« AnteriorContinuar »
tical nature and its universal application make many elements of the subject appear so perfectly obvious and commonplace, that it is often found difficult to gain for it that attention which its merits demand.
The physical preparation for speech brings with it advantages so apparent that it is scarcely necessary to designate its place in a course of practical training, or invite attention to its aims and to the benefits which it confers. Grace of action, purity, ease, fullness and variety of tone, and the incidental benefits to respiration, circulation, and general physical vigor, all these have of late years been made so familiar to us, and are so palpably reasonable, that it has become almost needless to press their claims.
Not quite so clear or tangible are the place and claim of the other branch of the elocutionary art the analysis of thought through tone.
The expressional analysis here undertaken is designed to supplement rhetorical analysis, forming a sort of crossplowing and subsoiling of literary and rhetorical study. As it regards literature, the attention is here given to the motive rather than the method, to processes rather than products.
A few points may here be suggested as to ways in which this subject may be made a genuine study.
First. Principles of analysis and expression must be so distinctly and fully stated and so thoroughly illustrated that the student shall have firm footing as he pro
ceeds. This involves careful work on the part of the teacher in presenting each new point. It is assumed that the teacher is an intelligent and sympathetic reader, a literary interpreter, though he need not be a great vocal artist. His chief business is to indoctrinate his students in principles of interpretation which shall give them a rational basis for criticism. No"rules" are here imposed. Principles must govern.
Second. When the principle in question has been reasonably well apprehended, a lesson should be assigned that will test the student's ability to apply the principle to new cases. As a rule, there should always be required written translations or paraphrases, which shall reveal the logical analysis and the literary or artistic interpretation. Mere taste or feeling must not be accepted as a standard. These will afterwards come to assert themselves all the more effectually if at first they are made amenable to reason. In this stage, therefore, there must necessarily be much patient toil on the part of both teacher and student; for even to those well trained in general principles of language and in formal rhetoric this field of expressional analysis will be essentially a new one. The teacher should often point out, and should encourage students to find, relations between the rhetoric of the voice and that of the page. It will often be found that vocal interpretation is more exact than the forms of expression and interpretation with which the student has previously been familiar. The new point of
view will often put things in a different light, or in another perspective. Principal and subordinate may seem to change places; inflection and grouping will be found of more importance than punctuation; transition and proposition will sometimes supersede paragraphing; infelicities of diction, especially as to euphony and sentence-structure, will occasionally reveal themselves, even in the best writings that have not been tested by the ear; standards of taste will begin to change, or rather will be challenged for their justification; models that have been accepted as faultless by an unquestioning traditionalism may appear less glorious, while subtile beauties may be discovered in fields heretofore overlooked.
All these changes require time, patience, and enthusiasm. It is in this stage of the study that its rational basis is found, and its vital connection with literature and philosophy most plainly indicated.
Some minds incline to analysis more than to synthesis; others are impatient of explanations, and are anxious to realize the artistic results of a method. We must be careful, on the one hand, not to waste time by needless speculation, and, on the other hand, not to endanger all our future work by hastily laid and insufficient foundations.
Third. After the principles have come into the student's possession by this process of independent testing, they must be corroborated, modified, and vitalized by
abundant practice. Much longer passages may now be assigned; lengthy discussions on the given principles have now become needless, and may give place to enlarged application.
The examples in Part I. are designed for specific illustration of principles in direct connection with the text; those in Part II., for laboratory material. For theological students and ministers, however, extra material will be found in the Biblical references appended to most of the chapters in Part I. Students should also find and make many examples.
When differences of judgment occur in the treatment of passages, they can often be settled, as far as it is possible to settle them, by taking the sense of the class. The teacher must always be ready to give a prompt, and of course an independent, decision; but it should be understood that his word is a "ruling," rather than a dictation or an ex cathedra deliverance. It is never designed to silence the pupil, but always to enlighten and assist him. Independence of judgment on the part of the student must by all means be encouraged. Agreement with others, even with the best critics, is not the desideratum for the student. If he does not learn to exercise his own powers of insight and judgment, the study will but enslave him the more to arbitrary standards. No discouragement should be felt if at first the principles seem difficult of application, or if rulings under them often appear inconsistent.
Many points will become clear by repeated exemplification. Caution needs to be used not to allow a hasty judgment, once taken, to color or neutralize rational considerations that may afterward be adduced.
It may be objected that, if there can be no demonstrated or authoritative rendering, which must be accepted, there is no positive teaching. The ready answer is, that in all work which seeks to cultivate the judgment, individuality and independence must be sacredly respected. Students will and do appreciate this method of work and this standard of criticism; and, if carefully watched, it need produce no laxness in the class-room drill. Extempore recitations will not often be attempted; the difference between a guess and a defensible independent interpretation soon becomes as apparent as that between an improvised and a prepared translation in any other language.
It is supposed that the teacher will have prepared himself on each lesson as he would in any similar study. He will not, however, give his rulings on the basis of his own interpretation alone, but will be prompt in seeing and cordial in accepting any other reasonable and tenable interpretation. This will require, on the part of the teacher, a fullness of knowledge and an alertness of attention that will of themselves do much to impart life and power to the recitation.
With classes well prepared in rhetoric and in an elementary course of gesture and vocal culture, the