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torical painter may derive the materials of truth, and whence the orator and the elocutionist may not only obtain the instructions of the great men who have preceded them in the same career, but by which also they may secure, unalterably, their own improvements for the advancement of their art, and for the benefit of posterity. A scene of Shakspeare, or a passage of Milton, so noted, after the manner of a great master of recitation, or an oration so noted as delivered by an admired speaker, would prove an enduring study of truth and nature combined with imagination. And the aspiring orator would not be obliged, as at present, to invent for himself an entire system of action. He might derive light from the burning lamps of the dead, and proceed at once, by their guidance, towards the highest honours of his profession.
Had the ancients possessed the art of notating their delivery, such was the unwearied diligence of their great orators, Demosthenes and Cicero, that we should, most probably, at this day, be in possession of their manner of delivery, as well as the matter of their orations; and not be limited to conjecture relative to a single sentence of these eminent speakers, on the great occasions which called forth their powers.
POSITION OF THE FEET AND LOWER LIMBS.
THE parts of the human figure which are brought into action, in gesture, cannot, in truth, be considered separate; for every muscle, over which men can exercise voluntary action, contributes, in some measure, to the perfection of gesture. For, convenience, however, we may enumerate and class the most distinguished parts of the body, which effect the principal gestures. These are:
1. The HEAD.
2. The SHOULDERS. 3. The TRunk.
4. The ARMS.
5. The HANDS and FINGERS.
6. The LOWER LIMBS and KNEES.
7. The FEET.
I shall begin, as it were, with the foundation of the building, and shall first consider the positions and motions of the feet and lower limbs; since without the stability and ease of these, neither grace nor dignity can consist in the standing figure.
As the object of the orator is to persuade, and as prejudice against his person or manners may greatly impede him, he must recommend himself by every attention to his external deportment which may be deemed correct and proper; and guard against every species of inelegance that may prove disadvantageous. He must, therefore, even in his posture as he stands, prefer manly dignity and grace to awkward rusticity and rude strength. Rude strength may suit him who wishes to terrify, or to insult; but this is rarely the purpose of a public speaker. Grace and decorum win favour; and this is the general object. Rude strength stands indeed with stability, but without grace.
The gracefulness of motion in the human form, or perhaps in any other, consists in the facility and secu
rity with which it is executed. And the grace of any postures (except such as are manifestly designed for repose), consists in the apparent facility with which they can be varied. Hence, in the standing figure, the posture is graceful when the weight of the body is principally supported by one limb, whilst the other is so placed as to be ready to relieve it promptly, and without effort. And as the limbs are formed for a mutual share of labour and of honour, so their alternation in posture, and in motion, is agreeable and graceful.
The body must then be supported, if grace be consulted, on either limb, like Apollo, Antinous, and other beautiful and well-executed statues.
The positions of the feet are expressed by the notation annexed, which is to be written under the word where the speaker is to assume such position. They are the following:
First Position of the Right Foot, noted R. 1. (See Fig. 15)
The upper part of the figure represents the elevation of the position; the lower, the plan.
In this position the right foot (advanced before the eft about the breadth of the foot),
orms, with the left, an angle of about seventy-five degrees, as may be seen in the plan. The lines which form this angle, passing through the length of each foot, meet its vertex under the heel of the left. The principal weight of the body is sustained by the left foot; the right rests lightly, but in its whole length, upon the floor.
This fact is shown in the plan by deeply shading the left foot, and lightly shading the right.
Second Position of the Right Foot, noted R. 2. (See Fig.16.)
In this position, the right foot sliding forward about half its length, receives the principal weight of the body, the left being raised, and turning as far inwards towards the right; the ball of the left great toe only lightly touching the floor, to keep the body from tottering. In the plan, the right foot, by which the weight of the body is principally sustained, is all shaded, while that part only of the left is shaded which rests upon the floor. The angle formed by lines drawn through the length of the feet, in this position, is about ninety degrees.
In this position, when the feet are near together, the entire sole of the left foot may lightly touch the floor; but when the feet are separated about their own length, or more, the left should touch only near the great toe; the knee should be bent, and the heel turned inward, as in Fig. 24 and 26.
First Position of the Left Foot, noted L. 1. (See Fig. 17).
This position of the left foot is, in all respects, analogous to the first position of the right. The left foot is advanced, and the body is principally supported by the right. The shading of the plan is similar to that in the first position of the right, and for the same purposes.
The first position of the right foot is the proper reading position, when no gesture is employed; but it should be occasionally alternated with the first position of the left, for the relief of the supporting muscles.
Second Position of the Left Foot, noted L. 2. (See Fig. 18).
This position of the left foot is, in all respects, analogous to the second position of the right; and, in the figure, it is represented in the same manner, only reversed.
Figure 19 is a better plan of the feet than that annexed to the elevations. In both positions the right foot advances about half its own length, as may be seen by comparing it with the equidistant parallel lines. In the first position of the right foot, the lines ff, ff, passing through the centre of the feet, make an angle of about seventy-five degrees; and in the second position, the lines SS make an angle of about ninety degrees. These angles are nearly bisected by the line EE, which goes to the eye of the person addressed. In the
first position, the lines c, f, q, x, b. annexed
to the dotted prints of both the feet, mark the manner in which they are shifted, without altering their own angle, according as the gesture is directed. In the plan the gesture is supposed to be directed forwards. This figure may be supposed to be reversed for the first and the second position of the left foot.
The first position of either foot, but particularly that
These are notation letters, which will be explained in their place.