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here introduced, the former of which are unfavourable, and the latter favourable, to vocal delivery.
Absurd as are the unfavourable postures on page 70, I have known readers to adopt not only all these, but others equally inappropriate and ridiculous. This is too much the case, particularly in seminaries for young
gentlemen, in a number of which it has fallen to m lot to give instruction in Elocution.
The human mind is so constituted, that, in its education, order becomes almost indispensable. Hence, any thing that interrupts methodical instruction, is a serious obstacle to the growth of intellect. Nor is order more necessary than perseverance; consequently all postures of the body which are calculated for re pose, should be avoided by the student in elocution. And as grace and dignity are of primary importance in vocal delivery, all postures which are inconsistent with these attributes should also be avoided.
The erect posture of the body is the best for vocal delivery; the trunk and limbs should be braced in proportion to the degree of energy required by the sentiments to be delivered. The right foot should be from two to four inches in advance of the left, and the toes turned a little outwards; meanwhile the body should be principally sustained by the left foot.
The next best is the erect sitting posture, in which the shoulders do not rest against the back of the seat, and in which the body is retained in its proper position by muscular action. (See Ornamental Letter, page 11 and 16.)
The next best is the erect sitting posture in which the shoulders rest against the back of the seat.
These are the only postures which are at all favourable to vocal delivery.
MANNER OF HOLDING THE BOOK.
The book should be held in the left hand, from six to eight inches from the body, and as high as the centre of the breast, so as to bring the face nearly perpendicular. It should not, however, be held so high as to prevent the audience from having a view of the reader's mouth, as his voice would thereby be more or less obstructed. The fingers of the right hand may take hold of the margin of the book lightly (see Fig. 10, and Orna
mental Letter, page 16), so as to be ready to turn over the leaves, as occasion may require; or they may be placed upon the page, just below the line the reader is pronouncing, to aid him in keeping his place; or, particularly if the reader is pronouncing an original composition, the right hand may be employed to illustrate and enforce the sentiments by appropriate gesticulation. (See Fig. 11.) If the reader be a lady, the right hand may support the left arm. (See Fig. 12.) I do not, however, advise ladies to adopt this posture exclusively, but deem it not ungraceful for them.
The eyes should occasionally be directed from the words of the discourse to the audience. (See Fig. 11.) In demonstrating on the black-board, the face, and not the back, should be turned to the audience. (See Fig. 13 and 14.)
NOTATION OF GESTURE.
THE want of a language for expressing the different modifications of gesture with brevity and perspicuity, is the principal cause of the general neglect with which the cultivation of this art has hitherto been treated. For this desideratum the world is indebted to the Rev. Gilbert Austin, of London. In 1806, this distinguished elocutionist published a quarto volume of six hundred pages; and from that work I have taken the system of notation of which the following is a specimen:
When the right arm is elevated backwards, and the left extended forwards, in a horizontal direction, he calls the posture of the former elevated backwards, and notes it eb; and the posture of the latter, horizontal forwards, and notes it hf. Now the abbreviations eb and hf are placed over any word which requires these postures of the arms, thus:
eb - hf Jehovah's arm
Snatch'd from the waves, and brings to me my son!* Douglas, Act III For an illustration of these gestures, the reader is referred to the ornamental letter on page 69.
The original idea of this system of notation, says Mr. Austin, was suggested by the labour of teaching declamation in the usual manner. During this labour, which for many years constituted a part of his duty in his grammar-school, the author having often found that he forgot, on a following day, his own mode of instructing on a former, wished to be able to invent some permanent marks, in order to establish more uniformity in his instructions, for the ease both of himself and of his pupils. The mode of instruction is not so liable to change, with respect to the expression of the voice, and countenance, for this is always pointed out by the sentiment. But the great difficulty lies in ascertaining and marking the suitable gesture; and for these obvious reasons; because a language of gesture was wanting, and because gesture may be infinitely varied, and yet, perhaps, be equally just. To leave the pupil to choose for himself would but distract him, and, instead of giving him freedom and grace, would deprive him of both. On his commencement as a public speaker (which cannot be too early), it is necessary to teach him every thing, and to regulate, by rules, every possible circumstance in his delivery; his articulation, accent, emphasis, pauses, &c., and along with all, his gesture. After sufficient instruction and practice, he will regulate his own manner, according to the sugges tions of his judgment and taste.
Among the higher objects of this system of notation, may be reckoned its uses as a record, whence the his
Although an explanation of the gestures on Jehovah's arm, in the above sentence, is sufficient to answer my present purpose, it may not be improper to inform the reader that another gesture is required on the word son.