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ON VOICE, GESTURE, AND ATTITUDE.
Every one has two voices, the voice natural and the voice artificial.
The artificial voice, which may properly be termed the Sunday voice, is set apart for particular occasions, as visits of ceremony, first interviews, confessions of love, and proposals of marriage : it is, in short, the voice in full dress.
With the lords of the creation this full-dress voice has generally a deeper and more sonorous tone than the voice natural; whilst, on the contrary, among the fair sex, its notes are mincing and bland.
Take any person in the wide world by the hand, who supposes himself or herself exempt from this caprice-introduce either into a society with which they were previously unacquainted, and the moment the threshold is cros
ossed, you will find 't is the Sunday voice which salutes the mistress of the house.
At festive meetings, where folks sport their best coats and manners, tell their best jokes, and say their best sayings, the gentleman selected by the company “to do justice to the merits” of the host
and hostess invariably brings out his full-dress voice to suit the full-dress occasion.
How many of these oratorical displays commence by our Cicero acquainting his auditory that he's " unaccustomed to public speaking,” or by his assuring them, without the least respect for Roman history—the least regard for “ tense being the distinction of time,” that he's “no orator, as Brutus is.”
A common voice is the indispensable companion of a character without distinction—a trivial mind and a vulgar education.
A noisy, clamorous voice, never belongs to a person of good breeding.
A trilling, squeaky voice indicates, in a man, a narrow, pitiful mind, or a niggardly, sordid character.
A deep-toned voice denotes force, energy, and tenacity, provided it is not acquired by habituation to strong liquors, or to vulgar company.
The man who stammers and stutters, rouses our impatience; he that speaks too slowly, lulls one to sleep ; he who talks too quickly, fatigues us; he that beats about for his words, excites and irritates our nerves, or sets our teeth on edge; he who speaks through his teeth, in a monotonous drawl,
causes us to gape and yawn; he that splutters while talking, or speaks close under one's nose, inspires us with disgust; he that bawls, overwhelms us more by the power of his voice than the force of his arguments; he who jumps from one subject to another, forces us to laugh, or else excites our anger; he that constantly laughs at whatever he describes, may amuse us for the moment, but becomes tiresome in the end; he who never laughs, makes us fearful and cautious ;-and, finally, he that continually loses the thread of his discourse, and often repeats, “Well, you know," " As I was saying," “Let me see-whereabouts was I ?” makes us heartily wish the fellow at Old Nick.
Speaking is an art which many clever men do not naturally possess, but which some fools have instinctively: this often makes us revoke, at a second interview, the judgment we had pronounced at the first.
The speaker who accompanies his discourse with varied and natural gestures, is frequently of a. ready and sparkling wit; whilst he that holds forth, with a countenance totally void of expression, is even more frequently of a dull, heavy turn of mind.
There is a certain species of social simpleton, to whom no conventional appellation, that we are aware of, has ever been assigned, but who is full of extravagant gesticulation. He is at once a vain, presumptuous, empty, and arrogant babbler, who, not satisfied with the natural expression of his countenance, opens and shuts his eyes, grins widely and vacantly, and assumes a melancholy or laughing air, as he presumes the subject of his discourse requires. He further assists the expression of his physiognomy by movements of his head, his body, his arms, and his legs. He leans first upon one haunch, then upon the other; then curves his body from one side to the other; then brings it straight again :-in short, gives way to an infinity of postures, which he imagines to be necessary and graceful, but which really are contortions and grimaces.
Amongst the gestures and attitudes, the most annoying are those of the ignoramus, who, having stopped you in the street, unbuttons and buttons up your waistcoat, plays with your watch-guard,
and passes his fingers through the button-holes of your coat; then shakes it to and fro; or draws you closer to him, to impress upon you the importance of the twaddle he is retailing. If you endeavour to get rid of him by proceeding onwards he will not quit his hold, but add to the annoyance by stopping every three steps, and causing you to do the same to preserve your coat
from his injurious fangs. Another time, he will mark the emphasis and pauses of his oration, by continual taps upon your arm, holding your hand enclosed within his all the while, and rendering escape next to impossible.
The attitude of the coxcomb is as offensive as it is ridiculous. With one hand tucked in his waistcoat, and tapping his boots with his cane-with his head thrown proudly back, or feignedly leant forwards, as though he were short-sighted, he ogles and peers at you, while speaking or listening to you, in a manner that seems to say—“How very little you are! so very little compared to me! 't is quite a trouble to look at you !"
The man who is insincere, stammers,—weighs and examines his phrases before he risks uttering them, and never looks you firmly and fully in the face.