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I Practise these with different degrees of emphasis and rates of movement.
Emphasis is to a phrase what accent is to a word. For instance, we say “educa'tion,” just as we say “I am writing.” Other examples : wrong
ble. The emphatic word is made lower than the rest for hideous, gloomy, or contemptible things: “He is a beast," “ It is horrible"; and also when we wish to be very solemn :, “"As God's above,' said Alice, the nurse, I speak the truth."" Whole phrases and sentences move downward when we wish to be very impressive, especially at the end of paragraphs. So, also, when we feel depressed the voice tends downward, but in a lifeless instead of an energetic way: “Oh, how tired I am!”
When two equally emphatic words are contrasted,
they usually have contrast or opposition of pitch, as “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish.
TO THE TEACHER:-Write exercises similar to the above upon the
blackboard, and accustom the pupils to follow the pointer, giving at once whatever emphasis you may indicate. Speak à simple sentence or, better still, a combination of letters, numbers, or vowel-sounds, and have the pupils write it upon the blackboard, indicating your emphasis and pauses, if there be any. The emphatic word may be delivered in a much softer tone than the rest of the phrase; and, if pitch and prolongation are correctly given, the meaning will be perfectly clear. This is an excellent exercise for overcoming any tendency to boisterousness, and for acquiring a refined and reposeful delivery. Note carefully that emphasis is merely making an idea prominent, and that the simplest means are always the best.
EXAMPLES FOR PRACTICE.
I had from childhood a thickness of speech arising from a large palate, and when a boy I used to be laughed at for talking as if I had pudding in my mouth. When I went to Amherst I was fortunate in passing into the hands of John Lovell, a teacher of elocution, and a better teacher for my purpose I cannot conceive. His system consisted in drill, or the thorough practice of inflexions by the voice, of gesture, posture, and articulation. Sometimes I was a whole hour practising my voice on a word-like justice. I would have to take a posture, frequently at a mark chalked out on the floor. Then we would go through all the gestures.
It was drill, drill, drill, until the motions almost became a second nature. Now, I never know what movements I shall make. My gestures are natural, because this drill made them natural to me. The only method of acquiring effective elocution is by practice, of not less than an hour a day, until the student has his voice and himself thoroughly subdued and trained to right expression.--Henry Ward Beecher.
The mountain and the squirrel had a quarrel, and the former called the latter “Little prig. ” Bun replied, “You are doubtless very big, but all sorts of things and weather must be taken in together to make up a year, and a sphere; and I think it no disgrace to occupy my place. If I'm not so large as you, you are not so small as I, and not half so spry. I'll not deny you make a very pretty squirrel track! Talents differ; all is well and wisely put; if I cannot carry forests on my back, neither can you crack a nut.”—Emerson.
The keynote to the oratory of Wendell Phillips lay in this: that it was essentially conversational—the conversational raised to its highest power. Perhaps no orator ever spoke with so little apparent effort, or began so entirely on the plane of his average hearers. It was as if he simply repeated, in a little louder tone, what he had just been saying to some familiar friend at his elbow. The effect was absolutely disarming. Those accustomed to spread-eagle eloquence felt, perhaps, a slight sense of disappointment. Could this quiet, easy, effortless man be Wendell Phillips ? But he held them by his very quietness; it did not seem to have occurred to him to doubt his power to hold them. The poise of his manly figure, the easy grace of his attitude, the thrilling modulation of his perfectly trained voice, the dignity of his gesture, the keen penetration of his eye, all aided to keep his hearers in hand. The colloquialism was never relaxed, but it was familiarity without loss of keeping. What the Revolutionary orators would now seem to us, we cannot tell: but it is pretty certain that, of all our post-Revolutionary speakers, save Webster only, Wendell Phillips stood at the head; while he and Webster represented types of oratory so essentially different that any comparison between them is like trying to compare an oak tree and a pine.—T. W. Higginson.
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord !—Byron. Be careful to avoid a sing-song style in reading this.
Pleasantly rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pré. Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas, Where the ships, with their wavering shadows, were riding at
anchor. Life had long been astir in the village, and clamorous labor Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the
Now from the country around, from the farms and the neighbor
ing hamlets, Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants. Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk Made the bright air brighter, as up from the numerous meadows, Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the
greensward, Group after group appeared, and joined, or passed on the high
Long ere noon in the village all sounds of labor were silenced. Thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the
house-doors Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together. Every house was an inn, where all were welcomed and feasted; For with this simple people, who lived like brothers together, All things were held in common, and what one had was another's.
Attitude of Respect.
Stand with the heels touching, the feet being turned out at an angle of about sixty degrees. Bear the weight of the body upon the balls of both feet equally. Have both legs straight, and knees firm. Have no inclination of the body to either side. Let the head be perfectly erect, with eyes looking straight forward. The arms fall at the sides as in the Speaker's Position. Do not lift or draw back the head or shoulders, nor push forward the hips so as to hollow the back.
This is called the position of Respect, and is the formal attitude when about to bow. It is very like that of the soldier on dress parade, and says: “I am at your service."