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and written language often shows the same tendencies: as the prancing horse in Virgil's Eneid; and Apollo, in Homer's Iliad, moving in anger; and unnumbered instances are found in our own language.
It is not unusual for a person to know very well where and what gestures he should employ, and not to be able to make them so as to answer his own conceptions and it may often happen, that he thinks he makes them very well, when he makes them very badly. In these, he is liable to be deceived, as he is in pronunciation, and whatever else pertains to a good utterance.
Demosthenes is said to have trained himself before a mirror and students in elocution need not think it unbecoming in them to do the same. And, to know whether they are successful, they should not be reluctant-as they too often are-to avail themselves of the judgment and criticism of instructers and friends; for we never can see ourselves as others see us"; nor indeed can we hear ourselves as others hear us.
All ease and grace in attitude and motion, depend upon obedience to one simple law-the law of gravitation. While my feet remain unmoved, if I stretch out my arm, my body naturally recedes a little in an opposite direction, to favor the change in the centre of gravity caused by the outstretched arm. If my body moves forward or backward, my feet naturally move to recover the centre of gravity; else I am constrained, and appear awkward and while I act entirely free from constraint, this harmonious action of the body and its members is always preserved, even unconsciously to myself. Any violation of this law in regard to the feet, when the body moves,
is perceptible, though the lower limbs may be wholly out of sight.
Hogarth remarks, that right lines and angles are for utility and strength; curved lines for beauty and ornament. Of course gestures in right lines and angles are never graceful; and are never to be made, except in expressing strong passion; and then they may not be out of place. In every other case, they are unnatural: for all living creatures naturally move in the lines of beauty: and the inanimate world, from the mote that swims in air, to the globe that moves in infinite space, obeys the same law of curvilinear motion.
It seems to me that something can be done also to aid the pupil in another thing, which is generally left for him to find out as he best can, and to execute in his own way-a way, for the most part, extremely awkward: it is how to make a bow. Perhaps some may think this should be left to nature, as well as gesture. And what is a good natural bow? It is a clownish nod of the head-or, may be, a stiff bend of the body, with the head in a straight line with it, the toes turned in, and legs wide apart.-Since it is the custom when one presents himself to speak in public, to greet the assembly with a slight inclination of the head and body; and in the school-room or college, with a low bow; he would like to do it in a becoming style. And this he never can, without some previous training. Elegance and ease can come to him only from practice-the same here, as in every thing else. If he have no instructer to teach him, let him try to instruct himself, after the following directions.
Having proceeded nearly to the front of the rostrum or stage on which he is to speak, and taken the last step in advance with his right foot, let him rest upon it, till he has brought his left foot a step to the left, with the toe out, then rest his body upon it, till the right foot, without scraping the floor, is brought near to the left ankle-or rather is suffered to settle there, forming a right angle, while the body is brought erect: but the instant the angle is formed, and even before the right foot ceases to move, let him begin to make his bow; inclining his head first, next his shoulders, then his chest down to his waist, with a gentle curve: meanwhile his arms hang lifeless, and naturally incline towards each other as he bends: then let him bring himself up again in a reversed order of movement; and the instant this is done, inclining his body, let him advance his right foot a short step to the right, with the toe out, and move the left a little towards it, to gain an easy position; then let him rest upon his right foot, and lean a little towards the audience. He is now in the right attitude to commence.
Yonder is a straight young tree in full leaf, with branches rising to a point. Now comes a swell of wind and bends it one quarter or a third of the way to the ground the wind has passed, and it gently returns to its upright position. Such is a graceful bow, for an exhibition or commencement.
At the close of the first sentence, he moves a little, and never remains fixed, but for a moment, in the same position; just as it is natural for one that feels himself entirely at ease. His movements are to the left, the
right, or back; sometimes with one step, often two or three; and nothing like measured preciseness; but as feeling and change of subject naturally prompt. In those parts of his speech where he becomes more earnest and forcible, he advances; as he becomes less so, he settles back. His eyes cover the whole space towards which he advances, and with an earnestness that seems to take in every individual in it, and often the whole assembly at a glance.
While addressing the right, if a gesture is needed to enforce what he says, he uses the right hand; while the left, he employs the left hand; but in general he accompanies it with the right, to avoid any apparent awkwardness from his using the left hand alone. He never thrusts out his arm in a straight line from his side; but gives it a curvilinear motion, raising the hand on a line with the middle of the body, and thence bent to the right, or raised aloft, if the right hand is used; and if the left, he brings it up and extends it in like manner. He takes care not to make his gestures too high, or too far from his body: for that gives them an air of feebleness and constraint. He rarely lifts his hand higher than his head; and never, but under excitement. While the hand is rising, it becomes relaxed, and the fingers a little bent together, the elbow out, the arm crooked towards the head, with the hand nearly before it; and when he brings it down to make an emphatic stroke, as in the words "you can not conquer America," he brings the whole arm down stiff, even to the ends of the fingers, the instant he speaks the word not; and then suffers it to fall as if lifeless. When he
has occasion to raise both hands, as in the words "thine this universal frame," he brings them in a bend nearly together in front, and carries them up as high as the top of the head, curved apart, with the palms spread upwards.
Yonder is a blacksmith at the anvil. See how the hammer, in his right hand, is brought down upon the bar of steel. How he gives the blow in a way to produce the greatest centrifugal force. That is the downward emphatic stroke of the impassioned orator.
CONVERSATION-BETWEEN THE TEACHER AND HIS PUPILS.
MOST of the practical knowledge possessed among men, is gained by intercourse with each other. Lord Bacon says "reading makes a full man, writing an exact man, and conversation a ready man." Conversation is the most agreeable and easy way of gaining knowledge; and contributes more perhaps to human happiness than all things else. How important it is then, that this great instrument of knowledge and happiness should be properly attended to!—that all necessary means should be employed to render it as perfect as possible. Why, therefore, since education is designed to fit men for the practical operations of life, and to make them happy, should not conversation be made one of its particular