Page images
[ocr errors]

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 ap-, propriate 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

Fig. 45. 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


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—« 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 introductory 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 elementary lessons.

the arms and lower limbs. Embarrassment sometimes keeps the body fixed like a post, and makes the head motionless. These are faults; and so also are all writhings of the body, shrugging of the shoulders, and sudden turning and jerking of the head, as well as all gestures of the head for the enforcing of sentiment, when not accompanied with the band.

The Eyes and Countenance of the speaker are always to be employed. It is by these that an audience conceives itself able to read the real feelings of the speaker, and to judge of his sincerity. While in the act of speaking, the eye of the speaker should search out the eye of every hearer, to give to his address the character of a personal appeal; but without being fixed on any one so as to call the attention of others to him as the subject of remark. This caution is particularly necessary, when employing the language of invective or public censure, lest individuals should be offended with the idea of being publicly held up as examples of the vices condemned. Even during the rests of the voice, and particularly during the emphatic pauses, the eye and countenance of the orator are full of expression. That which is uttered after such pause receives a part of its impressiveness from the idea that it comes forth warm from the heart, the very operations of which have been seen in the countenance and the gesture.

Of the movements of the Hands and Arms I shall speak more at length; and for this purpose shall devote to them the next section. Here however it may be remarked, that the arms and hands of the speaker, when not employed in gesture, should hang freely by the side, without the action of a muscle. When entering upon the stage then, and till they are called into requisition for gesture, the young declaimer is simply “ to let them alone.” If he can succeed in doing this, the idea of awkwardness, so far as they are concerned, will occur only to himself. At the close of the last gesture, likewise, prior to the termination of a piece or paragraph, the hands should fall to rest by the side.—Thus it appears that the rest of the hand, after it has once been raised in gesture, has a meaning, not less than any other action.



1. Of the hand to be employed.--A full development of this subject will involve a brief reference to a variety of circumstances connected with delivery.-When the speaker is reading the sentiments of another from the page of a book, the book should be held in the left hand, directly in front of the breast, and some six inches from the body; and should be so far depressed as not to conceal from the audiFig. 46.

Fig. 47. ence the face of the reader.

Any gesture made by the reader thus embarrassed, must be made with the right hand; and even this hand, when not needed for purposes of gesture, may gently touch the margin or corner of the book, to assist in turning over the leaves. (See Fig. 46.) In

reading an original compoonline shop

sition, more gesture is expected, but yet it must be confined to the right hand. (See Fig. 47.) In either case the eyes should be taken from the book as often as possible without producing embarrassment; and this should be done particularly at the close of the periods.—Any paper which the orator may choose to hold should be held in the left hand; and except in cases of marked energy, this hand thus employed should not be used in gesture; and then, never except in connection with the other.-In reading from a manuscript, as in the pulpit, the left hand should rarely be used.

Even in ordinary delivery, when both hands are free, the right hand takes the decided precedence in gesture. It will be sufficient, therefore, to enumerate some of the occasions on which the left hand may be employed. The matter of the oration may furnish occasion for the use of the left hand. When, in narrative or descriptive pieces, different persons or things are represented as variously disposed, or as occupying different positions, the hands may be alternately employed; also when there is antithesis in the sentiment, or even in the structure of the sentences. On introducing a new argument, or on presenting some new point of discussion, after one in which the right hand has been for considerable time employed, the left hand may even take the principal gesture. Such alternation of the hands, however, should not be frequent; nor should the gestures of the left hand be long continued.

The situation of the speaker may also lead to the employment of the left hand,—as when the persons addressed are on his left side. This

may occur on the stage; and will often occur both at the bar and in halls of legislation, where the judges and the jury, in the one case, and the chair and the house, in the other,—are to be addressed. The one or the other of these will often be at the speaker's left hand. So with the preacher, who wishes to address himself particularly to that portion of his hearers who are on his left.Variety may occasionally though rarely lead to the use of

« PreviousContinue »