« PreviousContinue »
Scene from Shakspeare's Henry VIII.
Qucen KATHARINE, Capucius, and Patience.
99. Queen Katharine. If my sight fail not,
You should be lord ambassador from the emperor,
Capucius. Madam, the same, your servant.
Kath. O my lord,
But I pray you,
Cap. Noble lady,
Kath. O my good lord, that comfort comes too late ;
Cap. Madam, in good health.
Kath. So may he ever do! and ever flourish,
Patience. No, madam. [Giving it to KATHARINE.
Kath. Sir, I most humbly pray you to deliver
Cap. Most willing, madam.
Kath. In which I have commended to his goodness
and a little
Heaven knows how dearly. 100. What sensibility and tenderness breathe in the last lines of the above-cited example! What
expression haloed with the most exquisite feeling! The words are but the symbols of this feeling, and their effect in this case depends entirely on the correct application of the tremulous semitonic movement, in conformity to the sentimental dictates of nature.
Scene from the Tragedy of King John.
Prince ARTHUR, HUBERT, and ATTENDANTS.
Arthur. O, save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out,
Hubert. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
Hub. Go, stand within ; let me alone with him.
Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Arth. O Heaven! that there were but a mote in yours,
Hub. Is this your promise ? Go to, hold your tongue
Arth. Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tor gues
Let me not hold my tongue ; let me not, Hubert !
102. In the earnest inquiry, "Is there no remedy?” and in the supplication, “O, spare mine eyes!” tremor, added to the semitonic movement, will give a high degree of impressiveness to the force of the sentiment.
103. The effect of blending tremor and the semitone may be most beautifully exemplified in the expression, “Now don't take it so sorely to heart;" as may be seen in the following extract:
104. “I approached the grave. The coffin was placed on the ground. The poor mother had been assisted to kneel down at the head of it. Her withered hands were clasped as if in prayer; but I could perceive by a feeble rocking of the body, and a convulsive motion of the lips, that she was gazing on the last relics of her son with the yearnings of a mother's heart. Preparations were made to deposit the coffin in the earth. The movement around seemed to awaken the mother from a wretched reverie. She raised her glazed eyes, and looked about with a faint wildness. As the men approached with cords to lower the coffin into the grave, she wrung her hands, and broke into an agony of grief. The poor woman who attended her, took her by the arm, endeavoring to raise her from the earth, and to whisper something like consolation. • Nay, now
nay, nowdon't take it so sorely to heart.' She could only shake her head and wring her hands, as one not to be comforted.”
ASPIRATED FUNCTION OF THE VOICE.
105. It has already been shown, that inflection, stress, pause, tremor, circumflex, pitch, monotone, quantity, movement, and semitone, do, by their separate and mingled influences, give brilliancy and intensity to the force of expression.
106. Aspiration, the function now to be considered, will 110. “When first, with amazement, fair Imogine found
afford additional means for diversifying the effects of these elementary agents. This quality of the voice, which is man ifested, and may be illustrated, under the form of a whisper, may be conjoined with loudness, and united with the most forcible exertion of the vocal organs.
107. It may properly enough be termed the signature of excitement. When words are vociferated with the greatest vocal violence, they must, of necessity, become aspirated; consequently aspiration will always show itself, when the feelings are so powerful as to throw out a greater quantity of breath than can be vocalized by the enunciative organs. The words will then be thrown out, as it were, enveloped in aspiration. In exercising the pupil, let him practise on words and elementary sounds, by bringing the voice down to an intense whispering utterance.
108. Aspiration may be applied to syllables of every variety of time, to all modes of stress, and to all intervals of intonation. Its use is to unite with the other functions of the voice, to give increased intensity to the utterance of the various emotions. It gives words an air of mystery. It expresses what is wonderful, incomprehensible. It also expresses excessive earnestness, sneer, contempt, scorn, violent anger, and excessive rage. When an abatement of the voice is aspirated on the semitone, it gives intensity to the plaintiveness of distress; and when the tremulous movement is superadded to the aspirated semitone, it will mark the deepest shade of sadness and grief within the limits of crying.
109. If the last three lines in the following passage be read with a moderate degree of aspirated intonation, it will illustrate its agency in the expression of what is strange, unaccountable, and mysterious.
That a stranger was placed by her side ;
But earnestly gazed on his bride.'
111. Let the above be read w.th the requisite degree of aspiration, and then in the tone of pure vocality only, and the effect will be such, that the hearer would scarcely suppose that in each case the passage was the same.
112. The following extract will serve to illustrate how far aspiration has any agency in expressing wonder and as tonishment:
113. “ Hamlet. He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
Horatio. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
114. The effect of aspiration may be illustrated in the following examples.
115. In the dialogue between Brutus and Cassius, if the last word “fear,” which is Italicized, be strongly aspirated, the effect in marking earnestness of sentiment will be very perceptible.
116. “ Brutus. What means this shouting ? I do fear the people
Choose Cæsar for their king.
Cassius. Ay, do you fear it?
117. Again, in the tent scene, the anger and displeasure of Cassius's feelings are fully manifested in the aspiration of the word “ chastisement."
118. " Brutus. The name of Cassius honors this corruption
And chastisement doth therefore hide its head.
Cassius. CHASTISEMENT !
119. If any one wishes to understand the effect of aspira tion, and how far it is entitled to notice as a powerful agent in oratorical expression, let him read the following passage without aspirated force, then let him read it aspirating the