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Hark! hark !-the horrid sound
Has raised up his head,
As awaked from the dead :
" See the furies arise !
How they hiss in their hair,
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand !
And, unburied, remain
To the valiant crew!
How they point to the Persian abodes,
Thais led the way,
To light him to his
Gesture is the art of expressing mental emotions by the action or disposition of the body. It has been justly called the language of nature, to distinguish it from the arbitrary and more limited language of speech.
Quintillian, in the last chapter of the eleventh book of his Institutions, has prescribed a great many rules concerning action and gesticulation; and several elaborate treatises have been written upon this branch of oratory by modern elocutionists. Dr. Blair, however, is of opinion that such rules delivered either by the voice or on paper, can be of but little use, unless persons saw them exemplified before their eyes. The following general hints may, nevertheless, prove serviceable to the student. All the gestures and motions of the speaker, ought to carry that kind of expression which nature has dictated to him; and unless this is the case, it is impossible, by means of any study, to avoid appearing stiff and forced. The speaker should study to preserve as much dignity as possible in the whole attitude of the body. An erect posture is generally to be chosen ; standing firm, so as to have the fullest and freest command of all his motions; any inclination which is used should be forwards towards the hearers, which is a natural expression of earnestness. As for the countenance, the chief rule is that it should correspond with the nature of the discourse; and when no particular emotion is expressed, a serious and manly look is always the best. The eyes should never be fixed close on any one object, but move easily round the audience. In the motions made with the hands consist the chief part of gesture in speaking; the ancients condemned all motions performed by the left hand alone; but although they may have been too fastidious in this case, it is natural for the right hand to be more frequently employed. Warm emotions demand the motion of both hands corresponding together; but whether the speaker gesticulates with one or both hands, it is an important rule, that all his motions should be easy and free from all constraint. Narrow and straitened movements are generally ungraceful;
for which reason, motions made with the hands are directed to proceed from the shoulder rather than from the elbow. Perpendicular movements too, with the hands, that is in the straight line up and down, are seldom good. Oblique motions are, in general, the most graceful: too sudden and nimble motions should be avoided.
Shakespeare's advice upon this subject is admirable: “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus; but use all gently: for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance, that may give
it smoothness. O! it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings; who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows, and noise : I would have such a fellow whipped for o'er-doing Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor ; with this special observance, that you o'er-step not the modesty of nature: for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing; whose end, both at the first, and now, was, and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature ; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure. Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one, must, in your allowance, o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O! there be players, that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly,—not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, Pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed, that I have thought some of Nature's journeymen had made them, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. And let those that play your clowns, speak no more than is put down for them: for there be of them, that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too; though, in the meantime, some necessary question of the play be then to be considered; that's villanous; and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.”—Hamlet, Act III. Scene 3.
PROSE EXTRACTS UPON SACRED SUBJECTS.
I.-MOTION, A PROOF OF DEITY. THERE cannot be a clearer proof of a Deity, than the existence of motion. This evidently appears not to be essential to matter, because we see a very great portion of the material universe without it. Not being, therefore, an original state of matter, but merely an accident, it must be an effect. But since matter, not being intelligent, cannot be the cause of its own motion, and yet we cannot conceive of any atom beginning to move without a cause, that cause must be found out of itself. Whatever may be the nearest cause, or the number of secondary causes; though innumerable portions of matter may be reciprocally moved; though the series of links in the chain, through which motion is propagated, may be indefinitely multiplied; we must, in order to arrive at the origin of these various phenomena, ascend to mind, terminate our inquiries in spirit; nor can we account for the beginning, much less for the continuance and extension of motion, unless we trace it to the will of that Being who is the Cause of all causes, the great Original Mover in the universe. Power is, therefore, the attribute of mind; instrumentality, that of body. When we read in the Old Testament of the most exalted achievement by angelic spirits, we cannot suppose that it is owing to any gross materialism which they possess : on the contrary,
* For specimens from the works of French writers upon moral and sacred subjects, the reader may consult with advantage, “ Leçons Françaises et de Littérature et de Morale, by Dr. H. S. Turrell. 3rd Edition.—Published by Relfe, Brothers. they have no bodies capable of being investigated by our senses; and in proportion as they are more attenuated, do they possess greater power. We have reason to believe that all finite minds are under the direction of the supreme Power; who, without destroying their accountability, or interfering with their free agency, makes all their operations subservient to the accomplishment of his counsels. Hence all opposition to the Deity is beautifully represented by Isaiah, as if the instrument should rebel against him that wields it, as if “the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up;” or the staff should lift up itself against him that is no wood.” (Isaiah x. 15; Bishop Lowth’s translation.) All created beings, in this respect, are but instruments in the hands of the Deity, whose will is sovereign over them.
The Divine Being, as the great Father of spirits, combines within himself all the separate energies found in the universe. He is the source, origin, and fountain of all power diffused through creation. The very minds which he has formed, are kept in mysterious subordination, and can never overstep the bounds he has assigned them. “Once have I heard this, that power belongs to God.” - Rev. Rt. Hall.
II.-SUITABLE REFLECTIONS FOR A LEISURE
HOUR. Son of man! for a season forego thy pursuits ; summon thy thoughts around thee, and hold secret communion with thy soul. Thou art weak! strength is imparted from on high. Thou art poor! riches are given by the Almighty. Thou art ignorant! there is a volume written for thine instruction.
Son of man! Goodly is thy form, and fair thy proportion. Thou walkest erect in the pride of thy strength, and dominion is given thee over the creatures of the earth. Thou bendest the neck of the bull; thou quellest the lion in his rage. The mountains are removed by thy might. Thou descendest into the bowels of the earth, and traversest the mighty deep in defiance of its waves.