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It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he yet plies the dagger, though it is obvious that life has been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon.
On the words plies the hand may clinch, as it were, the dagger; and on the word dagger it may fall, as if striking.
He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart,
On the words raises the aged arm, the motion of lifting the arm may be performed with the hand.
and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard !
On the words replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard, he goes through the movement of replacing it with the hand.
It is needless to say that these are imitative gestures. To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse !
The gesture here imitates the position of a physician's thumb and finger feeling for the patient's pulse.
He feels for it, and ascertains that it beats no longer ! It is accomplished ! The deed is done! He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder, — no eye has seen him, no ear has heard him. The secret is his own, and it is safe !
Here the hand, the arm, and the eye follow the movement of the murderer from place to place.
Ah, gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake ! Such a secret can be safe nowhere.
On the words can be safe, a long sweep of the arm, with open hand, beginning near the left shoulder. Just as the sweep is terminating, the word nowhere is uttered. A slight, quick shake of the head, to indicate negation, may accompany the utterance of the word nowhere. (See Conventional Gestures,
The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner where the guilty can bestow it, and say it is safe.
On the words the whole creation, a very extensive sweep of
both hands outward from a point just above the forehead, the face looking up to God; the sweeping gesture terminating in a slight stroke on the word God, both hands being then extended to the full length of the arms. This attitude should be maintained until the utterance of the word bestow, and just after that time the hands and the face drop. Not to speak of that Eye which glances through all disguises,
At the beginning of this sentence, the look of the speaker may be fastened on his audience, but in the ending, it is slowly raised. and beholds everything as in the splendor of noon, such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by men.
On the words splendor of noon, the face is high upturned, and the open hand, which had been lifted in front of the forehead, may be carried to the right to the extent of about the sixth of a circle. The gestures are chiefly expressive of place, as they draw attention to the flood of light that descends from the sky.
III. EMPHATIC GESTURES.
Whenever the mind is agitated, there is a natural and often irresistible tendency to express emotion by some bodily movement. Any display of bodily force by a speaker indicates a corresponding degree of mental excitement.* The stronger the inner feeling, the greater the outward manifestation. This is the foundation of all emphatic gesture.
There was a basis of truth in the view taken by a good mother in Israel, in one of our rural districts, when she exclaimed of her favorite minister, “Ah! he was a powerful preacher. During the time that he dispensed the gospel to us, he kicked three pulpits to pieces, and banged the insides out of five Bibles.”
The amount of physical force expended by John B. Gough in one of his temperance lectures is evinced by his drenching perspiration.
How does bodily force accompany intense mental action ? Evidently there are many modes in which this might occur. The old lady's minister did not confine his gestures to his hands and arms. Some orators have a habit of giving the impression of great power by rising on the toes, and settling back solidly on the heels. Whitefield at times stamped with terrible energy. Some speakers violently shake their heads. Some nod impressively, and it is wonderful how many degrees of emphasis may be signified in this way. The nod may be almost imperceptible, the head not moving an inch; or it may be extremely violent, the whole of the upper part of the body sharing in it. The degree of force can thus be graduated exactly to meet the demand. Many orators express
* This is why, as an orator, a small man like Kossuth is placed at a disadvantage in comparison with a large man like Edwin Forrest. The powerful physique of Webster gave him a great advantage over an opponent like Rufus Choate, although the latter was not lacking in force. It would take a dozen common ministers rolled into one, to make up as much bodily energy as Beecher possesses.
more by this than by any other kind of gesture. But perhaps the most natural and the most graceful mode of expressing earnestness is by a blow of the hand or arm. The student will be fortunate, if he shall acquire the habit of spontaneously combining the nod or the bow with the emphatic blow.
We lay aside, for the moment, in this discussion, all consideration of special motive, which may often require a blow to be struck, and we confine ourselves to the simple exhibition of emphasis.
The stroke of the arm and hand may indicate all degrees of force, depending on the extent, the rapidity, and the apparent effort.
The gesture with both hands increases, of course, the significance of that with one. A blow with the clinched hand is far more significant than one with the
Knowledge is better than learning; wisdom is better than knowledge ; virtue is better than wisdom.
On knowledge there may be a slight stroke, indicative of earnestness; on wisdom there should be a little longer and stronger blow of the hand; and on virtue the gesture should be still more extensive and forcible.
The private citizen can check his child ; the alderman can repulse the private citizen ; the mayor can put down the alderman ; the governor can overthrow the mayor ; the president can crush the governor ; the nation can hurl into annihilation the president.
Here a slight stroke of the open
indicate the first degree of emphasis, that on the word child; a little longer and more forcible stroke may illustrate the second degree of emphasis, that on the word citizen ; a still longer and stronger stroke on alderman may exemplify the third degree of emphasis, ctc. The last stroke, that on president, may be made with the clinched fist.* (See fig. 60.)
* Instead of emphatic gestures, these consecutive sentences may be illustrated by gestures of place; the open hand or the index finger successively