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Title: Delsarte System of Oratory
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Language: English
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Delsarte System of Oratory

1. The Complete Work of L'Abbé Delaumosne

2. The Complete Work of Mme. Angélique Arnaud

3. All the Literary Remains of François Delsarte
    (Given in his own words)

4. The Lecture and Lessons Given by Mme. Marie
    Géraldy (Delsarte's Daughter) in America

5. Articles by Alfred Giraudet, Francis A. Durivage,
    and Hector Berlioz

Fourth Edition
New York
Edgar S. Werner

By Edgar S. Werner
1882, 1884, 1887, 1892


Delaumosne On Delsarte.

Biographical Sketch

Part First.


Chapter I.

    Preliminary Ideas--Criterion of the Oratorical Art.

Chapter II. Of The Voice.

    Organic Apparatus of the Voice--The Voice in Relation to
    Compass--The Voice in Relation to Vowels--Practical Conclusions

Chapter III. The Voice in Relation to Intensity of Sound.

    What is Understood by Intensity of Sound--Means of Augmenting the
    Timbre of the Voice--Rules for Intensity of Sound

Chapter IV.

The Voice in Relation to Measure.

    Of Slowness and Rapidity in Oratorical Delivery--Of Respiration and
    Silence--Inflections--Rules of Inflection--Special Inflections

Part Second.


Chapter I. Of Gesture in General

Chapter II. Definition and Division of Gesture.

    Gesture is the Direct Agent of the Heart--Gesture is the Interpreter
    of Speech--Gesture is an Elliptical Language

Chapter III. Origin and Oratorical Value of Gesture

Chapter IV. The Laws of Gesture.

    The Priority of Gesture to Speech--Retroaction--Opposition of
    Agents--Number of Gestures--Duration of Gesture--The Rhythm of
    Gesture--Importance of the Laws of Gesture

Chapter V. Of Gesture in Particular.

    The Head--Movements of the head: The Normal State, The Eccentric
    State, The Concentric State--Of the Eyes--Of the Eyebrows

Chapter VI. Of The Torso.

    The Chest--The Shoulders.

Chapter VII. Of The Limbs.

    The Arms--Inflections of the Forearm--Of the Elbow--Of the Wrist--Of
    the Hand: The Digital Face, The Back Face, The Palmar Face--Of the
    Fingers--Of the Legs.

Chapter VIII. Of the Semeiotic, or the Reason of Gesture.

    The Types which Characterize Gesture--Of Gesture Relative to its
    Modifying Apparatus

Chapter IX. Of Gesture in Relation to the Figures Which Represent It.

Part Third. Articulate Language.

Chapter I. Origin and Organic Apparatus of Language.

Chapter II. Elements of Articulate Language.

Chapter III. The Oratorical Value of Speech.

Chapter IV. The Value of Words in Phrases.

    The Conjunction--The Interjection in Relation to its Degree of
    Value--A Resumé of the Degrees of Value

Chapter V. French and Latin Prosody

Chapter VI. Method.

    Dictation Exercises

Chapter VII. A Series Of Gestures For Exercises.

    Preliminary Reflections--The Series of Gestures Applied to the
    Sentiments Oftenest Expressed by the Orator: (1) Interpellation; (2)
    Thanks, Affectionate and Ceremonious; (3) Attraction; (4) Surprise
    and Assurance; (5) Devotion; (6) Interrogative Surprise; (7)
    Reiterated Interrogation; (8) Anger; (9) Menace; (10) An Order for
    Leaving; (11) Reiteration; (12) Fright--Important Remarks



Arnaud On Delsarte.

Part Fourth.

Chapter I. The Bases of the Science

Chapter II. The Method.

    Ellipsis--Shades and Inflections--Vocal Music--Respiration--Position
    of the Tone--Preparation of the Initial Consonant--Exercises--
    Appoggiatura--Roulades and Martellato--Pronunciation--E mute before a
    Consonant--E mute before a Vowel.

Chapter III. Was Delsarte a Philosopher?

Chapter IV. Course of Applied Æsthetics.

    Meeting of the Circle of Learned Societies--Theory of the Degrees.

Chapter V. The Recitation of Fables.

Chapter VI. The Law of Æsthetics.

Chapter VII. The Elements of Art.

    The True. The Good. The Beautiful.

Chapter VIII. Application of the Law to Various Arts.

    Dramatic, Lyric and Oratorical Art.
    Application of the Law to Literature.
    Application of the Law to Architecture.
    Application of the Law to Sculpture.
    Application of the Law to Painting.

Chapter IX. Delsarte's Beginnings.

Chapter X. Delsarte's Theatre and School.

Chapter XI. Delsarte's Family.

Chapter XII. Delsarte's Religion.

Chapter XIII. Delsarte's Friends.

Chapter XIV. Delsarte's Scholars.

Chapter XV. Delsarte's Musical Compositions.

Chapter XVI. Delsarte's Evening Lectures.

Chapter XVII. Delsarte's Inventions.

Chapter XVIII. Delsarte before the Philotechnic Association.

Chapter XIX. Delsarte's Last Years.

Literary Remains Of François Delsarte.

Part Fifth.

Publisher's Note.

Delsarte's Last Letter To The King Of Hanover

Episode I.
Episode II.
Episode III.
Episode IV.
Episode V.

    Semeiotics of the Shoulder.

Episode VI.
Episode VII.

What I Propose.
The Beautiful.


    Reversal of Processional Relations.

Passion of Signs, Signs of Passion.

Definition of Form.

On Distinction and Vulgarity of Motion.


    Definition of Gesture.

Attitudes of the Head.

Attitudes of the Hands.

    Affirmation of the Hand.

    Table of the Normal Character of the Nine Attitudes.

Attitudes of the Legs.

The Holy Trinity Recovered in Sound.



    Vocal Respiration.
    Logical Respiration.
    Passional Respiration.

Vocal Organ.

Definition Of The Voice.

  What the Register is.
  On Shading.
  Pathetic Effects.
  On the Tearing of the Voice.


Medallion of Inflection.

The Nature of the Colors of Each Circle in the Color Charts.

The Attributes of Reason.

Random Notes.

Part Sixth.

The Lecture and Lessons Given by Mme. Marie Géraldy (Delsarte's
Daughter) in America.

Part Seventh.

Article by Alfred Giraudet.
Article by Francis A. Durivage.
Article by Hector Berlioz.

Delaumosne On Delsarte.

The Delsarte System,


M. l'Abbe Delaumosne,

(_Pupil of Delsarte._)

Translated by Frances A. Shaw.

François Delsarte.

François Delsarte was born November 11, 1811, at Solesme, a little town
of the Department of the North, in France. His father, who was a
renowned physician and the author of several inventions, might have
secured a fortune for his family, had he been more anxious for the
morrow, but he died in a state bordering upon poverty.

In 1822, François was apprenticed to a porcelain painter of Paris, but,
yielding to a taste and aptitude for music, in the year 1825, he sought
and obtained admission to the Conservatory as a pensioner. Here a great
trial awaited him--a trial which wrecked his musical career, but was a
decided gain for his genius. He had been placed in the vocal classes,
and in consequence of faults in method and direction, he lost his voice.
He was inconsolable, but, without making light of his sorrow, we may
count that loss happy, which gave the world its first law-giver in the
art of oratory.

The young student refused to accept this calamity without making one
final effort to retrieve it. He presented himself at the musical contest
of 1829. His impaired voice rendered success impossible, but kind words
from influential friends in a great measure compensated for defeat.

The celebrated Nourrit said to him: "I have given you my vote for the
first prize, and my children shall have no singing-master but you."

"Courage," said Madame Malibran, pressing his hand. "You will one day be
a great artist."

But Delsarte knew that without a voice he must renounce the stage, and
yielding to the inevitable, he gave up the role of the actor to assume
the functions of the professor. After his own shipwreck upon a bark
without pilot or compass, he summoned up courage to search into the laws
of an art which had hitherto subsisted only upon caprice and personal

After several years of diligent study, he discovered and formulated the
essential laws of all art; and, thanks to him, æsthetic science in our
day has the same precision as mathematical science. He had numerous
pupils, many of whom have become distinguished in various public
careers--in the pulpit, at the bar, on the stage, and at the tribune.

Madame Sontag, when she wished to interpret Gluck's music, chose
Delsarte for her teacher. Rachel drew inspiration from his counsels, and
he became her guardian of the sacred fire. He was urgently solicited to
appear with her at the Théâtre-Français, but religious scruples led him
to refuse the finest offers.

Madame de Giradin (Delphine Gay), surnamed the Muse of her country,
welcomed him gladly to her salon, then the rendezvous of the world of
art and letters, and regretted not seeing him oftener. He was more than
once invited to the literary sessions of Juilly college, and, under the
spell of his diction, the pupils became animated by a new ardor for

Monseigneur Sibour had great esteem and affection for Delsarte, and made
him his frequent guest. It was in the salon of this art-loving
archbishop that Delsarte achieved one of his most brilliant triumphs.
All the notable men of science had gathered there, and the conversation
took such a turn that Delsarte found opportunity to give, without
offence, a challenge in these two lines of Racine:

    _L'onde approche, se brise, et vomit à nos yeux,
    Parmi des flots d'écume, un monstre furieux._

    ("The wave draws near, it breaks, and casts before our eyes,
    Amid the floods of foam, a monster grim and dire.")

"Please tell me the most emphatic and significant word here," said

All reflected, sought out and then gave, each in turn, his chosen word.
Every word was selected save the conjunction _et_ (and). No one thought
of that.

Delsarte then rose, and in a calm and modest, but triumphant tone, said:
"The significant, emphatic word is the only one which has escaped you.
It is the conjunction _and_, whose elliptic sense leaves us in
apprehension of that which is about to happen." All owned themselves
vanquished, and applauded the triumphant artist.

Donoso Cortés made Delsarte a chosen confidant of his ideas. One day,
when the great master of oratorical diction had recited to him the _Dies
Irae_, the illustrious philosopher, in an access of religious emotion,
begged that this hymn might be chanted at his funeral. Delsarte promised
it, and he kept his word.

When invited to the court of Louis Philippe, he replied: "I am not a
court buffoon." When a generous compensation was hinted at, he answered:
"I do not sell my loves." When it was urged that the occasion was a
birth-day fête to be given his father by the Duke of Orleans, he
accepted the invitation upon three conditions, thus stated by himself:
"1st. I shall be the only singer; 2d. I shall have no accompaniment but
the opera chorus; 3d. I shall receive no compensation." The conditions
were assented to, and Delsarte surpassed himself. The king paid him such
marked attentions that M. Ingres felt constrained to say: "One might
declare in truth that it is Delsarte who is king of France."

Delsarte's reputation had passed the frontier. The king of Hanover
committed to his instruction the greatest musical artiste of his realm,
and was so gratified with her improvement that, wishing to recompense
the professor, he sent him the much prized Hanoverian medal of arts and
sciences, accompanied by a letter from his own royal hand. Delsarte
afterwards received from the same king the cross of a Chevalier of the
Guelph order.

Delsarte's auditors were not the only ones to sound his praises. The
learned reviews extolled his merits. Such writers as Laurentie, Riancey,
Lamartine and Théophile Gautier awarded him the most enthusiastic
praise. Posterity will perpetuate his fame.

M. Laurentie writes: "I heard Delsarte recite one evening '_Iphigenia's
Dream_,' which the audience had besought of him. The hall remained
thrilled and breathless under this impaired and yet sovereign voice. All
yielded in rapt astonishment to the spell. There was no prestige, no
theatrical illusion. Iphigenia was a professor in a black frock coat;
the orchestra was a piano, giving forth here and there an unexpected
modulation. This was his whole force; yet the hall was mute, hearts
beat, tears flowed from many eyes, and when the recital ended,
enthusiastic shouts arose, as if Iphigenia in person had just recounted
her terrors."

After Delsarte had gathered so abundant a harvest of laurels, fate
decided that he had lived long enough. When he had reached his sixtieth
year, he was attacked by hypertrophy of the heart, which left his rich
organization in ruins. He was no longer the artist of graceful, supple,
expressive and harmonious movements; no longer the thinker with profound
and luminous ideas. But in the midst of this physical and intellectual
ruin, the Christian sentiment retained its strong, sweet energy. A
believer in the sacraments which he had received in days of health, he
asked for them in the hour of danger, and many times he partook of that
sacrament of love whose virtue he had taught so well.

Finally, after having lingered for months in a state that was neither
life nor death, surrounded by his pious wife, and his weeping, praying
children, he rendered his soul to God on the 20th of July, 1871.

Delsarte never could be persuaded to write anything upon themes foreign
to those connected with his musical and vocal work. The author of this
volume desires to save from oblivion the most wonderful conception of
this superior intellect: his _Course of Æsthetic Oratory_. He dares
promise to be a faithful interpreter. If excuse be needed for
undertaking a task so delicate, he replies that he addresses himself to
a class of readers who will know how to appreciate his motives.

The merit of Delsarte, the honor of his family, the gratification of his
numerous friends, the interests of science, the claims of friendship,
demand that this light should not be left under a bushel, but placed
upon a candlestick--this light which has shed so brilliant a glow, and
enriched the arts with a new splendor.


Orators, you are called to the ministry of speech. You have fixed your
choice upon the pulpit, the bar, the tribune or the stage. You will
become one day, preacher, advocate, lecturer or actor; in short, you
desire to embrace the orator's career. I applaud your design. You will
enter upon the noblest and most glorious of vocations. Eloquence holds
the first rank among the arts. While we award praise and glory to great
musicians and painters, to great masters of sculpture and architecture,
the prize of honor is decreed to great orators.

Who can define the omnipotence of speech? With a few brief words God
called the universe from nothingness; speech falling from the glowing
lips of the Apostles, has changed the face of the earth. The current of
opinion follows the prestige of speech, and to-day, as ever, eloquence
is universal queen. We need feel no surprise that, in ancient times, the
multitude uncovered as Cicero approached, and cried: "Behold the

Would you have your speech bear fruit and command honor? Two qualities
are needful: virtue and a knowledge of the art of oratory. Cicero has
defined the orator as a good man of worth: _Vir bonus, dicendi peritus_.

Then, above all, the orator should be a man of worth. Such a man will
make it his purpose to do good; and the good is the true end of
oratorical art. In truth, what is art? Art is the expression of the
beautiful in ideas; it is the true. Plato says the beautiful is the
splendor of the true.

What is art? It is the beautiful in action. It is the good. According to
St. Augustine, the beautiful is the lustre of the good.

Finally, what is art? It is the beautiful in the harmonies of nature.
Galen, when he had finished his work on the structure of the human body,
exclaimed: "Behold this beautiful hymn to the glory of the Creator!"

What, then, is the true, the beautiful, the good? We might answer, it is
God. Then virtue and the glory of God should be the one end of the
orator, of the good man. A true artist never denies God.

Eloquence is a means, not an end. We must not love art for its own sake,
that would be idolatry. Art gives wings for ascent to God. One need not
pause to contemplate his wings.

Art is an instrument, but not an instrument of vanity or complaisance.
Truth, alas! compels us to admit that eloquence has also the melancholy
power of corrupting souls. Since it is an art, it is also a power which
must produce its effect for good or evil.

It has been said that the fool always finds a greater fool to listen to
him. We might add that the false, the ugly and the vicious have each a
fibre in the human heart to serve their purpose. Then let the true
orator, the good man, armed with holy eloquence, seek to paralyze the
fatal influence of those orators who are apostles of falsehood and

Poets are born, orators are made: _nascuntur poetae, fiunt oratores_.
You understand why I have engraved this maxim on the title-page of my
work. It contains its _raison d'être_, its justification. Men are poets
at birth, but eloquence is an art to be taught and learned. All art
presupposes rules, procedures, a mechanism, a method which must be

We bring more or less aptitude to the study of an art, but every
profession demands a period more or less prolonged. We must not count
upon natural advantages; none are perfect by nature. Humanity is
crippled; beauty exists only in fragments. Perfect beauty is nowhere to
be found; the artist must create it by synthetic work.

You have a fine voice, but be certain it has its defects. Your
articulation is vicious, and the gestures upon which you pride yourself,
are, in most cases, unnatural. Do not rely upon the fire of momentary
inspiration. Nothing is more deceptive. The great Garrick said: "I do
not depend upon that inspiration which idle mediocrity awaits." Talma
declared that he absolutely calculated all effects, leaving nothing to
chance. While he recited the scene between Augustus and Cinna, he was
also performing an arithmetical operation. When he said:

    "Take a chair, Cinna, and in everything
    Closely observe the law I bid you heed"--

he made his audience shudder.

The orator should not even think of what he is doing. The thing should
have been so much studied, that all would seem to flow of itself from
the fountain.

But where find this square, this intellectual compass, that traces for
us with mathematical precision, that line of gestures beyond which the
orator must not pass? I have sought it for a long time, but in vain.
Here and there one meets with advice, sometimes good but very often
bad. For example, you are told that the greater the emotion, the
stronger should be the voice. Nothing is more false. In violent emotion
the heart seems to fill the larynx and the voice is stifled. In all such
counsels it behooves us to search out their foundation, the reason that
is in them, to ask if there is a type in nature which serves as their

We hear a celebrated orator. We seek to recall, to imitate his
inflections and gestures. We adopt his mannerisms, and that is all. We
see these mannerisms everywhere, but the true type is nowhere.

After much unavailing search, I at last had the good fortune to meet a
genuine master of eloquence. After giving much study to the masterpieces
of painting and sculpture, after observing the living man in all his
moods and expressions, he has known how to sum up these details and
reduce them to laws. This great artist, this unrivaled master, was the
pious, the amiable, the lamented Delsarte.

There certainly was pleasure and profit in hearing this master of
eloquence, for he excelled in applying his principles to himself. Still
from his teachings, even from the dead letter of them, breaks forth a
light which reveals horizons hitherto unknown.

This work might have been entitled: _Philosophy of Oratorical Art_, for
one cannot treat of eloquence without entering the domain of the highest

What, in fact, is oratorical art? It is the means of expressing the
phenomena of the soul by the play of the organs. It is the sum total of
rules and laws resulting from the reciprocal action of mind and body.
Thus man must be considered in his sensitive, intellectual and moral
state, with the play of the organs corresponding to these states. Our
teaching has, then, for its basis the science of the soul ministered to
by the organs. This is why we present the fixed, invariable rules which
have their sanction in philosophy. This can be rendered plain by an
exposition of our method.

The art of oratory, we repeat, is expressing mental phenomena by the
play of the physical organs. It is the translation, the plastic form,
the language of human nature. But man, the image of God, presents
himself to us in three phases: the sensitive, intellectual and moral.
Man feels, thinks and loves. He is _en rapport_ with the physical world,
with the spiritual world, and with God. He fulfils his course by the
light of the senses, the reason, or the light of grace.

We call life the sensitive state, mind the intellectual state, and soul
the moral state. Neither of these three terms can be separated from the
two others. They interpenetrate, interlace, correspond with and
embrace each other. Thus mind supposes soul and life. Soul is at the
same time mind and life. In fine, life is inherent in mind and soul.
Thus these three primitive moods of the soul are distinguished by nine
perfectly adequate terms. The soul being the form of the body, the body
is made in the image of the soul. The human body contains three
organisms to translate the triple form of the soul.

The phonetic machinery, the voice, sound, inflections, are living
language. The child, as yet devoid of intelligence and sentiment,
conveys his emotions through cries and moans.

The myologic or muscular machinery, or gesture, is the language of
sentiment and emotion. When the child recognizes its mother, it begins
to smile.

The buccal machinery, or articulate speech, is the language of the

Man, neither by voice nor gesture, can express two opposite ideas on the
same subject; this necessarily involves a resort to speech. Human
language is composed of gesture, speech and singing. The ancient
melodrama owed its excellence to a union of these three languages.

Each of these organisms takes the eccentric, concentric, or normal form,
according to the different moods of the soul which it is called to

In the sensitive state, the soul lives outside itself; it has relations
with the exterior world. In the intellectual state, the soul turns back
upon itself, and the organism obeys this movement. Then ensues a
contraction in all the agents of the organism. This is the concentric
state. In the moral or mystic state, the soul, enraptured with God,
enjoys perfect tranquility and blessedness. All breathes peace,
quietude, serenity. This is the normal state,--the most perfect,
elevated and sublime expression of which the organism is capable.

Let us not forget that by reason of a constant transition, each state
borrows the form of its kindred state. Thus the normal state can take
the concentric and eccentric form, and become at the same time, doubly
normal; that is, normal to the highest degree. Since each state can take
the form of the two others, the result is nine distinct gestures, which
form that marvelous accord of nine, which we call the universal

In fine, here is the grand law of organic gymnastics:

The triple movement, the triple language of the organs is eccentric,
concentric, or normal, according as it is the expression of life, soul
or spirit.

Under the influence, the occult inspiration of this law, the great
masters have enriched the world with miracles of art. Aided by this law
the course followed in this work, may be easily understood.

Since eloquence is composed of three languages, we divide this work into
three books in which voice, gesture and speech are studied by turns.
Then, applying to them the great law of art, our task is accomplished.

The advantages of this method are easily understood. There is given a
type of expression not taken from the individual, but from human nature
synthetized. Thus the student will not have the humiliation of being the
slave or ape of any particular master. He will be only himself. Those
who assimilate their imperfect natures to the perfect type will become
orators. _Fiunt Oratores._

Success having attended the first efforts, let the would-be orator
assimilate these rules, and his power will be doubled, aye increased a
hundredfold. And thus having become an orator, a man of principle, who
knows how to speak well, he will aid in the triumph of religion, justice
and virtue.

Part First.


Chapter I.

Preliminary Ideas--criterion of the Oratorical Art.

Let us note an incontestable fact. The science of the Art of Oratory has
not yet been taught. Hitherto genius alone, and not science, has made
great orators. Horace, Quintilian and Cicero among the ancients, and
numerous modern writers have treated of oratory as an art. We admire
their writings, but this is not science; here we seek in vain the
fundamental laws whence their teachings proceed. There is no science
without principles which give a reason for its facts. Hence to teach and
to learn the art of oratory, it is necessary:

1. To understand the general law which controls the movements of the

2. To apply this general law to the movements of each particular organ;

3. To understand the meaning of the form of each of these movements;

4. To adapt this meaning to each of the different states of the soul.

The fundamental law, whose stamp every one of these organs bears, must
be kept carefully in mind. Here is the formula:

The sensitive, mental and moral state of man are rendered by the
eccentric, concentric or normal form of the organism.[1]

Such is the first and greatest law. There is a second law, which
proceeds from the first and is similar to it:

Each form of the organism becomes triple by borrowing the form of the
two others.

It is in the application of these two laws that the entire practice of
the art of oratory consists. Here, then, is a science, for we possess a
criterion with which all phenomena must agree, and which none can
gainsay. This criterion, composed of our double formula, we represent in
a chart, whose explanation must be carefully studied.

The three primitive forms or genera which affect the organs are
represented by the three transverse lines.

           GENUS.                   SPECIES.
                           1           3            2

         II. Conc.        1-II        3-II         2-II
                       Ecc. Conc.  Norm. Conc.  Conc. Conc.

         III. Norm.      1-III        3-III        2-III
                      Ecc. Norm.   Norm. Norm.  Conc. Norm.

         I. Ecc.          1-I          3-I          2-I
                      Ecc. Ecc.    Norm. Ecc.   Conc. Ecc.

The subdivision of the three genera into nine species is noted in the
three perpendicular columns.

Under the title _Genus_ we shall use the Roman numerals I, III, II.

Under the title _Species_ we employ the Arabic figures 1, 3, 2.

I designates the eccentric form, II the concentric form, III the normal

The Arabic figures have the same signification.

The normal form, either in the genus or the species, we place in the
middle column, because it serves as a bond of union between the two
others, as the moral state is the connecting link between the
intellectual and vital states.

Thus the first law relative to the primitive forms of the organs is
applied in the three transverse columns, and the second law relative to
their compound forms is reproduced in the three vertical columns.

As may be easily proven, the eccentric genus produces three species of
eccentric forms, marked in the three divisions of the lower transverse

Since the figure 1 represents the eccentric form, 1-I will designate the
form of the highest degree of eccentricity, which we call

Since the figure 3 represents the normal form, the numbers 3-I will
indicate the _normo-eccentric_ form.

Since the figure 2 designates the form which translates intelligence,
the figures 2-I indicate the _concentro-eccentric_ form as a _species_.
As the species proceeds from the genus, we begin by naming the species
in order to bring it back to the genus. Thus, in the column of the
eccentric genus the figure 1 is placed after the numbers 3 and 2, which
belong to the species. We must apply the same analysis to the transverse
column of the normal genus, as also to that of the concentric genus.

Following a diagonal from the bottom to the top and from left to right,
we meet the most expressive form of the species, whether eccentric,
normal or concentric, marked by the figures 1-I, 3-III, 2-II, and by the
abbreviations _Ecc.-ecc. (Eccentro-eccentric), Norm.-norm.
(Normo-normal), Conc.-conc. (Concentro-concentric)_. It is curious to
remark how upon this diagonal the organic manifestations corresponding
to the soul, that is to love, are found in the midst, to link the
expressive forms of life and mind.

This chart sums up all the essential forms which can affect the
organism. This is a universal algebraic formula, by which we can solve
all organic problems. We apply it to the hand, to the shoulder, to the
eyes, to the voice--in a word, to all the agents of oratorical language.
For example, it suffices to know the _eccentro-eccentric_ form of the
hand, of the eyes; and we reserve it for the appropriate occasion.

All the figures accompanying the text of this work are only
reproductions of this chart affected by such or such a particular organ.
A knowledge of this criterion gives to our studies not only simplicity,
clearness and facility, but also mathematical precision.

In proposing the accord of nine formed by the figure 3 multiplied into
itself, it must be understood that we give the most elementary, most
usual and least complicated terms. Through natural and successive
subdivisions we can arrive at 81 terms. Thus multiply 9 by 3; the number
27 gives an accord of 27 terms, which can again be multiplied by 3 to
reach 81. Or rather let us multiply 9 by 9, and we in like manner obtain
81 terms, which become the end of the series. This is the alpha and
omega of all human science. _Huc usque venies, et ibi confringes
tumentes fluctus tuos._ ("Thus far shalt thou come, and here shall thy
proud waves be stayed.")

It is well to remark that this criterion is applied to all possible
phenomena, both in the arts and sciences. This is reason, universal
synthesis. All phenomena, spiritual as well as material, must be
considered under three or nine aspects, or not be understood. Three
genera and nine species; three and nine in everything and everywhere;
three and nine, these are the notes echoed by all beings. We do not fear
to affirm that this criterion is divine, since it conforms to the nature
of beings. Then, with this compass in hand, let us explore the vast
field of oratorical art, and begin with the voice.

NOTE TO THE STUDENT.--Do not go on without a perfect understanding of
this explanation of the criterion, as well as the exposition of our
method which closes the preface.

Chapter II.

Of The Voice.

The whole secret of captivating an audience by the charms of the voice,
consists in a practical knowledge of the laws of sound, inflection,
respiration and silence. The voice first manifests itself through sound;
inflection is an intentional modification of sound; respiration and
silence are a means of falling exactly upon the suitable tone and

Sound being the first language of man in the cradle, the least we can
demand of the orator is, that he speak intelligently a language whose
author is instinct. The orator must then listen to his own voice in
order to understand it, to estimate its value, to cultivate it by
correcting its faults, to guide it--in a word, to dispose of it at will,
according to the inclination of the moment. We begin the study of the
voice with _Sound;_ and as sound may be viewed under several aspects, we
divide this heading into as many sections.

_Compass of the Voice--Organic Apparatus of the Voice._

This apparatus is composed of the larynx, the mouth and the lungs. Each
of these agents derives its value from mutual action with the others.
The larynx of itself is nothing, and can be considered only through its
participation in the simultaneous action of the mouth and lungs.

Sound, then, is formed by a triple agent--projective, vibrative and

The lungs are the soliciting agent, the larynx is the vibrative agent,
the mouth is the reflective agent. These must act in unison, or there is
no result. The larynx might be called the mouth of the instrument, the
inside of the mouth the pavilion, the lungs the artist. In a violin, the
larynx would be the string, the lungs the bow, the mouth the instrument

The triple action of these agents produces phonation. They engender
sounds and inflections. Sound is the revelation of the sensitive life to
the minutest degree; inflections are the revelation of the same life in
a higher degree, and this is why they are the foundation and the charm
of music.

Such is the wonderful organism of the human voice, such the powerful
instrument Providence has placed at the disposal of the orator. But what
avails the possession of an instrument if one does not know how to use
it, or how to tune it? The orator, ignorant of the laws of sound and
inflection, resembles the debutant who places the trumpet to his lips
for the first time. We know the ear-torturing tones he evolves.

The ear is the most delicate, the most exacting of all our senses. The
eye is far more tolerant. The eye resigns itself to behold a bad
gesture, but the ear does not forgive a false note or a false
inflection. It is through the voice we please an audience. If we have
the ear of an auditor, we easily win his mind and heart. The voice is a
mysterious hand which touches, envelops and caresses the heart.

_Of the Voice in Relation to Compass._

All voices do not have the same compass, or the same range. By range we
mean the number of tones the voice can produce below and above a given
note on the staff, say A, second space of the treble clef.

There are four distinct kinds of voices: Soprano, alto, tenor and bass.
There are also intermediate voices, possessing the peculiar quality of
the kind to which it belongs, for example: Mezzo-soprano, with the
quality of the soprano and only differing from the soprano in range, the
range of this voice being lower than the soprano and a little higher
than the alto. Then comes the alto or contralto.

In the male voice we have the tenor robusto, a little lower than the
pure tenor and more powerful; next the baritone, a voice between the
tenor and bass, but possessing very much the quality of the bass.

The tones in the range of every voice can be divided into three
parts--the lower, medium and higher. Thus we would say of a performer,
he or she used the lower or higher tones, or whatever the case may be.
This applies to every kind of voice.

The soprano voice ranges generally from the middle C, first added line
below on the treble clef, upwards to A, first added line above the
staff. Contralto voices range generally from G, below middle C in the
treble clef, up to F, the upper line of the clef.

The tenor voice ranges from C, second space of the F clef, to D, second
space in the treble clef.

The bass voice ranges from lower F, first space below of the F or bass
clef, to D, second space above of this clef.[2]

The first perception of the human voice imperatively demands, 1. That
the voice be tried and its compass measured in order to ascertain to
what species it belongs. Its name must be known with absolute certainty.
It would be shameful in a musician not to know the name of the
instrument he uses. 2. That the ear be trained in order to distinguish
the pitch upon which one speaks.

We should be able to name a sound and to sound a name. The Orientals
could sing eight degrees of tone between C and D. There may be a whole
scale, a whole air between these two tones. It would be unpardonable
not to know how to distinguish or at least to sound a semitone.

There is a fact proved by experience, which must not be forgotten. The
high voice, with elevated brows, serves to express intensity of passion,
as well as small, trivial and also pleasant things.

The deep voice, with the eyes open, expresses worthy things.

The deep voice, with the eyes closed, expresses odious things.

_The Voice in Relation to Vowels._

As already stated, the vocal apparatus is composed of the lungs, the
larynx and the mouth; but its accessories are the teeth, the lips, the
palate and the uvula. The tip and root of the tongue, the arch of the
palate and the nasal cavities have also their share in perfecting the
acoustic apparatus.

In classifying the different varieties of voice, we have considered them
only in their rudimentary state. Ability to name and distinguish the
several tones of voice is the starting point. We have an image more or
less perfect, leaving the mould; we have a canvas containing the design,
but not the embroidery--the mere outline of an instrument, a body
without a soul. The voice being the language of the sensitive life, the
passional state must pass entirely into the voice.

We must know then how to give it an expression, a color answering to the
sentiment it conveys. But this expressive form of the voice depends
upon the sound of its vowels.

There is a mother vowel, a generative tone. It is _a_ (Italian _a_). In
articulating _a_ the mouth opens wide, giving a sound similar to _a_ in

The primitive _a_ takes three forms. The unaccented, Italian _a_
represents the normal state; _a_ with the acute accent (') represents
the eccentric state; _a_ with the grave accent (`) represents the
concentric state.

These three _a_'s derived from primitive _a_ become each in turn the
progenitor of a family with triple sounds, as may be seen in the
following genealogical tree:

             Á          A          À
             é          o          e

             è         au         eu

             i         ou          u

         Eccentric.  Normal.   Concentric.

This is the only simple sound, but four other sounds are derived from
it. The three _a's_ articulated by closing the uvula, give the nasal
_an_. Each family also gives its special nasal sound: _in_ for the
eccentric voice, _on_ for the normal state, _un_ for the concentric. All
other sounds are derived from combinations of these. The mouth cannot
possibly produce more than three families of sounds, and in each family
it is _a_ united with the others that forms the trinity.

The variety of sounds in these three families of vowels arises from the
difference of the opening of the mouth and lips in articulating them.
These different modes of articulation may be rendered more intelligible
by the subjoined diagrams:

_â_ is pronounced with the mouth very wide open, the uvula raised and
the tongue much lowered.

   O                     O

_é, è, i_ and _in_ are articulated with the lips open and the back part
of the mouth gradually closed.


_a, au, ou_ and _on_ are articulated with the back of the mouth open and
the lips gradually closed.


_e, eu, u_ and _un_ are articulated with the back of the mouth and the
lips uniformly closed.


The voice takes different names, according to the different sounds in
each family of vowels: the chest-voice, the medium voice and the

These names imply no change in the sort of voice, but a change in the
manner of emission. The head, medium or chest-voice, indicates only
variety in the emission of vowels, and may be applied to the high as
well as the deep and medium voice. Thus the deep voice may produce
sounds in the head-voice, as well as in the medium and chest voices.

The head-voice is produced by lowering the larynx, and at the same time
raising the uvula. In swallowing, the larynx rises by the elevation of
the uvula, without which elevation there can be no head-tones.

_Practical Conclusions._

1. It is highly important to know how to assume either of these voices
at will. The chest-voice is the expression of the sensitive or vital
life, and is the interpreter of all physical emotions. The medium voice
expresses sentiment and the moral emotions. The head-voice interprets
everything pertaining to scientific or mental phenomena. By observing
the laugh in the vital, moral and intellectual states, we shall see that
the voice takes the sound of the vowel corresponding to each state.

We understand the laugh of an individual; if upon the _i_ (_e_ long), he
has made a sorry jest; if upon _é_ (_a_ in _fate_), he has nothing in
his heart and most likely nothing in his head; if upon _á_ (_a_ short),
the laugh is forced. _O, à_, (_a_ long) and _ou_ are the only normal
expressions. Thus every one is measured, numbered, weighed. There is
reason in everything, even when unknown to man. In physical pain or
joy, the laugh or groan employs the vowels _é, è, i_.[3]

2. The chest-voice should be little used, as it is a bestial and very
fatiguing voice.

3. The head-voice or the medium voice is preferable, it being more noble
and more ample, and not fatiguing. In these voices there is far less
danger of hoarseness. The head and medium voices proceed more from the
mouth, while the chest-voice has its vibrating point in the larynx.

4. The articulation of the three syllables, _la, mo_ and _po_, is a very
useful exercise in habituating one to the medium voice. Besides
reproducing the tone of this voice, these are the musical consonants
_par excellence_. They give charm and development to the voice. We can
repeat these tones without fatiguing the vocal chords, since they are
produced by the articulative apparatus.

5. It is well to remark that the chest, medium and head voices are
synonymous with the eccentric, normal or concentric voice.

6. It is only a hap-hazard sort of orator who does not know how to
attain, at the outset, what is called the white voice, to be colored
afterward at will. The voice should resemble the painter's pallet, where
all the colors are arranged in an orderly manner, according to the
affinities of each. A colorless tint may be attained in the same way as
a pure tint. It may be well to remark here, although by anticipation,
that the expressions of the hand and brow belong to the voice. The
coloring of the larynx corresponds to the movements of the hand or

Sound is painting, or it is nothing. It should be in affinity with the

Chapter III.

The Voice in Relation to Intensity of Sound.

_What is Understood by Intensity of Sound._

The voice has three dimensions--height, depth and breadth; in other
terms, diapason, intensity and duration; or in yet other words,
tonality, timbre and succession.

Intensity may be applied alike to the voice and to sound. The voice is
strong or weak, according to the mechanism of the acoustic apparatus.
The strength or weakness of sound depends upon the speaker, who from the
same apparatus evolves tones more or less strong. It is the _forte,
piano_ and _pianissimo_ in music. Thus a loud voice can render weak
tones, and a weak voice loud tones. Hence the tones of both are capable
of increase or diminution.

_Means of Augmenting the Timbre of the Voice._

1. A stronger voice may be obtained by taking position not upon the heel
or flat of the foot, but upon the ball near the toes--that attitude
which further on we shall designate as the third. The chest is
eccentric; that is, convex and dilated. In this position all the muscles
are tense and resemble the chords of an instrument whose resonance is
proportional to their tension.

2. There are three modes of developing the voice. A voice may be
manufactured. A natural voice is almost always more or less changed by a
thousand deleterious influences.

1. _In volume_, by lowering the larynx, elevating the soft-palate and
hollowing the tongue.

2. _In intensity._--A loud voice may be hollow. It must be rendered
deep, forcible and brilliant by these three methods: profound
inspiration, explosion and expulsion. The intensity of an effect may
depend upon expulsion or an elastic movement. Tenuity is elasticity. It
is the rarest and yet the most essential quality of diction.

3. _In compass._--There are three ways of increasing the compass of the

  1. By the determination of its pitch;
  2. By practicing the vocal scale;
  3. By the fusion of the registers upon the key-note.

The first of these methods is most effective. The second consists in
exercising upon those notes which are near the key-note. Upon this
exercise depends in great measure the homogeneity of the voice. Taking
_la_ for the diapason, the voice which extends from the lowest notes to
upper _re_ is the chest-voice, since it suffers no acoustic
modification. From _mi_ to _la_ the voice is modified; it is the medium
voice, or the second register, which gives full and supple tones. The
head or throat-voice, or the third register, extends from _si_ to the
highest and sharpest notes. Its tones are weak, and should be avoided
as much as possible. There are then only four good notes--those from
_mi_ to _la_, upon which the voice should be exercised. By uniting the
registers, an artificial, homogeneous voice may be created, whose tones
are produced without compression and without difficulty. This being
done, it is evident that every note of the voice must successively
indicate the three registers--that is, it must be rendered in the chest,
medium and head voices.

There is also a method of diminishing the voice. As the tone is in
proportion to the volume of air in the lungs, it may be weakened by
contracting the epiglottis or by suppressing the respiration.

_Rules for Intensity of Sound._

1. The strength of the voice is in an inverse ratio to the respiration.
The more we are moved, the less loudly we speak; the less the emotion,
the stronger the voice. In emotion, the heart seems to mount to the
larynx, and the voice is stifled. A soft tone should always be an
affecting tone, and consist only of a breath. Force is always opposed to
power. It is an error to suppose that the voice must be increased as the
heart is laid bare. The lowest tones are the best understood. If we
would make a low voice audible, let us speak as softly as we can.

Go to the sea-shore when the tempest rages. The roar of the waves as
they break against the vessel's side, the muttering thunders, the
furious wind-gusts render the strongest voice impotent. Go upon a
battle-field when drums beat and trumpets sound. In the midst of this
uproar, these discordant cries, this tumult of opposing armies, the
leader's commands, though uttered in the loudest tones, can scarce be
heard; but a low whistle will be distinctly audible. The voice is
intense in serenity and calm, but in passion it is weak.

Let those who would bring forward subtle arguments against this law,
remember that logic is often in default when applied to artistic facts.

A concert is given in a contracted space, with an orchestra and a
double-bass. The double-bass is very weak. Logic would suggest two
double-basses in order to produce a stronger tone. Quite the contrary.
Two double-basses give only a semitone, which half a double-bass renders
of itself. So much for logic in this case.

The greatest joy is in sorrow, for here there is the greatest love.
Other joys are only on the surface. We suffer and we weep because we
love. Of what avail are tears? The essential thing is to love. Tears are
the accessories; they will come in time, they need not be sought.
Nothing so wearies and disgusts us, as the lachrymose tone. A man who
amounts to anything is never a whimperer.

Take two instruments in discord and remote from each other. Logic
forbids their approach lest their tones become more disagreeable. The
reverse is true. In bringing them together, the lowest becomes higher
and the highest lower, and there is an accord.

Let us suppose a hall with tapestries, a church draped in black. Logic
says, "sing more loudly." But this must be guarded against lest the
voice become lost in the draperies. The voice should scarce reach these
too heavy or too sonorous partitions, but leaving the lips softly, it
should pulsate through the audience, and go no farther.

An audience is asleep. Logic demands more warmth, more fire. Not at all.
Keep silent and the sleepers will awaken.

2. Sound, notwithstanding its many shades, should be homogeneous; that
is, as full at the end as at the beginning. The mucous membrane, the
lungs and the expiratory muscles have sole charge of its transmission.
The vocal tube must not vary any more for the loud tone than for the low
tone. The opening must be the same. The low tone must have the power of
the loud tone, since it is to be equally understood. The acoustic organs
should have nothing to do with the transmission of sound. They must be
inert so that the tone may be homogeneous. The speaker or singer should
know how to diminish the tone without the contraction of the back part
of the mouth.

To be homogeneous the voice must be ample. To render it ample, take high
rather than low notes. The dipthong _eu_ (like _u_ in muff), and the
vowels _u_ and _o_ give amplitude to sound. On the contrary, the tone
is meagre in articulating the vowels _é_, _í_ and _á_. To render the
voice ample, we open the throat and roll forth the sound. The more the
sound is _circumvoluted_, the more ample it is. To render the voice
resonant, we draw the tongue from the teeth and give it a hollow form;
then we lower the larynx, and in this way imitate the French horn.

3. The voice should always be sympathetic, kindly, calm, and noble, even
when the most repulsive things are expressed. A tearful voice is a grave
defect, and must be avoided. The same may be said of the tremulous voice
of the aged, who emphasize and prolong their syllables. Tears are out of
place in great situations; we should weep only at home. To weep is a
sure way of making people laugh.

Chapter IV.

The Voice in Relation to Measure.

_Of Slowness and Rapidity in Oratorical Delivery._

The third and last relation in which we shall study voice, is its
breadth, that is, the measure or rhythm of its tones.

The object of measure in oratorical diction is to regulate the interval
of sounds. But the length of the interval between one sound and another
is subject to the laws of slowness and rapidity, respiration, silence
and inflection.

Let us first consider slowness and rapidity, and the rules which govern

1. A hasty delivery is by no means a proof of animation, warmth, fire,
passion or emotion in the orator; hence in delivery, as in tone, haste
is in an inverse ratio to emotion. We do not glide lightly over a
beloved subject; a prolongation of tones is the complaisance of love.
Precipitation awakens suspicions of heartlessness; it also injures the
effect of the discourse. A teacher with too much facility or volubility
puts his pupils to sleep, because he leaves them nothing to do, and they
do not understand his meaning. But let the teacher choose his words
carefully, and every pupil will want to suggest some idea; all will
work. In applauding an orator we usually applaud ourselves. He says
what we were just ready to say; we seem to have suggested the idea. It
is superfluous to remark that slowness without gesture, and especially
without facial expression, would be intolerable. A tone must always be
reproduced with an expression of the face.

2. The voice must not be jerky. Here we must keep jealous watch over
ourselves. The entire interest of diction arises from a fusion of tones.
The tones of the voice are sentient beings, who love, hold converse,
follow each other and blend in a harmonious union.

3. It is never necessary to dwell upon the sound we have just left; this
would be to fall into that jerky tone we wish to avoid.

_Of Respiration and Silence._

We place respiration and silence under the same head because of their
affinity, for respiration may often be accounted silence.

_Of silence._--Silence is the father of speech, and must justify it.
Every word which does not proceed from silence and find its vindication
in silence, is a spurious word without claim or title to our regard.
Origin is the stamp, in virtue of which we recognize the intrinsic value
of things. Let us, then, seek in silence the sufficient reason of
speech, and remember that the more enlightened the mind is, the more
concise is the speech that proceeds from it. Let us assume, then, that
this conciseness keeps pace with the elevation of the mind, and that
when the mind arrives at the perception of the true light, finding no
words that can portray the glories open to its view, it keeps silent and
admires. It is through silence that the mind rises to perfection, for
_silence is the speech of God_.

Apart from this consideration, silence recommends itself as a powerful
agent in oratorical effects. By silence the orator arouses the attention
of his audience, and often deeply moves their hearts. When Peter
Chrysologue, in his famous homily upon the gospel miracle of the healing
of the issue of blood, overcome by emotion, paused suddenly and remained
silent, all present immediately burst into sobs.

Furthermore, silence gives the orator time and liberty to judge of his
position. An orator should never speak without having thought, reflected
and arranged his ideas. Before speaking he should decide upon his
stand-point, and see clearly what he proposes to do. Even a fable may be
related from many points of view; from that of expression as well as
gesture, from that of inflection as well as articulate speech. All must
be brought back to a scene in real life, to one stand-point, and the
orator must create for himself, in some sort, the rôle of spectator.

Silence gives gesture time to concentrate, and do good execution.

One single rule applies to silence: Wherever there is ellipsis, there
is silence. Hence the interjection and conjunction, which are
essentially elliptic, must always be followed by a silence.

_Respiration._--For the act of respiration, three movements are
necessary: inspiration, suspension and expiration.

_Its importance._--Respiration is a faithful rendering of emotion. For
example: _He who reigns in the skies_. Here is a proposition which the
composed orator will state in a breath. But should he wish to prove his
emotion, he inspires after every word. _He--who--reigns--in--the--skies_.
Multiplied inspirations can be tolerated on the strength of emotion, but
they should be made as effective as possible.

Inspiration is allowable:--

  1. After all words preceded or followed by an ellipse;
  2. After words used in apostrophe, as Monsieur, Madame;
  3. After conjunctions and interjections when there is silence;
  4. After all transpositions; for example: _To live, one must work_. Here
     the preposition _to_ takes the value of its natural antecedent,
     _work_; that is to say, six degrees, since by inversion it precedes
     it, and the gesture of the sentence bears wholly on the preposition;
  5. Before and after incidental phrases;
  6. Wherever we wish to indicate an emotion.

To facilitate respiration, stand on tip-toe and expand the chest.

Inspiration is a sign of grief; expiration is a sign of tenderness.
Sorrow is inspiratory; happiness, expiratory.

The inspiratory act expresses sorrow, dissimulation.

The expiratory act expresses love, expansion, sympathy.

The suspensory act expresses reticence and disquietude. A child who has
just been corrected deservedly, and who recognizes his fault, expires.
Another corrected unjustly, and who feels more grief than love,

Inspiration is usually regulated by the signs of punctuation, which have
been invented solely to give more exactness to the variety of sounds.


_Their importance._--Sound, we have said, is the language of man in the
sensitive state. We call inflections the modifications which affect the
voice in rendering the emotions of the senses. The tones of the voice
must vary with the sensations, each of which should have its note. Of
what use to man would be a phonetic apparatus always rendering the same
sound? Delivery is a sort of music whose excellence consists in a
variety of tones which rise or fall according to the things they have to
express. Beautiful but uniform voices resemble fine bells whose tone is
sweet and clear, full and agreeable, but which are, after all, bells,
signifying nothing, devoid of harmony and consequently without variety.
To employ always the same action and the same tone of voice, is like
giving the same remedy for all diseases. "_Ennui_ was born one day from
monotony," says the fable.

Man has received from God the privilege of revealing the inmost
affections of his being through the thousand inflections of his voice.
Man's least impressions are conveyed by signs which reveal harmony, and
which are not the products of chance. A sovereign wisdom governs these

With the infant in its cradle the signs of sensibility are broken cries.
Their acuteness, their ascending form, indicate the weakness, and
physical sorrow of man. When the child recognizes the tender cares of
its mother, its voice becomes less shrill and broken; its tones have a
less acute range, and are more poised and even. The larynx, which is
very impressionable and the thermometer of the sensitive life, becomes
modified, and produces sounds and inflections in perfect unison with the
sentiments they convey.

All this, which man expresses in an imitative fashion, is numbered,
weighed and measured, and forms an admirable harmony. This language
through the larynx is universal, and common to all sensitive beings. It
is universal with animals as with man. Animals give the identical sounds
in similar positions.

The infant, delighted at being mounted on a table, and calling his
mother to admire him, rises to the fourth note of the scale. If his
delight becomes more lively, to the sixth; if the mother is less pleased
than he would have her, he ascends to the third minor to express his
displeasure. Quietude is expressed by the fourth note.

Every situation has its interval, its corresponding inflection, its
corresponding note: this is a mathematical language.

Why this magnificent concert God has arranged in our midst if it has no
auditors? If God had made us only intelligent beings, he would have
given us speech alone and without inflections. Let us further illustrate
the rôle of inflection.

A father receives a picture from his daughter. He expresses his
gratitude by a falling inflection: "Ah well! the dear child." The
picture comes from a stranger whom he does not know as a painter; he
will say, "Well now! why does he send me this?" raising his voice.

If he does not know from whom the picture comes, his voice will neither
rise nor fall; he will say, "Well! well! well!"

Let us suppose that his daughter is the painter. She has executed a
masterpiece. Astonished at the charm of this work and at the same time
grateful, his voice will have both inflections.

If surprise predominates over love the rising inflection will
predominate. If love and surprise are equal, he will simply say, "Well

_Kan_ in Chinese signifies at the same time the roof of a house, a
cellar, well, chamber, bed--the inflection alone determines the meaning.
Roof is expressed by the falling, cellar by the rising inflection. The
Chinese note accurately the depth and acuteness of sound, its intervals
and its intensity.

We can say: "It is pretty, this little dog!" in 675 different ways. Some
one would do it harm. We say: "This little dog is pretty, do not harm
it!" "It is pretty because it is so little." If it is a mischievous or
vicious dog, we use _pretty_ in an ironical sense. "This dog has bitten
my hand. It is a pretty dog indeed!" etc.

_Rules of Inflection._

1. Inflections are formed by an upward or downward slide of the voice,
or the voice remains in monotone. Inflections are, then, eccentric,
concentric and normal.

2. The voice rises in exaltation, astonishment, and conflict.

3. The voice falls in affirmation, affection and dejection.

4. It neither rises nor falls in hesitation.

5. Interrogation is expressed by the rising inflection when we do not
know what we ask; by the falling, when we do not quite know what we ask.
For instance, a person asks tidings of his friend's health, aware or
unaware that he is no better.

6. Musical tones should be given to things that are pleasing. Courtiers
give musical inflections to the words they address to royalty.

7. Every manifestation of life is a song; every sound is a song. But
inflections must not be multiplied, lest delivery degenerate into a
perpetual sing-song. The effect lies entirely in reproducing the same
inflection. A drop of water falling constantly, hollows a rock. A
mediocre man will employ twenty or thirty tones. Mediocrity is not the
too little, but the too much. The art of making a profound impression is
to condense; the highest art would be to condense a whole scene into one
inflection. Mediocre speakers are always seeking to enrich their
inflections; they touch at every range, and lose themselves in a
multitude of intangible effects.

8. In real art it is not always necessary to fall back upon logic. The
reason needs illumination from nature, as the eye, in order to see,
needs light. Reason may be in contradiction to nature. For instance, a
half-famished hunter, in sight of a good dinner, would say: "I am
_hungry_" emphasizing _hungry_, while reason would say that _am_ must be
emphasized. A hungry pauper would say: "I _am_ hungry," dwelling upon
_am_ and gliding over _hungry_. If he were not hungry, or wished to
deceive, he would dwell upon _hungry_.

_Special Inflections._

Among the special inflections we may reckon:--

1. _Exclamations._--Abrupt, loud, impassioned sounds, and

2. _Cries._--These are prolonged exclamations called forth by a lively
sentiment of some duration, as acute suffering, joy or terror. They are
formed by the sound _a_. In violent pain arising from a physical cause,
the cries assume three different tones: one grave, another acute, the
last being the lowest, and we pass from one to the other in a chromatic

There are appealing cries which ask aid in peril. These cries are formed
by the sounds ē and ŏ. They are slower than the preceding, but more
acute and of greater intensity.

3. _Groans._--Here the voice is plaintive, pitiful, and formed by two
successive tones, the one sharp, the final one deep. Its monotony, the
constant recurrence of the same inflection, give it a remarkable

4. _Lamentation_ is produced by a voice loud, plaintive, despairing and
obstinate, indicating a heart which can neither contain nor restrain

5. _The sob_ is an uninterrupted succession of sounds produced by
slight, continuous inspirations, in some sort convulsive, and ending in
a long, violent inspiration.

6. _The sigh_ is a weak low tone produced by a quick expiration
followed by a slow and deep inspiration.

7. _The laugh_ is composed of a succession of loud, quick, monotonous
sounds formed by an uninterrupted series of slight expirations, rapid
and somewhat convulsive, of a tone more or less acute and prolonged, and
produced by a deep inspiration.

8. _Singing_ is the voice modulated or composed of a series of
appreciable tones.

Part Second.


Chapter I.

Of Gesture in General.

Human word is composed of three languages. Man says what he _feels_ by
inflections of the voice, what he _loves_ by gesture, what he _thinks_
by articulate speech. The child begins with feeling; then he loves, and
later, he reasons. While the child only feels, cries suffice him; when
he loves, he needs gestures; when he reasons, he must have articulate
language. The inflections of the voice are for sensations, gesture is
for sentiments; the buccal apparatus is for the expression of ideas.
Gesture, then, is the bond of union between inflection and thought.
Since gesture, in genealogical order, holds the second rank in human
languages, we shall reserve for it that place in the series of our
oratorical studies.

We are entering upon a subject full of importance and interest. We
purpose to render familiar the _heart language_, the expression of love.

We learn dead languages and living languages: Greek, Latin, German,
English. Is it well to know conventional idioms, and to ignore the
language of nature? The body needs education as well as the mind. This
is no trivial work. Let it be judged by the steps of the ideal ladder we
must scale before reaching the perfection of gesture. Observe the ways
of laboring men. Their movements are awkward, the joints do not play.
This is the first step.

At a more advanced stage, the shoulders play without the head. The
individual turns around with a great impulse from the shoulders, with
the leg raised, but the hand and the rest of the body remain inert. Then
come the elbows, but without the hand. Later come the wrist-joint and
the torso. With this movement of the wrist, the face becomes mobilized,
for there is great affinity between these two agents. The face and hand
form a most interesting unity. Finally, from the wrist, the articulation
passes to the fingers, and here is imitative perfection. If we would
speak our language eloquently, we must not be beguiled into any _patois_
of gesture.

Gesture must be studied in order to render it faultlessly elegant, but
in such a thorough way as not to seem studied. It has still higher
claims to our regard in view of the services it has rendered to
humanity. Thanks to this language of the heart, thousands of deaf-mutes
are enabled to endure their affliction, and to share our social
pleasures. Blessèd be the Abbé de l'Epée, who, by uniting the science of
gesture to the conventional signs of dactyology, has made the deaf hear
and the dumb speak! This beneficent invention has made gesture in a
twofold manner, the language of the heart.

Gesture is an important as well as interesting study. How beautiful it
is to see the thousand pieces of the myological apparatus set in motion
and propelled by this grand motor feeling! There surely is a joy in
knowing how to appreciate an image of Christ on the cross, in
understanding the attitudes of Faith, Hope and Charity. We can note a
mother's affection by the way she holds her child in her arms. We can
judge of the sincerity of the friend who grasps our hand. If he holds
the thumb inward and pendant, it is a fatal sign; we no longer trust
him. To pray with the thumbs inward and swaying to and fro, indicates a
lack of sacred fervor. It is a corpse who prays. If you pray with the
arms extended and the fingers bent, there is reason to fear that you
adore Plutus. If you embrace me without elevating the shoulders, you are
a Judas.

What can you do in a museum, if you have not acquired, if you do not
wish to acquire the science of gesture? How can you rightly appreciate
the beauty of the statue of Antinous? How can you note a fault in
Raphael's picture of Moses making water gush from the rock? How see that
he has forgotten to have the Israelites raise their shoulders, as they
stand rapt in admiration of the miracle? One versed in the science of
gesture, as he passes before the Saint Michael Fountain, must confess
that the statue of the archangel with its parallel lines, is little
better than the dragon at his feet.

In view of the importance and interest of the language of gesture, we
shall study it thoroughly in the second book of our course.

Chapter II.

Definition and Division of Gesture.

Gesture is the direct agent of the heart, the interpreter of speech. It
is elliptical discourse. Each part of this definition may be easily

1. _Gesture is the Direct Agent of the Heart._--Look at an infant. For
some time he manifests his joy or sorrow through cries; but these are
not gesture. When he comes to know the cause of his joy or sorrow,
sentiment awakens, his heart opens to love or hatred, and he expresses
his new emotion not by cries alone, nor yet by speech; he smiles upon
his mother, and his first gesture is a smile. Beings endowed only with
the sensitive life, have no smile; animals do not laugh.

This marvelous correspondence of the organs with the sentiment arises
from the close union of soul and body. The brain ministers to the
operations of the soul. Every sentiment must have its echo in the brain,
in order to be unerringly transmitted by the organic apparatus.

_Ex visu cognoscitur vir._ ("The man is known by his face.") The rôle of
dissimulation is a very difficult one to sustain.

2. _Gesture is the Interpreter of Speech._--Gesture has been given to
man to reveal what speech is powerless to express. For example: _I
love_. This phrase says nothing of the nature of the being loved,
nothing of the fashion in which one loves. Gesture, by a simple
movement, reveals all this, and says it far better than speech, which
would know how to render it only by many successive words and phrases. A
gesture, then, like a ray of light, can reflect all that passes in the

Hence, if we desire that a thing shall be always remembered, we must not
say it in words; we must let it be divined, revealed by gesture.
Wherever an ellipse is supposable in a discourse, gesture must intervene
to explain this ellipse.

3. _Gesture is an Elliptical Language._--We call ellipse a hidden
meaning whose revelation belongs to gesture. A gesture must correspond
to every ellipse. For example: "This medley of glory and gain vexes me."
If we attribute something ignominious or abject to the word _medley_,
there is an ellipse in the phrase, because the ignominy is implied
rather than expressed. Gesture is then necessary here to express the
value of the implied adjective, _ignominious_.

Suppress this ellipse, and the gesture must also be suppressed, for
gesture is not the accompaniment of speech. It must express the idea
better and in another way, else it will be only a pleonasm, an after
conception of bad taste, a hindrance rather than an aid to intelligible

_Division of Gesture._

Every act, gesture and movement has its rule, its execution and its
_raison d'être_. The imitative is also divided into three parts: the
static, the dynamic and the semeiotic. The static is the base, the
dynamic is the centre, and the semeiotic the summit. The static is the
equiponderation of the powers or agents; it corresponds to life.

The dynamic is the form of movements. The dynamic is melodic, harmonic
and rhythmic. Gesture is melodic by its forms or its inflections. To
understand gesture one must study melody. There is great affinity
between the inflections of the voice and gesture. All the inflections of
the voice are common to gesture. The inflections of gesture are oblique
for the _life_, direct for the _soul_ and circular for the _mind_. These
three terms, oblique, direct and circular, correspond to the eccentric,
normal and concentric states. The movements of flection are direct,
those of rotation, circular, those of abduction, oblique.

Gesture is harmonic through the multiplicity of the agents which act in
the same manner. This harmony is founded upon the convergence or
opposition of the movements. Thus the perfect accord is the consonance
of the three agents,--head, torso and limbs. Dissonance arises from the
divergence of one of these agents.

Finally, gesture is rhythmic because its movements are subordinated to
a given measure. The dynamic corresponds to the _soul_.

The semeiotic gives the reason of movements, and has for its object the
careful examination of inflections, attitudes and types.

Under our first head, we treat of the static and of gesture in general;
under our second, of the dynamic, and of gesture in particular; and
finally, under our third head, of the semeiotic, with an exposition of
the laws of gesture.

Chapter III.

Origin and Oratorical Value of Gesture.


The infant in the cradle has neither speech nor gesture:--he cries. As
he gains sensibility his tones grow richer, become inflections, are
multiplied and attain the number of three million special and distinct
inflections. The young infant manifests neither intelligence nor
affection; but he reveals his life by sounds. When he discerns the
source of his joys or sufferings, he loves, and gesticulates to repulse
or to invite. The gestures, which are few at first, become quite
numerous. It is God's art he follows; he is an artist without knowing

_Oratorical Value of Gesture._

The true aim of art is to move, to interest and to persuade. Emotion,
interest and persuasion are the first terms of art. Emotion is expressed
by the voice, by sounds; interest, by language; persuasion is the office
of gesture.

To inflection belongs emotion through the beautiful; to logic, interest
through the truth; to plastic art, persuasion through the good.

Gesture is more than speech. It is not what we say that persuades, but
the manner of saying it. The mind can be interested by speech, it must
be persuaded by gesture. If the face bears no sign of persuasion, we do
not persuade.

Why at first sight does a person awaken our sympathy or antipathy? We do
not understand why, but it is by reason of his gestures.

Speech is inferior to gesture, because it corresponds to the phenomena
of mind; gesture is the agent of the heart, it is the persuasive agent.

Articulate language is weak because it is successive. It must be
enunciated phrase by phrase; by words, syllables, letters, consonants
and vowels--and these do not end it. That which demands a volume is
uttered by a single gesture. A hundred pages do not say what a simple
movement may express, because this simple movement expresses our whole
being. Gesture is the direct agent of the soul, while language is
analytic and successive. The leading quality of mind is number; it is to
speculate, to reckon, while gesture grasps everything by
intuition,--sentiment as well as contemplation. There is something
marvelous in this language, because it has relations with another
sphere; it is the world of grace.

An audience must not be supposed to resemble an individual. A man of the
greatest intelligence finding himself in an audience, is no longer
himself. An audience is never intelligent; it is a multiple being,
composed of sense and sentiment. The greater the numbers, the less
intelligence has to do. To seek to act upon an individual by gesture
would be absurd. The reverse is true with an audience; it is persuaded
not by reasoning, but by gesture.

There is here a current none can control. We applaud disagreeable things
in spite of ourselves--things we should condemn, were they said to us in
private. The audience is not composed of intellectual people, but of
people with senses and hearts. As sentiment is the highest thing in art,
it should be applied to gesture.

If the gestures are good, the most wretched speaking is tolerated. So
much the better if the speaking is good, but gesture is the
all-important thing. Gesture is superior to each of the other languages,
because it embraces the constituent parts of our being. Gesture includes
everything within us. Sound is the gesture of the vocal apparatus. The
consonants and vowels are the gesture of the buccal apparatus, and
gesture, properly so called, is the product of the myological apparatus.

It is not ideas that move the masses; it is gestures.

We easily reach the heart and soul through the senses. Music acts
especially on the senses. It purifies them, it gives intelligence to the
hand, it disposes the heart to prayer. The three languages may each
move, interest and persuade.

Language is a sort of music which moves us through vocal expression; it
is besides normal through the gesture of articulation. No language is
exclusive. All interpenetrate and communicate their action. The action
of music is general.

The mind and the life are active only for the satisfaction of the
heart; then, since the heart controls all our actions, gesture must
control all other languages.

Gesture is magnetic, speech is not so. Through gesture we subdue the
most ferocious animals.

The ancients were not ignorant of this all-powerful empire of gesture
over an audience. Therefore, sometimes to paralyze, sometimes to augment
this magic power, orators were obliged to cover their faces with a mask,
when about to speak in public. The judges of the Areopagus well knew the
power of gesture, and to avoid its seductions, they adopted the resource
of hearing pleas only in the darkness.

The sign of the cross made at the opening of a sermon often has great
effect upon good Catholics. Let a priest with his eyes concentric and
introspective make deliberately the sign of the cross while solemnly
uttering these words: "In-the-name-of-the-Father;" then let his glance
sweep the audience. What do they think of him? This is no longer an
ordinary man; he seems clothed with the majesty of God, whose orders he
has just received, and in whose name he brings them. This idea gives him
strength and assurance, and his audience respect and docility.

Chapter IV.

The Laws of Gesture.

The static treats of the laws of gesture which are six in number, viz.:
Priority, retroaction, the opposition of agents, unity, stability and

_The Priority of Gesture to Speech._

Gesture must always precede speech. In fact, speech is reflected
expression. It must come after gesture, which is parallel with the
impression received. Nature incites a movement, speech names this
movement. Speech is only the title, the label of what gesture has
anticipated. Speech comes only to confirm what the audience already
comprehend. Speech is given for naming things. Gesture asks the
question, "What?" and speech answers. Gesture after the answer would be
absurd. Let the word come after the gesture and there will be no

Priority of gesture may be thus explained: First a movement responds to
the sensation; then a gesture, which depicts the emotion, responds to
the imagination which colors the sensation. Then comes the judgment
which approves. Finally, we consider the audience, and this view of the
audience suggests the appropriate expression for that which has already
been expressed by gesture.

The basis of this art is to make the auditors divine what we would have
them feel.

Every speaker may choose his own stand-point, but the essential law is
to anticipate, to justify speech by gesture. Speech is the verifier of
the fact expressed. The thing may be expressed before announcing its
name. Sometimes we let the auditors divine rather than anticipate,
gazing at them in order to rivet their attention. Eloquence is composed
of many things which are not named, but must be named by slight
gestures. In this eloquence consists. Thus a smack of the tongue, a blow
upon the hand, an utterance of the vowel _u_ as if one would remove a
stain from his coat. The writer cannot do all this. The mere rendition
of the written discourse is nothing for the orator; his talent consists
in taking advantage of a great number of little nameless sounds.

A written discourse must contain forced epithets and adjectives to
illustrate the subject. In a spoken discourse a great number of
adjectives are worse than useless. Gesture and inflection of the voice
supply their place. The sense is not in the words; it is in inflection
and gesture.


