« הקודםהמשך »
action, in public discourse. The best rule is, attend to the looks and gesture, in which earnestness, indignation, compassion, or any other emotion, discovers itself to most advantage in the common intercourse of men ; and let these be your model. A public speaker must however adopt that manner, which is most natural to himself. His motions and gestures ought all to exhibit that kind of expression, which nature has dictated to him; and, unless this be the case, no study can prevent their appearing stiff and forced. But, though nature is the basis, on which every grace of gesture must be founded; yet there is room for some improvements of
The study of action consists chiefly in guarding against awkward and disagreeable motions, and in learning to perform such, as are natural to the speaker, in the most graceful manner. Numerous are the rules, which writers have laid down for the attainment of a proper gesticulation. But written instructions on this fabject can be of little service. To become useful, they must be exemplified. A few of the simplest precepts however may be observed with advantage.
Even ry speaker should study to preserve as much dignis? ty, as possible, in the attitude of his body. He should generally prefer an erect posture ; his position should be firm, that he may have the fullest and freest command of all his motions. If any inclination be used, it should be toward the hearers, which is a natural exe pression of earnestness. The countenance fhould corFefpond with the nature of the discourse; and, when no
particular emotion is expressed, a serious and manly look is always to be preferred. The eyes should never be fixed entirely on any one obje&t, but move easily round the audience. In motion, made with the hands, consists the principal part of gesture in speaking. It is natural for the right hand to be employed more frequently, than the left. Warm emotions require the exercise of them both together. But, whether a speaker gesticulate with one, or with both his hands, it is important, that all his motions be easy' and unrestrained. Narrow and confined movements are usually ungraceful; and consequently motions, made with the hands, should proceed from the shoulder rather, than from the elbow. Perpendicular movements are to be avoided.. Oblique motions are most pleafing and graceful. Sudden and rapid motions are seldom good. Earnestness, can be fully expressed without their assistance.
We cannot conclude this subject without earnestly ada monishing every speaker, to guard against affectation, which is the destruction of good delivery, Let his, manner, whatever it be, be his own; neither imitated: from another, nor taken from some imaginary model, which is unnatural to him. Whatever is native, though attended by several defects, is likely to please ; because it shows us the man į and because it has the appear. ance of proceeding from the heart. To attain a deliv.. ery extremely correct and graceful is, what few can capeet; since so many natural talents niust concur in. its formation. But to acquire a forcible and persuasive manner is within the power of most persons. They need only to dismiss bad habits ; follow nature; and speak in public, as they do in private, when they speak in earnest and from the heart.
MEANS OF IMPROVING IN ELOQUENCE.
1 O those, who are anxious to excel in any of the higher kinds of oratory, nothing is more necessary, than to cultivate habits of the several virtues, and to refine and improve their moral feelings. A true orator must possess generous sentiments, warm feelings, and a mind turned toward admiration of those great and high objects, which men are by nature formed to venerate. Connected with the manly virtues, he should possess Arong and tender sensibility to all the injuries, distres. fes, and forrows of his fellow creatures.
Next to moral qualifications, what is most requisite for an orator, is a fund of knowledge. There is no art, by which eloquence can be taught in any sphere, without a fufficient acquaintance with what belongs to that sphere. Attention to the ornaments of style can only asliit an orator in setting off to advantage the stock of materials, which he posseffes ; but the materials theme felves must be derived from other sources, than from rhetoric. A pleader must make himself completely ac. quainted with the law ; he must possess all that learning and experience, which can be useful for supporting a cause, or convincing a judge. A preacher must apply himself closely to the study of divinity, of practical religion, of morals, and of human nature ; that he may be rich in all topics of instruction and persuasion. He, who wishes to excel in the supreme council of the nation, or in any public assembly, should be thoroughly acquainted with the business, that belongs to fuch assembly ; and should attend with accuracy to all the facts, which may be the subject of question or delibera
Beside the knowledge, peculiar to his profession, a public speaker should be acquainted with the general circle of polite literature.' Poetry he will find 'useful for embellishing his style, for suggesting lively images, or pleasing illusions. History may be still more ad. vantageous ; as the knowledge of facts, of eminent characters, and of the course of human affairs, finds place on many occasions. Deficiency of knowledge even in fubje&s, not immediately connected with his profeflion, will expose a public speaker to many disad. vantages, and give his rivals, who are better qualified, a decided fuperiority. . . • To every one, who wishes to excel in eloquence, application and industry cannot be too much recommended. Without this it is impossible to excel in any thing. No one ever became a distinguished pleader, or preach
er, or speaker in any assembly, without previous labor and application. Industry indeed is not only necessary to every valuable acquisition ; but it is designed by Providence, as the feafoning of every pleasure, without which life is doomed to languish. No enemy is to: destructive both to honorable attainments, and to the real and spirited enjoyment of life, as that relaxed state of mind, which proceeds from indolence and diffipation. He, who is destined to excel in any art, will be distin guished by enthusiasm for that art ; which, firing his mind with the obje& in view, will dispose him to relish every neceffary labor. This was the characteristic of the great men of antiquity ; and this must distinguish moderns, who wish to imitate them. This honorable enthusiasm should be cultivated by students in oratorya If it be wanting to youth, manhood will flag exceedingly.
Attention to the best models contributes greatly to improvement in the arts of speaking and writing. Even ry one indeed should endeavor to have something, that is his own, that is peculiar to himself, and will dif-e tinguish his style. Genius is certainly depressed, or want of it betrayed, by slavish imitation. Yet no genius is so original, as not to receive improvement from proper examples in style, composition, and delivery. They always afford some new ideas, and serve to enlarge and correct our own. They quicken the current of thought, and excite emulation. .