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Once more a change; it is settled ; and each corporal agent is at length bent up to the terrible feat.
Whiles I threat-he lives-
and it is DONE- the bell invites meHear it NOT-Duncan -for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven-or to hell.
I will now submit to you a passage of very genuine humour. I warn you that you will find it difficult reading Great skill is required rightly to use the emphasis. You must lay some stress upon the touches of humour, sufficient to awaken the listener's attention by indicating to him that he is to look out for something good, and that he will find a meaning beneath the first and seeming import of the words, and yet not so much as to disturb the flow of the narrative. The greatest difficulty in reading narrative is to avoid monotony, and for this purpose the reader is frequently compelled to introduce variations of tone even when not strictly demanded by the matter. I can give you no rule for this; you must be guided by good taste and the fineness of your ear. But in reading a cheerful narrative, such as this, the tone of the voice should be light and cheerful, and the whole manner sportive. Perhaps the best hint I could give you will be this—suppose yourself to be telling it as a good story to a party of sympathising friends, and try to forget, if possible, that you are taking it out of a book.
By and by I roused myself—and went to the play- -There I found a virtuous boatswain in his Majesty's service
-though I could have wished his trousers not quite so tight in some places—and not quite so loose in otherswho knocked all the little men's hats over their eyes- -though he was very generous and brave—and who would'nt hear of anybody's paying taxes, though he was VERY patriotic.- He had
a bag of money in his pocket-like a pudding in the cloth- -and on that property married a young person in bed furniture with great rejoicings ;—the whole population of Portsmouth- -nine in number by the last census- -turning out on the beach to rub their own hands,—and shake everybody else's—and sing “Fill, fill.”—A certained dark complexioned swab—however-who WOULDN'T fill or do anything else that was proposed to him, and whose heart was openly stated to be as black as his figure headproposed to two other swa'is to get all mankind into difficulties ;
-which was so effectually done- -the swab family having considerable political influence- —that it took half the evening to set things right- and then it was only brought about through an honest little grocer,—with a white hat, black gaiters—and red nose-getting into a clock,- -with a gridiron- and listening
- and coming out- and knocking everybody down from behind with the gridiron- -whom he could'nt confute with what he had overheard- -This led Mr. Wopsle
-who had never been heard of before coming in with a star and garter onas a plenipotentiary of great power direct from the Admiraltyto say that the swabs were all to go to prison on the spot—and that he had brought the boatswain down the Union Jack—as a slight acknowledgement of his public services- -The boatswain, -unmanned for the first time-respectfully dried his eyes on the jack- and then cheering up and addressing Mr. Wopsle as Your Honour, solicited permission to take him by the fin-Mr. Wopsle conceded his fin with gracious dignity- -was immediately shoved into a dusty corner, while everybody danced a hornpipeand—from that corner surveyed the public with a discontented eye.
Remember that the purpose of these illustrations is to show you the right use of emphasis, pause, and tone, and these can only be exhibited, by a variety of passages on various subjects and in various styles. It is necessary
from gay to grave, and I ask you now to learn to read another well-known composition, • The Burial of Sir John Moore.” The notation is continued.
The reading of poetry, as such, will be the subject of a separate commentary hereafter. The following poem
is submitted to you as a lesson in those graces of reading that are common to compositions of all kinds. The subject of this poem demands a serious and somewhat solemn mood of the reader's mind, and as the mind is so will be the tones of the voice, without an effort of your own.
There is much use of emphasis and pause throughout, but little or no variation of manner. Great feeling should be thrown into it, and, when well read, there are few passages in English literature more effective. It never fails to touch, and therefore to please, an audience, however miscellaneous :
Not a drum was heard—not a funeral note
As his corpse to the ramparts we hurried-
O’er the grave where our HERO we buried.-
The sods with our BAYONETS turning-
And the lantern-dimly burning-
Nor in sheet_nor in shroud—we wound him-
With his martial cloak around him.
And we spoke not a word of sorrow-
And bitterly thought of the morrow. -
as we hollowed his narrow bed
-FAR away on the billow !
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him-
In the grave—where a BRITON has laid him.
But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock told the hour for retiring-
That the foe was sullenly firing.
From the field of his fame fresh and gory!
But we left him ALONE- -in his GLORY. The last two lines must be read with increased emphasis-very slowly-in a voice slightly elevated, and with a tone changed from sadness to triumph. Repeat them many times until you are enabled to give to this fine verse its full expression. I can but faintly convey it to you by types and dashes.
I ASK you now to study one of the most difficult readings in our language, and therefore excellent practice. It was indeed never read to perfect satisfaction save by one actor and reader-CHARLES KEMBLE. To estimate its difficulties, you should first read it right on, as if it were an ordinary narrative, and regardless of effect. Then read it with care, designing to give to every word its right expression, and you will be surprised to find how dissatisfied you will be with your own performance.
Observe, that it is an exquisite piece of pleasantry, by a professed wit. It is not humorous, nor farcical, but admirably fanciful and witty. Therefore it is not to be blurted out like a bit of fun, nor cracked like a joke, but uttered in the light, but still musical and graceful, strain of pleasantry, in the manner of a polished gentleman. A smile should just hover upon the lips, but without breaking into a laugh. Nor is it a soliloquy, but a story told to companions as cheerful and light-hearted as the teller. This manner of reading it I cannot illustrate ; I