We have formulated this general law: The eccentric, normal and
concentric expression must correspond to the sensitive, moral and
intellectual state of man. When gesture is concerned, the law is thus
modified: In the sensitive state, the gesture, which is naturally
eccentric, may become concentric, as the orator is passive or active.

He is passive when subject to any action whatever, when he depicts an

He is agent when he communicates to the audience the expression of his
own will or power; in a word, at all times when he controls his

When the orator assumes the passive rôle, that is, when he reflects, he
gazes upon his audience; he makes a backward (or concentric) movement;
when he assumes the active rôle, he makes a forward (or eccentric)
movement. When one speaks to others, he advances; when one speaks to
himself, he recoils a step, his thought centres upon himself.

In the passive state, one loves. But when he loves, he does not move
forward. A being who feels, draws back, and contemplates the object
toward which the hand extends. Contemplation makes the body retroact.

Hence in the passive state, the orator must step backward. In the
opposite state he moves forward. Let us apply this law: A spendthrift
officer meets his landlord, whom he has not yet paid, and greets him
with an--"Ah, good day, sir!" What will be his movement? It must be
retroactive. In the joy of seeing a friend again, as also in fright, we
start back from the object loved or hated. Such is the law of nature,
and it cannot be ignored.

Whence comes this law? To behold a loved object fully, we must step
back, remove to some little distance from it. Look at a painter admiring
his work. It is retroaction at sight of a beloved person, which has led
to the discovery of the phenomena of life, to this triple state of man
which is found in like manner, everywhere: Concentric, eccentric, and

The concentric is the passive state, for when one experiences a deep
emotion, he must retroact. Hence a demonstration of affection is not
made with a forward movement. If so, there is no love. Expiration is the
sign of him who gives his heart. Hence there is joy and love. In
inspiration there is retroaction, and, in some sort, distrust. The hand
extends toward the beloved object; if the hand tend toward itself, a
love of self is indicated. Love is expressed by a retroactive, never by
a forward movement. In portraying this sentiment the hand must not be
carried to the heart. This is nonsense; it is an oratorical crime. The
hand must tend toward the loved being to caress, to grasp, to reassure
or to defend. The hand is carried to the heart only in case of suffering

Take this passage from Racine's Phèdre:

    _Dieu--que ne puis-je à l'ombre des fôrets,
    Suivre de l'oeil un char fuyant dans la carrière--_

    ("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
multiply gestures.

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 view.

The orator should rest upon the preceding gesture until a change is
absolutely required.

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
these lines:

      "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
to compose.

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
fixed rules.

Chapter V.

Of Gesture in Particular.

_The Head._

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 fulcrum.

The dynamic apparatus produces gesture, which renders the moral or
normal state; as the voice expresses inflection and reveals the
sensitive state.

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
fugitive movements.

_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
the feet.

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.

      GENUS.                      SPECIES.

                  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
the shoulders.

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 mind.

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
slumber, fatigue.

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
possess eighty-one.

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

        GENUS.                        SPECIES.

                          1           3             2
                  Eye eccentric. Eye normal. Eye concentric.

        Eyebrow   Firmness.      Bad humor.  Contention of
          conc.                                  mind.

        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
preceding movements.

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
mental depth.

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
and affectionate.

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
without concern.

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
following charts:

                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.

Chapter VI.

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.

Chapter VII.

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

_The Arms._

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: Perhaps.

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
the arm.

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
normo-normal attitude.

By presenting the hand in pronation or supination horizontally, without
spreading or folding the fingers, we shall have that attitude which
signifies abandon.

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
third finger.

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
figure 2.

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
figure 3.

_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]

Chapter VIII.

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
subjoined diagram.

1 represents the vital expression; 2, the intellectual; 3, the moral. We
divide the face into three zones: the genal,[4] 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
inalienable domicile.


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
his promise.

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
familiar illustration.

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
vertebral column.

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.)

Chapter IX.

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
more elevated.

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
the circle.

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
intellectual delicacy.

8. The outside quarter-circle expresses exuberance, plenitude,
amplitude, generosity.

9. The circle which surrounds and embraces, characterizes glorification
and exaltation.

Part Third.

Articulate Language.

Chapter I.

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
eminently philosophical.

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.

Chapter II.

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
copulative ideas.

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.

Chapter III.

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
ourselves imagine.

An author cannot fully express his ideas in writing; hence the
interpretation of the hearer is often false, because he does not know
the writer.

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
object, the Being, and speech responds: _God_.

Chapter IV.

The Value of Words in Phrases.

Expression is very difficult. One may possess great knowledge and lack
power to express it. Eloquence does not always accompany intellect. As a
rule, poets do not know how to read what they have written. Hence we may
estimate the importance of understanding the value of the different
portions of a discourse. Let us now examine intellectual language in
relation to intensity of ideas.

There are nine species of words, or nine species of ideas. The article
need not be counted, since it is lacking in several languages. It is the
accord of nine which composes the language, and which corresponds to the
numbers. Every word has a determinate, mathematical value.

As many unities must be reckoned on the initial consonant as there are
values in the word.

Thus the subject has less value than the attribute.

The attribute has a value of six degrees and represents six times the
intensity of the subject. Why? Because God has willed that we should
formulate our idea with mathematical intensities.

The value rests only upon the initial consonant of the word. Words have
only one expressive portion, that is, the initial consonant. It receives
the whole value, and is the invariable part of the word. It is the root.
Words are transformed in passing from language to language, and
nevertheless retain their radical.

How shall we say that a flower is charming?

Do not demand of intensity of sound a value it does not possess. It
suffices to await the articulation of the consonant.

The most normal phenomena remain true to mechanical laws. The mere
articulation of the word expresses more than all the vocal and imitative
effects that can be introduced.

Most speakers dwell upon the final word; this habit is absolutely
opposed to the nature of heart movements. This school habit is hard to
correct, and if Rachel became a great artiste, it was because she did
not have this precedent.

The subject represents one degree; it is the weakest expression.

The verb represents two degrees; the attribute six. Let us illustrate
the manner of passing from one to six as follows:

A rustic comes to visit you upon some sort of business. This man has a
purpose. As you are a musician he is surprised by his first sight of a
piano. He says to himself: "What is this? It is a singular object."

It is neither a table nor a cupboard. He now perceives the ivory keys
and other keys of ebony. What can this mean? He stands confounded before
an instrument entirely new to him. If it were given to him, he would not
know what to do with it; he might burn it. The piano interests him so
much that he forgets the object of his visit.

He sees you arrive. You occupy for him the place of the verb in relation
to the object which interests him. He passes from this object to you.
Although you are not the object which engrosses him, there is a
progression in the interest, because he knows that through you he will
learn what this piece of furniture is. "Tell me what this is!" he cries.

You strike the piano; it gives forth an accord. O heavens, how
beautiful! He is greatly moved, he utters many expressions of delight,
and now he would not burn the instrument.

Here is a progression. At first the piece of furniture interests him;
then its owner still more; at last the attributes of the piano give it
its entire value.

But why six degrees upon the last term? The value of a fact comes from
its limitation; the knowledge of an idea also proceeds from its
limitation. A fact in its general and vague expression, awakens but
little interest. But as it descends from the genus to the species, from
the species to the individual, it grows more interesting. It comes more
within our capacity. We do not embrace the vast circle of a generic

Let us take another proposition: "A flower is pleasing."

                       1            2        3456
        --------- Flower           is      pleasing ------
       |  |   |                                       |   |
       |  |   |        3                       7      |   |
       |  |   +-- of the forest               very ---+   |
       |  |                                               |
       |  |            4                                  |
       |  +--------- this                +----------------+
       |                                 |
       |               5            8 ---+
       +----------- little     +-- but
                       1  |         2         6             9
                       it-+         is       faded         Oh!

The word flower alone says nothing to the imagination. Is it a rose or a
lily of the valley? The expression is too vague. When the idea of genus
is modified by that of species, we are better satisfied.

Let us say: "The flower of the forest." This word _forest_ conveys an
idea to the mind. We can make our bouquet. We think of the lily of the
valley, of the violet, the anemone, the periwinkle. This restriction
gives value to the subject. _Forest_ is more important than the verb
which does not complete the idea, and less important than _pleasing_.
Therefore we place 3 upon _forest_, and shall rank _pleasing_ from 3 to
4, since it closes the assertion.

If we individualize by the word _this_, we augment the value by giving
actuality to the word _flower_. _This_ has more value than _the forest_,
because it designates the subject. Hence _this_ has four degrees.

As _pleasing_ forms the very essence of our proposition, we are obliged
to give it five degrees.

The idea is still somewhat vague. If I specify it still further by
saying _this little flower, little_ has a higher value than all the
other words.

What value shall we give this adjective? We have reached five, but have
not yet fully expressed the idea which impresses us. _Little_ must
therefore have six degrees.

This is the sole law for all the languages of the world. There are no
two ways of articulating the words of a discourse. When we learn a
discourse by heart in order to deliver it, and take no account of the
value of the terms, the divine law is reversed.

Now, if we could introduce an expression here, which would at once
enhance the value of the word _pleasing_, it would evidently be stronger
than all the others. In fact, if the way in which a thing is pleasing
can be expressed, it is evident that this manner of being pleasing will
rise above the word itself.

We do not know the proportion in which the flower is pleasing. We will
say that it is _very_ pleasing. This adverb gives the word _pleasing_ a
new value. It is in turn modified. If we should say _immensely_, or use
any other adverb of quantity, the value would remain the same. It would
still be a modification. Thus, when we say of God that he is _good,
immense, infinite,_ there is always a limitation attached to the idea of
God,--a limitation necessary to our nature. For God is not good in the
way we understand goodness or greatness; but our finite minds need some
expression for our idea.

We see the word _pleasing_ modified in turn, and the term which
modifies it, is higher than itself. _Very pleasing,_--what value shall
we give it? We can give it no more than seven here.

A single word may obliterate the effect produced by all these
expressions. A simple conjunction may be introduced which will entirely
modify all we have taken pains to say. It is a _but_. _But_ is an entire
discourse. We no longer believe what has been said hitherto, but what
follows this word. This conjunction has a value of eight degrees, a
value possible to all conjunctions without exception. It sums up the
changes indicated by subsequent expressions, and embraces them
synthetically. It has, then, a very great oratorical value.

_The Conjunction._

1. We refer here only to conjunctions in the elliptical sense. The
conjunction is an ellipse, because it is the middle term between two
members of the sentence which are the extremes; it recalls what has just
been said, and indicates what is to come. Considered in itself, the word
_and_, when elliptical, embraces what has just been said, and what is
about to be said. All this is founded upon the principle that the means
are equal to the extremes.

2. The copulative or enumerative conjunctions, have only two degrees. We
see that a conjunction is not elliptical when, instead of uniting
propositions, it unites only ideas of the same character.

3. Determinative conjunctions have only three degrees. For example: "It
is necessary that I should work." _That_ has only three degrees.

4. The values indicated can be changed only by additional values
justified by gesture. Thus in the phrase: "This medley of glory and
honor,"--the value of the word _medley_ can and must be changed; but a
gesture is necessary, for speech is only a feeble echo of gesture. Only
gesture can justify a value other than that indicated in this
demonstration. This value is purely grammatical, but the gesture may
give it a superlative idea, which we call additional value. The value of
consonants may vary in the pronunciation according to their valuation by
the speakers.

More or less value is given to the degrees noted and to be noted, as
there is more or less emotion in the speaker. This explains why a
gesture, which expresses an emotion of the soul, justifies changing the
grammatical value in the pronunciation of consonants.

5. Even aside from additional values, the gesture must always precede
the articulation of the initial consonant. Otherwise to observe the
degree would be supremely ridiculous. The speaker would resemble a
skeleton, a statue. The law of values becomes vital only through gesture
and inflection. Stripped of the poetry of gesture and inflection, the
application of the law is monstrous.

To place six degrees upon _pleasing_ without gesture, is abominable.

We now understand the spirit of gesture, which is given to man to
justify values. It is for him to decide whether the proposition is true
or not. If we deprive our discourse of gestures, no way is left to prove
the truth of values. Thus gesture is prescribed by certain figures, and
we shall now see from a proposition, how many gestures are needed, and
to what word the gesture should be given.

_The Conjunction Continued--Various Examples._

The degree of value given to the conjunction, may be represented by the
figure 8.

Let us justify this valuation by citing these two lines of Racine:

    "The wave comes on, it breaks, _and_ vomits
      'neath our eyes,
    Amid the floods of foam, a monster
      grim and dire."

The ordinary reader would allow the conjunction _and_ to pass
unperceived, because the word is not sonorous, and we accord oratorical
effects only to sonorous words. But the man who sees the meaning fully,
and who adds _and_, has said the whole. The other words are important,
but everything is implied in this conjunction.

Racine has not placed _and_ here to disjoin, but to unite.

We give another example of the conjunction:

Augustus says to Cinna:

    "Take a chair Cinna, _and_ in all things heed
    Strictly the law that I lay down for thee."

Let us suppress the isolation and silence of the conjunction, and there
is no more color.

Augustus adds:

    "Hold thy tongue captive, _and_ if silence deep
    To thy emotion do some violence"--

Suppress the silence and isolation of the conjunction _and_, and how
poor is the expression!

In the fable of "The Wolf and the Dog:"

    "Sire wolf would gladly have attacked and slain
    him, _but_ it would have been necessary to give battle,
    _and_ it was now almost morning."

The entire significance lies in the silence which follows the

We speak of a sympathetic conjunction, and also of one denoting surprise
or admiration; but this conjunction differs from the interjection, only
in this respect: it rests upon the propositions and unites its terms.
Like the interjection, it is of a synthetic and elliptic nature; it
groups all the expressions it unites as interjectives. It is, then, from
this point of view, exclamative.

In the fable of "The Wolf and the Lamb," the wolf says:

    "This must be some one of your own race, _for_
    you would not think of sparing me, you shepherds
    _and_ you dogs."

Here is an interjective conjunction. Suppress the complaint after _for_,
and there is no more effect. The conjunction is the _soul_ of the

In the exclamation in "Joseph Sold by his Brethren," we again find an
interjective conjunction.

    "Alas.......... _and_
    The ingrates who would sell me!"

Here the conjunction _and_ yields little to the interjection _alas_. It
has fully as much value.

_The Interjection in Relation to its Degree of Value._

The interjection has 9 degrees; this is admirably suited to the
interjection, an elliptical term which comprises the three terms of a
proposition. In summing up the value of a simple proposition, we have (a
noteworthy thing) the figure 9. This gives the accord of 9. The subject
1, the verb 2, and 6 upon the attribute, equal 9. Thus the equation is

Gesture is the rendering of the ellipse. Gesture is the elliptical
language given to man to express what speech is powerless to say.

We have spoken of additional figures. Each of these figures supposes a
gesture. There is a gesture, an imitative expression wherever there is
an additional figure. An ellipse in a word, such as is met with in the
conjunction and the interjection, demands a gesture.

9 is a neutral term which must be sustained by gesture and inflection.
Gesture would be the inflection of the deaf, inflection the gesture of
the blind. The orator should, in fact, address himself to the deaf as
well as to the blind. Gesture and inflection should supplement physical
and mental infirmities, and God in truth has given man this double means
of expression. There is also a triple expression, which is double in
view of this same modification of speech. Let us suppose this

"How much pain I suffer in hearing!"

According to the rules laid down, we have 3 upon pain, 6 upon suffer,
and 6 again upon hearing.

It is said that Talma brought out the intensity of his suffering by
resting on the word _pain_. This was wrong. We should always seek the
expression equivalent to that employed, to attain a certain value.

If, instead of the determinate conjunction _that_, we should have _how
much (combien)_, this would evidently be the important word. This word
has an elliptical form. It evidently belongs to a preceding proposition.
It means: "I could not express all that I suffer." Then 6 must be placed
upon _how much_ and not upon pain.

But the figure 6 here is a thermometer which indicates a degree of
vitality; it does not express the degree of vitality; that is reserved
for gesture. We need not ask what degree this can give; its office is to
express--and this is a good deal--a value mechanical and material, but
very significant. A reversion of values may constitute a falsehood.
Stage actors are sometimes indefinably comic in this way.

_A Resumé of the Degrees of Value._

To crown this unprecedented study upon language, we give in a table, a
resumé of the different degrees of value in the various parts of a
discourse, relative to the initial consonant.

     The object of the preposition                           1

     The verb to be and the prepositions                     2

     The direct or indirect regimen                          3

     The limiting (possessive and demonstrative) adjectives  4

     The qualifying adjectives                               5

     The participles or substantives taken adjectively or
     attributively; that is to say, every word coming
     immediately after the verb, in fine, the attribute      6

     The adverbs                                             7

     Conjunctions, superlative ideas or additional figures   8

     The interjection                                        9

The pronoun is either subject or complement, and therefore included in
the rest. As for the article, it is not essential to a language; there
is no article in Latin.

Thus the value of our ideas is expressed by figures. We have only to
reckon on our fingers. We might beat time for the pronunciation of the
consonants as for the notes of music. Let the pupil exercise his
fingers, and attain that skill which allows the articulation of a
radical consonant only after he has marked with his finger the time
corresponding to its figure. If difficulties present themselves at
first, so much the better; he will only the more accurately distinguish
the value of the words.

Chapter V.

French and Latin Prosody.

_French Prosody._

Prosody is the rhythmic pronunciation of syllables according to accent,
respiration, and, above all, quantity.

In the Italian there are no two equal sounds; the quantity is never
uniform. Italian is, therefore, the most musical of languages. Where we
place one accent upon a vowel, the Italians place ten.

There is a euphonic law for every language; all idioms must have an
accent. In every language there are intense sounds and subdued sounds;
the Italians hold to this variety of alternate short and long sounds.
Continuous beauty should be avoided. A beautiful tone must be introduced
to relieve the others. Monotony in sounds as well as in pronunciation,
must be guarded against. Harmony lies in opposition.

There is but one rule of quantity in French pronunciation. Here is the
text of this law:

_There are and can be only long initial or final vowels_--whence we

1. Every final is long and every penultimate is final, since _e_ mute is
not pronounced.

2. The length of initial vowels depends upon the value of the initial
consonants which they precede.

A word cannot contain two long vowels unless it begins with a vowel. In
this case, the vowel of the preceding word is long, and prepares for the
enunciation of the consonant according to its degree.

Every first consonant in a word is strong, as it constitutes the radical
or invariable part of the word.

The force of this consonant is subordinate to the ruling degree of the
idea it is called to decide. But every vowel which precedes this first
consonant is long, since it serves as a preparation for it. But to what
degree of length may this initial vowel be carried? The representative
figure of the consonant will indicate it.

Usually, the first consonant of every word is radical. Still there might
be other radical consonants in the same word. But the first would rise
above the others.

The radical designates the substance of being, and the last consonant
the manner.

The whole secret of expression lies in the time we delay the
articulation of the initial consonant. This space arrests the attention
and prevents our catching the sound at a disadvantage.

_Latin Prosody._

1. The final of a word of several syllables is usually short.

2. In words of two syllables, the first is long. In Latin words of two
syllables, the first almost always contains the radical.

3. In words of three and more syllables, there is one long syllable:
sometimes the first, sometimes another. We rest only upon this, all the
others being counted more or less short.

In compound words no account need be made of prefixes; There are many
compound words; and, consequently, it is often the last or next to the
last consonant which is the radical.

The last consonant represents always, in variable words, quality,
person, mode or time. The radical, on the contrary, represents the sum
and substance.

4. Monosyllables are long, but they have, especially when they follow
each other, particular rules, which result from the sense of the
phrases, and from the mutual dependence of words.

Chapter VI.


_Dictation Exercises._

A subject and text being given, notes may be written under the nine
following heads:

1. Oratorical value of ideas.

2. The ellipse.

3. Vocal inflections.

4. Inflective affinities, or relation to the preceding inflections.

5. Gestures.

6. Imitative affinities.

7. The special rule for each gesture.

8. The law whence this rule proceeds.

9. Reflections upon the portrayal of personal character.

Chapter VII.

A Series of Gestures for Exercises.

_Preliminary Reflections._

We know the words of Garrick:

"I do not confide in myself, not I, in that inspiration for which idle
mediocrity waits."

Art, then, presents a solid basis to the artist, upon which he can rest
and reproduce at will the history of the human heart as revealed by

This is true, and it is as an application of this truth that we are
about to consider the series, which is an exposition of the passions
that agitate man, an initiation into imitative language. It is a poem,
and at the same time it lays down rules through whose aid the
self-possessed artist can regain the gesture which arises from sudden
perturbation of the heart. It is a grammar which must be studied
incessantly, in order to understand the origin and value of imitative

The development of the series is based upon the static, the semeiotic
and the dynamic.

The static is the life of gesture; it is the science of the equipoise of
levers, it teaches the weight of the limbs and the extent of their
development, in order to maintain the equilibrium of the body. Its
criterion should be a sort of balance.

The semeiotic is the spirit and _rationale_ of gesture. It is the
science of signs.

The dynamic is the action of equiponderant forces through the static; it
regulates the proportion of movements the soul would impress upon the
body. The foundation and criterion of the dynamic, is the law of the

The series proceeds, resting upon these three powers. The semeiotic has
given the signs, it becomes æsthetic in applying them. The semeiotic
says: "Such a gesture reveals such a passion;" and gesture replies: "To
such a passion I will apply such a sign." And without awaiting the aid
of an inspiration often hazardous, deceitful and uncertain, it moulds
the body to its will, and forces it to reproduce the passion the soul
has conceived. The semeiotic is a science, the æsthetic an act of

The series divides its movements into periods of time, in accordance
with the principle that the more time a movement has, the more its
vitality and power; and so every articulation becomes the object of a

The articulations unfold successively and harmoniously. Every
articulation which has no action, must remain absolutely pendent, or
become stiff. Grace is closely united to gesture; the manifold play of
the articulations which constitutes strength, also constitutes grace.
Grace subdues only because sustained by strength, and because strength
naturally subdues. Grace without strength is affectation.

Every vehement movement must affect the vertical position, because
obliquity deprives the movement of force, by taking from it the
possibility of showing the play of the articulations.

The demonstration of movement is in the head. The head is the primary
agent of movement; the body is the medium agent, the arm the final

Three agents in gesture are especially affected in characterizing the
life, mind and soul. The thumb is the index-sign of life; the shoulder
is the sign of passion and sentiment; the elbow is the sign of humility,
pride, power, intelligence and sacrifice.

The first gesture of the series is the interpellation, the entrance upon
the scene. The soul is scarce moved as yet, and still this is the most
difficult of gestures, because the most complex. It must indicate the
nature of the interpellation, its degree and the situation of the giver
and receiver of the summons in regard to each other.

A study of the signs which distinguish these different shades will teach
us the analysis of gesture.

Aside from simple interpellation, the series passes successively from
gratitude, devotion, etc., to anger, menace and conflict, leaving the
soul at the point where it is subdued and asks forgiveness.

The passional or fugitive type forms the constant subject of the study
of this series.

The Series of Gestures Applied to the Sentiments Oftenest Expressed by
the Orator.

First Gesture. _Interpellation._

Interpellation embraces five steps:

The first consists in elevating the shoulder in token of affection. If
the right shoulder, as in figure 2 with the right leg weak.

The second step consists in a rotary movement of the arm, its object
being to present the epicondyle (elbow-joint) to the interlocutor. For
this reason the epicondyle is called the eye of the arm.

The third stage consists in substituting the articulation of the wrist
for the epicondyle. In making the forward movement of the body, the
epicondyle must resume its natural place.

The fourth step consists in extending the hand toward the speaker in
such a way as to present to him the extremities of the fingers.

The fifth step is formed by a rapid rotation of the hand.

Second Gesture. _Thanks--Affectionate and Ceremonious._

This gesture consists of six steps:

1. Consists in lifting the hand and lowering the head.

2. Consists in raising the hand to the hip.

3. The head inclines to one side, and the elbow at the same time rises
to aid the hand in reaching the lips.

4. In this, the head resumes its normal position, while the elbow is
lowered to bring back the hand to the same position.

5. In this, the hand passes from the horizontal to the vertical
position, rounding toward the arm.

6. In this, the arm is developed, and then the hand.

Third Gesture. _Attraction._

In this gesture there are three steps:

1. The hand turns toward the interlocutor with an appealing aspect.

2. The hand opens like a fan with the little finger tending toward the

3. The elbow is turned outward, and the hand passes toward the breast.

Fourth Gesture. _Surprise and Assurance._

1. This consists in elevating the shoulders, opening the eyes and mouth
and raising the eyebrow; the whole in token of surprise.

2. Raise the passive hand above the chin, making it turn around the

3. The hand still passive, is directed toward the person addressed, the
elbow being pressed against the body.

4. The arm is gradually extended toward the person addressed, while the
hand is given an opposite direction; that is, the palm of the hand is
toward him.

Fifth Gesture. _Devotion._

This gesture embraces seven movements:

1. This consists in raising the passive hand to the level of the other
hand, but in an inverse direction.

2. This consists in turning back the hand toward one's self.

3. This consists in drawing the elbows to the body, and placing the
hands on the chest.

4. This is produced by taking a step backward, and turning a third to
one side; during the execution of this step, the elbows are raised, and
the head is lowered.

5. This consists in drawing the elbows near the body, and placing the
hands above the shoulders.

6. This consists in developing the arms.

7. This consists in developing the hands.

Sixth Gesture. _Interrogative Surprise._

This surprise is expressed in two movements:

1. This is wholly facial.

2. This is made by advancing the hand and drawing the head backward.

Seventh Gesture. _Reiterated Interrogation._

This gesture signifies: I do not understand, I cannot explain your
conduct to me. It embraces five steps:

1. This consists in placing both hands beneath the chin, and violently
elevating the shoulders.

2. This consists in bringing the hands to the level of the chest, as if
in search of something there.

3. This consists in extending both hands toward the interlocutor, as if
to show him that they contain nothing.

4. This consists in extending one hand in the opposite direction, and
letting the head and body follow the hand.

5. This consists in turning the head vehemently toward the interlocutor,
and suddenly lowering the shoulders.

Eighth Gesture. _Anger._

This gesture is made in three movements:

1. This consists in raising the arm.

2. This consists in catching hold of the sleeve.

3. This consists in carrying the clenched hand to the breast, and
drawing back the other arm.

Ninth Gesture. _Menace._

This gesture consists of a preparatory movement, which is made by
lowering the hand while the arm is outstretched toward the
interlocutor, then the finger is extended, and the hand is outstretched
in menace.

The eye follows the finger as it would follow a pistol; this occasions a
reversal of the head proportional to that of the hand.

Tenth Gesture. _An Order for Leaving._

This is executed:

1. By turning around on the free limb.

2. By carrying the body with it.

3. By executing a one-fifth sideward movement--the right leg very weak.
All these movements are made by retaining the gesture of the preceding
menace. Then only the menacing hand is turned inward at the height of
the eye, at the moment when it is about to pass the line occupied by the
head; the elbow is raised to allow the hand a downward movement, which
ends in an indication of departure. In this indication the hand is
absolutely reversed, that is, it is in pronation. Then only does the
head, which has hitherto been lowered, rise through the opposition of
the extended arm.

Eleventh Gesture. _Reiteration._

1. The whole body tends toward the hand which is posed above the head.
The right leg passes from weak to strong.

2. The head is turned backward toward the interlocutor.

3. It rises.

4. The arm extends.

5. The hand in supination gives intimation of the order.

Twelfth Gesture. _Fright._

The right hand pendent. The left hand rises. Tremor.

The first movement is executed in one-third; the body gently passes into
the fourth, and as the fifth is being accomplished, the arm is thrust
forward as if to repel the new object of terror.

At this moment a metamorphose seems to take place, and the object which
had occasioned the fright, seems to be transfigured and to become the
subject of an affectionate impulse. The hands extend toward this object
not to repel it, but to implore it to remain; it seems to become more
and more ennobled, and to assume in the astonished eyes of the actor, a
celestial form--it is an angel. Therefore the body recoils anew
one-fourth; the hands fall back in token of acquiescence; then, while
drawing near the body, they extend anew toward the angel (_here a third
in token of affection and veneration_). Then a prayer is addressed to
it, and again the arms extend toward it in entreaty. (_Here the orator
falls upon his knees._)

The series can be executed beginning with the right arm or the left,
being careful to observe the initial and principal movement, with the
arms at the side where the scene opened. This gives the same play of
organs only in an inverse sense.

_Important Remarks._

Should any student despair of becoming familiar with our method, we give
him three pieces of advice, all easy of application:

1. Never speak without having first expressed what you would say by
gesture. Gesture must always precede speech.

2. Avoid parallelism of gesture. The opposition of the agents is
necessary to equilibrium, to harmony.

3. Retain the same gesture for the same sentiment. In saying the same
thing the gesture should not be changed.

Should the student limit himself to the application of these three
rules, he will not regret this study of the

Practice of the Art of Oratory.


The Symbolism of Colors Applied to the Art of Oratory.

We close this book with an appendix which will serve for ornament.
Before delivering up a suite of rooms, we are wont to embellish them
with rich decorations. Architects usually color their plans. We also
wish to give color to our criterion, by explaining the symbolism of

                        1            3            2

                      1-II         3-II         2-II
                    Ecc.-Conc.   Norm.-Conc.   Conc.-Conc.
                   Violet-blue.  Green-blue.   Indigo.

                     1-III         3-III        2-III
                  Ecc.-Norm.    Norm.-Norm.   Cone.-Norm.
                  Red-yellow.    Yellow.    Green-yellow.

                     1-I           3-I          2-I
                  Ecc.-Ecc.    Norm.-Ecc.     Conc.-Ecc.
                     Red.      Yellow-red.    Violet-red.

In the literary world, color gives forms of speech consecrated by
frequent usage. Thus we very often say: a florid style, a brilliant
orator. This figurative language signifies that in order to shine, the
orator must be adorned with the lustre of flowers. And as one flower
excels others and pleases us by the beauty of its colors, so the orator
must excel, and please by the brilliant shades of his diction. It is as
impossible to give renown to a monotonous and colorless orator as to a
faded, discolored flower. Would you give to the phenomena of your
organism this beautiful corolla of the flower of your garden, throw your
glance upon nature.

Nature speaks to the eye through an enchanting variety of colors, and
these colors in turn teach man how he may himself speak to the eyes. The
whole man might recognize himself under the smiling emblem of colors.
Imagine him in whatever state you will, a color will give you the secret
of his aspirations. And so it has been easy for us to show you the
orator imaged in this colored chart, and we shall have no trouble in
justifying our choice of colors.

Since man, as to his soul, presents himself in three states: the
sensitive, intellectual and moral; and in his organism in the eccentric,
concentric and normal states; _a priori_, you may conclude that nature
has three colors to symbolize the three states, and experience will not
contradict you.

In fact, red, yellow and blue are the primitive colors. All others are
derived from these three rudimentary colors.

Why have we painted the column that corresponds to the life red? Because
red is the color of blood, and the life is in the blood. But life is the
fountain of strength and power. Hence red is the proper symbol of
strength and power in God, in man and in the demon.

Why blue in the column of the concentric state, the mind? Because blue,
from its transparency, is most soothing to our eyes.

Why yellow in the column of the soul? Because yellow has the color of
flame; it is the true symbol of a soul set on fire by love. Yellow is,
then, the emblem of pure love and of impure flames.

Why not use white in our chart? Because white is incandescence in the
highest degree. We say of iron that it is at a red or a white heat. But
in this world it is rare to see a heart at a white heat. Earthly
thermometers do not mark this degree of heat.

It cannot be denied that red, yellow and blue are the three elementary
colors, whose union gives birth to all the varieties that delight our
eyes. We have proof of this in one of nature's most beautiful
phenomena--the rainbow.

The rainbow is composed of seven colors. Here we distinguish the red,
yellow and blue in all their purity; then from the fusion of these three
primary colors, we have violet, orange, green and indigo.

This is the order in which the seven colors of the rainbow appear to

Violet (_red_}, orange (_yellow_), green (_blue_), indigo. Orange is
composed of yellow and red. Yellow mixed with blue, produces green. Blue
when saturated, becomes indigo. Upon closer investigation, we may easily
find the nine shades which correspond perfectly to the nine operations
of our faculties, and to the nine functions of angelic minds.

By complicating and blending the mixture of these colors, we shall have
all the tints that make nature so delightful a paradise.

The seven notes of music sound in accord with the seven colors of the
rainbow. There is a brotherhood between the seven notes and the seven

The voice-apparatus, with that of speech and gesture, is for the orator
a pallet like that upon which the painter prepares and blends those
colors which, under the brush of a Raphael, would at once glow forth in
a masterpiece.

Delsarte's criterion is true; still more, it is beautiful, especially so
with its brilliant adornment of the colors of the rainbow.

We verify our judgment by an explanation of the colored chart.

As may be seen, this chart is an exact reproduction of the criterion
explained at the beginning of this book, only we have adorned it with
colors analogous to the different states of the soul that art is called
upon to reproduce.

Beginning with the three transverse columns corresponding to the
_genus_, we have painted the lower column red, the middle column yellow,
and the upper one blue. These are the three colors that symbolize the
life, soul and mind, as well as the genera.

Passing to the vertical columns which correspond to species, we have
painted the first column red, the second yellow, and the third blue,
passing from left to right. The blending of these colors produces the
variety of shades we might have in this representation.

Blue added to blue gives indigo; blue with yellow gives a deep green;
with red, violet. Yellow passed over to the middle column, gives bright
green upon blue; pure yellow, when passed upon yellow, and orange upon

Thus pure red will be the expression of the sensitive state or the life.
Orange will render soul from life, and violet will be the symbol of mind
from life.

Applying this process of examination to the two other columns, we shall
know by one symbolic color, what the soul wishes at the present hour,
and these same colors will, besides, serve to regulate the attitude of
our organs.

Honor and thanks to the genius which gives us this criterion, where is
reflected the harmony of all worlds!


In this rational grammar of the art of oratory, I have given the rules
of all the fine arts. All arts have the same principle, the same means
and the same end. They are akin, they interpenetrate, they mutually aid
and complete each other. They have a common scope and aim. Thus, music
needs speech and gesture. Painting and sculpture derive their merit from
the beauty of attitudes. There is no masterpiece outside the rules here
laid down.

It is not enough to know the rules of the art of oratory. He who would
become an orator, must make them his own. Even this is not enough for
the free movement of the agents which reveal the mind, the soul and the
life. The method must be so familiar as to seem a second nature. Woe to
the orator if calculation and artifice be divined in his speech! How
shun this quicksand? By labor and exercise. The instruments and the
manner of using them are in your hands, student of oratory. Set about
your work. Practice gymnastics, but let them be gymnastics in the
service of the soul, in the service of noble thoughts and generous
sentiments--divine gymnastics for the service of God.

Renew your nature. Lay aside the swaddling-bands of your imperfections,
conform your lives to the highest ideals of uprightness and truth.
Exercise your voice, your articulation and your gestures. If need be,
like Demosthenes, place pebbles in your mouth; repair like that great
orator to the sea-shore, brave the fury of the billows, accustom
yourself to the tumult and roar of assemblies. Do not fear the fracture
or dislocation of your limbs as you seek to render them supple, to
fashion them after the model, the type you have before your eyes. _Labor
omnia vincit._

In any event, be persevering. Novitiate and apprenticeship in any
profession, are difficult. In every state the bitterness of trial is to
be expected. To arrive at initiation has its joys, to arrive at
perfection is a joy supreme. Beneath the rind of this mechanism, this
play of organs, dwells a vivifying spirit. Beneath these tangible forms
of art, the Divine lies hidden, and will be revealed. And the soul that
has once known the Divine, feels pain no longer, but is overwhelmed with

Art is the richest gift of heaven to earth. The true artist does not
grow old; he is never too old to feel the charm of divine beauty. The
more a soul has been deceived, the more it has been chastened by
suffering, the more susceptible it is to the benefits of art. This is
why music soothes our sorrows and doubles our joys. Song is the
treasure of the poor.

Return, then, with renewed enthusiasm to your work! The end is worth the
pains. The human organism is a marvelous instrument which God has given
for our use. It is a harmonious lyre, with nine chords, each rendering
various sounds. These three chords for the voice, and three for both
gesture and speech, have their thousand resonances at the service of the
life, the soul and the mind. As these chords vibrate beneath your
fingers, they will give voice to the emotions of the life, to the
jubilations of the heart and the raptures of the mind. This delightful
concert will lend enchantment to your passing years, throwing around
them all the attractions of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

We may well salute the three Graces and the nine Muses as gracious
emblems, but it is far better to discern in art, the reflected image of
the triple celestial hierarchy with its nine angel choruses.

Honor, then, to the fine arts! Glory to eloquence! Praise to the good
man who knows how to speak well! Blessed be the great orator! Like our
tutelary angel, he will show us the path that conducts or leads back to

Part Fourth.

Arnaud on Delsarte.

The Delsarte System.


Angélique Arnaud, (_Pupil of Delsarte_).

Translated by Abby L. Alger.

Chapter I.

The Bases of the Science.

Delsarte published no book upon art. The bases of the science which he
created are contained in a synthetical table. Other tables develop each
branch of it considered separately.

Starting from an undeniable law--that which regulates the constitution
of man,--Delsarte applies it to æsthetics; he designates man as "the
object of art," and groups in series the organic agents that co-operate
in the manifestation of human thought, sentiment and passion; declaring
the purpose of these manifestations, now become artistic, to be the
amelioration of our being by throwing into relief and light the
splendors of moral beauty and the horrors of vice.

Delsarte defines art in several ways. He has been reproached for his
over-amplitude of definition, and his development of it in a sense too
metaphysical for a science which he himself calls "positive." I give
here only such definitions as seem to me most clear and important.

"Art is at once the knowledge, the possession and the free direction of
the agents by virtue of which are revealed the life, soul and mind. It
is the appropriation of the sign to the thing. It is the relation of
the beauties scattered through nature to a superior type. It is not,
therefore, the mere imitation of nature."

The word _life_, in the sense employed above, is the equivalent of
_sensation_, of _physical manifestations._

Man being the object of art, it is from the working of the various
faculties of the human organism that Delsarte deduces the task of the
artist; as from the knowledge of the essential modalities of the _ego_,
he deduces his law of general æsthetics.

Delsarte teaches, therefore, that man is a triplicity of persons; that
is, he contains in his indestructible unity, three principles or
aspects, which he calls _life, soul_ and _mind_; in other words,
_physical, moral_ and _intellectual_ persons.

In this statement this master agrees with the philosophers who give a
triplicity of essential principles as the base of ontology. Pierre
Leroux names them as follows: _sensation, sentiment, consciousness._

That which is personal to Delsarte is the derivation of the law of
æsthetics from this conception of being.

The primal faculties once ascertained, he devotes himself to an analysis
of the organism; he describes the harmony of each of these faculties
with the apparatus which serves it as agent for manifesting itself, and
demonstrates the fitness of each organ for the task assigned it. The
master establishes that the inflections of the voice betray more
especially the sensitive nature; that gesture is the interpreter of
emotion; that articulation--a special element of speech--is in the
direct service of intelligence and thought. He gave the name of _vocal_
to the active apparatus of sensation; _dynamic_ to that of sentiment;
_buccal_ to that of articulation.

From the union of the faculties and their agents arise three modes of
expression: the _language of affection_, the _language of ellipsis_ (or
gesture) and the _language of philosophy_. They respond to the three
states which Delsarte recognizes in man, and which the artist is to
translate: the _sensitive state,_ corresponding to the _life_; the
_moral state_, to the _soul_; the _intellectual state_, to the _mind_.

But this division into three modalities or into three states is far from
giving the number of the manifestations of being. Nature is not reduced
to this indigence. From the fusion of these three states, in varying and
incessant combination, and from the predominance of one of the primitive
modalities, whether accidental or permanent, countless individualities
are formed, each with its personal constitution, its shades of
difference of education, habits, age, character, etc.

It seems at the first glance as if the mind must be confused by these
varieties, whose possible number fades into infinity; but the teacher
does not open this labyrinth to his disciples without providing them
with a clue.

Independently of these modalities, of these states, which form the
basis of the system, Delsarte traces triune subdivisions, which serve as
a point of convergence; thus the intermediary rays of the compass or
mariner's card are multiplied, and receive special names, without
ceasing to belong to one of the four cardinal points.

Whatever, for instance, may be the tendency of the individual whom we
desire to portray, or to represent by any art whatsoever, we can think
of him in his normal state, as well as in a concentric or eccentric
state: this is a first distinction.

Each of these states is itself subject to shades of difference, to
modifications. The normal state of a diplomat and that of an artist
could not be the same. The one, by the very effect of his profession,
will incline to concentration; the other will tend to expansion, if not
to eccentration. Hence a _simple normal_ state which is the most common;
a normal-concentric state, a normal-eccentric state: here we have a
second distinction.

Delsarte, in order to avoid confusion between the word _state_ applied
to primordial modalities--which he defines as _sensitive, moral_ and
_intellectual_ states,--often uses the word _element_ in place of that
of _state_ in speaking of _concentration, eccentration_ and _normality_,
which, in this case, he also calls _calm_; but, in teaching, he was
always accustomed to use these more exact terms: normal state,
concentric state, eccentric state.

These differences may occur in regard to each of the other terms. Thus
we may have the simple concentric state, the concentro-concentric state,

It is upon this mutual interpenetration of the various states in the
triple unity, that the master founds the idea which dominates and
pervades his whole system; the three isolated and independent terms do
not, to his thinking, constitute the integrality of the human _ego_. To
constitute, according to Delsarte's theory, three, the vital number, it
must, by its very essence, and by inherent force, raise itself to its
multiple nine. This is what the master calls _the ninefold accord_.

Medicine--a science which also derives its justification from the human
organism--from certain points of view affords us analogies to this
mixture of primordial components; for example, nervous and sanguine
temperaments which are blended in the sanguo-nervous, etc.

If we refer to our own faculties, does it not strike us indeed, that
neither life--nor sensation--nor sentiment, nor intellect can manifest
itself without the aid of its congeners or co-associates?

Is intelligence evident elsewhere than in a sensitive being (life)? And
even when considering the most abstract things, does it not bear witness
of its taste, its power of choice (sentiment)? Can sentiment be
absolutely disengaged from impression (life)? And if it is not always
under the sway of the idea, is it not certain that it gives rise to it,
by provoking observation and reflection (intellect)?

Finally, can an adult--save in the case of absolute idiocy--exist by
sensitive life alone outside of all sentiment and all thought (soul,

It is by the harmony of the modalities among themselves, and the
contribution of each to the unity, that every individual type is formed.
Delsarte thought that he could fix their numerical scale; but he was not
permitted to _carry_ his scientific studies thus far; still, it is not
indispensable to art, which demands above all things very marked types,
that verification should be carried to its farthest limits. It will not
be difficult, guided by the knowledge which Delsarte has left us, to
classify artistic personages as physical, intellectual and moral or
sentimental types; and, in the same category, to differentiate those
belonging to the concentric state from those falling more particularly
into the eccentric or normal states: the Don Juans, Othellos, Counts
Ory, etc. Delsarte, in practice, excelled in characterizing these shades
of difference.

These prolegomena would not perhaps alone suffice to give this teacher a
claim to the title of creator of a science. Although they give the
theory of the system, they are far from containing all its developments.
But Delsarte did not stop here.

In appropriate language--wherein new words are not lacking for the new
science--he takes apart each of the agents of the organism, enumerated
above; he examines them in their details, and assigns them their part in
the sensitive, moral, or intellectual transmission with which they are
charged. Thus gesture--the interpreter of sentiment--is produced by
means of the head, torso and limbs; and in the functions of the head are
comprised the physiognomic movements, also classified and described,
with their proper significance, such as anger, hate, contemplation,
etc.,--and the same with the other agents.

Each part observed gives rise to a special chart, where we see, for
instance, what should be the position of the eye in exaltation,
aversion, intense application of the mind, astonishment, etc. The same
labor is given to the arms, the hands and the attitudes of the body,
with the mark, borrowed from nature, of the slightest movement, partial
or total, corresponding to the sensation, the sentiment, the thought
that the artist wishes to express.

I hope that these works may yet be recovered entire, for the master was
lavish of them, and that they may be given to the public.[5]

An exact science at first sight appears contradictory to art. Will it
not diminish its limits, * * * trammel its transports? Will it not prove
hostile to its liberty at every point? * * * Will it not check the
flights of its graceful fancy, its adorable caprice?

No, indeed! as I said in regard to the ideal, the theories of Delsarte,
far from hampering the free expansion of art, do but enlarge its
horizons, and prepare a broader field for its harmonies. They leave
freedom to the opinions most difficult of seizure, the most unforeseen
creations; because, responding to every faculty of being, this science,
while it corrects imagination, respects its legitimate power.

Finally, what is this science which analyzes every spring and every part
brought to play in the manifestation of life? A compass to guide us to
the desired goal; a measure of proportion to fix each variety in the
immensity of types; a touchstone by which to judge of each man's

But do not let us forget that if this science holds back, restrains and
preserves us from parasites, * * * if it prepares proper soil, and
assists feebly dowered natures to acquire real value, it cannot supply
the place of those marvelous talents, that personality, which showed us,
in Delsarte himself, the heights to which a dramatic singer may attain.
What surprises and subjugates us in these privileged persons is the
secret of nature; it is not to be written down, not to be demonstrated;
this unknown quantity, this mystery, reveals itself at its own time by
flashes, and with different degrees of intensity during the career of
the same artist. Some have thought to explain the prodigy by that
superior instinct known as intuition; but the discovery of the word does
not open the arcanum.

I have said enough, I hope, in regard to the science created by
Delsarte, to put upon the track such minds as are apt for the subject,
and endowed with sufficient penetration to assimilate it; but it must
not be disguised that even should the whole work be collected together,
the science must still await its examination, its verification and its
complements; for a science at its birth is like a program given out for
the study of present and future generations. Delsarte was still working
on his to the last years of his life. Every day he gained fresh insight;
he added branches and accessories. Yet the criticisms of details which
will come later--even when they are justified,--will not rob the
inventor of the glory of his scientific discovery. Let genius invent,
scholars pursue its discoveries! * * * If genius works alone, scientists
work hand in hand,

Chapter II.

The Method.

I have shown Delsarte as a composer, as pre-eminently an artist, who, as
a certain critic says, "was never surpassed;" I have insisted upon the
two titles which form his special glory: that of revealer of the laws of
æsthetics, and that of creator of a science to support his discoveries;
a science whose application relates particularly to the dramatic and
lyric arts, although at its base, and especially when considered as law,
it embraces all the liberal arts.

It remains for me to speak of his method, properly so called; of his
precepts, his maxims, his opinions and his judgments; of that, in a
word, which constitutes the personal manner of each master, and his mode
of instruction; for if the law is single in its essential and
constitutive ideas, it radiates into diversity in its individual
manifestations; _it has infinite possibilities_.

Delsarte considered art as the surest, purest and most constant good in
life. He required much time to complete the education of a pupil,
because he knew how long it had taken him to master the methods of
translating, through that noble interpreter, art, the best and most
sublime possibilities of the human soul; and because he knew as well all
that is inherent in our nature of vice and imperfection. He held that
the truth, be it good or bad, is always instructive.

In regard to truth he says: "A man may possess remarkable qualities, may
have grace, expression, charm and elegance, but they are all as nothing
if he does not interpret the truth." He desired the artist to study
beauty in every form, to seek and discover its secrets. He tells us that
he himself studied the poses of the statues of antiquity for fifteen

It was in consequence of this period of study, assuredly, that the
master condemned the parallel movement of the limbs in gesture, and
recommended attitudes which he called _inverse_; if, for instance, the
actor leans on his left leg, the corresponding gesture must necessarily
be entrusted to the right arm.

The master taught that the gesture--the true interpreter of the
sentiment--should precede the word. He added: "The word is but an echo,
the thought made external and visible, the ambassador of intelligence.
Every energetic passion, every deep sentiment, is accordingly announced
by a sign of the head, the hand or the eye, before the word expresses
it." Thus, the actor and the orator, if they do not conform to this
precept, have failed to attain to art.

Delsarte proves his assertion by giving examples, somewhat overdrawn, in
a sense the inverse of this theory. Nothing was more amusing than to
see him execute one of these _dilatory_ gestures; for instance, this
phrase, uttered by the lackey of some comedy, delivering a message:
"Sir, here is a letter which I was told to deliver to you at once." The
hand extending the note unseasonably, produced so ridiculous an effect
that the heartiest laughter never failed to follow.

_On Ellipsis._

The preceding steps lead us to ellipsis, which plays an important part
in the method of Delsarte.

All the thoughts and sentiments contained in literature, in one
comprehensive word, are entrusted to the mimic art of the actor, whose
essential agent is gesture. The _conjunction_ and _interjection_ are
alike elliptical; thus in the phrase: "Ah! * * how unhappy I am! * *"
"Ah!" should imply a painful situation before the explanatory phrase
begins. In his _course of applied æsthetics_, Delsarte gives us the
striking effects of the elliptic conjunction.

_On Shades and Inflections._

The shade, that exquisite portion of art, which is rather felt than
expressed, is the characteristic sign of the perfection of talent; it
forms a part of the personality of the artist. You may have heard a play
twenty times with indifference, or a melody as often, only to be bored
by it; some fine day a great actor relieves the drama of its chill, its
apparent nullity; the commonplace melody takes to itself wings beneath
the magic of a well-trained, expressive and sympathetic voice. Delsarte
possessed this artistic talent to a supreme degree, and it was one of
the remarkable parts of his instruction; he had established typical
phrases, where the mere shade of inflection gave an appropriate meaning
to every variety of impression and sentiment which can possibly be
expressed by any one set of words. One of these phrases was this: "That
is a pretty dog!"

A very talented young girl succeeded in giving to these words a great
number of different modulations, expressing endearment, coaxing,
admiration, ironical praise, pity and affection. Delsarte, with his
far-reaching comprehension, conceived of more than 600 ways of
differentiating these examples; but he stopped midway in the execution
of them, and certainly no one else will ever pursue this outline to its
farthest limits.

The second phrase was: "I did not tell you that I would not!"

This time the words were given as a study for adults; they lent
themselves to other sentiments; they revealed, as the case might be,
indifference, reproach, encouragement, the hesitation of a troubled
soul, etc.

It was by means of these manifold shades that the artist-professor
established characteristic differences in parts wherein so many actors
had seen but the identical fact of a similar passion or a similar vice.
To his mind, all misers were not the same miser, nor all seducers the
same seducer. In singing particularly, with what art Delsarte used the

_On Vocal Music._

In regard to lyric art especially, Delsarte had his peculiar and
personal theories. Singing was not to him merely a means of displaying
the singer's voice or person; it was a superior language, charged with
the rendition, in its individual charm, of all the greatest creations of
literature and poetry; all the sweet, tender, or cruel sentiments
possible to humanity.

This exceptional singer attained his effects partly by means of certain
modifications of the rhythm, which caused inattentive critics to say:
"Delsarte does not observe the measure." What they themselves failed to
note, was that the first beat was always given firmly; and that it was
in the divisions of one measure, and by subtle compensations, that he
made the difference. Far from having cause for complaint, the composer
gained thereby, a more clear expression of his thought, a more
persuasive expansion of his sentiment, and the respiration appeared more
easy. It was something similar--with a greater value--to that personal
punctuation with which skilful readers often divide the text which they

It was particularly in recitative, the style, moreover, least subject to
precise laws, that Delsarte used this license; and it was in this style
that he especially excelled.

And is it not in what remains unwritten that the singer's true greatness
is revealed? What dilettante has not felt the power of a more incisive
attack of the note; of that prolongation of the note, held
imperceptibly, which, having captured it, holds the attention of the

But, to hear these things, it is not necessary, as the saying is, "to
bestride _technique_." In so far as the training of the voice is
concerned, Delsarte gave himself a scientific basis. He was the first to
think that it would be well to know the mechanism of the organ, that it
might be used to the best advantage, both by avoiding injurious methods
of exercising it, and by aiding the development of the tone by
appropriate work.

In his rooms were to be seen imitations of the larynx--in pasteboard--of
various sizes. His pupils, it seems to me, could profit but little by
these far from pleasing sights. At the utmost it increased their
confidence in the man who desired an intimate acquaintance with
everything relating to the art which he taught. It is to teachers
particularly that the introduction of this auxiliary into the study of
the vocal mechanism may have been of some value. I have lately learned
that several singing teachers use these artificial larynxes. Can
priority be claimed for Delsarte? I can only affirm that he refers to
them in a treatise signed by himself, and dated in the year 1831.

I shall not enter into the details of this contingent side of the
method; the statement of the facts is enough to lead all those who are
interested, to devote thought and study to the matter. I prefer to dwell
upon the things which Delsarte carried with him into the grave, having
written them only on the memories of certain adepts destined to
disappear soon after him.

_On Respiration._

Delsarte established his theory of _diaphragmatic breathing_ in
accordance with his anatomical knowledge. It consists in restoring the
breath, without effort, from the commencing lift of the diaphragm to the
production of the tone. He opposed it to the _costal breathing_, which
brings the lungs suddenly into action by movements of the chest and
shoulders, and causes extreme fatigue. "The chest," he says, "should be
a passive agent; the larynx and mouth, aiding the diaphragm, alone have
a right to act in breathing; the action of the larynx consists of a
depression, that of the mouth should produce the canalization
(concavity) of the tongue and the elevation of the veil of the palate."

To this first idea is attached what the master taught in regard to the
distinction between _vital breath_ and _artificial breath_. It is
certain that one may sing with the natural respiration; but it is
rapidly exhausted if not augmented by additional inhalation; for it
results in dryness and breathlessness, which cause suffering alike to
singer and listener. The _artificial breath_, on the contrary, preserves
the ease and freshness of the voice.

_On the Position of the Tone._

The placing of the tone was one of Delsarte's great anxieties. According
to his theory, the attack should be produced _by explosion_. He rejected
that stress which induces the squeezing out of the tone after it is
produced. The way to avoid it is to prepare rapidly and in anticipation
of the emission of the note.

These ideas demand oral elucidation; but it is enough to declare them,
for teachers and singers to recognize their meaning.

_On the Preparation of the Initial Consonant._

The preceding lines refer to vocalization; but Delsarte applied the same
process to pronunciation. He directed that the _initial consonant_
should be prepared in the same way as the attack on the tone; it was
thus produced distinctly and powerfully, that is, in less appreciable
_extent of time_. Such is the concentration of the archer preparing to
launch an arrow; of the runner about to leap a ditch. The master, in no
case permitted that annoying compass of the voice before a consonant, so
frequently employed by ordinary singers. The Italians justly translate
this disagreeable performance by the word _strascinato_ (dragged out or


Delsarte has been severely blamed for the way in which he trained the
voice. I have nothing to say in regard to those who imputed to him
physical and barbarous methods of developing it; but it may be true that
he endangered it by certain exercises or by failure to cultivate the
mechanism. I do not feel myself competent to pronounce upon this
technical point, but I can give an exact account of what was done in his

Delsarte directed that the tones should be swelled on a single note, E
flat (of the medium); he claimed that by strengthening this intermediary
note the ascending and descending scales were sympathetically
strengthened. He thus avoided, as he said, breaking the high treble
notes by exercises which would render the cords too severely tense,
convinced morever, that at a given moment a burst of enthusiasm and
will-power would take the place of assiduous practice.

He also taught that this special exercise of the medium would prevent
the separation of the registers, that phylloxera of the vocal organ,
which wrecks so many singers, and causes them so many sorrows. This was
the way to gain that mixed voice, the ideal held up to the scholars as
being the most impressive and the most exquisite; that which at the
same time ravished the ear and charmed the heart.

This master considered the chest-voice as more particularly physical;
and the head-voice, it must be confessed, is too much like the voice of
a bird, to awaken sentiment and sympathy.

Delsarte himself possessed this mixed voice; in him, it seemed to start
from the heart, and brought tears to eyes which had never known them.
The power of that tone--allied to the perfection of shading, diction and
lyric declamation--caused every listening soul to vibrate with latent
emotion which might never have been waked to life save by that appeal.

I return to the practice of swelled tones upon the note E flat. This
note certainly acquired broad and powerful tones about which there was
nothing forced, and which were most agreeable. This development was
communicated to the neighboring notes. But did not these advantages take
from the compass of the scale? If so, were they a counterbalance to the
injury? I repeat that I dare not affirm anything in this respect.

Delsarte, assuredly, did not give as much space to vocalization as other
teachers, especially those of the Italian school.

It is also undeniable, that dramatic singing--the style which he
preferred--is dangerous to the vocal organism; particularly when one
practices the _shriek or scream_, which produces a fine effect when
skilfully employed, but is most pernicious in excess.

Delsarte was too conscientious an artist not to sacrifice his voice, at
certain moments, to his pathetic effects; but he was very careful to
warn his scholars against the abuse of this method; he directed them to
use it but very rarely, and with the greatest precaution.

I should also say, in his favor, that light voices were very differently
trained from heavy ones. Madame Carvalho, who began her studies in his
school, did not alter the flexible but feeble organ she brought there.
Mlle. Chaudesaigues and Mlle. Jacob, under Delsarte's tuition, attained
to marvels of flexibility, without losing any of their natural gifts.


Delsarte brought about a revolution in French music in everything
relating to appoggiatura, or rather, he restored its primitive meaning.
The way in which he interpreted it has created a school.

He taught that the root of the word--appoggiatura--being _appuyer_ (to
sustain), the chief importance should be given in the phrase, to
appoggiatura, by extent and expression; the more so that this note is
generally placed on a dissonance; and, according to this master's
system, it is on the dissonance--and not at random and very frequently,
as is the habit of many singers--that the powerful effect of the
vibration of sound should be produced.

Contrary to this opinion, the appoggiatura was for a long time used in
France as a short and rapid passing note; it thus gave the music a
vivacious character, wholly discordant with the style of serious
compositions; the music of Gluck was particularly unsuited to it.

_Roulade and Martellato._

In every school of singing the roulade is effected by means of the
_staccato_ and _legato_. Delsarte had a marked prejudice in favor of the
martellato, which partakes of both. He compared it, in his picturesque
way of expressing his ideas, to pearls united by an invisible thread.


The master's pronunciation was irreproachable; not the slightest trace
of a provincial accent; never the least error of intonation, the
smallest mistake in regard to a long or short syllable. What is perhaps
rarer than may be thought, he possessed, in its absolute purity, the
prosody of his native language, alike in lyric declamation and in the
_cantabile_. His penetrating tones added another charm to the many
merits which he had acquired by study.

Pronunciation, therefore, was skilfully and carefully taught in
Delsarte's school. The professor's first care was to correct any
tendency to lisp, which he did by temporarily substituting the syllables
_te, de_, over and over again, for the faulty R. This substitution
brought the organ back to the requisite position for the vibration of
the R.

This process is now in common use; but I cannot say whether it was
employed before Delsarte's day. He obtained very happy results from it.

_E mute before a Consonant._

Delsarte did not allow that absolute suppression of the E mute before a
consonant, which seems to prevail at present, and which produces so bad
an effect in delivery. As the evil, at the time of which I speak, was
yet comparatively unknown, he did not make it a case of conscience; but
if he never lent himself to this ellipsis, he, "the lyric Talma," "the
exquisite singer," as he has frequently been called, should we not
regard his abstinence as a condemnation from which there is no appeal? I
do not believe, moreover, that either Nourrit or Dupré authorized by
their example a habit so contrary to the rules of French versification,
so disagreeable to the well-trained ear and so opposed to good taste.
Such young singers as have yielded to it, have only to listen to
themselves for one moment to abandon it forever.

It is certain that E mute can in no instance be assimilated to the
accented E; but to suppress it entirely, is to break the symmetry of the
verse, to put the measure out of time. It is unmistakable that the
weakness of the vowel, or mute syllable, concerns the sound, not the
duration. Let it die away gently; but for Heaven's sake, do not murder
it! Voltaire wrote: "You reproach us with our E mute, as a sad, dull
sound that dies on our lips, but in this very E mute lies the great
harmony of our prose and verse." Littré recognizes two forms of the E
mute: the E mute, faintly articulated as in "_àme_;" and the E mute
sounded as in _me, ce, le;_ but he does not allude to an E which is
entirely null.

Once more, then, that there may be no misunderstanding, let me say that
the word _mute_ added to the E, has but a relative sense, in view of the
two vowels of the same name and marked with an acute or a grave accent.

One fact throws light on the question: did any author ever make a
character above the rank of a peasant or a lackey, say:

/ "_J'aime' ben Lisett' J'crois qu'ell' m'en veut!"_ P/

Take an example from Voltaire (tragedy of the Death of Caesar): "_Voilà
vos successeurs, Horace, Décius_." Evidently, if the E mute had not been
counted, the second hemistich of the Alexandrine verse would have had
but five syllables instead of six.

Would any one like to know how the heresiarchs of the E mute would

In this instance they would repeat the A of the penultimate, aspirating
it and pronouncing thus: "_Voilà vos successeurs, Hora ... as',

In this way they would have the requisite number of syllables; but they
would be wholly at odds with the dictionary of the good actors of the
Théâtre Français.

This falsification is especially common in singing, though it is no less
revolting in that field of art. How often at concerts--the force of
tradition saves us at the theatre--do we hear even artists of great
reputation pronounce:

"_Quel jour prosp'..er' plus de mystè..er_," instead of: "_Quel jour
prospère plus de mystère._" And, in one of the choruses of the opera
"_La Reine de Chypre_":

    "_Jamais, jamais en Fran ... anç'
    Jamais l'Anglais ne régnera!_"

Instead of:

    "_Jamais, jamais en France,
    Jamais l'Anglais ne régnera!_"

This anomaly is most offensive in the final syllable of a verse, because
there the measure is more impaired than ever, and in this way that
alternation of male and female rhymes is suppressed, which produces so
flowing and graceful a cadence in French verse.

_E mute before a Vowel._

The encounter of E mute in a final syllable, with the initial vowel of
the word which follows it, makes the defect more apparent and
accordingly easier to fight against.

Delsarte's process was as follows: When a silent syllable is
immediately followed by a word beginning with another vowel, the E mute
(by a prolongation of the sound of the penultimate) is suppressed with
the next letter. Thus in the aria of _Joseph_ (opera by Méhu):

"_Loin de vous a langui ma jeune.. sexilée;_" and in _Count Ory: "Salut,
ô vénéra ... blermite._"

In these cases, by an unfortunate spirit of compensation, the abettors
of the innovation, suppressing the grammatical elision, sing thus:

    "_Loin de vous a langui ma jeune ... ess'exilée."
    "Salut, ô vénréra ... abl'erm ... it!_"

Littré's Dictionary gives us the same pronunciation as Delsarte; and his
written demonstration is even more positive. We find _favorables
auspices, arbres abattus_, written in this way:
"_fa-vo-ra-ble-z-auspices, arbre-z-abattus._"

It is, however, very difficult to express these differences exactly, in
type: what Littré expresses _radically_ by typographic characters, is
blended with most natural delicacy by the voice of a singer.

Thus, according to Delsarte, the E mute of a final syllable should be
suppressed before a vowel, on condition of a prolongation of the sound,
in harmony with the penultimate syllable.

According to Delsarte again, according to Voltaire, according to Littré,
the E mute is weakened, more or less, but never completely suppressed,
before a consonant.

Finally Legouvé, whose voice is preponderant in these matters, whose
books are in the hands of the whole world, has never entered into this
_lettricidal_ conspiracy.

I hope to be pardoned this long digression, thinking it my duty to
protest against such a ludicrous method of treating French prosody; I do
so both in the name of æsthetics and as a part of my task as biographer
of Delsarte.[6]

Chapter III.

Was Delsarte a Philosopher?

If we consider philosophy in the light of all the questions upon which
it touches, the subjects which it embraces, we must answer "No;" but if
we concentrate the word within the limits of æsthetics, we may reply in
the affirmative. Did not Delsarte point out the origin of art, its
object and its aim?

Not that this master never exceeded the limits of his science and his
method. He had sketched out a "Treatise on Reason," and had begun to
classify the faculties of being, entering into the subject more
profoundly than the categories of Kant; but all this only exists in mere
outline, in a technology whose terms have not been weighed and connected
together by a solid chain of reasoning: logic has not uttered its final
word therein.

A separate volume would be required to give an idea of these _gigantic
sketches_, which must remain in their rudimentary state.

If Delsarte had finished his work, it would seem that he must have
leaned toward the scholastic method, now so much out of favor; but
certainly he would put his own personality into this, as into everything
that he undertook to investigate; for he was held back on the steeps of
mysticism by the science which he had created, and which could only
afford a shelter to the supernatural as an extension of those psychical
faculties which have been called intuition, imagination, etc.

Then the influence of Raymond Brucker, who died shortly after Delsarte,
being lessened, and conscientious and patient study having fed the flame
in that vast brain, we might have obtained affirmations of a new order.
And Delsarte might have met with thinkers like Leibnitz, Descartes and
Jean Reynaud, on that height where religion is purged of superstition
and fanaticism, philosophy set free from atheism and materialism!

If Delsarte had a fault, it was that he regarded all modern philosophy
as sensuous naturalism; and if reason sometimes seemed to him
suspicious, it was because he often confounded it with sophistry, which
reasons indeed, but is far from being _reason_.

Let us regret that Delsarte never finished his complete philosophy; but
let us be grateful to him for having raised his art and all arts to the
level of philosophy, by giving them truth as a basis and morality as a
final aim; which fairly justifies, it seems to me, the title of
_artist-philosopher_, which I have sometimes applied to him.

I should not neglect, in this connection, to set down the explanation,
given by Delsarte, of what he meant by the word _trinity_, as used in
his scientific system. The reader cannot fail to see the elements of a
system of philosophy in this succinct statement, this outline to be
filled up:

"The principle of the system lies in the statement that there is in the
world a universal formula which may be applied to all sciences, to all
things possible: --this formula is _the trinity_.

