
I come from haunts of coot and hern
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern
I slip I slide I gloom I glance
And out again I curve and flow
Halt the dust-brown ranks stood fast
It shivered the window pane and sash
It rent the banner with seam and gash
Quick as it fell from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.-Whittier.
He said to his friend "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church tower as a signal-light
One if by land and two if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be
Through every Middlesex village and farm
For the country-folk to be up and to arm."-Longfellow,
Till he has fairly tried it, I suspect a reader does not know how much he would gain from committing to memory passages of real excellence; precisely because he does not know how much he overlooks in merely reading. Learn one true poem by heart, and see if you do not find it so. Beauty after beauty will reveal itself, in chosen phrase, or happy music, or noble suggestion, otherwise undreamed of. It is like looking at one of Nature's wonders through a microscope. Poems and noble extracts, whether of verse or prose, once so reduced into possession and rendered truly our own, may be to us a daily pleasure; better far than a whole library unused. They may come to us in our dull moments, to refresh us as with spring flowers; in our selfish musings, to win us by pure delight from the tyranny of foolish castle-building, self-congratulations, and mean anxieties. They may be with us in the workshop, in the crowded streets, by the fireside; sometimes, perhaps, on pleasant hill-sides, or by sounding shores;-noble friends and companions-our own! never intrusive, ever at hand, coming at our call!—Vernon Lushington.
TO THE TEACHER:-Practise pupils daily on analysis for ideas; have them group phrases on the blackboard, and strive in every way to awaken the analytic powers, until they are able to phrase naturally and intelligently. Few teachers, to say nothing of pupils, estimate rightly the value of pause as an element in natural delivery. I have heard eminent readers who had not mastered that means of expression. Pause has a vastly broader field than the mere separation of ideas. Notice how frequently we hesitate in conversation, always thinking the thought before expressing it, and pausing for a greater or less time as the thought is complicated or simple. Again, in the expression of strong emotions, we take time to gather ourselves together for a mightier effort than usual; and sometimes feeling, especially in the emotions that affect the larynx powerfully, seems to stand in the way of expression, choking down the voice, and tying up the muscles, until the pent-up passion at last forces its way through every obstacle. Though our pupils, at this stage of their work, have no use for such extreme expressions, yet by accustoming them to pause frequently and long they not only acquire the power of reposeful expression, but lay the foundation for more difficult achievements.