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The shout of Milton's angels is still more terrible:
"At which the universal host sent up
A shout that tore hell's concave, and beyond
A few selections from the poets will illustrate the effects of sweetness, melody, and softness as vocal qualities.
"Thy voice is sweet, as if it took
Its music from thy face."
"Who starves the ears she feeds, and makes them hungry,
The more she gives them speech."
"She spake as with the voice
Of spheral harmony, which greets the soul
When at the hour of death the sav'd one knows
"It was like the stealing
Of summer wind through wreathed shell;
Low voices with the ministering hand
Hung round the sick."-Tennyson's "Princess."
Oh! what a tide of recollections rush
A good voice is one of Nature's gifts, but a poor, weak one, may be very much improved by a proper regard for the rules for its management. It is only necessary to allude to correct articulation, which gives the voice sweetness and strength; proper pronunciation and accent; due regard to pauses and breathing; propriety of emphasis; ease and melody of pitch; quantity or volume as adapted to subject and place; modulation of tone, avoiding disagreeable monotony; variety and rate
Next to the voice as a means of expression, no one will dispute the power of the countenance. Cicero gives it this rank, and Quintilian speaks strongly of its importance. He says: "Upon the countenance the hearers depend, and into it they examine before the speaker opens his lips. The countenance is the one object of approbation or dislike; it gives a deeper knowledge of the speaker's sentiments than his words, and often says more than language can express.'
"To man alone is given a face;
To other animals mouths or beaks."
Herder gives the following beautiful description of the features: "Observe the soul beaming through this divine countenance. The thoughtful brow, the penetrating eye, the spirit-breathing lips, the deep intelligence of the assembled features-how they all conspiring speak. What harmony! A single ray, including all possible colors. A picture of the fair, immeasurable mind within."
To the orator or reader the features furnish a means of rousing the emotions and sympathies of his hearers which he cannot overrate, and gives him a power over them not otherwise obtained.
Why was Mark Antony able to sway at will the rude Roman populace, after the eloquent Brutus had in a most convincing speech proved the death of Cæsar necessary for the freedom of Rome? Note in recounting what Cæsar had done for Rome, he loses his voice in weeping; [CONVOCATION, SIG. 7.]
entreats the people to bear with him; turns to the dead body before him, and says:
My heart is in the coffin there with Cæsar,
See the effect of his appearance on the rough people listening. One remarks:
"Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping."
How he stirs up to mutiny by his touches of pathos; by his own giving way to his feelings; by his convulsive utterances. That this scene was a profound piece of acting, is shown in his remark after turning from the people:
Now let it work: mischief thou art afoot;
In the celebrated Areopagitican Court, the causes were heard in the night, "and the pleaders were obliged to divest their speeches of every oratorical ornament, lest they should be supposed to influence the rigid justice of that high tribunal."
Nothing could more strongly illustrate the resistless power of facial expression than its public acknowledgment, in this instance, as a possible means of turning aside the direct course of justice.
The poets in all ages recognize this influence. The following quotations testify the combined effect of the animated features, each of which has its peculiar part in the harmony of the whole.
"A single look more marks the internal woe,
Up to the face the quick sensation flies,
And darts its meaning from the speaking eyes.
Love, transport, madness, anger, scorn, despair,
And all the passions, all the soul is there."
"I do believe thee;
I saw the heart in his face."-Shak.
"The heart of a man changeth his countenance, whether for good or evil."-Son of Sirach.
"Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
May read strange matters."-Shak. Macbeth, I, 5.
Clarence says to his murderers:
"How deadly dost thou speak!
Your eyes do menace: Why look you pale?
"Prayer is the upward glancing of the eye,
The expressiveness of the eye can scarcely be better described than in the words of Lavater: "The images of our secret agitations are particularly painted in the eyes. The eye appertains more to the soul than any other organ; seems affected by, and to participate in all its emotions; expresses sensations the most lively, passions the most tumultuous, feelings the most delightful, and sentiments the most delicate. It explains them in all their force, in all their purity, as they take birth, and transmits them by traits so rapid as to infuse into other minds the fire, the activity, the very image with which themselves are inspired. The eye at once receives and reflects the intelligence of thought and warmth of sensibility; it is the sense of the mind, the tongue of the understanding."
Numberless references to this feature might be adduced.
"An eye like Mars, to threaten and command."
"What an eye she hath! Methinks it sounds a parley of provocation."
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold; 'tis not to me she speaks;
Spenser thus describes a madman:
"His burning eyes, whom bloody strakes did stain,
-Fairy Queen. Book II, Canto IV.
"Thou tell'st me there is murder in mine eye:
Should be called tyrants, butchers, murderers!
Now I do frown on thee with all my heart;
And, if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee;
Or, if thou can'st not, O, for shame, for shame,
Lie not, to say mine eyes are murderers.
Now show the wound mine eyes have made in thee:
Some scar of it; lean but on a rush,
The cicatrice and capable impressure
Thy palm some moments keep: but now mine eyes,
Nor, I am sure, there is no force in eyes,
Cresollius thus speaks of the mouth: "It is next to the eyes the most important part of the countenance. It is the vestibule of the soul, the door of eloquence, and the place in which the thoughts hold high debate; the seat of grace and sweetness; smiles and good temper play around it; composure calms it; and discretion keeps the door of its lips."
