Изображения страниц

morlerate force, and at small intervals. In colloquial intercourse they are frequently confined to the motions of the head.

3. Auxiliary, or alternate gestures, serve to aid, or enforce the gesture of the advanced hand. They are performed as follows: after the advanced hand has made its gesture on the emphatic word, instead of pass. ing to another gesture, on the next emphatic word, it remains in the attitude of the last stroke till the retired hand is brought up in aid of it, either by a similar gesture, or by a more decisive one. In this way, variety and extraordinary energy are given, at once, to passages

which admit of such gestures. Of course, these gestures are used with great advantage in high passion; they are also frequently employed in description, where they are executed more tamely.

4. Suspending, or preparatory gestures, are so called because they hold the audience in suspense, by the elevation or contraction of the arm, preparatory to the stroke which is to fall on the emphatic word.

5. Emphatic gestures mark, with force, words opposed to, or compared with, each other; and, more par. ticularly, the word which expresses the predominant idea. Their stroke is generally arrested on the horizontal elevation. Sometimes, however, emphatic gestures are directed to the highest point in their range; at other times, to the lowest. When they are directed to a high point, they often serve as suspending, or pre paratory gestures, to the next emphatic gesture; and, when made at the close of a sentence, they serve a: terminating gestures; because, when the last important idea is marked, no other gesture should be added, to weaken its effect ; the arm should then fall to rest.

As a sentence is an epitome of a complete composition, having a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion, among single sentences illustrations of these different gestures may be found. In the following sentence the gestures for the right hand, only, are noted.



nef shf st R No man is wise at all times.

Susp. emph. & ter. The first is a commencing gesture; the second, a suspending gesture; the third, an emphatic gesture; and, as it is the last, it is a terminating gesture also; and the arm falls to rest Should a deaf person observe the gestures, as noted above, made by a speaker in a public assembly, he would conclude that the orator had performed what may be termed a regular period of gesture, by the commencement, the suspension, and the emphatic close of the action. Should the sentence be rendered more complex by the introduction of other members, discriminating gestures will be introduced. shf


ihf n It is an old observation, but not, therefore, the less true, that






shf st R Do man is wise at all times.t dis.

Susp. amph. & ter.

The beautiful reply of St. Paul to Agrippa, entering as such, at once, into the subject abruptly, without exordium, has no commencing gesture.

I would to God," that not only thou, but also all that hear






[ocr errors]



br me this day, were both almost and altogether, such as I

am, dis.

emph. Bref Bshf sh R except these bonds. I susp.

emph. f ler. The notation letters, shf, signify, the hand supine, the arm horizontal forwards ; nef, the hand natural, the arm elevated forwards; shf st, the hand supine, the arm horizontal forwards striking ; R, rest, the arm in its natural position, by the side.

† The letters, shf, signify, supine horizontal forwards; ief, index elevated forwards; ihf n, index horizontal forwards noting ; shq, supine horizontal oblique; nef, natural elevated forwards; shf si, supine horizontal forwards striking ; R, rest.

| Bsef sp, both hands supine, the arms elevated forwards springing; Bshf p, both hands supine horizontal forwards pushing; 9, obThe five classes of gestures, above described, may be used in any part of an oration. They are, as it were, the elements of gesture, which, by their combinations, produce its whole power of language and expression. These elements are the component parts of every style of delivery, whether tame or vehement, argumentative or diffuse, ardent or indifferent, cold or pathetic.

It has been observed that the principal gesture is performed by the advanced hand, and the subordinate gesture by the retired hand. The best modern speakers use either the right, or the left hand, indiscriminately, for the principal gesture, as occasion may require. As this practice is altogether at variance with the opinions and rules of the ancient critics and rhetoricians, it may be proper to inquire how far we are justifiable in our departure from their great authority.

