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any state of our own mind to the minds of others. That kind of talk you will readily recognise. There is another sort of speech that may be without expression, which we call speaking by rote, where words come from the memory only and not from the mind. This exception, indeed, admirably illustrates the rule.
It is a proverbial saying, that a man talks like a parrot-by rote—to imply that he is merely reproducing sounds that have been impressed upon his memory, and not giving utterance to thoughts and feelings existing in his mind. You know the unmistakeable monotony of speech by rote, and may thus, perhaps, more clearly apprehend my meaning when in these letters I treat only of the speech that expresses by infinite tones the infinite conditions of the mind from which it proceeds.
You will readily gather from this brief sketch of the source of Expression that it is a mental process, and that the surest, if not the only, way to accomplish it is to speak from the mind. If, in reading, you were uttering your own thoughts, there would be no difficulty in this, for nature would supply the right tones without an effort, and even without consciousness, on your part. You will say, perhaps, that in reading you do not express your own mind, but the mind of another. That is true ; but the same principle applies. In order to read well you must make the thoughts of the author your own. This is a special faculty, possessed by various minds in various degrees. I can best explain it to you by reference to the case of the actor, who is a reader from mem
emory instead of from book, and in whom the faculty is so highly cultivated that its operation can be most clearly seen. But the subject will require a longer exposition than could properly be given to it at the close of a letter ; so at this point I pause.
THE ART OF THE ACTOR AND THE READER.
The Actor reads from his memory instead of reading from a book, and he adds action to expression. The reader reads from the book, and not from his memory, but he should recite what he reads in precisely the same manner as does the actor. You have often heard it said of a man that he reads in a theatrical manner, as if that was a fault in him ; but, before it is admitted to be a fault, we must understand precisely in what sense the phrase is used. The term might be employed to indicate reading like a bad actor or like a good one. Some persons, educated in evil habits of reading, unaccustomed to hear good reading, and who have never contemplated reading as an art and an accomplishment, might ignorantly denounce as " theatrical
any reading that rises above gabbling and all attempts to give natural expression to the words and thoughts. Such reading is “theatrical” indeed, but only in a commendable sense.
There is, however, a theatrical manner, that is called so reproachfully, and with justice, for it means reading like a bad actor-ranting, mouthy, and
declamatory, or lugubrious and droning; tearing a passion to tatters, swelling into sing-song, or lapsing into a monotonous drawl. Exaggerated expression in reading is like a part over-acted on the stage, but it is preferable to the absence of expression ;
and therefore see that you do not fall into the fault of monotony through fear of being called theatrical.
The faculty by which an actor is enabled to accomplish his task is that which gives to him the power of forgetting himself and becoming somebody else. Reflect for a moment what a man must do in order to play some part in a drama-Hamlet, for instance. He must become Hamlet for the time, and for that time he must cease to be himself; he must think and feel as Hamlet, or he cannot look and move like Hamlet. He does not this by a process of argument; he does not read a scene in the play, and then say to himself, “ Here Hamlet is awe-stricken at the appearance of the Ghost, and to look as if I was awe-stricken I must stand in this posture, and open my eyes thus wide, and make my voice quiver-so, and speak in such a tone." All this would be impossible of acquirement as a matter of teaching, for the memory could never carry such a multitude of directions and recall them at the right moment.
The actual process is more simple. The true actor reads the play ; he ascertains what was the character of Hamlet ; he learns the language put into Hamlet's mouth. When he reproduces it, he becomes Hamlet, feels and thinks as Hamlet; the words have entered his mind and excited there the precise emotions Hamlet was imagined to feel by the genius that created him. He feels them, not by rule or by an effort of his own, but instinctively. The mind being moved, the voice, the aspect, the action,
express the mind's emotions. It was thus that the dramatist wrote. He, too, did not artfully construct the thoughts and emotions conveyed by the words spoken by his personages. Placing his own mind in their positions, he felt the feelings and thought the thoughts which such persons in such cases would have felt and thought and these he clothed in appropriate language. The actor seizes upon the same personages, performs the same process of placing himself in imagination in the same positions, feels and thinks thus, and therefore rightly expresses the emotions and thoughts of the author. The difference between the genius of the actor and the genius of the author is this—that the actor does not create, he merely expresses the creations of the author. Although the creative genius is the greatest, great is the genius that can embody those creations, and make them live before our eyes. When the process is contemplated, we cannot but marvel much at the power that can so identify itself with the emotions of another mind as to become that mind for a season, feel all that it felt, think all that it thought, and then express those thoughts and feelings, as the creator of the character would have expressed them, had he possessed the power to
To be a good reader, you must possess a portion of this faculty of the actor. The great actor has two mental powers that are perfectly distinct, each of which might exist without the other. He must be able to read truly and to act rightly. It is not enough for him that he can read the part as it ought to be read; he must also be able to act it as it ought to be acted. Herein is the difference between the actor and the reader. The reader requires to be only half an actor; he needs but to be accomplished in the first portion of the actor's art. Hence it is more easy to be a good reader than a good actor; hence it is that, although a good actor must be a good reader, you may be a very good reader without being also a good actor. But bear this in mind, that you should endeavour to accomplish yourself even to the actor's skill in reading, and that the test of your excellence will be precisely that which would be applied to the reading of his part by the actor upon the stage. As the critic would sit in judgment on the manner in which an actor reads Hamlet when he acts it—that is to say, how he expresses the words, apart from the acting—so would a judicious critic judge your reading of it when seated in the drawing-room. The rules to be observed by both are the same; the same effects are to be studied, the same intonations to be used. You should so read that, if the listener's eyes were bandaged, he could not tell that you were not acting, save by perceiving that your voice is stationary.
I have dwelt on this connection, and distinction, between acting and reading, because they are seldom rightly understood even by those who have studied the art of reading. Some, fearing to be thought "theatrical" make a positive endeavour to avoid reading as an actor should read ; and, on the other hand, some think that acting and reading are identical and rush into a mannerism that imperfectly unites the two and spoils both, and these are the readers to whom the reproach of being “theatrical" properly applies. By clearly understanding what is the precise boundary between reading and acting -how nearly they approach, but never touch—you will, I hope, educate yourself to advance boldly to the