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TO THE TREATMENT OF
BY ANDREW COMSTOCK, M.D.
PRINCIPAL OF THE VOCAL AND POLYGLOTT GYMNASIUM.
Can Elocution be taught? This question has heretofore been asked through ignorance:
Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by
ANDREW COMSTOCK, M. D.,
in the office of the clerk of the district court of the United States in and for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.
STEREOTYPED BY J. FAGAN.
PRINTED BY C. SHERMAN.
HIS work is a system of Theoretical and Practical Elocution. It is designed for the use of Schools and Colleges, as well as for the instruction of private individuals who desire to improve themselves in the art of reading and speaking. The arrangement of the several parts of the work is strictly systematic: each is discussed in its natural order, and with as much brevity as consists with perspicuity.
The analysis of the vocal elements of the English language, and the minute description which is given of their organic formation, will be found important, not only to the American who is desirous of accurate knowledge upon this subject, but also to the foreigner who is learning to speak our vernacular tongue. And the engravings, indicating the most favourable. postures of the mouth in the energetic utterance of the elements, will be found a valuable auxiliary in the acquisition of this knowledge.
In ordinary works on Elocution, the inflections of the voice are given, but not the changes of pitch, which constitute melody. In this work, however, not only are the inflections and the melody given, but also those transitions in pitch, called modulation, or a change of key My method of representing the melody and modula tions of the speaking voice, is original; and, I feel confident, it will prove of singular advantage to the Student in Elocution.
The part on gesture is extracted, principally, from Austin's Chironomia, a work which is extremely rare, and one whose great size and expense are insuperable obstacles to its general introduction. All, however, that is particularly valuable, which the Chironomia contains on the subject of gesture, is here presented to the reader in the compass of a few pages. Austin's system of notation of gesture is of great practical utility. This will appear evident to the reader when he shall have learned that, by its application, all the gestures which an orator makes, in the delivery of a discourse, may be accurately recorded for his own practice and improvement, as well as for the benefit of posterity.
In the practical part of this work, are Exercises in Articulation, Pitch, Force, Time, and Gesture. These are important, not only to the Student in Elocution, but also to the Stammerer. In training the muscles of speech, as well as those of gesticulation, I begin with exercises of the most energetic kind; because these only will produce the desired effect: by diligently practising energetic exercises, the Student soon acquires a strength and compass of voice, a distinctness of utterance, and a freedom and gracefulness of action, which
he could not attain by practising those of an opposite character.
The Exercises in Reading and Declamation have been taken from some of the best ancient and modern authors; and they are well adapted to the purposes of the Student in Elocution. They are divided into paragraphs, and subdivided into sections. The latter division is marked by vertical bars. In concert reading, as soon as a section is pronounced by the teacher, the members of the class should repeat it together, in the proper pitch and time, and with the requisite degree of force. When a paragraph shall have been pronounced in this way, it should be read singly by each member of the class. Sometimes it will be found advantageous to let each pupil, in turn, give out a piece, and the other members of the class repeat it after him; the teacher, meanwhile, making the necessary corrections. In fine, the exercise of reading should be practised in a variety of ways according to circumstances. When a piece is given out with gesticulation, the members of the class should rise simultaneously, immediately after the first section is pronounced, and repeat the words and gesture. As the organs of speech require much training to enable them to perform their functions properly, the pupil should repeat the same exercise till he can articulate every element, and give to each syllable the pitch, force, and time which the sentiment demands.
The art of reading and speaking is not inferior in importance to any branch of learning; yet there is none more generally neglected. While many of the merely ornamental branches are cultivated with zealous assiduity, Elocution is allowed, at best, but a feeble sup