Delsarte System of Oratory
Part 2 out of 9
("God--may I not, through the dim forest shades,
With my glance follow a fleet chariot's course.")
Here the actor does not follow affectionately, but with the eye, and
then by recoiling and concentrating his thought upon himself.
In the role of _Emilie_:
"_He may in falling crush thee 'neath his fall_"
at sight of her crushed lover Emilie must recoil in terror, and not seem
to add the weight of her body to that which crushes the victim.
Augustus, on the contrary, may say:
"I might in falling crush thee 'neath my fall,"
pausing upon a forward movement, because he is here the agent.
Let us note in passing that the passive attitude is the type of
energetic natures. They have something in themselves which suffices
them. This is a sort of repose; it is elasticity.
_Opposition of Agents._
The opposition of the agents is the harmony of gesture. Harmony is born
of contrasts. From opposition, equilibrium is born in turn. Equilibrium
is the great law of gesture, and condemns parallelism; and these are the
laws of equilibrium:
1. The forward inclination of the torso corresponds to the movement of
the leg in the opposite direction.
2. When one arm is added to the weight of the already inclined torso,
the other arm must rise to form a counterpoise.
3. In gazing into a well, the two arms must be drawn backward if the
body is equally supported by the two legs; in like manner the two arms
may be carried in front if the torso bends backward. This is allowable
only in the first attitude of the base, or in a similar attitude.
The harmonic law of gesture is the static law _par excellence_.
It is of childlike simplicity. We employ it in walking; also when we
carry a weight in one hand, the other rises. The law consists in placing
the acting levers in opposition, and thus realizing equilibrium. All
that is in equilibrium is harmonized. All ancient art is based upon this
opposition of levers. Modern art, with but few exceptions, is quite the
Here is an example of the observance of this rule: If the head and arms
are in action, the head must move in opposition to the arms and the
hand. If both move in the same direction, there is a defect in
equilibrium, and awkwardness results.
When the arm rises to the head, the head bends forward and meets it
half-way. The reverse is true. Every movement in the hand has its
responsive movement in the head. If the head advances, the hand
withdraws. The movements must balance, so that the body may be in
equilibrium and remain balanced.
Here is the difference between ancient and modern art. Let us suppose a
statue of Corneille reading his works. To-day we should pose it with
one leg and arm advanced. This is parallelism. Formerly the leg would
have been opposed to this movement of the arm, because there should be
here the expansion of the author toward his work, and this expansion
results precisely from an opposition of levers.
We know the ancient gladiator; we do exactly the opposite from him in
Modern art makes the man walk with leg and arm parallel. Ancient art
would have the leg opposed to the arm.
It is through opposition that the smile expresses moral sadness. This
law of opposition must be observed in the same member. For example, the
hand should be opposed to the arm. Thus we have magnificent spheroidal
movements which are graceful and also have considerable force. Thus all
the harmonies occur in one same whole, in one same truth. In a word, all
truths interpenetrate, and when a thing is true from one point of view,
it is so from all.
_Number of Gestures._
Many reasons go to prove that gestures need not be multiplied:
A.--We are moved by only one sentiment at a time; hence it is useless to
B.--But one gesture is needed for the expression of an entire thought;
since it is not the word but the thought that the gesture must announce;
if it expressed only the word, it would be trivial and mean, and also
prejudicial to the effect of the phrase.
In these phrases: "What do you seek in the world, happiness? It is not
there," that which first strikes us is the absence of happiness. Gesture
must indicate it in advance, and this should be the dominating movement.
The intelligent man makes few gestures. To multiply gestures indicates a
lack of intelligence. The face is the thermometer of intelligence. Let
as much expression as possible be given to the face. A gesture made by
the hand is wrong when not justified in advance by the face.
Intelligence is manifested by the face. When the intelligent man speaks,
he employs great movements only when they are justified by great
exaltation of sentiment; and, furthermore, these sentiments should be
stamped upon his face. Without expression of the face, all gestures
resemble telegraphic movements.
C.--The repeated extension of the arms denotes but little intelligence,
little suppleness in the wrist and fingers. The movement of a single
finger indicates great _finesse_.
It is easy to distinguish the man of head, heart and actions. The first
makes many gestures of the head; the second many of the shoulders; the
last moves the arms often and inappropriately.
D.--Gesture is allowable only when an ellipse of the word or phrase
admits of an additional value.
E.--Effects must not be multiplied; this is an essential precaution.
Multiplied movements are detrimental when a graver movement is awaited.
F.--The orator is free to choose between the rôle of actor or that of
mere spectator or narrator. Neither the one nor the other can be forced
upon him. The actor's rôle arises not from intelligence but simply from
instinct. The actor identifies himself with the personages he
represents. He renders all their sentiments. This rôle is the most
powerful, but, before making it the object of his choice, there must be
severe study; he must not run the risk of frivolity.
We can dictate to the preacher and mark out his path. He must not be an
actor, but a _doctor_. Hence his gestures must never represent the
impressions of those of whom he speaks, but his own. Hence he should
proportion the number of his gestures to the number of his sentiments.
G.--If the orator would speak to any purpose, he must bring back his
discourse to some picture from nature, some scene from real life.
There must be unity in everything; but a rôle may be condensed in two or
three traits; therefore a great number of gestures is not necessary.
Let it be carefully noted: the expression of the face should make the
gesture of the arms forgotten. Here the talent of the orator shines
forth. He must captivate his public in such a way that his arm gestures
will be ignored. He must so fascinate his auditors that they cannot ask
the reason of this fascination, nor remark that he gesticulates at all.
H.--Where there are two gestures in the same idea, one of them must
come before the proposition, the other in its midst.
If there is but one gesture and it precedes the proposition, the term to
which it is applied must be precisely indicated.
For example: _Would he be sensible to friendship?_ Although friendship
may in some degree be qualified as the indirect regimen, gesture should
portray it in all its attributes.
_Duration of Gesture._
The suspension or prolongation of a movement is one of the great sources
of effect. It is in suspension that force and interest consist. A good
thing is worth being kept in sight long enough to allow an enjoyment of
The orator should rest upon the preceding gesture until a change is
A preoccupied man greets you with a smile, and after you have left, he
smiles on, until something else occurs to divert his mind.
The orator's abstraction should change the face, but not the gesture. If
the double change takes place simultaneously, there will be no unity.
The gesture should be retained and the expression of the face changed.
A variety of effects and inflections should be avoided. While the
speaker is under the influence of the same sentiment, the same
inflection and gesture must be retained, so that there may be unity of
Art proposes three things: to move, to interest, to persuade by unity of
inflection and gesture. One effect must not destroy another. Divergence
confuses the audience, and leaves no time for sentiment.
It is well to remember that the stone becomes hollowed by the incessant
fall of the drop of water in the same place.
_The Rhythm of Gesture._
Gesture is at the same time melodic, or rather inflective, harmonic and
rhythmic. It must embrace the elements of music, since it corresponds to
the soul; it is the language of the soul, and the soul necessarily
includes the life with its diverse methods of expression, and the mind.
Gesture is melodic or inflective through the richness of its forms,
harmonic through the multiplicity of parts that unite simultaneously to
produce it. Gesture is rhythmic through its movement, more or less slow,
or more or less rapid.
Gesture is, then, inevitably synthetic, and consequently harmonic; for
harmony is but another name for synthesis.