"What is requisite for the formation of a trinity?

"Three expressions are requisite, each presupposing and implying the
other two. Each of three terms must imply the other two. There must also
be an absolute co-necessity between them; thus, the three principles of
our being--life, mind and soul--form a trinity.


"Because life and mind are one and the same soul; soul and mind are one
and the same life; life and soul are one and the same mind."

Chapter IV.

Course of Applied Æsthetics.

_Meeting of the Circle of Learned Societies_.

Independently of its method, which was especially applicable to dramatic
and lyric arts, Delsarte's doctrine, as we have seen, drew from the
primordial sources, which are the law of things, the principles of all
poetry, all art and all science. The intense light which he brought
thence was too dazzling for young scholars, whose minds were rarely
prepared by previous education. It, nevertheless, overflowed into the
daily lessons, and gave them that peculiar and somewhat singular aspect,
which acted even upon those whose intelligence could not cope with it.
Such is the mysterious magic of things which penetrate before they

But these lofty problems demanded an audience in harmony with their
elevation. Delsarte soon attracted such. Under the title "Course of
Applied Æsthetics," he collected in various places, notably at the
"Circle of Learned Societies," profane and sacred orators, and learned
men of all sorts. There he could develop points of view as new as they
seemed to be strikingly true. It was on leaving one of these meetings,
that a distinguished painter thus expressed his enthusiasm: "I have
learned so much to-day, and it is all so simple and so true, that I am
amazed that I never thought of it before."

The Course of Applied Æsthetics was addressed to painters, sculptors,
orators, as well as to musicians, both performers and composers; and was
finally extended to literary men. This audience of scholars was no less
astonished and enchanted than others had been.

_Theory of the Degrees_.

The theory of degrees was largely developed at these meetings, and I
have purposely delayed it till this chapter. To understand this
theory--one of the most striking points in Delsarte's method, and
original with him,--one should have some idea of the grammar which he
composed for the use of his pupils.

I will not say that this treatise was complete in the sense usually
attached to the word grammar. There is no mention of orthography or of
lexicology; but all that is the very essence of language, that from
which no language, no idiom can escape--the constituent parts of
speech--are examined and investigated from a philosophic and psychologic
point of view. Just as the author examined the constituent modalities of
our being in the light of æsthetics, he seized the affinities between
the laws of speech, as far as regards the voice--_logos_--and the moral
manifestations of art.

This production of Delsarte has undergone the fate of almost all his
works--it has not been printed. Indeed, I greatly fear that, all his
notes on the subject can never be collected; nevertheless that which has
been gathered together presents a certain development. I will not enter
into the purely metaphysical part, limiting myself, as I have done from
the beginning of this study, to making known the conceptions of Delsarte
only in so far as they refer to the special field of æsthetics.

In this category, we find the following definitions which serve to
classify the quantitative values or degrees: that is the extent assigned
to each articulation or vocal emission to enable it to express the
thoughts, sentiments and sensations of our being in their truth and
proportionate intensity:

1. _Substantive_ is the name given to a group of appearances, to a
totality of attributes.

2. _Adjective_ expresses ideas, simple, abstract, general and
medicative; it is an abstraction in the substantive.

3. _Verb_ is the word that affirms the existence and the co-existence
between the being existing and its manner of existing: that is to say it
connects the subject with the attribute. The verb is not a sign of
action, but of affirmation, and existence.

4. The _participle_ alone is a sign of action.

5, 6, 7. The _article, pronoun and preposition_ fit into the common

8. The _adverb_ is the adjective of the adjective and of the participle
(in so far as it is an attribute of the verb); it modifies them both,
and is not modifiable by either of them; it is a sign of proportion, an
intellectual compass.

9. The _conjunction_ has the same function as the preposition: it unites
one object to another object; but it differs from it, inasmuch as the
preposition has but a single word for its antecedent, and a single word
for its objective case, while the conjunction has an entire phrase for
antecedent, and the same for complement. It characterizes the point of
view under the sway of which the relations should be regarded:
restrictive, as _but_; hypothetical or conditional, as _if?_ conclusive,
as _then_, etc., etc. The conjunction presents a general view to our
thought, it is the reunion of scattered facts; it is essentially

10. The _interjection_ responds to those circumstances where the soul,
moved and shaken by a crowd of emotions at once, feels that by uttering
a phrase it would be far from expressing what it experiences. It then
exhales a sound, and confides to gesture the transmission of its

The interjection is essentially elliptical, because, expressing nothing
in itself, it expresses at the time all that the gesture desires it to
express, for ellipsis is a hidden sense, the revelation of which belongs
exclusively to gesture.

It must first be noted that these degrees are numbered from one to nine,
and that, of all the grammatical values defined, the conjunction,
interjection and adverb are classed highest.

Delsarte made the following experiment one day in the "Circle of Learned
Societies," during a lecture:

"Which word," he asked his audience, "requires most emphasis in the

     "The wave draws near, it breaks, and vomits up before our eyes,
     Amid the surging foam, a monster huge of size?"

The absence of any rule applicable to the subject caused the most
complete anarchy among the listeners. One thought that the word to be
emphasized must be _monster_--as indicating an object of terror; another
gave the preference to the adjective _huge_. Still another thought that
_vomits_ demanded the most expressive accent, from the ugliness of that
which it expresses.

Delsarte repeated the lines:

     "The wave draws near, it breaks, and ... vomits up before our

It was on the word _and_ that he concentrated all the force of his
accent; but giving it, by gesture, voice and facial expression, all the
significance lacking to that particle, colorless in itself, as he
pronounced the word, the fixity of his gaze, his trembling hands, his
body shrinking back into itself, while his feet seemed riveted to the
earth, all presaged something terrible and frightful. He saw what he was
about to relate, he made you see it; the conjunction, aided by the
actor's pantomime, opened infinite perspectives to the imagination; his
words had only to specify the fact, and to justify the emotion which
had accumulated in the interval.

But this particle, which here allows of eight degrees, is much
diminished when it fills the office of a simple copulative. The extent
of the word or the syllable is always subordinate to the sense of the
phrase; in the latter case it does not require more than the figure 2.

Chapter V.

The Recitation of Fables.

Some years before his death Delsarte substituted for his concerts,
lectures in which he explained his scientific doctrines and his
philosophy of art. He also supplied the place of song by the recitation
of certain fables selected from La Fontaine. He was not less perfect in
this style than in the interpretation of the great rôles of tragedy and
grand lyric poems; but it must be acknowledged, that under this new
guise, his talent could not display itself in all its amplitude; save
for the facial expression which gave the lessons of the apologue a
variety of outline of which La Fontaine himself perhaps never dreamed
... and in spite of the fine and scholarly accent which he could give to
all those clever beasts, he was, on many points, deprived of his power
and his prestige: how endow a lion with the proud poses of Achilles; and
lend the foolish grasshopper the satanic charm of Armida?

Instead of noble or terrific attitudes, his gesture was confined to a
few movements of forearm or hand; of his fingers, when the intentions
were more subtle, more refined ... Still it was always most pleasant to
hear him. It was Delsarte restrained, but not diminished. If you did not
recover in his speaking voice that sort of enchantment with which his
slightly-veiled tone pierced the soul, his accent remained so pure, so
intelligent, that you were none the less ravished.

When, in the fable of _The Two Pigeons_, he said:

    "Absence is the greatest of ills, ...
      Not so for you, cruel one!"

He discovered shades, hitherto unknown, with which to paint reproach
mingled with grief. And when he said:

    "_The ant ... is not a lender!..._"

A more affirmative and striking sense of the character attributed to our
thrifty friend, was detached from this delay, filled up by a negative
movement of the narrator's head.

If Delsarte had limited himself in his lectures, to teaching men by
means of the menagerie, which was a sly burlesque of the courtiers of
Louis XIV., perhaps he might have made idolatrous partisans there as
elsewhere; but it seems as if in the exposition of his theory, he posed
rather as a censor than a teacher; he delighted in baffling the mind by
paradoxes. By annexes superimposed and ill-blended with his system, he
sometimes compromised those scientific truths whose splendor bursts
forth when they are freed from heterogeneous accessories. We cannot
otherwise explain the resistance of certain minds, distinguished
otherwise, to the recognition in him of the artist who excited the
enthusiasm of all the most competent critics and brilliant amateurs.

Chapter VI.

The Law of Æsthetics.

However striking and superior the system of François Delsarte has been
shown to be, however admirable and attractive the manifestation of art
in his person,--herein lie not his first rights to the grateful sympathy
which we owe to his memory. His works and discoveries in æsthetics are a
benefit of general interest, while they disclose to us the fruitful
resources of his genius.

In the first place, what is a law? We have here to deal, not with the
legislation decreed by man for the regulation of social and political
relations, but with those laws deduced from a natural order, as the
principle of life itself, which govern the relations of beings and of
things. In religion these laws are its dogmas and mysteries;
philosophically speaking, the laws of things are the essentials of their
nature, their specific relations.

Voltaire has written: "Law is the instinct by which we feel justice." In
Littré's Dictionary we find stated that "laws are conditions imposed by
circumstances." Another has said: "The constant, uneludable succession
in which phenomena occur, takes the name of law."

I would here state, that in no one of the last three citations does the
word "law" seem to me to be precisely defined. From the different
explanations of the natural laws which I have been able to compare, I
conclude that laws are forces containing in themselves the reasons, to
us unknown, of a power and permanence which are unchangeable. Plato
named them _ideas_. We must now conclude that the nature of a law, in
the present acceptation of the term, _can_ be but imperfectly
interpreted by exact formulæ. Laws are still much involved in the
secrets of creation. Here must we seek their origin or origins.

But courage still! Although these formulæ but imperfectly define law,
the facts suffice to establish them. They (facts) show the certain
action and, as stated heretofore, the uneludable nature of these

But the discovery of Delsarte is the application to æsthetics of a
natural law, proven and established by science. This law is that which
governs the system of man's organism. Its present application is
justified by a series of scientifically coördinated facts. Delsarte
rests upon the principle that man is the object of art. Thus the artist
should aim to manifest _human nature_ in its three modalities, in its
three phases which the master named _life, soul_ and _mind_. In other
words, the beings _physical, moral_ and _mental_.

These three expressions figure in the work of Pierre Leroux (_De
l'Humanité_) in the following equivalent terms: _sensation, sentiment,
knowledge._ But Leroux applied to ethics this law of human organism,
whereas Delsarte derived from it the law of æsthetics. When two minds of
this stamp are thus led, each in his own way, to the same source of
analogous principles differently applied, is it not a proof that they
have stated truth? And in this case it is more than presumable that the
two men of whom I speak had never worked together. Delsarte was a
philosopher in spite of himself. With Pierre Leroux art was only an
element contingent upon a system which he elaborated.

Was Delsarte led to his classification of man's nature by the doctrine
of the three persons in the Trinity combined in unity? Was he, by his
observations upon the _human triplicity_, led on to consider their
infinite development in the divine personalities? I know not, nor is it
of importance in considering the system.

Leroux affirmed a relation between the unity of man and the universality
of his pantheism; both relying at the outset upon an idea at once
religious and philosophical. But the research of Leroux was
philosophically inclined, while that of Delsarte was of a character more
especially religious.

Is it necessary to urge that you accept this obviously primitive
classification of the human faculties? Who, that shall have considered a
moment to convince himself, can doubt this truth,--that our sensations,
our sentiments, our understanding, are the principal elements of our
life, and that all that we are able to know of ourselves is made known
to us by them directly, or by the result of their combinations? This
consideration will soon lead us to the rational development of the
theory of Delsarte. For the present, it suffices to receive these
principles as they have been presented to us, and to admit that art
could not go far astray while following a clue leading from a law
invincible, and guiding to a science as positive as that of the
astronomer, derived from the law of attraction, or that of the chemist,
depending upon the law of affinities. Here need be no confusion. The
science is positive. The mystery of the natural law implies a
hypothesis,--even were the proposition negative.

Delsarte insisted upon the influence of a religious sentiment in art, as
a part of the constitutive animating faculties of the human being. In
the light of this proposition his enemies maintain that he teaches this
heresy: that success in æsthetics depends upon a definite faith--even
upon the observance of the _Catholic religion!_ This distinction between
religion and creed, between sentiment and assertion, I have followed
carefully since the beginning of my study. Delsarte was able to so
address his pupils at the beginning of a lecture, as to arouse the
apathetic, and electrify the passionate; but his teaching was far from
dogmatic. I do not say that at times, in his aspirations and dreams,
which he regarded perhaps as intuitions, this religious philosophy did
not make some incursions into the region of mysticism. I have seen at
his home charts named from the circumincession,[7] and classifying
celestial spirits; but these trans-mundane personifications found no
place in his practical lectures. They are not found in the great
synthetical chart which I possess, and which recapitulates the system as
the master arranged it in the strength of his youth and genius, free
from all mystical element.

When, in 1859, I submitted to Delsarte my treatise containing a succinct
statement of his method, he said to me: "You have not followed me so far
as the angels."

I replied: "I have related and recognized as truth all that I have heard
you teach upon the laws of art as deduced from the relations of the
human faculties, because I have observed and verified it among people
and upon myself. But I speak not of things which you have never shown
me, and whose existence you have never _demonstrated_. The angels are of
this number."

Yet he received with no less approval my profane work. And it is the
judgment which he placed upon that essay which authorizes my resuming
the subject, augmented by further developments and evidence.

I should not state with so great confidence this great truth--the
application of a natural law to a succession of discoveries constituting
a science, an incontestable innovation--were I not able to refer to
competent opinions supporting my statement. A few of these opinions I
would here quote from some of the journals I have examined, many of
which thoroughly appreciated Delsarte throughout the long period of his

It was said by Adolphe Guéroult (_Presse_, May 15, 1858): "To discover
and produce wonderful effects, is preëminently the characteristic of
great artists, but never, so far as I can learn, has it occurred to any
one, before Delsarte, to attach these strokes of genius to positive
laws." And further: "The eloquent secrets of pantomime, the
imperceptible movements which, in great actors, so forcibly impress us,
coming under the observation of this discoverer, were by him analyzed
and synthetized in accordance with laws whose clearness and simplicity
render them doubly admirable."

I give also some statements from the _Journal des Débats_ (May 10,
1859). Though in the following the word "law" does not appear, it bears
interestingly upon the relations of the ideas and expressions under
consideration. The quotation is:--

"The audience was charmed and instructed. It applauded the new
definitions. It divined the essence of each art, and comprehended that
the various manifestations of art are classified according to the
classifications of the human faculties. It knows why each passion
produces each accent: 'because the accent is the modulation of the
soul,' and why a given emotion produces a given expression of the face,
gesture and attitude of the body."

When we allow that "the classifications of the manifestations of art are
made according to those of the human faculties," do we not also allow
that they are derived from one law?

Thus the _fiat lux_ ("let there be light") is pronounced. Art departs
from chaos, escapes from anarchy; it acts no longer only for the
so-called artist, but also for the actor and singer, whom we are now to
consider. Art has to do with the pose of the body, a graceful carriage,
distinct pronunciation and an unconscious command of dramatic effects.
For a tenor to phrase agreeably, vocalize skilfully, giving us resonant
chest-tones, no longer suffices to gain for him the title of great

The followers of art should be able, before and above all, to portray
humanity in its essential truth, and according to the original tendency
of each type. Mannerism and affectation should forever be
proscribed--_unless they are imitated as an exercise_--but all the
excellence that chance has produced up to the present time should be
incorporated in the new science.

Moreover, by referring to a law the occasional successes which come to
one, it becomes possible to reproduce them at will.

The essential point is to get back to the truth, to express the passions
and emotions as nature manifests them, and not to repeat mechanically a
series of conventional proceedings which are violations of the natural
law. "Effects should be the echoes of a situation clearly comprehended
and completely felt,"--such was the import of this teaching.

One of the great benefits arising from the discoveries of Delsarte is
the reconciliation of freedom and restraint. If it bind the artist by
determinate rules, it is in order to free him from routine, to recall
him to the general law of being and of his own individuality. It is in
order that he may study himself, in the place of submitting to arbitrary
prescriptions. In such study every marked personality will find itself
in its native element.

As for those who have no _vocation_, and in whom the "ego" distinguishes
itself so little from the multitude that it remains lost in it, it is
best that they should withdraw, since _they are not called_. They have
in view only vanity or speculation, and must always be intruders in the
sacred temple of art.

"My glass is not large, but I drink from my glass," said Alfred de
Musset. Very well! let each one drink from his glass, but observe! it is
not necessary that in the true artist all should be individual and
peculiar. It is necessary only that there should exist a degree of
individuality, something novel, a distinguishing tone and an artistic
physiognomy peculiarly his own. Servile imitations, plagiarism, stupid
adaptations, put to death all art and all poetry. In literature
particularly is such decline most easy.

Hoping that, from what has been said, you have been led more fully to
appreciate the advantage of seeing all of the branches of intellectual
culture led out of the ruts of routine, away from plagiarism and from
disorder and anarchy, one word upon the most distasteful and effectual
blight to which art is subject--_the loss of naturalness_, viz.,
_affectation_. Can anything be more irritating than an affected actor or
singer, caterers to perverted tastes?

In sculpture what is more displeasing than a distorted figure, which
aimed at grace and is become a caricature? Affectation is in the arts
the equivalant of sophistry in logic, of the false in morals, of
hypocrisy in religion. It is not extravagant to assume that affectation,
being a falsity, an active lie, is a torture to the spirit which
perceives it, and a wrong to the honest souls who endure it. It should
be, therefore, for twofold cause, banished without pity from the realm
of æsthetics. Why should the natural, which is the expression of truth,
have so great an attraction if affectation--its enemy and
incumbrance--aroused not our impatience or disdain?

How is it that in children of all classes we find grace, ravishing and
inimitable? It is because in them the accord is perfect between the
look, the smile, the gesture and the impression within, of which they
are the interpreters--the adequate signs, as Delsarte would say--the
perfidious flexibility of words _never interposing_ to alter the

True grace in adults is not that which is studied, nor that which is
artistically copied from a badly-chosen type. Grace is born of itself,
the natural fruit of the culture of the mind, of elevated thoughts and
noble sentiments. It is a combination of excellences which come
unconsciously to some privileged beings. To imitate beautiful effects in
nature, to surprise their expressions, after having observed and
established the relation of cause to effect,--this is the end to which
the discovery of Delsarte would lead us.

As it is difficult for each to find ready at his command the elements
for such research, how can we overestimate the great value of
establishing schools in which the instruction of students of the great
art shall be guided in accordance with the established laws of
æsthetics? The time of greatest necessity is the immediate present,
since the voice of the people cries loudly through the press, "Art is
decaying and will surely die!"

"Barriers are also supports," said Madame de Staël; and what more sure
support in the decadence which threatens us, than a positive science
deduced from irrefragable law! I say _irrefragable_ with conviction.
Though human laws be subject to change, the laws of nature are shown to
be immutable, at least so far as the observations of learned men of all
ages have been able to establish them.

To such assertions one objection arises: Why, admitting that the human
organism furnishes exact and complete means of manifesting art in all
the departments of æsthetics, should not others before Delsarte have
discovered that correlation? I have conscientiously considered and
sought light in this direction, and the result of my research furnishes
me only a negation. Although I do not here attempt a complete study of
the philosophy of art, nor a general history of the arts, I have sought
to discover all that could warrant one in presuming the discovery of a
law of æsthetics in antiquity, particularly among the Greeks.

I find that in the writings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle--who are
the best authorities--art was a dependence upon philosophy; that is to
say, one with it, having no law outside of it. (Whereas, in the work of
Delsarte, æsthetics occupies the first place, and philosophy becomes

I will here enter into some details of the ancient teachings.

Socrates gave to his teachings a practical character founded upon the
knowledge of man. He took for his point of departure man himself, and
established (according to this idea) a morality with the motto of the
temple of Delphi,--"Know thyself." This doctrine related more especially
to ethics than to æsthetics--as later did that of Pierre Leroux--and it
was far from being able to direct artists in their work.

Plato often discoursed upon the True, the Beautiful, the Good. He strove
to disengage them from the concrete that he might derive some general
formulæ. To do this he employed the method of "elimination," a form of
dialectics which I recommend to no one, notwithstanding its great value
and the services it may render, after all, to those minds endowed with
patience. What does he conclude in regard to art?

The Socratic and dogmatic dialogues--the _Phaedo_, the _Gorgias_, the
_Symposium, Protagoras, Ion, Phaedrus_--abound in allegories, aphorisms,
and in aspirations toward an ideal, more or less clearly defined, which
end, however, not by any means in a discussion of art, but in such
affirmations as that which closes the first _Hippias:_--"Beautiful
things are difficult."

In the _Symposium_ we have a philosophical discussion interposed between
two orgies. Socrates there maintains his title of sage, but it is surely
not wisdom which presides at the feast. What light upon my subject? Do
we here find any conclusive decision regarding art? No! We have instead
such statements as this: "It is possible for the same man to be both a
tragic and a comic poet." Then are made some reflections upon time in
music. We can as yet discover nothing like a law of æsthetics.

In this company, where are assembled the most cultivated of the Athenian
citizens, they discuss love and jealousy of a kind that the moral
instinct of modern society can with difficulty comprehend. But these
dissertations are of no aid in the solution which I seek.

And yet the spirit of Socrates at times attained to great heights. He
puts into the mouth of a woman of Mantinea the theory which saps the old
doctrine and presents monotheism. It is but one step thence to
Christianity, and it was Apollonius of Tyana, disciple of Pythagoras,
who established a connection between the idealism of the later Greek
philosophy and the spirituality of the new religion taught by Jesus of

Socrates, after a discussion upon those intermediate deities, whom he
called _daimons_, and among whom he places love, assigns to love an
origin and strange attributes which, to a certain extent, explain the
remarkable workings of this passion at that time. He at once exalts and
seeks to make comprehended the new god--"Beauty eternal, uncreated and
imperishable, a beauty having nothing sensuous, nothing
corporeal,--which exists absolutely and eternally." This is all.

Perhaps this ideal of love, as that of philosophy, may have been
expressed in the foundation of the religious ideal of Delsarte, but this
encounter in the ethereal regions of theology and psychology--where the
human consciousness perceives nothing tangible, and whence it derives
only vague aspirations--implies no knowledge, of anything like a law, a
science or a method, such as our artist-innovator of the nineteenth
century conceived and taught.

Aristotle, disciple of the founder of the Academy of Athens, divided
the sciences into three classes--logic, philosophy and morals. Within
this classification art is closely bound, but this philosopher made no
scientific demonstration of it. His workings are not those of
application and execution. More than his predecessors, it is true, he
considered the human organism and, in this, his conception bears a
certain analogy to the system of Delsarte. Aristotle, as well as Plato,
advised the study of nature, and seeking there the elements of the
Beautiful; but they had specially in view literature and eloquence.
Further than this, their precepts are counsels and have reference to no
definite law. They have not shown the links of connection between the
human faculties and the mechanism which manifests them; they have not
taught man the manner of using his organs to express artistically his
sensations, emotions and thoughts.

The Greeks had every advantage of models and philosophical schools, in
which art was taught. But they had no school of æsthetics. Artists of
genius taught the schools more than they learned of them; and these
artists, so far as I can learn, have left no trace of theoretical works,
but, as before written, genius precedes and exemplifies law. While Plato
and Aristotle placed a beacon light upon the road leading to a law, they
never touched the goal. Delsarte proceeded otherwise. He starts with a
principle clearly defined and everything harmonizes with it.

Have the historians and critics of the Greek philosophy discovered that
which I vainly sought in its initiators,--_a law of æsthetics?_ This is
a question to be answered.

Winkelmann, in his "History of Art," says: "The fine arts, in their rise
and decadence, may be likened unto great rivers which, at the point of
fullest greatness, break up into innumerable tiny streams and are lost
in the sands." Still following this imagery, he compares "Egyptian art
to a fine tree whose growth is stopped by a sting; Etruscan art to a
torrent; Greek art to a limpid stream."

Now, the law of life of trees, streams or torrents, is not identical
with that which governs the unity of a human life.

Like Aristotle, Winkelmann states clearly the principle that man is the
measure of all things, but he does not follow up the consequences; he
reaches no scientific demonstration upon any point. Far from
establishing the existence of a law of æsthetics among the Greeks, he
simply remarks upon the extreme simplicity of their beginnings, and
shows by what gropings they came from Hermes to the most perfect works
of Phidias and Praxiteles.

Mengs states that "the first designs were of forms approaching human
semblance;" and that the sciences and philosophy must of necessity have
preceded the Beautiful in the arts. He thinks that the Greeks
established the proportions of their figures by imitation of beautiful

From these two commentators we have a history of the progression of the
arts toward the Ideal. Mengs states that the Greeks and the Etruscans
have given rules of proportion and style. But progression, proportion,
style,--all of which proceeding from a fixed standard of beauty may
guide artists--the perception even of the ideal which each one
interprets in his own way--cannot be assimilated to that original law
which carries in itself all the reasons of the concept, that which
contains all conditions and means of a true execution,--_individual even
to the perfection of each type, general and varied as the infinite
shades of nature_.

In response to the allegation of Mengs, that "the sciences and
philosophy must necessarily have preceded the Beautiful in the arts," I
would call attention to the fact that celebrated artists--as Phidias and
Zeuxis for example--had produced their works long before the dialogues
between Socrates, Protagoras, Hippias and others, upon the True, the
Good and the Beautiful. The great painter and the great sculptor could
only have proceeded by the intuition of their genius, knowing nothing of
a law of æsthetics.

In that which remains to us of antiquity, I find nothing which implies
such an application of the human organism to the arts as that whose
discovery, promulgation, exemplification and teaching we owe to

M. Eugène Véron, writer of our day, and author of remarkable works on
art, far from recognizing among the Greeks a law of æsthetics, writes
of Plato: "He considered ideas as species of divine beings, intermediate
between the Supreme Deity and the world. Theirs is the power of creation
and formation.... Matter unintelligent and self-formed is _nothing_, and
realizes existence only through the operation of the idea which gives it
its form. Aristotle begins by rejecting all this phantasmagory of
eternal and creative ideas. He fills the abyss between matter and
spirit. God, pure thought and being preëminent, brings all into
existence by his power of attraction which gives to all activity and

We wander farther and farther from a law of æsthetics and its means of
application as established by Delsarte.

Of all the writers who have thoroughly examined antique art, Victor
Cousin would seem the one with whom Delsarte had most in common, if this
eminent philosopher were not a contemporary of the master and had not
attended his lectures, his artistic sessions and his concerts. In his
manner of treating art, this is often shown bywords and forms and
flashes of instinctive reminiscence which recall the great school. In
his book, "The True, the Beautiful and the Good" (edition of 1858), the
learned professor writes: "The true method gives us a law to start from
man to arrive at things. All the arts, without exception, address the
soul _through the body_."

He is on the way, but his position embraces neither the starting-point,
which is the law, nor any practical means toward an end. For the rest,
the nearer his propositions approach the law of Delsarte, the easier it
becomes to establish the radical differences which separate them.
Delsarte does not say that "the law is to start from man to arrive at
things," but that "man uses his corporeal organs to manifest himself in
his three constituent modalities,--physical, mental and moral."

It is very certain that works of art, like all concrete forms, can only
be perceived by the senses. Who does not know this? But that which is
most difficult to comprehend, is the just relation of cause to
effect--as to the faculty and its manifestation,--and it is this which
Delsarte discovered and made clear. The one stated the action of art
when perceived; the other, the necessities of the artist in order that
art respond to the law.

I shall have more than once to render justice to Victor Cousin.
Inheritor of the Greek philosophers, he allows dialectics too great
margin. He wanders in his premises and arrives at his conclusions--when
he can. (Here, of course, I speak only of art.) In philosophy, Cousin,
beginning with effects, from induction to induction, often arrives at
causes and states some principles. Delsarte, perhaps, proceeded thus
while seeking to combine his discoveries, but this accomplished, he
placed in the first line, synthesis, whence all emanates, and this focus
of light radiating in all directions, illumines even to its farthest
limit, the vast field of æsthetics. Cousin, after all, claims neither
for the Greeks nor for himself the discovery of a law.

Proudhon, who represented the Protagorean school among us, humoring his
whim, produced a work on art. In this he declares that he has very
little gift in æsthetics, and asserts himself a dialectician, and we
cannot deny his power in logic while he regards things from a proper
stand-point. Very well! Proudhon challenged the Academy "to indicate a
_method_"--with even more reason might he have said _law_ of æsthetics.

Shall we, at last, find among the true critics of French literature any
synthetic basis which may guide us in all branches of art? What do I
find in "The Poetic Art," by Boileau, the great authority of the
Augustan age,--rhetoric, beautiful verses, full of excellent counsel? I
find there wisely arbitrated rules, a sieve through which it would be
well to pass the works of our own times, including the verdicts which
distribute the glory.

But the means of putting into practice these valuable precepts--the
criterion to establish their truth, the touchstone which may distinguish
the pure gold--does not appear! In default of these means of certitude,
each may, according to his instinct or his pride, insist that he has
fulfilled the conditions prescribed by the author of the _Lutrin_, and
judge his rivals by the sole authority of his prejudices.

La Harpe and his followers have distributed praise and blame, and at the
same time said _what_ should be done, but they have given no _how_.

More grievous still are the meanderings of the critics of our public
journals. They wander without compass and without rudder, approving or
condemning according to their friendships and antipathies; save those
_connoisseurs émérites_, whose fine, sure taste and exceptional
erudition are rarely able to supply a law and state a reason for their

Among us, as among the Greeks, may be found artists who have given
proofs of the existence of the supreme theory of which I now write.
Talma and Malibran--in another order, Déjazet, and Frederick Lemaître,
even Thérésa herself, have, in a greater or less degree, exemplified
this law imprescriptable. These artists, marked by nature with the seal
of their vocation, possessed that force of truth which produces sudden
bursts of eloquence, great dramatic effects; in a word, as before
expressed, "the happy strokes of genius."

Yes, before and after Delsarte, there were and shall be beings
conforming by _instinct_ to his _law_. But with him alone shall rest the
honor of its discovery and first teaching, and of the establishment of
the science upon strong foundations.

It remains for me to examine the relations between the workings of
Delsarte and those who have treated the same questions concerning the
terms (according to him, accessory), the True, the Good and the
Beautiful; and also to consider the value of each branch of æsthetics in
the entirety of the system.

Chapter VII.

The Elements Of Art.

_The True, the Good, the Beautiful._

Though Delsarte be acknowledged the discoverer of the law of æsthetics,
he may have held points in common with many who before him had had
presentiments of its coming and had instinctively experienced its force.
Premonitions precede the discovery as complements should follow.

The True, the Good, the Beautiful, constituent elements of æsthetics,
have been diversely interpreted. From his intellectual observatory, a
zenith whence the artist-philosopher viewed clearly the whole and the
details, he may be supposed to have gained light beyond any which could
have come to his predecessors.

I will, then, resume my parallel from this point of view.

The True, the Good and the Beautiful were not made, in the school of
Delsarte, objects of special teaching. By definitions, reflections and
illustrations of the master, they were shown to enter fully into the
science and method--a part of it distinguishable and inseparable. The
master, in his demonstrations, commonly employed various well-known
maxims which were always accredited to their authors. Thus, from Plato:
"The Beautiful is the splendor of the True." From St. Thomas Aquinas,
in regard to science: "In creation all is done by number, weight and
measure." From St. Augustine (for he often quoted from sacred works):
"Moral beauty is the brilliancy of the Good."

But I must proceed in order. I owe it to the sincerity of my endeavor to
explain first the æsthetic work of Delsarte as shown me by his own

_The True._

The True Illuminates the Thought.

To determine the signification of the _True_, we must first ask what is
_truth?_ It has been defined as: "A fixed principle, an axiom." The term
truth has been applied to such or such maxims; but there are few
assertions not subject to discussion or which would be accepted as
decisive without comment. They have not that piercing clearness which
determines conviction by simple apprehension or at first sight.

The dictionary of the Academy is more explicit in its statement: "Truth
is the conformity of the idea to its object." But a preferable
definition is that of Madame Clémence Royer: "Truth is the concept of
the spirit in regard to the reality of things and the laws which govern
them." This philosophical statement is readily adapted to the True in
the arts, which is acquired by the observation of nature and adaptation
of the lawful ideal.

How, then, may we recognize the True in æsthetics according to this
definition? The artist, first and above all, should disregard no law of
nature, but when he aspires to great works, "the concept of his spirit
in regard to the reality of things and their laws" should lead him to
idealize what he sees, translating his personal conception of the
Beautiful and the Sublime, if his flight carry him so far.

The word Art is more comprehensive in that which it expresses, than the
word True. _Art_ completes itself by its other elements, the _Beautiful_
and the _Good_. Plato, and the philosophers in general, treated of truth
from the stand-point of philosophy rather than of art. Still the great
Athenian seemed to believe in a sort of celestial museum, where the
artist, penetrating by intuition, was inspired by a vision, more or less
clear, of the masterpieces of divine conception.

Delsarte approached in a certain sense this very idea, but his doctrine
of the True in art, although depending upon the mystic basis of a holy
Trinity, brought forth developments both rational and scientific which
leave far behind the Platonic hypothesis.

In the system of Delsarte it is no longer a vague ideal dimly
perceptible, which must guide the artist in the execution of his work,
for the _innovator_ says expressly that "the divine thought is written
in man himself." It is therefore at the command of every one who seeks
truth to make it manifest in art. In the new system, man being at once
the _artist_ and _object of art_, literary men, sculptors and painters
proceed from a basis ever to be observed and studied, to rise from the
True to the Ideal. Here the flight must be more rapid and, above all,
less deceptive than the purely mystic fancy of Plato.

We shall see in considering the _Beautiful_ in the arts, that far from
giving rise to arbitrary and fantastic conceptions, the great ideal must
become, according to the science and method of the master,--the
aggrandizement and the harmony of the faculties of the human being.

_The Good._

The Good Sanctifies the Soul.

What is the Good in art? Here again the philosophical standard bars the
way and demands priority. What, then, is _Good_ independent of varied
feelings and of all the varied and contradictory interests of human
subjectivity which encumber it in the minds of the multitude of thinking

The Good, after this elimination, is reduced or rather elevated to one
simple idea, so general and requisite is it. The Good seems to be that
which can give to the greatest number of beings, existing in the
universe (conformably to their hierarchy), the greatest sum of happiness
and perfection, considering, for humanity, the importance of the mutual
relations of the faculties. If this be true of the Good in life, is not
a way clearly traced for art, whose mission is to embellish existence?
And, further, if it be incontestable, that man cannot transgress the
laws of his nature without wronging his intelligence and his happiness,
even his strength and beauty, how shall art merit our love and homage if
its power be exerted to excite inferior faculties and subversive
passions? Are not _poise_ and _harmony_ the best conditions of existence
for the human organism? That which Plato demanded for the _Beautiful_ in
favor of the _True_--namely, splendor--Delsarte demanded also of _art_
in favor of the _Good_. His thought is summed up in this formula, "Man
is the object of art." Man, being artist, becomes the agent of
æsthetics. Man, in his humanity, is the goal toward which should tend
all the efforts and experiments of the art-moralizer.

The master maintained the possibility of reaching this end by two
opposing ways, not contradictory; _i.e._, the production of the
Beautiful under its physical, mental and moral forms; and by the
manifestation of the Ugly under the same forms, exhibiting what he
called the _hideousness of vice_. Immorality may be rendered poetical
and artistic, because of its being a corruption of the moral, often
preserving the imprint of its origin, even throughout its greatest
errors. Its agitation, its combats and its defeats interest the judgment
and the heart. The Ugly or unseemly, morally speaking, is the synonym of

The Ugly in the language of the arts has many diverse significations. It
is in these shades and variable proportions that it affects our subject,
but the depicting of repulsive things, foreign to morality, to
sentiment and to passion, has no right to exist in æsthetics. It may be
possible to cure a vice by showing its hideousness. But does this
warrant such exciting of the disgust of the senses? It is an outrage to
the worship of the Beautiful, without compensation of any kind.

There can be no advantage to humanity in exhibiting the hideousness of
disease or the monstrosities of certain natural phenomena! Open to them
the museums of comparative anatomy, but close the galleries consecrated
to the fine arts! There exist also monstrosities which are not included
in these categories; they present no moral danger, but are disagreeable
and repulsive to good taste. They consist of fantastic forms, in
accordance with the spirit of an inferior civilization, reminding one of
the misshapen and gigantic prehistoric animals, whose bones astound us,
and which disappeared from our globe that man might appear.

Among cultivated contemporaries these eccentricities spring from an
inclination toward originality, caprice, grotesque taste; from a similar
impulse to that which directs literature toward burlesque and parodies,
and the plastic arts toward caricature. Such productions may please some
distinguished and intelligent natures which cannot have been highly
favored in the distribution of the delicacies of sentiment and the
exquisite graces of wit. In a word, the art indulging in this class of
manifestations acts according to the _mode simpliste_. I borrow this
term from Charles Fourier, and I say once for all, that by it I mean not
the entire, but the almost exclusive predominance of one or the other of
the modalities of the human being. Here the _simplisme_ being altogether
intellectual, while it is inferior to manifestations in which the being
expands harmoniously, it wounds no essential in the synthesis of the
_me_; while a predomination of the sensual to the same degree is most
pernicious to that which delights in it and antipathetic to those who do
not live solely in the material aspects of existence.

Existing among the elements of æsthetics, as the faculties of man, are
certain dependencies, connections, affinities, penetrations, which
render an abstraction of one of them almost impossible. Thus I have
anticipated allusions to the Beautiful in considering the Good. By thus
connecting them, the better to distinguish them, I have reached the
conclusion that moral evil should never be manifested in the arts unless
with the view of redressing it. In this case the better its real
characteristics are studied, the more strongly they are accentuated
throughout, the more successful the work will be from the plastic point
of view, and the more power it will have to repel those inward wrongs
which it denounces, and this even though the intention of the artist
should not touch this result.

_The Beautiful._

The Beautiful Purifies the Emotions.

At first glance, it might seem the privilege of each one to say, "The
Beautiful is that which appears to me as such." I believe in this
regard, that the most capable artist, should he be also the most perfect
logician, would never be able to persuade sainted and simple ignorance
that it should not remain firmly grounded upon faith in its own

Place Hugo, Mercié, Bonnat, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Joncières in the
presence of simple countrymen--or, what is worse still, of inferior
artists and critics, of pretentious amateurs--and you will see by what
supercilious, incredulous gestures, being incapable of argument, this
satisfied ignorance will repel all assertions of the great authorities.

Should we, therefore, disregard this reluctance to recognize the
features of the Beautiful in great works? We must at least deduce from
it the fact that the effect of art depends upon some relation between
the observer and the thing observed.

Notwithstanding the reality of the beauties of such or such a work, in
the eyes of many appreciators, the subjectivity of each observer should
remain decisive, _vis-à-vis_ to himself, as long as he cannot be
convinced by the authority of a law; and, finally, it is imperative that
his comprehension of that law should be rendered possible by preliminary
studies. On the contrary, shall that which has been recognized as
beautiful by the initiated ever since artists created, and enlightened
criticism discussed and judged it, appear now before uncultivated
criticism as without authority?

In default of law and science, there is a sort of universal consent
among competent thinkers; and their appreciation of the highest class of
works is maintained by a process of adhesion carried on by every
conversion from ignorant blindness to the light of appreciation.

The question of subjectivity in the declared judgments in æsthetics has
given rise to incessant controversies which began, perhaps, among the
Greeks and are going on among us. Though no absolute decision has been
reached, some excellent maxims have resulted. In default of an
irrefutable definition of the Beautiful, there have been given us
images, analogies and thoughts upon the subject which approach and
prepare for such definitions:

Victor Cousin has said: "It is reason which decides as to the Beautiful
and reduces it to the sensation of the agreeable, and taste has no
further law."

"Aversion accompanies the Ugly (unseemly) as love walks hand in hand
with the Beautiful."

"The Beautiful inspires love profound but not passionate."

"The artist perceives only the Beautiful where the sensual man sees only
the attractive or frightful."

And, again, "That is sublime which presents the idea of the Infinite."

This last thought brings us to Delsarte, who, perhaps, was its

The following valuable thoughts of the master, while not related
scientifically to his system, are still allied to its physical and
philosophical aspects:

"Form," says the innovator in æsthetics, "is the vestment of substance;
it is the expressive symbol of a mysterious truth; it is the stamp of a
hidden virtue, the actuality of being; in a word, form is the plastic of
the Ideal."

"The Beautiful is the transparency of the aptitudes of the agent, and it
radiates from the faculties which govern it. It is order which results
from the dynamical disposition of forms."

"Beauty is the reason which presides at the creation of things; it is
the invisible power which draws us and subjugates us in them."

"The Beautiful comprises three characters, which we distinguish under
the following titles: Ideal, moral and plastic beauty."

By the enunciation of these three categories, Delsarte enters upon the
positive aspect of his system. As the result of the careful examination
of the aptitudes or faculties of the Ego, approachable by analysis and
applied to æsthetics, he has established this first class of
manifestations (ideal beauty) as requisite to art. This must result from
a combination of the faculties; the possibilities of combination being
infinite, but always in subjection to the human being. The artist,
according to this personal power of inspiration, should be able to
portray a totality of superior and harmonious qualities, such as will
oblige any competent observer to recognize it as beautiful. We have
taken a step into the realm of the Ideal; that is to say, we have
touched that which, without departing from the law, surpasses
conventional rule and the natural types accepted for the Beautiful.

Before following the Ideal into its ethereal region, we will further
consider the nature of its foundation, which is a combination of the
three mother faculties which Delsarte declares to be, in æsthetics, the
criterion of the law and the foundation of the science. We already
recognize these as the physical, mental and moral aspects of the human

The plastic art allies itself particularly to the physical constitution,
but the physique cannot be perfectly beautiful unless it manifests
intellectual and moral faculties.

Moral and intellectual beauty reveal themselves in the human being under
the empire of passion and of sentiment, and the physique is momentarily
transformed. The artist should seize beauty at this moment of fullest
perfection, above the normal conditions of human existence and perhaps
beyond possible plastic beauty.

Behold what glorious possibility for the direction of the artist's
aspirations toward the Beautiful! But even this happy chance by no means
includes all of the possible conceptions of the Ideal, and neither does
it furnish us any absolute idea or definition. This vision of beauty,
made ideal by exaltation of the intelligence and the emotion, can only
be perceived by the artist of practiced observation and of that
intuitive perception which is the gift of nature.

Again considered, the Ideal, being relative as well as the Beautiful, of
which it is the exuberance, we must remember that the word is far from
corresponding to an idea of absolute beauty. Thus the Ideal of an
ordinary taste is not so high as that of a person whose standard of
beauty is superior, and the two will be very distant from the image
conceived by the pen, the chisel or the brush of a great artist. In many
cases the Ideal is nothing but a searching for the intention of nature,
obliterated by the circumstances and accidents of life. Then the task of
the artist should be to reëstablish the type in his logic--a vulgar face
may be portrayed by a skilful brush--and, while preserving its features,
there may be put into it the culture of intellect and noble sentiments.

An artist, for instance, will see in a woman, whom time has tried,
certain elements of beauty which enable him to portray her nearly as she
was at the age of twenty years. He should be able to divine in the young
girl, according to the normal development of her features, her
appearance at the complete unfolding of her beauty. Yes; in these
different cases the artist shall have idealized, since he shall have
comprehended, penetrated, interpreted and rectified nature. Still, he
may not yet have attained to the comprehension of perfect beauty, such,
at least, as human emotion and intellect can conceive, and such as we
love to imagine as inhabiting the superior spheres of the universe of
which we know nothing further than the dictate of our reason, namely,
that they are inhabited by beings more or less like ourselves.

When these sublime effects appear in art, it is as though a veil were
torn, revealing glimpses of a world of ideas, emotions and impressions,
surpassing our comprehension, approachable only by our aspirations.

Thus, Delsarte, superior to his science, has shown us the artist in full
possession of all that he has acquired, and the inmost charm of that
which is revealed to him. In execution he proved this truth: If talent
may be born of science, it is genius which distinguishes the highest
personalities, and to merit the title of high artistic personality one
must contain in himself an essence indescribable, unutterable, which
constitutes the aureole of grand brows, and the sign luminous of great
works of art.

    Thus, as virtue, art has its degrees.

Art, in its most simple expression, is the faithful representation of
nature. If the conception of a work or of a type is elevated to a degree
of perfection which satisfies at once the plastic sense, the emotion and
the intellect, we will call it Grand Art.

Finally, if, in the presence of a creation, we recognize perfect
harmony (which goes beyond perfect proportion); if the work call forth
in us that contemplative ecstasy which gives us the impression and, as
it were, the vision of pure beauty, shall we not recognize Supreme Art?

The system of Delsarte responds to all these desiderata of æsthetics. In
his law he gives us the necessary bases; by his science he indicates the
practical means, by his method and illustrations he completes the
science and demonstrates the law. Where is place left for doubt or

He stated what he knew and how he had learned it. In his recitals
occurred innumerable beautiful proofs of his greatness and simplicity,
oftentimes more convincing than lengthy, involved argument could ever

Some may ask: How can a positive science lead toward an ideal which
cannot be touched, heard not seen? Would not this science be the
antipode (some would say _antidote_) of the mystic dreams of Plato and
of Delsarte himself?

Reply is easy. Delsarte recognized in our mental consciousness that
desire for research into the unknown which would sound the mysteries of
nature. He did not disregard that intuitive force of imagination which
can often form from simple known elements the concept of conditions
superior to the tangible.

Between this nature, which we hear and see and touch, and that nature
which the artist feels, imagines, and to which he aspires, Delsarte has
placed a ladder whose base is among us, and whose summit is lost in the
infinite spaces of fiction and poesy. By this ascent into the realm of
liberty, of personality and of genius, the elect of æsthetics shall
mount and gain, and, still maintaining their relations with the Real,
shall bring down to us the glorious trophies of their art.

Delsarte, foremost among men, had climbed the magic ladder. His
exquisite harmonies in the dramatic art and lyric declamation were
beautiful indeed, but the æsthetic beauties which he brought forth in
the roles that he interpreted, must, alas! disappear with him. He has
left us the bases of his science, but who shall so beautifully tread the
way--reigning by song amidst a thousand accents of devoted enthusiasm!

Chapter VIII.

Application of the Law to the Various Arts.

We have now to consider each branch of æsthetics in the totality of the
system, to be assured whether or no this law discovered by Delsarte
covers all departures in the domain of art. First, then, the
starting-point around which all is centered and from which flow all

"Man is the object of art." This proposition applies as readily to the
conception of literature, poetry and the plastic art as to the more
active manifestations of the dramatic, oratorical or lyric art. Man
being thus the object of art in all of its specialties, the part of the
artist is to manifest that which is revealed to him, through his three
essential modalities,--physical, moral and intellectual (in the words of
Delsarte, life, soul and spirit, with the divisions and subdivisions
that they allow), as has been clearly stated in the chapter upon "The
Law of Æsthetics," and further confirmed in the one upon "The Bases of
the Science." But though all of these primordial modalities appear in
each concept and in all artistic manifestations, the proportion in which
each appears is indefinitely variable. It is a predominance of one or
another of these which classifies and specializes. It is the harmony,
more or less perfect, of the components of this triple unity which
determines the value of artistic manifestations. Under this law, then,
come all of the arts, inasmuch as each, differing in subjects treated
and in means of execution, still has a common mission, namely, the
revelation of impressions, the intelligible expression of the thoughts
and feelings of man. To be more clearly understood, I will from this
point consider separately the different branches of æsthetics.

_Art--Dramatic, Lyric and Oratorical._

The proclivities necessary to an artist, actor or orator (intelligence
being the first consideration and beauty of minor importance) are:
expansion, sensibility or at least impressionability; a ready
comprehension of the works to be interpreted, if not the requisite
capacity to execute them. One's particular vocation (or congenial line
of work) is the first condition in either of these departments of art,
and into the consideration of this must enter that of physical beauty
such as the roles demand; always considering what has been named "the
physique" of the situation. In a word, these three aspects of art
correspond to the predominance of that modality which Delsarte calls
"life;" this with the complementary share of the other essentials to
maintain a symmetry; this for the average "chosen." As to the
individuality necessary for the creation of a rôle, general statements
cannot apply. It is one and entire for each. Should it reproduce itself
identically, it would no longer be individual. The strength of a
powerful individuality lies in the revelation of a type _sui generis_.

Thus Delsarte can never be reproduced. If by an impossibility an artist
having seen him, and being penetrated by his method, could assimilate
the sum total of his acquired qualities and his inmost purposes, still
he could be but a copy, however perfect, since personality cannot be
transmitted. I could not pursue the demonstration of the application of
the laws of the human organism to the generality of the liberal arts
without meeting an objection which we will consider just here. Some one
says: If the law of art is the same as that of the human constitution,
what need that Delsarte teach that law--will it not suffice for each
artist-nature to study himself in order to determine satisfactory means
of transmitting (to spectators, audiences or readers) the thoughts,
passions or emotions which he would reveal, either by his pen, his
chisel, his brush, or by the fictitious personages which he incarnates?
I answer, No! The expression of nature by gesture, face, or voice will
not come to the artist by inspiration nor by reflection, especially in
extreme situations. He may chance upon agreeable effects, and even
moving expressions, but rarely does a just and telling expression of
that which he would express result from mere chance. Caustic truth or
knack--more vulgarly, cheek--comes of influence outside of one's self.
Upon one occasion Madame Pasta was heard to say: "I would be as
touching as that child in her tears. I should, indeed, be a great
artist if I could imitate her."

Rare, indeed, are the artists who know how to weep. The sublimity of art
responds to nature's simplest impulses. By the study and work of
Delsarte a science has been created, every fleeting sign of emotion has
been fixed, and may be reproduced at will; and this for the instruction
of the artist who may never have observed them in another, nor himself
felt the impressions which give rise to them.

_Application of the Law to Literature._

It is hardly necessary to state that the predominance of one of the
primordial faculties in the actor would necessarily differ from that in
the author of the drama or opera which he would interpret. Literary
capability presupposes more or less of philosophical aptitude and a
predominance of the intellectual faculties, and this not to the
exclusion of a certain amount of artistic and moral development in the
truly great writers. It is in the field of literature especially,
that man attains to a _creation_; and whether his _object_ be a
fellow-creature or an extended and enlarged ideal,--in either and any
case facts have furnished repeated and incontestable evidence, in
support of the statement of Delsarte, that art is always defective
unless it be the product of the three essential modalities of being,
acting in their relative proportions. This statement is not to be
contested; but here again these relations would vary among the writers
upon science, ethics and poetry.

The epic, most synthetic of literary productions, is no longer in
fashion, because, perhaps, of the growing rarity of heroes. On the
contrary, _simplisme_ is now deforming the greatest germs in the drama
and romance. The weakness often lies in the morality of the production,
or rather in its lack of morality, often so lacking that the author
sinks to the level of producing repulsive works and cynical pictures.

In view also of man's essential faculties, but from another point of
view, St.-Simonianism classed men as scholars, artists and artisans.
Then were added the priests of a new order whose nature, more perfectly
balanced, was to furnish the model type of future humanity. This
classification had brought thinking people to the consideration and
criticism of a system isolating and concentrating all development upon
one or another of the faculties. It was readily seen that thus sentiment
would rush to folly; sensibility without a corrective would soon become
weakness; unbalanced industry would lead to disregard of health and
strength, while the triviality of the sensual nature, unrestrained by
mental or moral activity, would soon fall into hopeless degradation.
Herein was _simplisme_ most bitterly condemned. Delsarte, ever studying
relations between coincidences in art and the revelations of nature,
arranged a typical demonstration, as ingenious as logical, of the
action and play of opposing faculties. By most wonderful pantomime he
showed a man tempted to sin; then, touched by pity for the victim of his
desire, at last transformed by the intervention of the moral sense, he
came by slow gradations to most elevated sentiments. One saw clearly the
courage of resistance and triumph in the sacrifice. Then, taking an
inverse progression, he slid from this height to the opposite extreme of
culpable resolutions.

Delsarte was the author of this mute scene which contains the elements
of a drama. The contemplation of this wonderful effect leads to the
conviction of the great value to literature of the fundamental law,
which may be applied to any and all literature, as a permanent criterion
by which productions may be classified and judged, in their departure
from the _simpliste_ form and approach to a conception in which the
constituent modalities of being act in harmonious accord. Here, again,
we have a fresh distinction between scientific and ethical literature,
and that which may be termed the _literature of art_. To this latter
class belong romances, dramatic productions and poems--works made up of
shades of meaning and just proportions, which should be based on clear
and sound philosophy, prudently disguised but indisputable and
imperishable. Here is place for the grace of an agreeable wit and the
elegant flexibility of a fruitful pen. More imperative than in any other
class of writing is the demand for individual touch and that harmony of
construction depending upon the proportionate relations of those
elements of æsthetics,--_the True, the Good_, and _the Beautiful_. Thus,
through æsthetics, it is elevated.

To this literature of art belong the sonnet of Arvers, and "The Soul,"
by Sully-Prudhomme. Musset, in his grace or pathos, is not inferior to
Victor Hugo. There are, even in his faults, certain effective boldnesses
to which the author of "Nôtre Dame de Paris" cannot aspire. Whence,
then, comes the immense distance between these poets? It lies in the
fact that Victor Hugo, while he is a finished artist, shows himself also
a thinker, philosopher, man of science and erudition. Endowed with a
profound humanitarian feeling, he is preoccupied with the evils of
society, with its rights, its mistakes, its tendencies and with their
amelioration; while the poet of "Jacques Rolla"--a refined
sensualist--devotes his verse to the unbridling of the torments of
imagination in delirium, to the agitations of hearts which have place
only for love.

If comparison be made between novelists and dramatists of diverse
schools, why has not M. Zola, who in so many regards should be
considered a master, attained the heights of eminence upon which are
enrolled the names of Shakespeare, Molière, Corneille, Schiller, Madame
de Staël, and George Sand? It is because M. Zola, profound analyst and
charming narrator, even more forcibly than Musset breaks the æsthetic
synthesis by the _absence of morality_ in his writings. His fatalism
arrests the flight of that which would be great; he corrupts in the germ
wonderful creative powers! M. Zola's great lack lies in his considering
in man his physical nature only. Between mind and matter he holds a
magnifying lantern full upon the lowest molecules, and rejects
disdainfully the initiating atom that Leibnitz has signalized as the
centre of life. M. Zola has created a detestable school which already
slides into the mire beneath the weight of the crimes which it excites
and the disgust which it arouses. Should we blame Zola and his disciples
for the danger and the impotence of this method? Should we not impute
the wrong in greater measure to philosophical naturalism?

In considering _materialism_ and _naturalism_ let us not lose sight of
the fact that while materialism is _simpliste_, naturalism (in so much
as it represents nature) is essentially comprehensive and necessarily
synthetic; harmony of force and matter being an invariable requisite of

_Realism_, another term strangely compromised, seems to proclaim itself
under the banner of materialism, while the _Real_, implying the idea of
the _True_, cannot be contained in _simplisme_. It is a most pernicious
evil that writers, calling themselves realistic, still concentrate their
talent upon the painting of vicious types and characters drawn in an
infernal cycle of repulsive morals.

"Man is the object of art." Never could the words of the master more
appropriately interpose than before the encroachments of literary
_simplisme_. The man of whom Delsarte speaks is not confined to such or
such a category of the species. He proposes that æsthetics should
interpret an all-comprehensive human nature, which is not made up alone
of baseness, egotism and duplicity. Though it be subject to perversion,
it has its luminous aspects, its radiant sides, and we should not too
long turn our eyes from them.

Artistically, evil or the Hideous (which is also evil) should never be
used except as a foil. There is no immorality in exhibiting the
prevailing vices of the epoch, but this is the physician's duty. The
evil lies in presenting these evils under such forms as may lead many to
enjoy or tolerate them, giving them the additional power of a charming
style and the specious arguments of fatality. This is precisely the case
of M. Zola. The glamor of his disturbing theory, which annihilates free
will, gives to his works a philosophical appearance. He conceals its
vacuity beneath forms of a highly-colored style, an amiable negligence
and a facility that is benumbing to thought. As he asserts nothing, no
one dreams of contradicting, and one finds himself entwined in a network
of repulsive depravity without a ray of healthful protection or
correction. In comparison with the blight of this disastrous system of
fatality, the coarseness of the writer's language, so loudly censured,
is relatively unimportant. The _simplisme_ of M. Zola is not absolute,
as but one of the three constituent modalities is omitted, that one
being morality. The lack is, however, no less fatal, inasmuch as the
void produced by the absence of one of the noblest faculties of human
activity must usually be filled by disturbing forces.

I have heard the theory, "art for art," supported by men otherwise very
enlightened. "An artistic production need not contain a moral treatise,"
they say, and this is quite true, provided the artist be a quick
observer, possessing talent sufficient to handle his subject
harmoniously. Vice carries its own stigma, and pure beauty surrounds
itself with light. The author should be able readily to distinguish the
one as well as the other, and his precepts should come as the harmonious
result of his experience. But such a work, at the mercy of an
ill-balanced brain and unhealthful temperament, must yield bad fruit.
Talent without broad and true knowledge of _reality_, or that which
_is_, instead of being invented, is incomplete in its workings and
results. Its creations resemble the light of the foot-lamp, of
fireworks, of the prodigies of our modern pyrotechnists--pleasing for a
time, dazzling, captivating, intoxicating! But lost in the life-giving
beauty of a summer's night or a glorious sunset, we are tempted to cry
out with the poet,--

    "Nothing is beautiful but the True."

What can be said of the other _simplisme_ which, in its search for the
True, ignores the Beautiful while it disregards the Good? Again, its
partisans seek artistic truth in its very worst conditions. Why paint in
full sunshine, if the intense light obliterates details and confuses the
shadows? Does it seem a difficulty conquered? It is far oftener a
disguised insufficiency. If my reference to painting seem premature, it
is because I wished to borrow an image to show how equally grievous was
the faulty touch of many of our writers of renown. Many among them seem
striving to propagate the culture of the Mediocre and Unseemly, as a
thousandfold easier practice than the religion of the Beautiful.

My present aim is to show clearly the influence of even incomplete
_simplisme_, in certain pernicious effects upon literature. Edgar A. Poe
entered the realm of the fanciful after Hoffman, and how is it that the
initiator is less dangerous than his disciple? It is because of these
two _simplistes_, who have put reason out of consideration, the first
addressed himself only to the imagination, while the American poet
sounded the emotions to depths where terror is awakened and madness
begins to sting. Hoffman has perhaps upon his conscience some readers
confined in asylums for the deranged, but the far more perilous
hallucinations of Poe must account for greater harm. The distance is
great between imagination and sentiment, and should be so regarded. This
extravagance should surely not be allowed to usurp the place of
morality, but this is what is done, and greatness is not for them.

Another illustration lies in the transition intermediate between the
romances of Balzac, Frederic Soulié, Emile Souvestre, and Eugène Sue,
and the poetry of Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Béranger, Barbier and the
_impressionalist_ school whose decline is already at hand.

Of many names, which have acquired notoriety, I select the two which
afford the best contrast,--Charles Baudelaire and Jules de la Madelène.
The first, among other eccentric works, has left us "The Blossoms of
Evil." In the ideas which it embraces it is the successful production of
an imagination misled and in distress; a pathological experience
probably prompted the conception. In it one reads beautiful verse of
scholarly construction, and readily perceives an individuality and
originality of thought and expression; but no one would predict or
desire that this production should pass to posterity.

"Le Marquis des Saffras," by Jules de la Madelène, on the contrary,
gratifies both judgment and feeling. It is a spirited painting, acute
and profound, as well as true, of human life, especially of provincial
life. The human being is revealed in all his aspects. Though the author
disguises neither errors nor weaknesses, he presents clearly the
redeeming side--the simple manners and the humble devotion of sincere
hearts. This, then, is the reason _why_, sustained by a style rich in
grace and strength, full of the breath of poetry which is felt rather
than described, "Le Marquis des Saffras" holds its place as an
incontestable masterpiece in the choice libraries that preserve the
renown of great writers.

A more careful examination of the doctrine of Delsarte--"The necessity
of the concurrence of the mother modalities of the human organism to
fulfil the conditions of æsthetics"--but forces the conviction that
disregard of this requirement renders all sterile and incomplete, if not
monstrous. Is this equivalent to saying that the deductions from the law
of Delsarte tend to condemn in French literature its simple gaiety, its
graceful lightness, and to efface this stamp of the race that our
ancestors have surely imprinted?

In works of the imagination the omission of moral meaning is often more
seeming than real, and every good reader should be able to recognize
this. However, this negligent seeming is far less hurtful than brilliant
wit concealing crudities and modifying boldnesses. Writers of this class
do not lose sight of the fact that, while the French character has its
audacities (contrary to the modifications of æsthetics), our language
possesses a proverbial chastity, which, even in its farthest wanderings,
genius comprehends and respects. Tact and taste suffice to him who
consults them to escape grossness of language. The delicacy of the
allusions leaves their images in a transparent mist; the very elasticity
of the equivocation furnishes a refuge for the thought which it

By art some most delicate subjects, very nearly approaching license,
have been pardoned. We would surely exhibit a tyrannical and morose
humor to condemn to be burned _en place de Grève_, by the hand of the
executioner, the romances of _Manon Lescaut_, and _Daphnis_ and _Chloe_
by Longus, as they have been transmitted to us by Paul Louis Courier.

But when literature, realistic or materialistic (or whatever they please
to call it), freeing itself from moral accompaniment, shows itself
negative or weak in its creations; if it be _simpliste_ to the point of
appealing exclusively to the senses, limiting its means of action to the
development of the egotistic and instinctive side of the human
passions,--its works have no longer right of consideration in æsthetics.
The consideration of the physical being should surely figure in all
representations of life, but it is not necessary that from a subordinate
consideration it should ever be made all-governing. The body, the
essential part of our personality, is the companion of our higher
faculties. We should be mindful of it, making it as beautiful as
possible, but giving it the reins would be even worse than giving power
absolute to the imagination.

Once more, _impressionalism_, without the control of science and of
reason, has nothing to claim in the spheres of the _True_, the _Good_,
the _Beautiful_.

_Application of the Law to Architecture._

The productions of architecture, like those of literature, have their
origin in the realm of thought. Architecture is not, like the dramatic
art, in subjection to the person of the artist. It is one of the plastic
arts, and of them the most synthetic by reason of the number of agents
concurring in its harmony. Its dependence upon form is akin to that of
sculpture, while the value of color in its effects is only less than in
the art of the painter.

This art, essentially comprehensive, demands of its masters varied
knowledge and that power of coördination which, according to the learned
philosopher Antoine Cros, is the highest function of the human
intellect. The relation of æsthetics to the totality of the faculties is
here more evident than ever. After the manifestation of _mind_ in the
composition of the plan, the architect's next duty is to please the eye.
To this end he employs marble, stone, wood, bronze or gold, and the
result is that element of the symphony which responds to sensation. The
third and only remaining element of the trinity is sentiment. In order
that, rising above its utilitarian purpose, appropriateness and
mathematical rules of stability, the architect may fulfil the
requisition of æsthetics and arrive at the "Grand Art," the remaining
element as well as the other two must be perfected in result. The
perfection of this element of sentiment is shown in the work by the
impression of grandeur or elegance, of grace, severity or delicacy. The
triple necessity thus filled, the result is truly a work of art.

_Application of the Law to Sculpture._

The relation of Delsarte's system to sculpture has already been alluded
to. Its application here lies principally in the realm of form. The
sculptor aims to reproduce finest proportions of face and figure. He
delights in a beautiful contour and, as Mengs has said, "in lines
undulating and serpentine," while he studiously avoids all simple
straight lines.

The more limited range of outlook demands more studied beauties and more
significant expressions. The statue--unlike the monument, which at once
arouses spontaneous emotions in the spectator--should express the human
being, his sensations, his affections, his passions and struggles, and
should arouse an enthusiasm of admiration while it awakens sympathetic
echoes in the heart of the observer. Here more strikingly than ever must
we recognize "Man the object of art." In the light of this truth we
should demand of sculpture the manifestation of the human life with its
constituent faculties, not in a perfectly equal accord which is never
met in nature, but with such predominance as the subject presents.

In Greek art the predominance is of the physical aspect. They had before
them exquisite models of plastic beauty; not the sensual beauty which is
fleshly, but a plastic beauty consisting of harmony of line and form.
Let us further consider this difference as shown in comparison of the
Apollo and the Bacchus.

