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PRACTICE OF ELOCUTION,
Course of Erercises
ACQUIRING THE SEVERAL REQUISITES
A GOOD DELIVERY.
By B. H. SMART,
AUTHOR OF THE THEORY OF ELOCUTION, GRAMMAR OF PRONUNCIATION,
PRACTICAL LOGIC, ETC.
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
50, Connaught Terrace;
AND PUBLISHED BY
STREET; THOMAS HOOKHAM, OLD BOND STREET, ETC.
Words uttered without other means of expression are lifeless sounds, that scarcely reach the understanding, and cannot affect the soul. Even where we bend over the silent page, the mind is alive to what it offers, only in proportion as we imagine a suitable delivery ; and with regard to audible language, it is essentially imperfect unless accompanied by a clear articulation, significant accents, and tones of earnestness and feeling in unison with the import of the words. And yet, while all the other parts of language have their appointed means of cultivation, no regular provision is generally made for systematic improvement in these; a neglect which doubtless arises from an impression that such instruction is not needed. Because we learn to articulate our words and modulate our sentences at first without express instruction,
and because the tones of emotion naturally spring from reality of feeling, it is presumed that we shall improve in these requisites of speech without assistance, in the same manner as we acquired them, and that such improvement will necessarily keep pace with the increase of our ideas and the extension of our vocabulary. A little consideration will show, however, that these consequences are neither probable, nor generally true.
And first, with regard to Articulation, what, without especial instruction, are the chances of improvement, after we have learned to speak and read with tolerable fluency? Is it not notorious that our early habits of utterance, be they good or bad, generally last through life, and that defects, casually acquired, are confirmed rather than removed by length of time? Yet surely, an art obtained at first we know not how, must be susceptible of improvement. If the voice for song, and the gait for walking are always improveable by discipline, surely the organs of speech may be taught to perform their office with greater precision, force, and effect, than can possibly