« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
darkest regions of half-unconscious being to the world of form and light, endues them with conscious life and speech, and sends them abroad as ministering angels of good or evil; in still another direction, it explores the ethereal world of thought, and, by its creative energy, gives imagery, and form, and recognized character to impalpable ideas, clothes the naked conceptions of intellect with the garb of symmetrical expression, forges the golden links of language for the continuous processes
invests sentiment with the living majesty and power of utterance, and crowns the inspired productions of the artist and the poet with the consummate beauty of form and the music of immortal verse.
3. Fancy: its Effects on Expression. This faculty, although it possesses a character so peculiarly marked by external tendencies, and proneness to a lower sphere of action than that of imagination, can hardly claim, with justice, the dignity of a separate and independent existence. The term “Fancy," (fantasy,) is, strictly speaking, but another name for imagination, when that faculty, as an expressive power, assumes, occasionally, a lower than its wonted office, and, not content with the creation of form, descends to the addition of minute detail, in the shape, or figure, or color of its embodiments. Fancy, considered as a separate faculty, may be regarded as the servant and laborer of imagination, employed to take charge of all the merely outward effects of expressive art, but whose ambition sometimes leads it to aim at higher offices than it is, in itself, competent to fill. Attempting the creation of visible beauty, it assumes the office of a presiding deity over the fleeting, fluctuating phenomena of fashion and other manifestations of arbitrary taste. Uniting itself with humor and burlesque, it displays the whole world of fantastic oddity, drollery, and grotesque effects, of every species. It handles, with peculiar skill, the pencil of the caricaturist, and delights, sometimes, in the most hideous exaggerations. It contrives, occasionally, to lay mischievous hands on Taste, and with perverting influence to make her play all manner of antics, quite unconscious, all the while, how infinitely absurd and ridiculous she is making herself appear. Hence the whole world of absurd form and combinations in modes of dress and decoration, in incongruous architecture, deformed sculpture, distorted drawing, tawdry coloring, paltry novel-writing, fugitive (and vagabond) verses, agonistic orations, and nondescript lectures.
Fancy, however, has also her own becoming and proper part to play, when, in strictest unison with true Taste, and in filial obedience to her parent, Imagination, she gives symmetry to our dwellings and to our garments, genuine grace to manners, true beauty to our gardens,
happy touches to the details of artistic execution, chaste style to writing, and manly plainness to speech.
4. Imitation: its Tendencies.—The faculty of Imitation and the tendency to its exercise, which,—in the earlier stages of life, more particularly,-man possesses in common with many other of the animal tribes, form, in whatever regards expression, a peculiar source of power. It ensures, when judiciously developed, as a salutary instinct, all the advantages arising from native facility, as contrasted with the comparatively slow acquirements and laborious endeavors of mere artificial or mechanical training. The long non-age required for the comparatively slow development and maturing of the human being, implies a large dependence on the fostering care of parental guardianship and example; and the innate propensity to imitation, on the part of the child, coincides, in the effect of rendering more ample the opportunity of a long course of model training and practical lessons in the appropriate accomplishments of humanity. Among these, Speech, as the consummation of the expressive faculties, thus becomes the inheritance which one generation transmits to another, a possession unconsciously acquired, although actually the result of long-continued training, and sometimes, of painful efforts in detail.
Drawing, as an Imitative Art.—The imitative tendency of the young, leading, as it does, to the perfecting of utterance, as an exercise in which practice begets skill, extends its influence, by the law of analogy, far and wide, over every branch of art which involves expression as a result. Nor is there one of all these branches which does not, by the habitual practice of it, under the same law, serve to discipline and perfect the power of expression in every other. .
The feelings, the imagination, the conceptive power, the taste, and even the critical judgment of the young mind, are all called into as active exercise, in every earnest attempt to draw in outline, to shade, or to color the form of any external object, as in any endeavor to describe it by tongue or pen. Indeed, the extreme fixedness of attention demanded for exact and faithful delineation by the pencil, ensures a yet higher degree of mental activity, than does any other form of descriptive execution, and contributes more effectually to the development of graphic power of expression in language, than can any direct exercise in speech or writing; because the same powers are exerted in the one case as in the other, but with much more care and closeness of application.
Music, as an Imitative Art.-Another of the poetic and purely beneficent forms of the divinely implanted faculty of imitation, by which man attains the development of his powers of expression and
communication, is that of Music, in the form of song. The young ear drinks in, instinctively and intuitively, the beauty of sound, as the eye takes in that of form and color. The laws of melodic variation of tone seem to be inscribed on the human ear, with few exceptions, as the laws of graceful form and expansion are stamped on the plant. But the musical sense is not a merely dry perception or recognition, or a mechanical obedience to law. It is one of the most delightful forms in which man becomes conscious of the pleasure of feeling or the power of emotion; and, as his culture extends, he recognizes it as the intelligent utterance of sentiment, in the noblest expressions of social sympathy, or even of devotional aspiration.
The imitative practice of music, accordingly, in all its forms, from the humblest lullaby of the nursery to the most exalted strains of the perfect vocalist, becomes a powerful discipline of the ear, because of the heart, the intellect, and the imagination. It prepares them to receive more fully the impressions of the melody of speech, and, in due season, to give forth their effects in appropriate expression. The child imbibes from the mother's song the theme of its own imitative efforts, and from the simple beauty of the natural model, catches, at the same time, unconsciously, the emotion of which it is the utterance, and thus early learns to unite expression with feeling. At a later stage of his musical culture and development, he acquires more consciously and more distinctly, a perception of the inspiration which marks the tones of the empassioned eloquence of the orator and the poet, and learns to appreciate the delicious melody of the “ numerous verse" which "clothes the poet's thought in fitting sound.”