The Apollo satisfies alike the intellect and the eye by its beautiful
outlines. [We are not yet ready to discuss beauty of expression.] The
Bacchus less ideal and more humanly natural cannot so satisfy a highly
æsthetic temperament. In neither work is there much of sentiment
expressed. The distinctively moral side plays a secondary part, unless
we consider beauty itself a moral factor,--a theory that may be
sustained. In neither beautiful marble is there revealed any sensual
dominance, though the Bacchus, notwithstanding its plastic superiority,
rather inclines that way. The Apollo has been loudly extolled for the
pride of its attitude and its divine calm in the encounter with the
serpent Python; and still it is said that "a god could not have cause
for so great pride in the conquest of a reptile." But the art-critics
have exaggerated the import of the figure, which is wonderfully
beautiful without being accurately expressive. The civilization of the
new era has developed in man moral and physical qualities, which furnish
new expressions by which the artist may set forth that part of human
life which Delsarte called "the transluminous obscurities of our inmost
organism." Dating from this epoch we find in sculpture less of plastic
beauty and more spiritual and touching expression. Who would compare the
pathos of the Laocoon to that of Canova's Magdalen? The sculptor
Marcello (Mme. de Castiglione), too early removed from an artistic
career, exhibited certain creations which illustrate this difference.
Among them is a bust, in marble, of an Arab chief, which is after the
style of the antique, beautiful lines, without expression (a
predominance of the physical element). In her "Weary Bacchante" she
shows beauty tarnished by vice, and here the predominant expression is
sensual. But in her "Marie Antoinette in the Temple Prison," as in
Mercié's "David" and the "Dying Napoleon," it is not the marvelous
beauty which entrances us, but first and above this reigns the power of

Sentiment is become predominant. In the "Marie Antoinette," what bitter
disappointment! In the "Napoleon," what disillusion with the toys of the
world in which he had reigned! In the "David"--Biblical subject treated
by a modern chisel--what strange impressions and reflections are
suggested by that tranquil head and the wonderful frailty of the body!
how original the conception of the figure, and the whole a tribute to
the high personality of the artist! Mercié shows not only the work
accomplished, but in this are glimpses of promise of greatness to come
which serve as more valuable proof of greatness than the masterpiece
completed. This leads me to a reflection already often alluded to, but
which I would keep ever before you as the foundation of my argument:
"Man is the object of art." He is also the art-producer, and considering
relatively the two terms of the proposition, the manifestations of the
faculties are not necessarily adequate between the producer and the
production. I will explain.

The best conditions under which an excellent work of art should be
produced are undoubtedly the following: The conceiver possesses in the
highest possible degree of development the modalities of being essential
to the kind of creation undertaken, and these in their most perfect
harmony; but this perfection of intensity and of the relations of the
elements of the concept by no means necessitates the artist's formation
of types at once morally, intellectually and physically artistic. This
depends upon the truth of his subject. That he embellish it, whatever it
may be, by his artistic interpretation and execution, is all that we
should expect.

In the new manifestation which we now consider, where expression of
sentiment is given predominance, the artist, interpreter of the
passions, sentiments, weaknesses and vices as well as of the virtues and
sympathies of humanity, must, in order to interest or chasten, show to
it its own image, which reflection will be most frequently not an ideal
of perfection but a type of suffering and vice, of weakness and
depravity. A work will be successful in proportion as the chisel shall
be most indefatigable in putting in relief the virtue or the vice which
characterizes the subject. The greatest artist shall be he who renders
most striking the characteristic predominance, whatever it may be, of
the type created or interpreted. To sum up: Art is proportional to the
faculties of the artist, and the work is the result of an application of
these faculties to some special manifestation of the human ego.

Impressionalism, as in the other arts, should be considered in two
aspects: the impression of the artist and that of the public or
observer. The question then arises, what kind of a public should be
impressed that the artist may merit a place in the higher ranks of
æsthetics? While we have recognized that judgments in questions of art
are the result of a certain sympathy existing between artist and
observer, we have decided also that in considering such a question, all
observers cannot be considered equal. In sculpture as in literature,
where appreciators are possibly more numerous, we must admit that
knowledge and capability or even sincerity are rarely of any weight in
the balance of the grand juries of history or in the verdicts of
contemporaries. The ignorant multitude sanction the grossest works
because these only come within their understanding. Encouraged by the
applause of numbers and by the lack of restraint which wins applause,
artists descend the rounds of the ladder of progress which step by step
has marked the ascent of the great schools and the great masters, and
the result inevitably must be the return to mere sketches in sculpture,
and painting will diminish to imagery. This end is quickly and readily
reached, so easy and so fatal is the descent in these paths of

"All styles are good except the tedious," a well-known critic has said.
Pursuing the import of this thought, we are led to the speedy conclusion
that the _null_ should never enter into competition. Nothing better than
that the condition of priority should exist between diverse styles and
opposite schools; but why strive to institute comparison between a
synthetic idea and the absence of synthesis and idea, between certain
proportions and harmony and the absence of proportion and harmony,
between a style and the absence of style? Whatever the subject and
whatever the mode of treating it, the intelligence of the artist should
always be visible in his work.

I am more and more thoroughly convinced that the theory of Delsarte,
fatal to _simplisme_, is the true theory of art. What can be more
_simpliste_ than impressionalism when viewed as a school? It considers
no law or science, disregards entirely analysis and logic, the Good and
the Beautiful; it is given over to sensation; vague impressions which
are, whatever may be said to the contrary, only the inferior part of
man's faculties, indispensable surely, but that which we have in common
with the animals and little children; very interesting to observe among
animals, a charming grace in children, but a most unimportant factor in
adult existence, particularly in the artist's life, unless it be
governed by the intellect and subject to the sanction of feeling.

_Application of the Law to Painting._

If any art should be given over to impressionalism it seems as if it
should be painting. To see and to transmit what is seen,--is not this
the true office of the painter, his undoubted mission? Yes, on condition
that the artist has the requisites for seeing correctly! And if he rises
to composition, he must also be endowed with a creative intellect, with
a portion of that mental power which will permit him to embrace a
conception synthetically, and to coördinate its parts.

Among the impressionalists of our time, there are assuredly painters of
talent; but what talent they possess is, as it were, against their will:
the influence of tradition, the weight of the medium in which they live
unconsciously restrain them. Then, it must be confessed, this
impressionability of the artist has its intrinsic merits, if it is kept
to its place and degree; but it must be regarded as certain, that if the
_simpliste_ artist makes himself distinct in his work, it is because he
contains within himself more of the requisites for what he undertakes,
and because, without his having summoned them, the faculties of the
understanding and the æsthetic sense have come to his aid.

If Delsarte admitted the precept that "everything is perceived in the
manner of the perceiver," he, of course, did not admit that every
perceiver should make his own law: his conception of the æsthetic
trilogy would never have permitted him to open this Babel for the vanity
of ignorance.

To finish with _simplisme_ or naturalism, let us say that, carried to
its utmost extreme, it becomes a fixed idea, a monomania; has not
impressionalism attained to this even in the choice of colors? It has
been said of certain painters that they had only to upset their palette
on the canvas to compose their pictures! Yet this varicolored chaos is
not the characteristic of the school On the contrary, certain favorite
colors prevail; do not green and violet rule almost exclusively in some
of the most striking pictures from impressionalist brushes?

There are moments when we ask whether the impressionalists and their
adherents are not obeying an impulse to contradict rather than a serious
conviction. In either case, it is time for many of them to furnish
proofs--that is to say, works,--in lack of the reasons which they have
not even offered.

After this digression, forced upon me by recent scholastic quarrels, let
us return to Delsarte.

I have given the reasons for his doctrine in other chapters; this
doctrine will gain strength when I show what I have gathered from his
science, since science and law mutually testify for each other; since
all art, acquiring fresh vigor from its source, _law_, and enlightened
by the aid of these same formulæ, must bear the impress of truth, beauty
and goodness.

Even where color occupies in painting the place attributed to outline in
sculpture, there are in these two manifestations of mental images--and
in spite of the synthetism peculiar to painting,--striking similitudes.

As regards physical manifestations, both these arts should seek
truth--which does not mean literal exactness,--and all that has been
said of _simplisme_, in regard to sculpture, is perfectly applicable to
that part of painting which treats of the human figure. Science and law
lay down the same rules for both,--save for the differing modes of

It is another matter when it is a question of representing nature as a
whole, and under less limited forms: seas, mountains, the atmosphere and
broad plains--landscapes of vast extent,--subjects forbidden to
sculpture even more exclusively than simple compositions of several
figures, which are seldom successful in sculpture. For if sculpture
sometimes makes a group, if it is used to decorate monuments and tombs,
it offers nothing analogous to those magnificent phases of nature which
we find on the canvases of the great masters.

Delsarte, who from the laws of mimetics deduced for painters means of
expressing correctly every impression and emotion which man can feel,
taught nothing in regard to this special field of the landscape artist,
who is not subject to the conditions of the actor, sculptor or orator.
But, if this aspect of art--save in cases where figures are
introduced--does not come under the head of certain statements of our
science, not having to imitate attitude, gesture or voice--in a word,
anything proceeding from the human organism,--it is, perhaps more
closely than elsewhere, allied to the innovator's law: to that law which
prompts the artist to respond to the psychical aspirations of his
fellowmen, and demands that in satisfying the senses, he should also
arouse or inspire the thought and feeling of beauty.

Thus the painter of nature, as much of a reality as man, but a reality
in its own way, if he desires to make nature understood and loved, must
give it the stamp of his own ideas, his own feelings, his own

Why should I care to be shown trees and waters, valleys and mountains,
if the tree does not tell me of the coolness of its shade, if the water
does not reveal the peace of the deep lake, if I cannot divine the
rippling of the brook, if the valley does not make me long to plunge
into its depths! Why recall to me the mountain, if its curves do not
rouse in my mind any ideas of grace, elegance and majesty,--if its peaks
do not make me dream of the Infinite!

However skilful the artist may be in the reproduction of form and the
handling of color, he will always be far inferior to nature if his soul
has never heard the inner murmur of all those mysteries of the
sensitive, and I will venture to say, spiritual life, contained in
forests, waterfalls and ravines. Lacking this initiation, he will play
the cold and flavorless part of one who tells a twice-told tale; for it
is in landscape especially, that talent consists in revealing the
painter's own feeling.

The charm of things felt is not produced merely by a grand way of
looking at things: the mind, the soul, occupy but little space; but
where they figure, the canvas is well filled, and the brush betrays
their presence.

I remember, in support of my thesis, that at one of the annual
expositions at the Salon--which then represented the aristocracy of
painting,--there was a tiny picture: a hut half hidden in moss and
flowers. It was almost lost among the portraits of distinguished
personages, the historic incidents, the scenes taken from fashionable
life, and almost drowned in the bloody reflections from the vast display
of battle pictures, which, as was then the custom, monopolized half the

Well! this canvas, a yard wide and not so long, held you captive, took
your thought prisoner, and inevitably impressed itself on your memory.
You longed to ramble over its thick turf; to enter that cottage whose
open windows gave you the feeling that it was a peaceful shelter; you
loved that poor simplicity, which seemed to hide happiness.

Certainly the author of this graceful, touching picture practiced
Delsarte's law, at least from intuition.

Profound emotions are not always due to objective beauty; the beauty of
the work is a thing apart from what it represents. Who does not recall,
in another order of talent, this effect, due to the brush of Bonnat: an
ugly, old Spanish woman is praying in a dark chapel; she prays with
eyes, lips and soul. There was never seen more complete absorption, more
complete forgetfulness of self in humble fervor. It was far more
touching than all the types of sensual beauty, with pink and white and
perfumed skins--with delicate limbs, in disagreeable attitudes!

This is, yet once again, due to the fact that sentiment is stronger than
sensualism; and because the artist's skill, taking the place of beauty
in his subject, becomes genuine æsthetic beauty: so much so that,
looking at old age and ugliness--as represented by Bonnat,--the
spectator is enchanted and applauds--_the success of the work!_

If, however, to perfect execution is allied beauty--not sensual, but
æsthetic,--if it is made manifest from the point of view of form,
feeling and thought, the enthusiasm will be still greater, because all
the aims of art are realized at one and the same time.

Chapter IX.

Delsarte's Beginnings.

"The artist, a traveller on this earth, leaves behind imperishable
traces of his being."--_François Delsarte._

We would fain prolong the faintest rays of all that glitters and fades
too soon, and if intense light is generated in a human brain, we strive
to retain its every reflection. Nothing is indifferent which concerns
the nature of the chosen few; great men belong to the annals of their
nation, and history should be informed regarding them.

François Delsarte left this life at the moment when misfortune had
crushed France beneath her iron heel for some ten years. The date of his
death--July 20, 1871--partially explains the silence of the press on the
occasion of so vast a social loss.

The circumstance of an artistic education, which was carried on in my
presence, gave me opportunity to collect a mass of incidents and
observations in regard to the great artist who is the object of this

I collected ideas in regard to his instruction, his method and his
discovery of the laws of æsthetics, which are the more precious that
nothing, or almost nothing, was published by him touching upon subjects
of such supreme importance. It is my duty to tell what I know.

I have already established the bases of the work which I now undertake,
in a pamphlet containing several articles published in various
newspapers. These articles were written under the inspiration of the
moment; they won the master's approval. I shall have frequent recourse
to them to correct the errors of memory and give more vivid life to that
now distant past.

Delsarte was born at Solesmes (Department of the North), November 9,
1811. His father was a practicing physician; but tormented by a genius
for invention, he spent his time and money in studies and experiments.
Then, when he succeeded in producing some mechanical novelty, some
capitalist more used to trade and rich enough to start the affair,
usually reaped all the profits. This condition of things, of course,
produced great poverty in the family of the inventor, and the children's
education suffered in consequence, and yet young François even then
showed signs of superior endowments. A missionary, passing through
Solesmes, said to him: "As for you, I don't know what you will turn out,
but you will never be an ordinary man!" In spite of this, his parents
intended him for trade, being unable to direct his talents toward
science and the liberal arts.

Before proceeding farther, I must consider a question often asked in
regard to the great artist, and concerning which his family have kindly
informed me.

For a long time Delsarte signed his name in a single word, as I write
it now; why, then, should we ever see it written with the separate
particle, which seems to aim at nobility and which gives us the form,
del Sarte? I will give you the tradition as it is told in Solesmes, and
as the artist heard it during a visit to his native place. If it be
fiction, it is not without interest, and I take pleasure in telling it.

The natives of Solesmes say that at a very remote period a great
painter, coming from a distance, spent some time in their town. The good
inhabitants of the place know nothing of the pictures which this master
must have produced; perhaps they are quite as wide from his name! But
Delsarte, struck by the probability of this poetic origin, filled with
brotherly sympathy for the pure and graceful talent of Vannuchi del
Sarto, doubted not that the latter was the artist whose memory is held
sacred in Solesmes. Out of respect and veneration for the Italian
master, he divided the syllables, but still retained the French
termination of his name.

We can readily see that an imaginative spirit, such as we now have to
deal with, would be carried away by the legendary side of this story,
and that he would put full faith in his own commentaries:--he believed
so many things!

To return to prose and to reality, I must add that Delsarte based his
sentiment upon partial proof. Before the Revolution, the family did
indeed sign themselves del Sarte; but an ancestor--imbued with the
principles of 1789, and anxious to efface all suspicion of noble
origin--effected a fusion of the two parts of the word, and left us the
name as we have known it and as, perhaps, we regret it.

Those who regard this change of family name as mere vanity seem to me
wide of the truth. A strange nobility, moreover, that of Vannuchi,
surnamed _del Sarto!_ Sarto may be translated as _tailor;_ therefore
Vannuchi _del Sarto_ would mean: Vannuchi _of the tailor_, short for
Vannuchi, _son of the tailor_.

What need had he of empty honors, he who was on equal terms with the
great men of letters, science and the arts, who was surrounded by the
incense of the most legitimate enthusiasm, and who received the homage
of kings as of less value than the praises of Spontini and Réber!

I return to my sketch which will, I hope, justify these last remarks.

At the time of which we speak, the poor child was not treated as the
predestined favorite of art, He had been entrusted to people who ill
fulfilled their mission. He was scolded and abused; he was left
destitute of the most necessary things. He felt this injustice, and,
gifted with a precocious sensibility, he suffered greatly from it.

François had as a companion in misfortune, one of his brothers, who
could not bear the hard life; born feeble, he soon succumbed. This was a
severe trial to the future artist! When he saw his only friend buried
in the common grave, he could not contain his grief.

"I rebelled," he tells us, "at the idea of losing all trace of this
tomb. I shrieked aloud. I would not leave the mournful place!"

The grave-diggers took pity on his despair; they promised to mark the
spot. The child resigned himself to fate and departed. I will let him
speak for himself:

"I crossed the plain of St. Denis (it was in December); I had eaten
little or nothing, and I had wept much. Great weakness combined with the
dazzling light of the snow, made me dizzy. The fatigue of walking being
added to this, I fell upon the damp earth and fainted dead away."

What followed may be explained by the ecstatic state often experienced
on coming out of a fainting-fit.

"Everything seemed to smile into my half-open eyes; the vault of heaven
and the iridescent snow made magical visions about me; the slight
roaring in my ears lulled me like a confused melody; the wind, as it
blew over the deserted plain, brought me distant, vague harmonies."

Delsarte interpreted what he saw in the light of Christian ideas: it
seemed to him that the angels made this delightful concert to console
him in his misery and to strengthen him to bear his hard lot.

Rising up, the child felt himself a musician. He soon evinced an utter
contempt for the china painting to which he had been bound apprentice.
That too was an art; but of that art, the angels had said nothing.

How was he to learn music?

He knew that by a knowledge of a very small number of signs, one could
sing and play on instruments. He talked of this to all who would listen;
he questioned and inquired:--

"Do you know music, you fellows?" he asked some school boys of his own

"A little," said some.

"Well! what do they teach you?"

"They teach us to know our notes."

"What notes?"

"Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si."

"What else?"

"That is all."

"Are there no more notes?"

"Not one!"

"How happy I am! I know music!" cried the delighted Delsarte.

"Cries of joy have their sorrows," said a poet. The child had uttered
his cry of joy, and his torments were about to begin. Seven notes! It
was a whole world; but what was he to do with them? He scarcely knew,
although he was enchanted to possess the treasure. Could he foresee the
revelations which art had in store for him? Still less could he predict
those conquests in the realm of the ideal which cost him so many
sleepless nights.

It must be confessed, superior talents bring suffering to their
fortunate possessor. They console him on his journey, along the rough
road down which they drag him; they sometimes reward one of the elect,
but it is their nature to cause suffering.

And so François Delsarte was tempest-tossed while yet a child. He soon
saw that his scientific baggage was but small; he felt that something
unknown, something infinite, barred his passage, so soon as he strove to
approach the goal which, in an outburst of joy, he fancied within his
grasp. What hand would guide him to enter on the dazzling career which
he had dimly foreseen? Where should he get books? Who would advise him?

Well! these _impossible things_ were all found--in scanty measure, no
doubt, and somewhat capriciously; but still the means for learning were
provided for his greed of knowledge.

At first, his stubborn will had only the seven notes of the scale to
contend with. He combined them in every possible way. He derived musical
phrases from them; at the same time, he listened with all his ears to
church music, to street musicians, to church organs and hand-organs.

In these first struggles with knowledge--we cannot call it science
yet,--instead of bowing to the method of some master, Delsarte made a
method for himself. Had it any resemblance to that which--with the
progress of time,--his genius revealed to him? I cannot say, and
probably the thought never occurred to him. However it may be, Delsarte
said that he learned a great deal by this _autonomic_ process: in fact,
one who is restrained by nothing, who satisfies a passion instead of
accomplishing a mere act of obedience, may enlarge his horizon and dig
to whatever depth he sees fit. In this case, study is called _research_;
if, by this method, one loses the benefit of the experience of others,
he becomes more quick at discovery. Is not the puzzle which we work out
for ourselves more readily remembered than the ideas which are merely
learned by heart?

A wise man, a disciple of Socrates--who has been greatly ridiculed, but
by whose lessons the science of pedagogy has greatly profited,--Jacotot,
gave similar advice to teachers: "Put your questions, but let the
scholar think and work out his answers instead of putting them into his

The talent of young François once established, he left the inhospitable
house where he had been so misunderstood, and was taken into the family
of an old musician, "Father Bambini," as Delsarte loved to call him.

Here, finding it in the order of facts, I must repeat almost literally a
page from the little work quoted before.

Father Bambini was one of those old-fashioned masters, who treat their
art with love and veneration. He gave concerts at which he was at once
performer and audience, judge and client. Delsarte was sometimes
present. He saw the good man take up a Gluck score as one handles a
sacred book; he surprised him pressing it to his heart, or to his head,
as if to win a blessing from the great soul which poured itself forth in
these immortal compositions.

Here we most assuredly have the foundation of the unlimited admiration
which our great artist felt for the author of "Alcestis" and of
"Iphigenia." Everyone knows that it was Delsarte who drew Gluck from the
oblivion in which he had languished since the beginning of the century.
Delsarte alone could have revived him, his assured and majestic talent
being amply capable of correctly interpreting those colossal works.
Delsarte is the equivalent of Gluck, and, if we may say so, the
_incarnation of his thought_. When the artist sang a part in those lyric
tragedies of which Grétry says: "They are the very expression of truth,"
it seemed as if the illustrious chevalier lived again in him to win
better comprehension than ever before and to be avenged at last for all
the injustice and bad taste from which he had suffered.

Delsarte received no very regular musical education from Father Bambini.
The lesson was often given while the teacher was shaving, which did not
distract the attention of either party. The master, having no hand at
liberty to hold a book, made his pupil explain all the exercises aloud,
sing every composition, and read at sight the authors with whom he
wished him to be familiar. Great progress can be made where there is
such mutual good will. They had faith in each other: the child, because
he saw that his master really loved his art; the old musician, because
he realized that his scholar had a genuine vocation and would be a great

One evening they were walking together in the Champs Elysées. Carriages
rolled by filled with fashionable people. The humble pedestrians were
surrounded by luxury. Suddenly Father Bambini turned toward his scholar:

"You see," said he, "all these people who have their carriages, their
liveried lackeys and their fine clothes; well, the day will come when
they will be only too glad to hear you, and they will envy you because
you are so great a singer."

The child was deeply moved; not by this promise of future glory; not by
the thought, that by fame he should gain wealth; but he seemed to see
his dream realized in a remote future. That dream was the complete
mastery of his art; it was his ideal attained, or closely approached.
This mode of feeling already justified the prediction.

Delsarte retained a grateful memory of another teacher. M. Deshayes, he
said, spurred him on to scientific discovery, as Bambini directed his
attention and his taste to the works of the great masters.

One day, as the young man was studying a certain rôle, M. Deshayes,
busily talking with some one else and not even glancing toward his
pupil, exclaimed:

"Your gesture is incorrect!"

When they were alone Delsarte expressed his astonishment.

"You said my gesture was incorrect," he exclaimed, "and you could not
see me."

"I knew it by your mode of singing."

This explanation set the young disciple's brain in a whirl. Were there,
then, affinities, a necessary concordance between the gesture and the
inflections of the voice? And, from this slight landmark, he set to
work, searching, comparing, verifying the principle by the effects, and
_vice versa_.

He gave himself with such vigor to the task that, from this hint, he
succeeded little by little in establishing the basis of his system of
æsthetics and its complete development.

After these beginnings, which Delsarte considered as a favorable
initiation, Father Bambini--his faithful patron--thought that he
required a more thorough musical education, and chose the Conservatory
school. There, that broad and impulsive spirit in its independence ran
counter to classic paths, to rigid processes; there, that exceptional
nature, that potent personality, which was already a marked one, that
vivid intuition--which already went beyond the limits of the traditional
holy of holies--had little chance of appreciation. Moreover, Delsarte
was timid; his genius had not yet acquired the audacity which dares.
Competition followed competition; would he win a prize? In answer to
this question which he had asked himself throughout the year, he saw
mediocrity crowned; his soul of light and fire was forced to bow before
will-o'-the-wisps, most of whom were soon extinguished in merited

The artist's regret was the more acute because he did not yet know the
course of human life. He had not proved the strange fatality--which
seeks to make itself a law--that, in general, success falls to the lot
of those who servilely follow in the ruts of routine. Happy are the
worshippers of art and poetry, those who have devoted their lives to
this sacred cult, if ambition and intrigue--with their attendant train
of flattery, party rings, and illegal speculation--do not invade the
stage whence the palms and the crowns are awarded!

Delsarte must also have learned in the course of his life, that genius,
a rare exception, is more rarely still judged by its peers; and yet, the
genius of this student was already revealed by various tokens; and for
his consolation, these premonitory symptoms were noted by other than the
official judges.

After one of these scholastic contests, Delsarte withdrew confused and
heavy-hearted: he had received but one vote in the competition; and even
that exception roused a sort of cheer, as if it were given to some
contemptible competitor.

The defeated youth walked slowly away, dragging at his heels all the
sorrow of his discomfiture, when two persons approached him; one was the
famous Marie Malibran, the other the brilliant tenor, Adolph Nourrit.

"Courage!" said the prima donna, pressing his hand. "I enjoyed hearing
you very much. You will be a great artist!"

"My friend," added Nourrit, "it was I who cast my vote for you: to my
mind, you are an incomparable singer. When I have my children taught
music, you shall certainly be their teacher."

Delsarte blessed the defeat which had brought him such precious
compensations. These voices which sounded so sweetly in his ear, were
soon extinguished by death; but they vibrated long in the heart which
they had comforted. The artist associated their dear memory with every
success which recalled to him their sympathetic accents and their
clear-sighted prediction.

Chapter X.

Delsarte's Theatre and School.

When Delsarte had finished his studies, he entered the world unaided and
alone; disarmed by the hostilities which could not fail to await him, by
his very superiority, and by that honesty which refuses to lend itself
to certain transactions.

At the Opera Comique, where he was engaged, he did not succeed.
Exceptional talents require an exceptional public who can understand
them and make them popular by applauding and explaining them.

And yet certain people, gifted with penetration, discovered under the
artistic innovations peculiar to the beginner, that indescribable
fascination which hovers round the heads of the predestined favorites of

Delsarte could not long confine himself to the stage, when everything
connected with it was so far from sympathetic to him, and seemed so
contrary to the true object of dramatic art. The theatre, to his mind,
should be a school of morality; and what did he see? Authors--what would
he say now-a-days?--absorbed in winning the applause of the masses,
rather than in feeding them upon wholesome food or in preparing an
antidote for vice and evil inclinations.

Whatever good intentions happened to be mingled with the play were lost
in the details of the action--or in the often mischievous interpretation
of the actors. With his wonderful perspicacity, Delsarte seemed to
foresee all the excesses of naturalism in certain forerunners of Adolphe
Belot and Emile Zola.

On the other hand, his comrades, who should have attracted him, showed
themselves to be envious and malicious. To sum it all up, it was very
hard for him to live with them. Some of them might please him by their
simple gaiety, their childlike ease, their lack of affectation, and
their amiability, but they were far from satisfying his lofty

An occupation of a higher order, he thought, the elaboration of his
method, demanded his thoughts. He seemed haunted by a desire to produce
what his spirit had conceived. He longed fully to enjoy that happiness
of creation that arises from useful discovery. He aspired to say: "In
accomplishing the task which I set myself, I have also done much for art
and artists."

Swayed by such thoughts, François Delsarte soon left the profession of
actor to follow that of teacher of singing and elocution. Then he found
himself in his element and, as it were, at the centre of all that
attracted him. His teaching enabled him to verify the value of his
axioms hourly, in the order of facts and to confirm the truth of his

And yet he had not attained to the supreme beatitude. If the elect of
plastic and practical art have to contend with appraisers of every
degree, inventors have to deal with enemies who make up in stubborn
resistance what they lack in numbers, and oppose the iron will of a
rival who will not see the limit of the _ne plus ultra_ which he
believes himself to have reached and even exceeded.

In every station of life, the bearers of "good news" are a prey to the
tyranny of interests and established prejudices. In our time, this
persecution becomes mockery or indifference. Delsarte did not escape
this debt of revelatory genius. Humble in regard to art and science, as
he was conscious of his strength when face to face with rivals and
competitors, he sometimes felt the doubt of himself, the sudden
weakness, which overtakes great minds and great hearts in the
accomplishment of their mission.

A special form of torture attacked our young innovator. He had proved,
connected and classed a number of psychological facts relating to the
theory of art, and he did not know the special terms which would make
them intelligible. Like those phenomenal children, who see countless
relations before they possess the words to express them, he had
discovered a law, created a science, and he was still ignorant of the
language of scientists. If he tried to demonstrate the bases of his
system and its rational evolution in ordinary words, the ignorant would
not understand him and the learned would not deign to listen.

Sometimes he did find some one who would hear him, question him, even
criticize him, and who would go away bearing a fragment of conversation
or some few notes which he had copied to turn to his own profit.

At this time, there came one day to Delsarte, a pupil who--by a rare
exception--had been through a course of classical studies.

"Tell me, you who have studied (asked the teacher with the affability of
a great man), what is metaphysics?"

"Why ... just what you teach us!" said the astonished youth.

Delsarte was enchanted to learn, that he was only divided by words from
a science which had seemed to him to dwell on inaccessible heights. The
study of technical words, when intuition had provided him with important
ideas and new perceptions, was child's play to him; in a short time he
could teach his philosophy of art in the consecrated expressions.

His lectures grew rapidly in the Rue Montholon. A choice public soon
assembled to hear them, drawn thither by the admiring cry of the first
enthusiasts. At this period, the talent of the artist was enhanced by
the lustre of youth. Nature had endowed him generously. His figure,
which later assumed rather large proportions, was tall and elegant; his
gestures were marked by grace and nobleness; his hair, of a very light
chestnut, gave his face a fair softness; his brown eyes relieved this
expression and allowed him to give his face--when the interpretation of
the part required it--the signs of power and vigorous passion. A full
length portrait painted at this time and in the possession of Madame
Delsarte, gives us some idea of his grand face and form, allowing for
the disadvantages of every translation. Although, in singing, the organ
was often impaired, his speaking-voice was most agreeable in tone,
correct and persuasive in accent.

In acting various parts, Delsarte transformed himself to suit the
character that he represented. He was congratulated on bringing to life
for our age Achilles and Agamemnon, as Homer painted their types. Yet, I
think he was sometimes told: "You paint that wretch of a Don Juan a
little too faithfully." Certainly, art would never make that complaint!

If Delsarte was understood in that part of his method addressed
especially to the ear and the eye, it was not so with the theory which
prepared these striking demonstrations.

He was surrounded, it is true, by an assembly of men of letters, men of
the world, and amateur artists, rather than by scientists and
philosophers. Many in the audience and among the pupils did not pay an
undivided attention to the scientific part of the instruction. Thus the
first notes of the piano, announcing that the time for action had come,
always caused a repressed murmur of satisfaction and pleasure.

Sometimes, after the lecture, a discussion followed, for Delsarte often
left room for a controversy which was essentially incorrect and caused
many misunderstandings. This was because the innovator sometimes blended
with the clear hues of his art-principles certain tints of religious
mysticism which had no necessary relation with the synthesis of his

It was one of the peculiarities of his character, amiable and benevolent
as it was, to take delight in the conflict of ideas. If he saw, in the
course of his lecture, a man whom he took for a philosopher or anything
like it, he never failed to direct some piquant phrase, some aggressive
sentence or some irritating thought that way--it was the gauntlet which
he flung for the final combat.

Nor were women exempt from these humorous sallies.

Although the master loved all grandeur--the artistic sense with which he
was so largely endowed inclining him that way--he had democratic, I
might almost say plebeian, instincts. The poetry of simple, humble,
small existences sometimes swayed him.

Thus, if among his hearers, a bright violet or an audacious scarlet gown
annoyed his taste; if the reflection of a ruby or a diamond vexed his
eye, he would choose that instant to improvise a rustic idyl or to
intone a hymn to poverty.

But everything ended well; neither the philosopher whom he had provoked,
nor the fine lady whom he had reproved, left him as an enemy. His
nature with its varied riches had quite enough feminine coquetry to
regain betimes the sympathy which he was on the eve of losing. A
gracious word, an affectionate clasp of the hand, and all was pardoned.

The opposition manifested outside the lecture-room to his ideas and mode
of instruction, was less courteous. There rival schools and jealousies,
ill-disguised under an affectation of disdain, contended against him. He
was accused of the maddest eccentricities; barbarous processes were
imputed to him, such as squeezing the chest of singers, his pupils,
between two boards--the _reason_ was hard to understand. Others claimed
that before Delsarte accepted a scholar, he required a profession of the
Catholic faith and an examination in the catechism.

Those were the days when the author of "Les Orientales," in his legend
of the "Two Archers," spoke of

    "That holy hermit who moved stones
    By the sign of the cross."

But if, as an artist, Delsarte loved legends and was inspired by faith,
as a professor he could cut short this poetic part of his art, at the
point where science and the practical side of his teaching began.

The reproach, therefore, carried no weight.

Delsarte was amused by these exaggerated accusations; in another order
of criticisms, it was agreeable to him to hear "that he sang without a
voice, as Ingres painted without colors." The comparison pleased him,
although inexact.

Yes, I say _inexact_, Delsarte was not without a voice; he had one, on
the contrary, of great strength and range; of moving tone; eminently
sympathetic; but it was an invalid organ and subject to caprice. He was
not always master of it, and this caused him real suffering.

Let me give you the history of his voice as Madame Delsarte herself
lately told it to me. I must go back to his early days of study and

Delsarte entered the Conservatory at the age of fourteen. Too young to
endure the fatigue of the regular school-exercises, his voice must have
received an injury. When the singer offered his services at the Opera
Comique---then Salle Vantadour--he was told that his voice was hollow,
that it had no carrying power. This was perhaps partly the fault of the
building, whose acoustic properties were afterward improved. However,
thanks to the flexibility which his voice retained and his perfect
vocalization, the pretended insufficiency was overlooked, and the young
tenor was admitted.

His mode of singing pleased the skilled public, and the special
abilities of this strong artistic organism--as I have already
observed--did not pass unnoted.

A _dilettante_, to whom I mentioned Delsarte long after this time, said:
"What you tell me does not surprise me, I heard him at his first
appearance, and he has lingered in my memory as an artist of the
greatest promise. He was more than a singer; he had that nameless
quality, which is not taught in any school and which marks a
personality; a tone of which nothing, before or since, has given me the
least idea."

The tenor, from the Comic Opera, went to the Ambigu Theatre, and thence
to the Variétés, where an attempt was being made to introduce lyric
works. François Delsarte's dramatic career did not, however, last more
than two years. During these various changes--I cannot give the exact
dates--this artist, on his way to glory, was forced to gain a living by
the least aristocratic of occupations. If he did not go so far as
Shakespeare in humility of profession (the English poet was a butcher's
boy), he strangely stooped from that native nobility--great
capacity,--which must yet have claimed, in his secret soul, its
imprescriptible rights.

If this was one more suffering, added to all the rest, it had its good
side. It was, perhaps, the source of the artist's never failing
kindness, of that gracious reception which he never hesitated to bestow
on anyone--from the Princess de Chimay and many other titled lords and
ladies, down to Mother Chorré, the neighboring milk-woman, whom he held,
he said, "in great esteem and friendship."

I return to his teaching. His lectures were given in Rue Lamartine and
Rue de la Pépinière. There was always--aside from the school--an
audience made up of certain never failing followers and of a floating
population. The birds of passage sometimes came with a very distinct
intention to criticise; but if they did not readily understand the
learned deductions, they went away fascinated by what the professor had
shown them of his brilliant changes into every type of the repertory
which he held up as a model. Enthusiasm soon triumphed over prejudice.
Envy, alone, persisted in hostility.

These meetings were genuine artistic feasts. They were held at night, at
the same hour as the theatres, and no play was preferable to them in the
eyes of the truly initiated. They were a transcendent manifestation of
all that is most elevated, which art can produce.

Here is an extract from a newspaper, which I find among the notes sent

"I heard him repeat, one evening, 'Iphigenia's Dream,' at the request of
his audience. All were held trembling, breathless by that worn and yet
sovereign voice. We were amazed to find ourselves yielding to such a
spell; there was no splendor and no theatric illusion. _Iphigenia_ was a
teacher in a black frock coat; the orchestra was a piano striking, here
and there, an unexpected modulation; this was all the illusion--and the
hall was silent, every heart throbbed, tears flowed from every eye. And
then, when the tale was told, cries of enthusiasm arose, as if
_Iphigenia_, in person, had told us her terrors."

These lines are signed "Laurentius." I am very glad to come across them
just as I am giving vent to my own feelings. I also find that Adolphe
Guéroult, in his paper, the "Press," calls Delsarte _the matchless
artist_, and recognizes _a law_ in his æsthetic discoveries. I shall
have occasion to set down, as opportunity offers, a string of
testimonies no less flattering and no less sincere; but I hasten to
produce these specimens, lest the suspicion of infatuation follow me.

How was it that amidst such warm plaudits, Delsarte failed to win that
popularity which, after all, is the supreme sanction? It must be
acknowledged that he took no great pains to gain the place which was his
due. If he loved glory like the true artist that he was, "he never tired
himself in its pursuit." Perhaps he had an instinctive feeling that it
would come to him some day unsought.

He might, in this regard, be reproached for the tardiness of his
successes; he himself made difficulties and obstacles which might be
considered as the effects of extreme pride.

Halévy once suggested his singing at the Tuilleries before King Louis
Philippe and his family.

"I only sing to my friends," replied the artist.

"That is strange," said the author of "The Jewess," "Lablache and Duprez
go whenever they are asked."

"Delsarte does not."

"But consider! This is to be a party given by the Crown Prince to his

This last consideration touched the obstinate heart.

"Well! I will go," he said, "but it is only on three conditions: I must
be the only singer; I am to have the chorus from the Opera to accompany
me; and I am not to be paid."

"You will establish a dangerous precedent."

"Those are my irrevocable terms."

All were granted.

From his youth up Delsarte manifested this, perhaps excessive, contempt
for money. On one occasion it was quite justifiable. Father Bambini had
taken him to a party where he was to sing on very advantageous terms.
The scholar was treated with deference; but the teacher who had neither
a fine face nor the claims of youth to shield him against aristocratic
prejudice, was received much as a servant would have been who had made a
mistake in the door.

The young singer felt the blood mantle his brow, and his heart rebelled.

"Take your hat and let us go!" he said to his old master.

"But why?" replied the good man. He had heeded nothing but his pupil's

Delsarte dragged him away in spite of his protests, and lost by his
abrupt departure the profits of the evening.

Chapter XI.

Delsarte's Family.

Delsarte married, in 1833, Miss Rosina Andrien. The young husband felt a
high esteem for his father-in-law (primo basso cantante at the Opera);
but we must not suppose that this consideration influenced his choice.
He made a love marriage such as one makes at the age of twenty-two, with
such a nature as his. Moreover, reason was never in closer accord with

Miss Andrien was remarkably beautiful. She was fifteen; her talent as a
pianist had already won her a first prize at the Conservatory. She was
just the companion, wise and devoted, to counterbalance the flights of
imagination and the momentary transports inherent in the temperament of
many artists.

I pause, fearing to wound a modesty which I know to be very sensitive:
the living cannot bear praise with the indifference of the dead; but I
must be allowed to insist upon the valuable assistance which the young
wife lent her husband in his professional duties; this is a special part
of my subject.

Mme. Delsarte started with a genuine talent. The situation in which she
was placed, soon made her a perfect accompanist. Never was there more
perfect harmony between singer and player. Amid the incessant
interruptions necessary to a lesson, the piano never lagged a second
either in stopping or in going on again. The note fell promptly,
identical with the first note of the piece under study. To attain to
this obedient precision, one must possess indomitable patience, must be
willing to be utterly effaced. Delsarte appreciated this self-denial in
proportion to the merit of her who practiced it.

In everything that concerned him, he relied especially upon the opinion
of his accompanist; he felt her to be an abler and more serious judge
than the most of those around him. But--with the shy reserve of merit
unacknowledged even to itself,--the young woman shrank from expressing
her impressions. If I may judge by the anecdote which follows, the
artist was at times distressed by this.

One day Delsarte, granting one of those favors of which he was never
lavish, consented to sing a composition of which he was particularly
fond, to a few friends. It was the air from Méhul's "Joseph:" "Vainly
doth Pharaoh ..."

Mme. Delsarte, always ready at the first call, took her seat at the

The master was in the mood--that is, in full possession of all his
powers. His pathos was heartrending.

"You won a great triumph," I said to him; "I saw tears in Mme.
Delsarte's eyes."

"My wife's eyes," he cried as if struck by surprise, "are you quite

"Perfectly," I replied.

He seemed greatly pleased. Putting aside all other feeling, it was no
slight triumph to move to such a point one who assisted at and sat
through his daily lessons for hours at a time.

A few years sufficed to form a family around this very young couple. It
was soon a charming accessory to see children fluttering about the
house; slipping in among the scholars; showing a furtive head--dark or
light--at one of the doors of the lecture-room. Let me recall their
names: The eldest were Henri, Gustave, Adrien, Xavier, Marie; then came
after a long interval, André and Madeleine.

Delsarte loved them madly; for their future he dreamed all the dreams of
the Arabian Nights. Meantime, he played with them so happily that he
seemed to take a personal delight in it.

He gave them all the joys of this life that were within his reach, and
it was well that he did so! Alas! of the dreams of glory cherished for
these beloved beings, some few were realized, but many faded promptly
with the existence of those who called them forth.

But we must not anticipate. At the time of which I speak the children
were growing and developing, each according to its nature, in full
freedom. Those who felt a vocation seized on the wing--rather than they
received from irregular lessons--some fragments of that great art which
was taught in the school.

Marie learned while very young to reproduce with marvelous skill what
were called _the attitudes_ and the physiognomic changes. Madeleine
delighted in making caricatures which showed great talent. The features
of certain pupils and frequenters of the lectures were plainly
recognizable in these sketches made by a childish hand.

Gustave was a child of an open face and broad shoulders. One incident
will show his originality.

A strange lady came to the master's house one day either to ask a
hearing or offer a pupil. She met this charming boy.

"M. Delsarte?" she asked.

"I am he, madam!" replied Gustave without flinching.

"Very good," said his questioner, laughing, "but I wish to speak to your

This same Gustave who, to a certain degree, followed in his father's
footsteps, was struck down a few years after him, at the age of

What a striking application of Victor Hugo's lines:

    "And both are dead.... Oh Lord, all powerful is thy right hand!"

Gustave's career seemed to open readily and smoothly. Not that he could
approach his father from a dramatic point of view; he had not his
absolute synthesis of talents, and his figure was not suited to the
theatre; as a singer, his voice was weak, but what a charm and what a
style he had! Although his voice was not adapted to every part,
although he had not that range of the vocal scale which permits one to
attack any and every composition, still, its sympathetic, tender and
penetrating quality did ample justice to all that is most exquisite in
romance. When you had once heard that voice, guided by the force of his
father's grand method, you never forgot its sincerity and melancholy; it
haunted you and left you impatient to hear it again.

As a concert-singer and teacher, Gustave Delsarte might have won high
rank. An ill-assorted marriage and his misanthropic character prevented.
As a composer, he left some few songs, masses and religious fragments
which are not without merit. When he was to produce any of his sacred
works, the composer-singer never took a part; but he would lead the
orchestra. If he came to a rehearsal and the performers appeared weak, a
holy wrath would seize upon Gustave. Then he flung a firm, incisive,
accentuated note into the midst of the choir, vivid as a spark bursting
from a fire covered with ashes. He would accompany it with a glance
which seemed to flash from his father's eye; at such moments, he
resembled him; but this transformation never lasted more than a second;
the fictitious power disappeared as all which was Gustave Delsarte was
doomed to disappear.

At least, his father did not live to mourn his loss. And yet he knew
that worst of heart-suffering: the loss of a beloved child. Alas! In
that radiant family, whose mirth, fresh faces and luxuriant health
seemed to defy death, the implacable foe had already twice swept his

The first to go was André, one of the latest born. He was at the age
when the child leaves no lasting memories behind; but we know the grace
of innocence, the privilege of impeccability by which infancy atones for
the lack of acquirements. Then these little creatures have the
mysterious entrancing smiles, which mothers understand and adore--and
Delsarte loved his children with a mother's heart.

Time lessens such pangs; but when a fresh sorrow re-opened the era of
calamity, it seems as if the sad events trod upon each other's heels and
the interval between seems to have been but one unmitigated agony.

The loss undergone in 1863 was even greater. Xavier Delsarte was a tall,
handsome young man. The master was content with the profit which his son
had derived from his tuition. He was successful as a singer and
elocutionist. He was attacked by cholera during an epidemic. The night
before he had taken several glasses of iced orgeat in the open air.

Xavier lived in the Rue des Batailles with his family, but not in the
same apartment. This fact was fatal. Instead of calling help in the
first stages--unwilling to disturb his relatives--the invalid wandered
down stairs during the night, and into the court-yard. There he drank
water from the pump. I can still recall the unhappy father's story of
that cruel moment.

"It was scarcely day. I was waked by that unexpected, fatal ringing of
the bell, which, at such an hour, always bodes misfortune. The maid
heard it also, and opened the door. She uttered a cry of alarm. Almost
instantly, my poor boy stood at my chamber door. He leaned against the
frame of the door, his strength not allowing him to advance. From the
change in his features, I understood all--he was hopelessly lost!"

Delsarte was sensitive and of a very loving nature; but he was endowed
with great strength. Much absorbed, moreover, in his profession, his
studies, his innovations, he often found in them a counterpoise to these
rude blows of fate. So when the thoughts of his friends recur to these
disasters, they feel that their greatest sympathy and commiseration are
due to the mother who three times underwent this supreme martyrdom.

Two names remain to be mentioned in this family where artistic callings
seemed a matter of course. The concerts of Madame Thérèsa Wartel--sister
of Madame Delsarte--brought together the _élite_ of Parisian virtuosi,
and the brilliant pianist took her part in the quatuors in which Sauzay,
Allard, Franchomme and other celebrities of the period figured.

George Bizet--author of the opera of "Carmen"--prematurely snatched from
the arts, was the nephew of François Delsarte. This young man taught
himself Sanscrit unaided; he inspired the greatest hopes.

Wartel, who gave Christine Nilsson her musical education, was not of the
same blood, but we find certain points in his method which recall the
processes of Delsarte's school.

Chapter XII.

Delsarte's Religion.

I now confront an important and very interesting subject; but one which
is more difficult to handle than the most prickly briers. There has been
a confusion, in regard to Delsarte, of two very distinct things: his
practical devotion and his philosophy of art, which does indeed assume a
religious character. He himself helped on this confusion. I am desirous
of doing my best to put an end to it. I hope that, truth and sincerity
aiding, I shall not find the task too great for me.

I must first grapple with those ill-informed persons who have denied the
master his high intellectual faculties, and even his scientific
discoveries, for the sole reason of the mystical side of his beliefs. I
must also expose the error of those who supposed that to this mysticism
were attributable the miracles accomplished by Delsarte in his career as
artist and scholar.

I was the better able to understand these two opposing
elements--religiousness and strength of understanding--because, if I
gave in my entire adhesion to the innovator in the arts, he did not find
me equally docile in what concerned the theosophic part of his doctrine.
Hence, discussions which illustrated the subject. I speak in presence of
his memory as I did before him, with perfect frankness and simplicity
of heart; taking care not to offend the objects of his veneration, but
examining without regard to his memory, as without prejudice, the
influence which his convictions exerted upon his intellectual
conceptions, his ideas, his character, his talent--in a word, his life,
in so far as it may concern a sketch which lays no claim to be a
complete biography.

Now, it is from the point of view of art itself that I ask the following
questions: Was Delsarte a devout Catholic? Was he orthodox?

Devout? He gloried in it, he insisted on it; I will not say that he
_affected_ minute daily acts of devotion, for that word would not accord
with the spontaneity of his nature; but he accented his demonstrations,
he spoke constantly of his religion. Without any intention to wrong the
serious side of his religious feelings, it seemed to be a bravado put on
for the incredulous, a toy which he converted into a weapon.

Orthodox? He made it his boast, and he certainly intended to be so; he
loved, in many circumstances, to show his humility of heart. His faith,
he used to say, "was the charcoal-burner's faith."

And yet, the charcoal-burner would have been strangely puzzled if he had
had to sustain the ceaseless contests which the artist accepted or
provoked from philosophers and free-thinkers; and, perhaps, no less
frequently, from his fellow-religionists, and the priests themselves.

With the former, it was a mere question of dogmatic forms or of the
necessity for some form of religion; with the latter, he entered upon a
more peculiarly theological order of ideas, such as the attributes
proper to each of the three divine persons, and other mystical subjects.

Here, as elsewhere, Delsarte brought to bear his personality, his stamp,
his breadth of comprehension.

I once asked him what some called _Dominations_ might represent, in the
celestial classification? He replied: "If any one or anything forces
itself upon our mind, takes active possession of our soul, do we not
feel that we are under a certain domination?"

He gave me several other explanations touching the angelic hierarchy. I
considered them very poetic, very ingenious--but were they also
orthodox? I am not competent to judge.

It was impossible to say at the first glance, how the influence of this
theosophy made itself felt in this sensitive character, full as it was
of surprises. Delsarte was born good, generous, above the petty
tendencies which deform and degrade the human type. On these diverse
points, religious faith could scarcely show its effect; but he also
declared himself to be irritable and violent--he confessed to a
dangerous fickleness--still, he would readily have slandered himself in
the interests of his faith.

Whatever the cause of this acquired serenity, Delsarte did not always
refuse to satisfy his native impulses. I have already alluded to cases
in which these returns to impetuous vivacity occurred, and how he rose
above these relapses. Whether his peaceful spirit arose from religious
feeling, or whether it was the result of moral strength, it breathed the
spirit of the gospel; but it must also be confessed that our artist
mingled with it much worldly grace. What matters it? Uncertainty has no
inconveniences in such a matter.

It was particularly on the occasion of those sudden fits of passion to
which the human conscience does not always attach due weight, that
Delsarte laid great stress upon supernatural intervention.

Oh! what would he have done without that powerful aid, with his lively
sensibilities--with his too loving heart?

I have no opinion to offer in regard to the shield which efficacious
grace and the palladium of the faith may form for dangerous tendencies;
for Catholics, that is a matter for the casuist or the confessor to
decide; but, as far as Delsarte is concerned, had he beaten down Satan
in a way to rouse the jealousy of St. Michael, had he made the heathen
Socrates give precedence to him in patience, wisdom and firmness, I
should regard that victory as the triumph of the sacred principles of
the eternal morality, of that which sums up, in a single group, all the
supreme precepts of all religions and all philosophies, rather than as a
result of external practices.

It is by placing myself at this culminating point, that I have
succeeded in explaining to my own satisfaction the true stimulus of the
artist-thinker, in spite of all appearances and all contradictions; and
everything leads me to believe that the elevation of his mind and the
inspiration of the art which he taught and practiced, would have
sufficed, in equal proportion with his faith, "to deliver him from

How could a man glide into the lower walks of life, whose mission it was
to set forth the types of moral beauty by opposing them, to use his
phrase, "to the hideousnesses of vice?"

Now, talent and faith meet face to face. We are to consider to what
extent the one was dependent upon the other; and whether, in reality,
the artist whom so many voices proclaimed "incomparable" owed his vast
superiority to acts of religious devotion, to his adhesion to the dogmas
of the church.

It is not arbitrarily that a transcendent intellect pointed out a
difference between _religion_ and _religions_: every mind devoted to
philosophy must needs reach this distinction.

I shall keep strictly within the limits of that which concerns art, in a
question so vast and of such great importance.

_Religion_ is that need which all generations of men have felt for
establishing a relationship between man and the supreme power or powers
whence man supposes he proceeded. To some it is an outburst of
gratitude and homage; to others, an instinct of terror which makes them
fall prostrate before an unknown being upon whom they feel themselves
dependent, although they cannot know him, still less define him.

_Religions_ are all which men have established in answer to those
aspirations of the conscience, to satisfy that intuition which forces
itself upon our mind so long as sophistry has not warped it. It follows
from this, that religions vary, are changed, and may be falsified until
the primitive meaning is lost. But whatever may be the faith and the
rites of religions--whether fanaticism disfigure them or fetichism make
a caricature of them, whether politicians use them as an ally, or the
traces of the apostolate fade beneath the materialism of
speculation,--there will always remain at the bottom, _religion_: that
is, the thought which keeps such or such a society alive for a variable
time, and which, in periods of transition, seeks refuge in human
consciences awaiting a fresh social upward flight.

Well! it was not the external part of his belief which inspired
Delsarte, when--to use the expression of the poet Reboul--"he showed
himself like unto a god!" It was not the long rosary with its large
beads which often dangled at his side, that gave him the secret of
heart-tortures and soul-aspirations! The _charcoal-burner's faith_ would
never have taught him that captivating grace, that supreme elegance of
gesture and attitude, which made him matchless. Nor did theology and
dogma teach him the moving effects which made people declare that he
performed miracles, and led several writers (Henry de Riancey, Hervet)
to say: "That man is not an artist, he is art itself!" And Fiorentino, a
critic usually severe and exacting, wrote: "This master's sentiment is
so true, his style so lofty, his passion so profound, that there is
nothing in art so beautiful or so perfect!"

_Profound passion, lofty style, art itself_, these are not learned from
any catechism. That chosen organism bore within its own breast the
fountains of beauty. An artist, he derived thence an inward
illumination, and, as it were, a clear vision of the Ideal. If religion
was blended with it, it was that which speaks directly to the heart of
all beings endowed with poetry, to those who are capable of vowing their
love to the worship of sublime things.

What I have just said will become more comprehensible if I apply to
Delsarte those more especially Christian words: _The spirit and the

Yes, in him there was the spiritual man and the literal man; and if
either compromised the other, it was not in the eyes of persons who
attended, regularly enough to understand them, the lectures and lessons
of the brilliant professor.

This I have already said, and I shall dwell upon this point, hoping to
establish some harmony between those who taxed Delsarte with madness on
account of his _positivism_ in the matter of faith, and those who
strove to connect with his devotional habits everything exceptional
which that great figure realized in his passage through this world.

In fact, it is only by separating the Delsarte of _the spirit_ from him
of _the letter_, that we can form any true idea of him.

And the letter, once again--was it not art and poetry that made worship
so dear to him? The shadowy light of the churches, the stern majesty of
the vaulted roof, contrasting with the radiant circle of light within
which reposed the sacred wafer,--all this pomp, of heathen origin,
warmed for him the severe simplicity and cold austerity of Christian
sentiment; the chants and prayers uttered in common also stimulated the
fervid impulses of his heart.

The spirit of proselytism took possession of him later in life. It was
controversy under a new form, more attractive and more _distracting_.
There was always some soul within reach to be won to the faith;
some rebellious spirit to bend to the yoke of the official
church,--proceeding, under due observance of ostensible forms, from the
letter! Neophytes were very ready to listen. After all, it pledged them
to nothing, and they talked of other things often enough to prevent the
conversation from becoming too much of a sermon. Then, certain
favors--all of a spiritual nature--were attached to this situation: a
place nearer the master during lectures, a more affectionate greeting, a
sweeter smile.

These attempts more than once resulted in disappointment to Delsarte. I
will not enumerate them all. Often he was heard with increasing
interest, it seemed as if resistance must yield, and that he might
speedily plant his flag "in the salutary waters of grace," but at that
very moment his opponent would become more refractory and more stubborn
than ever.

Once, he had great hopes. Several young people seemed decided _to enter
into the paths of virtue_. The master was radiant. "Take heed," said
skeptic prudence, "perhaps it is only a means of stimulating your zeal,
of profiting better by your disinterestedness."

He soon acknowledged the truth of these predictions; he confessed it in
his moments of candor.

One of these feigned converts, especially, scandalized him. The story
deserves repetition:

The church of the Petits-Pères had ordered the wax figure of a freshly
canonized saint, from Rome. Delsarte mentioned it to the school, and
several pupils went to see it.

"Ah, sir!" cried young D. on his return, "now, indeed, I am a Catholic!
How lovely she is, how fresh and fair after lying underground so long!"

"Unhappy fellow!" said the disappointed artist, "he takes the image for
the reality, and the beauty of a waxen St. Philomena has converted him."

The young man had heard that the preservation of the flesh, after a
hundred years' burial, counted for much in canonization, if it did not
suffice to justify it; and as the place where they had deposited the
sacred image was dark, D. had taken for life itself the pink and white
complexion common to such figures before time has yellowed them.

Delsarte ended by being amused at his credulity; he laughed readily and
was not fond of sulking. Nor must we forget that this preëminent
tragedian was a perfect comedian, and that this fact entitled him to
true enjoyment of the humorous side of life. Have I not somewhere read:
"Beware of those who never laugh!"

Delsarte's piety--I speak of that of the letter--was seldom morose. It
did not forbid juvenile caprices; it overlooked _venial_ sins.

One Sunday he took his scholars to Nanterre, some to perform, others to
hear, a mass of his own composition. A few friends joined the party. The
mass over, they wandered into the country in groups. Some walked; some
sat upon the grassy turf. The air was pleasant, the conversation
animated; time passed quickly.

Suddenly the vesper bell was heard. Some one drew Delsarte's attention
to it--not without a tiny grain of malice.

"Master, what a pity--you must leave us."

He made no answer.

When the second summons sounded, the same voice continued:

"There's no help for it; for us poor sinners, it's no matter! But you,
master, you cannot miss the mass!"

He put his hand to his head and considered.

"Bah!" he cried boldly, "I'll send my children."

Let me give another trait in illustration of the nature which from time
to time pierced through and rent the flimsy fabric of his opinions. This
anecdote is a political one.

Despite the precedent of an ultra democratic grandfather, and all his
plebeian tendencies as a philanthropist and a Christian, his Catholic
friends had inclined him toward monarchical ideas--although he never
actually sided with the militant portion of the party.

On one occasion, it happened that the two wings of this
politico-religious fusion disagreed. As at Nanterre, Delsarte acted
independently, and on this occasion politics were the victim. It fell
out as follows:

A claimant of the throne of France, still young, finding himself in the
Eternal City, had not, to all appearance, fulfilled his duties to the
Vatican promptly.

The first time that Delsarte encountered certain of those zealous
legitimists, who are said to be "more royalist than the king," he
launched this apostrophe at their heads:

"I hear that _your young man_ was in no haste to pay his respects to His

Thus, always free--even when he seemed to have forged chains for
himself--he obeyed his impulse without counting the cost. Never mind!
This childish outburst must have gladdened the manes of the ancestor who
connected the syllables in the patronymic name of Delsarte!

I hope I shall not forget, as my pen moves along, any of these memories,
insignificant to many minds, no doubt, but serving to distinguish this
figure from the vast mass of creation. If, among my readers, some may
say "pass on," others will enjoy these trifles, and will thank me for
writing them.

Thus, Delsarte was always pleased to think he bore the name of François
in memory of Francis of Assisi--not the Spaniard whom we know, but the
great saint of the twelfth century; he who "appeased quarrels, settled
differences, taught slaves and common men,--the poor man who was good to
the poor."

"The fish, the rabbits and the hares," the legend says, "placed
themselves in this fortunate man's hands." * * * * The birds were silent
or sang at his command. "Be silent," said the saint to the swallows,
"'tis my turn to talk now." And again: "My brothers, the birds, you have
great cause to praise your Creator, who covered you with such fine
feathers and gave you wings to fly through the clear, broad fields of

One need not be very devout to be attracted by such graceful simplicity.

Delsarte went farther. Whether he accepted this magnetic attraction as
true or whether he regarded it as purely symbolic--for this kind of
miracle is not dependent on faith,--he considered the monk of Assisi as
a lover of nature, whose heart was big enough to love everything that
lives, to suffer with all that suffers. He strove to comprehend him by
placing him upon a pinnacle, well aware that the sublime often lurks
between the trifling.

It was on such occasions that the man of intellect revived to ennoble
and illumine everything. If, despite his magnificent rendering of them,
Delsarte never called legendary fictions in question, let us not refuse
him that privilege. In such cases the poetry became his accomplice,
and--"Every poet is the toy of the gods," as Béranger says, a simple
song-writer, as Delsarte was a simple singer.

There was in him whom Kreutzer called "the apostle of the grand dramatic
style," a desire, I will not say for realism, but for _realization_, for
action. Thus he once had a fancy to join the semi-clerical society of
the third order; it was a way of keeping himself in practice, since
there were various prescriptions, observances and interdictions attached
to the office. One must repeat certain prayers every day, and submit to
a certain severity of costume. No precious metal, not even a thread of
gold or silver must be seen about one. In the first moments of fervor, a
beautiful green velvet cap, beautifully embroidered in gold--the loving
gift of some pupil or admirer,--was interdicted, that is to say, was
shut up in a closet or reduced to the condition of a mere piece of
bric-à-brac. Luckily, the association did not require eternal vows, and
I think I saw the pretty article restored to its proper use later on.

Another attempt--and this was his own creation--tempted this inquiring
mind; he wished to pay especial homage, under some novel form, to the
Holy Trinity. The adepts were to be called _the Trinitarians_. In the
founder's mind, this starting-point was to be the seed for a sort of
confraternity with the mark of true friendship and unity of faith.

This dream was never realized, apparently, for it seems that the
association could never number more than three members at a time: so
that it was in number only that it justified its title. Delsarte was
very fond of these few adherents. "The Trinitarians--where are the
Trinitarians?" was sometimes the cry at a lecture. It was the voice of
the master who had reserved a seat of honor for each of them. This is
all I ever knew about this society, and I have reason to think that it
never got beyond a few talks among the members upon the subject which
united them.

It is not without reluctance that I expose his weaknesses; but timid as
the steps must ever be which are taken upon historic ground, we must
walk in daylight. No one, moreover, could regard this effervescence of a
sentiment noble in its source, as a want of intellectual liberty. It
was the affectionate side of his nature which at moments dimmed his
reason, but never went so far as to put out its light. I need not
attempt to defend on this point one, of whom Auguste Luchet wrote:

"It is by his soul and _his science_ that he lifts you, transports you,
strikes you, shatters you with terror, anguish and love!"

And Pierre Zaccone says:

"He is an artist, apart, exceptional, perhaps unique! with what finished
art, what talent, what GENIUS, he uses the resources of his voice!"

That which best atoned in Delsarte for the grain of fanaticism with
which he was reproached, was the tolerance which prevailed in every
controversy, in every dissension. If he sometimes blamed free thought,
he never showed ill will to free-thinkers. In the spirit of the
gospel--so different from the spirit of the devout party--he was "all
things to all men." He was on a very friendly footing with a priest
whom, by his logic and his sincerity, he had prevailed upon to forsake
the ecclesiastical calling.

In our discussions, which dealt with secondary subjects of various forms
of belief--for I never denied God, or the soul and its immortality, or
the freedom of the will which is the honor of the human race, or the
power of charity, provided it become social and fraternal, instead of
merely alms-giving as it has been,--in these debates, sometimes rather
lively, I would end by saying to him: "You know that I love and seek
truth; very well! if God wished me to join the ranks in which you serve,
he would certainly give me a sign; but so long as I do not receive His
summons, what have I to do with it?"

I spoke his own language, and he yielded to my reasoning. "Come," he
would say, "I prefer your frankness to the pretenses of feigned piety;"
and he would add sorrowfully: "Alas! I often encounter them!" So we
always ended by agreeing, and this truce lasted--until our next meeting.

The words which I have just quoted prove that if Delsarte clung to the
Catholic dogmas, he was particularly touched by the sincere piety and
active charity of simple, evangelic hearts. I may give yet another proof
of this.

To satisfy his sympathies as much as to rescue his clan, when attacked,
he would always quote a father confessor, one Father Pricette--this name
should be remembered in the present age--who, during the icy nights of
December, slept in an arm-chair, because he had given his last mattress
to some one poorer than himself.

Chapter XIII.

Delsarte's Friends.

Friendly relations--although disputes often arose--were established
toward 1840 between Delsarte and Raymond Brucker (known to literature as
Michel Raymond). Fortunately in spite of the influence of the author of
"Mensonge," Delsarte's superior rank always prevailed in this intimacy.

Michel Raymond published several novels in the first half of this
century. Later on, he took his place in the ranks of that militia of
Neo-Catholics, the fruit of the Restoration. (I do not know whether I am
justified in giving the name of Neo-Catholic to Brucker; perhaps, on the
contrary, his dreams were all of the primitive church. But, in spite of
his Jewish crudities, I suppose he would never have joined the followers
of Father Loyson.) His keen, sharp and caustic spirit did not forsake
him when he changed his principles; and never did the Christ--whose
symbol is a lamb without a stain--have a sterner or more warlike zealot.

In appearance, Brucker had somewhat the look of a Mephistopheles--a
demon then very much in vogue,--especially when he laughed, his laughter
being full of sardonic reserves. If Delsarte's mode of proselyting was
almost always gentle, affectionate, adapted to the spirit he aspired to
conquer, that of Raymond Brucker had an aggressive fashion; he became
brutal and cynical when discussion waxed warm.

Once, in reply to one of his vehement attacks against the age, in which
he used very unparliamentary expressions, he drew upon himself the
following answer from a woman: "But, sir, I should think that in the
ardor of your recent convictions, your first act of faith should have
been to make an _auto-da-fé_ of all the books signed Michel Raymond."

I repeat, this writer, although of undoubted intellectual merit, could
not annul Delsarte's native tendencies; he could never have led Delsarte
into any camp which the latter had not already decided to join; but when
they met on common ground, he influenced, excited and sometimes threw a
shadow over him.

When they had fought together against the nearest rebel, long and lively
discussions would often arise between them, but they always agreed in
the end: the artist's good-nature so willed it.

If dissension continued, if the fiery friend had given cause for
reproach, Delsarte merely said: "Poor Brucker!" But how much that brief
phrase could be made to mean in the mouth of a man who taught an actor
to say, "I hate you!" by uttering the words, "I love you," and who could
ring as many changes on one sentence as the thought, the feeling, the
occasion, could possibly require.

Do not suppose, however, that Delsarte abused his power. Contrary to
many actors who carry their theatrical habits into their private life,
he aimed at the most perfect simplicity outside of the rôles which he
interpreted. "I make myself as simple as possible," he would say, "to
avoid all suspicion of posing." But still he could not entirely rid
himself, in conversation, of those inflections which illuminate words
and are the genuine manifestation of the inner meaning.

Be this as it may, the relation between our two converts assumed the
proportions of friendship, doubtless in virtue of the mysterious law
which makes contrast attractive.

Hegel says: "The identical and the non-identical are identical;" and
this proposition passes for nonsense. Perhaps if he had said: "May
become identical," it would be understood that he meant to speak, in
general, of that reconciliation of contraries which united the calm
genius of Delsarte and the bristling, prickly spirit of Raymond Brucker.

