Obrázky stránek

See how, from far, upon the eastern road,
The star-led wizards haste with odors sweet!
0, run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet !
Have thou the honor first thy Lord to greet,

And join thy voice unto the angel choir

From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire ! The prevailing tone of this piece is serious. Hence it must, for the most part, be read with moderate force, somewhat slowly, in a rather low pitch, with slightly median stress, pure quality, moderate volume, and moderate slides.

The first stanza, beginning, “This is the month," has joy as well as seriousness. Joy predominates. Hence it should be read with rather loud force, rather brisk movement, rather high pitch, very pure quality, rather full volume, decided median stress, rather long slides.

The next stanza, beginning, “That glorious form,” has, in the first four lines, deep admiration blending equally reverence and love. Hence those lines should be read with moderate force, moderate pitch, rather slow movement, very pure quality, rather large volume, full median stress, moderate slides.

The next three lines, beginning, “He laid aside," have tenderness combined with reverence; tenderness preponderating in the first two, and reverence in the last. Hence to be read with slight force, slow movement, moderate pitch, median stress, very pure quality, moderate volume, short slides. Read it aloud. Proceed in this manner with the analysis of every stanza.

The voice is the most perfect expression of the soul. Sweetness, purity, integrity, earnestness, delicacy, — these, in the lapse of time and with judicious training of the vocal organs, will come to characterize spontaneously the commonest utterance of their possessor, and impart a charm that mere art can never attain. There have been elocutionists that have labored in vain for scores of years to perfect their voices.

In their public efforts they may have been apparently successful; yet in the unguarded moments of conversation, there has often been a marked and painful lack of these outward signs of inward beauty. So true is the maxim of the ancient rhetoricians, “None but a good man can be a perfect orator.”


BEFORE proceeding to treat specifically of gesture, it seems appropriate to say a word of attitude and of facial expression.

A stooping form, with round shoulders and sunken chest, conveys the impression of weakness, discouragement, cowardice, or excessive humility. Such a posture may be appropriate enough in some circumstances; as in uttering the following:

Pity the sorrows of a poor man,
Whose trembling limbs have brought him to your door ;

Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span.
O, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store.


[merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small]

Very different is the attitude of the bold combatant. Thus Merivale, the historian, represents Rome as “squaring with the world.” Catiline takes the posture of the pugilist, when he thus defies Cicero and the Roman Senate :

But here I stand and scoff you. Here I fling

Hatred and full defiance in your face. CROLY. Similar, but even more fierce and disdainful, is the bearing of Coriolanus towards his soldiers who have been cowardly in battle :

You shames of Rome !.... You souls of geese,
That bear the shapes of men, how have you run
From slaves that apes would beat? ...
All hurt behind ! backs red, and faces pale
With flight and agued fear! Mend, and charge home;
Or, by the fires of heaven, I 'll leave the foe
And make my wars on you !

SHAKESPEARE. Two rules may be given in regard to attitude: First, let the outer express the inner. Second, let ungraceful postures be avoided.

Of facial expression, we may


as follows: ATTENTION slightly raises the eyebrows.

ADMIRATION raises the brows, opens the eyes, and brings a smile. SURPRISE raises the brows, and opens


and mouth. GRIEF wrinkles the brows, draws up their inner ends, and draws down the corners of the mouth.

DISDAIN partly closes the eyes, and slightly turns the head, as if the despised person were not worth looking at. It may also frown, if the feeling be strong, and may elevate the nose and upper lip.

ANGER closes the mouth firmly, holds the body erect, shuts the teeth, and clinches the fists. It strongly frowns, and may even show the teeth.

DETERMINATION closes the mouth tightly. It may clinch the fists. Frowning is the natural expression of some difficulty encountered, or something disagreeable experienced, which excites a feeling of hostility.

One rule may suffice in facial expression : Let the face show the feeling that prevails at the instant; let it never show the opposite, except for comic effect. (See Darwin on the “Expression of the Emotions in Man and the Lower Animals.")

GESTURE may be defined as a bodily movement to illustrate, express, or enforce some mental act or state.

The question may be asked at the outset, Should the words be made to conform to the gesture, or the gesture to the words ? Neither. Each should be exactly adapted to the thought. Then the two former will substantially harmonize. (As to the coincidence in time between gestures and words, see the following paragraph.)

I. GESTURES OF PLACE. The first step towards any gesture must obviously be a conception in the mind. Instantly the imagination assigns a place to the thing conceived. Without perceptible interval, the eye glances thither, the face may turn in that direction, the whole body may share in the movement.

The hand may be lifted and carried towards the locality, and perhaps the index finger may accurately point it out. Lastly, when fit words have been chosen, the voice names the object. So slight is the interval between any two successive steps of this process, that often all seem to be simultaneous. Thus Lord Chatham alludes to a painting, and locates it by a simultaneous glance of his eye, sweep of the arm, and pointing of the finger :

From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of the noble lord frowns with indignation at this disgrace of his country!

It matters not whether the object be present or absent, visible or invisible. A speaker of vivid imagination will give it a place, and treat it as if actually seen, or, at least, as if really occupying some determinate position.

The slightest gesture of place is a glance of the eye in the direction of the object as located by the speaker. The next in extent is a turning of the head. The next is a motion of the hand thitherward, the finger, perhaps, pointing. The whole body may turn. Both hands may sometimes be used.

A small object, occupying but a point in the speaker's real or imagined field of vision, is singled out with the index finger; a larger object, with the whole hand extended; a still

[merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small]

larger, with a wave of the hand; an object covering most of the field of view, with a sweep of both hands. Thus ::

Do you see that star?
Do you see that constellation (the Great Bear) ?

See yonder aurora borealis (covering perhaps a quarter of the northern sky).

Behold this vast galaxy (stretching both ways from the zenith to the horizon).

For further illustration, note that, if a large expanse of ocean be the object mentioned, a sweep of the hand and arm, or even a glance towards it, may be sufficient; but a single ship

« PředchozíPokračovat »