The great masters in musical science and art, abundantly prove, by the transcendent delight which their efforts yield to universal man, the power and value of music as an expressive art, independently of its relation to the cultivation of the power of language. But the intensity of pleasure derived from the perfection of musical composition and execution combined, suggests instructively to the educator the power which even the elementary practice of this imitative art exerts on the character of expression, when embodied in the forms of language,—the ability which it gives to touch the heart, or to kindle emotion, and throw the whole soul of the speaker and the writer into the mould of utterance.
5. Personation : its Tendency and Effects, as a Mode of Expression. The faculty of imitution with which man is endowed, as a form of expressive power, leading him to the acquisition of language, is early manifested in the passion of childhood for Personation ; the living, actual representation of what he sees going on in the human
world around him. The lively feelings of the child are not satisfied with the mere verbal presentation of thought and feeling in the arbitrary and conventional forms of language. He has an instinctive desire to impersonate the being of others in himself, and thus to enter more fully into their feelings, and acquire a truer power of expressing them. To his fresh sympathies and ever active imagination, life around him is a drama: "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women are but players,” each performing his part.
The child, the primitive man, the poet, all tend to dramatize human life, and to present it in living impersonation. The boy struts the mimic soldier, to his own mimic music; he drags his little wagon as an imaginary fire-engine, or mounts a chair and plays the orator to his little mates. In his puerile sports, he enacts a character or an incident, in dumb show, and requires that his juvenile companions shall express it in words. He personates a hero in history, or makes one in a group in a tableau, in which, as an Indian brave, he is about to dash out the brains of Captain Smith with his war-club, when his sister, as the compassionate princess Pocahontas, rushes in, and rescues the hero. At the academy exhibition, he personifies Mark Antony weeping over the murdered Cæsar, and with words of fire rousing the Romans to mutiny, “ crying havoc! and letting slip the dogs of war;" or he resorts, in preference, to the pen, and dramatizes a scene from his country's history, which he and his class-mates enact to the life, according to their power. In the maturity of his intellect, and amid the grave duties of professional life, he pauses, perhaps, to recreate himself, and delight the world with the production of a Comus or a Hamlet, in which, besides furnishing the composition, he still takes an active part in the business of representation, and, true to the dramatic instinct of his nature, sustains a character himself. It is thus that he completes the educational training by which he attains to the height of eloquence and expressive power in word and action; and this dramatic faculty of personation, while it gives vividness and intensity to his utterance, proclaims the meaning and intention of the self-discipline to which he was early impelled, by unconscious instinct.
6. REPRESENTATION : The Language of Signs.-In addition to the more imaginative and, sometimes, physical or corporeal manifestations of expressive power, which the human being exhibits in imitative acts, he possesses, as his special attribute, in virtue of his intellectual endowments, working in unison with the instinctive elements of his nature, that peculiar faculty of Representation, by which he is enabled to suggest his thoughts or feelings to the mind of his fellow man, by substituting for graphic or mimetic, or other forms of delineation, con
ventional signs, audible or visible, devised by his imaginative faculties of invention and combination. These signs are recognized and defined by his conceptive intellect; they are interpreted by the understanding, acting on a law of arbitrary association, established by mutual agreement or common consent, and ultimately sanctioned by prevalent usage. Furnished with this primitive telegraphic apparatus of audible and visible signs, man is enabled to put himself in communication with his sympathetic, intelligent, and rational fellowbeings,--to reveal to them the workings of his mind, and disclose the inmost secrets of his heart.
Speech and Writing.—Disciplined and perfected by art and skill, and aided by ingenious and asiduous educational cultivation, man's primitive power of utterance and expression, ultimately manifests itself in the consummated forms of spoken and written language, regulated by the laws of thought, as dictated by the sciences of logic and grammar, and adorned by the graces of rhetoric.
Language, a meusure of Power.—The feeble but persevering endeavors of childhood to conquer the difficulties of articulation, and to compass the power of oral expression, indicate, by the successive years which the task demands, how arduous is its accomplishment, and how thoroughly it puts to proof the ability which the young human being possesses to direct and develop his own powers of execution. Yet more striking is the magnitude of the task and the triumph, in the progress achieved by the student of written language, from the date of his first attempt, in boyhood, to pen a letter or compose a theme, to the time when, in the maturity of his intellectual manhood, he rises to address assembled multitudes of his fellow men, and to sway them by the potency of triumphant eloquence; or when he issues from his poetic privacy a work which shall live for ages, as an object of wonder and admiration.
Pictured and Written Characters.--Somewhat similar, indeed, have been the difficulty and the progress in the attainment of a mastery over the merely external part of written language; as we perceive when tracing the process from its primal rude attempts in the form of graphic delineations, through its advancement to symbolic representation, and, ultimately, to phonetic characters and alphabetic letters. Of the width of this vast field of human labor, and of the toil which its cultivation has cost, we have no adequate conception, till we look at the graphic delineations which form the historical records of Nineveh, or at the symbolic hieroglyphics and the clumsy phonetic characters inscribed on the temples of Egypt, and then contrast with these the simple and symmetrical letters of the Greek or