One motive particularly contributed to the union; Brucker was
unfortunate in a worldly sense. Delsarte, improvident for the future and
scorning money, still had, during the best years of his professorship, a
relatively comfortable home. He loved to have his friend take advantage
of it. Large rooms, well warmed in winter, a simple table, but one which
lacked no essential article, were of no small importance to one whose
scanty household had naught but sorrow and privation to offer.

How many evenings they spent together in dissertations which often ended
in nothing--and how often the dawn surprised them before they were

For Brucker it was a refuge, but for Delsarte, what a waste of time and
strength taken from his real work! That wasted time might have sufficed
to fix and produce certain special points in his method. Then, too, his
health demanded greater care.

Take it for all in all, this intimacy was perhaps more harmful than
helpful to Delsarte. Yet I have been told that Raymond Brucker urged the
innovator to elaborate his discovery, and often reproached him with his
negligence in pecuniary matters. It was he who said: "François
Delsarte's system is an orthopedic machine to straighten crippled

I have also heard in favor of Raymond Brucker, that that mind so full of
bitterness, that inquisitor _in partibus_, was most tender toward a
child in his family, and that he bore his poverty bravely. I desire to
note these eulogies side by side with the less favorable reflections
which I considered it my duty to write down here. I recall a short
anecdote which will serve to close the Brucker story.

As we have said, they were seldom parted. One day Delsarte had agreed to
dine with the family of a pupil. As he was on his way thither, he met
his inseparable friend. From that moment his only thought was to excuse
himself from the dinner; but his hosts were reluctant to give up such a
guest; they insisted"--they were offended.

"Pardon me," said Delsarte; "I really cannot stay! I had forgotten that
Brucker was to dine with me."

"But that can be arranged! M. Brucker can join us. Suppose we send and
ask him?"

"You need not," replied the master; "if you are willing, I will call
him; he is waiting for me below at the corner."

They had acted as children do, when one says to the other on leaving

"Wait a minute for me, I'll ask mamma if you can come and dine with us."

Brucker, who after all knew how to be agreeable when he chose, took his
place at the table, and all went well.

This proves yet once again the extent to which Delsarte possessed that
charming simplicity so well suited to all distinction.

In the dissertations upon religious subjects incessantly renewed about
Delsarte, it was sometimes declared that "great sinners were surer of
salvation than the most perfect unbelievers in the world."

A young man, who doubtless felt himself to be in the first category,
once said to the master:

"My friend, the good God has been too kind to me! I disobey him, I
offend against his laws.... I repent, and he accepts my prayer! I
relapse into sin--and he forgives me! Decidedly, the good God is a very

This seems to exceed the unrestrained ease and confidence usual toward
an earthly father; but we must not forget that the inflection modifies
the meaning of a phrase, and that _poltroon_ may mean _adorable_.

This penitent, now famous, carried his provocation of the inexhaustible
goodness very far. At one time in his life he tried to blow out his
brains! By a mere chance--he probably said, by a miracle,--the wound was
not mortal; but he always retained the accusing scar. I never knew
whether this unpleasant adventure preceded or followed Mr. L.'s
conversion, or whether it was coincident with one of the relapses of
which that repentant sinner accused himself.

Another very religious friend was no less fragile in the observance of
his firm vow. Becoming a widower, he swore eternal fidelity to the
"departed angel." Soon after, he was seen with another wife on his arm!

"And your angel?" whispered a sceptic in his ear.

"Oh, my friend!" was the reply, "this one is an archangel."

Another figure haunted Delsarte and afforded yet another proof of his
tolerance. The Italian, C----, shared neither his political ideas nor
his religious beliefs; he was one of those refugees whom the defeats of
the Carbonari have cast upon our soil, and whose necessities
France--does our neighbor remember this?--for years supplied, as if they
were her own children. However, she could offer them but a precarious

Signer C., to give some charm to his wretched existence, desired to add
to his scanty budget a strong dose of hope and intellectual enjoyment:
hope in--what came later--the independence and unity of Italy. By way of
diversion, this stranger gratified himself by indulging in a whim; he
had dreams of a panacea, a plant whose complex virtues should combat all
the evils which fall to the lot of poor humanity; but this marvel must
be sought in America. And how was he to get there, when he could barely
scrape together the necessary five cents to ride in an omnibus! The
Isabellas of our day do not build ships for every new Columbus who
desires to endow the world with some wonderful treasure trove! And yet
this man was not mad; he was one of those who prove how many insane
ideas a brain may cherish, without being entitled to a cell in Bedlam or

While awaiting the realization of his golden dreams, poor C. spent his
time in perpetual adoration of the Talma of Music--for so Théophile
Gautier styled Delsarte; he never missed a lecture; he took part in the
talks which lengthened out the evening when the parlor was at last
cleared of superfluous guests.

Among his many manias--how many people have this one in common with
him!--the Italian cherished the idea that he was of exceptional ability,
and that in more than one direction. He proclaimed that Delsarte went
far beyond everything that he knew--equal to all that could be imagined
or desired in regard to art--but as for himself, C., was he not from a
land where art is hereditary, where it is breathed in at every pore,
from birth? And more than the mass of his countrymen, did he not feel
the volcanic heat of the sacred fire burning within him?

One evening, he made a bold venture. He had prepared a tirade written by
some Italian poet. All that I remember of it is that it began with the
words: "_Trema--Trema!_" [Tremble--Tremble!]

The impromptu tragedian recited several lines in a declamatory tone
accompanied by gestures to match. Delsarte listened without a sign of
praise or blame. Then he rose, struck an attitude appropriate to the
text, but perfectly natural, and, in his quiet way, said:

"Might not you as well give it in this key?" Then, in a voice of
repressed harshness, his gestures subdued but expressive of hatred, he
repeated the two words: "_Trema--Trema!_"

The listeners shuddered. Delsarte had produced one of those effects
which can never be forgotten. The smouldering ashes did not burn long;
four syllables were enough to extinguish the flame.

Following, not the chronological order, but that of circumstances and
incidents calculated to throw light on my subject, I must once more
retrace the course of years.

C.'s persistency went on before and after 1848. During the second
period, all minds were greatly agitated by the state of politics. C., in
spite of his undoubted liberalism--he spent a great part of his leisure
in making democratic constitutions--thought, like every other claimant,
that he had _duties to perform_; and that he might as well, to
facilitate his task, make an ally of the Emperor, without scruple; but
access to royalty was no less impossible than landing on the American
shore where his panacea grew. He hit upon the following plan:

A number of ladies were to go in a body and implore Napoleon III to
pardon certain exiles: for the same calamities always follow civil war,
and there are always women ready to beg for justice or mercy.

C., who knew their purpose, said to one of the petitioners: "How are you
going to make the Emperor understand that I am the only man capable of
saving the situation?"

The petition was not presented; and the world remains to be saved!

Our Italian had another specialty: he was perpetually in search of some
notorious somnambulist. It is a well-known fact that the mental
agitation caused by governmental crises is very favorable to these
pythonesses of modern times. Each wishes to outrun the future and to
afford himself at least an illusion of the triumph of his party. The
oracles varied according to the opinion of the person who magnetized
these ladies, and, often, according to the presumed desire of the

Delsarte allowed himself to be drawn into these mysteries. He had time
for everything. It afforded him relaxation, and a means of observation.
On one occasion, he followed the refugee to a garden where a person of
"perfect lucidity" prophesied. The sibyl was a _believer_ as well as a
_seer_ and pretended to communicate with God in person. I do not know
exactly what supernal secrets the woman revealed, while she slept, but
the result was ridiculous.

They had forgotten to fix the hour for the next sitting: so, to repair
the omission--by means of a few passes--the somnambulist was restored to
sleep and lucidity. Then in a corner of the garden, in a familiar tone
and--to use the popular expression--in which, as may well be imagined,
the voice of Jehovah was not heard:

"My God, what day shall we return?"

"He says Wednesday," announced the lady.

"Thank you, God!"

If the Italian went into ecstasies over this irreverent trifling,
Delsarte did not disdain to caricature it, and gave us a most comical
little performance. Here again we see how he could transform everything,
and make something out of nothing!

Among the frequenters of his lectures was an artist whom I would gladly
mention for his talent if I did not fear to annoy him by connecting his
name with an incident concerning him. I relate it in the hope of
somewhat diverting my readers, to whom I must so often discourse of
serious things.

Mr. P. painted a portrait of Delsarte as a young man. The features are
exact, the pose firm and dignified, the eye proud. The painter and the
model were on very good terms and sympathized in religious matters. It
must have been the master who brought him over. He still burned with the
zeal peculiar to recent converts; to such a point that even on a short
excursion into the country, he could not await his return to Paris to
approach the stool of repentance. This desire seemed easily satisfied;
what village is without a father confessor!

So, one fine day, the artist rang at the first parsonage he could find.
The priest's sister opened the door--offered him a seat--and told him
that her brother was away. But, after these preliminaries, the lady
seemed uneasy. She inquired what the stranger wanted.

"To speak with the priest."

What could this stranger have to say to him? Such was the question which
floated in her eyes, amidst the confused phrases in which she strove to
gain an explanation. Mr. P. finally told her that he had come to

"My brother will not return till very late," said the poor girl, unable
to disguise her distress.

"I will wait!" replied the traveler.

"Oh, sir, I hope you will not!"

He thought he heard her mutter: "We read such things in the papers!"

The visitor at last perceived that she took him for a thief, and he
could not depart quickly enough.

One more anecdote:

François Delsarte called himself a bad citizen, because he disliked to
undertake the duties entailed by reason of the national guard--a dignity
long demanded by the advanced party of the day, but of which they soon

I think that the artist's infractions were often overlooked, and his
reasons for exemption were never too closely scanned. And yet, the
soldier-citizen was one day arraigned before a council of discipline,
which, without regard for this representative of the highest personages
of fiction, condemned him to three days' imprisonment.

It was as if they had imprisoned saltpetre in company with a bunch of
matches--but he restrained his rebellious feelings; he would not give
his judges the satisfaction of knowing his torment. He soon thought only
of procuring consolation: he summoned his friends, who visited him in
throngs. Then he made the acquaintance of his companions in misfortune.
There was one especially, who, alone, would have made up to him for all
the inconveniences of his forced arrest.

The first time that this prisoner entered the room where the other
prisoners were assembled, he looked at them with the most solemn air,
put his hand to his forehead, made a military salute, and in grave
tones, as if beginning a harangue, he uttered these words:

"Captives--I salute you!"

It was strangely pertinent. Delsarte was not behindhand in comic
gravity. This little scene enlivened him.

Another compensation fell to the lot of our _captive_. One of the
prisoners sang him a song, one stanza of which lingered in his memory. I
transcribe it:

    "I was born in Finisterre,
    At Quimperlay I saw the light.
    The sweetest air is my native air,
    My parish church is painted white!
    Oh! so I sang, I sighed, I said,--
    How I love my native air,
    And parish church so bright!"

These lines, written by some Breton minstrel, inspired one of those
sweet, plaintive airs which the drawling voice of the drovers sing as
they return at nightfall; one of those airs which seem to follow the
brook down the valleys, and which repeat the echoes of the mountains, in
the far distance.

Oh! how Delsarte used to murmur it; it made one homesick for Brittany!

Chapter XIV.

Delsarte's Scholars.

To get one's bearings in that floating population (where persistency and
fidelity are rare qualities) which haunts a singing-school, it is well
to make classifications. In Delsarte's case, the novelty of his
processes, his extraordinary reputation among the art-loving public, the
length of time which he insisted was necessary for complete education,
all combined to produce an incessant ebb and flow of pupils.

Therefore, I must distinguish.

First, there were those, brought by Delsarte's generosity, whose only
resource was a vocation more or less favored by natural gifts. He would
say: "Come one, come all." But, of course, many were called, and few
were chosen, the majority only making a passing visit.

Then there were the finished artists. They took private lessons, coming
to beg the master to put the finishing touch to their work, hoping to
gain from him something of that spiritual flame which consecrates
talent. I shall not undertake to speak of all, but I must quote a few

One winter day, says _La Patrie_ for June 18, 1857, a woman, beautiful
and still young, visited Delsarte, begging him to initiate her into the
mysteries of Gluck's style:

"You are the greatest known singer," she said; "no one can enter into
the work of the great masters and seize their most secret thought as you
do; teach me!"

"Who are you?" asked François Delsarte.

"Henrietta Sontag," replied the stranger.

Madame Barbot had a moment of great triumph, and was summoned to Russia
at the period of her success in Paris. She was perhaps the master's best
imitator; she had somewhat of his tragic emotion, his style, his
gesture; then what did she lack to equal him? She lacked that absolute
_sine qua non_ of art and poetry--_personality_. She added little of her

Even among those who could neither hear his lectures nor follow his
lessons, Delsarte had disciples. A great singing-teacher, whom I knew at
Florence, was eager to learn everything concerning the method. I often
heard him ask a certain young girl, as he read a score: "You were
Delsarte's pupil; tell me if he would have read this as I have done?"

Even the famous Jenny Lind made the journey from London to Paris,
expressly to hear the great singer.

At his lectures were seen from time to time: M. and Mme. Amand Chevé,
Mlle. Chaudesaigues, M. Mario Uchard--who, after his marriage, asked for
elocution lessons for his wife (Madeleine Brohan),--Mlle. Rosalie
Jacob, whose brilliant vocalization never won the renown which it
deserved, Mme. Carvalho, who was not one of the regular attendants, but
who trained her rare talent as a light singer, there, before the very
eyes of her fellow pupils,--Géraldon, who was very successful in Italy,
under the name of Géraldoni.

Then, there was Mme. de B----, who appeared at the opera under the name
of Betty; a beauty with a fine voice. This artist did not perfect her
talents, being in haste to join the theatre in Rue Lepelletier, under
the shield of another master. Although well received by the public, she
soon gave up the profession.

A memory haunts me, and I cannot deny it a few lines.

Mme. M. may have been eighteen when she began to study singing with
Delsarte, together with her husband, who was destined for a similar
career. She had an agreeable voice, but a particularly charming face,
the freshness of a child in its cradle, a sweet expression of innocence.
In figure she was tall and slender. The lovely creature always looked
like a Bengal rose tossing upon its graceful stalk. These young students
considered themselves finished and made an engagement with the manager
of a theatre in Brazil.

"Don't do it," said Delsarte to the husband, knowing his suspicious
nature, "that is a dangerous region; you will never bring your wife back

He prophesied but too truthfully.

Soon after, we heard that the fair songstress had been shot dead by the
hand of the husband who adored her. I like to think that she was
innocent of more than imprudence. The story which reached us from that
distant land was, that M. M. threatened to kill his wife if she
continued to associate with a certain young man.

"You would never do it!" she said.

She did not reckon on the aberrations of jealousy. It was said, in
excuse for the murderer, that she had defied him, saying:

"I love him, and I do not love you!"

After the catastrophe, the unfortunate husband gave himself up to
justice. No case was found against him, but how he must have suffered
when he had forever cut himself off from the sight of that enchanting

Three figures stand preëminent in the crowd: Darcier, Giraudet, Madame

I will proceed in order of seniority.

The first named did not attend the lectures when I did, but I often
heard him mentioned in society where he attracted attention by his
rendering of Delsarte's "Stanzas to Eternity," Pierre Dupont's "Hundred
Louis d'or," and many other impressive or dramatic pieces. I know the
master considered him possessed of much aptitude and feeling for art.

They met one evening at a large party given by a high official of the
day. Darcier sang well, in Delsarte's opinion; but it was perhaps too
well for a public made up of fashionables, not connoisseurs.

"It takes something more than talent to move them," thought the real
judge, annoyed; and with that accent familiar to well-bred people, which
transfigures a triviality, he said to the singer:

"Let them have _the bread!_"

He referred to a political song ending with these lines:

    "Ye cannot hush the moan
    Of the people when they cry: 'We hunger ...'
    For it is the cry of nature,
    They want bread, bread, bread!"

The guests were forced to give the attention which it demanded to this
cry which aroused the idea of recent seditions, and the performer came
in for his share.

This artist may still be heard, but his talents are displayed in so
narrow a circle that his reputation is a limited one. Yet it is said
that his compositions and his mode of singing them attest to great

Darcier, it seems, always retained a strong feeling of devotion for his
master. He has been heard to say: "I fear but two things--Delsarte and

Alfred Giraudet joined the grand opera as _primo basso cantante_. He was
warmly received by the press, and had already won a name at the Opéra
Comique and at concerts. In this singer may be noted the firmness of
accent and scholarly mode of phrasing, always in harmony with the
prosody of the language, which are part of the tradition of the great
school. He always bears himself well on the stage, and the sobriety of
his gesture is a salutary example which some of his present colleagues
would do well to imitate.

He, too, was a loyal soul; he always regarded it as an honor to bear the
title of _pupil of Delsarte_, the latter always writing to him as _my
dear and last disciple_. I owe many of the memories and documents used
in this volume to his kindness.

Alfred Giraudet always took his audience captive when he sang Malherbe's
verses--music by Réber--of which each strophe ends with the following

    "Leave these vanities, put them far behind us,
    'Tis God who gives us life,
    'Tis God whom we should love."

The broad, sustained style, so appropriate to the words of the melody,
finds a sympathetic interpreter in the young artist.

Delsarte gave this with great _maestria_. The finale, particularly,
always transports the listeners.

If any one can revive the tradition of the master's teachings, it is
certainly Giraudet, who understands the method and appreciates its high

Madame Pasca was one of the latest comers; her advent was an event.
There were pupils in the school who were destined for the theatre, and
there were women of society; the future artist of the Gymnase partook
of both phases. She had the advantages of a vocation and of a careful
education; her fortune allowed her to dress elegantly, with the
picturesqueness imparted by artistic taste.

Chance, or a presentiment of speedy success, led her to take her place,
on the first day, very near the master, in a peculiar seat--a sort of
small, low easy chair which inspired one with a sense of nonchalance.
She was in full sight. Her gaze, profound and sombre at times, roamed
over the room with the natural air of a meditative queen. She inspired
all beholders with curiosity and interest. The feeling which she aroused
in her fellow-pupils was less distinct. Her rare advantages caused a
vague fear in those who hitherto had securely held the foremost rank;
her beauty created a sense of rivalry, unconscious for the most part,
and yet betrayed by countless signs.

There was a flutter of excitement throughout the school. This increased
when the young woman confirmed, by her first efforts, all that her
agreeable appearance and fascinating voice had promised. She declaimed a
fragment from Gluck's "Armida" which other pupils sang; a word sufficed
to change interest to sympathy.

That accent touched all hearts. What visible grief and what a sense of
suppressed tears when in her grave, slow tones she uttered the phrase:

"You leave me, Rinaldo! Oh, mortal pain!"

The master soon obtained from this marvellous aptness, what is rarely
acquired, even after long years of study: dramatic effects free from all
hint of charlatanism. The distinguishing point between Madame Pasca and
Madame Barbot is, that the latter, while observing all the rules of the
method avoided servile imitation.

Delsarte was all the more delighted at his success, because he had
revealed to his scholar her true calling. Madame Pasca came to him for
singing-lessons, but her large, strongly-marked voice had little range.
She was directed toward the art which she afterward practiced, and began
her studies with tragedy. Some idea of what she did in this field may be
formed from the effect which she produced in pathetic scenes, where the
comedy allowed her serious voice to show its power and penetrating tone.

I need not speak of Madame Pasca's success at the Gymnase and abroad. It
is known and undoubted. Still she lacks the consecration of the stage
where Mars and Rachel shone. When this artist left the school to enter
upon her career, Delsarte said to her:

"My dear child, you will spend your life in atoning for the crime of
being my pupil."

He was right, for Madame Pasca has no place at the Français yet.

I can speak from hearsay merely, of the lessons in elocution and
declamation intended for preachers--particularly for the fathers of the
Oratory,--never having been present at them. I only know that Father
Monsabre and other famous ecclesiastics took lessons from François

Chapter XV.

Delsarte's Musical Compositions.

Delsarte paid but little attention to musical composition; still his
musical works prove that he would have succeeded here as elsewhere, had
he devoted himself particularly to the task.

To say nothing of six fine vocal exercises and a number of songs which
had their day, his "Stanzas to Eternity" were highly popular. A mass by
him was performed in several churches; but his "Last Judgment,"
especially, ranks him among serious composers.

This setting of the _Dies Irae_ is touching and severe; the melody is
broad, sombre, threatening; the accompaniment reminds one of the dull
rattling of the skeletons reassuming their original shape. One seems to
hear the uneasy hum of voices roused from long sleep.

One incident showed the importance of this work. Various pieces of
concerted music were being rehearsed one night at the church of St.
Sulpice, for performance during the solemnity of "the work of St.
Francis de Xavier." A close circle formed around the musicians; private
conversation added a discordant note to the harmony; the church echoed
back the footsteps of people walking to and fro.

The _Dies Irae_ came! The music at first imitates the angel trumpets
which, according to Christian belief, are to be heard when _time shall
end_. The summons sounded four times.

This mournful chant of reawakening generations instantly silenced every
voice and every step; all were motionless; and the solemn melody alone
soared to the vaulted roof.

A touching story is told of this work. At a large and miscellaneous
gathering, M. Donoso-Cortes, a well-known Spanish publicist, then
ambassador to Paris, begged Delsarte to sing his _Dies Irae_. A space
was cleared in the music-room.

The score of the symphony for voice and piano, made by Delsarte himself,
retains all his intentions and effects, to which his striking voice
added greatly.

Delsarte began:

    "Dies irae, dies illa,
    Solvet saeclum in favilla,
    Teste David cum sybilla."

The whole assembly were taken captive. M. Donoso-Cortes was particularly
moved. His eyes filled with tears. He was not quite well that night.

A week later the newspapers invited the friends of the illustrious
stranger to meet at St. Philippe-du-Roule, to witness his funeral rites.
Delsarte was present; the church was so hung with black that the
choristers were alarmed for the effect of their motets.

The artist recalled the request made him the previous week by the
Spanish ambassador. He felt as if that same voice came from the bier and
begged him for one more hymn to the dead. In spite of his emotion, he
offered to sing the _Dies Irae_.

To obviate the lack of resonance, Delsarte sang--according to his theory
in regard to the laws of acoustics,--without expenditure of sound,
almost _mezza voce_.

No one was prepared. The listeners were all the more overcome by those
tones in which the friend's regrets pervaded, with their sweet unction,
the masterly diction of the singer.

When his oldest daughter grew up, Delsarte seemed to take a fancy to a
different style of composition. He would not give that young soul the
regular repertory of his pupils, all passion and profane love. He wrote
for Marie words and music--couplets which were neither romance nor song;
nor were they quite canticles, although religion always lay at the base
of them.

I know none but Madame Sand who can be compared to Delsarte in variety
of feeling and simplicity even unto grandeur. I have often observed a
likeness and, as it were, a kinship between these great minds. And yet
these two great souls, these two great spirits, never exchanged ideas.
The artist never received the plaudits of the distinguished writer. Both
regretted it.

Delsarte said: "I lack that sanction," and Madame Sand wrote, when he
had ceased to live: "I knew Delsarte's worth; I often intended to go
and hear him, and some circumstance, beyond my control, always

The world owes a debt to Delsarte for collecting under the title
"Archives of Song," the lyric gems of the XVI, XVII, and XVIII
centuries. And also the songs of the Middle Ages, the prose hymns and
anthems of the church, arranged conformably to the harmonic type
consecrated by the oldest traditions.

"All these works," he wrote in his announcement of the work, "faithfully
copied, arranged for the piano and transposed for concert performance,
will finally be arranged and classified in separate volumes, to suit
various voices, ages, styles, schools, etc., thus affording subject
matter for a complete course of vocal studies."

I do not think that death allowed Delsarte to complete this vast plan,
but it was partly finished. In the collection, we find the scattered
treasures of an eminently French muse: old songs picked up in the
provinces, in which wit and naive sentimentality dispute for precedence.
All this still exists, but who can sing as he did the song beginning: "I
was but fifteen," or "Lisette, my love, shall I forever languish?" and
so many others!

To explain the inexpressible charm which distinguished Delsarte from all
other singers, a songstress once said: "His singing contrives to give us
the _soul of the note_. The others are _artists_, but _he_ is _the

Chapter XVI.

Delsarte's Evening Lectures.

In François Delsarte's school there were morning classes and evening
classes. The former were more especially devoted to the theory, to
lessons. Those of which I shall speak might be compared to lectures, to
dramatic and musical meetings. A choice public was always present. Among
them were:

The composers Réber and Gounod;

Doctor Dailly, Madame de Meyendorf--a great Russian lady, the friend of

The Princess de Chimay and the Princess Czartoriska, who glided modestly
in and took the humblest place;

Madame Blanchecotte, whose charming verses were crowned by the Academy;

Countess d'Haussonville, a familiar name;

M. Joly de Bammeville, one of the exhibitors at the Exhibition of
Retrospective Arts, in 1878;

Doriot, the sculptor; Madame de Lamartine, Madame Laure de Léoménil, a
well-known painter; Madame de Blocqueville, daughter of Marshal Davout,
and author of his biography; a throng of artists, men of letters and
scientists; certain original figures of the period.

On one occasion we were joined by a man of some celebrity--the
chiromancist Desbarolles. Delsarte had the courtesy to base his theory
lesson upon the latter's system; he pointed out its points of relation
with the sum total of the constitution of the human being. It was a
lesson full of spirit and piquant allusions; one of those charming
impromptus in which Delsarte never failed.

From time to time certain persons in clerical robes appeared in the
audience; the austerity of their habit contrasting somewhat strangely
with the attire of the elegant women, men of fashion and young actors in
their apprenticeship around them; but matters always settled themselves.
One evening one of these priests was in a neighboring room, the doors of
which were open into the drawing-room. If the songs seemed too profane,
he kept out of sight; but so soon as the word _God_ was pronounced or a
religious thought was mingled with a romance, or operatic aria, the
servant of the altar appeared boldly, rejoiced at these brief harvests
which allowed him to enjoy the whole picture.

To give a correct idea of one of these evenings, I will copy an account
which I have just written under the heading of "Recent Memories."

By half-past eight, almost all the guests have assembled. A stir is
heard in the next room. "He is coming ... it is he!" is whispered on
every hand. The master enters, followed by his pupils. Almost at the
same instant a young woman glides up to the piano. She is to accompany
the singers; she enters furtively, timidly, as if she were not the
mistress of the house. She is beautiful, but she does not wish this to
be noticed; she has much talent, but she disguises it by her calm and
severe style of playing, which does not prevent critical ears from
noting her exactitude and precision, combined with that rare spirit of
abnegation which is the accompanist's supreme virtue.

Delsarte takes his place by the piano; his attentive gaze traverses the
assembly; he exchanges a smile, a friendly gesture with certain of the
audience who are always much envied. At this moment he is grave,
serious, and as it were, penetrated by his responsibility to an audience
who hang devoutly on his lips.

The professor begins by developing some point in his system; he gives
the law of pose or of gesture; the reasons for accent, rhythm or some
other detail connected with the synthesis which he has evolved. He
questions his scholars.

The first notes of the piano serve to mark the change to practical
instruction. The pupils sing in turn. The master listens with the
concentrated attention peculiar to him; the expression of his face
explains the nature of the remarks he is about to make, even before he
utters them. He points out mistakes, he illustrates them.

Little by little, however, his dramatic genius is aroused. Achilles
seems to seize his weapons or Agamemnon his sceptre. The scholar is
pushed aside, Delsarte takes his place.

Then the artist is seen to the utmost advantage. There, dressed in the
vast, shapeless coat which drapes itself about him as he gesticulates,
his neck free from the cravat which puts modern Europeans in the
pillory, and allowing himself greater space than at his concerts--there,
and there alone, is Delsarte wholly himself.

The piano strikes the opening notes of the prelude, and before the
artist has uttered a word, he is transfigured. If he is singing serious
opera, the oval of his face lengthens, the lines become more fixed, his
cheeks shrink, his forehead is lighted up and his eye flashes with
inspiration; the pallor of profound emotion pervades his features, the
somewhat gross proportions of his figure are disguised by the firmness
of his pose and the juvenile precision of his gesture.

The part of _Robert the Devil_ is one of those in which Delsarte best
developed the resources and suppleness of his genius. _Robert_ is the
son of a demon, but his mother was a saint. He loves with sincere love;
but even this love is subject to the influence of the evil spirit;
hence, these outbursts followed by such tender remorse, that heart which
melts into tears after a fit of rage. _Robert_ is jealous, less so than
_Othello_ possibly, but _Robert's_ jealousy is stimulated by infernal
powers and must differ in its manifestation. It was in these shades of
distinction that Delsarte's greatness was apparent to every eye.

Then came those indescribable inflections--words which pierced your
heart, cold as a sword-blade: "Come, come!" says _Robert_, striving to
drag _Isabella_ away, ... and that simple word was made frantic,
breathless, by the accent accompanying it. No one who has not heard
Delsarte utter the word _rival_ can conceive of all the mysteries of
hate and pain contained in the word.

In the trio from "William Tell," after the words, "has cut an old man's
thread of life," Arnold feels that Gessler has had his father murdered.
A first and vague suspicion dawned on the artist's face. Little by
little, the impression became more marked, a clearer idea of this
misfortune was shown by pantomime; his eye was troubled, it kindled,
every feature questioned both William and Walter; the actor's hand,
trembling and contracted, was stretched toward them and implored them to
speak more clearly. He was horror-stricken at the news he was to hear,
but uncertainty was intolerable; and when, after these touching
preparations, Arnold himself tore away the last shred of doubt, when he
uttered the cry: "My father!" there was not a heart--were it bathed in
the waters of the Styx--which did not melt from the counter shock of
such violent despair.

The effects of rage, hate, irony, the terrors of remorse, the bitterness
of disappointment, were not the only dramatic means in the possession of
that artist whom Madame Sontag proclaimed as "the greatest known
singer." None could express as did Delsarte, contemplation, serenity,
tenderness--the dreams of a sweet and simple soul, and even the divine
silliness of innocent beings. Wit and malice were equally easy for him
to render.

In the duet from "Count Ory:"

    "Once more I'll see the beauty whom I love,"

he was quite as apt at interpreting the hypocritical good-nature of the
false hermit as the sentimental playfulness of the love-lorn page.

In his school the comic style bore an impress of propriety and
distinction, because it resulted from intellectual perceptions rather
than it expressed the vulgar sensations manifested by exaggerated
caricature and grimace.

Delsarte thus put his stamp upon every style which he attempted; he
renovated every part. He restored Gluck to life; he revealed Spontini to
himself. The latter--the illustrious author of "Fernando Cortez"--was at
a musical entertainment where Delsarte, whom he had never known, sang.
He had drunk deep of the composer's inspiration: he showed this in the
very first phrase of the great air:

    "Whither do ye hasten? Oh, traitorous race!"

He sang with such vigorous accent, such great _maestria_, that--in the
mouth of Montezuma--the words must have sufficed to rally the Mexican
army from its rout. He gave the cantabile:

    "Oh country, oh spot so full of charm!"

with indescribable sadness; desolation and despair seemed to fill his
soul, and when the conquered man invoked the spirits of his ancestors:

    "Shall I say to the shadows of my fathers,
    Arise--and leave your gloomy tomb!"

it seemed--so powerful was the adjuration--as if the audience must see
the sepulchre open on the spot which the singer and actor indicated by
his gesture and his gaze.

Such profound knowledge, sublime talent, terrifying effects and
contrasts so skilfully managed, and yet so natural in their transition,
strongly moved the composer.

"Do you know that you made me tremble?" Delsarte said to him after he
had sang.

"Do you know that you made me weep?" replied Spontini, charmed to see
his work raised to such proportions.

Delsarte was always master of himself, however impassioned he appeared.

Often, in his lessons, when every soul hung upon his accents, he would
stop abruptly and restore the part to his pupil. Then, as if a magic
wand had touched him, all the attributes of the personage who had lived
in him, vanished. His face, his form, his bearing resumed their usual
appearance. The artist disappeared, and the professor quietly resumed
his place, without seeming to notice that the audience--still shaken by
the emotions they had felt--blamed him for this too prompt

Yet Delsarte was as agreeable a teacher as he was a marvelous artist.
His instruction was enlivened by countless unexpected flashes; his
sallies were as quick as gunpowder.

"_I die!_" languidly sang a tenor.

"You sleep!" said the master.

"_Come, lady fair!_" exclaimed another singer.

"If you call her in that voice, you may believe that she will never

"Don't make a public-crier of your Achilles," said the master to some
one with a rich organ, given over to its own uncultivated power.

All three smiled. The one tried to die more fitly; the other to call his
lady fair in more seductive accents. The petulant outburst of the master
taught them more than many a long dissertation.

Delsarte made great use of his power of imitating a defect; he even
exaggerated it so that the scholar, seeing it reflected as in a
magnifying-glass, more readily perceived his insufficiency or his

If this mode of procedure was somewhat trying to sensitive vanity, it
was easy to see its advantages. The master's censure, moreover, was of
that inoffensive and kindly character which is its own justification. It
was a criticism governed by gaiety. Delsarte laughed at himself quite as
readily as at the ridiculous performances which he caricatured, if
opportunity offered. And if by chance any pupil less hardened to these
assaults was intimidated or distressed, consolation was quick to follow.

I remember that a young girl gave rise to one of these striking
imitations. Delsarte put such an irresistible comedy into it, that the
audience was seized with an uncontrolable fit of mirth. The master's
mimicry had far more to do with this than the poor girl's awkwardness.
But she did not understand this. Her heart sank at this harsh merriment
and tears rushed to her eyes.

"What is the matter," asked Delsarte; "why are you so disturbed? Among
the persons whose laughter you hear, I do not think there is one who
sings as well as you do! I exaggerated your mistake to make you aware of
it; but you did your work in a way that was very satisfactory to all but
your teacher."

Speaking of this irony tempered by mercy, I recollect that Delsarte,
after a great success, was once complimented by the singer P., whose
popularity far exceeded that of the "lyric Talma."

"And yet you have given me lessons," said Delsarte, emphasizing the word
_yet_. Well! in such circumstances Delsarte showed neither the pride nor
the malicious spirit which might be imputed to him; his mind seized a
contrast which amused him, and his face interpreted it, but his voice
remained soft and friendly; for, in spite of his biting wit and cutting
phrases, his feelings were easily touched and his heart was truly rich
in sympathy.

Delsarte sang a great deal during his lessons; and perhaps he gained,
from the point of view of the voice, by confining himself to fragments;
seizing the opportune moment, and his voice not having had time to be
tired, he could give, for a relatively long space, the clear, ringing
tones necessary for brilliant pieces. Then his vocalization--which has
only a mechanical value with most singers--became sobs, satanic
laughter, delirium, and terror.

Then, too, thanks to proximity, the most delicate tones could be heard
to the extreme limits of the _smorzando_, still preserving that slightly
veiled timbre unique in its charm, the mysterious interpreter of
infinite sweetness and unspeakable tenderness.

One might perhaps have made a complete analysis of Delsarte from hearing
him sing some dramatic song, but let him give Eleazar's air from "The

    "Rachel, when the Lord,"

or that of Joseph:

    "Paternal fields, Hebron, sweet vale,--"

let the artist give this in a quiet style, as putting a mute upon his
voice, and the observer forgot his part; he followed the entrancing
melody as far as it would lead him into the realms of the ineffable
whence he returned with the fascination of memory and the sorrow of

Let no one cry that this is hyperbole! One of the most remarkable
accompanists in Paris, an attaché of the Opéra Comique, M. Bazile, was
once so overcome by emotion in accompanying Delsarte that for some
seconds the piano failed to do its duty.

I might recount numberless proofs of admiration equal to mine. One
evening, at a lecture, the lesson turned upon a song from "William

    "Be motionless, and to the ground
    Incline a suppliant knee."

For stage effect, Delsarte called in one of his children, about eight or
nine years old.

The subject is well known: William has been condemned to strike from a
distance, with the tip of his arrow, an apple placed on the head of his

William bids the child pray to God, and implores him not to stir.
Reversing the action of all actors whom we usually see, the artist
recited the fragment in a wholly concentric fashion; he did not declaim;
he made no gesture toward the audience; but what emotion in his voice,
and how his gaze hovered over and around the dear creature who was
perhaps to be forever lost to him! He called the child to him, he
pressed him to his heart; he laid his hands on that young head. His
caresses had the lingering slowness of supreme and final things, the
solemnity of a last benediction.

    "This point of steel may terrify thine eyes!"

says the text, and the tragedian, enlarging the meaning of the words by
inflection and accent, showed that this precious life hung on a thread
and depended on the firmness of his hand.

At the last phrase:

    "Jemmy, Jemmy, think of thy mother,
    She who awaits us both at home!"

his voice became pathetic to such a degree that it was difficult to
endure it. The child, who had restrained himself during the tirade,
began to sob. All eyes were full of tears. One lady fainted.

At concerts his triumph was the same on a larger scale. I will give but
one anecdote. A man of letters, who was also a skilled physician, said
to Delsarte:

"Do you know, sir, that I made your acquaintance in a very strange way?
I was at the Herz Hall, at your concert. Your voice and singing so
agitated me that I was forced to leave the room, feeling oppressed and
almost faint."

This impressionable listener referred to a day memorable in the annals
of the master. Delsarte--he sang certain airs written for women in
Gluck's operas--had selected Clytemnestra's song:

    "A priest, encircled by a cruel throng,
    Shall on my daughter lay his guilty hand."

Just as this maternal despair reached its paroxysm, the artist raised
both hands to his head and remained in the most striking attitude
possible to overwhelming grief. Loud applause burst from every part of
the hall; there was a frenzy, a delirium of enthusiasm. At the same
time, a violent storm burst outside; the roaring thunder, the rain
beating in floods upon the windows, the flashing lightning which turned
the gas-lights pale, formed a tremendous orchestra for Gluck's music,
and a fantastic frame for the sublime actor. Then, as if crushed by his
glory, he prolonged that marvelous effect, and stood a moment as if
annihilated by the frantic and tumultuous shouts of the audience.

Chapter XVII.

Delsarte's Inventions.

Delsarte always had his father's propensity to devote himself to
mechanics that he might apply his knowledge of them to new things. When
he felt his artistic abilities, not growing less, but their plastic
expression becoming more difficult, owing to the cruel warnings of his
departing youth, this tendency toward occupations more especially
intellectual, became more marked.

It may be helpful here to note that a _machine_--that positive and most
material of all things--is the thing whose creation requires force of
understanding in the highest degree.

The brain, that living machine, lends its aid to the intellect; it
represents the physical side; it is the spot where the work is carried
on. Feeling has no part in the intellectual acts which work together in
mechanical production,--mathematics playing the principal part,--it has
no other share, I say, but to inspire certain persons with a passionate
taste for abstract studies, which leads them toward useful and glorious

Thus, this thought of Delsarte and Pierre Leroux seems to be justified:
that, in no case, can man break his essential triplicity.

Delsarte, moreover, by changing the direction of his faculties, or
rather by displacing the dominant, affirmed his freedom of will. If he
did not always class himself with the strong, he still loved to reign
over himself in the omnipotence of his will.

The artist became an inventor; he took out letters-patent for various
discoveries, among others for an instrument of precision applicable to
astronomical observations. Competent persons have recognized the great
value of this invention, conceived without previous study, and which
remains hidden among the papers of some official.

Only one of his mechanical conceptions was ever really put to practical
use, that of the _Guide-accord_; it gained him a gold medal at the
Exhibition of 1855; Dublin awarded it the same praise.

Berlioz wrote of this invention, in his book entitled, "_A Travers

"M. Delsarte has made piano tuning easier by means of an instrument
which he calls the _phonopticon_. Any one who will take the trouble to
use it will find that it produces such absolute correctness, that the
most practiced ear could not attain to similar perfection. This
_Guide-accord_ cannot fail to gain speedy popularity."

On reading these lines, one is tempted to say: Here is an open-hearted
writer; one likes this outburst in regard to a man who was in some sense
his brother-artist. But what are we to think of this critic, when we
reflect that in this same book, where he exalts the inventor, he never
seems to remember Delsarte the revealer of a law, the creator of a
science, the distinguished teacher, the famous artist. "He has rendered
all pianists a great service by inventing this instrument," says the
author of "_A Travers Chants_," and that is all. And he calls him
_Monsieur_ Delsarte, as if he were some unknown musical instrument maker
or dealer! Had the author of "William Tell" or "Aida" vexed him, he
would have spoken of them as M. Rossini, M. Verdi!

And yet he knew all about the man whom he seemed anxious to extinguish,
for it was he who, in a musical criticism, wrote, among other praises:
"It is impossible to imagine superior execution;" and elsewhere: "He
renders the thoughts of the great masters with such brilliancy and
strength, that their masterpieces are made accessible to the most
stubborn intellect and the most hardened sensibilities are roused by his

What had happened to make the author of the "Pilgrims' March" so
oblivious of his own admiration? I have heard that the two musicians
quarreled as to the interpretation of a passage by Gluck, and that a
correspondence much resembling a literary warfare, followed. Could this
justify defection? Perhaps a desire to stifle this glory, thereby to
lend more lustre to some _meteor_ or _star_, had some share in this
supposed motive.

At any rate, the affair is not to the honor of Berlioz. We should never
deny, whatever may happen, the just judgment which we have uttered.
Direct or indirect, the rivalries of artists are to be regretted for
the sake of art itself, which lives on noble sentiments and high
thoughts. Although we may laugh at the inconsequence of a critic who
extinguishes with one hand that which the other hand brought to light,
we cannot repress a deep feeling of sadness when we see upon what
reputation too often depends, and when we ask ourselves how much we are
to believe of the opinions of certain chroniclers.

The fact which I have just quoted is the more surprising, inasmuch as
Berlioz often drew his inspiration from the method of, and from certain
modes of expression peculiar to Delsarte.

Chapter XVIII.

Delsarte before the Philotechnic Association.[8]

It was in 1865 that Delsarte was heard in public for the last time. The
meeting took place at the Sorbonne where the lectures of the
Philotechnic Society were then given.

I see him before me now with his strong personality, his captivating and
persuasive speech, his mind with its incisive flashes; but a visible
melancholy swayed him and was to follow him through the variety and
contrasts of the subjects on his program.

And first, he takes pleasure in proclaiming to all the tale of his
mistakes. Still young in heart and in mind, it seems as if in giving up
hope on earth, he tolled the knell of all the enchantments that were
passed and gone; that creative head fermenting with the ardor of
discovery seems to doubt the future and bow beneath the burden of a
sombre submission.

And yet he is surrounded by picked men who admire him, by women, young,
beautiful, brilliant, eager to hear him, as of old; but he is not
deceived by all this. A magic spell has vanished; sympathy is not denied
him, but perhaps he feels it to be less tender, less _affectionate_
than in the radiant days of his youth.

This explains how, in the course of that evening, a recrudescence of
Christian feeling more than once tore him away from the undeniable
assertions of science, not to drag him down to the puerilities of the
letter, but to draw him up into the clouds of theology, whence hope of a
future life, the consolation of farewell hours, smiled upon him.

But if Delsarte appeared depressed, he was not to be conquered. His
restless spirit betrayed him to those whom his mystic fervor might have

"Many persons," he said, "feel confident that they are to hear me recite
or sing.

"Nothing of the sort, gentlemen; I shall not recite, and I shall not
sing, because I desire less to show you what I can do, than to tell you
what I know."

Soon a wonderful change passed over him. It seemed as if he had been
covered with ashes for an instant, only to come forth in a more dazzling
light. Hardly had his audience felt a slight sense of revolt at the
words: "I shall not sing," than they found themselves in the presence of
an orator not inferior to the greatest in the force of his images, and
who, with all his serious and pathetic eloquence, never forgot the
studied touches of the poet, or the dainty style of the artist.

But I will not delay my reader to listen to me! It is Delsarte himself
who should be heard. I will give a few extracts:

"I count," he said, "on the novelty, the absolute novelty, of the
things which I shall teach you: Art is the subject of this conversation.

"Art is divine in its principle, divine in its essence, divine in its
action, divine in its aim.

"Ah! gentlemen, there are no pleasures at once more lasting, more noble
and more sacred than those of Art.

"Let us glance around us: not a pleasure which is not followed by
disappointment or satiety; not a joy which does not entail some trouble;
not an affection which does not conceal some bitterness, some grief, and
often some remorse!

"Everything is disappointing to man. Everything about him changes and
passes away. Everything betrays him; even his senses, so closely allied
to his being and to which he sacrifices everything, like faithless
servants, betray him in their turn; and, to use an expression now but
too familiar, they go on a strike, and from that strike, gentlemen, they
never return.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The constituent elements of the body sooner or later break into open
rebellion, and tend to fly from each other as if filled with mutual

"But under the ashes a youthful soul still lives, and one whose
perpetual youth is torture; for that soul loves, in spite of the
disappointments of its hard experience; it loves because it is young; it
loves just because it is a soul and it is its natural condition to love.

"Such is the soul, gentlemen. Well! for this poor, solitary and
desolate soul, there are still unutterable joys; joys not to be measured
by all which this world can offer. These joys are the gift of Art. No
one grows old in the realms of Art."

After a pungent criticism of the official teaching of art as hitherto
practiced, Delsarte explained the chief elements of æsthetics. He said:

"Æsthetics, henceforth freed from all conjecture, will be truly
established under the strict forms of a _positive science_."

But, as in the course of his lecture he had more than once touched the
giddy regions of supernaturalism, this formula seemed a contradiction to
certain minds, yet enthusiastic applause greeted the orator from all
parts of the hall.

One paper, _L'Union_, said in this connection:

     "M. Delsarte is a spontaneous soul, his mind is at once Christian
     and free, his only passion is the proselytism of the Beautiful, and
     this is the charm of his speech....I do not assert that everything
     in it should be of an absolute rigor of philosophy," etc.

The same paper says elsewhere:

     "All these theories are new, original, ingenious, in a word,
     _felicitous_. Are they undeniably true? What I can affirm is that
     none doubt it who hear the master make various applications of them
     by examples. Delsarte is an irresistible enchanter."

The opposition of principles with which he is reproached, these doubts
of the strength of his logic, will be greatly diminished if this point
of view be taken: that Delsarte traced back an assured science, that he
deduced from the faculties of man the hypothesis that these faculties
are contained in essence and in the full power of their development, in
an archetype which, to his mind, is no other than the Divine Trinity.
Plato's ideal in æsthetics and in philosophy was similar although less

There is a saying that Italians "have two souls." In Delsarte there were
two distinct types, the theistic philosopher and the scientist.

Now, the philosopher could give himself up to the study of causes and
their finality, that faculty being allotted to the mental activity; he
could even, without giving the scientist cause for complaint, make, or
admit, speculative theories regarding the end and aim of art, provided
that the scientific part of the system was neither denied nor diminished

And is there not a certain kinship between science and hypothesis which
admits of their walking abreast without conflicting?

Delsarte, as we have seen, rarely left his audience without winning the
sympathy of every member of it. At the meeting of which I speak, he
vastly amused his hearers by an anecdote. He doubtless wished to clear
away the clouds caused by that part of his discourse which, by his own
confession, had a good deal of the sermon about it.

I will repeat the tale, a little exaggerated perhaps, but still very
piquant, which doubtless won his pardon for those parts of his speech
which might have been for various reasons blamed, misunderstood or but
half understood!

The story was of four professors who, having examined him, had each, in
turn, he said, administered upon his [Delsarte's] cheeks smart slaps to
the colleagues by whose advice he had profited in previous lessons.

The following lines were the subject of the lesson:

    "Nor gold nor greatness make us blest;
    Those two divinities to our prayers can grant
    But goods uncertain and a pleasure insecure."

"The first teacher to whom I turned declared there was but one way to
_recite them properly_, and this single method, you of course perceive,
gentlemen, could be only his own.

"'Those lines,' said he, 'must be recited with breadth, with dignity,
with nobleness. Listen!' Upon which my instructor began to declaim in
his most sonorous, most magisterial tones. He raised his eyes to heaven,
rounded his gestures and struck a heroic attitude.

"'Show yourself,' he resumed (after this demonstration), 'by the
elevation of your manners, worthy of the lessons I have given you.'

"'Ah!' I exclaimed, 'at last I possess the noble manner of rendering
these fine lines.'

"Next day, having practiced the noble manner to the utmost of my
ability, I went to my second professor, fully persuaded that I should
hear nothing but congratulations. Well!... I had hardly ended the
second line, when a shrug of the shoulders accompanied by a terrible
burst of laughter, very mortifying to my noble manner, closed my mouth

"'What do you mean by that emphatic tone? What is all this bombastic
sermon about? What manners are these? My friend, you are grotesque.
Those lines should be repeated simply, naturally and with the utmost
artlessness. Remember that it is _the good La Fontaine_ who speaks!
[accenting each syllable] _the-good-La-Fon-taine_--do you hear? There is
but one way possible to render the lines faithfully. Listen to me.'

"Here the professor tapped his snuff-box,--compressed his lips, dropped
the corners of his mouth in an ironical fashion, slightly contracting
his eyes, lifting his eyebrows, moving his head five or six times from
right to left, and began the lines in a firm and somewhat nasal tone.

"Ah!" I cried, amazed, 'there is no other way ... what wonderful
artlessness, simplicity and truth to nature!'

"So I set to work upon a new basis, saying to myself: 'Now, at last, I
have got the natural style which fits the spirit of this charming work.
I am very curious to know the impression which I shall make to-morrow on
my third teacher.'

"The moment came. I struck an attitude into which I introduced the
elliptic expressions shown to me the day before, and with the
confidence inspired in me by a sense of the naturalness with which I was
pervaded, I began:

    "'Nor gold nor great....'

"'Wretch!' cried my third professor. 'What do you mean by that senile
manner, that tart voice! What a Cassandra-like tone! You disgrace those
beautiful lines, miserable fellow!'

'"But, sir....'

"'But, but, but. I will drop you from the list of my pupils, if you dare
to utter a remark! You can do very well when you wish! But every now and
then you are subject to certain eccentric flights. You sometimes imitate
X---- well enough to be mistaken for him; then you are detestable, for you
change your nature, and I will not permit it. Besides, it is a vulgar
type. Stay, you looked like him just then, and it was hideous.

"'Now, listen, and bear my lesson well in mind: _there is but one proper
way of reciting those lines_, do you hear? _There is but one way_, and
this is it.'

"Here, my professor took a pensive attitude: then, as if crushed by the
weight of some melancholy memory, he cast slowly around him a look in
which the bitterness of a deep disappointment was painted. He heaved a
sigh, raised his eyes to heaven, still keeping his head bent, and began
in a grave, muffled and sustained voice:

    "'Nor gold nor greatness....'

"'See,' said my master, 'with what art I manage to create a pathetic
situation out of those lines! That is what you should imitate!'

"'Ah! my dear master, you are right; that is the only reading worthy of
that masterpiece. Heavens, how beautiful!' I said to myself; 'decidedly,
my _noble_ teacher and my _natural_ teacher understood nothing about
this work. What an effect I shall make to-morrow at my fourth
professor's class!'

"Alas! a fresh disappointment awaited me at the hands of my fourth
master. He was, perhaps, even more pitiless than the others to all the
meanings that I strove to express.

"'Why, my poor boy,' said he, 'where the deuce did you hunt up such
meanings?' What a sepulchral tone! What is the meaning of that cavernous
voice? And why that mournful dumb show? Heaven forgive me! it is
melodrama that you offer us! you have done no great thing. You have
completely crippled poor La Fontaine.'

"'Alas! alas!' said I to myself, 'is my dramatic teacher as absurd as
the other two?'"

After the three preceding imitations, just as the audience had reached
the height of merriment, the story-teller stopped.

"I will excuse you, gentlemen, from the reasonings of my fourth
professor, for I do not wish to prolong my discourse indefinitely."

If this retreat was an orator's artifice--which may well be,--it was a
complete success.

There was a shout: "_The fourth! the fourth!_"

"Well, gentlemen, the fourth, like the other three, claimed that his was
the _only correct style_: I made no distinction between verse and prose,
thus following the false method recently established by the
Théâtre-Français. To his mind the cadence of the verse and the euphonic
charm should outweigh every other interest. The pauses which I made
destroyed its measure. I had no idea of caesura, my gestures destroyed
its harmony, etc., etc. His pedagogic manner had nothing in common with
that of his brethren."

This episode was not a mere witticism on Delsarte's part; he intended it
to prove his constant assertion--and with persistent right,--that
previous to his discovery, art, destitute of law and of science, had had
none but chance successes.

Delsarte closed this session by a summary of the law and the science
which I have set forth in this book; but I must say it was at this
moment especially that he seemed anxious that his religious convictions
should profit by his artistic wealth; all outside the sphere of rational
demonstration is treated from a lofty standpoint, it is true, and is
freed from the commonplaceness of _the letter_, but we can recognize
none but a poetic and literary merit in it.

It is to this latter period of his existence that many will doubtless
try to fasten the synthesis of this great personality; but if any one
wishes to gain an idea of François Delsarte, of his ability, the extent
of his views, the power of his reason, the graces of his mind, his
artistic perfection, it is in his law, in his science, in the memories
which his lectures and his concerts left in the press of the time, that
such an one must seek to understand him.

Chapter XIX.

Delsarte's Last Years.

Before concluding these essays, my homage to the innovating spirit, the
matchless art, the sympathetic and generous nature of François Delsarte,
I make a final appeal to my memory, and, first, I invoke afresh the
testimony of others.

_La Patrie_, June 18, 1857, says in an enthusiastic and lengthy article:

"His deep knowledge, his incessant labors, his long and fatiguing
studies, have not allowed his life to pass unnoted; but although great
renown, attached in a short space to his name, has sufficed for the
legitimate demands of his pride, it has done nothing, it must be owned,
to provide for the wants which the negligences of genius do not always

Then, apropos of Gluck and other unappreciated composers of genius, the
author of the article, Franck Marie, goes on:

"With the confidence to which I recently referred, Delsarte has
undertaken the reform. Sure of the success which shall crown his bold
undertaking, he began almost unaided, a movement which was no less than
a revolution. Between two snatches from Romagnesi or Blangini, the
majestic pages of Gluck appeared to the surprise of the auditor. The
heroes of the great master took the place of Thyrcis and Colin, the
songs of Pergolese and Handel, coming from the inspired mouth of the
virtuoso, at once aroused unknown sensations. Lully and Rameau,
rejuvenated in their turn, surprised by beauties hitherto unsuspected."

Earlier still (in the _Presse_ for December 6, 1840) in an article
signed Viscount Charles Delaunay are these lines:

"We are, to-night, to hear an admirable singer (Delsarte). He is said to
be the Talma of music; he makes the most of Gluck's songs, as Talma made
the most of Racine's verses. We must hasten, for his enthusiastic
admirers would never pardon us if we arrived in the middle of the air
from 'Alcestis;' and if all we hear be true, we could never be consoled
ourselves, for having missed half of it."

March 14, 1860, we read in the _L'Independance Beige:_

"Among the many concerts announced there is one which is privileged to
attract the notice of the _dilettanti_. We refer to that announced,
almost naively, by the two lines: Concert by François Delsarte, Tuesday,
April 4.--Nothing more! These two lines tell everything! Why give a
program? Who is there in the enlightened world who would not be anxious
to be present at a concert given by Delsarte? For, at _his_ concert, he
will sing--he who never sings anywhere, at any price. Observe what I
say: _never anywhere, at any price_, and I do not exaggerate."

This assertion, which shows the indifference of Delsarte to the
speculative side of art, is not without a certain analogy to the fact
which follows. At one of his concerts he was to be aided by one of the
great celebrities of the time; Rachel was to recite a scene from some

The actress failed to appear. Some few outcries were heard. Delsarte
considered this a protest: "I beg those who are only here to hear
Mademoiselle Rachel," said he, "to step to the box-office. The price of
their tickets will be returned." Applause followed these words, and the
artist sang in a way to leave no room for regret.

I quote the following lines from an article published by the "_Journal
des Villes et des Campagnes_" in reference to a lecture given in the
great amphitheatre of the Medical School, March 11, 1867:

"Should I say lecture? It was rather a chat--simple, and wholly free
from academic forms. In somewhat odd, perhaps, but picturesque and
original form, M. Delsarte told us healthy and strengthening
truths:--'The misery of luxury devours us, but the truth makes no
display; it is modestly bare.'.... 'Art may convince by deceit; then it
blinds. When it carries conviction by contemplating truth, it
enlightens. Art may persuade by evil; then it hardens. When it persuades
by goodness, it perfects.' These are noble words. Orator, poet,
metaphysician, artist, M. Delsarte offers new horizons to the soul."

The sources whence I draw are not exhausted, but I must pause.

Thus all have hailed him with applause! Save for some few interested
critics, without distinction of opinions, political, religious or
philosophical, all differences were silenced by this admirable harmony
of the highest æsthetic faculties: the spirit of justice conquered party

But whatever may have been said--and whatever may still be said,--those
who never heard Delsarte can never be made to comprehend him: in him,
feeling, intellect, physical beauty and beauty of expression formed a
magnificent assemblage of natural gifts and of acquired faculties. In
this distinguished personality nature became art, to prove to us that
outside her limits, as outside the limits of science, arbitrary
agreement and the caprices of imagination can create nothing noble and
great, persuasive and touching.

With this artist there was never anything to betray the _artificiality_
of a situation; interpreted by him, the creation, the invention, became
real. 'From his lips a cry never seemed a studied effect. It was the
rending of a bosom. A tear seemed to come straight from the heart; his
gesture was conscious of what it had to teach us; in all these
applications "of the sign to the thing," there was never an error, never
a mistake. It was _truth_ adorned by _beauty_. In his singing, roulades
became true bursts of laughter or true sobs.

Yes, all these things surpass description.

But what any and every mind may appreciate, is the lovable, loving and
generous nature which invested these transcendant qualities with
simplicity, with charm and with life. Delsarte had a wealth of
sentiment which overflowed upon the humble and the outcast, as well as
upon those favored by nature and by fortune. Without the riches which he
knew not how to gain, disdainful as he was of petty and sinuous ways, he
was benevolent in spite of his moderate means.

He gave, perhaps, oftener than he accepted payment for them, his time,
his knowledge and his advice to all who needed them. He admitted to his
classes pupils whose beautiful voices were their only wealth, and who
could pay him only in hope.

We may say of François Delsarte, that so sympathetic a nature is rarely
seen in this world of ours, where still prevail--tyrants to be
destroyed--so much antagonism, jealousy and rivalry. If some few of the
weaknesses natural to poor humanity may be laid to his charge, no one
had a greater right to redemption than he.

He once distressed a fashionable woman by speaking severely to her of
one of her friends. She was much troubled, but out of respect, dared not
complain. Delsarte saw tears in her eyes. He instantly confessed his
fault, and acknowledged, with the utmost frankness, that he spoke from
hearsay, and very lightly. He added that this mistake should be a lesson
to him, and that he would think twice before becoming the echo of evil

If, touching his science and his art, this master often made assertions
which might seem conceited, aside from those convictions which, to his
mind, had the character of orthodoxy, he used forms of speech of which
judges without authority would never have dreamed. I have heard him say:

"I cannot be much of a connoisseur in regard to pianists, for I only
like to hear Chopin."

He was always ready to praise the amateurs who came to him for a
hearing, even if they were the pupils of other masters, finding out
among all their faults, the little acquirements or talent which he could
from their performance; sure, it is true, to correct them if he
afterward became their instructor.

Honors and fortune seemed within his grasp when he neared his end.
America offered him immense advantages, with a yearly salary of $20,000,
to found a conservatory in one of her cities. A street in Solesmes was
named for him. The King of Hanover sent him, as an artist, the Guelph
Cross, and, as a friend, a photograph of himself and family; it was to
this prince, the patron of art, that Delsarte wrote regarding his
"Episodes of a Revelator:"

"I am at this moment meditating a book singular for more than one
reason, which will be no less novel in form than in idea.... I know not
what fate is in store for this work, or if I shall succeed in seeing it
in print during my lifetime."

He did not realize this dream.

It was at about this same time that Jenny Lind took a long journey to
hear him and to consult him about her art.

At the period of the war of 1870-1871, Delsarte took refuge at
Solesmes, his native place. He left Paris, with his family, Sept. 10,
1870. Already ill, he lived there sad, and crushed by the misfortunes of
his country. Nevertheless, during this stay, he developed various points
in his method, and there his two daughters wrote at his dictation the
manuscript, "Episodes of a Revelator;" his intellect had lost none of
its vigor, but his nature was shadowed.

François Delsarte returned to Paris March 10, 1871, after his voluntary
exile. He soon yielded to a painful disease, doubtless regretting that
he had not finished his work, but courageous and submissive.

As far as it lay in my power, my task is done. I have furnished
documents for the history of the arts; I have aroused and tried to fix
attention upon that luminous point which was threatened with oblivion.

Now I call for the aid of all, that the work of memory may be

There are still among us many admirers of François Delsarte, many hearts
that loved him; a sort of silent freemasonry has been established
between them; when they meet in society, at the theatre, at concerts,
they recognize each other by mutual signs of regret or disappointment.
His name is pronounced, a few words are interchanged.

"Oh! those were happy days. Will his like ever be seen again?"

To these I say: Let us unite to assure him his place in the annals which
assert the glories of the artist and the man of science! Why should we
not combine soon to raise a statue on the modest grave where he lies?
Why should we not do for the innovator in the arts what the country
daily does for mechanical inventors and soldiers?

Part Fifth.

The Literary Remains of François Delsarte.

Translated by Abby L. Alger.

Publisher's Note.

_Part Fifth contains François Delsarte's own words._

_The manuscripts were purchased of Mme. Delsarte with the understanding
that they were all she had of the literary remains of her illustrious
husband. They are published by her authorisation._

_The reader will probably notice that at times Delsarte talks as if
addressing an audience. This he really did, and some of the manuscripts
are headings or draughts of his lectures before learned societies or of
talks at his own private sessions._

_These writings are given to the public in the same fragmentary
condition that Delsarte left them in. They were written upon sheets of
paper, scraps of paper, doors, chairs, window casements and other
objects. A literal translation has been made, without a word of comment,
and without any attempt at editing them. The aim has been to let
Delsarte speak for himself, believing that the reader would rather have
Delsarte's own words even in this disjointed, incomplete form--mere
rough notes--than to have them supplemented, annotated, interpreted and
very likely perverted by another person._

_Edgar S. Werner._

[Illustration: François Delsarte.]

Extract from the Last Letter to the King of Hanover

I am at this moment meditating a book, singular for more than one
reason, whose form will be no less novel than its contents. Your majesty
will read it, I hope, with interest.

The title of this book is to be: "My Revelatory Episodes, or the History
of an Idea Pursued for Forty Years."

It will be my task to connect and condense into a single narrative all
the circumstances of my life which had as logical consequences the
numerous discoveries which it has been granted me to follow up,
discoveries which my daily occupations left me neither time nor ability
to set forth as a whole.

I know not what fate is reserved for this book. I know not whether I
shall succeed in seeing it in print during my lifetime. The minds of men
are, in these evil days, so little disposed to serious ideas, that it
seems to me difficult to find a publisher disposed to publish things so
far removed from the productions of the century.

But, however it may be, if I succeed in getting at least some part of my
work printed, I crave, sire, your majesty's permission to offer the
dedication to you. This favor I entreat not only as an honor, but also
as an opportunity to pay public homage to all the kindnesses which your
majesty has never ceased to lavish upon me.

François Delsarte.

Episode I.

The subject in question was a scene in the play of the _Maris-Garçons_.
The young officer, whose part I was studying, met his former landlord
after an absence of several years, and as he owed him some money, he
desired to show himself cordial.

"Ah! how are you, papa Dugrand?" he says, on encountering him. This
apostrophe is, therefore, a mixture of surprise, soldierly bluntness and

At the first words I was stopped short by an almost insurmountable
difficulty. This difficulty was all in my gesture. Do what I would, my
manner of accosting papa Dugrand was grotesque; and all the lessons that
were given me on that scene, all the pains I took to profit by those
lessons, effected no change. I paced to and fro, saying and resaying the
words: "How are you, papa Dugrand?" Another scholar in my place would
have gone on; but the greater the difficulty seemed to me, the higher my
ardor rose. However, I had my labor for my pains.

"That's not it," said my instructors. Good heavens! I knew that as well
as they did; but what I did not know was _why_ that was not it. It seems
that my professors were equally ignorant, since they could not tell me
exactly in what my way differed from theirs.

The specification of that difference would have enlightened me, but all
remained, with them as with me, subject to the uncertain views of a
vague instinct.

"Do as I do," they said to me, one after the other.

Zounds! the thing was easier said than done.

"Put more enthusiasm into your greeting to papa Dugrand!"

The greater my enthusiasm, the more laughable was my awkwardness.

"See here; watch my movements carefully!"

"I do watch, but I don't know how to go to work to imitate you; I don't
seize the details of your gesture." (It varied with every repetition.)
"I don't understand why your examples, with which I am satisfied, lead
to nothing in me."

"You don't understand! You don't understand! It's very simple! Really,
your wits must have gone wool-gathering, my poor boy, if you are unable
to do what I have shown you so many times. Watch closely now!"

"I am watching, sir, with all my eyes."

"You certainly see that the first thing is to stretch out your arms to
your papa Dugrand, since you are so pleased to see him again!"

I stretched out my arms to their utmost extent; but my body, not
following the movement, still wanted poise, and recoiled into a
grotesque attitude. My teacher, for lack of basic principles to guide
him, was unable to correct my awkwardness; and, vexed at his inability
which he wished to conceal, fell back on blaming my unlucky intellect.

"Fool," said he finally, "you are hopelessly stupid! Why are you so
embarrassed? Are my examples, then, worthless?"

"Indeed, sir, your examples are perfect."

"Well, then, imitate them, imbecile!"

"I will try, sir."

