« ZurückWeiter »
Tho' unequall'd their love when its first blossoms blew ;
When a man who has lived here for none but himself,
Feels laid on his strong frame the cold hand of death,
And he yields back to God both his soul and his breath: As up to the judgment that naked soul flew,
I wouldn't give much for his Heaven !-would you?
THE PROFESSOR PUZZLED.
F. B. WILSON.
SCENE.-The Professor's Study. Professor seated by table examining some manuscripts. (Enter Pupil, smoking.)...
PUPIL. Good evening, Professor. (Throws himself into a chair.)
PROF. Good evening, sir. As this is the last lesson of your course, I wish to call your attention to the different topics that we have taken up in your previous lessons. I must say, Mr. S., that your success has not been as great as it might have been. You have been in too great a hurry. You wished to be drilled on the "Raven" and Shakspeare before you fully understood the tones of voice. Emphasis and slide, the great beauty of good reading, have been almost wholly overlooked by you, notwithstanding my repeated cautions. It is not my intention to criticize your performance this eve ning. I shall take up all the essential elements that constitute an orator, and I am confident that from the drill you have had, you ought to be able to give them correctly. I therefore consider this lesson a sort of an examination. You may place yourself where the audience can see you, and take first position, sitting. (Pupil takes position.)
PUPIL. Shall I now give a personation of a band of minstrels opening an entertainment?
THE PROFESSOR PUZZLED.
PROF. You may, and then be done with burlesque. PUPIL. (Picking up programme from floor.) Colored folks, seein' you've 'sembled yourself this evening fer the purpose of entertaining de white population, de fus' thing dat strikes my optical observation on dis evening's programme am de overture, so throw yourself away. (throws himself. )
PROF. Let us now leave the minstrels to finish their own performance, and go on with ours. Rise, take first position. Give the sentence, "Let me grasp thee," in the orotund. PUPIL. (Takes position.) "Let me grasp thee" (catches hold of Prof.)
PROF. Back! I asked for the tone, not the action. PUPIL. But what power have words without action? PROF. Without action all oratory sinks into insignificance. Demosthenes gave action as the first, second and third requisites to a perfect orator. But you are now not performing the part of a speaker, you are simply giving the elements that constitute one. Take now the selection, "She loved me," etc.
"She loved me for the tales I told,
PROF. Is your memory so weak, or is the burlesque so deeply seated in you that you murder the most beautiful passages?
PUPIL. You gave me to understand that it was tone you wanted, not action, so I concluded that if I gave you the tone correctly, even words were of minor importance.
PROF. Different selections require different tones. Words have all to do with tone. As you are inclined to the comic, you may recite a stanza from the Irish Picket.
"I'm standing in the mud, Biddy,
Wid winter absent all the year,
PROF. A little too much of the dramatic, but we will pass on. You may now sit. (Pupil si's.) Recite an extract from the "Hypochondriac."
PUPIL. The "Hypohcondriac?”
I never saw him.
PROF. We have had that selection during your course. You are to personate a man that is ever complaining, one who imagines he has all the "many ills to which the flesh is heir."
PUPIL. I remember.
Give me a towel to tie on my
PROF. This will do as well. (Hands him red silk handkerchief. He ties it on.)
PUPIL. "Good morning, Doctor; how do you do? I haint quite as well as I have been; but I think I am somewhat better than I was. I don't think that last medicin' you gin me did me much good. I had a terrible time with the earache last night; my wife got up and drapped a few draps of walnut sap into it, and that relieved it some; but I didn't get a wink of sleep till nearly daylight. For nearly a week, Dr., I've had the worst kind of a narvous headache; it has been so bad sometimes that I thought my head would bust open. Oh, dear! I sometimes think that I am the most afflictedest human being that ever lived. (coughs.) Oh, dear! but that aint all, Dr., I've got fifteen corns on my toes—and I'm affeard I'm going to have the yellow jaundice. (coughs.)
PROF. We will now drop the comic. You may next give the closing part of Catiline's speech.
PUPIL. (rises.) I go; but not to leap the gulf alone." (Makes desperate lean on stage.)
PROF. Hold! Mr. S., you well know that there is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous, and why do you murder that sublime passage?
PUPIL. I was merely following out the teachings of Demosthenes-action is the essential element in true oratory.
PROF. Proper action, but not monkey-shines. At the word leap you may make a gesture with your hand. How often have I told you that stamping, or feet gesturės, were entirely out of place. Try it again.
THE PROFESSOR PUZZLED.
PUPIL. "I go; but not to leap alone,
PROF. "Good-bye now;" are those words in the original? PUPIL. Words of the same import are, and as the words "Fare thee well," imply the same as " good-bye," I know of no reason why we may not use them.
PROF. The rules of oratory, I admit, are many and variable. You are now reciting a classical production, and the words "good-bye" cannot be considered classical. Begin again at that point.
"Fare you well! You build my funeral pile; but your best blood
Shall quench its flame! Back, Contrabands, I will return."
PROF. Contraband is a word not in use at that time. I tell you, Mr. S., I am becoming discouraged. You are too careless. Take for your last selection Hamlet's soliloquy.
PUPIL. "To marry, or not to marry? that is the question,
The jeers and banters of outrageous females,
And by proposing, end them. To court; to marry;
Devoutly to be wished. But the dread of something after
Makes us rather bear the ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of."
W. C. BRYANT.
To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
To Nature's teachings, while from all around-
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again;
To mix forever with the elements;
Shalt thou retire alone--nor couldst thou wish