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  • SECTION II.


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    General Rules for the Variation of the Voice.

    1.THE voice may be varied three ways: First, as to height or lowness; secondly, as to vehemence or softness; thirdly, as to swiftness or slowness.

    And,

      (1.)As to height, a medium between the extremes is carefully to be observed. You must neither strain your voice, by raising it always to the highest note it can reach; nor sink it always to the lowest note, which would be to murmur rather than to speak.

      (2.)As to vehemence, have a care how you force your voice to the last extremity. You cannot hold this long, without danger of its cracking, and failing you on a sudden. Nor yet ought you to speak in too faint and remiss a manner, which destroys all the force and energy of what is spoken,

      (3.)As to swiftness, you ought to moderate the voice so as to avoid all precipitation; otherwise you give the hearers no time to think, and so are not likely either to convince or to persuade them. Yet neither should you speak slower than men generally do in common conversation. It is a fault to draw out your words too slow, or to make needless breaks or pauses. Nay, to drawl is (of the two) worse than to hurry. The speech ought not to drop, but to flow along. But then it ought to flow like a gliding stream, not as a rapid torrent.

    2. Yet let it be observed, that the medium I recommend does not consist in an indivisible point. It admits of a considerable latitude. As to the height or lowness of the voice, there are five or six notes whereby it may be varied, between the highest and the lowest; so here is abundant room for variation, without filling into either extreme. There is also sufficient room between the extremes of violence and of softness, to pronounce either more vehemently or more mildly, as different subjects may require. And as to swiftness or slowness, though you avoid both extremes, you may nevertheless speak faster or slower, and that in several degrees, as best answers the subject and passions of your discourse.

    3. But it should likewise be observed, that the voice ought not to be varied too hastily in any of these respects; but the difference is to be made by degrees, and almost insensibly; too sudden a change being unnatural and affected, and consequently disagreeable to the hearers.

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