Each of the inflective, harmonic and rhythmic modes has its peculiar
The rhythmic law of gesture is thus formulated:
"The rhythm of gesture is proportional to the mass to be moved."
The more an organ is restrained, the more vehement is its impulse.
This law is based upon the vibration of the pendulum. Great levers have
slow movements, small agents more rapid ones. The head moves more
rapidly when the torso and the eye have great facility of motion. Thus
the titillations of the eye are rapid as lightning.
This titillation always announces an emotion. Surprise is feigned if
there is no titillation.
For example, at the unexpected visit of a friend there is a lighting up
of the eye. Wherefore? Because the image is active in the imagination.
This is an image which passes within ourselves, which lies in inward
So in relation to material phenomena: there is a convergence, a
direction of the eyes toward the object; if the object changes place,
the eyes cannot modify their manner of convergence; they must close to
find a new direction, a convergence suited to the distance of the
There is never sympathetic vision. The phenomena of the imagination are
in the imagination at a fixed distance. When an image changes place in
the idea, it produces a titillation equal to that which would be
produced in the order of material things. For example, let us quote
"At last I have him in my power,
This fatal foe, this haughty conqueror!
Through him my captives leave their slavery."
Here the body must be calm; there is a sort of vehemence in the eyes; it
will be less in the head than in the arms. All these movements are made,
but the body remains firm. Generally the reverse takes place; the whole
body is moved; but this is wrong.
In these words: "Where are they, these wretches?" there must be great
violence in the upper part of the body, but the step is very calm.
To affect a violent gait is an awkward habit. A modified slowness in the
small agents creates emphasis; if we give them too great facility of
movement, the gestures become mean and wretched.
Rhythm is in marvelous accord with nature under the impulse of God.
_Importance of the Laws of Gesture._
We never really understand an author's meaning. Every one is free to
interpret him according to his individual instinct. But we must know how
to justify his interpretation by gesture. Principles must aid us in
choosing a point of view in accordance with his individual nature;
otherwise incoherence is inevitable. Hence rules are indispensable. But
when the law is known, each applies it in accordance with his own idea.
The author himself cannot read without rules, in such a manner as to
convey the ideas he intended to express. Only through rules can we
become free in our interpretation; we are not free without law, for in
this case we are subject to the caprice of some master.
The student of oratory should not be a servile copyist. In the
arrangement of his effects, he must copy, imitate and compose. Let him
first reproduce a fixed model, the lesson of the master. This is to
copy. Let him then reproduce the lesson in the absence of the master.
This is to imitate. Finally, let him reproduce a fugitive model. This is
Thus to reproduce a lesson, to give its analysis and synthesis, is to
disjoint, to unite and to reunite; this is the progressive order of
The copying and imitative exercises should be followed by compositions,
applying the principles already known. The orator may be allowed play
for his peculiar genius; he may be sublime even in employing some
foolish trick of his art. But whatever he does, he must be guided by
Of Gesture in Particular.
The dynamic apparatus is composed of the head, the torso and the limbs.
As in the vocal apparatus, we have the lever, the impelling force, and
The dynamic apparatus produces gesture, which renders the moral or
normal state; as the voice expresses inflection and reveals the
The head must be studied under two relations: as the agent of expression
through its movements, and as the centre of attraction; that is, the
point of departure or arrival for the different gestures of the arm.
Let us now apply ourselves to the signification of the movements of the
head and eyes, the face and lips.
_The Movements of the Head._
There are two sorts of movements of the head: movements of attitude and
_Movements of Attitude._--The head has nine primary attitudes, from
which many others proceed.
In the normal attitude, the head is neither high nor low.
In the concentric attitude the head is lowered; this is the reflective
In the eccentric attitude the head is elevated; this is the vital
Soldiers and men of robust physique carry the head high.
Here are three genera, each of which gives three species.
_The Normal State._
When the head is erect, it is passive and neutral.
The head inclining laterally toward the interlocutor indicates
If in the inverse direction, opposite the interlocutor, sensualism is
indicated. This is in fact retroaction; in the first case we love the
soul, in the latter the form.
_The Eccentric State._
If the head bends backward it is the passional or vehement state.
The head inclined toward the interlocutor, denotes abandon, confidence.
The head turned away from the interlocutor, denotes pride, noble or
base. This is a neutral expression which says something, but not the
_The Concentric State._
The head lowered, that is, inclined forward, denotes the reflective
If the head inclines toward the interlocutor, it is veneration, an act
of faith in the object we love.
If the head inclines away from the interlocutor, it is stratagem or
All other attitudes of the head are modifications of these. These nine
attitudes characterize states, that is, sentiments, but sentiments which
are fugitive. Either of these attitudes may be affected until it becomes
habitual. But there are movements which cannot be habitually affected,
which can only modify types and attitudes of the inflections of the
head. These are _fugitive movements_.
There are nine inflections or fugitive movements of the head:--
1. If a forward movement, it ends in an upright one, with elevated chin,
and indicates interrogation, hope, appellation, desire.
2. The same movement with the chin lowered, indicates doubt,
3. A nod of the head, a forward movement, means confirmation, _yes_, or
4. If the movement is brusque forward, it is the menace of a resolute
5. The head thrown back means exaltation.
6. If the movement is brusque backward, it is the menace of a weak man.
7. There are rotative inflections from one shoulder to the other; this
is impatience, regret.
8. The rotary movement of the head alone signifies negation, that is
If the movement ends toward the interlocutor, it is simple negation.
If the movement ends opposite to him, it is negation with distrust.
9. The rotative and forward inflection would denote exaltation.
The sense of this response,--"I do not know," when tidings of a friend
are asked, may be divined by an inflection of the head.
It is well to note how these movements are transmitted from agent to
All movements which severally affect the head, the hand, the body and
the leg, may affect the whole.
Thus the movement of negation is made by the hand. This movement is
double. There is negation with direct resolution, and negation with
inverse resolution, which is elliptical. The hand recoils as the head
recoils, and when the head makes the movement of impatience, the hand
rises with the head and says:--"Leave me alone, I do not wish to hear
It is curious to see an inflection pass successively from the head to
the hand, from the hand to the eye, from the eye to the shoulders, from
the shoulders to the arms, from the arms to the legs, from the legs to
For example: Above we have indicated a double menace made by the head.
One might transfer this menace to the hand and say: "You will have a
quarrel to settle with me!"
Each agent has its rôle, and this is why they transmit their movements.
When the head has a serious part to play, it communicates an inflective
movement to the hand, which renders it terrible.
A man who menaces with the head is not sure of his aim, but he who
menaces with the hand is sure of striking right. In order to do this,
the eye must be firmly fixed, as the eye necessarily loses its power and
accuracy by a movement of the head.
There is great power in the menace communicated to the hand, a power not
found in the other movement. The head-menace is more physical, and the
hand-menace more intellectual; in the one the eye says a great deal,
while in the other it says nothing.
The orator cannot always make these gestures with facility. The menace
may be elliptical. Then it must be made by the head, and expressed
through the eyes. This is why the speaker gazes downward as he makes it.
It is the same downward or upward movement which is reproduced when the
menace is concentric or elliptical.
The menace may be made in yet another way. The speaker does not wish to
express his opinion, and for fear of compromising himself with his eyes,
he does not gaze at his interlocutor; he turns aside his glance, and the
menace is communicated to the shoulder. This has less strength, because
it is rendered by one of the sensitive agents.
