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vocal expression. Transitions, then, in the management of the voice, and in gesture, are regulated by the same principles.*
OF THE QUALITIES OF GESTURE.
E.T FROM what has been said, it is obvious, that we may with propriety speak of different styles of gesture, suited to different objects and occasions. The better to understand the characteristic difference of these styles, we proceed to enumerate the Qualities on which such difference depends. Those qualities in which the excellence of gesture consists are, Magnificence, Boldness, Energy, Variety, Simplicity, Grace, Propriety, and Precision. These will be briefly noticed, with an allusion to the imperfections to which they are opposed.
1. Magnificence of Gesture-is secured by perfect free dom of movement. The arm moves from the shoulder, and the hand is carried through an ample space. The head moves freely, the body is erect, and the step is free and
* At this point, the attentive learner is prepared successfully to prosecute privately, to any extent, the preparation for his public declamations. First, he should apply the principles of expression to the reading of the selected piece,-at the same time employing with care the suitable emphases and forms of cadence. Secondly, he should study the gestures best suited to all its different parts. Thirdly, when well committed, he should rehearse it by himselfin his study, in the woods, or, like Demosthenes, by the sea-shore; nor need he stop till his execution equals his ideas of excellence, though he may repeat it a thousand times over. Such practice on a single piece well chosen, will benefit the learner more than the mere repetition upon the stage of volumes of the most eloquent matter ever issued from the press.
| Little more is attempted in this section, than to condense the views of Austin, as set forth in Chap. xx. of the Chironomia.
firm.-Opposed to this are contracted gestures, constrained motions, short steps, and doubtful and timid movements.
2. Boldness of Gesture—is exhibited in striking but unexpected positions, movements, and transitions. It is the offspring of a daring self-confidence, which ventures to hazard any action which it is conceived may either illustrate or enforce. The courage thus to execute is only valuable, when under the guidance of good taste.--The opposite of this is tameness, which hazards nothing, is distrustful of its powers, and produces no great effect.
3. Energy of Gesture--consists in the firmness and decision of the whole action; and these depend very materially on the precision with which the stroke of the gesture is made to support the voice in marking the emphasis. Let bad habits be overcome, and a ready command of all the elements of gesture be acquired,—then will energy
gesture be the necessary result of a clear head and a warm heart.— Its opposites are feebleness and indecision.
4. Variety of Gesture—consists in the adapting of gesture to the condition and ever-varying sentiment of the speaker; so as to avoid a too frequent recurrence of the same gesture, or the same set of gestures. It is opposed both to sameness of gesture, and to mechanical variety.
5. Simplicity of Gesture—is perfectly free and unaffected, and appears to be the natural result of the situation and sentiments of the speaker,--presenting evidence neither of studied variety nor of reserve.--Its opposite is affectation.
6. Grace of Gesture—is the result of all other perfections; arising from a dignified self-possession of mind, and the power of personal exertion practiced into facility after the best models, and according to the truest taste. This usually therefore depends more on art than on nature ; and has more to do with pleasing the fancy than with producing conviction. It suggests not a single movement, but simply preserves the gestures employed for other purposes from all awkwardness. The opposites of this are awkwardness, vulgarity, or rusticity.
7. Propriety of Gesture-always indicates some obvious connection between the sentiment and the action. It implies the use of such gestures as are best suited to illustrate or to express the sentiment; and thus often calls into use the significant gestures.-The opposite of this is solecism in gesture, implying the recurrence of false, contradictory, or unsuitable gestures.
8. Precision of Gesture--arises from the just preparation, the due force, and the correct timing of the action. The stroke of the gesture must not only fall on the emphatic syllable, but its force must exactly suit the character of the sentiment and the speaker. This gives the same effect to action, that neatness of articulation does to speech.—The opposites are--gestures which distract the attention, while they neither enforce nor illustrate the sentiment. Such are most of those which consist in a mere swing of the arm, while the stroke of the gesture is wanting.
The Styles of gesture, for all practical purposes, may
be reduced to three; the Epic, the Rhetorical, and the Colloquial.
The Epic Style is suited to the delivery of tragedy, epic poetry, and sublime description; and calls into requisition all the qualities of gesture just enumerated. Boldness is peculiar to this style of gesture, and magnificence is rarely admissible elsewhere; hence these qualities are seldom exhibited but in the theatre.
The Rhetorical Style requires energy, variety, simplicity, and precision; and cannot be exhibited in its highest perfection, without grace of action. This is the style of oratory -whether in the pulpit, in the senate, or at the bar.
The Colloquial Style is the opposite of the Epic. The gestures of the hand, when employed, proceed mainly from the elbow, and exhibit only the qualities of simplicity and grace, except so far as precision will follow as a matter of course. The emphasis however is more frequently marked by a moderate nod of the head, than by the movements of the hand. This style is employed in the intercourse of polite society, and by persons who deliver lectures in the sitting posture. The principal dependence, in such cases, for the effect required, is on the countenance, the direction of the eye, and the intonation of the voice.
OF THE FREQUENCY, MODERATION, AND INTERMISSION OF GESTURE.
GESTURE is valuable, only as it illustrates or enforces sentiment. It requires then to be managed with great discretion, lest it seem to take the lead of sentiment, or conflict with its expression. The absence of gesture is to be preferred to either of these ; and this, it is presumed, is the cause why so little gesture is used among speakers who have not studied the art sufficiently to acquire a confidence in their skill in its employment. The speaking without gesture, or the uttering of exciting sentiments with only the gestures which belong to the colloquial style, is an unnatural phenomenon-a violent sundering of what nature's earliest and strongest dictates have joined together. The cause of such unnatural disruption, if carefully sought for, will probably be found in the almost total neglect of this branch of elocution in our schools, connected with the idea which most young speakers have, that it is better to use little or no gesture, than to attempt the employment of an agent whose power they have never learned to wield. To avoid the practical errors, then, of speaking without action, or of using too feeble a style of action, the young speaker needs nothing but first to have the full command of the elements of gesture, and then to have his mind strongly imbued with the principles by which he should be guided in their employment. It is to the further development of these principles, that this chapter is devoted.