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EXERCISE LXXIII.

THE UNIVERSAL HYMN OF NATURE.

Thomson.

The following passage forms an example of apostrophe and adoration, in the loftiest mood of poetry. Solemnity, sublimity, and ardour of devotional feeling, are all blended in the “expression,” and produce one of the noblest examples of sustained “orotund” in its “effusive” and “expulsive” forms, varying from the one degree to the other, according to the softened or the energetic character of the emotion uttered in each apostrophe. “Median stress” prevails throughout the piece, imparting a full sonorous swell to the utterance, in conjunction with the majestic rhythm,and “ prolonged quantities” of the blank verse. The “ movement” is slow” and stately throughout; and the pauses, at each apostrophe, remarkably

long. The faults to be shunned in the reading of this and similar exercises,

are those of a slight, feeble, hurried, and inerpressive utterance. The voice should always, in such cases, indicate the grandeur of the theme, although it should never fall into that mouthing and chanting swell, which is sometimes indulged through false taste.)

Nature, attend ! join every living soul,
Beneath the spacious temple of the sky,
In adoration join; and, ardent, raise
One general song! To Him, ye vocal gales,
Breathe soft, whose Spirit in your freshness breathes.
Oh! talk of Him in solitary glooms,
Where, o'er the rock, the scarcely waving pine
Fills the brown shade with a religious awe!
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar,
Who shake the astonished world, lift high to heaven
The impetuous song, and say from whom you rage.
His praise, ye brooks, attune, ye trembling rills;
And let me catch it, as I muse along.
Ye headlong torrents, rapid, and profound;
Ye softer floods, that lead the humid maze
Along the vale; and thou, majestic main,
A secret world of wonders in thyself,
Sound His stupendous praise; whose greater voice
Or bids you roar, or bids your roarings fall !

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Soft roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flowers,
In mingled clouds to Him, whose sun exalts,
Whose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints !
Ye forests bend, ye harvests wave, to Him!
Breathe your still song into the reaper's heart,
As home he goes beneath the joyous moon.
Ye that keep watch in heaven, as earth, asleep,
Unconscious lies, effuse your mildest beams,
Ye constellations, while your angels strike,
Amid the spangled sky, the silver lyre!
Great source of day! best image here below
Of thy Creator, ever pouring wide,
From world to world, the vital ocean round,
On Nature write with every beam His praise.
The thunder rolls: be hushed the prostrate world;
While cloud to cloud returns the solemn hymn!
Bleat out afresh, ye hills : ye mossy rocks,
Retain the sound: the broad responsive low,
Ye valleys, raise! for the Great Shepherd reigns;
And His unsuffering kingdom yet shall come.
Ye woodlands all, awake! a boundless song
Burst from the groves! and when the restless day,
Expiring, lays the warbling world asleep,
Sweetest of birds! sweet Philomela, charm
The listening shades, and teach the night His praise !
Ye chief, for whom the whole creation smiles,
At once the head, the heart, and tongue of all,
Crown the great hymn! In swarming cities vast,
Assembled men! to the deep organ join
The long-resounding voice, oft-breaking clear,
At solemn pauses, through the swelling bass;
And, as each mingling flame increases each,
In one united ardour rise to heaven!
Or if you rather choose the rural shade,
And find a fane in every sacred grove;
There let the shepherd's flute, the virgin's lay,
The prompting seraph, and the poet's lyre,
Still sing the God of seasons, as they roll!

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EXERCISE LXXIV.

CHARACTER OF PRIMITIVE POETRY.

Hillard.

[Critical disquisitions on themes of a poetic nature, while they necessa

rily adopt the staid and regular form of utterance which belongs to didactic style, retain, — so to express it, — the tinge which they naturally derive from the tone of their subject. Hence we find that pieces such as the following, allow much more scope to “ expression” in reading, than those which are restricted to topics of science merely. The basis of elocution, in passages like this, is a clear, distinct enunciation, exact inflections, and discriminating emphasis. But, from the nature of the subject, there is implied the addition of " expressiveeffect in a style approaching to that of poetry. A slowero movementtherefore prevails, than in ordinary prose, and is accompanied by perfectly “pure tone," slight “median siressand a comparatively delicate vanish” in the sounds of the voice, yet without losing the animation which accompanies the contemplation and expression of beauty.]

