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Stu. He says that modulation in speaking signifies that agreeable variety of changes through which the voice may be made to pass. The Latin word mod'u-lor simply means to measure off properly; to regulate.
Pro. Yes, the voice is capable of assuming three keys, or pitches, - the high, the middle, and the low. We use the high pitch in calling to a person at a distance; the middle, in ordinary conversation, like that we are now having; the low, when we wish no one to hear except the person to whom we speak, or when we would say something solemn or impressive to an audience.
Stu. Walker cautions us, however,-that the difference between loud and high, and low and soft tones, ought to be well understood. We can speak louder or softer, and still continue the same pitch, or key; but we can not speak higher or lower without shifting the key.
Pro. Let it be borne also in mind that it is not he who speaks the loudest who can be heard the furthest. Very loud speakers are seldom heard to advantage. Burke's voice is said to have been a sort of shrill cry, which marred the effect of what he uttered. Lord Chatham's lowest whisper was distinctly heard; and his middle tones were sweet, rich, and beautifully varied.
Stu. I have seen it stated that musical notes will be heard to a much greater distance than mere noises however loud.
Pro. We will devote the rest of this conversation to the consideration of EXERCISES IN High Pitch, quoting our illustrations from Shakspeare. High Pitch, though uncommon in level speaking or reading, is appropriate to the delivery of passages where great excitement, anger, or indignation, is to be conveyed; as in the following address of Richard the Third to his troops :
Fight, gentlemen of England ! fight, bold yeomen!
Upon them! Victory sits on our helms.”
Pro. Yes; it should be uttered in a high, but not in a very loud, key. Intense passion may sometimes be better expressed by suppressed tones than by a loud, voluble enunciation.
Stu. That agrees with what Walker says: “The tones which mark the passions and emotions of the speaker are entirely independent of the modulation of the voice, though often confounded with it; for modulation, relates only to speaking either loudly or softly, in a high or a low key; while the tones of the passions or emotions mean only that quality of sound that indicates the feelings of the speaker, without any reference to the pitch or loudness of his voice.” But how are we to acquire that peculiar quality of sound that indi cates the passions we wish to express?
Pro. The answer is easy: by feeling the passion which expresses itself by that peculiar quality of sound.
Stu. But how are we to acquire a feeling of the passion?
Pro. The advice of Cicero is this: “Represent to your imagination, in the most lively manner possible, all the most striking circumstances of the transaction you describe, or of the passion you wish to feel." What are the circumstances in Romeo's case ?
Stu. He has been grossly insulted by Tybalt, but has avoided quarreling with him. Mercutio, Romeo's friend, takes up the quarrel, and is slain by Tybalt; and the latter, immediately after, is met by Romeo, who accosts him thus:
“ Alive! in triumph, and Mercutio slain!
+ Pro. There is a good exercise in high pitch in the reply of Coriola'nus to Aufid'ius. The latter has sneered at the haughty soldier as a “boy of tears "; and Coriolanus retaliates, in words showing overpowering rage. Let me hear you read the passage.
. Stw It requires practice; but I will do my best.
“Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Alone I did it! · Boy!"" Pro. The tone of choleric defiance in these words of Hotspur affords another exercise in high pitch:
“ Not speak of Mortimer ?
my dear blood drop by drop in the dust,
Stu. The king has refused to ransom Mortimer, who happens to be the brother of Hotspur's wife. The indignant Hotspur again breaks out as follows:
“ He said he would not ransom Mortimer ;
To keep his anger still in motion.” Pro. With one more exercise we will conclude our illustrations for the present. It is the contemptuous speech of Coriolanus, the haughty patrician of Rome, to the populace: • What would you have ...
· you curs,
you do change a mind,
Him vile, that was your garland!” Stu. These exercises seem to me to require a good deal of practice to do them justice.
Pro. That is true: therefore let them have practice. Learn some of them by heart, and give them forth as you have opportunity ; first being sure, from your teacher's authority, that you deliver them aright and in good taste. The physical benefit derived from such exercise of the lungs, prudently pursued, is as great as that got in many of the feats of the gymnasium. It is an exercise which any one can advanta. geously take, in-doors or out.
CATILINE'S LAST SPEECH TO HIS TROOPS.
LXXX. - CATILINE'S LAST SPEECH TO HIS TROOPS.
Taunt (the au like a in far), n., bit-Co'HORT, n., a troop of soldiers, about ter or sarcastic reproach.
four or five hundred. GALL'ING (a as in fall), a., fretting. BUR'DEN (bur’dn), v. t., to encumber.
The following exercise should be read with much spirit and energy. Commencing in the tone of sorrow and despair, the voice should be gradually raised till, at the climax, it should attain an explosive force, expressive of reckless resolve and defiance.
BRAVE comrādes ! all is ruined! I disdain
hands! -This moisture in my eyes Is womanish
-'t will pass.
My noble hearts !
is better than o'erburdened life ;
Rev. GEORGE CROLY. (1788 – 1860.)