" The left hand,” says Quintilian, “can never, with propriety, perform gesture alone; but it frequently acts in support of the right

hand.” The consideration of the dress of the ancients, which differed so essentially from that of the moderns, may be sufficient to account for the difference between their customs and ours. The form of the ancient dress obliged the speaker, if not totally to disuse his left hand, at least to restrain its action very considerably. (See Fig. 94.) The occasions on which the left hand may perform the principal gesture, are the following: 1. When the persons addressed are on the left side, the left hand naturally performs the principal gesture, in order to avoid the awkwardness of gesticulating across the body. 2. The necessary discrimination of objects opposed to each other, requires the left hand alternately to

perform the principal gesture. 3. The advan94

tage of variety. 4. The power of giving, not only variety, but force, by occasionally elevating the retired hand, and bestowing upon it all the spirit and authority of the gesture.

But it is not only in the use of the left hand that modern speakers differ from the ancients: they constantly violate another precept enjoined by Quintilian and his followers, viz., that of speaking with .ique position; x, extended position ; veq, hands vertical, arms elevated oblique ; a, ascending; br, breast — the right hand is laid on the breast; Bnef, both hands natural, the arms elevated for wards; Bshf sh, both hands supine, arms horizontal forwards shak ing: R, rest, the hands fall to rest.

the corresponding hand and foot advanced. * And yet, if the natural emotions afford any just foundation for the manner of gesture, we shall be inclined to give the preference to modern custom. Those passions which incline us to advance towards their object, as love, desire, anger, and revenge, naturally cause the corresponding hand and foot to advance together with the head and body; for, in this way, the nearest approach is made to the object. And when passions of a contrary nature, as aversion and terror, affect us, still the corresponding hand and foot are advanced; as if the better to guard the body and head, which are thrown back. In such cases, it would produce unnatural distortion to advance the contrary hand and foot. Under tranquil circumstances, as when the speaker delivers narrative, or reasons calmly, the contrary hand and foott may advance together with grace and propriety. Indeed, perhaps such posture is preferable, as it presents the body more exactly in front towards the persons addressed. It was, probably, such circumstances alone, which Quintilian had in view when he pronounced his opinion, that it is unbecoming to stand with the corresponding hand and foot advanced. This explanation will serve to reconcile the apparent deviation of the moderns from the ancient practice.




In the transitions of gesture, the hand and arm should not, in general, be precipitated to the intended position by the shortest course; but, in the calmer parts of the oration, they should move in a sort of waving line, or in one returning upon itself, somewhat in the manner represented by the following diagram:

Diag. 18.


[ocr errors]

Let f represent the position of the arm and hand for wards, and let the place of the next gesture be a (ob* Right hand and right foot; or left hand and left foot.

The right hand and left foot; or the left hand and right foot.

lique), and of a third be x (extended). The hand should not move in the line of dots directly from s to q, and from q to x: but from f go back almost to c (across), in order that it may traverse the greater space; and then proceed to q with an accelerated motion for the stroke of the gesture. In the same manner, and for the same purpose, it should return back almost to f, before t proceeds to x. The ascending and descending gestures are performed Diag. 19. in the same manner, under simi

lar circumstances, as may be seen in diagram 19, in which Z is the zenith, and R the point of rest, and where the hand, in ascending and descending, is represented as making returning inflections at the principal points, d, h, and e.

The line of preparation assumes a variety of other curves, fourteen of which are represented by Diagram 20.

Whatever form this indirect line may be, it is used as a preparation for the gesture to which it leads; and the extent of the

return, or depth of the sweep or R

indentation, is determined by the character of the sentiments to be delivered. The more magnificent they are, the greater is this parade; and the nearer to ordinary discourse, the less it is. The preparation made by these different curves does not suit every species of gesture; it is adapted almost solely to that kind which is termed discriminating Another kind of preparation is made for emphatic gestures. They are generally preceded by a suspending gesture, which serves the double purpose of marking some less important word, and of preparing for the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »