Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

Figure 1 intimates desire or appeals to conscience. Figure 2, shame avoid the appearance of fixture. It should either be kept moving preparatory to another gesture, or return to the side.

or sorrow. Figure 3, silence. Figure 4, anguish or pain. Figure 5, irresolution or meditation,

Fourth.—Gestures ordinarily should not be made at a greater angle than forty-five degrees from a horizontal line passing directly forward from the centre of the breast.

Fifth.-In general there should be a point which the gesture will terminate. This, in emphatic gesticulation, will be upon the word that demands the gesture, and just at the instant of the utterance of the accented part of the word. A mere swing of the arm, even though it describes a curved line ever so graceful, does not accomplish the important part of gesture.

Sixth.—The ease and grace of the motion of the arm will depend on the free use of the joints of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Without the free use of the wrist-joint particularly there can be no grace.

Seventh. — Preference in gesticulation should be given to the right arm. As a general rule, when the right hand is employed in gesture, the weight of the body should be on the left foot, the right advanced.

4. TIE HEAD.-It should be held erect, and in a natural position, and when required to be moved should harmonize with the action of the hands and the other motions of the body. To denote meanness it should be downcast ; it moves from side to side when in doubt; to illustrate arrogance, is drawn back ; to portray indolence, incline on one side, &c. If it is "the dome of thought, the palace of the soul,” as one has so well expressed it, then it will be of great importance to note what John Wesley very wisely says : “ The head ought not to be held up too high, nor clownishly thrust too forward, neither be cast down and hung, as it were, on the breast ; nor to lean always on one or the other side ; but to be kept modestly and decently upright, in its natural state and position. Further, it ought neither to be kept immovable as a statue, nor to be continually moving and throwing itself about. To avoid both extremes, it should be turned gently, as occasion is, sometimes one way, sometimes the other; and at other times remain, look. ing straight forward to the middle of the auditory.”

5. THE NECK.-Here again we find room for great power. As a rule it should be kept erect-easily upright, neither too

Herder says,

stiff nor thrown too far back. Should the chin lean too far forward, the position becomes not only ungraceful, but it will rob the face of much power of expression, besides marring the tone of the voice. Seek, therefore, to give it full scope, for, as

“ The neck discovers not that which is in the interior of man, but that which he wishes to express ; it makes either firmness, or liberty, or softness and sweet flexibility. Sometimes its noble and easy attitude announces the dignity of condition; sometimes, bending downwards, it expresses the resignation of the martyr ; and, sometimes, it is a column emblematical of the strength of Hercules. Nay, its very deformities, its shrinking between the shoulders, are characteristic signs, full of truth and expression.”

6. THE MOUTH AND LIPS.-Everyone is familiar with the power of the mouth in giving expression to the feelings when we see anyone "pouting." In like manner it will be readily seen that silence and firmness can be expressed by the closed mouth, just as pleasure can be illustrated by its being properly opened. It is of great importance to study the habit of opening the mouth distinctly if you wish to speak distinctly. To avoid haste in utterance-unless the character of the piece indicates that this should be done—in every case study to speak as if you intended to be heard and understood. Speaking on the use of the lips and nose, Quintilian says :-"It is seldom proper to manifest our feelings by the nostrils and the lips. It is

wrong to thrust out the lips, to press them together, to display the teeth, to fold them over each other with a sort of selfsufficiency, to let them hang down, or to make the voice issue from one side of the mouth. To lick or bite the lips is also disgusting, and ever in articulation their motions should be moderate ; for we should speak with the mouth more than with the lips."

7. THE FACE.—The countenance has been truly called “the index of the mind.” How often have we seen it vary with the most vivid changes on the receipt of good news, or when some sad tidings have been conveyed unexpectedly ; while to laugh “all over one's face” has always been indicative of a high state of pleasure. In the Forehead we have in the expressive seat of serenity-joy, discontent, gloom, anguish, stupidity, ignorance, malignity ; in the Eyebrows the power of flashing fire, anger,

mildness, peace; they are knitted in sorrow, drawn back in mirth, downcast in shame, raised or lowered in granting or refusing, drawn up in astonishment. For the eyebrows to be quite motionless on the one hand, or too frequently moved on the other, is to exhibit either practical indifference or overdone expression. With such varied powers at command, how important it becomes so to train them that they may properly vary with every emotion of the soul, and be the index of the noblest feelings.

8. THE EYES.—The power which a look of the eye can convey is too well known to need explanation. It is so with every passion which may stir the soul and every movement which may be made by the body. The eyes can add to each of them great significance. Froin the vacant stare of the idiot, the restless gaze of troubled thought, the cloud of sadness, the joy of mirth, the fire of hatred, the sorrow which vents itself in tears, and a host of other sentiments and emotions, the eyes can be trained to aid in illustrating and giving force to the words we speak or the actions we perform. But care also must be taken to avoid fixing them on any particular person or place -in other words, to avoid the two extremes of staring or of wandering. This can be done by cultivating the habit of gentle and moderate motion, as if engaged from time to time with each portion of the audience in common conversation.

Ву this process you will be able to tell whether you gain the attention, influence the mind, or stir the spirit of your listeners, and so judge of the success or failure of your endeavours. Sheridan, speaking of the power of the eyes, says: -“Nature has annexed to the passion of grief a more forcible character than any other, that of tears ; of all parts of language the most expressive.

This single character sums up in it the whole power of language ; and, in certain circumstances, has more force alone than all the united endeavours of Words, Tones, and Gestures, can come up to."

9. THE WHOLE BODY.-It is of vital importance to acquire the habit of an erect position of the body; to hold the head well up and the shoulders well back; to endeavour to be natural by avoiding all stiffness or restraint in manner; to guard in every action that it does not degenerate into any kind of buffoonery or vulgar mannerism. It will aid you much if, when reading in private, you take heed to these things. By this it will become easier and natural to do so when appearing in public. Avoid a slovenly gait; anything like a shambling, shufling, or rolling of the body, will detract at all times from effective delivery. Grace, perfection, and power of action, like everything else, can only be attained by careful attention to the best rules, persistent discipline, proper training, and practice. To those who intend to succeed, let it ever be remembered the price has to be paid if the object is to be secured. As the poet expresses it :

“He who would adorn
His envied temples with the Isthmian crown,
Must either win, through effort of his own,

The prize, or be content to see it worn
By more deserving brows."

While it is important to pay special attention to the manner with which the various parts of the body are employed in illustrating the meaning, or of using them in giving expression to the varied emotions, &c., of the mind, it is important at all times to let such action be under complete restraint, or it will become unnatural. Beware of slavish attention to any, even the very best rules– as Sheridan Knowles truly advises, “Nothing should be allowed to supersede nature. Let her, therefore, stand in the foreground. The reader abuses his art who betrays by his delivery, that he enunciates by rule. Emotion is the thing. One flash of passion in the cheek-one beam of feeling from the eye-one thrilling note of sensibility from the tongue-one stroke of hearty emphasis from the arm- -have more value than any exemplification of rules—when that exemplification is unaccompanied by such adjuncts, while, on the contrary, an almost nothing will mar everything.

The following arrangement may be helpful to those who desire to realize what have been termed SIGNIFICANT ACTIONS.

HEAD AND FACE. The hanging down of the head denotes shame or grief; the holding of it up, pride or courage. To nod forward implies assent; to move it from side to side, dissent; to toss it back. wards, contemptuous and impatient dissent. The inclination

« AnteriorContinuar »