Poetry is the oldest birth of the human mind. The first unravellings of that veil of light which God has woven into the frame of man, are in the form of verse. A poet of our own times, has supposed that the first poet sang when the rainbow first shone upon the “ green, undeluged earth,” as a covenant between God and man. But surely sixteen hundred years had not rolled by, without some musical utterance, however rude and uncouth, of those sensations and emotions which are felt in the blood and in the soul of man. Suns had set, and moons had risen; and the sweet influences of the stars had dropped from the midnight sky; the spinning earth had known its alternations of day and night, seed-time and harvest; lovers had wooed, and maidens had been won; the child had been born, and the old man had been carried to his grave; joy and sorrow, hope and fear, smiles and tears, had brightened and darkened man's life; and it cannot be that the minstrel had not sung, - that the harp of Jubal had not trembled to the poet's touch.

As children resemble each other more than men, so are nations more alike in their infancy than in their mature age. All early poetry is marked, more or less strongly, by the same general characteristics. It has the unstudied movement, and

the unconscious charm, of childhood. It fills the mind with a sense of the golden light and dewy freshness of morning. It flows from an age which acknowledges a vivid satisfaction in the mere possession of life. That pleasure in the simple exercise of the faculties, without reference to the end or object of pursuit, which is common to the young of all animals, and in which the benevolent observation of Paley saw the most striking proof of the goodness of God, is then the heritage of the race. It is a privilege to be alive: to enjoy the pleasurable sensations which accompany a healthful organization; to hear the bird sing, to drink the red wine, to gaze on the cheek of beauty.

The natural pleasures which lie upon the lap of the common earth, content the child-like man. The feeling of satiety, of weariness and unrest, of longing after some ideal and unattainable good, is as yet unknown. The morning star of hope is in the ascendant, and not the evening star of memory. The poles of nature are not yet reversed. The appetites are not yet perverted from their legitimate function of means, and made to become ends. That unhappy system of anticipation, which brings the meal before the hunger, the bed before the weariness, has not begun. It is no disparagement to a brave man to express that honest fear of death which results naturally from an honest love of life. If we imagine grown-up men carrying into the common business of the world, that heartiness, that irrepressible vivacity, that fulness of animal life, which children put into their play, we shall have a notion of that unwithered world which surrounds the early poet, and which he reproduces in his epic, his saga, or his ballad. The heroes of Homer feel their life in every limb: they recoil from the unfathomable gulf of death, as children from a dark room. That same sense of the value of mere existence, beats, like a strong pulse, through the early poetry of Spain, England, and Germany. The sorrow which is breathed over the dead body of Arcite, in the Knight's Tale of Chaucer, flows chiefly from the feeling of what he had lost in losing life.

“Why woldest thou be ded? this women crie
And haddest gold ynough, and Emelie'

EXERCISE LXXV.

FAMILY SYMPATHIES.

Washington Irving.

[An example of “lively” and “humorousconversational style.

Graphic effect in tone, which is the main element in the reading of such passages, consists in carrying “expression” to its full extent. In other words, the elocution of pieces of this class, requires the full ringing effect of humorous and jocular utterance, bordering, sometimes, on laughing tone. The emphasis should be strongly given, the inflections well marked, and the “ stressfully indulged. To enter heartily into the spirit of the scene, in feeling and in tone, is the great thing to be aimed at, and all feebleness and frigidness of style, are the faults to be avoided.]

Never, I firmly believe, did there exist a family that went more by tangents than the Cocklofts. — Every thing, with them, is governed by whim; and if one member starts a new freak, away all the rest follow, like wild geese in a string. As the family, the servants, the horses, cats and dogs, have all grown old together, they have accommodated themselves to each other's habits completely; and though every body of them is full of odd points, angles, rhomboids, and ins and outs, yet somehow or other, they harmonize together like so many straight lines; and it is truly a grateful and refreshing sight to see them agree so well. Should one, however, get out of tune, it is like a cracked fiddle, the whole concert is ajar ; you perceive a cloud over every brow in the house, and even the old chairs seem to creak “ affettuoso.

If my cousin, — as he is rather apt to do, – betray any symptoms of vexation or uneasiness, - no matter about what, — he is worried to death with inquiries, which answer no other end' than to demonstrate the good will of the inquirer, and put him in a passion ; for every body knows how provoking it is to be cut short in a fit of the blues, by an impertinent question about “what is the matter ?” when a man can't tell himself.

I remember, a few months ago, the old gentleman came home in quite a squall; kicked poor Cæsar, the mastiff, out of his way, as he came through the hall; threw his hat on the table with most violent emphasis, and pulling out his box, took three huge pinches of snuff, and threw a fourth into the cat's eyes, as he sat purring his astonishment by the fireside.

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