Imatges de pàgina

The advancing and the retiring movements, when considered in detail, are merely transitions from one to another of the positions of the feet, exemplified in the plates. They require attention chiefly to one point, -that every movement must be made by a change of the position of the foot which does not support the body. Confusion, in this respect, sometimes costs the speaker a good many unnecessary motions, which are at variance with dignity and freedom of manner, and produce merely a vacillation about the feet, rather than an actual change of place or posture. To prevent such faults, it may be useful to advert to a mechanical view of the changes which take place in advancing or retiring.-1st. Advancing: To advance from the first position of the right foot,* nothing is necessary but to pass directly, and without the intervention of any change, into the first of the left. Errors and hesitancy arise from throwing in some intervening movement. To advance from the first position of the left is, in like manner, nothing but a simple transition to the first position of the right. The advance from the second position of the right foot, is made simply by passing into the first position of the same foot; and so of the corresponding change of the left.—2d. Retiring: To retire from the first position of either foot, is merely to drop into the second of the same foot. To retire from the second position of either foot, seems a more complicated movement; but it is nothing more than to pass directly into the second position of the opposite foot.


Remarks. The general air and expression of the whole body depend much on the position of the legs; as we may observe by adverting to the feeble limbs of infancy and of old age, the rigid and square attitude of men who follow laborious occupations, or the ar

* See engravings, figs. 10, 11, 12, 13.

† These changes should be repeatedly practised by the learner, referring at the same time to the plates.

tificial display of limb sometimes acquired at the dancing-school, or exemplified on the stage.

A firm, free, and graceful position of the limbs, is natural to most human beings, till the influence of awkward custom, or of imperfect health, has destroyed or impaired it. Correct and appropriate posture, therefore, becomes an important point in preparatory practice and training, intended to aid the formation of habits of rhetorical delivery.

Errors in the position of the legs occur in the following forms:

1. A rigid and infle.cible posture, entirely at variance with freedom and grace; causing the limbs to resemble supporting posts, rather than parts of the human frame; and interfering with the force, ease, and gracefulness of gesture. This fault is partly caused by the wrong position and movement of the feet, mentioned first among the errors regarding the feet. [See Figs. 4, 5, 7.)

2. A feeble, though perhaps slight bending of the knees, which gives the general attitude an appearance of timid inefficiency; and which, when accompanied, as it often is, by a sinking and rising motion, seeming to keep time to the beat of the arm in gesture, produces a childishness of mien, which throws over the speaker's whole manner an air of silliness. [See Fig. 14.]

3. A fault very prevalent in public declamation, arises from overlooking the fact, that a free and natural attitude requires the knee of the leg which is not supporting the weight of the body, to fall into the natural bend of freedom and rest. The neglect of this point,-a neglect which very naturally arises from general embarrassment or constraint,-has a very unfavourable etfect on the whole attitude: in the first' position, it causes, by its necessary action on the

frame, a slight, but ungraceful throwing up of the shoulder, on the side which supports the body; [See Fig. 15;] and in the second' position, it partly withdraws the speaker's body from his audience, by inclining it backward or too much upward, and by erecting the head in the manner of indifference or .disregard. [See Fig. 16.]

The influence of this attitude is quite at variance with the speaker's aim in delivery, which is to convince or persuade; the effect of which, on his attitude, would be to incline it somewhat forward, as in the natural manner of earnest address. No error, apparently so slight, is attended with so many bad consequences as this; nothing tends so much to give the speaker the air of speaking at his audience, rather than to them; yet no fault is more common in the declamation of school and college exhibitions. All that is objectionable in this attitude, however, would be done away, by the speaker merely allowing the knee of the leg which does not support the body, to drop into its natural bend.

Other errors in the position of the legs, are involved in the faulty positions and movements of the feet; such as the placing of the legs too close or too widely distant from each other. But whatever was mentioned, on this point, concerning the feet, may be applied by the learner himself, to the placing of the limbs. (See Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.]

RULE. The leg which supports the body, should be firm and braced, but not strained ; and the leg which does not support the body, should bend freely at the knee. [See Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13.)

POSITION AND MOVEMENT OF THE TRUNK. Remarks. The actions of a human being differ from the motions of a machine, chiefly in that sympathy of the entire frame, which makes action appear to proceed from the whole surface, and terminate in

the arm, the hand, or the foot. No gesture, therefore, seems to have life or energy, unless the whole body partake in it, by a moderate, yet perceptible swaying or yielding to accommodate it, and a general impulse of the muscles to enforce it, or impart to it additional and sympathetic energy. Gesture, destitute of such aid, becomes narrow, angular, and mechanical. It is of the utmost consequence, then, that the position and general bearing of the body should be free and unconstrained.

The following observations are quoted from the work mentioned before,- Austin's Chironomia.

“ The trunk of the body is to be well balanced, and sustained erect upon the supporting limb. Whatever the speaker's position may be, he should present himself, as Quintilian expresses it, aquo pectore-with the breast fully fronting his audience,-and never in the fencing attitude of one side exposed. What Cicero calls the virilis flexus laterumthe manly inclination of the sides,-should also be attended to; for, without this position, the body will seem awkward and illbalanced. The inclination of the sides withdraws the upper part of the body from the direction of the sustaining limb, and inclines it the other way, whilst it throws the lower part of the body strongly on the line of the supporting foot. In this position, the figure forms that gentle curve or waving line which painters and statuaries consider as appropriate to grace. [See Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13.)

“The gesture of the arms and hands must receive a slight accompanying movement of the trunk, and not proceed from it as from a rigid log. Whilst care is taken to avoid affected and ridiculous contortions, there must be a manly and free exertion of the muscles of the whole body, the general consent of which, is indispensable to graceful action."

ERRORS. The faults in the management of the trunk, are the following:

1. A rigid and square position, connected with, and in part proceeding from, errors in the position and movement of the feet and legs. [See 'Errors,' regard

ing these particulars, and Figs. 4 and 5 in the engravings, already referred to.)

This position lacks the natural yielding or inclination of the sides, and by destroying the sympathetic action of the muscles of the frame, seems to disconnect the arm from the body, causing it to resemble an extraneous object accidentally fastened to the trunk, and producing, in the movements of the arm in gesture, the style of motion exemplified in the actions of an illcontrived automaton, or in the moving of the handle of a pump. [See Fig. 4.]

2. Exposing the side, somewhat as in a fencing posture. [See Fig. 6.]

This attitude gives an unmeaning and offensive force to gestures made in front of the body, and communicates an awkward and painful twist to all gestures which fall in an outward direction. The fault of position now alluded to, arises, sometimes, from the habit of addressing the different portions of an audience separately, and by turns, which is itself a great impropriety, unless on special occasions requiring it. The error arises from the placing of the feet, and in the direction given to them in movement,-pointing the toes straight forward from the speaker's body, in the manner which would be exemplified in the natural attitude of an Indian.

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3. Allowing the body to incline too far forward, in a stooping or lounging manner.

This fault takes away all manly dignity and energy from the speaker's appearance, and impairs the general effect of delivery.

4. Keeping the body too erect, and inclining it away from the audience.

The bad effects of this fault were described in connexion with the third’ error in the position of the legs. [See Fig. 16.)

5. A theatrical protruding of the body, with the air of display. [See Fig. 17.]

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