Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Art of Conversation: Gesture

Comprehends all movements of the body, and should be in accordance with the thought, which it is meant to enforce. The principal instruments employed are the head, arms, and hands. Pantomimic action at every word would be intolerable. Gesture, indeed, must be sparingly used; a mysterious action at the announcement of a simple idea, rude gestures in the midst of a friendly chit-chat, or the rapid movements of a person sitting or standing, who appears to be affected by St. Vitus' dance, are all offences against reason and good taste. He who wishes to please in conversation, must not neglect the art of gesture. It is not sufficient that he has a fine voice and speaks with expression: he must know when to give greater expression to his words by some graceful and appropriate movement, for there is nothing more fatiguing than the never varying motions of those automatons who seem to have neither soul nor sentiment.

Source: How to Shine in Society, or, The Art of Conversation: Containing its usages, laws, rules, application, and examples. (Glasgow: George Watson, 1860), 17-18.

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