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And laid it on his brow, -and said, "Be clean !"
IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL. ADDISON. It must be 80,-Plato, thou reasonest well! Else—whence the pleasing hope,-this fond desire, This longing—after immortality ? Or whence—this secret dread, and inward horror, Of falling into naught? Why-shrinks the soul Back on herself, and startles—at destruction! 'Tis the divinity—that stirs within us; 'Tis Heaven itself—that points out a hereafter, And intimates eternity-to man. ETERNITY! thou pleasing, dreadful thought! Through what variety-of untried being, Through what new scenes and changes-must we pass ? The wide, the unbounded prospect, lies before me; But shadows,-clouds,--and darkness-rest upon it. Here—will I hold. If there's a power above us, (And that there is, all nature cries aloud Through all her works,) He-must delight in virtue; And that—which He delights in must be happy. But when? or where? This world—was made for Cæsar. I'm weary of conjectures. This—must end them.
[Laying his hand on his sword.] Thus-am I doubly armed:-my death—and life, My bane—and antidote-are both before me;This in a moment-brings me to an end; But this-informs me- I shall never die. The soul, (secured in her existence,) smiles At the drawn dagger, and defies its point. The stars—shall fade away, the sun himself Grow dim—with age, and nature—sink in years; But thou shalt flourish-in immortal youth, Unhurt-amidst the wars of elements, The wrecks-of matter and the crush-of worlds.
GESTURB AND DEPORTMENT_ARBITRARY RULES-PANTOMIME-NECESSITY
OF GESTURE-FAULTS OF ORATORS-GRACE AND DIGNITY-STUDY OF THE PASSIONS-OBSERVATIONS OF NATURE-SELECTIONS.
Gesture and deportment, or the position and movement of the body and limbs, under the influence of changing mental condition, are so multiform that we despair of doing them justice in a short essay; nor can we with any degree of accuracy give rules which will be a safe guide, and by which persons may acquire graceful and at the same time natural attitudes and movements of the body.
There have been elaborate directions given by authors, copiously illustrated by engravings and characters, indicating the right and left, up and down movements of the arms, etc., which may serve as a possible guide to students in avoiding angular and ungraceful gestures. But the great defect has been in giving arbitrary rules without directing attention to the cause that prompts gesticulation, and without defining the part it is to take in adding force and beauty to declamation.
The strongly accented and emphatic force, and the great modulating capacity of our language, gives us a range and copiousness of expression that much lessens the need of the pantomimic action of the limbs, figure, and face which other languages seem to require. Yet deportment and gesture must be included as a part of delivery, and certainly belongs to rhetorical expression. We moderns set too small an estimate on their effective assistance in the pronunciations of oratory, to which the ancient Greeks and Romans attached so much importance. The rhetoricians of those days must have taught the science of gesture as well as of vocality: indeed they were of divided opinion which should take the preference in giving impressive effect. Quintilian's saying is often quoted, that "it is not of so much moment what our compositions are as how they are pronounced;" while Cicero, Pericles, Demosthenes, Aristotle, and other renowned orators were of the same opinion.
We must admit that if we were thrown among a race of people, without any knowledge of their vernacular, the pantomimic language of the body and face would be the first thing we should resort to to make ourselves understood. The methods of the Chinese, cited by Fowler in his "English Grammar," is an illustration of the expressive power of this silent but powerful language. He says: “The absence of an alphabet has deprived the Chinese of an important means of preserving a uniformity of spoken language through any part of the empire. A native of China would be altogether unintelligible speaking his local patois at a distance of two hundred miles from home; and yet, like Arabic figures in Europe, the written character is every where the same throughout the whole of China, though in reading and speaking the local pronunciation makes, in fact, separate languages. The Chinese prefer their mode of speaking to the mind through the eye, by means of visible signs, as superior to spoken words addressed to the ear. Indeed, so far do they carry their attachment to this mode of communication, that it is not uncommon there to see men conversing rapidly together by tracing characters in the air.”