The man who threatens with the shoulder is more passionate; but he is
not the agent, he is passive.
A simple menace may be made by the knee. The foot is susceptible of
great mobility. A slight movement quickly changes its significance; in
passing from one agent to another, it is modified by many ellipses.
Criterion of the Head Attitudes.
1 3 2
1-II 3-II 2-II
II Ecc. Conc. Norm. Conc. Conc. Conc.
_Stratagem or _Reflection_. _Veneration_.
1-III 3-III 2-III
III Ecc. Norm. Norm. Norm. Conc. Norm.
_Sensualism_. _Passive state_. _Affection_.
1-I 3-I 2-I
I Ecc. Ecc. Norm. Ecc. Conc. Ecc.
_Pride_. _Vehemence_. _Confidence_.
These attitudes, being wholly characteristic, cannot be transmitted.
They characterize the special rôle of the agent set in motion, while
inflection is universal.
The head alone expresses trouble, dejection.
Dejection is in the head, as firmness is in the reins and exaltation in
All the movements of the head are communicated to all the active organs.
The head is always in opposition to the arms. The head must be turned
away from the leg which is advanced.
Men of small brain habitually carry their heads high. The head is
lowered in proportion to the quantity of intelligence.
Examine the criterion for the fixed attitudes of the head.
_Of the Eyes._
The eye, in common with all the other agents, has nine primary
expressions, three genera and nine species.
The eye contains three agents: The optic or visual, the palpebral or
pupil, and the eyebrow agent. Each of these has its peculiar sense, and
we shall show how they are united.
The optic agent has three direct or convergent glances. The eyes
converge toward the object they examine, at such a point that if the
object were there they would squint. A skilled observer can determine
the distance of the object, upon seeing the two eyes.
There is a revolving or divergent glance. If both eyes project in
parallel lines, they see double. A drunken man sees double because the
eyes do not converge.
Between these two glances there is the ecstatic or parallel vision; but
the object is not so far away that its distance may not be determined.
The convergence is not appreciable. This is the dreamy expression. We
shall here treat of one only, to which we refer the three others. Let us
take the direct glance, passing by the optic agent, since it is direct
in all the phenomena we have to consider.
There are three phenomena in the eyebrow: eccentric, concentric and
normal. From these we derive nine terms. If the eye is normal, it is a
passive expression which determines nothing. If, with the same eye, the
eyebrow is eccentric, there is a difference; one part of us tends
vehemently toward something, and the other says: "It is not worth the
trouble." The sensitive part aspires, while the intellect says, "This
amounts to nothing."
The concentric eyebrow indicates a mind disconcerted by fatigue or
_ennui_, a contention of one part of the nature with the other, which
resists, and says: "I do not wish to be troubled about this; it wearies
The normal brow and the eccentric eye indicate stupor.
Here there is again contrariety. One part of the being ardently aspires
toward some object, while the other is powerless to aid it.
The eye is purely an intellectual agent, denoting the various states of
The eccentric eye and the elevated eyebrow denote vehemence. This is an
active state that will become astonishment. Many phenomena will arise
and be subordinate to this movement; but it is vehemence _par
excellence_; it is aspiration.
If the brow lowers vehemently with the eyes open, it is not rage, but a
state of mind independent of everything the senses or the heart can say.
This is firmness of mind, a state of the will independent of every
outside influence. It may be attention, or anger, or many other things.
If the eye is concentric and the eyebrow in the normal state, it is
If the eyebrow is eccentric and the eye concentric, it will represent
not indifference only, but scorn, and after saying, "This thing is
worthless," will add, "I protest against it, I close my eyes."
If both the eye and eyebrow are concentric, there is contention of mind.
This is a mind which seeks but does not possess.
This explanation may be rendered more clear and easier to retain in mind
by the following resume:
E Concentric. Contention of mind.
Concentric eyebrow Y Normal. Bad humor.
E Eccentric. Firmness
E Concentric. Grief.
Normal eyebrow. Y Normal. Passiveness.
E Eccentric. Stupor.
E Concentric. Scorn.
Eccentric eyebrow. Y Normal. Disdain.
E Eccentric. Astonishment.
[Illustration: Criterion of the Eyes.]
The nine expressions of the eye correspond to each of the nine
movements of the head. Thus the eye may give nine types of affection,
nine of pride, nine of sensualism, etc. This gives eighty-one
expressions of the eye. Hence, knowing eighteen elements, we inevitably
The nine expressions of the eye may be verified by the criterion.
As a model, we give the nine expressions of the eye in the subjoined
1 3 2
Eye eccentric. Eye normal. Eye concentric.
Eyebrow Firmness. Bad humor. Contention of
Eyebrow Stupor. Passive state. Grief.
Eyebrow Inspiration. Disdain. Scorn.
For ordinary purposes it is sufficient to understand the nine primary
expressions. There are many others which we merely indicate. In sleep
there may be an inclination either way. The top of the eyebrow may be
Thus in the concentric state, three types may be noted, and these go to
make twenty-seven primary movements. The lower eyelid may be contracted;
the twenty-seven first movements may be examined with this, which makes
A movement of the cheek may contract the eye in an opposite direction,
and this contraction may be total, which makes eighty-one expressions
belonging to the normal glance alone.
This direct glance may also be direct on the inferior plane, which makes
2×81; for these are distinct expressions which cannot be confounded.
This movement could again be an upward one, which would make 3×81.
The movement may be outward and superior, or it may be simply outward;
it may also be outward and inferior. A special sense is attached to each
of these movements,--a sense which cannot be confounded with any of the
By making the same computation for the three glances above noted, we
shall have from eight to nine hundred movements.
All this may appear complicated, but with the key of the primary
movements, nothing can be more simple than this deduction.
The above chart with its exposition of the phases of the eye explains
everything. A small eye is a sign of strength; a large eye is a sign of
languor. A small oblique eye (the Chinese eye), when associated with
lateral development of the cranium, and ears drawn back, indicates a
predisposition to murder.
The eye opens only in the first emotion; then it becomes calm, closing
gradually; an eye wide open in emotion, denotes stupidity.
_Of the Eyebrows._
There are three thermometers: the eyebrow is the thermometer of the
mind; the shoulder is the thermometer of the life; the thumb is the
thermometer of the will.
There is parallelism between the eye and the voice. The voice lowered
and the brow lifted, indicate a desire to create surprise, and a lack of
It is very important to establish this parallelism between the movements
of the brow and voice.
The lowered brow signifies retention, repulsion: It is the signification
of a closed door. The elevated brow means the open door. The mind opens
to let in the light or to allow it to escape. The eyebrow is nothing
less than the door of intelligence. In falling, the voice repels. The
efforts in repulsion and retention are equal.
The inflections are in accord with the eyebrows. When the brows are
raised, the voice is raised. This is the normal movement of the voice in
relation to the eyebrow.
Sometimes the eyebrow is in contradiction to the movement of the voice.
Then there is always ellipse; it is a thought unexpressed. The
contradiction between these two agents always proves that we must seek
in the words which these phenomena modify, something other than they
seem to say. For instance, when we reply to a story just told us, with
this exclamation: "_Indeed_!"
If the brow and voice are lowered, the case is grave and demands much
If brow and voice are elevated, the expression is usually mild, amiable
If the voice is raised and the brow lowered, the form is doubtful and
suspicious. With the brow concentric, the hand is repellent.
