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It so, then dig deeper into the classic illustrations, catch the life, the soul of a dead language, and its art. Hold it imaginatively. Return to Milton and read his lines, - his meaning ; when the meaning comes to you, it will come like a flash, bringing with it a responsive joy that will in its responsiveness find for itself natural expression. Do the lines you cannot read contain an obsolete word ?
“The clouds in thousand liveries dight,
In heaven yclept Euphrosyne.”
"In unreprovèd pleasures free" ...
“In linked sweetness, long drawn out." Having mastered all this, still perhaps you are not satisfied? The feeling is not true; it lacks chasteness and simplicity ? Study the poem again ; think with the poet. Live his life and thought in imagination so harmoniously and so intensely that your own untried feelings, your own crude thinking, are changed by inspiration into sympathetic understanding of the thoughts and delights of the scholar poet. This is the difficult step. Unless Milton can teach you to think yourself with him, to know him, not as we know a man to bow to only, he can never make you understand how different is the dance of his nymphs,—
“ Tripping as they go
On the light, fantastic toe,” and that of the ballet-dancer. It may take years to read “ L'Allegro" adequately; but it is a worthy purpose, and the preparation will bring true culture.
Be ambitious to read the best literature, but do not do it by degrading the best to the level of bad, uncultivated taste, but by coming up to the level of good taste, of the highest culture.
I have heard of a popular public reader of Boston giving last season Wordsworth’s “ Daffodils ;” and as she came to the last two lines, —
“ And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils,"
she put her hand to her heart; and with the pleasure indicated by a sentimental flash of the eye upon the audience, danced a few graceful steps expressive of exuberant joy, and bowed herself off the platform amid the vociferous applause of the audience. The reader's taste in this case was no worse than that of the audience that applauded her. The incident shows how great the general lack of taste, and the need of the systematic study of fitness in the relations of thought to its expression.
In the study of the poetic environment of “ L'Allegro," the task to accomplish is to appreciate the point of view of the scholar-poet. The student is often best brought to this appreciation indirectly through a course of collateral reading, — for instance, as helps to the study of this poem, there may be suggested “Green's History of the English People,” Book VII. ; the dramatic masks of Ben Jonson ; Shakespeare's comedies; the songs of the Jacobean poets and of Shakespeare ; Masson's “Life of Milton,” especially his notes on “L'Allegro” and the portion of Milton's life devoted to the account of his five years at Horton after he left college. Read and re-read the words of this appreciative critic in initiating you into the inner life of this poet of “ relative vision.” Think and feel for yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror of high art, and condemn the least sign of affectation or desire for exhibition, the least taint of which will ruin your reading of “ L'Allegro." Meditate over every line, contemplate every conception, and so cultivate spiritual insight, by which the spirit of poetry is revealed.
Anna Baright Curry.
AN EVIL TENDENCY IN THE VOICES OF WOMEN.
URING the discussion of the paper on Voice at the Confer
ence on Expression, Dr. George W. Shinn said: “I wish to call the attention of the Conference to the necessity of doing something to improve the quality of the voice of many girls and aware of the fact that a harsh strident quality is taking the place of the low, soft, rich quality, which belongs to them, and which all might have if they sought it. It is not often that you hear so pleasantly modulated a voice as that of the essayist of the day, or of others who have been connected with this School. It is a delight to hear these people talk, no matter what they have to say. The voice of the average woman about us is not pleasant; it is pitched too high ; it is not round and flute-like.” [Here he recounted some incidents illustrating his meaning.)
“If we try to account for the unmusical character of these voices in speaking, it may be suggested that one reason is the lack of proper training as girls grow up; and another is the odd habit many have of talking each other down, not waiting for the completion of sentences, but piling up unfinished sentences, and unconsciously raising the voice in the effort to do so.” The speaker said that the latter explanation did not originate with him, but was suggested by a lady professor in a college. He adopted it, however, because his own observation had convinced him that the “ talking down" habit really existed. But whatever the explanation, it certainly was well for the Conference to recognize the fact that the work of the teachers had ample reward if nothing else was done than to help their pupils develop pleasant voices. .
THE CONFUSION OF ACCENT, TN our American methods of teaching articulation, chief attention
I has been given to elements. There has been a tendency to develop“ mouthing,” the result of a misconception of the action of the organs of speech in regard to the size of the vowel-chambers. Even teachers of visible speech, though the practice is entirely opposed to Professor Bell's principles, have artificialized the visible speech work in this direction. They have tended to make the mouthchambers too small by emphasizing degrees of clearness, forgetting that it is rather the shape than the size of the mouth-chambers which causes the vowel. The larger the vowel-chamber, the more open and free, the more resonant, and even the more correct is the vowel.
There is, however, another important misconception, — the entire neglect of accent. All uneducated and sluggish speakers tend to scatter the accent. Just as a man who is awkward and vulgar tends to stand on both feet, so, in some of the most familiar words, the uneducated, careless, or vulgar speaker tends to confuse or to scatter his force, and give two accents to a word. So we have
sal-vation,” « di-rection,” « di-vine," "fi-delity.”
I heard some one the other day, who was trying to be dramatic, make three words out of “ magnificent.” Most people make the word stand on two feet, but he must have three. It reminded me of the tripedal (often quadrupedal) tendency of some speakers to stand on both feet and lean with the arm (or arms) on the desk.
A secondary accent is now justified by the dictionaries in many words; but the best speakers rarely place a secondary accent even on the longest words, and then always secondary to the primary. The secondary accent, if present at all, is always subordinate ; it is the primary accent of a word which gives it its poise. Just as standing upon one foot in stable equilibrium gives grace and ease to the whole body, and is the centre from which pantomime freely radiates, so it is with articulation. There is a definite touch, a decided attack upon the central vowel of a word, in all beautiful speech. The ease and definiteness with which this is given is the chief beauty of speech. Subordinate syllables should be given with ease, repose, and distinctness. Beautiful French speech is shown by the “accent;” and though men may fail to recognize it, beautiful English is characterized by definite or decided accent.
SLOWNESS without tediousness, rapidity without hurry, is the great aim of delivery; but slowness must be justified by the rhythmic pulsation of deeply stirred force, and quickness must be justified by
TT has been said that painting is the most tell-tale of arts. It is
I said that a tall man will draw people tall, and one with a long nose will give long noses to his figures.
This, however, is true of all the arts. Art is personal, while science is impersonal. The education of an artist must simply furnish the means by which he can find himself. It must develop the power within him and the ability and skill to reveal that power independent of the shackles of tradition or conventionality. “ Art is the intervention of personality.” The higher an art is, the more it reveals the impression, the feeling of the artist. It must show the effect which has been produced upon the man. It must reveal the emotion and the attitude of the man.
Science, on the other hand, is impersonal. The scientist endeavors to repress his personal feeling. He must seek to awaken merely the love of truth for its own sake.
So great is the subserviency of our age to science, that some of the methods of the present time tend to make art impersonal. This is one of the marks of the decadence of French art.
This is one of the greatest dangers in the educational methods of the present hour. The intellectual and analytical study of literature; the neglect of reading aloud, of speaking, and of writing, — all show this tendency.
This criticism has also been true of some of the methods adopted for the training of delivery. Artificial and mechanical systems have tended to make all speakers alike. As some one said once regarding the speakers at the commencement of one of our leading colleges, “ They all seem like moulded candles.” Again, there has been a great struggle to find a scientific method of developing delivery. The advocates of the Rush System claim that it enables delivery and Vocal Expression to be taught on an objective and impersonal plane. They cannot see that a technique is possible on any other plane. They forget the difference between mechanical and fine art,