Imágenes de páginas

6. The improper use of a poetic or romantic style of gesture, in the delivery of a prose speech or discourse. [See Rule 2.)

This style is as inappropriate as would be the reading of prose with the tones of poetry, and sacrifices the manly effect of simplicity and directness, for a false excitement of fancy.

7. A florid redundancy of gesture, producing incessant action and change of posture.

The effect of this fault is to impart a restless, unmeaning, and puerile activity of manner, which is inconsistent with deep feeling or grave thought.

8. The opposite error is that of standing motionless and statue-like, in every limb.

This fault gives a dull, heavy, and morbid air to the speaker's manner, and deprives the train of thought expressed in the composition, of its natural effect on the mind. A clear perception of meaning, or a true interest in the subject of what is spoken, is justly expected to awaken the intellect of the speaker, and animate him to activity of feeling.

9. The fault of an arbitrary and studied variety of action.

To avoid deadness and monotony it is not necessary to assume any emotion not authorized by the sense of what is uttered. Variety of style is not always called for, as we may observe in the appropriate delivery of a long strain of vehement invective, in which the chief expression is that of reiterated force; or as we may observe in a connected train of calm thought or reasoning on a single point. The author of the composition is on all occasions accountable for the transitions of feeling; and the speaker is at fault only when he obviously omits their expression. A continuance of moderate and gentle action in persuasion, forms, sometimes, the very eloquence of delivery. All action, which does not spring directly from emotion

expressed in the piece which is spoken, is unnatural and offensive; and the more sprightly and varied its character, the worse is its effect.

10. The opposite error is that of using but one or two gestures, which perpetually recur in all pieces, and in all passages, how different soever their style and expression may naturally be.

There is a dryness and inappropriateness about this manner, which always renders it mechanical and wearisome, and sometimes absurd in its application to


11. Gestures performed in a manner which is regulated by their supposed gracefulness, rather than their connexion with meaning,

Grace is a negative rather than a positive quality of gesture; its proper effect is to regulate, chasten, and refine. Action, if just, is called for from other considerations than those of beauty or ornament,-from the natural demands of forcible and warm emotion : it does not suggest or create a single movement which would not otherwise exist. The action which energy has elicited, grace is to preserve from awkwardness. Beyond this point, true grace ceases to exist.

12. The most childish of all faults is that of imitative gesture, in which the speaker represents objects or actions by pantomimic motions.

The distinct and vivid conceptions produced by the recitation of poetry, may sometimes identify the imagination of the speaker so entirely with the forms which the poet has called up to the mind, that the action of sympathy passes into that of assimilation; and, in lively and humorous emotion, actual imitation, judiciously indulged, is natural and appropriate. But not so in prose addresses, on serious occasions, which imply a full self-possession and a becoming dignity on the part of the speaker, with a constant regard to his audience. Imitative action in such circumstances, is

still more trivial, indecorous, or absurd, than it would be in private conversation.

13. The want of the observance of time in gesture, which seems to disjoint the action, and separate it from the expression of the voice.

A gesture made before or after the emphatic word to which it naturally belongs, is entirely out of place. The moment when a given action must come to its acmé, or to its closing movement, is precisely that of uttering the accented syllable of the emphatic word. The impulse given to the frame by the energy of emphasis, being exactly at this point, whatever motion of the arm is to accompany it

, must fall, (if performed naturally,) in strict coincidence with it. Hence the necessity of timing the preparatory movement of gesture, so that the action of the arm shall neither outstrip, nor lag behind, the prominent force of voice.

14. The neglect of the preparatory movement of gesture, by which action is rendered either too abrupt or too confined.

Every rhetorical action consists of two parts, a preparatory and a terminating movement. A gesture performed by the human arm must necessarily be so far complex; as the hand cannot, with propriety of effect, or even with ease, spring at once to a given point. A deliberate and dignified manner of action, derives much of its character from the accommodation of this preparatory motion to time and space; performing it with due slowness; avoiding hurry or jerking quickness; allowing it also free scope for the natural and unconstrained play of the arm, and, sometimes for the appropriate sweep of the style of gesture. Quick, narrow, and angular movements render action mechanical and ineffective. This result usually takes place in consequence of delaying gesture, till the emphasis occurring leaves no adequate time for forming a full gesture: a brief, hasty, and very limited movement, is accordingly produced, in the manner that would necessarily exist if the arm were repressed by material obstacles. This

fault sometimes arises, however, from the opposite error of anticipating the gesture, and commencing and finishing the preparatory movement too soon; the arm remaining in suspense for the occurrence of the appropriate word, and then suddenly dropping into the gesture.

15. Using, with unnecessary frequency, the gesture of the left hand, and, sometimes, in alternation with that of the right.

The left hand may be used exclusively, if the person or persons addressed are situated on the left of the speaker; as by one of the speakers in a dialogue, or in an address which is so composed as to be directed to different portions or divisions of an audience, separately, as in the opening and closing addresses at an exhibition. The occasional use of the left hand in the delivery of a long speech, is a natural and agreeable change, in passing to a new topic of discourse, or entering on a new strain of emotion in recitation. [See Figs. 12, 13, 45, 49, 53.] But too frequent recourse to it, or to use it in the early part of an address, destroys its good effect; and to use it in an alternate and antithetic manner, to correspond to the action of the right hand, has a studied and mechanical air of precision, unfavourable to the general style of delivery.

16. Too frequent use of both hands in the same form of gesture.

The occasional use of both hands, in warm and earnest appeal, in the expression of thoughts of vast extent, or in the intensity of poetic emotion, is favourable in its effect. [See Figs. 46, 50, 54.) But it should be reserved for such circumstances in delivery, and not introduced at random, or for imaginary variety.

17. Making gestures occasionally, and by fits; the hand dropping, at every interval of a few moments, to the side, and then rising anew to recommence action.

The dropping of the hand has properly a meaning attached to it, as much as any other action used in speaking. It ought to indicate a long pause, and a temporary cessation of speech, as at the close of a paragraph or of a division of a subject; or it may be used in recitation to denote grief, or any state of mind which quells the expression of gesture, or which for a time cverpowers the feelings, and suspends the utterance. Generally, the hand should not drop at the conclusion of a gesture, but should either remain, for a few moments, suspended, in the position in which the last gesture closed, or pass into the preparation for a gesture following. The use of the suspended hand apfears natural and expressive, if we advert to its effect in conversation, or in appeal and argument. Gesture tecomes,-in this way,-easy and unobtrusive, and ceases to attract the eye unnecessarily; while the perpetual rising and falling of the hand in the irregular manner above alluded to, makes gesture unnecessarily conspicuous, and gives it an air of formality and parade.

The abrupt discontinuance of gesture by twitching back the hand, somewhat in the manner of sudden alarm, has a very bad effect; yet it is a fault to which young speakers are very prone, from their embarrassment of feeling

An upward or inward rebound of the hand, after the termination of the gesture itself, is often added to the frequent return of the hand to the side. Dropping the hand heavily, and allowing it to shut as it drops, is another fault of this class. The speaker's action is apt, in consequence of such gestures, to become a succession of flourishes of defiance, rather than of persuasive movements.

18. Using gesture without regard to the character of the piece which is spoken, as plain or figurative, moderate or empassioned in style.

A figurative style of language forms at once an expression and an excitement of imagination,-or the active states of thought and feeling combined. It implies, therefore, a full activity of manner in the speaker.

« AnteriorContinuar »