Both brow and hand concentric denote repulsion or retention; this is
always the case with a door.
Both brow and hand eccentric mean inspiration, or allowing departure
There is homogeneity between the face, the eyebrow and the hand.
The degree and nature of the emotion must be shown in the face,
otherwise there will be only grimace.
The hand is simply another expression of the face. The face gives the
hand its significance. Hand movements without facial expression would be
purely automatic. The face has the first word, the hand completes the
sense. There are eighty-one movements of the hand impossible to the
face; hence, without the hand, the face cannot express everything. The
hand is the detailed explanation of what the face has sought to say.
There are expressions of the hand consonant with the facial traits, and
others dissonant: this is the beautiful.
The weak hand and the strong face are the sign of impotence.
The weak hand and the strong face are the sign of perfidy.
The tones of the voice vary according to the expression of the face. The
face must speak, it must have charm.
In laughing, the face is eccentric; a sombre face is concentric.
The face is the mirror of the soul because it is the most impressionable
agent, and consequently the most faithful in rendering the impressions
of the soul.
Not only may momentary emotions be read in the expression of the
features, but by an inspection of the conformation of the face, the
aptitude, thoughts, character and individual temperament may be
The difference in faces comes from difference in the configuration of
There are three primitive and characteristic profiles, of which all
others are only derivations or shades. There is the upright, the concave
and the convex profile. Each of these genera must produce three
species, and this gives again the accord of _nine_.
These different species arise from the direction of the angles, as also
from the position of the lips and nose.
Uprightness responds to the perpendicular profile; chastity, to the
concave; sensualism, to the convex.
Let it be understood that we derogate in no way from the liberty of the
man who remains always master of his will, his emotions and his
A criterion of the face is indispensable to the intelligent
physiognomist, and as the lips and nose have much to do with the
expression of the face, we offer an unerring diagnosis in the three
Criterion of the Profile of the Lips.
SPECIES. 1 3 2
II 1-II 3-II 2-II
Ecc.-conc. Norm.-conc. Conc.-conc.
III 1-III 3-III 2-III
Ecc.-norm. Norm.-norm. Conc.-norm.
I 1-I 3-I 2-I
Ecc.-ecc. Norm.-ecc. Conc.-ecc.
Here the profile of the lower lip indicates the genus, and the profile
of the upper lip belongs to the species.
Criterion of the Profile of the Nose.
SPECIES. 1 3 2
II 1-II 3-II 2-II
Ecc.-conc. Norm.-conc. Conc.-conc.
III 1-III. 3-III. 2-III.
Ecc.-norm. Norm.-norm. Conc.-norm.
I 1-I. 3-I. 2-I.
Ecc.-ecc. Norm.-ecc. Conc.-ecc.
For surety of diagnosis the lips must be taken in unison with the nose
and forehead, as may be seen in the following chart.
Of the Torso.
The torso includes the chest, and shares the shoulder movements with the
_The Chest._--There are three chest attitudes, eccentric, concentric and
1. If the chest is greatly dilated, this is the eccentric state--the
military attitude, the sign of energy.
2. The normal, when the chest is in a state more homogeneous, less
contentious, more sympathetic, as in the statue of Antinous.
3. The concentric, when the chest is hollow, with the shoulders elevated
and inclining forward.
The convex eccentric chest is the sign of the agent, or of him who
The convex concentric chest or the pathetic, is the sign of the
sufferer, or of him who receives.
The chest drawn in with the shoulders elevated, is the expression of the
From these three positions, the eccentric, the concentric and the
normal, are derived nine degrees or species. Thus in each of these
genera, the torso is inclined toward the speaker, or away from him,
hence we have three times three, or nine, or the triple accord.
[Illustration: Criterion of the Face.]
The chest need not be lowered; it is here that all the energy
_The Shoulders._--Every sensitive, agreeable or painful form is
expressed by an elevation of the shoulders. The shoulders are the
thermometer of the sensitive and passional life. If a man's shoulders
are raised very decidedly, we may know that he is decidedly impressed.
The head tells us whether this impression is joyous or sorrowful. Then
the species belongs to the head, and the genus to the shoulder.
If the shoulder indicates thirty degrees, the head must say whether it
is warmth or coldness. The face will specify the nature of the sorrow or
joy whose value the shoulders have determined.
The shoulder is one of the great powers of the orator.
By a simple movement of the shoulder, he can make infinitely more
impression than with all the outward gestures which are almost always
theatrical, and not of a convincing sort.
The shoulder, we have said, is the thermometer of emotion and of love.
The movement is neutral and suited to joy as well as to sorrow; the eyes
and mouth are present to specify it.
The shoulder, like all the agents, has three and hence nine distinct
The torso is divided into three parts: the thoracic, the epigastric and
We shall state farther on, the rôle of these three important centres.
Liars do not elevate their shoulders to the required degree, hence the
truth or falsity of a sentiment may be known.
Raphael has forgotten this principle in his "Moses Smiting the Rock."
None of his figures, although joyous, elevate the shoulder.
Of The Limbs.
The limbs hold an important place in oratorical action.
The study of the role of the arms and limbs therefore deserves serious
In the arms we distinguish the deltoid or shoulder movement, the
inflection of the fore-arm, the elbow, the wrist, the hand and the
_Inflections of the Fore-Arm_.
We have treated of what concerns the shoulder in the chapter upon the
The arm has three movements: an upward and downward vertical movement,
and a horizontal one.
These movements derive their significance from the different angles
formed by the fore-arm in relation to the arm. Let us first represent
these different angles, and then we will explain the chart.
All these different angles have their meaning, their absolute
significance in affirmation.
The movement at the right angle signifies: To be.
Lower still: I doubt if it is so.
Lower: It is improbable.
Lower: It is not.
Lower: It is not possible.
Ascending: This is proven, I have the proof in my hand.
Higher: This is superlatively beautiful.
Higher: It is enchantingly beautiful.
The degree of certainty in the affirmation varies with, the angle which
the fore-arm forms with the arm.
All these modes of affirmation may be applied to negation. For example:
"It is impossible that this should not be. This cannot be."
Thus all states of being, all forms of affirmation, belong to the
acuteness or opening of an angle.
The hanging arm signifies depression. The two arms should never extend
the same way. If they follow each other, one should be more advanced
than the other. Never allow parallelism. The elementary gestures of the
arms are represented in the foregoing chart.
_Of the Elbow._
The elbow has nine movements, three primitive, as genera, and nine
derivative, as species. There are the forward and backward movements of
the normal state. There are three degrees of height, and finally the
forward and backward movements of extension.
The elbow movements are relational. The epicondyle is called the eye of
Man slightly moves the torso, then the shoulder, and finally the elbow.
Among persons who would fain crush others, there is an elbow movement
which seems to say, "I annihilate thee, I am above thee."
The elbow turned outward signifies strength, power, audacity,
domination, arrogance, abruptness, activity, abundance. The elbow drawn
inward, signifies impotence, fear, subordination, humility, passiveness,
poverty of spirit.
Modest people have a slight outward movement of the elbow. The humble
make an inward movement. The elbow thrust forward or backward, indicates
a yielding character.
These movements should not be taken alone; they must be verified by the
torso and the head. The shoulder characterizes the expression of the
elbow movements, just as the elbow verifies marked exaltation, by the
elevation of the shoulder.
