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mons or portions of sermons in which the doctrinal points of Christianity are discussed and explained, where fidelity and precision are chiefly requisite.---But if persuasion be the object, as in most appeals from the pulpit, as on many occasions which arise in the senate, and as is generally the case, when the advocate wishes to influence the opinions of a jury, then will the orator use more graceful, more flowing, and more various gesture. Feeling and imagination constitute the only basis of gesture. In the absence of these, it follows, then, that action should be wholly intermitted. This may occur with a transition in the sentiment, in the very midst of a discourse, and after the hands may have been fully employed in action. Such intermission of gesture is usually preceded by a paragraphic rest. All action of the hands and arms may likewise be intermitted during a burst of rapid utterance, or in the expression of deep and overwhelming emotion, as in despair and inconsolable grief. In the one case, the gesture cannot be effectually applied, for want of time for the preparatory movements; and in the other, the soul seems, in giving expression to its wo, to disdain all art, relying solely on the tones of the voice and the expression of the countenance, sometimes even refusing the aid of words. Action would be as inappropriate at such times, as its absence would be in giving utterance to the active passions.
A more particular application of some of these principles to the different parts of a discourse will be presented in the next section.
OF GESTURE AS CONNECTED WITII THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF A
All discourses are not alike in their structure and arrangement; hence no technical rules can be laid downsuch as can be applied by the speaker in any instance without thought and reflection. But yet, all discourses have a beginning and an end, and consist mainly of an introduction, of narrative or explanation, of argumentation, of appeals to the feelings, and of a conclusion. These are not all found in all discourses; nor do they always occur in the same order. In orations, sermons, lectures, and even popular harangues,-indeed almost everywhere except in deliberative bodies where the speaker is well known, and may have previously addressed his fellow members on the subject in hand, there will be with rare exceptions something like an introduction, more deliberate and unimpassioned than that which follows; and a conclusion, differing somewhat from that part which has preceded. If the discourse has been mainly argumentative, then the conclusion or peroration may, and generally will, be the most impressive part. If, on the contrary, it has consisted mainly of an exciting appeal, the conclusion may partake rather of the nature of an address to the judgment, lest the audience should too suddenly forget why they had been moved.
In no speech, or discourse, does the orator change his own character, in the sense in which an actor may do it. Yet in a practical and very important sense he may change his character. As a reasoner, engaged in the more deliberate parts of his discourse, he sustains a relation to his audience quite different from that which he bears, as the
exciter of their passions and the mover of their hearts. Consistency of character does not then demand a perfect uniformity in the gestures of the orator. Neither does the real character of an audience change in any very literal sense, during the delivery of a discourse; and yet practically there is a change. Two distinct assemblies can scarcely differ more, than the same audience when curiously listening for the first time to the opening accents of a speaker's voice, and when again they sit absorbed in thought, their judgments convinced by his reasonings, and their feelings swayed and moved in perfect sympathy with
If we refer to the objects of the address, it is the Almost every
discourse has, or should have, some leading object in view; and yet this is perfectly consistent with a series of subordinate objects—extending from the first effort to conciliate the feelings of those whom the speaker addresses, onward to the last impression which he would leave on the minds of his audience.—No one of the principles, then, developed in the last section, requires that the gestures be uniform throughout a discourse.
Of the matter of the introduction to a discourse, it is not my purpose to speak. But, obviously, the introduction should have for its object to conciliate the audience, to bespeak their favor, to secure their attention, or to prepare them to receive the impression the speaker wishes to make. In an introduction, these objects may all be united; nor can any of them be better secured than by an air of simple modesty on the part of the speaker. No mark of respect should be overlooked. The low pitch and the small volume of voice heretofore recommended are indicative of such respect; and his entire action should accord with this feeling. The eye should rather be downcast, than staring; the countenance should be composed; and as to gesture, there should be none or but very little, nor should that transcend the colloquial style.
That part of a discourse devoted to narration, as in pleadings at the bar; or to explication, as in most sermons, has more of action, as it has more of earnestness; and more freedom of gesture, as the feeling of modesty on the part of the speaker becomes absorbed in the interest of his subject. In this, therefore, as also in the argumentative parts of a discourse, the colloquial style of gesture will often yield to the rhetorical; and the interest of the speaker, as he approaches the conclusion of an argument, or the climax of his successive trains of thought, will exhibit itself in a freer movement of the arm, and a louder tone of voice.
The force and chief ornaments of gesture will be reserved by the judicious speaker for those parts of his discourse for which he reserves the brilliancy of language and of thought; that is, for those parts which are intended to appeal to the feelings of his audience. On these parts alone can the orator's powers be fully exhibited; nor should any attempt be made to protract the pathetic or exciting parts of a discourse to any great length. Just so long, however, as the voice and the language are in consonance with these warm emotions, should the gesture remain free and unconstrained ; and till we find the place from which boldness and magnificence of language are excluded, there will be no occasion to exclude even the epic style of gesture. The proper occasions for its employment, however, are rare, and from the nature of the case must be of short continuance.
In passing, it may be remarked, that every part of an oration or other discourse may have its digressions; and these, it is obvious, are to be pronounced with a voice and gesture suited to their spirit, even though gesture be wholly suspended by their recurrence. These, then, should but rarely, perhaps never, occur in those parts which are addressed to the passions. These interruptions turn aside the current of feeling, and give the subject of the emotion time to rally his powers of resistance.
Of the conclusion, it may be sufficient to say, that the gestures should correspond with its spirit—its matter, and the feeling with which it is pronounced. It may, or may not, be accompanied with gesture; and when it is, the gesture may be more or less bold and free. The final adjustment of the hands to rest, at the close either of a paragraph or a discourse, is most graceful, when immediately preceded by a gesture of the right hand alone; and that, some other than a cross gesture. The gesture of both hands, or even the cross gesture of the right, should then be avoided as a concluding gesture.