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Prop yer eyes wide open, Joey,
Fur I've brought you sumpin great.
Don't you take no int'rest? Wait!
Ain't them scrumptious? Ain't them high?
There-poor little Joe!-don't cry!-Peleg Arkwright.
We are two travellers, Roger and I.
Roger's my dog. Come here, you scamp.
Five years we've tramped through wind and weather,
And ate, and drank, and starved together.
We've learned what comfort is, I tell you:
A fire to thaw our thumbs (poor fellow,
The paw he holds up there has been frozen),
(This out-door business is bad for strings),
Then a few nice buckwheats hot from the griddle,
No, thank you, sir, I never drink.
Roger and I are exceedingly moral,
Aren't we, Roger? See him wink.
Well, something hot then, we won't quarrel.
What a pity, sir, that dogs can't talk;
He understands every word that's said,
And he knows good milk from water and chalk.
How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him, for he is a Christian!
If I can catch him once upon the hip
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
Cursed be my tribe
If I forgive him!
[TO ANTONIO.] Rest you fair, good signior;
Didst thou not hear a noise ?
I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry.
MACB. As I descended?
LADY M. Ay.
MACB. Hark! Who lies i' the second chamber?
Pantomime has another office besides expressing emotions; it is very useful in assisting us to convey vivid impressions of what we may be describing. This function is called imitation or description. Gestures of indication are descriptive in their character. We convey impressions of great size, volume, majesty, by broad expansion of the arms; we bring the tips of the fingers of both hands near together to describe small, insignificant objects; when using one hand, the thumb touching the little finger suggests very tiny objects.
Actions that we call functional, like pushing, pulling, hammering, twisting, the action of the hand in writing, playing an instrument, waving a handkerchief, and a hundred others, are used imitatively.
The tremolo of the hand-that is, a rapid movement to and fro sideways-suggests many similar tremulous movements in nature, the ripple of water, of sunshine, the movement of the leaves. The tremolo should be very delicate, and requires much flexibility at the wrist.
All emotional manifestations are used imitatively when we describe an emotion in another. Descriptive actions of all kinds must not be overdone. Broad description is allowable only in comedy. In serious reading suggest rather than imitate: the more delicate the suggestion the more artistic will be your expres
The voice also has an imitative function. All reproductions of peculiar qualities, as of an old man's voice, nasal, throaty, or flat tones, the vocal characteristics of different nations and races, are vocal imitations. The volume of the voice is sometimes made use of imitatively, the tone becoming more sonorous in describing grandeur, majesty, and more than usually delicate in suggesting delicate things. We often hear vocal imitations of various sounds in nature, the calls of animals, chirping of birds, the vibration of bells, and the like. Use imitation sparingly.
It is very essential in description, as, indeed, in all
recitation, that you yourself see vividly the picture or scene that you wish to portray. Cultivate your imagination until each object and person in your story appears as clearly before your mind's eye as if you had at some time actually seen them. You should be able to describe the dress and peculiarities of appearance of a character even in many details that the author has not suggested, and fill out the barest outline of a scene with mountains, trees, houses, furniture, or whatever would be appropriate to it. Have, too, a definite locality for everything in your picture. Do not place a thing at your left that a moment before was at your right, nor one at your feet that was just now a hundred yards away. Bear in mind, however, that whenever you, as spectator, are supposed to change your position, everything in the picture also changes its position relative to you. For instance, in the opening lines of "Barbara Frietchie" the spectator describes the village of Frederick and its surroundings from an imaginary distance of several miles, but soon he finds himself in the village itself.
Generally when one person takes two characters, as would be done in reciting the tent scene in "Julius Cæsar," it is customary to indicate the change from one character to the other by a change in the direction of attention; that is, if Brutus is speaking toward the left, Cassius, who is supposed to be on that side of the platform, would speak, when his turn came, toward the right. In impersonation, as in reciting dialogues,
we do not speak to the audience, but to the imaginary Brutus or Cassius, a little to one side. In descriptive recitation, narrative or address, we keep the attention directed toward the audience, simply glancing at the objects or persons described, and looking back at once toward the audience, but sustaining the gesture, if any is used, until the verbal description is complete. We have said that an attitude of the body should always be sustained until the emotion prompting it is superseded by another emotion; so a gesture, which, if sustained at all, becomes at once an attitude, is subject to the same law.
Be careful to locate objects and persons at the side rather than directly in front, where your audience is. An angle of from thirty to forty-five degrees to the right or left is usually the most convenient one for descriptive purposes.
TO THE TEACHER:--Descriptive expression is valuable, both as a means of developing imagination and of giving command of gesture, but should not be carried too far. A very common fault with readers is the too frequent use of descriptive expression in emotional passages. The more ideal the poem, or the greater the strength of the subjective element, the further should be the expression from the literal. In recitation or oratory, pantomime of any sort should be reserved always for that which the words cannot fully express; otherwise it is an impertinence. Anything in voice or action that distracts the attention of the audience from the matter to the manner defeats the purpose of the speaker. There is, however, an emotional manner of performing a descriptive or a functional action that may redeem it from the appearance of artificiality, but the consideration of such delicate points of expression is out of place in this manual.