It is by these little things that we determine millions of movements and
their meaning. We finally determine and class precisely five million
movements of the different agents of the arm. This would seem enormous;
but it is nothing at all; it is childlike simplicity. The elements being
known, the process is always the same. Hence the advantage of possessing
a criterion. With this criterion, we have everything. If we possess
nine, we possess twenty millions, which are no more than nine.
_Of the Wrist._
The wrist is a directing instrument for the forearm and the hand.
The wrist has its three movements.
It is eccentric when the extensor muscles are in motion.
It is normal in the horizontal position.
It is concentric when the flexor muscles are in action.
In the concentric position the wrist is in pronation, for the thumb is
turned downward; this is the sign of a powerful will, because the
pronator muscles have more power than the flexors.
In the eccentric position the wrist is in supination; that is, the back
of the hand is downward; this is the sign of impotence.
The wrist has also forward and backward movements, either in pronation,
in supination, or the normal state. Thus there are nine phases for the
It is through the aid of the wrist that the aspects of the hand, placed
upon the cube, receive, as we shall see, their precise signification.
The orator needs great suppleness in wrist movements to give grace to
the phases of the hand.
_Of the Hand._
Man is perforce painter, poet, inspired dreamer or mystic, and
He is a painter, to reveal the phenomena of the sensitive life; a poet,
to admire the mysteries of grace; a scientist, to make known the
conceptions of the mind. Thus the hand has three presentations, neither
more nor less, to render that which passes in man in the sensitive,
moral or intellectual state.
Let us now examine the three presentations of an open hand: its palmar,
dorsal and digital aspect.
The same thing may be expressed by these three presentations, but with
shades of difference in the meaning.
If we say that a thing is admirable, with the palms upward, it is to
describe it perfectly. This is the demonstrative aspect.
If we say the same thing, displaying the back of the hand, it is with
the sentiment of impotence. We have an idea of the thing, but it is so
beautiful we cannot express it. This is the mystic aspect.
If we present the digital extremity, it is as if we said: "I have seen,
I have weighed, I have numbered the thing, I understand it from certain
knowledge; it is admirable, and I declare it so." These are the three
aspects: the palmar, dorsal and digital.
Each of these attitudes of the hand may be presented under three forms:
the eccentric, normal and concentric.
Each of these forms as genera, produces three species; this gives the
hand nine intrinsic attitudes, whose neutral signification will be
specified and determined by the presentation of the hand upon the cube.
Let us first take the normal state as genus, and we shall have the
normal hand as species in the normal genus. This will then be the
By presenting the hand in pronation or supination horizontally, without
spreading or folding the fingers, we shall have that attitude which
Let us now take the eccentric species, still in the normal genus.
Raise the hand somewhat with a slight parting of the fingers, and we
have the eccentro-normal hand, which signifies expansion.
Finally, let us consider the concentric species, still in the normal
Present the hand lifeless and you have the concentro-normal attitude,
which signifies prostration.
Let us pass on to the concentric genus.
By closing the fingers with the thumb inward upon the middle one, we
shall have the normo-concentric hand, which signifies the _tonic_ or
To close the hand and place the thumb outside upon the index finger,
signifies conflict. This is the concentro-concentric hand.
To bend the first joint with the fingers somewhat apart, indicates the
eccentro-concentric hand. This is the convulsive state.
Let us pass on to the eccentric genus.
The fingers somewhat spread, denote the normo-eccentric hand. This is
To spread the fingers and fold them to the second joint, indicates the
concentro-concentric hand. This is retraction.
To spread the fingers as much as possible, gives the eccentro-eccentric
hand. This is exasperation.
In the subjoined charts we can see an illustration of the different
attitudes of the hand.
[Illustration: Criterion of the Hand.]
II +-- 2 +-- Concentro-concentric. Conflict.
| 3 --+ Normo-concentric. Tonic or power.
| 1 +-- Eccentro-concentric. Convulsive.
| 2 +-- Concentro-normal. Prostration.
III --+ 3 --+ Normo-normal. Abandon.
| 1 +-- Eccentro-normal. Expansion.
| 2 +-- Concentro-eccentric. Retraction.
| 3 --+ Normo-eccentric. Exaltation.
I +-- 1 +-- Eccentro-eccentric. Exasperation.
The nine primitive forms of the hand are, as is seen, undetermined.
/ | / |
/ | / |
/ | / |
/ | UPPER SURFACE. / |
/ | / |
/ | To hold. / |
/ | / |
| | | O |
| I | | U |
| N | | T |
| W | | W |
| A | | A |
| R | FRONT SURFACE. | R |
| D T | | | D |
| o | To retain. | | T |
| L | | L o |
| A w | Limit. -- | A |
| T i | | T b |
| E t | Obtain. | | E e |
| R h | | | R l |
| A d | BACK SURFACE. | A o |
| L r | | | L n |
| a | | To maintain. | g |
| S w | | | | S . |
| U . | Contain. | | U |
| R | | | R |
| F | | F |
| A | | A |
| C | | C |
| E | | E |
| . | | . |
| / | /
| / LOWER SURFACE. | /
| / | /
| / To sustain. | /
| / | /
| / | /
| / | /
The hand is raised. Why? For what purpose? The presentation of the hand
upon the surfaces of the cube will decide and specify.
By this presentation the nine movements of the hand correspond with the
expressive movements of the arm.
Take any cube whatever,--a book, a snuff-box, or rather cast your eyes
upon the foregoing chart, and examine it carefully.
There are three directions in the cube: horizontal, vertical and
transverse. Hence there are six faces, anterior, superior, inferior,
interno-lateral and externo-lateral.
Of what use are angles and faces? All this is necessary for those who
would know the reason of the sentiments expressed by the hand. There are
twenty-seven sorts of affirmation. We give nine of them with the six
faces of the cube.
_The Digital Face._
To place the hand, whether eccentric, concentric or normal, upon the
upper face of the cube, is to hold, to protect, to control; it is to
say: "I hold this under my protection."
To place the hand upon the external side-face of the cube, signifies to
belong; it says: "All this belongs to me." It is the affirmation of the
man who knows, who has had the thing in dispute under his own eyes, who
has measured it, examined it in all its aspects. It is the affirmation
of the connoisseur.
To apply the hand to the inner side of the face is to let go. Here is
the sense of this affirmation: "You may say whatever you will, but I
affirm in spite of every observation, in spite of all objection; I
affirm whether or no."
_The Back Face._
There are three ways of touching the front face of the cube with the
A.--To touch it with the end of the fingers upward and the thumb inward,
is to obtain: "I have obtained great benefits, I do not know how to
express my gratitude." Or rather: "I keep the object for myself; I do
not care to let it be seen." This is the mystic face. Or yet again: "I
B.--To place the hand horizontally on the same face of the cube, is to
restrain, or bound. "Go no farther, if you please; all this belongs to
C.--To place the hand upon the same anterior face of the cube, but with
the extremities of the fingers vertically downward, means to retain. It
says: "I reserve this for myself." Here, then, are three aspects for the
anterior face of the cube.
_The Palmar Face._
A.--To place the lower face of the cube in the hand, is to sustain. It
is to say: "I will sustain you in misfortune."
B.--To apply as much as possible the palm upon the same posterior face
of the cube, with the fingers downward, is to maintain: "I maintain what
I have said."
C.--To apply the hand upon the same face with the extremities of the
fingers upward, is to contain, is to show the object--it is to disclose:
"I affirm; you cannot doubt me; I open my heart; behold me!"
