Imatges de pàgina

he was wont to tell his friends, that he was never fit to talk, till he had wormed his arın. He doubtless, therefore, used a more violent motion with his arms and hands than is common among us.

And Cicero calls the arm projected, 66 The orator's weapon.” Indeed, to'extend or brandish the arm carries in it an air of command and authority, which was not unbecoming the character of Philip, who was a person of the highest rank and quality. And, therefore, young orators both among the Greeks and Romans, for a time, used no motion of the arm, but kept it confined in their garment, as an argument of modesty, till age and experience allowed them to use greater freedom. Nor was it uncommon for the ancient orators to express the excess of their passions by tears. They thought nothing unbecoming, that was natural; and judged it agreeable to the characters even of the bravest men, to be touched with a sense of humanity in fgreat calamities. And, therefore, we find that Homer and Virgil make their greatest heroes shed tears on some occasions.

The other sort of gestures above mentioned are such as arise from imitation. As where the orator describes some action, or personates another speaking. But bere great care is to be taken not to over-act his part, by running into any ludicrous or theatrical mimicry. It is sufficient for him so to represent things of this nature, as may best convey the image of them in a lively manner to the minds of the hearers; without any such change either of his actions or voice, as are not suitable to his own character.


VOICE AND GESTURE. The subject of pronunciation is of such great importance to an orator, that it can neither be too clearly laid down, nor too strongly inculcated. If we enquire into the causes of that surprising power it has over us, and by what means it so strongly affects us ; this may, in some measure, appear, by reflecting on the frame and constitution of human nature. For our infinitely great 'and

wise maker has so formed us, that not only the actions of the body are subject to the direction of the mind, but we are likewise endued with various passions and affections, that excite us to pursue those things, which make for our happiness, and avoid others, which are hurtful to us. And as we are made for society, we are also furnished with speech, which enables us to converse one with another. And such is the contrivance of our make, and influence of our minds upon the mechanism of our bodies, that we can not only communicate our thoughts to each other, but likewise our passions. For, as Cicero well observes, 6. Every motion of the mind has naturally its peculiar countenance, voice, and gesture; and the whole body, every position of the face, and sound of the voice, like the strings of an instrument, act agreeably to the impression they receive from the mind.” Nor is this all; for as every one is differently affected himself, he is capable of making the like impressions upon others, and exciting them to the same emotions, which he feels himself. As when two instruments are set to the same pitch, the strings of the one being touched, produce in the other the like sound. This common sympathy in the human frame shews how necessary it is, that an orator should not only, in general, be well acquainted with the rules of pronunciation, but likewise know how to use them as occasion requires. For a general knowledge of the rules of art is not of itself sufficient to perfect an artist with. out a further acquaintance with the particular application of them to their several cases and circumstances. Thus, for instance, it is not eno for an orator to un. derstand all the beauties and ornaments of language, and which of them are suited to form the several kinds of style, unless he can likewise accommodate each of those characters to their proper subject. And so likewise in pronunciation, he ought not only to know the several qualities of the voice, and proper gestures of the body, but also when and where to make use of them.

For not only different subjects, but also different parts of the same discourse, and even particular expressions often require a difference in the manner of pronunciation, both as to the voice and gesture. Having, therefore, treated on both these parts of pronunciation in general; it may



not be amiss now to consider how they are to be applied in each of the two respects last mentioned.

We shall begin with the parts of a discourse, and treat of them in their natural order. And here the view and design of the speaker in each of them, will easily help us to see the proper manner of pronunciation.

Let us suppose, then, a person presenting himself be. fore 'an assembly, in order to deliver a discourse to them. It cannot be decent to begin immediately to speak, as soon as he makes his appearance. He will first settle himself, compose his countenance, and take a respectful view of his audience. This prepares them for silence and attention. To begin immediately, and hurry on without first allowing either himself or his hearers time to com. pose themselves, looks as if he were rather performing a task, than had any design to please them; which will be apt to make them as uneasy till he has done, as he seems to be himself. Persons commonly form some opinion of a speaker from their first view of him, which prejudices them either in his favour or otherwise, as to what he says afterwards. il grave and sedate aspect inclines them to think him serious, that he has considered his subject, and may have something to offer worthy their attention. A haughty and forbidding air occasions distaste, as it looks like disrespect. A wandering giddy countenance argues levity. A dejected drooping appearance is apt to raise contempt, unless where the subject is melancholy. And a cheerful aspect is a proper prelude to a pleasant and agreeable argument.

