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COMPOSITION AND RHETORIC.
HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE,
MEDIA OF COMMUNICATION.
§ 1. MAN is distinguished from the brute creation by the possession of reason. Brutes are governed by instinct; man, by his reasoning faculties. The senses of both are the same, and on these senses material objects produce similar impres sions. But from these impressions brutes cannot reason any further than their natural instincts enable them, and their necessities require. Man, on the other hand, being possessed of intellectual faculties, is capable of drawing inferences; and thus from the impressions made on his senses by a single external object, receives many different ideas, which, producing others in their turn, may be multiplied to infinity.
1. How is man distinguished from the brute creation? By what are brutes governed? By what, man? How do the senses of men and brutes, and the impressions produced upon them, differ? How, then, do men receive more ideas from these Impressions than brutes?
§ 2. Men, being endowed with social dispositions, naturally desire to interchange the ideas received in the manner above described. Brutes, also, particularly those of gregarious habits, are at times actuated by a similar impulse to make known their feelings to each other. Now in both these cases some medium of communication is necessary; and we find that the ingenuity of man has devised four means more or less adapted to the purpose, the first two of which the instinct of the lower orders of creation has led them also to employ. These are as follows:
I. Gestures. By these are meant the movements of the body or its members. In the case of brutes, they are often so expressive as to leave no doubt as to the predominant emotion. Thus, in the billing of doves we see love exemplified; in the lion lashing his sides with his tail, and the cat raising her back at the sight of an enemy, we have unmistakable evidences of anger; and in the horse depressing his ears backwards, of fear. Man, having generally other and better means of communication, seldom uses gestures alone, though he often employs them to illustrate and enforce what he says. When other means, however, are wanting, he is able with their aid alone to express his sentiments; as in the case of the sick who have lost the power of speech, or of one attempting to make himself understood by those with whose language he is unacquainted. It is surprising, indeed, to see how perfectly persons practised in the use of gestures can communicate even complicated trains of thought and long series of facts. Good pantomimists will make the plot of a theatrical piece just as intelligible to an audience as if it were developed by dialogue.
§2. What desire results from man's social disposition? Is this desire confined to the human race? How many means of communication has man devised? How many and which are employed by brutes also?
What is the first medium of communication? What is meant by gestures? Give instances of the use of gestures by brutes, and mention the emotions they indicate. For what purpose does man generally use gestures? Do they ever serve alone to express his sentiments? Give instances. What may be communicated by gestures? Give an instance. What is said of the action of the Greeks and Romans? How far was it carried on the stage? What pofnt was debated by Cicero and Roscius!
This fact was known and appreciated by the ancient Greeks and Romans, whose action was much more vehement than we are accustomed to see at the present day. On the stage this was carried so far that two actors were at times brought on to play the same part; the office of one being to pronounce the words, and that of the other to accompany them with appropriate gestures, a single performer being unable to attend to both. Cicero informs us that it was a matter of dispute between the actor Roscius and himself whether the former could express a sentiment in a greater variety of ways by significant gestures, or the latter by the use of different phrases. He also elsewhere tells us that this same Roscius had gained great love from every one by the mere movements of his person." During the reign of Augustus both tragedies and comedies were acted by pantomime alone. It was perfectly understood by the people, who wept, and laughed, and were excited in every way as much as if words had been employed. It seems, indeed, to have worked upon their sympathies more powerfully than words; for it became necessary, at a subsequent period, to enact a law restraining members of the senate from study. ing the art of pantomime, a practice to which it seems they had resorted in order to give more effect to their speeches before that body.
When, however, the Roman Empire yielded to the arms of the Northern barbarians, and, as a consequence, great numbers of the latter spread over it in every direction, their cold and phlegmatic manners wrought a material change as re
"Ergo ille corporis motu tantum amorem sibi conciliârat a nobis omnibus."-PRO ARCHIA POETA, VIII.
What does Cicero tell us with respect to this actor? In the reign of Augustus, how were both tragedies and comedies represented? How did some of the senators seek to give effect to their speeches? What law was passed on the subject? What effect did the conquest of the Roman Empire by Northern barbarians have on the gestures and tones of the people? How do the tones of the people of Southern Europe now com. pare with those of the North? Of what nations, in particular, is this true?
gards the gestures, no less than the tones and accents, of the people. The mode of expression gradually grew more subdued, and the accompanying action less violent, in proportion as the new influences prevailed. Conversation became more languid; and public speaking was no longer indebted for its effect to the art of the pantomimist. So great was the change in these respects that the allusions of classical authors to the oratory of their day were hardly intelligible. Notwithstanding these modifications, however, the people of Southern Europe, being warmer and more passionate by nature, are, at the present day, much more animated in their tones and more addicted to gesticulation than the inhabitants of the North. This is particularly true of the French and Italians.
II. Inarticulate Sounds, or cries used by man, particularly during infancy, and by all other animals, to express strong and sudden emotions, such as fear, love, sorrow, and the like. In the earlier periods of man's history, before a perfect system of language was developed, it is probable that these natural interjections were used more frequently than at present. Grammarians consider them the earliest elements of speech. Among these inarticulate sounds may be classed sighing, groaning, laughing, and screaming, each of which is a key to the prevailing sentiment of the mind.
III. Spoken Language, or an assemblage of articulate sounds, which are individually the type of certain ideas, and by a combination of which thoughts may be expressed. This means of communication, as well as that which follows, is employed by man alone.
IV. Written Language. By this is meant a combination of arbitrary characters, which convey to the mind the ideas they represent through the medium of the eye.
What is the second medium of communication? What is meant by Inarticulate Sounds? When were they most frequently used? How do grammarians regard them? What may be classed among these Inarticulate Sounds? What is the third medium of communication? What is Spoken Language? By whom is it employed?