There are, then, nine affirmations, which are explained by a mere view
of the cube and its faces.
The twelve edges of the cube give a double affirmation; the angles, a
triple affirmation. Example for the edges: To place the hand on the back
edge, means: "I protect and I demonstrate."
There are three movements or inflections of the hand which must be
pointed out: to hover, to insinuate, to envelop.
The three rhythmic actions of the hand must not be passed over in
silence: to incline, to fall, to be precipitated.
The aspects of the hands would be simply telegraphic movements, were it
not for the inflections of the voice, and, above all, the expression of
the eyes. The expressions of the hand correspond to the voice. The hands
are the last thing demanded in a gesture; but they must not remain
motionless, as (if they were stiff, for instance) they might say more
than was necessary.
The hands are clasped in adoration, for it seems as if we held the thing
we love, that we desire.
The rubbing of the hands denotes joy, or an eager thirst for action; in
the absence of anything else to caress, we take the hand, we communicate
our joy to it.
There is a difference between the caress and the rubbing of the hands.
In the caress, the hand extends eagerly, and passes lightly,
undulatingly, for fear of harming. There is an elevation of the
The hand is an additional expression of the face. The movement must
begin with the face, the hand only completes and interprets the facial
expression. The head and hand cannot act simultaneously to express the
same sentiment. One could not say _no_ with head and hands at the same
time. The head commands and precedes the movement of the hand.
The eyes, and not the head, may be parallel with the hand and the other
The hand with its palm upward may be caressing, if there is an elevation
of the eyebrow; repellent with the eyebrow concentric.
The waving hand may have much sense, according to the expression of the
The eye is the essential agent, the hand is only the reverberatory
agent; hence it must show less energy than the eye.
_Of the Fingers._
Each finger has its separate function, but it is exclusive of the great
expressions which constitute the accords of _nine_. These are
interesting facts, but they do not spring naturally from the fountain of
gesture. They are more intellectual than moral.
In a synthetic action all the fingers converge. A very energetic will
is expressed by the clenched fist.
In dealing with a fact in detail, as we say: "Remark this well," all the
fingers open to bid us concern ourselves only with the part in dispute.
This is analysis; it is not moral, it is intellectual.
If we speak of condensation we close the hand. If we have to do with a
granulated object, we test it with the thumb and index finger.
If it is carneous, we touch it with the thumb and middle finger.
If the object is fluid, delicate, impressionable, we express it by the
If it is pulverized, we touch it with the little finger.
We change the finger as the body is solid, humid, delicate, or powdery.
The orator who uses the fingers in gesticulation, gives proof of great
delicacy of mind.
_Of the Legs._
The legs have nine positions which we call base attitudes.
We shall give a detailed description, summing up in a chart of the
criterion of the legs at the end of this section.
_First Attitude._--This consists in the equal balance of the body upon
its two legs. It is that of a child posed upon its feet, neither of
which extends farther than the other. This attitude is normal, and is
the sign of weakness, of respect; for respect is a sort of weakness for
the person we address. It also characterizes infancy, decay.
_Second Attitude._--In this attitude the strong leg is backward, the
free one forward. This is the attitude of reflection, of concentration,
of the strong man. It indicates the absence of passions, or of
concentred passions. It has something of intelligence;
it is neither the position of the child nor of the uncultured man. It
indicates calmness, strength, independence, which are signs of
intelligence. It is the concentric state.
_Third Attitude._--Here the strong leg is forward, the free leg
backward. This is the type of vehemence. It is the eccentric attitude.
The orator who would appear passive, that is, as experiencing some
emotion, or submitting to some action, must have a backward pose as in
If, on the contrary, he would communicate to his audience the expression
of his will or of his own thought, he must have a forward poise as in
_Fourth Attitude._--Here the strong leg is behind, as in the second
attitude, but far more apart from the other and more inflected.
This is very nearly the attitude of the fencing master, except the
position of the foot, which is straight instead of being turned outward.
This is a sign of the weakness which follows vehemence.
Natural weakness is portrayed in figure 1; sudden weakness in figure 4.
_Fifth Attitude._--This is necessitated by the inclination of the torso
to one side or the other. It is
a third to one side. It is a passive attitude, preparatory to all
oblique steps. It is passing or transitive, and ends all the angles
formed by walking. It is in frequent use combined with the second.
_Sixth Attitude._--This is one-third crossed. It is an attitude of great
respect and ceremony, and is effective only in the presence of princes.
_Seventh Attitude._--This is the first position, but the legs are
farther apart. The free limb is turned
to one side; both limbs are strong. This denotes intoxication, the man
overwhelmed with astonishment, familiarity, repose. It is a double
_Eighth Attitude._--This is the second, with limbs farther apart. It is
the alternative attitude. The body faces one of the two legs. It is
alternative from the fact that it ends in the expression of two extreme
and opposite sentiments; that is, in the third or the fourth. It serves
for eccentricity with reticence, for menace and jealousy. It is the type
of hesitation. It is a parade attitude. At the same time offensive and
defensive, its aspect easily impresses and leaves the auditor in doubt.
What is going to happen? What sentiment is going to arise from this
attitude which must have its solution either in the third or fourth?
_Ninth Attitude,_--This is a stiff second attitude, in which the strong
leg and also the free one are equally rigid. The body in this attitude
bends backward; it is the sign of distrust and scorn.
The legs have one aspect. If, in the second, the strong leg advances
slowly to find the other, it is the tiger about to leap upon his prey;
if, on the contrary, the free leg advances softly, the vengeance is
The menace made in figure 3, with inclination of the head and agitation
of the index finger, is that of a valet who wishes to play some ill turn
upon his master; for with the body bent and the arm advanced, there is
no intelligence. But it is ill-suited to vengeance, because that
attitude should be strong and solid, with the eye making the indication
better than the finger.
[Illustration: Criterion of the Legs]
[Illustration. Criterion of the Legs]
Of the Semeiotic, or the Reason of Gesture.
_The Types which Characterize Gesture._
The semeiotic is the science of signs, and hence the science of the form
of gesture. Its object is to give the reason for the forms of gesture
according to the types that characterize it, the apparatus that modifies
it, and the figures that represent it.
There are three sorts of types in man: constitutional or formal,
fugitive or passional, and habitual.
The constitutional type is that which we have at birth.
The passional type is that which is reproduced under the sway of
The habitual types are those which, frequently reproduced, come to
modify even the bones of the man, and give him a particular
Habit is a second nature, in fact, a habitual movement fashions the
material and physical being in such a manner as to create a type not
inborn, and which is named habitual.
To recognize constitutional types, we study the movements of the body,
and the profound action which the habit of these movements exercises
upon the body; and, as the type produced by these movements is in
perfect analogy with the formal, constitutional types, we come through
this analogy to infer constant phenomena from the passional form. Thus
all the formal types are brought back to the passional types.
Passional types explain habitual types, and these last explain
constitutional types. Thus, when we know the sum of movements possible
to an organ, when we know the sense of it, we arrive at that semeiotic
through which the reason of a form is perfectly given.
_Of Gesture Relative to its Modifying Apparatus._
Every gesture places itself in relation with the subject and the object.
It is rare that a movement tending toward an object does not touch the
double form. Thus, in saying that a thing is admirable, we start from a
multitude of physical centres whose sense we are to determine. When this
sense is known, understanding the point of departure, we understand
still better that of arrival.