The mouth is especially favorable to the display of feeling. Its mobility and softness allow an unlimited play of all the shades of joy, sorrow, scorn, pity, and every sentiment that can agitate the breast. The extremes of joy and grief are indicated by the angle of the corners of the mouth, which in the former raised, causing the muscles of the cheeks to dimple in childhood, or in adult years forming the semi-circular hollows which are so closely associated with laughter and mirth; but in the latter depressed drawing down with them all the muscles of the face, and needing no words to make known the suffering soul within.
One who has ever heard Frederick Douglass speak, can never forget the impression made by the thin upper lip drawn down in the utterance of his bitter denunciations. His inouth alone expresses the wrongs he has suffered, his hatred of oppression, and defiance of all law that would interfere with freedom.
Beauty and expression of the mouth prepossess in favor of a speaker. Cressollius gives the names of persons celebrated for graces of the mouth.
"The Athenian orator Alcibiades had such a prepossessing mouth and language that none could resist his eloquence.
Pliny thus describes the mouth of Pompey. "His mouth of probity, formed by some diviner clay, not by the hasty art of Prometheus, but by the dedalian and perfect hand of nature, tinged with the colors of the graces, harmoniously sculptured in every line, penciled with the respected border of modesty as with a list of purple, preserved by wisdom and discretion."
The nostrils cannot be disregarded as instruments of expression. Their delicate and flexible cartilages give them a peculiar power of dilation and contraction under the influence of varying emotions. Terror expands them, while contempt or disgust draws them closely and firmly inward.
Nor must the brows be forgotten or omitted from the chorus, where they always add their note to the general harmony. No passion or emotion could be fully represented upon the countenance without the concurrence of the brows; their lowering in anger, their smoothness in joy, their elevation joined with the widely opened eye in surprise, and their almost independent questionings in doubt or suspense. And like the low accompaniment surrounding the whole, is the unobstrusive expressiveness of the cheeks, with their varying muscular motion, their quick, sympathetic changes of color-the palor, and the sudden, suffusing blush. Thus is the human countenance a complex instrument, formed to act with all its parts in harmony with the speaking voice.
But one more element is necessary to form the complete trio of expression.
Under the term gesture, is comprehended the action and position of all parts of the body. It is the language of nature, and like expression of the countenance, is universal. Communication by spoken or written language, with the natives of a foreign land, necessitates a knowledge of their tongue, but these signs are understood by all alike. A menace uttered by the voice must be translated to be understood by one of another nation, but the clenched hand or threatening scowl needs no interpreter, and a friendly nod and hand-shake could scarcely be misunderstood, even by a savage. A child interprets a negative shake of the head, the frown or smile, long before it understands the significance of words.
The importance of gesture may be seen from the estimate in which it was held by the ancients. They recited entire dramas without the aid of words, making themselves intelligible to all by their gestures alone. Bacon relates the following incident in his work on gesture:
"A barbarian prince visiting Rome in Nero's time, after witnessing one of these exhibitions, requested the emperor to allow him to take home with him the principal actor, saying that he had many visitors from neighboring provinces whose languages he could not understand; that it was difficult for him to procure interpreters, and he thought that by aid of this pantomime he could easily make himself understood."
The variety of gestures of which the human figure is capable may be accounted as almost infinite. The head, lower limbs, body, arms, hands, and fingers, each has its particular part to perform, and all combine into one harmonious whole. Grace and dignity, as well as stability, are expressed in the positionsof the feet and lower limbs. The upright position of body and shoulders, gives the idea of strength and independence, while the movements of the hand are so varied, that almost every emo
tion may be expressed by them. By their aid we promise, threaten, demand, supplicate, question or deny. Their language is so varied and so well recognized by all nations, that Quintilian characterizes it "as the universal language of all mankind." "The hands," he says, "not only assist the speaker, but seem themselves to speak."
Cresollius is still more enthusiastic. "The hand, the admirable contrivance of the Divine Artist-the minister of reason and wisdom. Without the hand, no eloquence."
Another old writer asserts that "If men had been formed without hands, they would never have been endowed with an articulate voice." The Egyptians represented language by a hand placed under a tongue.
"Contention, play, love, revels, change, and rest,
Cresollius also says:
While natural and appropriate gesticulation inconceivably increases the effect of the words of the speaker or reader, nothing can do more injury than gestures, awkward, uncalled-for, and forced. "Suit the action to the word, and the word to the action," says Hamlet, and this advice disregarded leads to many an absurdity.
I once heard a clergyman repeat the beautiful scriptural invitation, thus-(repelling gesture)-"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Lord Byron thus speaks of the English clergy:
"In point of sermons, 'tis confest,
They make the best, and preach the worst."
Lord Chesterfield advises a young man to thus educate himself: "If you would either please in a private company or persuade a public assembly, air, looks, gesture, graces, enunciation, proper accents, just emphasis and timeful cadences, are full as necessary as the matter itself."
It is argued that the study of gesture makes a stiff, unnatural speaker. Let the example of those who have moved the world answer the objection. Prof. Hiram Corson, of Cornell, in speaking upon the subject of reading, thus sums up the matter:
"Without the ability to give a proper elocutionary expression to a literary art-product, the study of it, however minute and searching, must be more or less imperfect, as would be the study of a musical composition without a vocal rendering. Every one who knows anything about poetry, is aware of the effects lurking in the mazes of rhythm, in the vowel sounds, in rhyme, assonance and alliteration, in unexpected pauses, in the acceleration and retardation of the verse, in the melodious distribution of emphasis, and in many elements of poetic form. All of these must be vocally realized before their power as elements of æsthetic