« AnteriorContinuar »
chair, can, with grace and propriety, only make use of one hand; namely, that which is next to the speaker; and it may be observed in passing, that to all the other advantages of speaking which are supposed to belong to one side of the house, may be added-the graceful use of the right hand.
The better to conceive the position of two speakers in a scene, a Plate is given, representing their respective attitudes; and it must be carefully noted, that when they are not speaking, the arms must hang in their natural place, by the sides unless what is spoken by one, is of such importance, as to excite agitation and surprise in the other. But if we should be sparing of gesture at all times, we should be more particularly so, when we are not speaking.
From what has been laid down, it will evidently appear, how much more difficult and complicated is the action of a scene, than that of a single speech; and in teaching both to children, how necessary it is, to adopt as simple and easy a method as possible. The easiest method of conveying instruction, in this point, will be sufficiently difficult; and therefore, the avoiding of awkwardness and impropriety, should be more the object of instruction, than the conveying of beauties.
There are, indeed, some masters, who are against teaching boys any action at all, and are for leaving them in this point entirely to nature. It is happy, however, that they do not leave that action to nature, which is acquired by dancing; the deportment of their pupils would soon convince them they were imposed on by the sound of words. Improved and beautiful nature is the object of the painter's pencil, the poet's pen, and the rhetorician's action, and not that sordid and common nature, which is perfectly rude and uncultivated. Nature directs us to art, and art selects and polishes the beauties of nature: It is not sufficient for an orator, says Quintilian, that he is a man: he must be an improved and cultivated man; he must be a man, favoured by nature and fashioned by art.
But, the necessity of adopting some method of teaching action, is too evident to need proof. Boys will infallibly contract some action; to require them to stand stock still while they are speaking an impassioned speech, is not only exacting a very difficult task from them, but is, in a great measure, checking their natural exertions. If they are left to themselves, they will, in all probability, fall into very wild and ungraceful action, which, when once formed
into habit, can scarcely ever be corrected: Giving them, therefore, a general outline of good action, must be of the utmost consequence to their progress and improvement in pronunciation.
The great use, therefore, of a system of action like the present, is, that a boy will never be embarrassed, for want of knowing what to do with his legs and arms; nor will he bestow that attention on his action, which ought to be directed to his pronunciation; he will always be in a position which will not disgrace his figure, and when this gesture is easy to him, it may serve as a groundwork to something more perfect he may either by his own genius or his master's instructions, build some other action upon it, which may, in time, give it additional force and variety.
Thus, what seemed either unworthy the attention, or too difficult for the execution of others, the author of the present publication has ventured to attempt. A conviction of the necessity of teaching some system of action, and the abundant success of the present system, in one of the most respectable academies near London, has determined him to publish it, for the use of such seminaries as make English pronunciation a part of their discipline.
It may not be useless to observe, that boys should be classed in this, as in every other kind of instruction, according to their abilities; that a class should not consist of more than ten; that about eight or ten lines of some speech should be read first by the teachers, then by the boy who reads best, and then by the rest in order, all having a book of the same kind, and all reading the same portion. This portion they must be ordered to get by heart against the next lesson; and then the first boy must speak it, standing at some distance before the rest, in the manner directed in the Plates; the second boy must succeed him, and so on till they have all spoken. After which another portion must be read them, which they must read and speak in the same manner as before. When they have gone through a speech in this manner by portions, the two or three first boys may be ordered, against the next lesson, to speak the whole speech; the next lesson, two or three more, and so on to the rest. This will excite emulation, and give the teacher an opportunity of ranking them according to their merit.
Rules for expressing, with propriety, the principal Passions and Humours, which occur in Reading, or public Speaking.
EVERY part of the human frame contributes to express the passions and emotions of the mind, and to show in general its present state. The head is sometimes erected, sometimes hung down, sometimes drawn suddenly back with an air of disdain, sometimes shows by a nod a particular person, or object; gives assent; or denial, by different motions; threatens by one sort of movement, approves by another, and expresses suspicion by a third.
The arms are sometimes both thrown out, sometimes the right alone. Sometimes they are lifted up as high as the face, to express wonder; sometimes held out before the breast, to show fear; spread forth with the hands open to express desire or affection; the hands clapped in surprise, and in sudden joy and grief; the right hand clenched, and the arms brandished, to threaten; the two arms set akimbo, to look big, and express contempt or courage. With the hands we solicit, we refuse, we promise, we threaten, we dismiss, we invite, we entreat, we express aversion, fear, doubting, denial, asking, affirmation, negation, joy, grief, confession, penitence. With the hands we describe and point out all circumstances of time, place, and manner of what we relate ; we excite the passions of others, and sooth them; we approve and disapprove, permit or prohibit, admire or despise. The hands serve us instead of many sorts of words, and where the language of the tongue is unknown, that of the hands is understood, being universal, and common to all nations.