This division, which is not made at random, is reproduced in the
1 represents the vital expression; 2, the intellectual; 3, the moral. We
divide the face into three zones: the genal, buccal, and frontal.
The expression is physical, moral and intellectual.
In the posterior section of the head we have the occipital, parietal
and temporal zones. The life is in the occiput, the soul in the parietal
zone, and the mind holds the temporal region near the forehead as its
The chest is divided into the thoracic centre for the mind, into the
epigastric for the soul, and into the abdominal for the life.
The arm is divided into three sections: the deltoid, brachial and
This division is a rational one. Let us suppose this exclamation: "It is
admirable!" Some say it starting from the shoulder, others from the
chest, others from the abdominal focus. These are three very distinct
modes. There is more intelligence when the movement is from the thoracic
centre. This concerns the honor, the dignity.
When the movement is from the epigastrium, it is moral in a high
degree. For example: "This is beautiful! It is admirable! I know not
why, but this gives me pleasure!"
The movement from the abdomen indicates sensuality, good nature, and
The movement is the same with the head. In emotion it proceeds from the
chin; it is the life movement, it is instinct. That from the cheeks,
indicates sentiments, the most noble affections.
Carrying the hand to the forehead indicates intelligence. Here we seek
relief from embarrassment, in the other head movements we do not seek
it. The one is a mental, the others are purely physical efforts. In the
latter case one becomes violent and would fain give blows with his fist.
An infinite number of movements proceed from these various seats.
We have now reached the semeiotic standpoint, that of these very clear
plans, the very starting point of gesture.
The articular centres of the arms are called thermometers: the wrist,
that of the organic physical life; the shoulder, that of the sensitive
life; and the elbow, that of the relative life.
The thumb has much expression; drawn backward it is a symbol of death,
drawn forward it is the sign of life. Where there is abundance of life,
the thumb stands out from the hand. If a friend promises me a service
with the thumb drawn inward, he deceives. If with the thumb in the
normal state, he is a submissive but not a devoted friend. He cannot be
very much counted upon. If the thumb stands outward, we may rely upon
We still find life, soul and mind in each division of the body.
There are also a buccal, an occipital and an abdominal life.
The body of man, with all its active and attractive foci, with all its
manifestations, may be considered an ellipse.
These well-indicated divisions may be stated in an analytic formula:
+-- LIFE: Occipital. -+
|-- MIND: Temporal. |-
|-- SOUL: Parietal. -+
|-- MIND: Frontal. -+ --+
|-- SOUL: Buccal. |- |
|-- LIFE: Genal. -+ |
/ -- MIND: Thoracic. -+ |
Attractive centres.- -- SOUL: Epigastric. |- |
\ -- LIFE: Abdominal. -+ \
|-- LIFE: Shoulders. -+ - Expressive centres.
|-- SOUL: Elbows. |- /
|-- MIND: Wrists. -+ |
|-- LIFE: Thigh. -+ |
|-- SOUL: Knee. |- |
+-- MIND: Foot. -+ --+
This is the proper place to fix the definition of each division by some
Let us take an individual in a somewhat embarrassed situation. He is a
gentleman who has been overcome by wine. We see him touching the
temporal bone, or the ear, as if to seek some expedient: the strategic
mind is there.
Let us begin with the descending gamut, and let the hand pass over all
the divisions of the attractive centres.
At the occiput: Here is an adventure! I have really had too strong a
dose of them!
At the parietal bone: What a shame!
At the temporal bone: What will the people say of me?
At the forehead: Reason however tells me to pause.
At the buccal zone: How shall I dare reappear before those who have seen
me in this state!
At the genal zone: But they did serve such good wine!
At the breast: Reason long ago advised temperance to me.
At the epigastrium: I have so many regrets every time I transgress!
At the abdomen: The devil! Gourmandism! I am a wretched creature!
The same illustrations may be reproduced in the rising scale.
When the parietals are touched, the idea and the sentiment are very
elevated. As the foci rise, they become more exalted.
Let this be considered from another point of view. We shall reproduce
gratitude by touching all the centres.
They have been centres of attraction, we shall render them points of
"I thank you!" The more elevated the movements, the more nobility there
is in the expression of the sentiment. The exaltation is proportional to
the section indicated.
The posterior region is very interesting. There are three sorts of
vertebrae: cervical, dorsal and lumbar.
This apparatus may first be considered as a lever. But taking the
vertical column alone, we shall have twenty-four special and distinct
keys whose action and tonality will be entirely specific. From these
twenty-four vertebrae proceed the nervous plexi, all aiding a particular
expression; so that the vertebral column forms the keys of the
sympathetic human instrument.
If the finger is cut, there is a special emotion in one place of the
If the finger is crushed by the blow of a hammer, the emotion will
affect a special vertebra.
The nose is one of the most complex and important agents.
There are here nine divisions to be studied. (See page 82.)
Of Gesture in Relation to the Figures which Represent It.
Gesture through its inflections may reproduce all the figures of
geometry. We shall confine ourselves to a description of the primary and
most usual imitative inflections.
These inflections comprise three sorts of movements affected by each
gesture, which usually unite and constitute a synthetic form. These
three movements agree with the three primary actions which characterize
the manifestations of the soul, the mind and the life. These are direct,
circular and oblique inflections.
The flexor movements are direct, the rotary movements circular, the
abductory movements oblique. The sum of these movements constitutes nine
co-essential terms, whose union forms the accord of nine.
There are rising, falling and medium inflections.
Gesture does everything that the voice does in rising. Hence there is
great affinity between the voice and the arms. Vocal inflection is like
the gestures of the blind; in fact, with acquaintance, one may know the
nature of the gesture from the sound of the voice.
We exalt people by a circle. We say that a thing is beautiful, noble,
grand--making circles which grew higher and broader as the object is
We choose the circle for exalting and caressing, because the circle is
the most agreeable form to touch and to caress. For example, an ivory
This form applies to all that is great.
For God there is no circle, there can be none. But we outline a portion
of an immense circle, of which we can touch but one point. We indicate
only the inner periphery of a circle it is impossible to finish, and
then retrace our steps.
When the circle is made small, we make it with one, two, three or four
fingers, with the hand, with the arm. If the circle is vast as can be
made with the arms, it is homogeneous.
But a small circle made with the arm will express stupidity. Thus we say
of a witty man: "This is a witty man," employing the fingers.
Stupidity wishing to simulate this, would make a broad movement.
Let us take the fable of _Captain Renard_ as an example of this view of
I depict the cunning nature of this captain with my fingers. Without
this he would not be a captain; but at most a corporal.
--"He went in company
With his friend He-Goat of the branching horns.
The one could see no farther than his nose;
The other was past master in deceit."
As they go along, the fox relates all his exploits to the goat, and the
goat surprised, and wishing an end of the recital, sees fit to make a
gesture, as he says:
"I admire people full of sense like you."
In making the small circle, he employs not only the fingers, but the
arm, the shoulder, the whole body. He is an imbecile. He wastes too much
effort in making a small circle.
Let us take a situation from an opera. When Robert enters and sees
Isabella, he says of her:
"This peaceful sleep, this lull of every sense,
Lends a yet sweeter charm to this young face."
The gesture is in the form of a geometrical figure.
In another place, Robert says:
"Thy voice, proud beauty, few can understand."
