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vision for the production of variety in the means of adding to the effect of mere verbal expression. Already must it be perfectly obvious, that there never can be occasion for the dull repetition of the same gesture, or of any uniform succession of gestures. The principles however on which this variety is secured, will be much more fully developed in the next chapter.
CHAPTER II. PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES. THE symbols by the aid of which sentiment and feeling are enforced, whether they belong to the tones or to the gestures, can be judiciously applied only by study and
Even if it should appear that nature has in instance made an orator without these, no one ought in his own case to make this an occasion of relying solely on the uninstructed and unaided impulses of nature. All are not equally gifted. Few who have attained any considerable degree of excellence, but have had to cultivate their natural powers by diligent application and persevering effort; nor will he who has any just estimate of the value of the prize to be secured, complain of the price by which alone it can be bought.
The chief object of these instructions is to train the orator, and not the actor. Hence we place at the foundation of all effective action-real feeling. To this we attach so much importance, as to allow that it will compensate many of the smaller blemishes of delivery, and many departures from the rules of strict propriety in action. But the learner should understand, that there is no incongruity between feeling and the highest grace in action. To secure the latter however, when the feelings are enlisted in the thought and the occasion, habits of graceful gesture must have been previously formed; and these must be formed by private practice. In this way also, personal defects may often be concealed, by a judicious selection from among the various positions and gestures allowed.
For the purpose of aiding the learner in his preliminary practice, I shall show in the several sections of this chapter how the elements of gesture already described can be best applied to practice, so as to conform to the decisions of good taste, and to the usage of our best speakers.
The importance of the introductory movements of the public speaker will appear from two brief considerations. First, it is from these the audience receive their first impressions of the speaker. If he is a stranger, they have nothing else from which to judge of the man. Secondly, their minds are then perfectly free to criticise his manner, since they are not supposed to be occupied by any thing else. These movements then demand special attention. He should omit no proper mode of expressing respect for those before him, and of bespeaking their favor. Affectation or display are peculiarly inappropriate at this time, when the air of modesty alone can please.
In general terms, so far as movement and gesture are concerned, the orator should present himself to the audience modestly, and without any show of self-confidence; at the same time that he avoids obsequiousness, and every thing opposed to true dignity and self-respect. His countenance should be composed, and he should look at those before him without any approach to a stare; nor hasten to commence his speech, which should seem to be dictated by a consciousness of its importance.
First, then, with suitable deliberation, and with a step of but moderate length, he should take his position; and if, from his first appearance, his face is not directed to the audience, he should bring himself into his position by a
gentle sweep, rather than turn abruptly on his heel or by a swing of the body.
Secondly, the bow, which is the most marked and appropriate symbol of respect, should be made while the speaker advances to the first position of the right foot. This is specially important in the case of the opening bow: the final bow, before leaving the stage, may be made with the left foot advanced, if such is his position on closing his speech.
Thirdly. In the graceful bow, (1) there should be a gentle bend of the whole body; (2) the equilibrium of the body should be so adjusted as not to throw the weight of the body forward upon the ball of the foot; (3) the eyes should not be permitted to fall below those of the persons addressed; and (4) the arms should slightly incline forward and inward, as they naturally do when the body is bent, but without any apparent voluntary effort.-—This position is represented in Fig. 45.
Fourthly, in the act of returning to the erect position, from the introductory bow, the speaker should fall back into the second position of the advanced foot. In this position, without any delay, he commences speaking. Indeed the address—66 Mr. President,” or “Mr. Speaker," when it occurs, may be pronounced while in the act of falling back into this—the speaking attitude.*
NotE TO THE TEACHER.-In the training of the pupil, the bow may at this stage of his progress be combined with the exercise on the changes of the positions of the feet. As he advances from any of the positions, let him occasionally be directed—to advance with the bow and then fall immediately back into the speaking attitude. In case of a class, this may be done by sections, till a good degree
WHILE engaged in the act of speaking, there is no such thing as a rest of the entire person. The motion however is not indiscriminate; hence we here bring together some general remarks on the principles by which the action of the speaker is to be regulated. The outline we here draw will be left to be filled up by the taste and good sense of the speaker.
As regards the feet, there are two opposite errors,—that of keeping them too fixed and immovable, and that of too great restlessness. The only movements, as we have seen, allowed in ordinary declamation, are advancing and retiring. The speaker should advance in the more earnest parts of the declamation, while he retires only in the less animated parts, and at the close of the paragraphs. The point at which the speaker advances, should be when the hand is brought into one of the front positions, on some emphatic word; and the paragraphic rest should always be made with the feet in the second position, either of the right or the left foot.
Of the Head and Trunk, it may be remarked, that they have but a slight motion, except merely in sympathy with of correctness is acquired; then let them, one by one, in presence of the class, enter upon the stage, present themselves to the audience, fall back into the speaking attitude, retire, advance, &c., under the direction of the teacher. This makes the learner familiar with the stage, and gives him a power of self-possession, which can, it is believed, in no other way be so readily acquired. This may be followed by the rehearsal of very short pieces-mere paragraphs, for the purpose of training him to the intro movements, and to entering upon and leaving the stage with ease and grace.—The study of the next two sections will prepare him for practice on longer pieces, after he shall be fully exercised in these more elsmentary lessons.