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Stooping forward, condescension or compassion.
The Lower Limbs.
Their firm position, signifies courage or obstinacy.
These are a few of the simple gestures which may be termed significant.
It may be proper also to enumerate some of the complex significant gestures.
Terror excites the person who suffers under it, to avoid or to escape from the dreaded object. If it be supposed to be some dangerous reptile on the ground, and very near, the expression is represented by the figure starting back, and looking downwards. If the danger threaten from a distance, the terror arising is expressed by the figure looking forwards, and not starting back but merely in the retired position. But if the dread of impending death from the hand of an enemy awakens this passion, the coward flies.
• Aversion is expressed by two gestures ; first the hand held vertical, is retracted towards the face, the eyes and head are for a moment directed eagerly towards the object, and the feet advance. T'hen suddenly the eyes are withdrawn, the head is averted, the feet retire, and the arms are projected out extended against the object, the hands vertical,
Horror, which is aversion or astonishment mingled with terror, is seldom capable of retreating, but
remains petrified in one attitude, with the eyes riv. eted on its object, and the arms held forward to guard the person, the hands vertical, and the whole frame trembling.
Admiration, if of surrounding natural objects of a pleasing kind, holds both hands vertical and across, and moves them outwards extended. If admiration arise from some extraordinary or unexpected circumstances, the hands are thrown up supine elevated, together with the countenance and eyes
Veneration crosses both hands on the breast, casts down the eyes slowly, and bows the head.
Deprecation advances in an extended position of the feet, approaching to kneeling, clasps the hands forcibly together, throws back the head, sinking it between the shoulders, and looks earnestly up to the person implored.
In appealing to heaven the right hand is first laid upon the breast, the left is projected supine upwards, the eyes first directed forwards, then upwards. In the appeal to conscience, the right hand is laid on the breast, the left drops unmoved, the eyes are fixed upon the person addressed ; sometimes both hands press the breast.
Shame in the extreme, sinks on the knee, and covers the eyes with both hands.
Grief arising from sudden and afflicting intelligence, covers the eyes with one hand, advances for. ward and throws back the other hand.
Attention demanding silence, holds the finger on the lips, and leans forward, sometimes repressing with the left hand.
Distress when extreme, lays the palm of the hand upon the forehead, throws the head and body back, and retires with a long and sudden step.
Deliberation on ordinary subjects holds the chin, and sets the arms a-kimbo.
Self-Sufficiency folds the arms, and sets himself on his centre.
Pride throws back the body, holds the head high,
and nearly presents forward his elbows a-kimbo.
Melancholy is a feeble and passive affection; it is attended by a total relaxation of the nerves; the head hangs to the side next the heart, the eyes turned upon the object, or if that is absent, fixed on the ground, the hands hanging down by their own weight without effort, and joined loosely together.
Anxiety is of a different character, it is restless and active, and manifest by the extension of the muscles ; the eye is filled with fire, the breathing is quick, the motion is hurried, the head is thrown back, the whole body is extended. Like a sick man, the sufferer tosses incessantly, and finds himself uneasy in every situation.
These are some of the most obvious simple and complex significant gestures.
The Grace of Action.
The grace of oratorical action consists chiefly in the facility, the freedom, the variety, and the simplicity of those gestures which illustrate the discourse. Graceful position precedes graceful action. Graceful action must be performed with facility, because ine appearance of great efforts is incompatible with ease, which is one constituent part of grace.-Freedom is also necessary to gracefulness of action. No gestures can be graceful, which are confined with external circumstances, or restrained by the mind. Variety is likewise indispensible for the maintenance of grace in rhetorical action. The iteration of the same gesture or set of gestures, however graceful in themselves, betrays a poverty in resources, which is altogether prejudicial to the speaker. They have an effect even worse than monotony of tones, which may be pardoned as arising from natural deficiency, but a fine gesture can be assumed only for ornament, and may be repeated to disgust.
But simplicity and truth of manner, if not constituting grace in themselves are inseparable from it. The gestures must appear to be used only for the better supporting the sentiments of the mind, and for no other purpose. Gestures which are manifestly contrived for the mere display of the person, or for the exhibition of some foppery, as a delicate white hand, a fine handkerchief, &c. instantly offend. Fine gestures are to be used only, when the mind is elevated, and the sentiments magnificent; and energetic gestures, when it is ardent and earnest.
To simplicity of gesture is opposed affectation ; that falsehood of action, which destroys every pretension to genuine grace. The more showy and fine gestures are, unless they belong indispensibly to the subject, to the affection of the mind, and to the char. acter of the speaker, the more do they offend the judicious by their manifest affectation. If dignity be. assumed where none is found in the sentiment, pathos without any thing interesting, vehemence in tri. fles, and solemnity upon common-place; such affectation may impose upon the ignorant, but makes “the judicious grieve.” Simplicity which constitutes the true grace in manners and in dress, should equally be observed in the action of an orator. Early good instructions, with constant practice and imitation of the best models, will establish habits of graceful action, with the greatest certainty of success.
CHAP. I.- Paragraphs.
Education and instruction are the means, the one by use, the other by precept, to make our natural faculty of reason both the better and the sooner to judge between truth and error, good and evil.
He who, in the same given time, can produce more than many others, has vigour : he who can produce more and better, has talents ; he who can produce what none else can, has genius. .
The eloquence dictated by an unfeeling heart, mistakes bombast for sublimity ; rant, for strong feelings ; the cant and whine of a mendicant, for the pathetic. Such a speaker may excite the admiration of some, the contempt of many, but the genuine feelings of none.
The chief security against the fruitless anguish of impatience, must arise from frequent reflexion, on the wisdom of the God of nature : in whose hand are riches and poverty, honour and disgrace, pleasure and pain, life and death.
Youth should be addressed with openness and affability; the aged with meekness and modesty ; the dull, with simplicity and perseverance ; the intelligent, with perspicuity and precision; the diffident