The legs advance, or retreat, to express desire or aversion, love or hatred, courage or fear, and produce exultation, or leaping in sudden joy; and the stamping of the foot expresses earnestness, anger, and threatening.
Especially the face, being furnished with a variety of muscles, does more in expressing the passions of the mind than the whole human frame besides. The change of colour (in white people) shows, by turns, anger by redness, and sometimes by paleness, fear likewise by paleness, and shame The by blushing. Every feature contributes its part. mouth open. shows one state of mind; snut, another; the gnashing of the teeth, another. The forehead smooth, eye
brows arched and easy, show tranquillity or joy. Mirth opens the mouth towards the ears, crisps the nose, half shuts he eyes, and sometimes fills them with tears. The front wrinkled into frowns, and the eyebrows overhanging the eyes, like clouds, fraught with tempest, show a mind agitated with fury. Above all, the eye shows the very spirit in a visible form. In every different state of mind, it assume: a different appearance. Joy brightens and opens it. Grief half closes, and drowns it in tears. Hatred and anger flasl from it like lightning. Love darts from it in glances, lik the orient beam. Jealousy and squinting envy, dart the. contagic us blast from the eye. And devotion raises it to the skies, as if the soul of the holy man were going to take its flight to heaven.
The force of attitude and looks alone appears in a wonderously striking manner, in the works of the painter and statuary; who have the delicate art of making the flat canvass and rocky marble utter every passion of the human mind, and touch the soul of the spectator, as if the picture, or statue, spoke the pathetic language of Shakespeare. It is no wonder then, that masterly action, joined with powerful elocution, should be irresistible. And the variety of expres sion, by looks and gestures, is so great, that, as is well known, a whole play can be represented without a word spoken.
The following are, I believe, the principal passions, humours, sentiments, and intentions which are to be expressed by speech and action. And I hope it will be allowed by he reader, that it is nearly in the following manner, that nature express 's them.
Tranquillit r apathy, appears by the composure of the countenance nd general repose of the body and limbs, without the exertion of any one muscle The countenance open; the forehead smooth; the eyebrows arched; the mouth just not shut; and the eyes passing with an easy motion from object to object, but not dwelling long upon
Cheerfulness, adds a smile, opening the mouth a little
Mirth or Laughter, opens the mouth still more towards the ears; crisps the nose; lessens the aperture of the eyes; and sometimes fills them with tears; shakes and convulses the whole frame; giving considerable pain, which occasions holding the sides.
Raillery, in sport, without real animosity, puts on the aspect of cheerfulness. The tone of voice is sprightly. With contempt, or disgust, it casts a look asquint, from time to time, at the object; and quits the cheerful aspect for one mixed between an affected grin and sourness. The upper lip is drawn up with an air of disdain. The arms are set akimbo on the hips; and the right hand now and then thrown out toward the object, as if one were going to strike another a slight backhand blow. The pitch of the voice rather loud, the tone arch and sneering, the sentences short; the expressions satirical, with mock praise intermixed. There are instances of raillery in scripture itself, as 1 Kings xviii, and Isa. xliv. It is not, therefore, beneath the dignity of the pulpit orator, occasionally to use it, in the cause of virtue, by exhibiting vice in a ludicrous appearance. Nor should I think raillery unworthy the attention of the lawyer; as it may occasionally come in, not unusefully, in his pleadings, as well as any other stroke of ornament, or entertainments.
Buffoonery, assumes an arch, sly, leering gravity. Must not quit its serious aspect, though all should laugh to burst ribs of steel. This command of face is somewhat difficult; though not so hard, I should think, as to restrain the contrary sympathy, I mean of weeping with those who weep.
Joy, when sudden and violent, expresses itself by clapping of hands, and exultation or leaping. The cyes are opened wide; perhaps filled with tears; often raised to heaven, especially by devout persons. The countenance is smiling, not composedly, but with features aggravated. The voice rises, from time to time, to very higlr notes.
Delight or Pleasure, as when one is entertained, or ravished with music, painting, oratory, or any such elegancy, shows itself by the looks, gestures, and utterance of joy but moderate..
Gravity or Seriousness, the mind fixed upon some important subject, draws down the eyebrows a little, casts down, or shuts, or raises the eyes to heaven; shuts the mouth, and pinches the lips close. The posture of the body and limbs is composed, and without much motion. The speech, if any, slow and solemn; the tone unvarying.
Inquiry into an obscure subject, fixes the body in one posture, the head stooping, and the eye poring, the eyebrows drawn down.