We must agree therefore with the ancients that there is a power in the proper use of gesture that should not be overlooked by the student who expects to shine in the forum, in the pulpit, or on the stage. For the law has not changed; gesture is as necessary now as in the days of Demosthenes. The sight as well as the ear needs instruction. It is said that the man who can speak two languages with ease possesses the power of two men. It is equally true that the person who
can with fluency and grace speak the two languages of speech and gesture conveys in what he says the force of two men. Such a one truly in earnest is a host in himself, and speaks with an authority that carries its own conviction. Not so the untaught, uncertain speaker: doubtfulness impedes his utterance; his weak, unexpressive movements distress us, and awkward and untimely thrusts disgust us.
We admire the orator who stands up in full possession of himself and his subject. He will require no such accessories as pulling at his watch-chain to keep himself busy, or of resting his hands in his pockets to hold himself up, or to fumble a paper to employ his fingers, or take off and put on his spectacles every few minutes to see his own ideas. Nor do we like to see the speaker who is unable to stand alone, and supports his elbows on a desk; nor one who tosses his body up and down as though it were a spiral spring, elevated by the lightness and depressed by the weight of his ideas. Neither do we fancy the rocking to and fro from heel to toe, nor the standing like a wax figure with both pedestals like perpendicular parallel lines, with arms to match. Nor is it pleasant to see the arms work with an angular jerk or straight up
and down movement, or flying off in such spasmodic efforts as suggest internal wires and cog-wheels worked by crank. Nor should a speaker come to the rostrum displaying his manner of cleaning his nose; in appearance saying to his audience, “I am getting ready as fast as possible;” then crowd his handkerchief back into his pocket in a business-like way, jerk his coat into place with his shoulders, which says, "At last I am ready." All these are significant gestures, but not relevant to the occasion nor respectful to the audience.
What then is gesture? It is the pathognomy of the passions, sentiments, and thoughts, or their mode of expressing themselves by pantomimic movements of the body, limbs, and face. This is its office, which suggests all natural movements, and these can only be effective by perfectly expressing the passion or sentiment of which they are to be the translators. There must be no “outdoing Termagant;” but “suit the action to the word, the word to the action.” Every emotion has its own natural symbol.
If we wish to make gesture the graceful and dignified assistant to declamation and acting, instead of a system of forced movements and unexpressive motions or painful bodily contortions, we must become close and critical observers of the mute manifestations of different states and conditions of mind, and imitate them. Study persons when under the excitement of combative and destructive passions; see the clenched hand, the forcible, straight-line movements of the arms, the defensive, defiant position of the body, and the firm bracing of the feet; and the opposite manifestations of fear-the relaxed and shrinking body, with hands thrown up, palms outward, and the fingers separated and bent as if to ward off the danger. Closely akin to these are the signs of horror, with the wild look of the eye. Again, observe the uplifted hands of devotion and reverence, pointing the upward tendencies of those faculties; and the broader and more flowing movements of the arms under the excited imagination of the general poetical sentiments; the outstretched hand and downward palm of the benediction; in love, the soft serenity of countenance, the languishing eyes and sweetness of voice; the bright expectant look of hope; the poised and winged appearance of flight; the joyful clasping of the hands in realized desire; and the frowning brow and furtive and uneasy glances of hatred and revenge.
These signs, given under the influence and excitement of the passions, are infallible indicators of the uses of gesture, and open to us fully their importance in making declamation expressive and effective:
and every one who intends to become an orator or an actor should keep his eyes open to this the language of nature.
It may be argued that gesture should be spontaneous, and so it should. It should be that spontaneity that comes from limbs and muscles that have long been trained in obedience to ease and grace. The speaker's tones of voice should not be uppermost in his mind during the delivery of his oration; but these must be obedient from previous training to express every shade of thought which the subject and occasion require. I: must not be supposed that these matters relate to declamation only; they should be studied with the idea that the more perfectly we express ourselves the better instructors we become, and the greater our influence in the world. A life of noble purposes, ably and artistically given to the world, is a blessing to mankind. We glorify our Maker by the best use of the faculties he has given us for the elevation of ourselves and others. It is not the simple shouting of his name which glorifies it. We should express the beauty, variety, and greatness of his endowments by purest purposes and noblest efforts.
SONG OF THE SHIRT.
With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
Plying her needle and thread.
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
She sang the “Song of the Shirt!”
While the cock is crowing aloof!
Till the stars shine through the roof!
Along with the barbarous Turk,
If this is Christian work.
Till the brain begins to swim;
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Band and gusset and seam,
And sew them on in a dream!