In this, as in all preceding lessons, I could give only a blind
imitation, which had not the small merit of being twice alike, even in
my own eyes, for every time I reproduced them I observed marked
variations which the master did not perceive.

I went to my room, as I had done many times before, with tears in my
eyes and despair in my heart, to renew my useless efforts, vainly
turning and returning in all lights my unfortunate papa Dugrand.

This cruel ordeal lasted five months without the least progress to
lessen its bitterness.

Heaven knows with what ardor I cultivated my papa Dugrand! I thought of
him by day, and I dreamed of him by night. I clung to him with all the
frenzy of despair, for I was determined not to be beaten. I was bound to
triumph at any cost, for it was life or death to me. I resolved not to
give up papa Dugrand, even though he should resist me ten years!

My unceasing repetitions of (to them abominable) papa Dugrand caused my
comrades to call me a bore. In short, I became disagreeable to all
around me. Alas! all this study, all these efforts, could not overcome
the stubborn resistance of papa Dugrand. My teachers were at their wits'
end, and finally refused to give me another lesson on the subject. But
nothing could daunt the ardor of my zeal.

One day I was measuring the court-yard of the Conservatory, as usual, in
company with papa Dugrand, and repeating my "how are you?" in every
variety of tone, when, all at once, having got as far as: "How are you,
pa--," I stopped short without finishing my phrase. It was interrupted
by the sight of a cousin of mine, whose visit was most unexpected.

"Ah! how are you?" I said; "how are you, dear cou--"

Here my words were again interrupted by a surprise; but this surprise
was far greater than that caused by the appearance of my cousin. Struck
by the analogy between this greeting and the unstudied attitude which I
had assumed under the action of a genuine emotion, I cried in a
transport of joy which bewildered my innocent cousin: "Leave me--don't
disturb me--I've got it--wait for me--stay where you are--I've got it."

"But what is it that you've got?"

"The dickens, papa Dugrand!"

Thereupon I vanished like a flash, to run to my mirror and reproduce to
my sight papa Dugrand, Judge of my astonishment: not only my gesture,
until now so persistently awkward, seemed suddenly metamorphosed and
became harmonious and natural; but, stranger yet, it did not correspond
in the least to what had been prescribed. However, it was nature herself
that had revealed this to me. Then, the movements of my body, but a
moment before so discordant in my eyes, had acquired, under the
influence of this gesture inspired from above, an ease and a grace that
filled me with surprise. Without doubt, I now possessed the truth. An
emotion, spontaneously produced and so deeply felt, could not result in
an error.

This is what had happened under the action of a natural surprise:

My hands were not extended toward the object of my surprise--not the
least in the world. By an anterior extension of the arms, they were
raised high above my head, which, far from being uplifted with the
exultation which I had hitherto simulated, was lowered to my breast; and
my body, stranger yet, instead of bending toward the attractive object,
bent suddenly backward.

What a blow nature had given to my masters! What an overthrowal of all
conjectures! My reason, before this sovereign decision, was humbled and
dumbfounded. What arguments could my instructors invoke in the face of
truth itself?

"What," thought I, "are my masters absolutely ignorant of the laws of

"What, does their reason, as well as mine, know nothing of all this?
How is it that this much-praised reason has inspired me with effects
precisely opposite to those that were prescribed? What is reason? Is it,
then, a blind faculty?"

Let us first see what these strange phenomena, whose importance I cannot
deny without denying nature herself, signify.

I was in the midst of these reflections when the recollection of my
cousin came into my mind.

"Good heavens," thought I; "I had forgotten all about my poor cousin;
what will he think? I will hurry down, and, lest my precious ideas take
flight, send him away, and return to my reflections.

"Wretch that I am; I think only how to get rid of him, when he has so
enriched me! This is a lesson to me. Poor boy! What opinion will he have
of me? Ah, that is he whom I see stretched out on that stone bench. He
has been patient, indeed. I believe that he is asleep!"

"No, I am not asleep," said he, rising; "I am furious! Explain, if you
are not too insane to be rational, the extraordinary manner in which you
received me. Do you know that I have been waiting here for you more than
an hour?"

"Ah, my dear cousin," said I, embracing him warmly, "you do not know
what a service you have rendered me. I embrace you now, my good friend,
for the wonderful lesson you have given me. Without you I should never
have found it out, and, rest assured, I shall never forget it."

"What? Who? What is it?"

"Zounds, papa Dugrand! I freely acknowledge that I have learned more
from you in one second than from all my masters during four years."

"Are you in your right senses?"

The matter was finally explained. My cousin then told me about my home
and my family; but I must confess that I paid little attention to the
good news that he brought me, so excited and preöccupied was my mind.
Even then I could not help thinking of the fragility of the heart in its
affections. We soon separated, and I hurried to my room, which seemed to
me on this day-paradise itself.

I gave myself up to my interrupted course of reflections.

I had proved the impotence of my own reason, and also that of my
masters. Now, as it was not probable that all my teachers and myself
were more stupid than the rest of mankind--the common herd--I concluded
that reason is blind in the matter of principles, and that all her
instructions would be powerless to guide me in my researches. But, from
another side, it was evident to me that without this reason I could not
utilize a principle. What is human reason, that faculty at once of so
little avail and yet so precious? What role does it play in art? I feel
that this is most important for me to know.

The answer to this question must spring from the study of the phenomena
of instinct. Let us examine, then, what nature offers us freely.

If these phenomena are directed by a physiological or a spiritual
necessity, a necessity on which instinct is based, I am forced to admit,
here, a reason that is not my reason; a superior, infallible reason in
the disposition of things; a reason that laughs at my reason, which, in
spite of itself, must submit under pain of falling into absurdity. I
feel that it is only by this absolute submission of my reason that it
can rise to the reason of things, since, of itself, it would know
nothing. [See definition of reason.]

Let us seek, then, without prejudice, the reason of the things that
interested me, in order that my own reason may be raised to a higher
plane. And when it shall be illumined with the light that must break
upon it from the superior reason, I feel that my reason can generalize
instruction, and will be all-powerful in arranging the conclusions that
it may deduce. I am aware, from the utter impotence of my reason, that
all principles must be accepted humbly, in order to understand the
deductions. My reason does not know how to lead me to principles of
which it is ignorant; but it knows how to guide me back. In other words,
it is a blind person _a priori_, it is a luminary _a posteriori_. Though
it may not know at first, once shown, it readily recognizes; though it
may not divine, it learns by study; though it may not seize, it
retains, masters and generalizes.

Reason, then, is a reflex power, and as such, if, in a matter of
principle, it recognizes itself as impotent and even absurd _a priori_,
it knows that once in possession of the principle, it borrows from its
light and becomes identified with it--an incomparable power of

Let the reason of the attitudes that I had observed be once shown me,
and my individual reason would possess the Archimedean lever with which
I might open unknown worlds.

My reason! Ah! I will identify it with the reason of things!
Henceforward this shall be my method, this shall be my law.

But the reason of things--who will give it to me? Is it not my reason
itself? Oh, mystery! I will follow thee to the depths of thy abyss. Thou
shalt have no more secrets from me, for God has said that He hides only
from the wise and prudent man, but reveals Himself to the simple and to
children. Yes, these things shall be given to me through my reason, if
it will bow itself and be attentive and humble; if it will patiently
await the teachings of a mute and persevering observation; if it will
subordinate itself to the intuitive lights that constitute genius; and,
finally, if it knows how to estimate things other than itself.

Thus my reason, established, inflamed, consumed by the charm of its
contemplation, will be transfigured in order to be more closely united
to the sovereign reason toward which it ever reaches out.

The first fruit of my observation consists in making me recognize, in
the facts examined, the proof of a superior and infallible reason, and
then to arm against my individual reason and all its errors. Another
thing yet more strange, but easily comprehended on reflection, is that
to this defiance, this contempt of self, I owe the boldness and the
power of my investigations.

Let us see, now, from which observations the preceding thoughts are the
direct result.

In the phrase, "How are you, etc.," my reason dictated this triple,
parallel movement: Advancing the head, and the arms, with the torso on
the fore-leg. Now, the similar phrase, "How are you, dear cousin,"
although uttered in a situation identical with that of papa Dugrand,
produced phenomena diametrically opposed to those that my reason had
said were the only ones admissible. Is it not reasonable to suppose that
the sight of an agreeable or loved object will excite in us a genuine
feeling that before we had vainly striven to simulate? Does it not seem
natural to extend the hand to a friend when, with affectionate surprise,
we exclaim: "How are you, dear friend?" And should we ever think of
drawing the body away from the object that attracts us? Finally, does it
not seem that the head should be raised, the better to see that which
charms us?

Ah, no! All these things, apparently so true and so perfectly clear,
are radically false. Facts prove this beyond a doubt, and with facts
there can be on discussion, no argument. We must admit them _a priori_
or renounce the truth. Here, as in all questions of principle, _the
greatest act of reason consists in an act of faith_. This is absolutely

In the phrase, "How are you, papa Dugrand," the arms should be raised,
the head lowered and the torso thrown back, supporting itself on the
back leg. This was indeed a blow to the presumption of my poor reason,
but should it complain? No, for it has gained even from its confusion
most fruitful instruction.

Let us see. In questioning the effects and the analogy, we shall
doubtless explain their reason of being. Why should the head become
lowered? I do not see all at first sight; but let us generalize the
question and probably it will specify itself.

When does a man bow his head before the object which strikes his eye?

When he considers or examines it.

Does he never consider things with head raised?

Yes, when he considers them with a feeling of pride. It is thus that he
rules them or exalts them; and also when he questions them with his
glance; in fine, when what he sees astonishes or surprises him.

This last statement contradicts the example in question, and seems to
condemn it. Not the least in the world. How is this? Thus: when the
astonishment or the surprise is not intense enough to shake the frame,
the head wherein all the surprise is concentrated, is lifted and
exalted. But so soon as that surprise is great enough to raise the
shoulders and the arms, as by a galvanic shock, the head takes an
inverse direction, it sinks and seems anxious to become solid to offer
more resistance to that which might attack it, for the first instinctive
movement in such a case is to guard against any unpleasant event; then
if the head is lifted to look at that which surprises it, it is because
it has no great interest in the recognition of that which it considers;
but as soon as that interest commands it to examine, to recognize, it is
instantly lowered and placed in the state of expectation.

O, now it becomes clear.

Now, how does surprise cause us to lift our arms?

The shoulder, in every man who is agitated or moved, rises in exact
proportion to the intensity of his emotion.

It thus becomes the thermometer of the emotions. Now, the commotion that
imprints a strong impression, communicates to the arms an ascending
motion which may lift them high above the head.

But why do not the arms, in an agreeable surprise, tend toward the
object of that surprise?

The arm should move gently toward the object that it wishes to caress.
Under the rapid action of surprise, therefore, it could only injure or
repel that object.

This it does in affright.

But instinct--that marvelous agent of divine reason--in that case turns
the arms away from the object which they might injure by the rapidity of
their sudden extension, and directs them toward heaven, leads them to
rise as if expressing thanks for an unexpected joy, so true it is that
everything is turned to use and is modified under the empire of our
instinct. Certainly, there is no similarity between this and the
superfluous action, the inconsequent movements determined by the working
of a rule without a reason. And this is so because in all that instinct
suggests, it is the Supreme Artist himself who disposes of us and acts
in us, while whatever is suggested by a reason insufficiently inspired
by the contemplation of the divine handiwork is fatally incoherent, for
we thus pretend to substitute ourselves for God, and God thenceforth
leaving us to ourselves, surrenders us to all the discordant effects of
an inconsequential and vain conception.

It remains to find the justificatory reason for this retroactive
movement of the body, which seems illogical at first sight.

Let us inquire in what case and under the action of what emotions a man
may shrink from the object which he is considering.

In the first place, he shrinks back whenever it inspires him with a
feeling of repulsion. He shrinks from it particularly when it inspires
him with fright. This is a matter of course and self-evident.

In what case does the body take an inverse direction to the object
which attracts it? This we must know before we can explain the
phenomenon in question.

We move away from the thing which we contemplate to prove to it,
doubtless, the respect and veneration that it inspires. In fact, it
seems a lack of respect to that which we love to approach it too
closely; we move away that we may not profane it by a contact which it
seems might injure its purity.

Thus the retrograde movement may be the sign of reverence and
salutation, and moreover a token that the object before which it is
produced is more eminent and more worthy of veneration.

A salutation without moving shows but little reverence, and should only
occur in the case of an equal or an inferior.

In justification of the actual fact, let me give another observation of
quite another importance.

When a painter examines his work, he moves away from it perceptibly. He
moves away in proportion to the degree of his admiration of it, so that
the retroactive movement of his body is in equal ratio to the interest
that he feels in contemplating his work, whence it follows that the
painter who examines his work in any other way, reveals his indifference
to it.

The picture-dealer usually proceeds in quite another manner. He examines
it closely and with a magnifying-glass in hand. Why is this? Because it
is less the picture which he examines than the handiwork of the painter,
the actual work which is the chief object of his survey.

But why does the artist move away from the work which he contemplates?
The better to seize the total impression. For instance: if it be a full
length portrait and the artist studies it too closely he sees, I will
suppose, the nose of his portrait and nothing more. If he moves a little
farther off he sees a little more, he sees the head; still farther and
he sees both the head and the torso which supports it. Finally, moving
still farther away, he gets a view of the whole and thus seizes its
harmonious relations. This inspection may be called synthetic vision,
and in opposition to this, direct vision, which I assumed before
instinct taught me better, is but short and limited.

To sum up: If instinct did not lead us to retroact, to examine an object
unexpectedly offered to our gaze, each surprise would expose us to

Now we must retroact to see an object as a whole and not expose
ourselves to error, and then, too, does not the love which a creature
inspires within us naturally extend to the medium which surrounds him,
and in this way does it not seem as if all that touched him partook of
his life and thus acquired some title to our contemplation?

Thus my mind, tortured by one preoccupying thought, had, thanks to the
fixed idea which swayed it, found wondrous lessons in the simple
incident of my cousin's return, otherwise so devoid of interest; and I
may truly say that the lesson learned from meeting my cousin taught me
more than all those I had received in the space of three years. In
short, I had learned how vain is advice dictated by the caprice of a
master without a system! I had learned the inanity of individual reason
in a matter of experience. I knew that certain laws existed, that those
laws proceeded from a Supreme Reason, an immense centre of light, of
which each man's reason is but a single ray. I knew without a doubt how
ignorant my masters were of those laws to the study of which I meant to
devote my life. I possessed facts which I saw could be applied in
countless ways, luminous doctrines radiating from the application.

Thenceforth I had the nucleus of the science I had so vainly asked of my
masters, and I did not despair of formulating it.

Judge of my joy! The facts I then found myself the possessor of, seemed
to me more valuable than all the treasures of the world.

Episode II.

Some time later, I again saw my worthy cousin, the innocent cause of all
my joys. He was a medical student, and came to propose a visit to the
dissecting-room. I did not hesitate to accept; the proposal harmonized
with my desire.

I did not go, as so many go to the morgue, merely to see dead bodies.
No; the curiosity that impelled me, and the avidity with which I pursued
the object of my study, was not to be so easily satisfied.

Dead bodies only attracted me when they were--if not dissected--at least
flayed. Children break their dolls to see what there is inside; so I,
too, wanted to see what there was in a corpse. It seemed to me that
under the mutilations which the scalpel had inflicted on the body, I
should find the answer to more than one enigma--might solve some of the
secrets of life.

The prospect of this visit had the charm of a pleasure party to me. I
made it a holiday and awaited the hour with impatience.

But, on arriving, when I found myself in that place chill and gloomy as
the tomb; when I felt choked by the mephitic gases that arose from this
seat of infection; when I found myself in the presence of a heap of
corpses mutilated by the scalpel, disfigured by putrefaction and
partially devoured by rats and worms; when, beneath tables laden with
these horrible remains, I saw mean tubs filled with human entrails
mingled with limbs and heads severed from their trunks; when I felt
fragments of flesh reduced to the state of filthy mud, clinging to my
feet, my heart throbbed violently, and I was overcome by an
indescribable sense of repulsion.

"What," I said to myself, "those shapeless and putrifying masses have
lived! They have thought, they have loved! And, who would believe it
from the horror and disgust that they inspire, they have been loved,
cherished, perhaps adored! Ah! if, as some think, the soul is not
immortal, if so many aspirations, so many schemes, so many hopes are to
end here--what is man?"

But yet more lamentable food for thought was reserved for me: the
spectacle of a ruin yet more profound than those which my eyes could
scarce endure, was to appear before me in all its hideousness.

In fact, there reigns in these gloomy halls where no tear has ever
fallen, no prayer has ever been heard and no ray of hope has ever
pierced--there reigns something yet colder than death, something more
unwholesome, more nauseous, more deleterious than the putrid miasmas
that infect the air, something more sad to see than the nameless
fragments of extinct life, something more loathsome than those filthy
and disgusting remnants, something more repulsive than those noses eaten
by worms and those empty eyeballs devoured by rats. I mean the cynicism
of the dwellers in that place; I mean their insensibility, their
indifference and calm heedlessness in the presence of such grave
subjects for thought. I mean that lack of perception, that spirit of
negation and revolt of which those wretched men make a boast and which
they obstinately oppose to all religious sentiment, all principle of
tradition or revealed authority. I mean the atheism and ceaseless
mockery with which they invariably meet any generous impulse aroused in
an honest soul by a healthy faith.

This struck me even more sensibly than the spectacle of death and
dissolution which I have striven to describe. Thus the apparently living
men who haunt this spot are more truly dead than the corpses upon which
they exercise their pretended science. They seemed to me ruins far more
terrible than those of the body, ruins which repelled all hope, being
born of doubt and leading to negation.

If the mutilated and half-devoured bodies that lay before me, filled me
with horror and disgust, they, at least, left within me a faint
lingering hope surviving death; but the state of blindness of those
souls who have lost consciousness of their being and even the feeling of
their existence, the shadowy abyss into which they allow themselves
complaisantly to glide, the nullity which they adorn with the title of
science,--all this filled me with fright, for I felt the doubt and
despair into which contact with it would inevitably have plunged me,
if, by a special favor, the tone and mimetics, alike self-sufficient and
mocking, of these free-thinkers, as they are now styled, had not, from
the first, inspired me with aversion for them and a salutary hatred of
their doctrine.

And yet, amidst so many repulsive objects, the faculty of observation to
which I already owed such fruitful remarks was not dormant in me: I had
already asked myself by what evident sign one could recognize a recent

From this point of view, I made a rapid exploration, and I questioned
the various corpses left almost intact; I sought in some portion of the
body, common to all, a form or a sign invariably found in all.

The hand furnished me that sign and responded fully to my question.

I noticed, in fact, that in all these corpses the thumb exhibited a
singular attitude--that of adduction or attraction inward, which I had
never noted either in persons waking or sleeping.

This was a flash of light to me. To be yet more sure of my discovery, I
examined a number of arms severed from the trunk; they showed the same
tendency. I even saw hands severed from the forearm; and, in spite of
this severing of the flexor muscles, the thumb still revealed this same
sign. Such persistence in the same fact could not allow of the shadow of
a doubt: I possessed the sign-language of death, the semeiotics of the

I rejoiced, foreseeing the service which this discovery would render
upon a battle-field, for instance, where more than one man risks being
buried alive. I divined, moreover, something of its artistic importance.

I then questioned my cousin and the other students present in regard to
the symptomatics of death, and I saw with surprise that, not only had
the expression of this phenomenon escaped them hitherto, but that they
had no exact and precise knowledge concerning this grave and important

There remained, in order to complete my discovery and to deduce useful
results from it, to verify the symptom on the dying man. It was
important for me to know in what degree it might become manifest on the
approach of death.

My wishes were gratified as if by magic, for I was led from the school
of anatomy to that of clinical medicine. There a house-student, a friend
of my cousin, placed me beside a dying patient, and I examined with the
utmost attention the hands of the unhappy man struggling against the
clutches of inevitable death.

At first I observed something strange in regard to myself, namely that
the emotion which such a sight would have caused me under any other
circumstances, was absolutely null at this moment; close attention
dulled all feeling in me. I then understood the courage which may
inspire the surgeon in the discharge of his duty; and I drew from this
observation deductions of great artistic interest.

Now I proved that the thumbs of the dying man contracted at first in
almost imperceptible degree; but as the last struggle drew near, and in
the supreme efforts made by the patient to hold fast to the life which
was slipping from him, I saw all his fingers convulsively directed
toward the palm of the hand, thus hiding the thumbs which had previously
approached that centre of convergence. Death speedily followed this
crisis and soon restored to the fingers a more normal position; but the
contraction of the thumb persistently conformed to my previous
observations. The presence and progress of this phenomenon in the dying
was invariably confirmed by numerous tests which I afterward tried.

Thus, I had acquired the proof that, not only does the total adduction
of the thumb characterize death, but that this phenomenon indicates the
approach of death in proportion to its intensity. I, therefore,
possessed the fundamental principle of a system of semeiotics hitherto
unknown to physiologists; but this principle, already so full of
interest, must be made profitable to art.

A multitude of pictures, which in former times I had admired at the
museum, passed before my mind's eye. I recalled battle-scenes where the
dying and the dead are represented; descents from the cross where Christ
is necessarily represented as dead. The idea struck me that I would go
and verify the action of the thumb in these various representations
which the painter's fancy has given us of death.

It was on a Sunday. The Louvre was on my way to the Conservatory,
where, as is well known, I lived as pensioner.

I had often traversed the galleries of the Louvre; but now I was armed
with a criterion that would give my criticisms indisputable authority.

The ignorance of the fact I sought, even among artists of renown, was
not long in being made apparent: all those hands, where they thought
they had depicted death, afforded me nothing but the characteristics of
a more or less peaceful sleep. The correctness of my criticism may be
verified anywhere.

Thus, the mere discovery of a law sufficed to elevate a poor boy of
fifteen years, destitute of all science and deploring the deep ignorance
in which he had hitherto been left, to the height of an infallible
critic in whom the greatest artists found no mercy. I then understood
all the power, all the fertility given by an acquaintance with the laws
that regulate the nature of man, and in how much even genius itself may
be rendered sterile by ignorance of those laws which simple observation
would make them acquainted with. But, I thought, my discovery is not
complete, for if, thanks to it, I have succeeded in proving that all
these pictures of death are false, true only as representing sleep, it
is, on the other hand, impossible for me to prove in how far those
figures live, in which the painter aims to represent life. I must,
therefore, seek the sign of life to complete my standard of criticism.

Suddenly, struck with amazement by the dazzling rays of unexpected
light, I asked myself whether the criterion of death would not reveal to
me, by the law of contraries, the thermometer of life. It should _a
priori_--it does!

Still I felt that it was not here that I might be permitted to
contemplate the vital phenomena attached to the thumb: since death was
so badly rendered here, I had strong reasons for thinking that life was
no better treated.

I left the museum, then, where I had nothing more to learn; and, to
observe living mimetics of the thumb, I went out on the promenade of the
Tuileries thronged by aristocratic people. I carefully examined the
hands of this crowd, but I was not long in discovering that these
elegant idlers had nothing good to offer. "This class," I said to
myself, "is false from head to foot. They live an artificial, unnatural
life. I see in them only artifice, or an art dishonored by using it to
mask their insincerity and artificiality."

The happy idea came to me to mingle with mothers, children and nurses.

"Ah," said I, "in the midst of this throng, laughing and crying at the
same time--singing, shouting, gesticulating, jumping, dancing--here is
life! If the contemplation of this turbulent and affectionate little
world does not instruct me, where shall I find the solution I seek?"

I did not have to wait long for this solution.

I noticed nurses who were distracted and indifferent to the children
under their charge; in these the thumb was invariably drawn toward the
fingers, thus offering some resemblance to the adduction which it
manifests in death. With other nurses, more affectionate, the fingers of
the hand that held the child were visibly parted, displaying a thumb
bent outward; but this eccentration rose to still more startling
proportion in those mothers whom I saw each carrying her own child;
there the thumb was bent violently outward, as if to embrace and clasp a
beloved being.

Thus I was not slow to recognize that the contraction of the thumb is
inversely proportionate, its extension directly proportionate to the
affectional exaltation of the life. "No doubt," I said to myself, "the
thumb is the _thermometer of life_ in its extending progression as it is
of _death_ in its contracting progression."

Countless examples have confirmed this. I could even, on the spot, form
an idea of the degree of affection felt for the children entrusted to
their care, by the women who passed before my eyes.

Sometimes I would say: "There is a servile creature whose heart is dead
to that poor child whom she carries like an inert mass; the position of
the thumb drawn toward the fingers renders that indifference evident,"
Again it was a woman in whom the sources of life swelled high at the
contact with the dear treasure which she clasped; that woman was surely
the mother of the child she carried, the excessive opening of her thumb
left no room for doubt.

Thus my diagnostics were invariably confirmed by exact information, and
I could see to what extent the remarks which I had recorded, were
justified. I drew from them most interesting applications for my special
course of study.

Thus, suppose I had asked the same service from three men, and that each
had answered me with the single word _yes_, accompanied by a gesture of
the hand. If one of them had let his thumb approach the forefinger, it
is plain to me that he would deceive me, for his thumb thus placed tells
me that he is dead to my proposition.

If I observe in the second a slight abduction of the thumb, I must
believe that he, although indisposed to oblige me, will still do so from

But if the third abducts his thumb forcibly from the other fingers, oh!
I can count on him, he will not deceive me! The abduction of his thumb
tells me more in regard to his loyalty than all the assurances which he
might give me.

Behold, then, an intuition whose correctness the experience of forty
years has not contradicted.

It is hard to imagine the joy I felt at my discovery produced and
verified in a single day by so many examples, differing so greatly one
from another and of such diverse interest.

All the emotions of this extraordinary and fertile day had so
over-excited my imagination that I had great difficulty in calming my
poor brain, and far from being able to enjoy the rest which I so much
needed, I was a prey to wakefulness in which the turmoil of my ideas at
one time made me fear that I was going mad. I then felt for the first
time the frailty of the instrument of thought in regard to the faculty
which rules and governs it.

In brief, I was--thanks to my double discovery--in possession of a law
whose deductions ought to touch the loftiest questions of science and
art,--and I was enabled thenceforth to affirm upon strong and
irrefragable proof that the thumb, in its double sphere of action, is
the thermometer of life as well as of death.

Episode III.

The day after that which had been so fruitful both in emotions and
discoveries, a thousand recollections tumultuously besieged my mind and
still disturbed me. I saw that if I could not contrive to classify them
in strict order of succession, I should never be able to derive any
practical value from them. I therefore took up link by link the chain of
events of the previous day, but in inverse order. That is, I began my
course where I left off the day before, and thus proceeded toward the
Tuileries to end at the Medical School.

At the retrospective sight of all that merry, noisy little world, of all
those fat, cheerful nurses, careless and laughing as they were, of those
mothers each so tenderly expansive in contemplation of her child, so
happy in its health and strength, so joyous and so proud of its small
progress, the recollection of a phenomenon which I had not at first
observed struck me with all the force of a vivid actuality.

I should say, by the way, that it is much more to the strength of my
memory than to the present observation of facts, that I owe these
remarks. Stability is the _sine qua non_ of the things one proposes to
examine, and the memory must possess the singular power of communicating
fixity to fugitive things, permanence to instantaneousness, and
actuality to the past.

Now, the phenomena of life occurring with the rapidity of lightning can
only be studied retrospectively; that is to say, in the domain of
memory, except to be verified if the attention, free from all other
preöccupation, allows us to seize them on the wing once more. The remark
suggested to me by memory seemed all the more interesting because it
formed in a new order of facts a flagrant opposition to the opinion
formulated by my masters under the title of theory. Thus nature once
more proved to me that the only point in which I had found them to
agree, rested upon a fundamental error. I have since recognized that it
is thus in the majority of cases, so that one may almost certainly
pronounce erroneous any statement in regard to which all the masters of
art agree.

This proposition at first seems inexplicable, but its reason is readily
understood by those who know the sway of falsehood over a society
perverted in its opinions as in its tastes; to those who know the
deplorable facility with which error is spread and the tenacity with
which it clings to our poor mind. Error, moreover, owes to our abasement
which it flatters and crushes, the privilege of freedom from
contradiction, and it is only in regard to truth that the minds of men
are divided and contend.

On retracing in my memory the walks I had taken in the Tuileries, I was
struck by an important fact amidst the phenomena called up: the voice
of the nurse or mother, when she caressed her child, invariably assumed
the double character of tenuity and acuteness. It was in a voice equally
sweet and high-pitched that she uttered such words as these: "How lovely
he is!" ... "Smile a little bit for mamma!" Now this caressing
intonation, impressed by nature upon the upper notes of all these
voices, forms a strange contrast to the direction which all
singing-teachers agree in formulating; a direction which consists in
augmenting the intensity of the sound in direct ratio to its acuteness.
Thus, to them, strange to say, the entire law of vocal shades would
consist in augmenting progressively the sound of the ascending phrase or
scale, and diminishing in the same proportion for a descending scale.
Now, nature, by a thousand irrefutable examples, directs us to do the
contrary, that is, she prescribes a decrease of intensity (in music,
_decrescendo_) proportionate to the ascensional force of the sounds.

Another blow, I thought, for my masters, or rather I receive it for
them, for they, poor fellows, do not feel it. But how can these
phenomena of nature have escaped them, and by what indescribable
aberration can they direct, under the name of law, a process absolutely
contrary to that so plainly followed by those same phenomena? However, I
added, every supreme error under penalty of being self-evident, must, to
endure, necessarily rest upon some truth or other. Now, on what truth do
so many masters claim to base so manifest an error? This is what we
must discover.

I was now convinced that caressing, tender and gentle emotions find
their normal expression in _high_ notes. This is beyond all doubt. Thus,
according to the foregoing examples, if we propose to say to a child in
a caressing tone that he is a darling, it would clearly be very bad
taste to bellow the words at him on the pretext that, according to
singing-teachers, the intensity of the sound is augmented in direct
ratio to its acuteness.

But my memory, as if to confirm this principle, and to show its contrast
with the custom admitted by those gentlemen, suggests to me other
instances derived from the same source. Let a mother be _angry_ with her
child and threaten him with punishment; she instantly assumes a grave
tone which she strives to render powerful and intense. Here, then, on
the one hand (and nature proclaims it), the voice decreases in intensity
in proportion as it rises higher; and, on the other hand, it increases
in proportion as it sinks. This double fact, undeniably established,
constitutes an unanswerable argument against the system in question. But
it is not, therefore, necessarily its radical and absolute refutation.
No, doubtless, whatever may be the significance and the number of the
facts opposed to the directions of those gentlemen, these facts do not
seem to exclude exceptions upon which they may be founded. In fact, I
find in my memory many examples favorable to those masters. Thus, I
have seen many nurses lose their temper and still use the higher tones
of their voice; and, on the other hand, I also remark (and the remark is
important) a certain form, the appellative form, where all the
characters agree without exception in producing the greatest intensity
possible upon the high notes.

The professors of singing triumph, for they find in this appellative
form, always and necessarily sharp and boisterous at the same time, a
striking confirmation of their system. Here I seem to stray far from the
solution which I thought I already grasped! Far from it; the light is
breaking. Hitherto the examples evoked had only increased my obscurity
by their multiplicity, and I saw nothing in all these remarks but a
series of contradictions whence it seemed impossible to deduce anything
but confusion, into which I found myself plunged.

But was this confusion really in the facts which I examined, or was it
not rather the creation of my own mind? Now, in the matter of principle,
the weakness of individual reason has been too often proved to me to
allow of my attaching any other cause to the contradictions which block
my path and force me to confess my ignorance. I will not, then, here cry
_mea culpa_ for myself or for others to justify that ignorance or excuse
its confession. It must be acknowledged that God knows what He does, and
His omnipotence is assuredly guiltless of the divagations which an
impotent mind finds it convenient to attribute to it.

Now, let others in the blindness of proud reason, forget this truth,
which they contest even by opposing to it the quibbles for which
free-thinkers are never at a loss, and to escape the confusion which
they inevitably derive from the ill-studied work of the Supreme Artist.
Let them venture to attribute to it their own darkness. For my part, I
shall not thereby lose my conviction that all which seems to me
disordered or contradictory in the expression of the facts which I
question, is only apparent and only exist in my own brain.

The profound obscurity into which light plunges us does not prevent the
light from being; and the chaos of ideas which, most generally, results
from our examination of things, proves nothing against the harmonies of
their constitution.

The pebble virtually contains the spark, but we must know how to produce
it. Thus the phenomena of nature contain luminous lessons, but we must
know how to make them speak; and, what is more, understand their
language. Now, I would add, the spirit of God is inherent in all things;
and this spirit should, at a given moment, flash its splendors in the
eyes of an intellect alike submissive, attentive, patient and suppliant.

Moreover, does not the Gospel show us the way to fertilize
investigations such as those to which I have given my life? Does it not
say: "Knock and it shall be opened, ask and it shall be given?" Then
what must I do to find my way out of the maze in which my reason
wanders? What must I do in presence of the contradictions which
nevertheless must needs contain a fecund principle? Finally, what must I
do in order to see light break from the very heart of those obscurities
wherein light is lost?

I will seek anew, night and day, if needful; I will knock incessantly at
the door of the facts which I desire to examine. I will descend into the
secret depths of their organism; there I will patiently question every
phenomenon, every organ, and I will entreat their Author to divulge to
me their purpose, their relations and their very object.

Well! It is thus that those men, proud of their vain knowledge, were
made dizzy by the splendor of that same light which they thought that
they could subject to their investigations, and the blindness which has
fallen upon them is the punishment which God is content to inflict upon
them in this world.

Having said this, where was I in my investigations? Ah! it was here.

The memory of the high inflections invariably affected by the women whom
I had seen on the previous day, caressing their infants, struck me with
the more force that I had learned from my masters that law which had
hitherto ruled uncontested, and now underwent a refutation which
demonstrated the falsity of its applications with a clearness and
minuteness which left no room for doubt.

The examples in virtue of which I saw the errors of my masters,
unanimously proclaimed the tenuity of the voice to be in proportion to
its acuteness.

Now this formula is, in letter as in spirit, the reverse of the
prescription upon which, by a caprice whose cause I have just explained,
all the masters of art agree.

I then perceived that my first affirmations were no better founded than
those of the masters, whose theories I had attacked. The truth of the
matter is that ascending progressions may arise from opposite shades of
meaning. "Therefore," said I to myself, "it is equally inadmissible to
exclude either affirmation."

The law is necessarily complex: let us bring together, that we may seize
them as a whole, both the contrary expressions and the circumstances
which produce them.

Vulgar and uncultured people, as well as children, seem to act in regard
to an ascensional vocal progression in an inverse sense to
well-educated, or, at any rate, affectionate persons, such as mothers,
fond nurses, etc.

No example has, to my knowledge, contradicted this remark.

But why this difference? What are its motive causes?

"Ha!" I cried, as if struck by lightning, "I've found the law! As with
the movements of the head, _sensuality_ and _tenderness_, these shades
of the voice may be traced back to two distinct sources: _sentiment_ and
_passion_. It is sentiment which I have seen revealed in mothers; it is
passion which we find in uncultured persons."

Sentiment and passion, then, proceed in an inverse way. Passion
strengthens the voice in proportion as it rises, and sentiment, on the
contrary, softens it in due ratio to its intensity. It was the confusion
of these different sources which caused a momentary obscurity in my

Let us now formulate boldly the law of vocal proportions.

Given a rising form, such as the ascending scale, there will be
intensitive progression when this form should express passion (whether
impulse, excitement or vehemence).

There will be, on the other hand, a diminution of intensity where this
same form should express sentiment.

This law even seems regulated by a quantitative expression, the form of
which appeared to me like a flash of light. This is the formula:

Under the influence of sentiment the smallest and most insignificant
things that we may wish to represent proportion themselves to the degree
of acuteness of the sounds, which become softened in proportion as they

Under the influence of passion, on the contrary, the voice rises, with a
corresponding brilliancy, in proportion to the magnitude of the thing
it would express, and becomes lowered to express smallness or meanness.
Thus an ascending scale being given, it must be considered as a double
scale of proportion, agreeing alternately with an increasing or
decreasing intensitive progression, increasing under the influence of
passion and decreasing under the influence of sentiment.

Thus we would not use the same tones for the words: "Oh, what a pretty
little girl!" "What a lovely little flower!" and: "See that nice, fat
peasant woman!" "What a comfortable great house!"

By such formulæ as these I was able to sum up, in clear and didactic
form, the multifarious examples suggested by my memory, startled at
first by their contradiction and then delighted at the light thrown upon
them by these very formulæ, due, not to my own merit, but to the favor
of Him who holds in His hand the source of all truth.

Thus, I feel and readily acknowledge, that the discovery upon which I am
at work is not my own work; and, therefore, I pray for it as for a
signal favor. Nor can it be otherwise with any man. It is, therefore,
always an impertinence for any man to attribute to his personal genius,
vast as he may suppose it to be, the discovery of any law. God alone
discloses His treasures, and, as I have experienced, He only reveals
them to the eye of reason raised by humility to contemplation.

Man seeks that which he desires to know with attention and patience
proportioned to the ardor of his desire. The attention of which his mind
is capable and the constancy of will brought to bear in pursuit of his
research, constitute his only mark of distinction. Herein lies all the
merit to which he can lay just claim. But at a moment absolutely
unforeseen, God reveals to him that which he seeks, I should say that
for which he does not seek, and for his due edification it is generally
the opposite of what he seeks which is revealed to him. This is not to
be contested. Thus the things discovered to him cause him such surprise
that he never fails to beat his brow when he sees them, as if to prove
that he is not the author of their discovery, and that he was far from
foreseeing anything like what has been shown to him; and that there may
be no possible mistake in the interpretation of the gesture, he
invariably accompanies it by the phrase: "What a fool I am!" All will
admit that if a man really believed himself the author of his discovery,
he takes a very inopportune time to declare his impotence and his
stupidity so distinctly. But taking none too kindly his avowal which,
moreover, is but the proclamation of an indisputable truth, let us
rather say that this act of humility is forced from him by the greatness
of his surprise.

Happy, very happy is the man whose pride does not instantly react
against the humble and truthful confession of his folly.

Ever since I made these remarks I have asked myself the cause of the
sterility of the learned bodies, and I do not hesitate to say to-day,
that it is because scientists refuse to declare themselves fools, and it
is to this lack of sincerity that they doubtless owe the punishment that
paralyzes their genius.

How can these men fail to take seriously the little knowledge to which
they cling and their fortune and renown; how can these wise men, to whom
the world pays incessant homage, consent meekly to confess the infirmity
of their reason? They feign, on the contrary, even when crushed beneath
the Divine splendor, an air of great importance; and when the Omnipotent
in His mercy deigns to bend to their low level, to lay open to them the
treasures of His sovereign thought, do you think that in token of the
sacred and respectful admiration which they owe in return for such
goodness, they will prostrate themselves like the Seraphim whose
knowledge assuredly equals the few notions which they adorn with that
title? Ah! far from it. You little know these scientists, when you
impute to them an act which they would qualify as contemptible and would
declare unworthy of a free-thinker! They stand erect, on the contrary,
with head held high, insolently laying claim, by virtue of I know not
what conquest of the human mind, to judge the eternal and immovable
light of the Divine Reason.

Episode IV.

My retrospective journey from this point of departure seemed destined to
be even more full of observations than that which preceded it. My day
had been so full of work, so fruitful in unexpected discoveries, that it
was absolutely necessary for me to stop at this first station.

After a few days of rest I naturally resumed my walk, toward the garden
of the Tuileries, whither I was led by an instinct full of promise.
There, in fact, fresh re-appearances were not long in adding light to
that with which I was still dazzled!

I remember that I had been vaguely struck by the contemplative attitude
of a mother toward her child. The reason why this attitude struck me
even in the midst of my absorption in search of notes relative to the
thumb, was, first, because this attitude was a contrast to that assumed
by most of the nurses under the action of the same feeling; and, in the
next place, it seemed to deny the contemplative forms which I had
deduced from my first discovery, and which rested upon such motives as
the following: That a painter admires his work by throwing back his
head. Hitherto it had seemed to me clearly proven that admiring
contemplation entailed this retroaction. I considered this, it will be
remembered, the characteristic feature of a law, and that for the
reasons which I had previously given. Well! were all these reasons,
plausible as they appeared, to be contradicted by a single fact still
present to my memory, in spite of the observations in the midst of which
it arose, and which, moreover, should have been more than enough to
efface it? Strange to say, this fact vaguely noted amidst preöccupations
to which it seemed absolutely foreign, had remained persistently in my
mind! Now this fact, becoming by a reflex act the object of serious
thought, resulted from this observation:

That a woman, as she contemplated her child, bent her head toward it.

Searching in my memory, I found several similar instances completely
confirming this principle, opposed to my observations, that
contemplation tends to push the head toward the object contemplated.

And yet this example does not affect those to which I had at first paid
exclusive heed. Here, as in the preceding remarks, the law is complex,
and it must first be recognized that contemplation or simple admiration
is produced alike by the retreat or advance of the head. This double
action being admitted, it remained to decide how far they might be
mingled in a single situation; that is to say, to what point these two
inverse inclinations might be produced indifferently; and if, as I must
_a priori_ suppose, these inclinations recognized two distinct causes.
If so, what were those reasons? The question was not easy of solution,
and yet it must be decided definitely. I could enjoy no peace until I
had answered it. The doubt instilled into my mind by this new
contradiction was intolerable. I set boldly to work, determined not to
pause until I had found a final solution. I called to mind all my
memories having any bearing on this double phenomenon. These memories
were far more numerous and far more striking than I had dared to hope.
What a magnificent thing are those mysterious reservoirs whence, at a
given moment, flow thousands of pictures which until then we knew not
that we possessed? A whole world of prostrate believers adoringly
turning their heads toward the object of their worship, appeared before
me to support the example afforded me by the mother lovingly bending her
head toward the child at which she gazed.

Among other instances, I saw a venerable master affectionately bending
his head toward the being to whom he thus seemed with touching
predilection to give luminous instructions.

I saw lovers gazing at their loved one with this attractive pose of the
head, their tenderness seeming thus to be eloquently affirmed. But, side
by side with these examples, I saw others totally opposite; thus, other
lovers presented themselves to my mind's eye with very different aspect,
and their number seemed far greater than that of the other. These lovers
delighted to gaze at their sweetheart as painters study their work, with
head thrown back. I saw mothers and many nurses gazing at children with
this same retroactive movement which stamped their gaze with a certain
expression of satisfied pride, generally to be noted in those who
carried a nursling distinguished for its beauty or the elegance of its

Two words, as important as they are opposite in the sense that they
determine, are disengaged: _sensuality_ and _tenderness_.

Such are the sources to which we must refer the attitudes assumed by the
head on sight of the object considered.

Between these inverse attitudes a third should naturally be placed. It
was easy for me to characterize this latter: I called it _colorless_ or

It is entirely natural that the man who considers an object from the
point of view of the mere examination which his mind makes of it, should
simply look it in the face until that object had aroused the innermost
movements of the soul or of the life.

Whence it invariably follows that from the incitement of these
movements, the head is bent to the side of the soul or to the side of
the senses.

"Which is, then, for the head, the side of the soul," you will ask me,
"and which the side of the senses?"

I will reply simply, to cut short the useless description of the many
drawbacks that preceded the clear demonstration that I finally
established, that the side of the heart is the objective side that
occupies the interlocutor, and that the side of the senses is the
subjective, personal side toward which the head retroacts; that is to
say, the side opposed to the object under examination. Thus, when the
head moves in an inverse direction from the object that it examines, it
is from a selfish standpoint; and when the examiner bends toward the
object it is in contempt of self that the object is viewed.

These are the two related looks that I have named Sensuality and
Tenderness, for these reasons:

The former of these glances is addressed exclusively to the form of its
object; it caresses the periphery of it, and, the better to appreciate
its totality, moves away from it. This is what occurs in the retroactive
attitude of the head.

The other look, on the contrary, aims at the heart of things without
pausing on the surface, disdaining all that is external. It strives to
penetrate the object to its very essence, as if to unite itself more
closely within it; it has the expression of confidence, of faith--in a
word, the giving up of self.

Thus, when a man presses a woman's hand, we may affirm one of three
things from the attitude which his head assumes:

1. That he does not love her, if his head remains straight or simply
bent in facing her.

2. That he loves her tenderly, if he bows his head obliquely toward her.

3. Finally, that he loves her sensually--that is to say, solely for her
physical qualities--if, on looking at her, he moves his head toward the
shoulder which is opposite her.

Such are, in brief, the three attitudes of the head and the eyes, which
I have named _colorless, affectional, sensual_.

Henceforth I possessed completely the law of the inclinations of the
head, a law which derives from its very complexity the fertility of its

Episode V.

Semeiotics of The Shoulder.

When I found myself the possessor of this law whose triple formula is of
a nature to defy every objection, I sought to appropriate to myself,
before the mirror, all its applications.

But there arose yet another difficulty that I had not foreseen.

I, indeed, reproduced, and at the proper time, the movements of the head
already described, but they remained awkward and lifeless.

What was the cause of this awkwardness and coldness of which I was well
aware, but which I could not help? I strove unceasingly to reproduce the
examples that lived so vividly in my memory, but all these laborious
reproductions, these efforts from memory, were futile. The stubbornness
of an indomitable will, however, led only to a negative result. I was
vexed at an awkwardness the reason of which I could not find.

One day, almost discouraged by the lack of success in my researches, I
sorrowfully said to myself: "What shall I do? Alas! the more I labor,
the less clearly I see; am I incapable of reproducing nature--is the
difficulty that holds me back invincible?"

As I uttered the preceding words, I noticed that, under the sway of the
grief which dictated them, my shoulders were strangely lifted up, and,
as then I found myself in the attitude which I had previously tried to
render natural, the unexpected movement of my shoulders, joined to that
attitude, suddenly impressed it with an expression of life so just, so
true, so surprising, that I was overwhelmed.

Thus I gained possession of an æsthetic fact of the first rank, and I
was as amazed at my discovery as I was surprised that I had not observed
sooner a self-evident movement, whose powerful and expressive character
seems fundamentally connected with the actions of the head. "How stupid
I am," I thought, "not to have remarked so evident an action of an agent
which leads the head itself. How could I let this movement of the
shoulder escape me!" And I revelled in the pleasurable triumph of
reproducing and contemplating expressions which I could not have
rendered previously without dishonoring them. Thenceforth I understood
without a doubt all the importance of this latest discovery. But this
importance, clearly proven as it was, was not yet fully explained to me.

Thus, I knew henceforth the necessity for movements of the shoulder, but
I was still ignorant of their motive cause; and I was reluctant to be
longer ignorant. I foresaw a concomitance of relations between this
movement of the shoulder and the expression of the head.

The shoulder, then, became, in its turn, the chief object of my
studies, and I gained therefrom clear and indisputable principles.

In this way I managed to form the bases of my discovery. The mothers
whom I had seen bending their heads over the children on whom they
gazed, thus revealed something unreserved and touching; and in my
ignorance the important part which the shoulder played in the attitude
had escaped me. It was indeed from the action of the shoulder, even more
than from the inclination of the head, that this expression of
tenderness, so touching to behold, proceeded.

The head, in such a case, accordingly receives its greatest sum of
expression from the shoulder. That is a fact to be noted.

For instance, let a head--however loving we may suppose it to be
intrinsically--bend toward the object of its contemplation, and let the
shoulder not be lifted, that head will plainly lack an air of vitality
and warm sincerity without which it cannot persuade us. It will lack
that irresistible character of intensity which, in itself, supposes
love; in brief, it will be lacking in love.

"Then," I said, "I have found in the shoulder the agent, the centre of
the manifestations of love."

Yes, if in pressing a friend's hand I raise my shoulders, I shall
thereby eloquently demonstrate all the affection with which he inspires

If in looking at a woman I clasp my hands and at the same time raise my
shoulders, there is no longer any doubt as to the feeling that attaches
me to her, and instinctively every one will say: "He loves her truly;"
but if, preserving the same attitude in the same situation, the same
facial expression, the same movement of the head, I happen to withhold
the action of the shoulder, instantly all love will disappear from my
expression and nothing will be left to that attitude but a sentiment
vague and cold as falsehood.

Once more, then, the inclinations of the head whose law I have
previously determined, seem, to owe to the shoulder alone the
affectionate meaning that they express; but the head--as I have
said,--in its double inclination, characterizes two kinds of love (or
rather two sources of love) which are not to be confounded: _sensuality_
and _tenderness_.

What part, then, does the shoulder play in regard to this distinction?
It will be curious to determine this point. Let us see!

The part played by the shoulder is considerable in tenderness; that is
not to be doubted. But its role seems to be less in sensuality. Thus the
shoulder generally rises less when the head retroacts than when it
advances toward the object of its contemplation. Why is this? Is it
because sensuality pertains less to love than tenderness? Has it not the
same title to rank as one of the aspects of love? In a word, why is less
demand made upon the shoulder in one instance than in the other?

If I do not mistake, the reason is this: love gives more than it lays
claim to receive, while sensuality asks continually and seeks merely the
possession of its object. Love understands and loves sacrifice; it
pervades the whole being; it inspires it to bestow its entire self, and
that gift admits of no reserve.

Sensuality, on the contrary, is essentially selfish; far from giving
itself, it pretends to appropriate and absorb in itself the object of
its desires. Sensuality is, so to speak, but a distorted, narrow and
localized love; the body is the object of its contemplation, and it
[sensuality] sees nothing beyond the possession of the object.

But love does not stop at the body--that would be its tomb; it crosses
the limits of it, to rise to the soul in which it is utterly absorbed.
Thus love transfigures the being by consuming its personality, whence it
comes that he who loves, no longer lives his own life, but the life of
the being whom he contemplates.

Let the vulgar continually confound these two things in their
manifestations; let lovers themselves fail to distinguish accurately
between tenderness and sensuality; for me this confusion is henceforth
forbidden, and I can from the first glance boldly separate them, thanks
to the lessons taught me by the inflections of the head.

But let us return to the shoulder. Am I not right in saying that in this
agent I possess the organic criterion of love? Yes, I maintain it. But
let us follow the action of this organ in its various manifestations.

One thing at first amazed me, in view of the part which I felt I must
assign to the shoulder. Whence comes, if the designation of that role be
in conformity with truth,--whence comes the activity so apparent, so
vehement indeed, which the shoulder displays in a movement of anger or
of mere impatience? Whence comes its perfect concomitance or relations
with moral or physical pain? Lastly, whence comes that universal
application which I just now perceived clearly and which, until now, I
had confined to such narrow limits? But if the elevation of the shoulder
is not the criterion of love, if, on the contrary, that movement is met
with again just as correctly associated with the most contradictory
impressions, what can it mean?

Here I was, once again, thrown far back from the discovery that I was so
sure I possessed.

It is very fortunate that I have been neither an author nor a
journalist, and I bless to-day that distrust of self which has saved me
from the mania of writing. I highly congratulate myself on the spirit of
prudence that has invariably made me reply to whoever pressed me to
publish: "When I am old."

Age has come, and it has found me even less disposed to publicity than
ever. This work owes its existence solely to the earnest and continual
solicitations, the sometimes severe demands of deep friendship and
devotion, which it was impossible for me to refuse. This book is not,
then, a spontaneous enterprise on my part; it is the work of friendship.
And if this book has any measure of success, if it accomplishes any
good, it may be traced back to and acknowledged as rising from the
never-failing encouragement of my old friend Brucker.

Let us return, now, to where I was in my researches.

It remains, then, for me to specify the true meaning of the shoulders in
the expression of the passions. Their intervention in all forms of
emotion being proven to me, it would seem that the very frequency of
that intervention should exclude the possibility of assigning any
particular role to this agent.

Fancy my perplexity, placed face to face with an organ infinitely
expressive, but whose physiognomy is mingled promiscuously with every
sentiment and every passion!

How, then, are we to characterize the shoulder? What name shall we give
to its dominant rôle? How specify that supreme power outside of which
all expression ceases to exist? Is it allowable for me to call it
_neutral?_ And if the universal application of that agent apparently
authorizes that appellation up to a certain point, whence comes its
importance? Whence the empire that it exerts over the aspect of its
congeners? Is it admissible for a neutral agent to exert so much action
upon the totality of the forces to which it is allied?

Assuredly not! The word _neutral_, moreover, excludes the idea of
action, and even more strongly that of predominant action which belongs
surpassingly to the shoulder. Truly, here was a treasure-house for me.
It was, as they say, "to give speech to the dogs."

This new difficulty only increased the determination with which I had
pursued my researches; and with the confidence arising from the fact
that no obstacle had yet conquered me, I said to myself that the
solution of this problem would be due to my perseverance. I could not,
in view of the importance of its expression, consider the shoulder as a
neutral agent. After spending a long time in vain study, I was on the
point of giving up as insoluble the problem that I had set myself. Let
us see by what simple means I obtained the solution. How much trouble
and pains one will sometimes give himself in looking for spectacles that
are on his nose!

The shoulder, in every man who is moved or agitated, rises sensibly, his
will playing no part in the ascension; the successive developments of
this involuntary act are in absolute proportion to the passional
intensity whose numeric measure they form; the shoulder may, therefore,
be fitly called _the thermometer of the sensibility_.

"Thermometer," I cried, "there is an excellent word, strikingly correct.
But have I not, in pronouncing it, simply and naturally characterized
the rôle that I am striving to define?

"Thermometer of the sensibility! Is not that the solution of the
enigma? Thermometer; yes, that is it! That is the very expression to
give to my researches, an expression without which nothing could be
explained. That, indeed, answers to everything, and makes the
difficulties against which my reason struggled disappear."

The shoulder is, in fact, precisely the thermometer of passion as well
as of sensibility; it is the measure of their vehemence; it determines
their degree of heat and intensity. However, it does not specify their
nature, and it is certainly in an analogous sense that the instrument
known by the name of thermometer marks the degrees of heat and cold
without specifying the nature of the weather--a specification belonging
to another instrument, the complement of the thermometer--the barometer.
The parallel is absolute, perfect.

Let us examine this point:

The shoulder, in rising, is not called upon to teach us whether the
source of the heat or vehemence which mark it, arise from love or hate.
This specification does not lie within its province; it belongs entirely
to the face, which is to the shoulder what the barometer is to the
thermometer. And it is thus that the shoulder and the face enter into
harmonious relations to complete the passional sense which they have to
determine mutually and by distinct paths.

Now, the shoulder is limited, in its proper domain, to proving, first,
that the emotion expressed by the face _is_ or _is not_ true. Then,
afterward, to marking, with mathematical rigor, the degree of intensity
to which that emotion rises.

After having finished the formulation of this principle I exultingly

"God be praised! I now possess the semeiotics of the shoulder, and
thereby I hold the criterion of the passional or sensitive powers--a
criterion outside of which no truth can be demonstrated in the sphere of
sentiment or feeling."

Thus, a word suggested by chance became my Archimedean lever. The word,
like a flash of light, flooded my mind with radiance which suddenly
revealed to me the numerous and fertile applications of a principle
hitherto unknown. Yes, I henceforth possessed an æsthetic principle of
the utmost value, the consequences of which, I could readily see, were
as novel as they were profound.

Episode VI.

First Objection to the Thermometric System of the Shoulder.

The innate æsthetic principle of the semeiotics of the shoulder was at
last clearly demonstrated to me, and no more doubt or uncertainty upon
that point seemed to me possible. I might safely formulate the following

When a man says to you in interjective form: "I love, I suffer, I am
delighted," etc., do not believe him if his shoulder remains in a normal
attitude. Do not believe him, no matter what expression his face may
assume. Do not believe him--he lies; his shoulder denies his words. That
negative form betrays his thoughts; and, if he expresses ardent passion,
you have merely to consult the thermometer which, all unwittingly, he
himself offers to your inspection. See, it marks zero! therefore he
lies; doubt it not, he lies! but his shoulder does not lie. He amiably
puts it at your disposal--read, read at your ease; it bears inscribed in
living letters his deceit and craft. It can never cheat you, and when
the gentleman accosts you with such words as: "Dear friend! how charmed
I am to see you!" say to yourself as you look at his thermometer:
"Traitor, your delight as well as your friendship is below zero! You try
to deceive me, but in vain; henceforth you have no secrets from me,
clumsy forger! You do not see, as with one hand you proffer the false
jewel which you would sell me, that the other at the same instant gives
me the touch-stone which reveals your tricks; your right hand thus
incessantly exposing to me the secrets of your left hand!"

What an admirable thing is this mechanism of the body working in the
service of the soul! With what precision it reveals the least movements
of its master! What magnificent things it lays bare! Voluntarily or
involuntarily, everything leads to truth under the action of the
translucid light which breaks forth in the working of each of our

And yet, well founded as the preceding theory may be, solid as are the
bases upon which it rests, is it free from any and all objection? May
not some oppose to it, for instance, the impassibility of men and women
of the world, among whom it would be difficult to find the movements of
the shoulder, which such people deem so ungraceful in others as to
deprive them of all desire to imitate them? Now what conclusions are we
to draw from the absence of this movement in those who are known as
aristocrats? Must we tax them all indiscriminately with falsehood?

Here I might, and without hesitation, answer by the affirmation, Yes,
all aristocrats lie! The medium which they constitute and which is
called _the world_ is nothing but a perpetual lie. Civility itself
rests upon a lie. Nay, more, it insists upon deceit as a duty. Heavens,
what would become of the world if truth were a necessity! Quarter of an
hour of sincerity would be intolerable; ... the inhabitants would slay
each other!

In the world people display their feelings, even the most avowable, with
great reserve; this prudence, which paralyzes the very springs of
sensitive life, seems as if it needs must neutralize the role which I
attribute to the shoulder; and yet, in spite of contrary appearances, I
deny that the thermometric action of the shoulder undergoes the least
alteration in the aristocratic world; I deny explicitly that this agent
proves less expressive and, above all, less truthful there than in the
street; and that for the following reasons:

In the first place, we cannot reasonably suppose very ardent passions in
men who are enervated by the perpetual influence of an artificial
society. Now, here the stationary condition of the thermometer is
explained: it proves absolutely nothing against the truth of the
reports; it remains at zero to mark a colorless medium totally destitute
of vitality. The shoulder would violate its law if it were to rise under
such circumstances. It is, therefore, perfectly in character here; it
should be, _a priori_, impassive in a negative society.

But is the shoulder really impassive in that medium which we call

_Yes_, in the eyes of people who are not of it, and who, from that very
fact, cannot understand the value of certain expressions which are
almost imperceptible; _no_, to those who constitute that special world
of relations called superior.

How many things, in fact, the shoulder reveals by those slight changes
unseen by ignorant persons, and expressing particularly the delicate and
exquisite charm of spiritual relations! It is the law of infinitesimal
quantities, of those scarcely perceptible movements or sensations that
characterize the finer relations of people of culture, of eloquence, of
grace, and of refined tastes.

It should be borne in mind, as I have already shown, that the
manifestations of the shoulder in the street by no means accord with
those of people ruled by the fashions of society. There is very little
harmony or relation between the exquisite joints of a refined nature,
the swift and flexible movements of an elegant organism, and the
evolutions clumsily executed by torpid limbs, ankylosed, as it were, by
labor at once hard and constant

This observation logically led me to an important conclusion, namely,
that the value or importance of a standard is deduced expressly from the
nature of the being, or the object to which it is applied. Of what
value, for instance, could a millimeter be when added to the stature of
a man? That same millimeter, however, would acquire a colossal value
when added to the proportions of a flea. It would form a striking

An imperceptible fraction may, in certain cases, constitute an
enormity. Again, the value of a standard, not the specific or numerical
value which is an invariable basis, but the relative or moral value,
must be deduced from the importance of the medium to which it applies.
For instance: Five hundred men constitute a very good army in the midst
of a peaceful population; and this handful of soldiers exerts, indeed,
more moral power than the multitudes restrained under their government.
A smile coming from the lips of a sovereign leaves in the soul that it
penetrates a far deeper trace than all the demonstrations of a common or
vulgar crowd. The traveler, detained by the winter in the polar regions,
finds that he is warm and takes pleasure in the discovery, though at the
time the thermometer marks 10 degrees below zero.

The atmosphere of a cave that we find warm in winter seems to us,
without being modified in the least, of an icy coldness in summer.

The large quantity of alcohol that laboring people consume would ruin
the health of less strongly constituted persons.

To conclude, then, these examples prove beyond dispute that one can only
appreciate the importance of an act when he takes into account the
nature of its agents, and that without these considerations he will be
obliged to give up immediately all serious estimation of these

Here I touch, it seems to me, a law of harmony, a curious law that I
wish to examine incidentally. I shall, then, occupy myself with the
objections that may, perhaps, be opposed even yet to the thermometric
system of the shoulder

Episode VII.

The foregoing study has, as it seems, established an important fact,
namely, that among the various classes of men which make up society
there is no common standard of measure. It, therefore, appears
impossible, at first sight, to establish a harmonious scale of relations
between so many various circles.

However, if these circles, whatever their differences may be, were
specified and sufficiently known; if I could, for example, judge _a
priori_ of the style and mode of activity adapted to each class of
society; in a word, if it were possible for me to characterize each of
its classes dynamically, should I not succeed in ascertaining a
proportionate gamut or scale among them, and thereby should I not be
enabled securely to apply the principles established above?

Let us say, to begin with, that if each social sphere affects a
determinate character in the intensity of its passional evolutions, it
has, in consequence, its special gamut; then, as many spheres as there
are, so many gamuts must there be. Now, all these gamuts taken together
must form a scale of proportion in virtue of which they may be
characterized. That is obvious. But the difficulty is to prove the mode
or first tonality of these gamuts. How are we to set to work?

I cut short, for the clearness of my demonstrations, the recital of the
events through which I have been obliged to pass before realizing even
my earliest observations. I shall set forth, plainly and simply, the
final result of my studies; and it will be seen, in spite of the many
difficulties that may arise, with what absolute certainty the principles
I have established can be applied.

What I Propose.

I propose a great, a worthy subject for your study. At those oratorical
sessions which are rapidly increasing under the name of conferences,
sessions at which so many distinguished men take the floor, you have
been told in elegant terms, often in eloquent terms, of the sciences, of
their application and of their progress. You have listened to discourses
upon art, its primitive purity, its supposed principles, its decadence,
its renaissance, its multifarious changes; its masterpieces have been
pointed out to you; they have been described to you; you have, in some
degree, been made familiar with their origin. You have heard the story
of the lives of the great artists. They have been shown to you in their
weakness and in their strength. The times and manners amid which they
lived have been painted for you in more or less imaginary colors. I
propose something better than all this.

I offer you a work superior even to those sciences which have been
described to you; superior to all which the genius of a Michael Angelo
or a Raphael could conceive; a work in comparison with which all the
magnificences of science and of art must pale. I propose that you should
contemplate yourselves!

Nothing is so unfamiliar to man as himself. I will, therefore, as I have
promised, show you the marvels which God himself has placed within you,
in the transluminous obscurities of your being.

Now, if there be more science, more genius in the production of a violet
or a worm than is revealed by all the combined powers of science and of
art, how much admiration should we not feel at the sight of all the
splendors which God has spread broadcast in the privileged work wherein
He was pleased to reveal his own image! But a light inaccessible to the
vain demonstrations of your sciences constantly removes this mysterious
image from your gaze. As light eludes the eye which it illumines, if we
would seize and contemplate it, we must have two things: we must have a
special and a supernatural object. There must be light within you, and
it must pierce the depths wherein that image dwells.

Here there is no question of the light which shines to show us the
things of the natural world by which we are surrounded. Nor is it a
question of the intellectual light sometimes visible to scholars. I
speak of that light which is hidden from those very scholars because
their eyes could not bear its lustre, a transluminous light which fills
the soul with beatific visions, and of which it is said that God wraps
it about Him as a mantle.

Now, three worlds, of the nature of which man partakes, are offered for
our contemplation. These three worlds are: The _natural_, the
_intellectual_, and the _supernatural_.

Three sorts of vision have been given man to initiate him into these
three worlds. These different forms of vision are: _Direct, inward_ and

By means of direct vision man is made acquainted with the world of
nature; by inward vision he is shown the world of science; and, lastly,
by higher vision he sees the world of grace. But as there can be no
vision where no light penetrates, it follows that between the three
kinds of vision described and the corresponding worlds there must
intervene three sorts of light, in order to produce the triple vision
necessary for the knowledge of man:

Direct vision--sidereal light--natural world.

Inward vision--the light of tradition--the world of science.

Higher vision--revealed light--supernatural world.

Such are the conditions necessary for the understanding of my

Having prepared your eye for the vision of these three worlds which
serve as the bases of art, I shall, then, reveal to you their splendors;
happy if, thus, I can help to make you bless the author of so many
marvels, and communicate to you those keen joys which perpetuate in the
soul a fountain of youth which can never be quenched by the infirmities
of the body.

The Beautiful

Beauty is that reason itself which presides at the creation of things.
It is the invincible power which attracts and subjugates us in it. The
Beautiful admits of three characters, which we distinguish under the
titles of _ideal_ beauty, _moral_ beauty, _plastic_ beauty.

Plato defined ideal beauty when he said: "Beauty is the splendor of
truth." St. Augustine said of moral beauty that it is the splendor of
goodness. I define plastic beauty as the plastic manifestation of truth
and goodness.

In so far as it responds to the particular type in accordance with which
it is formed, every creature bears the crown of beauty; because in its
correspondence with its type it manifests, according to its capacity,
the Divine Being who created it.

The Beautiful is an absolute principle; it is the essence of beings, the
life of their functions. Beauty is a consequence, an effect, a form of
the Beautiful. It results from the attractions of the form. The
attraction of the form comes from the nobility of the function. This is
why all functions not being equally noble, all do not admit of beauty.
The characteristic of beauty is to be amiable; consequently a thing is
ugly only in view of the amiable things which we seek in beauty.