Here a spheroidal and then a rectangular movement must be made. We close
the door. "Her voice will be understood by me, alone." He might say:
"Thy voice, proud beauty, will not be understood. It will be elevated
for me, and not for others."
Every sentiment has its form, its plastic expression, and as its form is
more or less elaborated, we may judge of the elevation of the speaker's
thought. If we could stereotype gesture, we might say: "This one has the
more elevated heart, that one the least elevated; this one in the
matter, that one in the spirit of his discourse."
All gestures may be very well delineated. An orator gesticulating before
the public, resembles a painter who pencils outlines and designs upon a
This reproduction of the figures of gesture is called _Chorography_. We
give in the subjoined chart some types of gesture. These are a few
flowers culled from a rich garden.
To express sensual grace the gesture takes the downward spheroidal form.
The virtuous form would be upward.
If we wish to express many attractive things, we make many spheroidal
What is called the culminating point of the gesture, must not be
forgotten. This is a ring in the form of the last stroke of the German
letter D, which is made by a quick, electric movement of the wrist.
We refer the student to the close of the volume, for a model of
exercises comprising a series of gestures which express the most
eloquent sentiments of the human heart.
This exercise in gesture has two advantages: it presents all the
interest of the most fascinating drama, and is the best means of gaining
suppleness by accustoming ourselves to the laws of gesture.
[Illustration: Criterion of Chorography.]
[Illustration: Inflective Medallion.]
The vertical line 1 expresses affirmation. The horizontal line 2
expresses negation. The oblique line 3 rejects despicable things. The
oblique line 4 rejects things which oppress us, of which we would be
5. The quarter-circle, whose form recalls that of the hammock, expresses
well-being, happiness, confidence.
6. The curvilinear eccentric quarter-circle expresses secrecy, silence,
possession, domination, stability, imposition, inclusion.
7. The curvilinear outside quarter-circle expresses things slender,
delicate (in two ways); the downward movement expresses moral and
8. The outside quarter-circle expresses exuberance, plenitude,
9. The circle which surrounds and embraces, characterizes glorification
Origin and Organic Apparatus of Language.
Man reveals his life through more than four millions of inflections ere
he can speak or gesticulate. When he begins to reason, to make
abstractions, the vocal apparatus and gesture are insufficient; he must
speak, he must give his thought an outside form so that it may be
appreciated and transmitted through the senses. There are things which
can be expressed neither by sound nor gesture. For instance, how shall
we say at the same time of a plant: "It is beautiful, but it has no
smell." Thought must then be revealed by conventional signs, which are
articulation. Therefore, God has endowed man with the rich gift of
Speech is the sense of the intelligence; sound the sense of the life,
and gesture that of the heart.
Soul communicates with soul only through the senses. The senses are the
condition of man as a pilgrim on this earth. Man is obliged to
materialize all: the sensations through the voice, the sentiments
through gesture, the ideas through speech. The means of transmission are
always material. This is why the church has sacraments, an exterior
worship, chants, ceremonies. All its institutions arise from a principle
Speech is formed by three agents: the lips, the tongue and the
It is delightful to study the special rôle of these agents, the reason
of their movements.
They have a series of gestures that may be perfectly understood. Thus
language resembles the hand, having also its gesture.
Elements of Articulate Language.
Every language is composed of consonants and vowels. These consonants
and vowels are gestures. The value of the consonant is the gesture of
the thing expressed. But as gesture is always the expression of a moral
fact, each consonant has the intrinsic character of a movement of the
heart. It is easy to prove that the consonant is a gesture. For example,
in articulating it, the tongue rises to the palate and makes the same
movement as the arm when it would repel something.
The elements of all languages have the same meaning. The vowels
correspond directly to the moral state.
There is diversity of language because the things we wish to express
vary from difference in usage and difference of manner and climate. What
we call a shoe, bears among northern people a name indicating that it
protects the feet from the cold; among southern people it protects the
feet from the heat. Elsewhere the shoe protects the feet against the
roughness of the soil; and in yet other places, it exists only as a
defensive object--a weapon.
These diverse interpretations require diverse signs. This does not prove
the diversity of language, but the diversity of the senses affected by
the same object.
Things are perceived only after the fashion of the perceiver, and this
is why the syllables vary among different peoples.
Nevertheless, there is but one language. We find everywhere these words:
_I_ an active personality, _me a passive personality, and _mine_ an
awarding personality. In every language we find the subject, the verb
and the adjective.
Every articulate language is composed of substantive, adjective and
All arts are found in articulation. Sound is the articulation of the
vocal apparatus; gesture the articulation of the dynamic apparatus;
language the articulation of the buccal apparatus. Therefore, music, the
plastic arts and speech have their origin and their perfection in
It is, then, of the utmost importance to understand thoroughly the
elements of speech, which is at the same time a vocalization and a
dynamic. Without this knowledge no oratorical art is possible.
Let us now hasten to take possession of the riches of speech.
The Oratorical Value of Speech.
The privilege of speech may be considered under a double aspect, in
itself and in its relations to the art of oratory.
1. _In Itself._--Speech is the most wonderful gift of the Creator.
Through speech man occupies the first rank in the scale of being. It is
the language of the reason, and reason lifts man above every creature.
Man through speech incarnates his mind to unite himself with his
fellow-men, as the Son of God was incarnated to unite with human nature;
like the Son of God who nourishes humanity with his body in the
eucharist, so man makes his speech understood by multitudes who receive
it entire, without division or diminution.
Eternal thanks to God for this ineffable gift, so great in itself, of
such value in the art of oratory!
2. What is the oratorical value of speech? In oratorical art, speech
plays a subordinate but indispensable rôle.
Let us examine separately the two members of this proposition.
A.--In the hierarchy of oratorical powers, speech comes only in the
third order. In fact, the child begins to utter cries and to
gesticulate before he speaks.
The text is only a label. The sense lies not in speech, but in
inflection and gesture. Nature institutes a movement, speech names the
movement. Writing is a dead letter.
Speech is only the title of that which gesture has announced; speech
comes only to confirm what is already understood by the auditors.
We are moved in reading, not so much by what is said, as by the manner
of reading. It is not what we hear that affects us, but that which we
An author cannot fully express his ideas in writing; hence the
interpretation of the hearer is often false, because he does not know
It is remarkable, the way in which we refer everything to ourselves. We
must needs create a semblance of it. We are affected by a discourse
because we place the personage in a situation our fancy has created.
Hence it happens that we may be wrong in our interpretation, and that
the author might say: "This is not my meaning."
In hearing a symphony we at once imagine a scene, we give it an aspect;
this is why it affects us.
A written discourse requires many illustrative epithets; in a spoken
discourse, the adjectives may be replaced by gesture and inflection.
Imitation is the melody of the eye, inflection is the melody of the ear.
All that strikes the eye has a sound; this is why the sight of the
stars produces an enchanting melody in our souls.
Hence in a discourse, speech is the letter, and it is inflection and
gesture which give it life. Nevertheless:--
B.--The rôle of speech, although subordinate, is not only important, but
necessary. In fact, human language, as we have said, is composed of
inflection, gesture and speech.
Language would not be complete without speech. Speech has nothing to do
with sentiment, it is true, but a discourse is not all sentiment; there
is a place for reason, for demonstration, and upon this ground gesture
has nothing to do; the entire work here falls back upon speech.
Speech is the crown of oratorical action; it is this which gives the
final elucidation, which justifies gesture. Gesture has depicted the
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