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To understand any habitual and more or less permanent expression of the face we must study further into the nature of action. One of the most important distinctions or divisions of pantomimic expression is found in its degree of permanence.
Pantomime may be divided into gesture, attitude and bearing.
A gesture is an expressive motion. It expresses something transitory, some feeling that is on the surface.
An attitude expresses a condition, an emotion that dominates us for a time; a feeling that lays hold of our deeper nature; a feeling that is not local or superficial, but one that permeates our whole being.
A bearing is an action that expresses that which is more permanent; that which has become a part of our character; it is the permanent result of some emotion that we have frequently cherished, the result of habitual emotions and attitudes. The bearing thus expresses character.
Every experience we pass through tends to create a condition favorable to its return. Feelings that recur frequently, therefore, establish certain tendencies or bearings which underlie all other expressions, whether gestures or attitudes.
As a rule the individual is unconscious of his bearing. It has become such a permanent part
of him that he becomes aware of it only occasionally, and by comparing himself with other men; or by the intuition which lies back of consciousness of his higher possibilities or ideals. Here we find that a study of action reveals to us the deepest process of our development, a process that goes on from the cradle to the grave. By turning away from certain experiences, and cherishing those that are opposite or higher, we begin the process of our more ideal development.
Notwithstanding all that may be said regarding education as an acquisition of knowledge, even as the attainment of culture, there is a deeper process,—the formation of character. That is the highest part of education. All educational training must centre in this process of establishing right habits as expressed in normal bearings right dispositions and motives, right tendencies in being and their expression in the bearing of the body.
There is a tendency in our day for the young man to leap to his profession, to despise the college course and turn to the professional school. The young man is more ambitious to become a lawyer or a doctor or a business man than he is to develop his personality.
Bearing is seldom thought of in relation to speaking. The speaker in fact is apt to think of that which is most emotional and most superficial. Speakers, we find as a rule, have more faith in gestures than in attitudes.
If, however, we observe carefully, we may note that, although the gestures may be very significant and attitudes still more so, it is the bearing which possesses the deepest and highest expressive value. A transitory feeling is less important than
an emotion that remains for a time, and even this is less important than those feelings which have become vital motives, a real part of the permanent character.
Almost alone of all languages, a man's nature is expressed by his action and especially by his bearing which transcends all action.
Is a smile an attitude, a gesture or a bearing? It may be any one of them. Certain giggles and grimaces are gestures, whereas a loving smile may express
the attitude of a man. The most important element of the smile, however, is that which is usually entirely overlooked, a certain permanent attitude toward life, toward others, a kindly bearing which may not be recognized as a smile, but if studied may be taken as a condition favorable to a smile.
That the condition may become a bearing may be easily proved by a few illustrations.
One of my most delightful remembrances is of an occasional glimpse of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes upon the street. One day I came upon him looking into a store window, with all the smiling interest of a boy. I stood at a distance and gazed on him with admiration.
A few times I have seen him crossing the Common. He seemed to be one animated smile from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. The smile seemed to be there always as a bearing. It was a smile in repose. There was no grin, that horrible mockery of a smile. It was the deep, genuine, simple revelation of the heart of a child which he was able to keep through all the serious work of a man's life.
By invitation of one of my students I once attended a lecture on anatomy by Dr. Holmes at
the Harvard Medical School. It was one of his most serious lectures. There was no joke in it from first to last. The subject was the larynx, and the young medical friend who accompanied me thought I would be particularly interested in the subject. How happy every student in that class seemed! I saw the eager faces all about me. The Professor's remarks were expressive of cheerfulness and sympathy. I wanted to see if he had the professional air that most lecturers have; the mask which the minister puts on when he ascends to the pulpit; that the teacher usually assumes before his class; that the employer wears when he goes into the factory. There was nothing of the kind,-only a genuine, simple, hearty, loving bearing. I saw the man himself with a cheerfulness so deep that it became seriousness. It was the same smile he wore when he stood
before an audience once and said:
“ Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to fill the place of Judge Gray. Now you all know that is impossible. All I can hope to do is to rattle around in it a little." Judge Gray, as is well-known, was a very large
He and Phillips Brooks and Bishop McVicker, who were all unusually large men, were once walking through a village in Europe. The natives gazed at them in astonishment and inquired whence they came. Someone replied,
Those are Americans; they are rather small men in their own country.”
Another story is told of these three men who were once in London. A man was lecturing on the degeneracy of the race. Among his illustrations he said, “ Look at the Americans. They are thin and lank, and small in stature.” At the close
of the lecture there was a chance for questions. One of the Americans arose and said:
Ladies and gentlemen: I am an American and you can see for yourself if I am an illustration of the gentleman's principles.” Another of the famous trio then arose and said, “I also am an American. You can take me as another specimen. When the third man arose the situation was too much for the audience and the laughter was uncontrollable.
I once heard Dr. Holmes introduce Matthew Arnold. “I am reminded,” he said, “ of two Americans, a big man and a little man, who met a mob in London. The big man gave his coat to the little man to hold while he demonstrated his strength in subduing the mob. The mob gave three cheers for the big man; then someone cried,
Three cheers for the little man who held the coat.' Now, ladies and gentlemen, the man who was to hold the coat to-night was Reverend Phillips Brooks."
Then there was another noble character-Dr. Edward Everett Hale. Whoever saw him crossing the Common, or walking along Tremont Street to the Lend-a-Hand office without feeling a thrill of joy? His countenance was expanded even when he seemed to be thinking over some deep problem. He felt happiness in all that lay about him-an interest in every human being.
I once heard him tell about passing two girls in front of the old Public Library. He overheard one of them say, “Look at that bright, beautiful room. I wonder if it is a club and what kind of people go in there." He said, “I am not accustomed to speak to ladies on the street, but I broke my rule for once. I stepped up to the girls and said, “That