Beauty is to the Beautiful what the individual reason is to the Divine
reason of things. Human reason is but one ray of a vast orb called the
reason of things,--Divine reason. Let us say of beauty what we have said
of the individual reason, and we shall understand how the Beautiful is
to be distintinguished from it. Beauty is one ray of the Beautiful.

Beauty is the expression of the object for which the thing is.

It is the stamp of its functions. It is the transparency of the
aptitudes of the agent and the radiance of the faculties which it
governs. It is the order which results from the dynamic disposition of
forms operated in view of the function.

Beauty is based on three conditions: Clearness, integrity and due

Beauty exists in the practical knowledge of the tendencies affected by
the form in view of the object for which it is; in view, above all, of
the action which it exerts upon the beings with whom it is in relation.
Thus a thing is not only beautiful from the transparency of its
aptitudes, it is especially so from the beauty of the acts which its use
determines abroad. This is the reason why beauty is to all creatures an
object of appetency, of desire and of love.


There is a mystery full of deep instruction, a mystery whose divine
obscurities surpass all the light whose splendors dazzle us by their
supernatural clarity, and which, as a great saint once said, radiates
splendid beams and floods with the glory of its fires those spirits who
are blind with the blindness of holiness. This mystery, outside of which
all is to man dark and incomprehensible, illuminates everything and
explains it in the sense that it is the cause, the principle and the end
of all things.

This dazzling mystery is the universal criterion of all truth; it is the
science of sciences, which is self-defining and whose name is Trinity.

Here we foresee an objection to which we must first reply. Some will be
surprised that a system declared to be infallible should rest upon a
mystery; they will ask what a mystery can have to do with a purely
didactic question. Patience! You shall see that it cannot be otherwise.
Nothing is more evident than light, yet light is a mystery, the most
obscure of all mysteries. Thus light escapes the eye and it does not see
that by means of which it sees. Now, if light is a mystery, why should
not mystery be a light? Let us see first what the church teaches us in
regard to this mystery.

God is a word which serves as a pretext for every Utopia, for every
illusion and for every human folly. The Trinity is the express
refutation of all these stupidities; it is their remedy, corrective and
preservative. Deprive me of the Trinity and I can no longer understand
aught of God. All becomes dark and obscure to me, and I have no longer a
rational motive for hope.

The Trinity, the hypostatical basis of beings and things, is the
reflection of the Divine Majesty in its work. It is, as it were, a
reflection upon us of its own light. The Trinity is our guide in the
applied sciences of which it is at once the solution and the enigma.

The Trinity is manifest in the smallest divisions of the Divine work,
and is to be regarded as the most fertile means of scientific
investigation; for if it is at once the cause, the principle and the end
of all science, it is its infallible criterion and we must start from it
as an immovable axiom.

Every truth is triangular, and no demonstration responds to its object
save in virtue of a triply triple formula.

_Theory of Processional Relations; or of the Connection between
Principiants and Principiates._


Each term in the Trinity is characterized processionally by the
arrangement of the relations which unite it to its congeners. We will
represent the nature of these relations by an arrow, the head of which
starts from the principiant, touching with its point the principiate.


    Principiant terms --------------->  Principiate terms

This established, let us see by what sort of relations we are to
distinguish the persons in the Trinity represented by 1, 2 and 3.

1. The Father--a term exclusively principiant, giving the mission and
not receiving it.

2. The Son--a term both principiant and principiate, receiving and
giving the mission.

3. The Holy Ghost--a term exclusively principiate, receiving the mission
and not giving it.



                 / \
                /   \
               /     \
             B/       \C
             / TRINITY \
            /           \
          1/             \2


_A._ Relation of generation starting from the generator, ending at the
engendered (2), expressing by its horizontality the co-equality of the
principiant with the principiate.

_B._ Relation of spiration starting from the spirator or first
principiant 1, ending at the principiate 3.

_C._ Relation of spiration starting from the spirator or second
principiant 2, ending at the principiate 3, emanated by way of the
common spiration of its double principle 1 and 2.

_Vicious Arrangements._

Reversal of the Processional Relations and Confusion Which Leads to

These first three examples sin from lack of a necessary relationship, in
default of which the extreme terms cannot be designated. Here,
therefore, the intermediate term alone can be estimated.

    1  >-------->  2  <--------<  3

Here the Son offers the relational characteristics of the Holy Ghost.

    1  <--------<  2  >-------->  3

Here He plays the part of the Father by the arrangement of His

    1  >-------->  3  >-------->  2

Here the Holy Ghost is evidently out of place, for He indicates
relations which belong only to the Word.

(1.) According to these relations, the Holy Ghost plays the part of the
Son, and the Son that of the Holy Ghost.


          ^ \
         / 1 \
        /     v

(2.) Here all the relations are reversed so that the Father plays the
part of the Son; the Holy Ghost plays the part of the Father; and,
finally, the Son that of the Holy Ghost.


          / \
         / 2 \
        v     v

(3.) This curious example represents by the identical arrangement of
the terms that it brings together, three Sons; that is to say, the
person of the Son three times over.


          ^ \
         / 3 \
        /     v

(4.) Another reversal of the relations, which derives the Holy Ghost
from the Father, the Father from the Son, and the Son from the Holy


          / ^
         / 4 \
        v     \

Passion Of Signs. Signs of Passion.

These two terms at first sight seem very similar. It is not so. They
express two wholly distinct things. Therefore to know the meaning of
words by no means proves one capable of finding words and fitting them
to the meaning.

It is clearly easier to translate a language than to write it, and just
as we must learn to translate before we can compose, so we must become
thoroughly familiar with semeiotics before trying to work at æsthetics;
and, as the science of semeiotics is still wholly incomplete, it is,
therefore, absolutely impossible that that which is called æsthetics
should in the least resemble the science which I have just defined.

I have shown you æsthetics as a science. I have given you its
definition. I have fixed its special part in the sum total of knowledge
which goes to make up art; moreover, I have pointed out what this
science is intended to teach you. I have, by so doing, assumed serious
obligations toward you. I must needs produce under this title something
more than mere fantastic reflections upon works of art, or more or less
attractive stories about their authors and the circumstances in which
they lived. It will not be so amusing, but assuredly it will be more
profitable, and that is all for which I aspire.

Art, then, is an act whose semeiotics characterizes the forms produced
by the action of powers, which action is determined by æsthetics, and
the causes of which are sought out by ontology.

          / Ontology examines the constituent virtues of the being.
    Art. <  Æsthetics examines its powers.
          \ Semeiotics characterizes its forces.

          / Inherent form of sentiments . . . . . . Æsthetics.
    Art. <  Metaphysical form of the principles . . Ontology.
          \ Organic form of signs . . . . . . . . . Semeiotics.

The object of art, therefore, is to reproduce, by the action of a
superior principle (ontology), the organic signs explained by
semeiotics, and whose fitness is estimated by æsthetics.

Semeiotics is the science of the organic signs by which æsthetics must
study inherent fitness.

Æsthetics is the science of the sensitive and passional manifestations
which are the object of art, and whose psychic form it constitutes.

If semeiotics does not tell us the passion which the sign reveals, how
can æsthetics indicate to us the sign which it should apply to the
passion that it studies? In a word, how shall the artist translate the
passion which he is called upon to express?

Æsthetics determines the inherent forms of sentiment in view of the
effects whose truth of relation it estimates.

Semeiotics studies organic forms in view of the sentiment which produces

It is thus that _wisdom_ and _reason_ proceed in inverse sense from the
principle to the knowledge which is the object of both. Wisdom, in fact,
studies the principle in its consequences, while reason studies the
consequences in the principle, hence it comes that wisdom and reason are
often at war with each other; hence also the obscurity which generally
prevails as to the distinction between them. Let us say that _wisdom_
and _reason_ are to intelligence what æsthetics and semeiotics are to
art. Let us add to this parallel that _wisdom_ and _reason_ are to
intelligence what æsthetics and semeiotics are to ontology; that is:--

1. If, from a certain organic form, I infer a certain sentiment, that is

2. If, from a certain sentiment, I deduce a certain organic form, that
is _Æsthetics_.

3. If, after studying the arrangement of an organic form whose inherent
fitness I am supposed to know, I take possession of that arrangement
under the title of methods, invariably to reproduce that form by
substituting my individual will for its inherent cause, that is _Art_.

4. If I determine the initial phenomena under the impulsion of which the
inherent powers act upon the organism, that is _Ontology_.

5. If I tell how that organism behaves under the inherent action, that
is _Physiology_.

6. If I examine, one by one, the agents of that organism, it is

7. If, amid these different studies, I seek by means of analogy and
generalization for light to guide my steps toward my advantage, that is

8. If I make that light profitable to my material and spiritual
interests, that is _Reason_.

9. If I add to all this the loving contemplation of the Supreme Author
in His work, that is _Wisdom_.

Let us now leave the abstractions to which you have kindly lent your
attention. I cannot here avoid casting a rapid glance at those sources
of science and art, the sources whence I desire to draw applications
which I am assured will interest you as they interest me. May they
afford you the same delight!

By listening to me thus far you have passed through the proofs requisite
for your initiation into science as well as art; into science, whose
very definition is unknown to the learned bodies, since they have never
studied aught of it but its specialties; into art, whose very
fundamental basis is unsuspected by the School of Fine Arts, as I have
elsewhere demonstrated. Therefore, I now desire in the course of these
lectures to set aside the terms of a technology which I could not avoid
at the outset, and by the recital of my labors and my researches, my
disappointments and my discoveries, to show you the painful birth of a
science, whose possession entitles me to the honor of addressing you

Definition of Form.

Form is the garb of substance. It is the expressive symbol of a
mysterious truth. It is the trademark of a hidden virtue. It is the
actuality of the being. In a word, form is the plastic art of the Ideal.

We have to consider three sorts of form: The form assumed by the being
at birth and which we will call _constitutional_ form. Under the sway of
custom forms undergo modifications: We will call these forms _habitual_
forms. Then there are the _fugitive_ forms, modifications of the
constitutional form, which are produced under the sway of passion. These
forms, which we will call _accidental, passional_ or _transitory_, are
fugitive as the things which give them birth.

On Distinction and Vulgarity of Motion.

Motion generally has its reäction; a projected body rebounds and it is
this rebound which we call the reäction of the motion.

Rebounding bodies are agreeable to the eye. Lack of elasticity in a body
is disagreeable from the fact that lacking suppleness, it seems as if it
must, in falling, be broken, flattened or injured; in a word, must lose
something of the integrality of its form. It is, therefore, the reäction
of a body which proves its elasticity, and which, by this very quality,
gives us a sort of pleasure in witnessing a fall, which apart from this
reäction could not be other than disagreeable. Therefore, elasticity of
dynamic motions is a prime necessity from the point of view of charm.

In the vulgar man there is no reäction. In the man of distinction, on
the contrary, motion is of slight extent and reäction is enormous.
Reäction is both slow and rapid.


The artist should have three objects: To _move_, to _interest_, to
_persuade_. He interests by _language_; he moves by _thought_; he moves,
interests and persuades by _gesture_.

Language is the weakest of the three agents. In a matter of the feelings
language proves nothing. It has no real value, save that which is given
to it by the preparation of gesture.

Gesture corresponds to the soul, to the heart; language to the life, to
the thought, to the mind. The life and the mind being subordinate to the
heart, to the soul, gesture is the chief organic agent. So it has its
appropriate character which is persuasion, and it borrows from the other
two agents interest and emotion. It prepares the way, in fact, for
language and thought; it goes before them and foretells their coming; it
accentuates them.

By its silent eloquence it predisposes, it guides the listener. It makes
him a witness to the secret labor performed by the immanences which are
about to burst forth. It flatters him by leading him to feel that he
partakes in this preparation by the initiation to which it admits him.
It condenses into a single word the powers of the three agents. It
represents virtue effective and operative. It assimilates the
auxiliaries which surround it, and reflects the immanence proper to its
nature, the contemplation of its subject deeply seen, deeply felt. It
possesses them synthetically, fully, absolutely.

Artistic gesture is the expression of the physiognomy; it is
transluminous action; it is the mirror of lasting things.

Lacordaire, that spoiled child of the intellect, spoke magnificently. He
interested, he aroused admiration, but he did not persuade. His organism
was rebellious to gesture. He was the artist of language. Ravignan,
inferior intellectually, prepared his audience by his attitude, touched
them by the general expression of his face, fascinated them by his gaze.
He was the artist of gesture.

Thus, if we sing, let us not forget that the prelude, the refrain, is
the spiritual expression of the song; that we must take advantage of
this exordium to guide ourselves, to predispose our hearers in our
favor; that we must point out to them, must make them foresee by the
expression of our face the thought and the words which are to follow;
that, in fact, the ravished spectator may be dazzled by a song which he
has not yet heard, but which he divines or thinks that he divines.

_Definition of Gesture._ (Compare Delaumosne, page 43.)

Gesture is the direct agent of the heart. It is the fit manifestation of
feeling. It is the revealer of thought and the commentator upon speech.
It is the elliptical expression of language; it is the justification of
the additional meanings of speech. In a word, it is the spirit of which
speech is merely the letter. Gesture is parallel to the impression
received; it is, therefore, always anterior to speech, which is but a
reflected and subordinate expression.

Gesture is founded on three bases which give rise to three orders of
studies; that is, to three sciences, namely: The _static_, the _dynamic_
and the _semeiotic_.

What are these three sciences, and, first of all, what are they in
relation to gesture? The semeiotic is its mind; the dynamic is its soul;
the static is founded on the mutual equilibrium or equipoise of the

The dynamic presents the multiple action of three agents; that is to
say, of the constituent forces of the soul.

The semeiotic presents to our scrutiny a triple object for study. It
sets forth the cause of the acts produced by the dynamic and the static
harmonies. Moreover, it reveals the meaning of the types which form the
object of the system. It offers us a knowledge of the formal or
constitutional types, of the fugitive or accidental types, and, finally,
of the habitual types.

The triple object of the dynamic are the _rhythmic, inflective_ and
_harmonic_ forms. Dynamic rhythm is founded upon the important law of
mobility, inversely proportionate to the masses moved. Dynamic
inflections are produced by three movements: Direct movements, rotary
movements and movements of flexion in the arc of a circle.

Dynamic harmony is founded on the concomitance of the relations existing
between all the agents of gesture. This harmony is regulated by three
states, namely: The tonic or eccentric state, the atonic or concentric
state, and the normal state. It, therefore, remains for us to fix the
three vital conditions of the static part of gesture. The vital
condition of the static is based upon the knowledge of the nine
stations. The spirit of the static entails the study of scenic planes
which embrace three conditions: The condition of the personage in
relation to the scenic centre or to the interlocutor whom he addresses;
in the second place, his situation; and, finally, the direction assumed
by his body in regard to the conditions already indicated.

The soul of the static is in the harmonic opposition of the surfaces

The most powerful of all gestures is that which affects the spectator
without his knowing it.

From this statement may be deduced the principle that: Outward gesture,
being only the echo of the inward gesture which gave birth to it and
rules it, should be inferior to it in development and should be in some
sort diaphanous.

Attitudes of the Head.

The head, considered in its three direct poses, presents three
conditions or states. When facing the object contemplated, it presents
the normal state; bent forward and in the direction of the object, it
presents the concentric state; raised and considering the object from
above, it presents the eccentric state. [Compare Delaumosne, page 65.]

If, now, we consider each of its attitudes in connection with a double
lateral inclination of which they are capable, we have the following

1. The first is normal. The head is neither high nor low, the glance
being direct.

2. The second is characteristic of tenderness. This attitude consists in
bending the head obliquely toward the interlocutor. The body, in this
attitude, should not face the object; thus the head, in bending toward
it, bends sidewise in relation to the body.

3. The third attitude is characteristic of sensuality. This attitude is
marked by an inclination quite the reverse of the second; that is to
say, away from the interlocutor. Naturally, in this attitude, as in the
preceding one, the glance is oblique; the head being bent forward and
backward, is here placed obliquely.

4. The fourth is characteristic of scrutiny, reflection. The head in
this attitude is bent forward as we said in concentration, and the eye,
from the effort to lower the head, is thrown up to inspect the object.

5. The fifth is characteristic of veneration. This attitude offers the
same inclination as the second; but here, as the head must be lowered,
the eye is directed both obliquely and upward.

6. The sixth is characteristic of suspicion. This attitude offers the
same inclination as the third, with the concentric modifications
indicated for the preceding one.

7. The seventh is characteristic of exaltation, passion. This attitude
is eccentric and direct, as we have already said.

8. The eighth attitude is characteristic of abandonment, extreme
confidence. This attitude presents the inclination of the second and the
fifth, with this difference, that here the head is thrown back and the
eye, instead of being bent directly upon the object as in the second and
upward as in the fifth, here gazes downward.

9. The ninth attitude is characteristic of pride. This last attitude
takes the inclination of the sixth and eighth attitudes, with the
differences in gaze indicated in the foregoing.

Thus, to sum up what we have already said, we see that the first, fourth
and seventh attitudes are directly toward the object; that the second,
fifth and eighth bend obliquely toward the object; and, finally, that
the third, sixth and ninth are the result of an oblique inclination away
from the object.

NOTE.--It is to be understood that the various attitudes of the head are
asserted only in regard to the direction taken by the eye. Thus it is
not absolutely true to say that the head is in the eccentric state
because it is raised; for it may be that, raised as it is, the direction
of the eye may be even higher than it, and, in that case, the head
might, although raised, present the aspect of the concentric state. Then
it would be true to say that the head presents the concentric state in a
high direction.

Attitudes of the Hands.

The hands, like the legs, have three kinds of attitudes. They open
without effort and present the normal state; they close and present the
concentric state; then they open forcibly and present the eccentric
state. These three kinds of attitudes produce nine forms.

1. The first is characteristic of acceptance. In this the hand is
presented open without effort, the fingers close together and the palm

2. The second is characteristic of caressing. In this attitude the palm
of the hand faces the object considered and gently follows its forms.

3. The third is characteristic of negation. This attitude is executed in
the following fashion: The arm and hand are placed as in caressing; but,
instead of following the form of the object, the hand rids itself of it
by a rotary movement, thus placing the palm in a lateral direction.

4. This attitude is executed with the closed fist, the arm hanging
naturally, that is, without any action determined by the will.

5. The fifth is characteristic of will. This attitude consists in
carrying the fist forward, the back up.

6. The sixth attitude is characteristic of menace. This attitude is
effected by an outward rotary movement compressed in the fist, so that,
contrary to the will, the back of the hand is down.

7. The seventh is characteristic of desire. The hand, in this attitude,
moves forward as in the first, but with the difference that here the
fingers are spread apart, this spreading signifying "I do not possess,"
expresses desire. There is, by the fact of the advance of the hand,
aspiration and not possession.

8. The eighth is characteristic of imprecation. It consists in
stretching the palm of the hand toward the object as in a caress, but
with this difference, that the fingers are spread apart, thus offering a
repulsive aspect.

9. The ninth is characteristic of refusal, repulsion. It consists in
carrying the hand obliquely as in negation, observing the spreading of
the fingers which characterizes this species.

_Affirmation--The Hand._

To make the demonstration of the different affirmations of the hand more
clear, we employ the cube which, as is well known, has six faces, eight
angles, and twelve edges.

When the hand is placed upon a flat surface the affirmation is simple;
when the hand is placed upon an angle the affirmation is triple or
common to three faces or surfaces. There are three directions in the
cube: Horizontal, vertical and transverse. So, too, there are three
directions possible for the hand in relation to the body:

  1. Abduction--which removes,
  2. Adduction--which brings close, and
  3. The normal direction.

There are three sorts of adduction, three sorts of abduction, and three
sorts of normal direction.

There are three horizontal, three vertical and three transverse
directions; hence nine terms applicable to the nine modes of presenting
the hand in connection with the cube, which are:


                /|                                            /|
               / |                                           / |
              /  |                                          /  |
             /   |                                         /   |
            /    |          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.            |    /
        |   /                                         |   /
        |  /                                          |  /
        | /                                           | /
        |/                                            |/

Table of the Normal Character of These Nine Attitudes.

                   / 2. Concentric . . Conflict.
    2. Concentro.<   3. Normal . . . . Power.
                   \ 1. Eccentric  . . Convulsion.

                   / 2. Concentric . . Prostration.
    3. Normo.    <   3. Normal . . . . Abandon.
                   \ 1. Eccentric  . . Expansion.

                   / 2. Concentric . . Execration.
    1. Eccentro. <   3. Normal . . . . Exaltation.
                   \ 1. Eccentric  . . Exasperation.

These nine physiognomies of the hand modify those of the face, often
supply their place and sometimes even contradict them. When they are
appropriate to the hand and face alike, there is homogeneity. The
expression of the hands results from the coöperation of three orders of
phenomena. The first order comprises the intrinsic physiognomies assumed
by the hand under the influence of the passions. The second order
comprises the attitudes assumed by the hand toward the object of the
passion. The third order comprises the evolutions impressed upon the
hand by the body, fore-arm and shoulder. These evolutions are so many

We know the nine attitudes appropriate to the hand, and the nine
attitudes designated by the nine modes of presentation of the hand in
regard to the cubic surfaces. We must examine the nine inflections which
arise in the first instance from the three directions, antero-posterior,
vertical and transverse.

These inflections again include three movements of three kinds: Direct
movements, circular movements and oblique movements. These movements
are produced by three sorts of action: Sectional action, rotary action
and translative action.

To recapitulate: These physiognomies, attitudes and inflections form by
their combination the multifarious expressions of which the hand is
capable, as are all parts of the body.

Having spoken of the affirmations of the hand, we must speak of its
degree of certainty of which the arm is the thermometer. This
affirmation varies with the angle formed by the fore-arm with the arm.
All these modes of affirmation may be applied to negation.

Attitudes of the Legs.

1. The first attitude is normal; it consists of an equal balance of the
weight of the body on the two legs. This attitude is that of the soldier
carrying arms, without the stiffness assumed by the wilful regularity of
rigid discipline. It is also that attitude taken by a man in the act of
salutation; it is also characteristic of the weakness of a child or of
old age; it is the sign of respect. [Compare Delaumosne, p. 100.]

2. The second attitude is characteristic of repose in strength. The
weight of the body is thrown upon one hip, the free leg being carried
forward. This change should be effected without tension or stiffness.
This attitude is also characteristic of certain concentric passions
hidden under seeming calm.

3. This attitude is characteristic of vehemence, of which it is the
type. It is preëminently the eccentric attitude. It consists in carrying
the whole weight of the body forward, the backward leg extended in equal
proportion to the forward poise of the torso.

4. This attitude is characteristic of the weakness which follows
vehemence. It is the type of concentration; it is also in character as
in species the antipodes of the third attitude, since it is its resolute
expression. This attitude consists in throwing the whole weight of the
body backward, contrary to the preceding attitude where the body was
brought forward, and in bending the leg which bears the weight of the
body, which is also the reverse of the preceding attitude, where the leg
is extended. This attitude is nearly that of the fencing-master; it
differs, however, in the position of the backward foot, which, in
fencing, is turned outward. The regularity of this attitude may be
verified by kneeling, which is its paroxysm. If the attitude is well
done it leads to it naturally.

5. The fifth attitude serves as a preparation for oblique steps; it is
also colorless, transitive, suspensive. It ends all the angles formed by
walking. We may define this attitude as a third transversal; that is to
say, the free leg, instead of being behind as in the third, is
impassive, so that the body, instead of being advanced, should be
slightly inclined to one side.

6. The sixth attitude is an attitude of pomp and ceremony. It is only
assumed in the presence of kings, princes, or persons for whom we have
great respect. We will define this attitude as a third crossed
proceeding from the fifth; that is to say, the free leg of the fifth
becomes the strong leg moving sidewise and slightly forward, thus
crossing the back leg.

7. The seventh attitude is an attitude characteristic of absolute
repose. It is the strongest attitude, and, consequently, that assumed by
intoxication to resist a lack of equilibrium. It is the attitude of
vertigo, or of extreme trust.

Do not be surprised by the bringing together of these very different and
opposite terms in one and the same attitude. It is a sufficient
explanation to say that the strong attitude is sought out by weakness as
a weak attitude is sought by strength. This attitude consists in the
division of the weight of the body between both legs, which are spread
wide apart in parallel directions. This attitude would be improper in a

8. The eighth attitude is an attitude characteristic of the alternation
between the offender and defender. It is the exact medium between the
third and fourth; it, therefore, expresses moral as well as physical
alternation. A man placed between the offensive and the defensive always
assumes this attitude as if to sound the resources of his courage in
face of an enemy stronger than himself; in this attitude he may advance
or recede. This attitude is a seventh, whose direction, instead of being
lateral, is parallel to the body and antero-posterior. In this position
the body faces the forward leg, both legs being spread wide apart, as in
the seventh, both receive an equal portion of the weight of the body.

9. The ninth attitude is characteristic of defiance. This attitude is a
stiff second. It differs only in that the free leg is rigid instead of
being bent as in the second. To execute this attitude thoroughly well
the free leg must be stretched to the very utmost, without allowing the
strong leg to bend as in the fourth, which is the only attitude where
the strong leg should be bent. To prevent this flexion, the body must be
carried well over on the hip of the strong leg, so that the side of the
free leg may be elongated.

_Chart Considered from the Organic Point of View._


  2. The Son,
  3. The Holy Ghost,
  1. The Father.

Having examined the table organically, we will study it essentially.


What we have called eccentric, concentric and normal, we will call
vitality, intellectuality and spirituality; lastly, having established
this table from the organic and the essential point of view, it remains
for us to examine it æsthetically and from a practical point of view.

Let us first examine a few gestures, for instance:

_Of the Hand._

                                 3 colorless state abandonment
                                /  \
                               /    \
                              /   3  \
                 expansion 1 /________\ 2 prostration

                 3 exaltation                      3 power
                /\                                /\
               /  \                              /  \
              /    \                            /    \
             /   1  \                          /   2  \
          1 /________\ 2                    1 /________\ 2
    exasperation    execration     convulsive state    struggle

_Of the Eye._

                                /  \
                               /    \
                              /   3  \
                indifference /________\ moroseness

              stupor                    depression or somnolence
                /\                                /\
               /  \                              /  \
              /    \                            /    \
             /   1  \                          /   2  \
          1 /________\ 2                    1 /________\ 2
    surprise       firmness              contempt   contention of mind

_Of the Torso._

                           dynamic apparatus
                                /  \
                               /    \
                              /   3  \
                       limbs /________\ head

              larynx                      veil of the palate
                /\                                /\
               /  \                              /  \
              /    \                            /    \
             /   1  \                          /   2  \
          1 /________\ 2                    1 /________\ 2
       lungs          mouth              lips           tongue

_Æsthetic Division._

                                 3 pure spirituality
                                /  \
                               /    \
                              /   3  \
                vital soul 1 /________\ 2 intellectual soul

                 3 spiritual life                 3 spiritual intellect
                /\                                /\
               /  \                              /  \
              /    \                            /    \
             /   1  \                          /   2  \
          1 /________\ 2                    1 /________\ 2
    animal life  intellectual life   animal intellect  mental intellece

                        / Mind                           / Science
    Human Hypostases   <  Soul                  Worlds  <  Grace
                        \ Life                           \ Nature

                        / Light              / The mind  / distinguishes
    Divine Attributes  <  Love    Functions <  The soul <  reunites
                        \ Power              \ The life  \ asserts

                        / Understanding                  / Speculative
    Faculties          <  Will                 Reasons  <  Final
                        \ Memory                         \ Seminal

                        / Trial generates faith
    Theological Virtues<  Tribulation generates experience
                        \ Fulfilment generates charity

The Holy Trinity Recovered in Sound.

Sound is the reflection of the Divine image. In sound there are three
reflex images: The reflex of life; of the intellect; and of love. They
result from the parallel and simultaneous action of three agents: The
projective (life), reflective (intellect), and vibrative (love).

Sound contains three sounds: That of the _tonic_, the _dominant_, and
the _mediant_. The tonic (Father) necessarily generates the dominant
(Son), and the mediant (Holy Ghost) proceeds necessarily from the first

Pythagoras discovered this law. Passing before a blacksmith's shop, he
heard the sound of heavy hammer strokes upon a forge. He recognized
perfectly that each blow gave out beside the principal tone (tonic) two
other tones, which corresponded to the twelfth and seventeenth of the
tonic. Now, the twelfth reversed is nothing but the fifth or dominant,
and the seventeenth becomes, by a double reversion, the third or mediant
of the tonic.

Let us say, then, that every tone necessarily contains the tonic its
generator, the dominant its engendered, and the mediant which proceeds
from the other two. The reünion of these three tones which makes them
into one, forms the perfect chord. Full and absolute consonance is the
expression of union, of love, of order, of harmony, of peace; it is the
return to the source of goodness, to God.

If a fourth form should be added to the perfect chord, to consonance,
there would necessarily be a dissonance. This fourth can only enter by
an effort, almost by violence. It is outside of plenitude, of the calm
established by the Divine law; it produces a painful sensation, a
dissonance. As soon as there is a discord, a dissonance, the animal
cries out, the dog howls, inert bodies suffer and vibrate; but all is
order and calm again when consonance returns.


Speech is an act posterior to will, itself posterior to love; this again
posterior to judgment, posterior in its turn to memory, which, finally,
is posterior to the impression.

Every impression, to become a sensation, must first be perceived by the
intelligence, and thus we may say of the sensation that it is a definite
impression. But, to be definite, it must pass into the domain of memory
and there solicit the reappearance of its congeners with which it may
identify itself. It is in this apparatus and surrounded by this throng
of homogeneous impressions which gather round it, as if by magic, or
rather which it draws about it as the magnet draws the iron, it is, I
say, in this complex state that it appears before the intelligence to
receive from the latter a fitting name. For the intelligence could not
give it a name if the homogeneous impressions in which it has, so to
speak, arrayed itself, did not serve to point it out.

Now, by this distinction, established by the double operation of the
memory and the intelligence, a movement takes place in the soul, of
attraction, if the intelligence approve; or of repulsion, if it
disapprove. This movement is called the will. The will, therefore,
becomes the active principle in virtue of which speech is expressed;
thus speech is the express agent of the will. It is speech, in fact,
which, under the incubation of this mysterious power, rules, groups and
moves bodies with the aid of memory.

Inflection is the life of speech; the mind lies in the articulative
values, in the distribution of these articulations and their
progressions. The soul of speech is in gesture.


Breathing, according to its form of production, is: (1) Costal or
combined; (2) diaphragmatic; (3) costo-diaphragmatic.

Breathing is a triple act based upon three phenomena: Inspiration,
suspension, expiration. From the successive predominance of each of
these three phenomena, or from their equal balance, result eighty-one
respiratory acts, which may be reduced to three terms: The breathing is
_normal, spasmodic_, or _sibilant_.

There are three questions to be considered in regard to breathing:

1. How should it, the breath, be produced to gain the greatest
development for the voice?

2. What place should it occupy in speech?

3. What aspect does it assume under the influence of the passions?

In other words, three characters may be attributed to respiration:
Vocal, logical, pathetic or passional.

_Vocal Respiration._

The lungs constantly contain a quantity of air, which is the source of
life and with which we cannot dispense without inconvenience to health
and to the voice. The quantity of air requisite for the renewing of the
blood, and which is called the breath of life, amounts to a third of
what the lungs are capable of receiving. In order to sing, therefore,
it must be increased by two-thirds, and it is this borrowed breath only
which should be given out in singing. When the lungs are thus filled
with air, the sound is produced by escapement. From this it receives
greater force, and its production, far from being a fatigue, becomes a

Inspiration should always be followed by a suspensive silence; otherwise
the lungs, agitated by the act of inspiration, perform the expiration

_Logical Respiration._

Logical respiration constitutes the respiration itself. Suspension
expresses reticence, disquietude. Inspiration is an element of
dissimulation, concentration, pain. Hence, we have normal, oppressive,
spasmodic, superior, sibilant, rattling, intermittent, crackling, and
hiccoughing respiration.

Expiration is an element of trust, expansion, confidence and tenderness.
If the expression contains both pain and love, the inspiration and
expiration will both be noisy; but the one or the other will predominate
according as pain predominates over love, or _vice versa._

_Passional Respiration._

The source of passional respiration lies in the agitation of the heart.
The effect of respiration is most powerful, for the slighter and more
imperceptible the phenomena are, the more effect they have upon the

Vocal Organ.

The organ assumes at birth a form; this form is called the timbre or
tone, This tone corresponds to the constitutional form. Under the sway
of habit, the form assumes an acquired tone which is called emission.
The emissive form corresponds to the habitual tone. Under the sway of
emotion the voice is modulated and assumes forms which we will call
passional or transitory.

The mouth is normal, concentric and eccentric. [See chart in Delaumosne,
page 81.]

From these three types we have succeeded in fixing and classifying
forty-eight million phenomena.

Definition of the Voice.

The voice is the essential element in singing. It is based upon sound.
This is based upon three agents:

The _projective_ agent, or the _lungs_.

The _vibrative_ agent, or the _larnyx_.

The _reverberative_ agent, or the _mouth_.

Each of these agents acts in different ways, nine acts resulting
therefrom, which we will call products of phonetic acts.

The projective agent in its special activities engenders


The vibrative agent in its special activities engenders

    Pathetic effects,

The reverberative agent in its special activities engenders


To recapitulate, the phonetic agents give us nine products; but, when
studied from the vocal point of view, these products become as many
elements and must be examined from the triple point of view of
preparatory, practical and transcendant studies. We must, therefore,
know first the general definition of these elements, their cause and
their theoretical history, which constitutes phonology or the
preparatory study of the voice.

Secondly, we must know the physical order in virtue of which these
phenomena may be acquired or developed. The various special exercises
and the vices to be avoided constitute phonation or the practical study
of the voice.

Thirdly, we must know and appreciate the physiological, intellectual and
moral meaning of these elements, the different relations of resemblance,
of opposition and of identity which exist between these different

The modes of application or principles of style form the transcendent
study or æsthesiophony, that is, the voice applied to feeling, etc.

_What the Register is._

The register is an intrinsic modification of the sound; a modification
which is produced in the larynx itself and which does not belong to the
mouth. Now, we may say of registers that they are to the larnyx what
emissions are to the mouth. Thus registers form a physiognomy which the
sound assumes in the larynx, and emissions form the physiognomy which
that same sound takes on in the mouth.

_On Shading._

Light and shade are not, as has been asserted, subject to the
arbitration or inspiration of the moment. They are ruled by laws; for in
art there is not a single phenomenon which is not subject to absolute
mathematical laws. A knowledge of these laws is important, the art of
shading forming the basis of style.

The opinion which makes the ascending phrase progressive is false six
times out of seven. It is only correct in the following cases:

1. If an ascending phrase encounters no repeated and no dissonant note
it is progressive, and the culminating note is the most intense. It has
one degree of intensity.

2. If we find a note repeated in the ascending phrase, that note, even
if it be the lowest of all, must be made more important than the highest
note and will have two degrees of intensity. In this case, the higher
the voice rises the softer it must become; for there cannot be more than
one culminating point in a musical phrase any more than in a logical or
mimetic phrase. All sounds must, therefore, diminish in proportion to
their distance from this centre of expression, from this repeated note.
The reason of the intensity of a repeated note lies in the fact that we
repeat only that thing which we desire, and this intensity gives it a
greater value.

3. If the repeated note be at the same time the culminating note, it
will require a new degree of intensity. It will have three degrees of

4. We may possibly find a dissonant note in the ascending phrase, with a
repeated culminating note. (This note would, then, be more than an
indication; it would receive an adjective form from the accident,
assuming in the musical phrase the value that an adjective would have in
a logical phrase.) Its intensity, therefore, would be greater than that
of the highest repeated note, and it would have four degrees of

5. If the dissonant note is also the highest note, it acquires from that
position a fifth degree of intensity.

6. It may happen that the dissonant note appearing in a rising phrase is
repeated; by reason of this repetition it would receive a sixth degree
of intensity.

7. Finally, if the dissonant note is at the same time culminating and
repeated, it has seven degrees of intensity.

_Pathetic Effects._

Pathetic effects are nine in number, the principal of which are as
follows: The veiled tone; the flat or compressed tone; the smothered
tone; the ragged tone; the vibrant tone. The last is the most powerful.

Vibration or tremolo, bad when produced involuntarily by the singer,
becomes a brilliant quality when it is voluntary and used at an
opportune time. Every break must be preceded by a vibration, which
prepares the way for it.

Prolations are laryngeal articulations. Great care must be taken not to
substitute pectoral articulations for them.

The chest is a passive agent; it should furnish nothing but the breath.
The mouth and the larynx alone are entitled to act.

_On the Tearing of the Voice._

Exuberance of the contained brings on destruction of that which contains
it. Tearing of the voice, therefore, should only be associated with an
excessive extension of the sound whose intensity, as we have
demonstrated, is in inverse ratio to the dramatic proportion.


The figure 1 is characteristic of unity and measure. The figure 2, which
is the measure in the 1, should become subordinate in its greatness and
be equal with it. It is another one which gives birth to the idea of

The idea of number can only arise from the presence of terms of the same
nature. Thus the idea of number cannot arise from the presence of a cart
and a toad. We shall thus have two very distinct unities, having no kind
of relation to each other. There must, therefore, be equality before
there can be number. This is so true that we cannot say of a man and a
child that they are two men or two children, because the one is not
equal to the other. It is, therefore, from the point of an attributive
equality that we are enabled to say: They are two. But we can say: There
are two beings, because in regard to being they are equal one to the
other. We now understand how two equals one, that the two figures have
an equal importance, and that the figure 1 contains exclusively the idea
of measure; the figure 2 contains the idea of number, which is not in
the 1, this being the characteristic feature by which the two terms

Now, how are we to form a perfect unity between these two equal but
distinct terms?

A single operation will suffice to give us the idea we wish, and this
operation is revealed to us entire in the word _weight_. In fact, the
two terms can only be united by this word. We feel that 1 and 2 give us
a common weight, the sum of which is represented by the figure 3. The
figure 3 is, therefore, equal in importance to 1 and to 2; it maintains
equality in the terms of which it is the representative, and its
characteristic feature is equally important with those already

Thus to the figure 1 belongs the idea of _measure_; to the figure 2
belongs the idea of _number_; to the figure 3 belongs exclusively the
idea of reünion, of community, of unity in fine, which no other figure
can reveal to us. We may say: 1 and 1 are equal among themselves, in the
unity of the figure 3; or, in other words: Measure and number find their
unity in weight.

Medallion of Inflection (Compare Delaumosne, page 119.)


Explanation.--The vertical line 1 (from top to bottom) expresses
affirmation, confirmation; 2, the horizontal line, expresses negation.
The oblique lines, 3 and 4, from within outward and from without inward,
express rejection. 4, an oblique line from within outward rejects things
which we despise. 3, a line from within outward, rejects things which
oppress us and of which we wish to get rid. 5, the quadrant of a circle,
whose form recalls that of a hammock, expresses well-being, contentment,
confidence and happiness. 6, a similar quadrant of a circle, an
eccentric curvilinear, expresses secrecy, silence, domination,
persuasion, stability, imposition, inclosure. The reëntering external
curvilinear quadrant of a circle, 7, expresses graceful, delicate
things. Produced in two ways, from above downward, it expresses physical
delicacy; from below upward, moral and intellectual delicacy. The
external quadrant of a circle, 8, expresses exuberance and plenitude,
amplitude and generosity. The circular line surrounding and embracing is
characteristic of glorification and exaltation.


1. You may believe
2. That none, oh Lord
3. Had such glory
4. Or such happiness.

Thy voice, brother,
cannot be heard.

After such a marvel
one might believe a thousand
without raising his eyebrows.

[Illustration] The other was a perfect
master of the art of cheating.

Remark.--These inflections being produced, it is essential to know the
centre from which they emanate. The amplitude of the circle described
must be in harmony with the object in question. Thus a circle may be
produced with the entire arm, and glorification is the thing in

[Illustration] grace, elegance

[Illustration] charm, elevation

[Illustration] Light and amiable.

[Illustration] Light and spiritual.

The half quarter of a circle characteristic of exuberance combined with
the half quarter circle characteristic of delicacy, expreses grace. It
is delicacy mixed with abundance; tenuity supported by generosity.

[Illustration] The rejection of a
contemptible thing (4)
concluded by happiness,
well-being (5) signifies
that repose will not be purchased
at the cost of a contemptible

[Illustration] The possession of

[Illustration] The 3 combined
with the 5 rejection
of an illusory happiness.

Note.--The figures 3, 4, 5, 6, refer to the corresponding figures in the
Medallion of Inflection.

The hand placed horizontally, the back uppermost pirouetting on the
wrist alternately in pronation and supination, thus passing from force
to feebleness and from feebleness to force, characterizes irritability.
[Compare Delaumosne, pages 114-118.]

[Illustration: Chart of Man. Human Nature.]

[Illustration: Chart of the Angels. Angelic Nature.]

The Nature of the Colors of Each Circle in the Color Charts.

_Red, Blue and Yellow._

Red is the color of life. Indeed, this is asserted by fire, by the heat
of the blood.

Blue is the color of the mind. Is not blue the color of the sky, the
home of pure intellects, set free from the body, who see and know all
things? To them everything is in the light.

Yellow is the color of the soul. Yellow is the color of flame.

Flame contains the warmth of life and the light of the mind. As the soul
contains and unites the life and the mind, so the flame warms and
shines. [Compare Delaumosne, page 157.]

The Attributes of Reason.

The human reason, that haughty faculty, deified in our age by a myriad
of perverse and commonplace minds known under the derisive and doubly
vain title of freethinkers, is but blind, despite its high opinion of
its own insight. Yes, and we affirm by certain intuition that man's
reason is not and cannot be otherwise than blind, aside from the
revealing principle which only enlightens it in proportion to its
subordination; for, abandoned to itself, reason can only err and must
fatally fall into an abyss of illusions.

The melancholy age in which we live but too often offers us an example
of the lamentable mistakes into which we are hurried by misguided
reason, which, yielding to a criminal presumption, deserts without
remorse the principle super-abounding in _life, light_ and _glory_.

To understand such an anomaly, to explain how reason, which constitutes
one of the highest attributes of man, is so far subject to error, it is
essential to have a thorough apprehension of the complexity of its
nature. What, then, is the real nature of the reason so little studied
and so illy known by those very men who raise altars in its honor? Let
us try to produce a clear demonstration. And let us first say that
reason does not constitute a primary principle in man; for a primary
_principle_ could never mistake its object. Neither is it a primary
_faculty_; it is only the form or the manner of being of such a faculty,
and thus cannot be a light in itself. The rays by which it shines are
external to it in the sense that it receives them from the principle
which governs and fertilizes it. Still, let us say that, although
neither a principle nor a faculty, reason is none the less, with
conscience, of which it forms the base, the noblest power of man; for
this power God created free; free from subjection to the principle that
enlightens it; free, too, to escape from it. Yet every power necessarily
recognizes a guiding principle to whose service it needs must bow; but
to reason alone it is granted to avoid the law which imperiously rules
the relations of the harmonious subordination of principiant faculties
to their principles. Hence the error or possible blindness of reason;
hence also its incomparable grandeur, which lies solely in its free and
spontaneous subordination. These principles established, let us go still
farther, and penetrate deeper into the mysterious genius of reason.

authorized to define reason. He did it in terms at once so simple, so
precise, and of such exquisite clarity, that we may venture to think
that reason itself could not have better rendered the terms of its own

This definition, let no one fail to see, contains in its extreme brevity
more substance than would fill a voluminous treatise. This, then, is his

_Reason is the discursive form of the intellect._

Now by this St. Thomas plainly establishes that reason, distinct from
the intellect, with which we must beware of confounding it, proceeds
from it as effect proceeds from cause. Therefore, intellect surpasses
reason as its principiant and guiding faculty; and reason only figures
in the intelligential sphere, despite the important part it plays in
virtue of its adjunctive or supplementing power.

But what is the purpose of this adjunction? Here, in reply to this grave
and important question, let us refer to what the same scholar says
elsewhere. "Reason arises," he says, "from the failure of intellect."
Certainly this is a luminous, and doubtless a very unexpected
proposition. From it we learn, on the one hand, that the intellect is
liable to defects and consequently to weaknesses; on the other hand, it
seems established that the adjunctive power comes to aid the faculty
which governs it, since here the subjected is born of the failure of
the subjector.

Let us explain this fresh anomaly. We have in the first place declared
the preceding proposition luminous in spite of the obscurity into which
we are plunged by the consequences which we have derived from it; but,
patience! We are already aware that it is from the very obscurity of
things that the brightest light sometimes bursts upon contemplative
eyes; and since faith is the next principle to knowledge, let us have
faith at least in the trustworthiness of him who addresses us,
especially as he has given us repeated, unequivocal tokens of sound and
upright reason. Let us, then, have no doubt that the preceding
proposition contains a precious precept; and very certainly light will
soon dawn on our mind.

This settled, and for the better understanding of the meaning attached
to this proposition, let us call to our aid the powers of analogy.

If reason arises from the failure of intellect it is doubtless to
rectify the valuations of the ego. Now the _compass_, which is in itself
very inferior to the hand which fashions it and appropriates it to its
own use, nevertheless implies a defect in that hand which directs it. So
there is between the eye and the telescope, which comes to its aid, all
the distance that divides the faculty from the instrument which it
governs. Still the telescope joined to the eye communicates to it a
great power of vision; but the instrument arises from the failure of
the eye, which is nevertheless infinitely superior to it; for it is the
eye which sees, and not the telescope.

It is thus that we must understand the relations of reason and
intellect. Let us say, then, that the reason is to the intellect exactly
what the telescope is to the eye. This established, we can formulate the
following definition as well founded.

The intellect is the spiritual eye whose mysterious telescope reason
forms, or: reason is a necessary appendage of mental optics, or again:
reason is the glass used by the eye of a defective intellect.

But this is not all. St. Thomas provides us still elsewhere with the
means of making our analogy more striking. He says, indeed: reason is
given us to make clear that which is not evident. Is not this, as it
were, the seal of truth applied to our demonstration? Thus the eye uses
the telescope absolutely as the intellect employs the reason, to make
clear that which is not evident.

Of course it is plain that if the sight and the intellect answered
perfectly to their object, they could do without this adjunct which
betrays their imperfection. The intellect would thenceforth have no more
need of reason than the eye of glasses.

This explains the fact, so important to consider, that the clearer the
mental vision is the less one reasons. The angels do not reason; they
see clearly what is troubled and confused by our mind. No one reasons in
heaven, there is no logician there, no--Intelligence is immortal, but
reason, which serves it here below, will fade away in eternity with the
senses which like it do but form the conditions of time.

Divine reason alone will endure because it has nothing accidental, and
it is substantially united to the eternal word. It is that reason toward
which all blest intelligences will finally gravitate. Hence, we see that
what already partakes of the celestial life repels reasoning as a cause
of imperfection or infirmity. It is thus, by its exclusion of reasons,
that the Gospel supremely proves its celestial origin. It is, indeed, a
thing well worth remark, especially worthy of our admiration, that there
is not to be found, in the four Gospels, a single piece of reasoning,
any more than there is an interjection to be found.

Let us add that faith does not reason: which does not mean, as so many
misbelievers feign, that faith is fulfilled by blindness or ignorance of
the objects of its veneration. Quite the contrary. Faith dispenses with
reason because of the perfection of its sight. It is, finally, because
it is superior to reason and sees things from a higher plane. This is
what so many short-sighted people cannot see; and, to return to our
analogy, it seems to them able to see nothing save through the glasses
of reason. It seems to them, I say, that any man who does not wear
glasses must see crooked. Keep your glasses, my good souls! They suit
short limits of sight. But we, who, thank God, have sound sight, are
only troubled and clouded by them.

It is thus that reason, which is given us to make clear what is not
evident, frequently obscures even the very evidence itself. We might
confirm this declaration by a thousand examples. To cite but one, let us
point out how plainly the spectacle of the universe of thought and the
idea of a Divine Creator prove that no glasses are required to
contemplate God in His works. Well! scientists have felt obliged to
direct theirs upon these simple notions, and have thus, _i.e._, by force
of reasoning, succeeded in confusing out of all recognition a question
sparkling with evidence, so much so that they will fall into such a
state of blindness that they can no longer see in this world any trace
of the Supreme Intelligence which is yet manifested with glory in the
least of His creatures. Consequently, they will bluntly deny the
existence of God; but as they still must needs admit a creative cause,
they have to that end invented _moving atoms_ and have made from these
strange corpuscles something so perfectly invisible that they can spare
themselves the trouble of providing public curiosity with a living proof
of their theory.

The scientist is born perverted, as was said of the Frenchman who
created the vaudeville; and men, too strong-minded and above all too
full of reason to give any credence to the mysteries taught by the
church, have displayed a blind faith in respect to _moving atoms_. They
think thus to set themselves free from what they call the prejudices of
their fathers. They find no difficulty in attributing to invisible
corpuscles both the plan and the execution of the beings who people the

This is the fine conception attributed to what is called a higher
reason--a conception before which bow legions of strong minds. To such a
degree of degradation can reason drag man down.

It is, therefore, dangerous to consult the reason in any case where
evidence is likely to be called into play. But, before proceeding
farther in the course of our demonstrations, a question presents itself.
It may be asked what we think of another kind of reason--_pure reason_;
for it appears that in the opinion of certain philosophers pure reason
does exist. I do not know where they authenticated and studied this
species of reason. For myself I confess in all humility that not only
have I never seen a pure reason, but it has never even been possible for
me to raise my mind to the point of comprehending the signification of
pure reason. I greatly fear that some nonsense lurks within the phrase,
such transcendental nonsense as belongs to ideological philosophers
alone. I know not why, but these gentlemen's pure reason always gives me
the sensation of a strong blast of _moving atoms_. In fact, it is not
clear; but why require clarity of philosophers and ideologists?

But let us leave these senseless words and pursue the course of our

What we have said of reason is quite sufficient to prevent its
confusion with the faculty whose discursive form it is. But this is not
enough. We must, by still more delicate distinctions, make any confusion
between these two terms impossible.

Reason, although essentially allied to intelligence, is not, like it,
primordial in man. Thus God created man intelligent, and consequently
susceptible of reason; but we do not see the word reason brought into
play in Genesis, because it merely expresses a derivation from the mind
or intellect. Reason, therefore, is secondary and posterior in the
genetic order. But here to the support of this assertion we have a
striking and undeniable proof; namely, that the infant is born
intelligent but not reasonable. Intellect proceeds directly from _that
true light which shines in every man on his entrance into the world_,
while reason is merely the fruit of experience. A proof of the
superiority of intelligence to reason is seen in the fact that it
partakes of the immutable, and is not like the latter, liable to

Thus the child is seen to be as intelligent as an adult man can be. Let
us rather say that it is in the child especially that intelligence
displays its brightest rays. Yet he is not furnished with reason. And
why not? Because he has no experience. Reason, therefore, is an acquired
power, whose light is borrowed from experience or tradition.

Reason is proportional to the experience acquired. Practical reason or
rationality is the ration or portion of experience allotted to each

Reason is to the mental vision exactly what the eye is to optical
vision, and just as the eye borrows its visual action from external
light, so reason borrows its power of clear and correct vision from
traditional experience. The similarity is absolute.

Suppress light, and vision ceases to be possible. Suppress revelation
from intellectual objects, and reason is thenceforth blind.

Between reason and intelligence, although there be inclusion and
co-essentiality in these terms, there is a great difference in the mode
of cognizance; for, as St. Augustine says, intelligence is shown by
simple perception, and reason by the discursive process. Thus, while
intelligence acts simply, as in knowing an intelligible truth by the
light of its own intuition, reason goes toward its end progressively,
from one thing known to another not yet known.

The latter, as St. Thomas says, implies an imperfection. The former, on
the contrary, beseems a perfect being. It is, therefore, evident, adds
the same profound thinker, that reasoning bears the same relation to
knowledge that motion does to repose, or as acquisition to possession.
The one is of an imperfect nature, and the other of a perfect nature.
Boëthius compares the intellect to eternity; reason, to time.

Yet human reason, according to the principle which illuminates it,
offers three degrees of elevation which we will distinguish, for
readier comprehension, by three special terms, namely: first, tradition
or the experience of another; second, personal experience; third, the
reason of things.

Trained by tradition, reason is called _common sense_. Trained by
personal experience to the knowledge of principles, reason is called
_science_. Trained by the contemplation of principles to the perfection
of the intellect, reason is called _wisdom_.

What we call practical reason is based upon the authority of tradition
and the lessons of other people's experience in regard to the customary
and moral matters of life.

Speculative or discursive reason judges by the criterion of its own
experience; thereby inferring consequences more or less in conformity
with traditional teachings, and arriving by the logical order of its
deductions and in virtue of the principles which it accepts and which it
applies to its discoveries, at what we call science.

Transcendental reason pursues, in the effects which it examines, the
investigation of their cause, and rises thence to the very reason of
things. Wherefore it silences reasoning, enters into a silent and
persistent course of observation, consults the facts, examines, studies
and questions the principles whence it sees them to be deduced; and,
without yielding to the obscurity in which these principles are
enveloped, pierces that obscurity by the penetrative force of
unremitting attention. Inspired by the standard of faith, it knows that
the spirit of God exists at the root of these mysteries. It clings
thereto, unites itself thereto by contemplation, and finally draws from
this union its _strength_, its _light_ and its _joy_.

Such is the course of wisdom, and such are the inestimable advantages of
faith to reason. It is in fact by faith that reason is aggrandized and
elevated to the height of the intellect whence it draws its certitude.

Reason believes because it desires to understand, and because it knows
that faith is the next principle to knowledge.

Thus the grandeur of reason is proportioned to its humility;
proportioned, I would say, to the efforts which it multiplies to forget
itself when the truth addresses it. But such is not the method of
procedure of "strong minds." They have a horror of the mysteries toward
which they are still urged by correct instincts. The fact is, let us say
it boldly, they fear lest they find God there.

In these misguided spirits there is so much presumption, self-conceit,
self-love, that they are, in the nullity of their lofty pride, a worship
unto themselves, an idolatry of their own reason. They have deified
it,--that poor, frail reason; and this, while mutilating it, while
proclaiming it independent and free from all law, from all principle,
from everything definite.

To what excess of imbecility, then, have we not seen these freethinkers
fall, these apostles of independent reason, who on principle boast that
they have no faith and no law! Thence comes the scorn which afflicts
these unbelievers for all who believe and hope here below; thence, their
systematic ignorance of fundamental questions; thence, the incurable
blindness in which they bask; thence, finally, the inconsistencies and
contradictions which make them a spectacle humiliating to the human

But agnostic man labors in vain. He cannot escape the mysteries which
surround him on every hand, like a gulf in which reason is inevitably
lost so soon as it ceases to seek the light.

Man stumbles at every turn against the efforts of a stronger reason than
his own,--the Supreme Reason before which, nilly nilly, his must bow and
confess the insanity of its judgments.

Logic is not, to reason, a sure guide; and even where it feels its
foothold most strong, it sometimes trips, to the disgrace of the good
opinion it had of its own infallibility.

Let us show by a simple example to what rebuffs our reason is exposed
when counting on the support of its logic, face to face with the reason
of facts.

Undoubtedly it is logical and perfectly in conformity with reason, to
say that _one_ and _one_ make _two_. No doubt seems possible on that
point. Well, this elementary truth, the most undeniable in the eyes of
all men which can be produced, does not, despite the assurances which
seem to uphold it, constitute an impregnable axiom; for there are cases
when _one_ and _one_ do not make _two_! Certainly such a proposition
seems scarcely reasonable, for its admission would entail the reversal
of what are called the sound notions of logic! But what will the
logician say if I affirm that in a certain case, _one_ and _one_ make
but _one-half_? Would he even take the trouble to refute me? No, he
would laugh in my face; he would not listen to me; he would tax me with
absurdity and insanity, preferring thus to lose a chance of instruction
rather than confess the impotence of his logic.

There is the evil, and it is generally in this way that ignorance is
perpetuated. But let us return to the fact which we desire to prove,
contrary to logic and the pretensions of ordinary reason.

Now, it is logical and perfectly in conformity with reason to say that
two musical instruments make more noise than one; and that thus two
double basses, for example, tuned in unison and placed side by side,
produce one sound of a double intensity. This seems an elementary
matter. It is as clear, you say, as that one and one make two. Well, no,
it is not so clear as you suppose. It is, on the contrary, a mistake;
for attentive experiment proves that the result is diametrically
opposite to the logical conclusion.

This is a fact which no argument can destroy. Two double basses, placed
in the above-named conditions--conditions of vicinity and tonal
identity--far from adding up their individual result, are thus reduced
each to a quarter of its own sonority, which in the sum total, instead
of producing a double sound, produces a sound reduced to half of that
given individually by each instrument taken alone. This is how a power
plus an analogous power equals together with it but half a power; and
thus we are forced to admit that one and one do not necessarily make

I have carried the experiment still farther; in the instrument which
gained me a first-class medal at the exhibition of 1854, I was enabled
to put thirty-six strings of the same piano into unison at once. Well!
All these strings, struck simultaneously, did not attain to the
intensity of sound produced by one of them struck singly. All these
sounds, far from gaining strength by union, reciprocally neutralized one
another. This is not logical, I admit; but we must submit to it.

Logic must be silent and reason bow before the brutal force of a fact to
which there is no objection to be raised.

Since we are on the subject of the phenomena of sonority, let us draw
another illustration from it, quite as overwhelming in its illogicalness
as the former.

When two similar phenomena differ from one another on any side, the
discord brought about by this difference is more apparent and more
striking by reason of the closer conjunction of these phenomena. By way
of compensation the dissimilarity is less appreciable in proportion as
these phenomena are farther apart from each other.

This is rigorously logical and perfectly conformable to reason; yet
there are cases where we must affirm the contrary. Thus the same sound
produced, I will suppose, by two flutes not in accord with one another,
forms those disagreeable pulsations in the air which discordant sounds
inevitably produce. There seems to be no doubt that by gradually
bringing these discordant instruments together, the falseness of their
relation must be more and more striking, more and more intolerable.
Wrong! For then, and above all if the mouths of these instruments be
concentrically directed, a mutual translocation is produced between the
two discordant sounds, which restores the accuracy of their agreement.
Thus the lower sound is raised, while the higher one is lowered, in such
a way that the two sounds are mingled on meeting and form a perfect
unison. Now, here are contrasts, which, contrary to all rational data,
so far from being exaggerated by contact, diminish gradually, until they
are utterly annihilated. Thus, then, given two instruments of the same
nature, if the harmony which they effect be true, they enter by reason
of their conjunction into a negative state which neutralizes their
sonority; while the contrary occurs in the case of false unison. Here
the instruments become identical with one another, the sonority is
increased and the tonal deviation is corrected to the most perfect

Obstinate rationalists, what is your logic worth here? Has it armed you
against the surprises held in store for you by a multitude of facts
inaccordant with your reasonings? Oh, proud and haughty reason, bow your
head! Confess the inanity of your ways. Bow yet, once again, and
contemplate the mystery whence luminous instruction shall beam for you!

At bottom these mysteries may surprise and baffle a reason deprived of
principle; but they are never contrary to it, because they proceed from
reason itself, from that Supreme Reason which created us in its own
image; and, by that very fact, is always in accord with individual
reason in so far as this will consent to sacrifice its own prejudices to
it, or listen to its infallible lessons.

But man's reason most frequently heeds itself alone. Thence, once again,
arise its infirmities. Thus, what will happen, if, because the truths
which I utter here are obscure and do not at the first glance appear to
conform to the requirements of logic, you hastily reject them with all
the loftiness of your scornful reason, which would blush to admit what
it did not understand! Poor reason! which in and of itself understands
so little, and admits so many follies as soon as a scholar affirms them.
The consequence will be that you will be strengthened in the error which
flatters your ignorance. Behold that proud reason which would never
bend before a mystery revealed, behold it, I say, bowed beneath the
weight of prejudices, which there will be more than one scholar, more
than one logician, ready to endorse.

Thus reason will refuse as unworthy itself, all belief in the actions of
God or of unseen spirits, the angels, heaven, but will not dare to doubt
the existence of _moving atoms_, invisible corpuscles. This is the
mental poverty into which the enemies of religious faith unwittingly
fall. They pervert that instrument of reason whose true use is to
supplement and fortify imperfect intelligence, and misuse it to
discredit and overthrow the original intuitions of intelligence.

Random Notes.


It is within himself that man should find the reason of all he studies.
In the angels he should find the secret of his being: they are his
prototypes. Lastly, it is in the Divine archetype that we are to look
for the universal reason.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Senses._

    Taste and smell say: It is _Good_.
    Sight and touch say: It is _Beautiful_.
    Hearing and speech say: It is _True_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Every agreeable or disagreeable sight makes the body reäct backward. The
degree of reaction should be in proportion to the degree of interest
caused by the sight of the object presented to our sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _soul_ is a triple virtue, which, by means of the powers that it
governs, forms, develops and modifies the sum total of the constituent
forces of the body.

The _body_ is that combination of co-penetrating forces whose inherent
powers govern all acts under the triple impulse of the constituent
forces of the being.

The _immanences_ are powers which, under the impulse of the constituent
virtues of the being, govern and modify the co-penetrating forces of the

The _powers_ govern the forces under the impulse of the virtues.

The _virtues_ are the impulses under the sway of which the powers govern
and direct the forces.

       *       *       *       *       *

Light is the symbol of order, of peace, of virtue.

       *       *       *       *       *

Science and art form two means of assimilation: The one by means of
absorption, the other by means of emanation. The one, more generous than
the other, gives and communicates; the other unceasingly receives and
appeals. Science receives, art gives. By science man assimilates the
world; by art he assimilates himself to the world. Assimilation is to
science what incarnation is to art.

If science perpetuates things in us, art perpetuates us in things and
causes us to survive therein.

If by science man makes himself preëminent in subjugating the things of
this world, by art he renders them supernatural by impressing upon them
the living characters of his being and of his soul.

Art is an act by which life lives again in that which in itself has no

Art should move the secret springs of life, convince the mind and
persuade the heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Beauty purifies the sense,
    Truth illuminates the mind,
    Virtue sanctifies the soul.

       *       *       *       *       *

The more lofty the intellect, the more simple the speech. (So in art.)

       *       *       *       *       *

Accent is the modulation of the soul.

       *       *       *       *       *

The artist who does not love, is by that fact rendered sterile.

       *       *       *       *       *

Art is a regenerating or delighting power.

       *       *       *       *       *

Routine is the most formidable thing I know.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you would move others, put your heart in the place of your larynx;
let your voice become a mysterious hand to caress the hearer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nothing is more deplorable than a gesture without a motive.

Perhaps the best gesture is that which is least apparent.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is always voice enough to an attentive listener.

       *       *       *       *       *

Persuade yourself that there are blind men and deaf men in your
audience whom you must _move_, _interest_ and _persuade!_ Your
inflection must become pantomime to the blind, and your pantomime,
inflection to the deaf.

       *       *       *       *       *

The mouth plays a part in everything evil which we would express, by a
grimace which consists of protruding the lips and lowering the corners.
If the grimace translates a concentric sentiment, it should be made by
compressing the lips.

       *       *       *       *       *

Conscious menace--that of a master to his subordinate--is expressed by a
movement of the head carried from above downward.

Impotent menace requires the head to be moved from below upward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Any interrogation made with crossed arms must partake of the character
of a threat.

       *       *       *       *       *

When two limbs follow the same direction, they cannot be simultaneous
without an injury to the law of opposition. Therefore, direct movements
should be successive, and opposite movements should be simultaneous.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are three great articular centres: the _shoulder, elbow_ and
_wrist_. Passional expression passes from the shoulder, where it is in
the emotional state, to the elbow, where it is presented in the
affectional state; then to the wrist and the thumb, where it is
presented in the susceptive and volitional state.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three centres in the arm: the _shoulder_ for pathetic actions; the
_elbow_, which approaches the body by reason of humility, and
reciprocally (that is, inversely) for pride; lastly, the _hand_ for
fine, spiritual and delicate actions.

       *       *       *       *       *

The initial forms of movements should be--in virtue of the zones whence
they proceed--the only explicit, and consequently the only truly
expressive ones.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bad actors exert themselves in vain to be moved and to afford a
spectacle to themselves. On the other hand, true artists never let their
gestures reveal more than a tenth part of the secret emotion that they
apparently feel and would hide from the audience to spare their
sensibility. Thus they succeed in stirring all spectators.

       *       *       *       *       *

No, art is not an imitation of nature: art is better than nature. It is
nature illuminated.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two kinds of loud voices: the vocally loud, which is the
vulgar voice; and the dynamically loud, which is the powerful voice. A
voice, however powerful it may be, should be inferior to the power
which animates it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Every object of agreeable or disagreeable aspect which surprises us,
makes the body recoil. The degree of reaction should be proportionate to
the degree of emotion caused by the sight of the object.

       *       *       *       *       *

Without abnegation, no truth for the artist. We should not preoccupy the
audience with our own personality. There is no true, simple or
expressive singing without self-denial. We must often leave people in
ignorance of our own good qualities.

       *       *       *       *       *

To use expression at random on our own authority, expression _at all
hazards_, is absurd.

       *       *       *       *       *

The mouth is a vital thermometer, the nose a moral thermometer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dynamic wealth depends upon the number of articulations brought into
play; the fewer articulations an actor uses, the more closely he
approaches the puppet.

       *       *       *       *       *

A portion of a whole cannot be seriously appreciated by any one ignorant
of the constitution of that whole.

       *       *       *       *       *

An abstract having been made of the modes of execution which the artist
should learn before handling a subject, two things are first of all

1. To know what he is to seek in that subject itself;

2. To know how to find what he seeks.

       *       *       *       *       *

Is not the essential principle of art the union of truth, beauty and
good? Are its action and aim anything but a tendency toward the
realization of these three terms?