To speak low at first has the appearance of modesty, and is best for the voice, which, by rising gradually, will, with more ease be carried to any pitch that may be afterwards necessary, without straining it. However, some variation of the voice is always proper, to give it harmony. Sometimes, indeed, it is not improper for an orator to set out with a considerable degree of warmth, expressed by such an elevation of the voice, and such gestures of the body, as are suited to represent the emotions of his mind. But this is not ordinarily the case. We have some few instances of this in Cicero, as in his oration for Roscius Amerinus, where the heinousness of the charge could not but excite his indignation against

the accusers. And so likewise in that against Piso, and the two first against Cataline, which begin in the same manner, from the resentment he had conceived against their persons and conduct.

In the narration' the voice ought to be raised to a somewhat higher pitch. Matters of fact should be related in a very plain and distinct manner, with a proper stress and emphasis laid upon each circumstance, accompanied with a suitable address and motion of the body to engage the attention of the hearers. For there is a certain grace in the telling of a story, by which, those who are masters of it, seldom fail to recommend themselves in conversation. The beauty of it consists in an easy and familiar manner of expression, attended with such actions and gestures, as are suited to the nature of the things related, and help to enliven each particular circumstance and part of the discourse.

The proposition or subject of the discourse should be delivered with a very clear and audible voice. For if this be not plainly heard, all that follows in proof of it cannot well be understood. And for the same reason, if it be divided into several parts or branches, they should each be expressed very deliberately and distinctly. But as the design here is only information, there can be little room for gesture.

The confirmation admits of great variety, both of the voice and gestures. In reasoning the voice is quick and pungent, and should be enforced with suitable actions. And as descriptions likewise have often a place here, in pointing out the images of things, the orator should so endeavour to adapt both his voice, and the motions of his body, particularly the turn of his eyes and action of his hands, as may best help the imagination of his liearers. Where he introduces another person speaking, or addresses an absent person, it should be with some degree of imitation. And in dialogue the voice should alter with the parts. When he digresses from his subject, in any degree, his voice should be lively and cheerful, since that is rather designed for entertainment than instruction.

In confutation, the arguments of the adverse party ought first to be repeated in a plain and distinct manner, that the speaker may not seem to conceal or avoid the force of them. But should they appear trifling and 11. worthy of a serious answer, then a facetious manner, hoth of expression and gesture, may be the properest way to confute them.

For to attempt to answer in a grave and serious manner, what is in itself empty and ludicrous, is apt to create a suspicion of its having more in it, than it really has. So when Tubero, in his accusation of Ligarius before Cæsar, had made it part of his charge, that Ligarius was in Africa during some part of the civil war between Cæsar and Pompey, Cicero, in his answer, not thinking it deserved a serious reply, contents himself with barely mentioning it ironically. For thus he begins his defence of Ligarius; “ Cæsar, my kinsman, Tubero has laid before you a new crime, and till this day unheard-of, that Q. Ligarius was in Africa." Every one must easily perceive, by the manner in which these words were pronounced, that the design of them was to make the charge appear ridiculous. But caution should be used not to represent any argument of weight in a ludicrous way, lest by so doing, the speaker should more expose himself than his adversary.

In the conclusion, both the voice and gesture should be brisk and sprightly, which may seem to arise from a sense of the speaker's opinion of the goodness of his cause, and that he has offered nothing but what is agrecable to reason and truth; as likewise from his assurance, that the audience agree with him in the same sentiments. In every undertaking that requires care and thought, persons are apt at first to be sedate and moderate; but when it draws to an end, and is nearly finished, it is very natural to appear blithe and gay. If an enumeration of the principal arguments of the discourse be convenient, as it sometimes is, where they are pretty numerous or the discourse is long, they ought to be expressed in the most clear and forcible manner. And if there be an address to the passions, both the voice and gesture must be suited to the nature of them, of which more will be said presently.

We proceed now to the consideration of particular expressions. And what we shall offer here will be first in relation to single words, then sentences, and lastly the passions.

1. Even in those sentences, which are expressed in the most even and sedate manner, there is often one or more

« AnteriorContinua »