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nature. When there is any opposition, or antithesis, among the ideas, or even in the structure of sentences, or where a new argument is introduced, after the discussion of a former is ended, as at a new division, or a new paragraph, there may be a change of the principal gesture. But it will be a point of judgment and taste in the speaker not to carry this balancing, or alternation of gesture, to an affected extreme, and not, even in allowable cases, to indulge in it overmuch; nor will he prolong too far the principal action permitted to the left hand, which he will always remember is the weaker, and admitted into the foremost place rather by courtesy than of right; and which he will, therefore, restrict with discretion in the exercise of this occasional distinction.
In the changes made from one hand to the other, the transition should be managed with ease and simplicity. As soon as the advanced hand has made the stroke of its last emphatic gesture, it should fall quietly to rest, whilst, at the same time, the hand which is, in its turn, to assume the principal action, commences its preparation for the ensuing gesture. It will be observed that a coinmencing, or discriminating gesture, should be gentle, as a modest beginning suits its first entrance into authority. An emphatic gesture immediately after one from the other hand, would be violent and outrageous; something like the gesticulations of those little wooden figures set up to frighten birds from corn, or fruit, which have the arms fixed on an axis in such a manner that they are alternately raised and depressed with equal vehemence, according as they are blown about by the wind.
When the orator finds it necessary to change the position of the feet, so as to advance that which was before retired, the general rule is that he should effect it imperceptibly, and not commence the change till after the hand has begun its change of action. Sometimes, however, in vehement passages, the orator is allowed, by the highest authority, to advance suddenly, and even to stamp.
The subordinate gesture, already mentioned, as performed by the retired hand, will be found to bear a close analogy to accompani. ment in music. A little observation will suffice for acquiring a general knowledge of the accompaniment of gesture; and after attentively practising for some time, the inferior hand will as easily fall into a suitable accompaniment of the principal gesture, as the left hand of a performer on a keyed instrument, will strike correctly the fundamental bass.
The general rule for accompaniment of gesture, in calm and moderate speaking, when both hands do not perform the same gesture, is that the retired arm should be about one interval less raised than the advanced arm, and that in the transverse position it should be distant from it about two intervals, or a right angle. Hence, if the right hand should perform the principal gesture, and this gesture should be supine elevated forwards, the accompaniment would be expressed in the second set of letters, for the left hand, thus:
sef — shx
prin. ac. (Fig. 38); and again,
vhf — pdx
(Fig. 33). When the
prin. ac. force of the expression is strong, the accompanying hand is equally elevated with the principal. In this degree of force, the gestures are thus : vhf - vhx. These circumstances afford convenient opportunities for abridging the notation. When both hands perform the same, or nearly the same gesture, a capital B preceding one set of letters suffices for both hands, as Buhf. And when the accompanying gesture follows the general rule, and has nothing remarkable distinguishing it, the gesture of the principal hand only need be noted; the accompaniment is easily understood, and will follow of course to the well-practised speaker.
But besides the motions of the subordinate gesture, other very important accompaniments are to be attended to; as those of the lower limbs, of the body, and of the head : otherwise the performance will be
rigid and absurd, like that of a puppet. Indeed, not only those more prominent and distinguished parts must accompany the voice and principal action of the speaker, but every muscle of the body, and every expression of the countenance, must join in harmony with those gestures, in order to impress upon them the character of nature and truth. There is no gesture, or change of gesture, which is not meant to enforce or to illustrate some new circumstance, which either calls into action muscles before at rest, or into a change of action those already in exertion. And this impression and influence extend not only to those muscles which are most strong and distinguished, but even to the most delicate fibres of the human frame, such as those which adjust the expression of the mouth, of the nostrils, of the brows, and of that wonderful organ the eye.
An example may here be given of some of the stronger changes of the head, body, and lower limbs, which accompany certain principal gestures. If the right hand be forcibly withdrawn, and presented vhfc (vertical horizontal forwards contracted), the left vdqc (vertical downwards oblique contracted), the feet wil naturally retire, and be rR1c (retire to the first position extended of the right foot). The body, at the same time, will be thrown backwards, whilst the whole countenance will express aversion, or horror. (Fig. 95).
The gesture of the right, phf ad, will be accompanied and noted thus: p phf ad — pdq
which signifies that aR2 the head, and consequently the body, leans forwards, and that the eyes are turned earnestly in the same direction. This evident desire of inspecting the object more nearly, is also accompanied by an advanced step of the right foot, the principal gesture
being performed by the right hand. As the gesture of the left hand could hardly be avoided, under the circumstances mentioned, the notation of it might have been omitted. It will be observed, that if the hand, in its gestures,
at any time approach the head, the head bends towards the hand; and if the hand presents its palm, and pushes, as it were, an object away
in disgust, the head accompanies the action, not only by retiring back, but by averting the face. And the motions expressing this aversion are; first, the eye, directed towards the object; the approaching of the back of the hand towards the face, and the head bending towards the hand, and then the pushing forwards of the palm of the hand, and the throwing back of the head, and averting the face at the same time. The notation will stand thus: F vhf c
(Fig. 96), and then, A vhq paR2
rRix (Fig. 97).
After the stroke of the emphatic gesture, if the speaker has completely closed his remarks on a particular part of his subject, or if he has finished his oration, both hands should fall to rest, in a manner suiting the last expressions which he has delivered. This falling of the hand to rest is named the close and termination of gesture. It is contrary to the correct simplicity of gesture to mark a single word or idea with
more than one emphatic stroke; any appendix of gesture, after this, would only weaken its force, or render it ridiculous.
The termination of gesture, or rather, the emphatic gesture which terminates, should not be made across. It is generally made about the horizontal elevation, but sometimes it is made downwards, or elevated, according to the sentiment. The horizontal termination suits decision and instruction; the downward, disapprobation and condemnation; the elevated, pride, high passion and devotion.
THE FREQUENCY, MODERATION, AND INTERMISSION
As gesture is used for the illustration or enforcement of language, it should be limited, in its application, to such words and passages only as admit, or rather require, such illustration or enforcement. That is, gesture should not be used by a public speaker on every word where it is possible to apply it without manifest impropriety; but it should rather be reserved for such passages as require to be rendered more pro minent than the others, and to be more highly coloured. A judicious speaker will therefore reserve his gesture, at least the force and ornament of it, for those parts of his discourse for which he also reserves the brilliancy of language and thought. Sometimes, the absolute intermission of gesture is advantageous, as in the commencement or opening of arguments. When an argument is nearly concluded, moderate gesture will give it more force, and relieve the monotony of a mere dry demonstration, should the spirit of the composition admit such addition.
In all discourses, the frequency of gesture will be