       *       *       *       *       *

We have a right to ask a work of art by what methods it claims to move
us, by which side of our character it intends to interest and convince

       *       *       *       *       *

Speech is external, and visible thought is the ambassadress of the

       *       *       *       *       *

How should the invisible be visible when the visible is so little so!

       *       *       *       *       *

One cannot be too careful of his articulation. The initial consonant
should be articulated distinctly; the spirit of the word is contained in

       *       *       *       *       *

Two things to be observed in the consonant: its explosion and its
preparation. The _t, d, p,_ etc., keep us waiting; the _ch, v, j,_
prepare themselves, as: "_vvvenez_." The vocals _ne, me, re_ are

       *       *       *       *       *

_Rhythm_ is that which asserts; it is the form of movement.

_Melody_ is that which distinguishes.

_Harmony_ is that which conjoins.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let your attitude, gesture and face foretell what you would make felt.

       *       *       *       *       *

Be wary of the tremolo which many singers mistake for vibration.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you cannot conquer your defect, make it beloved.

       *       *       *       *       *

A movement should never be mixed with a facial twist.

       *       *       *       *       *

Things that are said quietly should sing themselves in the utterance.

Part Sixth.

Lecture and Lessons Given by Mme. Géraldy (Delsarte's Daughter) in

[Illustration: Mme. Marie Delsarte-Géraldy.]


_Delivered by Mme. Géraldy at the Berkeley Lyceum, New York, February 6,


When I made up my mind to come to this country it was not with the
object of exhibiting _myself_, but to speak to you of my father. In your
country my father is much talked of. In my country, unfortunately, he is
forgotten. My father did not write anything--that is a terrible thing!
He expected to do so some day, but he always put it off. At last he
decided to do so during the war--our unfortunate war! He did not have
many lessons to give at that time, for nobody thought of taking any.
This gave him leisure to write. His work was to have borne the title,
"My Revelatory Episodes." He had only written five chapters when he
died. It was to bring to you these five chapters that I came to America.
But as soon as I began to speak of them I was stopped. "Why do you tell
us this?" they said; "we know all this already." I then discovered that
the books written on my father by the Abbé Delaumosne and by Mme.
Angélique Arnaud had been translated and published in this country. Mme.
Arnaud's book is the better of the two, but it is not practical--not at
all practical.

I have gathered together what I remember in the form of lectures, which
I offer to you. I have been asked for examples; I shall give you
examples. I will begin, however, by giving you a little biographical
sketch of my father, and by telling you how he happened to make his
discovery. He was the son of a country doctor, a man poor but original.
My father was still a very little boy when his father sent him and his
younger brother to Paris. There they were apprenticed to a jeweler and
made bands of gold. Soon the little brother died, and my father was the
only one to follow him to the cemetery. On his way back, after the
burial, he fell fainting on the plain. When he regained consciousness he
heard music in the distance, and, not knowing whence it came, thought it
was the music of the angels. Since then he dreamed of nothing but music;
he wanted to hear all he could; he longed to study it. One day he heard
two little urchins singing in the street. He asked them: "Do you know
music?" The urchins replied: "Yes!" "Will you teach it to me?" "Yes,
certainly," and they sang a scale for him. "Is that all there is of
music?" "Why, yes."

Not long after, he made the acquaintance of an old musician, who became
interested in him, gave him a few lessons, and entered him at the
Conservatoire. There he attended the elocution classes, and a role was
given to him to learn in which he had to say: "How do you do, Papa
Dugrand!" He had no success with this sentence. Each of his four
professors told him a different way of saying it, and he wondered: "How
is this? Are there, then, no principles to go by?" One day a cousin of
his arrived unexpectedly from the country. "How do you do, my dear
cousin!" And immediately after this warm greeting he ran away from his
cousin, crying, excitedly, "I have it! I have it!" and did not stop
until he got to his room and in front of a looking-glass. What he had
was the right attitude and way to say, "How do you do, Papa Dugrand!"
and this way was diametrically opposed to the instruction his professors
had given him on the subject.

My father spent forty-five years in observing. He was the king of
observers. What remains to us is but one-quarter of all his
observations. My father's method is comprehensive; it can be applied to
the arts, to the sciences. His pupils were orators, painters, sculptors,
comedians, lawyers, doctors, society amateurs.

My father had read in the first chapter of Genesis that God made man in
His image. God is Trinity. Trinity is the criterion of my father.

Raymond Brucker was an old friend of my father's. "What is this method
of your friend Delsarte?" was a question often put to him. "Delsarte's
method," he would reply, "is an orthopedic machine to straighten
crippled intellects."

My father considered man as the principle of all arts. He used three
terms to express man: Life, mind and soul. He would compare man to a
carriage occupied by a traveler. In front sits a coachman, who drives
the horse. The carriage is the body of man; the horse that makes it move
is life; the coachman who drives the horse is the mind; the occupant of
the carriage, who gives orders to the coachman, is the soul. Man feels,
thinks and loves.

My father made use of three terms to express three states: Concentric,
normal and excentric. These he would combine with each other. I will
show you, for example, the three concentric attitudes of the hand: The
concentro-concentric, expressing struggle; the concentro-normal, meaning
power; the concentro-excentric, showing convulsion. [_Illustrates._] In
the same way we have the combinations of the eyes and eyebrows, and,
again, those of the head. The head is concentro-concentric when the eyes
look in the same direction as that toward which the head inclines; this
expresses veneration. Notice how different the words, "I love him!"
sound when said first with the head inclined from and then inclined
toward the object.

An interesting series of movements for the arms that my father used to
give is the following: "It is impossible;" "It is not so;" "It is
improbable;" "Maybe;" "It is so;" "It is evident;" "There is no doubt
whatever about it." [_Illustrates._] This series is equally applicable
to affirmation and to negation. For example, you can begin by, "It is
impossible that it is not true!" and continue with that meaning.

I have been requested to give the attitudes of the feet. I do not like
to give them because they are not feminine, and I abhor all that is not
feminine. However, as I have been asked for them, and as I wish to prove
that my father had also given his attention to their study, here they
are: (1) The attitude of little children and of old men, expressing
weakness; (2) that of absolute repose; (3) vehemence; (4) prostration;
(5) transitory attitude, preparatory to (6) reverential walk; (7)
vertigo, intoxication, which is an ignoble vertigo, or familiarity; (8)
the alternative between the positions of offensive and defensive; (9)
defiance. [_Applause_.] Oh! I beg of you! [_Deprecatingly_.] It is
horribly ugly in me; but in a man it is all right.

I shall now speak of the interesting role that the shoulder plays in the
expression of emotions. My father called the shoulder "the thermometer
of passion." Indeed, the shoulders rise with every strong emotion. If I
say, "Oh! how angry I am!" without raising the shoulders, it sounds if
not false at least weak; but listen, when I raise my shoulders: "Oh! how
angry I am!" Again, if I say, "How I love you!" the words are cold; but,
with shoulders raised, listen, "How I love you!" Thus we see actors
every day who portray different passions, but whose shoulders remain
"cold;" they do not move us.

There is a very pretty observation to make about the elbow. My father
called it the "thermometer of pride and humility," and used to call our
attention to the different ways the soldiers carry their elbows. You
know we have a great many soldiers in France and we have a good, chance
to observe them. A corporal--that is, nothing at all--carries his elbows
like this [_elbows turned outward_]. A sergeant, whose rank is a little
higher than that of a corporal, carries them this way [_elbows slightly
drawn in_]. By the time he becomes lieutenant he is used to authority,
and does not have to show it off so much [_elbows drawn in still more_].
As for a general, one whose rank is the highest in the army, he walks
with his arms hanging naturally at his sides.

Now let me tell you about the thumb. My father being the son and the
nephew of doctors, was interested enough in the science to enter, at one
time, the school of medicine. Here, while dissecting, he noticed that
the thumb of a dead man falls inward toward the palm. This led him to
study the attitude of the thumb in life. He would pass days in the
garden of the Tuileries watching the nurses and the mammas carrying
their babes, noting how their thumbs spread out to clasp the precious
burden, and how the mothers' hands spread wider open than those of hired
servants; so he called the thumb "the thermometer of life."

My father always used to say to his pupils: "Be warm outwardly, cold
inwardly." He wanted them to pass suddenly from one great emotion to
another. All great actors do so. He would point to a portrait of
Garrick, representing the great actor with one-half of his face
laughing, the other half weeping. He himself, in his lessons, after
having given expression to some pathetic sentiment, would become
immediately his own kind self again. He insisted on self-possession.
Often when I was a little girl, and would slip into the room during his
lessons, for I loved to listen to them, and would find him portraying
some terrible passion, he would stop suddenly, seeing the expression of
horror on my face, and would burst out laughing and catch me in his
arms, saying: "Poor little one, are you frightened?"

"The artist," said my father, "must move, interest and convince."
Gesture is the agent of the heart. Gesture must always precede speech.
"Make me feel in advance," he used to say; "if it is something
frightful, let me read it on your face before you tell me of it." To
illustrate the practice of gesture before speech, I will now recite the
fable of "The Cock, the Cat and the Mouse." [Here followed the
recitation of the fable.]

My father once held his whole audience under a spell, showing them,
through the medium of a little girl of eight, a hundred different ways
of saying, "That dog is pretty." I will show you one or two ways If I
really think the dog is pretty, I will say it in this tone, "That dog is
pretty." If the dog's coat is soiled, I will say in a different tone,
"That dog is pretty." And if the dog has rubbed against my dress, there
will be a vexed tone, "That dog is pretty!"

My father used to divide orators into "artists in words and artists in
gesture." Those who are simply artists in words are those who do not
move you. Lamartine said of my father, "He is art itself." Théophile
Gautier said of him that he "took possession" of his public.

In 1848 the National Guard was appointed to guard the public monuments.
My father, who was a member of the Guard, had his station near an
archbishopric. A poor fellow was arrested one day who looked suspicious;
he was searched and a chaplet was found on him. The cry arose
immediately that he should be drowned. The poor man was being hustled
off when my father stopped them, saying that he claimed his part of the
punishment, and he drew from his own pocket a chaplet and showed it to
them. Oh! my father was kind. He was goodness itself. He was often asked
to give lectures at the court, but he would answer: "I do not sell my
talent, I give it." He was especially fond of his poor pupils, those who
did not pay him; he would often invite them to dine with him.

And now let me show you a series of lines which my father called the
inflective medallion. Imagine a circle [_describing a circle in the air
with her hand_]. Within this circle a vertical line, a horizontal line,
and two oblique lines, all intersecting each other. At both ends of the
vertical and horizontal lines are small curved lines, the whole forming
the medallion. This medallion contains all necessary gestures. If the
vertical line is made from on high downward ↓ [Illustration], it means
affirmation; if made from below upward ↑ [Illustration], it means hope.
The horizontal line means negation. One oblique line means simple
rejection ↙ [Illustration]; the other ↗ [Illustration] means rejection
with scorn, as in a line from Lafontaine's fable, "The Lion's Court:"
"The monarch, vexed, sent him to Pluto." The little curve at the top of
the vertical line ⌣ [Illustration] expresses ease, repose; it has the
form of a hammock. The opposite curve ⌢ [Illustration] means secrecy and
mystery. This curve ([Illustration] means amplitude. The other one, when
made in this direction ⤶ [Illustration] expresses admiration for
physical beauty, and in the other direction ⤴ [Illustration], admiration
for moral beauty. The entire circle ○ [Illustration] expresses
glorification. These gestures can be made with the whole arm, with the
forearm only, or simply with the waving hand; the degree of expression
varies accordingly.

Lastly, I will speak about the law of opposition. The arm and the head
should move in inverse directions [_illustrating_]; also the arm and the
hand. The statue of the Gladiator is a beautiful example of this law of
opposition. He is what we French call "well based;" you cannot overthrow
him. In contrast to him, my father used to cite Punchinello, the
children's toy, an object of ridicule. Punchinello, when the string is
pulled, raises his right arm and his right leg at the same time.

Notice the different ways in which people scold. The schoolmaster moves
his head from above downward; the boy threatens back, tossing his head

And now, ladies, I hope that what I have said will move you to take a
deeper interest in my father's work, and enable you to understand his
methods better than heretofore. I shall then feel, when I return to my
country, that I have not crossed the Atlantic in vain.

The Course of Lessons Given in America By Mme. Géraldy

Mme. Géraldy prefaced her course of lessons with the following remarks:

God is Trinity. Man, created in the image of God, bears the seal of the
Trinity. In these lessons we shall analyze our whole person. We shall
dwell upon three terms: Concentric, normal, excentric. We find them

1, excentric; 2, concentric; 3, normal.


    |          |          |          |
    |          |          |  2   2   |
    |          |          |          |
    |          |          |  c.  c.  |
    |          |          |          |
    |          |          |          |
    |          |  3   3   |          |
    |          |          |          |
    |          |  n.  n.  |          |
    |          |          |          |
    |          |          |          |
    |  1    1  |          |          |
    |          |          |          |
    | cx.  cx. |          |          |
    |          |          |          |

We will begin with the eye--it is the most difficult.

Lesson I.

The Eye and the Eyebrow.

              Concentric  Closed.
    The Eye.  Normal      Open, without expression.
              Excentric   Wide open.

                  Concentric  Lowered.
    The Eyebrow.  Normal      Without expression.
                  Excentric   Raised.

         Combinations of the Eye and Eyebrow.

       Eye.       Eyebrow.     Expression.
    Concentric  Concentric  In tenseness of thought.
    Concentric  Normal      Heaviness, or somnolency.
    Concentric  Excentric   Disdain.

    Normal      Concentric  Moroseness.
    Normal      Normal      Without expression.
    Normal      Excentric   Indifference.

    Excentric   Concentric  Firmness.
    Excentric   Normal      Stupor.
    Excentric   Excentric   Astonishment.

The expressions of stupor and of astonishment
are greatly increased when preceded by a quivering
of the eyelid (blinking). This should be very rapid
and very energetic. Delsarte always insisted on this

Anxiety calls for a double movement of the eyebrows:
First, contract them; secondly, raise them.

Vitality is expressed by raising the outer part of
the eyebrows. This accomplishment is very rare;
but, then, it is not necessary.

Contraction of the lower eyelid expresses sensitiveness.

Lesson II.

The Head.

               Concentric    Bent forward.
    The Head.  Normal        Upright.
               Excentric     Bent backward.

                 Combinations of Head-movements.

    Concentro-concentric  Bent forward and inclined to one side (toward
                          the person): Veneration.

    Concentro-normal      Bent forward: Examination.

    Concentro-excentric   Bent forward and inclined to the other side
                          (from the person): Suspicion.

    Normo-concentric      Inclined toward the person: Tenderness.

    Normo-normal          Upright: Without expression.

    Normo-excentric       Inclined from the person: Sensuality.

    Excentro-concentric   Bent backward and inclined to one side (toward
                          the person): Abandon.

    Excentro-normal       Bent backward, straight: Exaltation, vehemence.

    Excentro-excentric    Bent backward and inclined to the other side
                          (from the person): Pride.

It is the position of the eye that determines the expression of the
head, for it is the direction of the eye that tells us on which side the
object of veneration, suspicion, etc., is supposed to be. The shoulders
should be observed here. They are the thermometer of passion; the
stronger the emotion, the higher they should be raised.

Lesson III.

The Hand.

               Concentric.......... Closed.
    The Hand.  Normal.............. Open.
               Excentric .......... Wide open.

                        Combinations of Hand-Movements.

    Concentro-concentric  Fist closed tight, thumb pressing against the
                          knuckles: Struggle.

    Concentro-normal      Hand closed, thumb resting lightly against the
                          side of the index finger: Power, authority.

    Concentro-excentric   Hand open, fingers contracted: Convulsion.

    Normo-concentric      Limp, fingers turned slightly inward:

    Normo-normal          Limp: Abandon.

    Normo-excentric       Open, fingers straight: Expansion.

    Excentro-concentric   Wide open, fingers stretched apart and
                          contracted: Execration.

    Excentro-normal       Fingers stretched apart and straight: Exaltation.

    Excentro-excentric    Fingers stretched wide apart and backward:

Lesson IV.

The Arms.

Let the arms swing backward from their natural position, with the palm
of the hands turned toward the front; head raised. Say: "It is

There is no doubt whatever about it.


Arms at the side in their natural position, palms toward the front; head
straight, Say: "It is not so."

Arms slightly forward; head very slightly bent. Say: "It is

Forearms slightly raised. Say: "Maybe."

Forearms still higher. Say: "It is probable."

Forearms at right angles with upper arms, palms always upward; head
bent. Say: "It is so."

Forearms higher. Say: "It is certain."

Forearms still higher (upper arms follow); head bent forward. Say: "It
is evident!"

Forearms still higher (by this time the upper arms are horizontal); head
bent way forward. Say: "There is no doubt whatever!"


As will be noticed, the head moves in the opposite direction from the
arms. The face must express what the words say. The movements of the
arms alone, without the expression of the face, do not mean anything.

Lesson V.

Inflections of the Hand.--Combinations of the Arm and Hand.

1. _Acceptance_. Put the arm out naturally, palm upward.

2. _Caress_. Raise the shoulder; bend the head, keep the elbow close to
the side; raise the hand as high as the face and, with palm outward,
bring it slowly down again as if stroking an object, at the same time
raising the head.

3. _Negation_. Draw a horizontal line in the air, the movement finishing
in an outward direction.

4. _Self-control_. Arm hanging at the side, hand in the concentro-normal
condition, denoting authority, power over one's self.

5. _Authority_. Extend the arm and raise it in front a little higher
than the level of the shoulder; then raise the hand, which should be in
the concentro-normal state, from the wrist and let it fall again with

6. _Menace_. The arm is kept in the same position, the fist clenched
(hand concentro-concentric).

7. _Execration_. Arm extended from the previous position sideward; hand
excentro-concentric, palm toward the back; head turned in opposite

8. _Horror_. Arm outstretched in front; hand excentric, palm outward;
head thrown back.

9. _Desire_. Arm in same position; hand assumes the normal condition
and turns its palm upward; head still thrown back.

These movements should blend one into the other, and should be executed
without any affectation. The law of opposition should be observed here;
for example: In the ascending movement of the arm the hand falls from
the wrist; when the arm descends, the hand points upward.

Lesson VI.

Basic Attitudes.

1. _Weakness_. Feet close together, weight of body on both. This
attitude is that of childhood and old age.

2. _Perfect calm and repose._ Rest weight on one foot (settling at the
hip), bend the knee of the other leg and advance the foot.

3. _Vehemence_. Move the body forward so that the weight rests on the
foot that is in front; the heel of the foot that is behind is thus

4. _Prostration_. Throw one foot far behind the other, with the knee
bent and the weight of the body upon it. This attitude, when properly
taken, leads to the kneeling position.

5. _Transitive position._ In walking, stop midway between two steps and
you have the 5th attitude or transitive position. It is the one that
leads to all kinds of walks, and especially to the reverential or
oblique walk.

_6. Reverential walk_. Let the foot which is behind take a step forward
in this manner: With the toe describe on the ground a semi-circle that
bends inward toward you; this will cause the heel to pass over the
instep of the other foot. The other foot now takes a straight step
forward, and you pause in a respectful attitude before the personage of
importance whom you wish to salute. Several steps may be taken in
succession before the final pause. The ceremonious step is always taken
with the foot you begin with (the one toward the person you salute); the
other foot always takes natural steps. This walk is only meant for men,
and only on grand occasions.

7. _Intoxication, vertigo_. The feet are planted on the ground and
apart. This attitude expresses familiarity.

8. _The alternative_. One foot in a straight line behind the other, the
weight of the body on both. This attitude is offensive and defensive.

9. _Defiance_. The weight of the body on the foot that is behind, the
other foot diagonally forward; head thrown back.

Delsarte never classed the basic attitudes under the heads of
concentric, normal or excentric, any more than he so classed gestures.
He simply gave them in the above sequence.

Lesson VII.

The Medallion of Inflection.

"_The Key to all Gestures_"


[Illustration] ↓ Affirmation.
[Illustration] ⇄ Negation.
[Illustration] ↑ Hope.
[Illustration] ↙ Rejection of things that harm us.
[Illustration] ↗ Rejection of things that we despise.
[Illustration] ⌣ Ease, comfort (resembles a hammock).
[Illustration] ⌢ Silence, secrecy.
[Illustration] () Plenitude, amplitude.
[Illustration] )( Delicacy, grace.
[Illustration] ⤶ Physical beauty.
[Illustration] ⤴ Beauty of intellect.


[Illustration] ↓ "You may believe
[Illustration] → that no lord
[Illustration]  had as much glory or happiness."

Mme. Géraldy's Lessons On Lafontaine's Fables.

The Wolf and the Lamb.

Might makes right; we shall prove this presently.

A Lamb was quenching his thirst in a stream of pure water. A Wolf, in
quest of adventures, happened by, drawn to the spot by hunger.

"What makes thee so bold as to pollute the water I drink?" said he,
angrily. "Thy impudence deserves to be punished."

"Sire," answered the Lamb, "soften your wrath, and consider that I am
drinking the water more than twenty feet below your Majesty, and can,
therefore, in no way pollute your Majesty's drink."

"You do pollute it!" replied the savage animal, "and I know that last
year you slandered me."

"How could I when I was not born?" replied the Lamb. "I am still a
suckling babe."

"If it was not you, then it was your brother."

"I have none."

"Then it was some member of your family, for you do not spare me--you,
your shepherds and your dogs. I have been told so. I must revenge

Thereupon the Wolf carried him into the depths of the forest, and ate
him without further trial.

Lesson Given By Mme. Géraldy.

In the narrative portions of a recitation, the eyes of the speaker
should meet the eyes of the audience. In this way he fixes their
attention and engages their sympathy.

Looking straight at the audience: "Might makes right [deplore the fact].
We shall prove this presently. A Lamb [by tone of voice and gesture show
what a weak, gentle creature a lamb is] was quenching his thirst in a
stream of pure water. A Wolf [a strong, cruel animal], in quest of
adventures, happened by, drawn to the spot by hunger." [Fold the arms;
gesture should always precede speech.] "'What makes thee so bold as to
pollute the water I drink?' said he, angrily. 'Thy impudence deserves to
be punished.'

"'Sire,' answered the Lamb [humbly], 'soften your wrath
and--[conjunctions should almost always be followed by a pause] consider
that I am drinking the water more than _twenty feet_ ["Mark me!"] below
your Majesty, and can, therefore, in no way pollute your Majesty's

"'You _do_ pollute it!' replied the savage animal, 'and--I know that,
last _year_, you _slandered_ me.' [With this line Delsarte always gave a
progressive gesture, which can best be described in this way:

Give the gesture of affirmation ↓ [Illustration] [see Lesson VII.],
stopping twice in the downward movement, on the words _that_ and _year_,

    |  I
    |  know
    v  that

    |     last
    v    year

    |     you
    v    slandered me.]

"'How could I when I was not born?' replied the Lamb [gentle voice]. 'I
am still a suckling babe.'

"'If it was not you, then it was your brother' [gruff voice].

"'I have none.'

"'Then it was some member of your family, for--you do not spare me, you,
your shepherds and your dogs. [There is no pause after the conjunction
_and_ here, as it simply joins together words in a list.] I have been
told so [impatiently; the wolf is tired of parleying so long]. I must
revenge myself.'

"'Thereupon [lower the voice to fix the attention] the Wolf carried him
into the depths of the forest and--ate him [deplore the fact] without
further trial'" [voice low].

The Cat, the Weasel and the Little Rabbit.

The palace of a young Rabbit was taken possession of, one fine morning,
by Dame Weasel; she is a sly one. The master being absent, it was an
easy thing for her to do. She carried her belongings there one day when
he had gone to do homage to Aurora, amid the thyme and the dew. After
having nibbled, and trotted, and made all his rounds, Bunny Rabbit
returned to his subterranean dwelling. Mrs. Weasel was looking out of
the window.

"Hospitable gods! what do I see!" exclaimed the animal, who had been
shut out from his ancestors' home. "Hello there, Madam Weasel, come out
without delay, or I shall notify all the rats in the country."

The lady with the pointed nose replied that land belonged to the first
occupant; that a lodging which he himself could enter only on his
stomach was a fine subject for war. "And even if it were a kingdom, I
should like to know why," said she, "it should belong forever to John,
son or nephew of Peter or William, more than to Paul, more than to me?"

Bunny Rabbit alleged the rights of use and custom. "It is these laws,"
said he, "that have made me lord and master of this dwelling; passing
from father to son, it was transmitted from Peter to Simon and then to
me, John. Is the right of the first occupant a wiser law?"

"Oh! well, instead of disputing any more," said she, "let us have the
matter settled by Raminagrobis Grippeminaud."

The latter was a cat who lived as a devout hermit; a cat whose ways and
words were smooth; a pious cat, warmly clothed and fat and comfortable;
an umpire, expert in all cases. Bunny Rabbit accepted him as judge, and
they both went before his furred Majesty.

Said Grippeminaud to them: "Come nearer, my children, come nearer; I am
deaf; it is the result of old age."

They both drew nearer, suspecting nothing. As soon as he saw the
contestants within reach, Grippeminaud, the sly fellow, throwing out his
paws on both sides at once, caused the two suitors to be of one mind by
eating them both up.

Lesson Given By Mme. Géraldy.

[Begin slowly, making frequent pauses] "The palace--of a young Rabbit [a
nice little animal]--was taken possession of, one fine morning, by Dame
Weasel [a personage with nose and manners sharp]; she is a sly one. The
master being absent, it was an easy thing for her to do. She carried her
belongings there [without asking by your leave!] one day when he had
gone to do homage to Aurora, amid the thyme and the dew. [I do not know
if you see the poetry here, but we French people consider this last line
one of the loveliest bits of Lafontaine.] After having nibbled, and
trotted, and made all his rounds, Bunny Rabbit returned to his
subterranean dwelling. Mrs. Weasel was looking out of the window. [Start
back in surprise, raise the arms and shoulders high, eyes wide open with
astonishment, excentro-excentric; see Lesson I.]

"'Hospitable gods! what do I see!' exclaimed the animal who had been
shut out from his ancestors' home. 'Hello there, Madam Weasel [with one
arm raised, beckon to her to come down], come out without delay, or--I
shall notify all the rats in the country.'"

"The lady with the pointed nose replied that land belonged to the first
occupant; that a lodging which he himself could enter only [scornfully;
eyes concentro-excentric, see Lesson I.] on his stomach was a fine
subject for war! 'And even if it were a kingdom [the weasel talks very
fast], I should like to know why,' said she, 'it should belong forever
to John, son or nephew of Peter or William [talk very fast, with a great
many gesticulations], more than to Paul, more than to me? '

"Bunny Rabbit alleged the rights of use and custom. 'It is these laws,'
said he [the rabbit talks slowly], 'that have made me lord and master of
this dwelling; passing from father to son [count on your fingers], it
was transmitted from Peter to Simon, and then--to me, John, Is the right
of the first occupant a wiser law?'"

"'Oh! well! instead of disputing any more,' said she [it is the weasel
who disputes; she talks in a high key and very fast] 'let us have the
matter settled by Raminagrobis Grippeminaud.'"

The latter was a cat who lived as a devout hermit; a cat whose ways and
words were smooth; a pious cat [assert the fact], warmly clothed and fat
and comfortable [said with the gesture expressive of plenitude made with
both arms [Illustration]; see Lesson VII.]; an umpire, expert in all
cases. Bunny Rabbit accepted him as judge, and--they both went before
his furred Majesty.

"Said Grippeminaud [the concentric state; take the attitude of one who
is wrapped up in himself, head bent, shoulders warped, hands holding
each other; hardly unclasp to make the sign of beckoning] to them: 'Come
nearer, my children, come nearer; [point to the ears] I am deaf; it is
the result of old age.'

"They both drew nearer, suspecting nothing. As soon as he saw the
contestants within reach, [prepare the claws] Grippeminaud, the sly
fellow [act the following] throwing out his paws on both sides at once,
caused the two suitors to be of one mind by eating them both up."

Delsarte's Daughter In America.

By Adèle M. Woodward.

Mme. Géraldy being asked, during her recent visit to this country, what
she thought of the system of gymnastics called "Delsarte," said (to
translate literally the expressive French): "It makes me jump! And yet
you have my father's method," she continued, showing two of the
principal works on the subject published in this country.[9] "All that
is correct (pointing to some of the charts); what more do you want?"

The trouble lies here: Americans wanted more. They added, they devised,
they evolved from the few gestures given by the French master a whole
system of movements which they called by his name, and which has become
very popular in young ladies' seminaries and young ladies' clubs. The
name of Delsarte has been so strongly associated with this system, that
to most people the word "Delsarte" without the word "gymnastics" would
not mean anything.

Mme. Géraldy came to our country to tell us what the name of Delsarte
means. Delsarte never taught gymnastics. His whole life was devoted to
the study of the laws that govern expression. His pupils were men of all
professions, ministerial and legal orators, actors, singers, etc. "The
first half of his lesson," said she, "was always devoted to theory, the
second to practice."

Mme. Géraldy is a tall, dark-haired, middle-aged woman, with an
interesting face and a charming French manner. She wears mourning for
her mother, who died in 1891.

"My mother," she said, "was a remarkable woman; she ought to be as well
known as my father is. I would rather my father were not known at all,"
she continued, "than to be known as he is in your country, that is, as a
professor of gymnastics."

She said she had heard of the American "Delsarte gymnastics" while in
Paris (Americans passing through the city had often come to her and
asked questions), but she had no idea, until she came here, that they
were pushed so far. She was quite amused at having dumb-bells given her
at one of her lectures in a town in Pennsylvania. "In a gymnasium, as
usual," she said, smiling. Anybody who had ever been through the
Delsarte gymnastics and afterward followed the course of lessons that
Mme. Géraldy gave to a class while in New York, would have been struck
by the beauty and simplicity of her father's method, and her clear and
direct exposition of it. Here was no affectation. "I abhor all that is
affected," she said. There were no intricate convolutions, no
flourishes, and, above all, no "decomposing exercises."

An interesting fact to note is that Mme. Géraldy began by teaching her
pupils the expressions of the eyes, and when she gave them attitudes or
gestures, she always called for the facial expression to accompany them.
A woman, well-known in her profession throughout the country, is said to
have made the remark that Mme. Géraldy was wrong in beginning with the
eyes; she should begin with the feet. Only after showing the
possibilities of expression by face, head, hands, arms and shoulders,
did Mme. Géraldy give the basic attitudes. She was very patient and
painstaking with her pupils, and showed herself interested in every one.
She would often pause, while showing some expressive gestures, and say,
smiling: "But you Americans do not express yourselves in gestures. You
do not 'move' as much as we do." And again, when insisting on the
expressiveness of the shoulders when raised ("the shoulders are the
thermometer of passion," said Delsarte) she would conclude: "But all
this is not American; you Americans do not shrug your shoulders."

In giving the gesture of caress, she quoted her father as saying that
the attitude of the hands in prayer is a certain form of caress. In our
desire to have the thing we pray for, we clasp our hands together and
press them to our bosom as if we already held it.[10]

She was sometimes amused at the numerous questions that were asked her
during the lessons. "What searching minds you Americans have!" she would
remark, admiringly. "You must know the why and the wherefore of
everything. We French people are of much lighter mind and take things
more for granted."

During the lesson on basic attitudes, the following question was put:
"In the attitude of repose is the mind in a passive state, and in the
attitude expressive of vehemence is the mind in an active state?" The
simple answer was: "It is the mind that governs the feet and not the
feet that govern the mind."

Mme. Géraldy always insisted on the law of opposition in movements,
nature's and her father's great law. She gave, for example, an
interesting series of gestures, which might be called the ascending
scale from doubt to conviction, in which the head moves simultaneously
with the arms and in an inverse direction. The figure on page 547*
represents the angles made by the arms and shoulders and, at the same
time, those made by the head and shoulders to express the accompanying

Delsarte used to say: "When I am speaking, stop me in the moment of my
greatest exaltation, and I defy you to find me, from my head to my feet,
in a position contrary to my method."

"Voice-culture for the speaking-voice is not an art that is cultivated
in France," Mme. Géraldy said, "What can you do to change your voice? It
was given to you by nature; you cannot change your vocal cords."

Mme. Géraldy returned to France, bearing with her the hope that her
efforts have not been altogether unsuccessful in making the great work
of her father's life better known to Americans, better understood and
appreciated by them.

Part Seventh.


Trueness in Singing.

Notes of a Lecture by Delsarte, Taken by His Pupil A. Giraudet, of The
National Academy of Music, Paris.

By a most reasonable deduction derived from his admirable principles,
Delsarte reckoned three modes or degrees of correct singing:

1. Absolute trueness;

2. Temperate trueness;

3. Passional trueness.

Absolute trueness is that adopted by theorists, who divide the gamut
into five notes and two semi-notes; the note into nine commas, or shades
of tone; the chromatic semi-tone into five, and the diatonic semi-tone
into four.

Thus from C to C# they count five shades of tone; whereas from C to Db
they count but four. Likewise, from D to Db they count five shades of
tone, and from D to C# but four.


The difference of a comma between the D flat and the C sharp, seemingly
a very slight difference, is, nevertheless, most important in singing,
as we shall see later on. But performers, to simplify our musical
system, have divided this comma into two, making synonymous notes of D
flat and C sharp; that is to say, notes having the same sound. The note
is, therefore, practically divided into two semitones of four commas and
a half. This is what is known as moderation or temperate trueness.


Temperate trueness is defective from many points of view. This is the
universal opinion, but we are forced to accept this method by the
absolute impossibility of any improvement, especially with the key-board
instruments now in vogue; and it must be accepted until some new
invention shall revolutionize the piano by modulating its tones, a
transformation which would give that instrument not only the musical
design, but also the color and warmth which it now lacks.

Let us pass to passional trueness, leaving science to enter the domain
of art. "Passional trueness," said Delsarte, "consists in giving each
semitone three, four, five, six, or even seven commas, according to its
tendency." As we see, the precept is daring, and an inattentive scholar
would only have to forget the last words of the definition to make
people say that the great master of lyric art taught his pupils to sing

Every rule has its reason and its consequences. St. Augustine, who knew
the Beautiful, of which art is only the expression, and who could
explain it well, has given us a brief but admirable definition of music:
"Music is a succession of sounds each calling forth the other." Simple
yet profound words! The sounds call each other forth, desire and
mutually attract each other, and in every age this attraction has been
so clearly evident, that the seventh note in the scale, when it meets
the others each of which has its particular name relating to its
particular function, tonic, dominant, etc., is simply called the
sensitive note, from its tendency to pass into the atonic.

Passional trueness is based upon this tendency of the notes to pass into
those which succeed them, and upon this reciprocal attraction of sounds.
Thus, notes, which have a tendency toward the acute or shrill, may be
raised two commas or more above temperate trueness. Notes which have a
tendency toward the grave may be lowered in the same proportion.
(Example, taken from "The Prophet," by Meyerbeer.)

    Ex. No. 1.
    Ah! mon fils

    Ex. No. 2
    il re-nia ta me-re

Here, the B may be but two commas distant from the C; and in the second
example given, the A flat may also be but two commas removed from the
G, and this change far from producing a disagreeable effect upon the
ear, will make a most striking impression and the accent will be far
more dramatic than before. Try the reverse, that is, divide the interval
B sharp-C into seven commas on the semitones A flat-G; it will be
unendurable. Whence we may deduce the fact that to sing false is to sing
above or below a note in the inverse direction to its attraction.

Delsarte, in his definition, speaks only of the semitone, and we
ourselves give examples of that sort of attraction only; but it does not
follow that the other intervals are not equally subject to the same law.
Their attraction may not be shown by the same effects.

The master added, in speaking of trueness in singing: "The triad is the
breathing-place of the tonality; the notes composing it should be
absolutely true. They are the singer's invariable and necessary law.
They characterize repose. Their office is that of attraction, and they
can only be attracted mutually, with the exception of the tonic, which
is the centre of attraction not only for various notes, but for the
phrase and the entire composition."

Delsarte was very severe in regard to those who sang false; but to sing
true was not, to his thinking, a good quality. He said, on this point,
that no one would compliment an architect because he had built a house
in accordance with geometrical rules. Whence he concluded that trueness
is the least of good qualities, and the lack of it the greatest of
vices, and he added in regard to style: "The most important quality is
expression, and a lack of expression is the least of vices."

Let us add that the application of passional trueness depends upon a
thousand conditions of rhythm and harmony, to analyze which would lead
us much too far. The artist must make use of it according to his
aptitudes and his tendencies, for he must preserve his individuality. He
must learn by observation and the study of his own faculties to apply
theoretical rules founded upon natural laws.

Practical trueness, while it allows us to depart from legitimate
trueness, has strong analogies with the _tempo rubato_. The _tempo
rubato_, which Delsarte employed in a remarkable and striking way in
dramatic passages, actually permits the musician, in certain cases and
in the desired proportion, to change the value of the notes while
respecting the principle of time, which is invariable. But the
application of these rules is subject to the emotional intensity; it is,
therefore, impossible to determine theoretically and absolutely its
various bearings.


[From the _Atlantic Monthly_ for May, 1871, by permission of Houghton,
Mifflin & Co.]

By Francis A. Durivage.

It was not until last summer, and then under peculiarly impressive
circumstances, that I saw, for the first time, a remarkable man whose
name is indissolubly associated with French art--François Delsarte, of
Paris. My curiosity had been deeply excited by what I had heard of him.
I was told that, after long years of patient toil and profound thought,
his genius had discovered and developed a scientific basis for
histrionic art, that he had substituted law for empiricism in the domain
of the most potential of the fine arts; and when the names of Rachel and
Macready were quoted in his list of pupils, I was eager to behold the
master and to learn something of the system which has yielded such
fruits to the modern stage.

The kindness of a friend procured me the rare privilege of admission to
the last session of Delsarte's course, which closed in July. It was on
one of those weary summer days when the hush of expectation, following
the fierce excitement caused by the declaration of war, had eclipsed the
gayety of Paris.

The notes of the Marseillaise had ceased to stir the blood like the
sound of a trumpet. The glare and glitter of French chivalry, which had
masked the feebleness of the Imperial military system, had vanished. The
superb Cent Gardes, the brilliant lancers, the savage Turcos, and the
dashing Spahis had been replaced by the coarsely clad troops of the
line. It was "grim-visaged war" and not its pageantry that we beheld;
heavy guns rumbling slowly across the Place de la Concorde; dark masses
of men moving like shadows on their funeral march to the perilous edge
of battle. It was a relief to exchange these sad scenes for that quiet
interior of the Boulevard de Courcelles, where a little group of persons
devoted to æsthetic culture were gathered around their teacher, perhaps
for the last time.

The personal appearance of Delsarte is impressive. Years have not
deprived his massive form of its vigor, nor dimmed the fire of his eye.
His head is cast in a Roman mould; indeed, the fine medallion likeness
executed by his daughter might well pass for an antique in the eyes of a
stranger. In his personal bearing there is nothing of that
self-assertion, that posing, which is a common defect of his
distinguished countrymen.

The pupils whom I met were ladies, with the single exception of a young
American, Mr. James S. MacKaye, to whom, as his favorite disciple and
one designated to succeed him in his profession, Delsarte has imparted
all the minutiae of his science. To this gentleman was assigned the
honor of opening the _séance_ by a brief exposition of the system, and
of closing it by reciting in French a brilliant tragic monologue, the
effect of which, in spite of the absence of appropriate costume and
scenic illusion, electrified the audience. In this scene, "Les Terreurs
de Thoas," those rapidly changing expressions of the features, those
statuesque attitudes melting into each other, which we all remember in
Rachel, indicated a common origin. It needed not the added eloquence of
words and the sombre music of the voice to tell the tragic story of the
victim of the Eumenides. After listening to the recitation, I was not
surprised to learn that the young student was to appear, under the
auspices of his teacher, at the Théâtre Français, during the approaching
winter,--an honor never before conceded to any foreigner. The large
American colony in Paris was looking forward to this _début_ with a
natural pride, and Delsarte with the calm assurance of his favorite's
triumph. Alas! we all reckoned without taking King William, the Crown
Prince, the Fed Prince, von Moltke, and von Bismarck into our account.
We never fancied, on that bright July morning, that Krupp of Essen's
cannon and the needle-gun were soon to give laws to Paris. But _inter
arma silent artes_ as well as _leges_. Nearer and deadlier tragedies
than those of Corneille and Racine were soon to be enacted; and the
poor players were summoned to perform their parts upon no mimic stage.
However, "what though the field be lost? all is not lost." The _venue_,
to borrow a legal phrase, has been changed, but the cause has not been
abandoned. Our young countryman has returned to his native land,
bringing with him the fruits of his long studies, to appeal to an
American audience, and it is quite possible that his teacher may be
induced to transfer his school of art to the United States.

Although at this _séance_ Delsarte appeared disposed to efface himself
in favor of his brilliant representative, he kindly consented to speak a
few words (and what a charming French lesson was his _causerie_!) and to
present a specimen of his pantomimic powers. The latter exhibition was
really surprising. He depicted the various passions and emotions of the
human soul, by means of expression and gesture only, without uttering a
single syllable; moving the spectators to tears, exciting them to
enthusiasm, or thrilling them with terror at his will; in a word,
completely magnetizing them. Not a discord in his diatonic scale. You
were forced to admit that every gesture, every movement of a facial
muscle, had a true purpose, a _raison d'être_. It was a triumphant

The life of this great master and teacher, hereafter to be known as the
founder of the Science of Dramatic Art, crowded with strange
vicissitudes and romantic episodes, forms a record full of interest.

François Delsarte was born at Solesmes, Department of the North, France,
in 1811. His father was a physician, and his mother a woman of rare
abilities, who taught herself to speak and write several languages.

Shortly after the battle of Waterloo a detachment of the allied troops
was passing through Solesmes, in the midst of a dead and sullen silence,
when the commandant's quick ear caught the sound of a childish voice
crying, "Vive l'Em-pe-weur! Vive Na-po-lé-on!" Every one smiled at the
juvenile speaker's audacity, except the stern officer whose name has,
unfortunately, escaped the infamous celebrity it deserved. By his
orders, a platoon of soldiers sought out the child's home and burned it
to the ground; and thus little François Delsarte became the innocent
cause of the ruin of his family.

The atrocities committed during the White Terror, of which this incident
is an example, though passed over by history, are not forgotten by the
survivors of that cruel period. The leaders in the second terror could
not plead the ignorance of Robespierre's followers in excuse of their
excesses, for they were nobles, magistrates, priests and officers of

Delsarte's early years were passed in the midst of cruel privations and
domestic troubles, for even love forsook a home blighted by poverty. His
father, naturally proud and imperious, irritated by straitened
circumstances, out of which there seemed no issue, crushed by the weight
of obligations to others, lost heart and hope, became morose, sceptical
and bitter, and treated his wife and family with such harshness and
injustice, that Delsarte's mother was finally compelled to abandon her
husband. She fled with her two boys to Paris, hoping there to make her
talents available. All her efforts, however, were fruitless, and she
found herself on the verge of starvation.

One evening, as she sat with her two boys in her wretched room, tortured
by their questions after their father, she could not suppress her tears.
François, the eldest, then nine years of age, tried to console her. He
told her that he was almost a man, able to earn his food and to take
care of her and his little brother. She listened to his prattle with a
sad smile, kissed him and embraced him.

During all of the sleepless night which followed, François was revolving
his hidden projects of independence, and at gray dawn, confiding his
purpose only to his brother, and bidding him tell his mother, when she
awoke, that he would soon be back with money to buy bread for them, the
child stole forth to seek his fortune in the great dreary world of

He wandered about all day, and at night, hungry and weary, entered a
jeweler's shop in the Palais Royal, kept by an old woman, to whom he
appealed for employment--vainly at first. Finally, however, she
consented to engage him as a drudge and errand boy, allowed him to sleep
in an _armoire_ over the door, and gave him four pounds of bread a week
in lieu of wages. Four pounds of bread a week! The allowance appeared
munificent, and he accepted the offer with gratitude. A brief experience
dispelled his illusions. He was always weary and always hungry. After a
few weeks' trial, he left his first benefactress and secured some kind
of employment at five sous a day, out of which he contrived to save two.
In two weeks he had saved nearly a franc and a half for his dear mother.
One day, while executing a commission for his employer, he found his
little brother alone in the street crying bitterly.

"How is dear mamma?" was his first question.

"Dead, and carried away by ugly men."

The winter of 1821 was unusually severe for Paris. One night Delsarte
and his brother fell asleep in each other's arms in the wretched loft
they occupied; but when the former opened his eyes to the morning's
light he was holding a corpse to his heart. The little boy had perished
of cold and starvation. Almost mad with terror and grief, the survivor
rushed into the streets to summon the neighbors.

The next day a little hatless boy, in rags and nearly barefooted,
followed two men bearing a small pine coffin which they deposited in the
_fosse commune_ of _Pére la Chaise_.

After seeing the grave covered, Delsarte left the cemetery and wandered
wearily through the snow, now utterly alone in the world, across the
plain of St. Denis. Overcome by cold, hunger, and grief, he sank to the
ground, and then, before he lost consciousness, a strain of music, real
or imaginary, met his ear and charmed him to a forgetfulness of misery,
bereavement, all the evils that environed him. It was the first
awakening of his artist soul, and to this day Delsarte believes that it
was no earthly music that he heard.

Rousing himself from a sort of stupor into which he had fallen, he saw a
_chiffonnier_ bending over him. The man had for a moment mistaken the
prostrate form for a bundle of rags; but taking pity on the half-frozen
lad, he placed him in his basket and carried him to his miserable home.
And so the future artist commenced his professional career as a Parisian

While wandering about the great city in the interest of his employer,
his only solace was to listen to the songs of itinerant vocalists and
the occasional music of a military band. Music became his passion. From
some of the gamins he learned the seven notes of the scale, and, to
preserve the melodies that delighted him, he invented a system of
musical notation. On a certain holiday, when he was twelve years old,
while listening to the delightful music in the garden of the Tuileries,
the little _chiffonnier_ busied himself with drawing figures in the
dust. An old man of eccentric appearance, noticing his earnest
diligence, accosted him.

"What are you doing there, boy?" he asked.

Terrified at first, but reassured by the kind manner of the stranger,
Delsarte replied: "Writing down the music, sir."

"Do you mean to say those marks have any significance? That you can read

"Certainly, sir."

"Let me hear you."

Encouraged by the interest manifested in him, the lad sang in a sweet
and pure but sad voice the strains just played by the military band. The
old man was amazed.

"Who taught you this process?"

"Nobody, sir; found it out myself."

Bambini--for it was the then distinguished, but now almost forgotten,
professor--offered to take the boy home with him; and he who had entered
the garden of the Tuileries a rag-picker, left it a recognized musician.
In the dust of Paris were first written the elements of a system
destined to regenerate art. Bambini taught his protégé all he knew, but
the pupil soon surpassed the master and became his instructor in turn;
for if the one had talent, the other possessed genius.

Bambini predicted the future of Delsarte. One day when they were walking
arm-in-arm in the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the former said: "Do you
see all those people in carriages, with their fine liveries and
magnificent clothes? Well, the day will come when they will only be too
happy to listen to you, proud of your presence in their _salons_,
envying your fame as a great artist."

Bambini's death left Delsarte poor and friendless. At fourteen, however,
he managed to get admitted into the Conservatoire, where, though he
labored hard, he met with harsh treatment and discouragement. The
professors disliked him for his reflective nature and persistent
questionings which brought to light the superficiality of their
acquirements; his fellow-pupils, for his exclusive devotion to study and
his reserve, the result of diffidence rather than of _hauteur_. His
professors were dictators, who, while differing from each other as
teachers, were yet united in frowning upon any attempt on the part of
their pupil to emancipate himself from the thraldom of conventionalism
and routine. Genius was a heresy for which they had no mercy.

Thrown upon his own resources, he soon developed, by careful observation
of nature and a constant study of cause and effect, a system and a style
radically differing from those of the professors and their servile

One day, after having sung in his own style at one of the public
exhibitions--applauded, however, only by a single auditor,--he was
walking sadly and slowly in the court-yard of the Conservatoire, when a
lady and a gentleman approached him.

"Courage, my friend," said the lady. "Your singing has given me the
highest pleasure. You will be a great artist."

So spake Marie Malibran, the queen of song.

"My friend," said her companion, "It was I who applauded you just now.
In my opinion, you are a singer _hors de ligne_. When my children are
ready to learn music, you, above all others, shall be their professor."

These were the words of Adolphe Nourrit. The praises of Malibran and
Nourrit gave Delsarte courage, revived his hopes, and decided him to
follow implicitly the promptings of his genius. His extreme poverty
compelled him at last to apply to the Conservatoire for a diploma which
would enable him to secure a situation at one of the lyric theatres. It
was refused.

The autumn of 1829 found him a shabby, almost ragged applicant for
employment at the stage-door of the Opéra Comique. Repeated rebuffs
failed to baffle his desperate pertinacity.

One day the director, hearing of the annoyance to which his
subordinates were subjected by Delsarte, determined to abate the
nuisance by one of those cruel _coups-de-main_ of which Frenchmen are
pre-eminently capable. The next night, during the performance, when
Delsarte called, he was, to his surprise and delight, shown into the
great man's presence.

"Well, sir, what do you want?"

"Pardon, Monsieur, I came to seek a place at your theatre."

"There is but one vacant, and you don't seem capable of filling that. I
want only a call-boy."

"Sir, I am prepared to fill the position of a _premier sujet_ among your


"Monsieur, if my clothes are poor, my art is genuine."

"Well, sir, if you will sing for me, I will hear you shortly."

He left Delsarte alone, overjoyed at having secured the manager's ear.
In a few moments a surly fellow told him he was wanted below, and he
soon found himself with the manager upon the stage behind the green

"You are to sing here," said the director. "There is your piano. In one
moment the curtain will be rung up. I am tired of your importunities. I
give you one chance to show the stuff you're made of. If you discard
this opportunity, the next time you show your face at my door you shall
be arrested and imprisoned as a vagrant."

The indignation excited in Delsarte by this cruel trick instantly gave
way before the reflection that success was a matter of life and death
with him, and that perhaps his last chance lay within his grasp. He
forgot his rags; every nerve became iron; and when the curtain was rung
up, a beggar with the bearing of a prince advanced to the foot-lights,
was received with derisive laughter by some, with glances of surprise
and indignation by others, and, with a sad and patient smile on his
countenance, gracefully saluted the brilliant audience. The courtliness
of his manner disarmed hostility; but when he sat down to the piano, ran
his fingers over the keys, and sang a few bars, the exquisite voice
found its way to every heart. With every moment his voice became more
powerful. Each gradation of emotion was rendered with an ease, an art,
an expression, that made every heartstring vibrate. Then he suddenly
stopped, bowed, and retired. The house rang with bravos. The
dress-circle forgot its reticence and joined in the tumult of applause.
He was recalled. This time he sang a grand lyric composition with the
full volume of his voice, aided in effect by those imperial gestures of
which he had already discovered the secret. The audience were
electrified. They declared that Talma was resuscitated. But when he was
a second time recalled, his tragic mood had melted; there were "tears
in his voice" as well as on his cheeks.

After the fall of the curtain the director grasped his hand, loaded him
with compliments, and offered him an engagement for a year at a salary
of ten thousand francs. He went home to occupy his wretched attic for
the last time, and falling on his knees poured forth his soul in prayer.

The next day Delsarte, neatly dressed, paid a visit to the directors of
the Conservatoire.

"Gentlemen," said he, "_you_ would not give me a recommendation as a
_chorister_; the _public_ have accorded me _this_." And he displayed his
commission as _Comédien du Roi_.

Delsarte remained upon the lyric stage until 1834, when the failure of
his voice, which had been strained at the Conservatoire, compelled him
to retire. He continued, however, the study of music, and his
productions, particularly a "Dies Irae," placed him in the front rank of
composers. At this period of his life, meditation and study resulted in
a firm religious faith, which never wavered afterward.

He now applied himself to the task of establishing a scientific basis
for lyric and dramatic art, and after years of patient labor perfected a
system on which probably his fame will ultimately rest. His _cours_ for
instruction in the principles of art was first opened in 1839. From the
outset he was appreciated by the highly cultivated few, nor was it long
before the circle extended and the new master won a European
reputation. Some of his pupils were destined for a professional career;
but many, men and women of rank and fortune, sought to learn from him
the means of rendering their brilliant _salons_ yet more attractive.
Members of most of the reigning families of Europe were numbered among
his pupils, and his apartments in Paris were filled, when I saw them,
with pictures, photographs, and other souvenirs of esteem and
friendship, from the highest dignitaries of Europe. When he consented,
on one occasion, to appear at a _soirée_ at the Tuileries, Louis
Philippe received him at the foot of the grand staircase, as if he had
been his peer, and bestowed on him during the evening the same
attentions he would have accorded to a fellow-sovereign. The citizen
king recognized the royalty of art. And it may be noted that Delsarte
would not have appeared on this occasion, except on the condition that
no remuneration should be offered to him for the exercise of his

Malibran, whose kind word in the courtyard of the Conservatoire had
revived Delsarte's fainting hopes, attended his early course of
lectures. I have already mentioned Rachel and Macready as his pupils. I
now recall the names of Sontag, of the gifted Madeleine Brohan, of
Carvalho, Barbot, Pasca (who owed everything to Delsarte), and Pajol. He
was the instructor in pulpit oratory of Père Lacordaire, Père
Hyacinthe, and the present abbé of Nôtre Dame.

Notwithstanding the labor exacted by his great specialty, he has done
much good work in various other directions. Among his mechanical
inventions are a sonotype, a tuning instrument by means of which any one
can tune a piano accurately, an improved level, theodolite and sextant,
a scale for measuring the differences in the solidity of fluids, etc.

Of the conscientiousness with which he works, it may be mentioned that
he devoted five years to the study of anatomy and physiology, to obtain
a perfect knowledge of all the muscles, their uses and capabilities,--a
knowledge of which he has utilized with remarkable success.

It is now time to give some idea of his system, which can be done most
satisfactorily, perhaps, through the medium of an article which appeared
in the _Gazette Musicale_, from the authoritative pen of A. Guéroult.
After having analyzed the maestro's theory of vocal art, he says:

"The study of gesture and its agents has been subjected by M. Delsarte
to an analysis no less profound. Thus he recognizes in the human body
three principal agents of expression, the head, the torso and the limbs,
which perform each a distinct part in the economy of a character.
Gesture, sometimes expressive, sometimes excentric, and sometimes
compressive, assumes in each case special forms, which have been
classified and described by M. Delsarte with a care and perspicuity
which make his labors on this subject entirely new, and for which I know
no equivalent anywhere. Permit me to explain more fully the utility of
this study, to cite an application, for examples are always more
eloquent than generalities. In the play of the physiognomy every portion
of the face performs a separate part. Thus, for instance, it is not
useless to know what function nature has assigned to the eye, the nose,
the mouth, in the expression of certain emotions of the soul. True
passion, which never errs, has no need of recurring to such studies; but
they are indispensable to the feigned passion of the actor. How useful
would it not be to the actor who wishes to represent madness or wrath,
to know that the eye never expresses the sentiment experienced, but
simply indicates the object of this sentiment! Cover the lower part of
your face with your hand, and impart to your look all the energy of
which it is susceptible, still it will be impossible for the most
sagacious observer to discover whether your look expresses anger or
attention. On the other hand, uncover the lower part of the face, and if
the nostrils are dilated, if the contracted lips are drawn up, there is
no doubt that anger is written on your countenance. An observation which
confirms the purely indicative part performed by the eye is, that among
raving madmen the lower part of the face is violently contracted, while
the vague and uncertain look shows clearly that their fury has no
object. It is easy to conceive what a wonderful interest the actor,
painter, or sculptor must find in the study of the human body thus
analysed from head to foot in its innumerable ways of expression.
Hence, the eloquent secrets of pantomime, those imperceptible movements
of great actors which produce such powerful impressions, are decomposed
and subjected to laws whose evidence and simplicity are a twofold source
of admiration.

"Finally, in what concerns articulate language M. Delsarte has assumed a
yet more novel task. We all know the power of certain inflections; we
know that a phrase which accented in a certain way is null, accented in
another way produces irresistible effects upon the stage. It is the
property of great artists to discover this preëminent accentuation; but
never, to my knowledge, did anyone think of referring these happy
inspirations of genius to positive laws. Yet, whence comes it that a
certain inflection, a certain word placed in relief, affects us? How
shall we explain this emotion, if not by a certain relation existing
between the laws of our organization, the laws of general grammar, and
those of musical inflection? There is always, in a phrase loudly
enunciated, one word which sustains the passionate accent. But how shall
we detach and recognize it in the midst of the phrase? How distribute
the forces of accentuation on all the words of which it is composed? How
classify and arrange them in relation to that sympathetic inflection,
without which the most energetic thought halts at our intelligence
without reaching our heart? M. Delsarte has had recourse to the same
method which guided him in the study of gesture. He did not study
declamation on the stage, but in real life, where unpremeditated
inflections spring directly from feeling; then, fortified by innumerable
observations, he rearranged grammar and rhetoric from this special point
of view, and has obtained results as simple in their principles as they
are fertile in their application.

"If I wished to classify the nature and value of M. Delsarte's labors in
relation to what has been spoken or written up to this time on the art
of singing or acting, I should say that the numerous precepts which have
been formulated on dramatic art have had hardly any object other than
the manner in which each character ought to be conceived. Ingenious and
multiplied observations have been employed to bring forth the delicacies
of the part and its unpcrceived features. The intellectual strength of
the actor or vocalist has been directed to the author's conception. He
has been told to be pathetic here, menacing there; here to assume a
slight tinge of irony transpiercing apparent politeness, or, again, to
make his gesture a seeming contradiction of his words. Such an analysis
of the poet's work is certainly imperative, but how far from adequate!
And what an immense distance there is from the intelligence which
comprehends to the gesture which translates, from the song which moves
to the inflection which interprets! It is with the new purpose which M.
Delsarte has embraced that, without neglecting an understanding of the
author, he says to the actor: 'This is what you must express. Now, how
will you do it? What will you do with your arms, with your head, with
your voice? Do you know the laws of your organization? Do you know how
to go to work to be pathetic, dignified, comic, or familiar, to
represent the clemency of Augustus or the drunkenness of a coachman?' In
a word, he teaches the vocalist or actor the laws of this language, of
this eloquence which nature places in our eyes, in our gestures, in the
suppressed or expansive tones of our voice, in the accent of speech. He
teaches the actor, or, to speak more properly, the man, to know himself,
to manage artistically that inimitable instrument which is man himself,
all of whose parts contribute to a harmonious unity. Hence, aware of the
gravity of such an assertion, I do not hesitate to proclaim here that I
believe M. Delsarte's work will remain among the fundamental bases; I
believe that his labors are destined to give a solid foundation to
theatric art, to elevate and to ennoble it; I believe that there is no
actor, no singer, however eminent, who cannot derive from the
acquirements and luminous studies of M. Delsarte, positive germs of
development and progress. I believe that whoever makes the external
interpretation of the sentiments of the human soul his business and
profession, whether painter, sculptor, orator, or actor, that all men of
taste who support them will applaud this attempt to create the _science
of expressive man_; a science from which antiquity seems to have lifted
the veil, and what appears willing to revive in our days, in the hands
of a man worthy by his patient and conscientious efforts to discover
some of its most precious secrets."

       *       *       *       *       *

Delsarte has sought neither fame nor wealth. He could easily have
secured both by remaining on the stage as an actor, after he had lost
his power as a vocalist. He preferred to surrender himself in
comparative retirement to the study of science and art, and the
instruction of those who sought his aid in mastering the principles of
the latter. To the needy this instruction was imparted gratuitously, and
more than one successful actress has been raised from penury to fortune
by the benevolence of her teacher.

It would be easy to cite many illustrations of the goodness and
tenderness of this man. Religious fervor has largely influenced his life
and is the key-note of his character; but his faith is not hampered by
bigotry. Like all minds of high rank, he holds that science and art are
the handmaids of religion.

I have said that this remarkable man did not seek fame; it has come to
him unsought. Pages might be filled with voluntary tributes to his
genius from the foremost minds of France,--Jules Janin, Théophile
Gautier, Mme. Emile de Girardin. Lamartine pronounced him "a sublime
orator." Fiorentino, the keen, delicate, and calm critic, spoke of him
as "this master, whose feeling is so true, whose style is so elevated,
whose passion is so profound, that there is nothing in art so beautiful
and so perfect."

If we hazarded an intrusion into the domestic circle of Delsarte, we
should find one of those pure and happy family groups, fortunately for
France by no means rare even in her capital; one of those French homes
the existence of which nearly all Englishmen and many Americans deny. We
should find a bond of sympathy and a community of talent uniting father
and mother, two fair daughters, and three brave sons. Or, rather, we
should have found this happy gathering, for the iron hand of war has
broken the charmed ring. The dear old home on the Boulevard de
Courcelles is deserted. Father, mother, and daughters were compelled to
seek refuge in the North of France, the sons to march against the
Prussians. Let us trust that long ere this they have reached home
unwounded, and that the grand old maestro has no further ills in store
for his declining years.

Delsarte's Method for Tuning Stringed Instruments Without the Aid of
The Ear.[11]

By Hector Berlioz.

Do you hear, you pianists, guitarists, violinists, violoncellists,
contra-bassists, harpists, tuners, and you, too, conductors of
orchestras--without the aid of the ear! What a vast, incomparable, nay,
priceless discovery, especially for the rest of us wretched listeners to
pianos out of tune, to violins and 'cellos out of tune, to harps out of
tune, to whole orchestras out of tune! Delsarte's invention will now
make it your positive duty to cease torturing us, to cease making us
sweat with agony, to cease driving us to suicide.

Not only is the ear of no use in tuning instruments, but it is even
dangerous to consult it; it must by no possible chance be consulted.
What an advantage for those who have no ear! Hitherto, it has been just
the opposite, and we forgave you the torments that you inflicted on us.
But in future, if your instruments be out of tune, you will have no
excuse, and we shall hand you over to public vengeance. Without the aid
of the ear, mark you--aid so often useless and deceptive.

Delsarte's discovery holds good only for stringed instruments, but this
is much; this is an enormous gain. Hence, it follows that in orchestras
directed and tuned without the aid of the ear, there will be no more
discords, save between the flutes, hautboys, clarionets, bassoons,
horns, cornets, trumpets, trombones, kettle-drums and bass drums. The
triangle might, at a pinch, be tuned by the new method; but it is
generally acknowledged that this is not necessary, just as with bells, a
discord between the triangle and the other instruments is a good thing;
it is popular in all lyric theatres.

And the singers, whom you do not mention, someone may ask, will it be
possible to make them sing true, to put them in tune? Two or three of
them are naturally in tune. Some few, by great care and exactness, may
be brought very nearly into tune. But all the others were not, are not,
and will not be in tune, either individually, or with each other, or
with the instruments, or with the leader of the orchestra, or with the
rhythm, or with the harmony, or with the accent, or with the expression,
or with the pitch, or with the language, or with anything resembling
precision and good sense.

Delsarte has made it especially easy to tune the piano, by means of an
instrument that he calls the phonopticon, which it would take too long
to describe here. Suffice it to say, that it contains an index-hand
that marks the exact instant when two or more strings are in perfect
unison. It may be added that the invariable result is so absolutely
correct, no matter who may try it or under what conditions, that the
most practiced ear could not possibly attain to similar perfection.
Acousticians should not fail to examine this invention at once, the use
of which cannot be long in becoming universal.



Abdominal centre, the, life,
Accord of nine, the,
Actors, bad,
Adjective, the,
Adverb, the,
Æsthetic division, chart of,
Æsthetic fact of first rank,
  course of, applied,
  lay of,
Alto voice, the,
Angelo, Michael,
Angels, the,
Animals do not laugh,
Ankylosed limbs,
Apollo, the,
Aquinas, St. Thomas,
Archimedean lever,
Architecture, application of the law to,
Aristocrats lie,
Arms, movements of the,
  five million movements of the agents of the,
  division of,
  three centres in the,
  the true aim of,
  all, has the same principle,
  definition of,
  how Delsarte considered,
  religious sentiment in,
  the death of,
  elements of,
  the plastic,
  the grand,
  the supreme,
  dramatic, lyric and oratorical,
  best conditions for a work of,
  object of,
  sources of fine,
  not imitation of nature,
Article, the,
Articulate language, weakness of,
  origin and organic apparatus of,
  elements of,
Articulation, in the service of thought,
Articulations, the,
Artificial breath,
Artistic personages, classification of,
Artist, the proclivities necessary to an,
Art-writings of the Greeks,
Attractive centres,
Attribute, the,
Attributes of reason, the,
Audience, an, different from an individual--the greater the numbers the
  less the intelligence,


Bacchus, the,
Bambini, Father,
Barbot, Mme.,
Bass voice, the,
Baudelaire, Charles,
Baxile, M.,
Beautiful, the,
Beauty exists only in fragments,
  moral and intellectual,
Belot, Adolphe,
Bizet, George,
Blanchecotte, Mme.,
Body, the,
  divisions of the,
  retroactive movement of,
Brohan, Madeleine,
Brucker, Raymond,
Buccal (cheek) zone, the,
  machinery (articulate speech), the language of the mind,


Calculation and artifice, if detected, quicksands to the orator,
Captain Renard, fable of,
Captivating an audience, secret of,
Caress, the,
Carvalho, Mme.,
Charts classifying celestial spirits,
Charts list of,
Chastity, concave,
Chaudesaigues, Mlle.,
Chest, the,
  the three attitudes of,
  divisions of,
Chest, a passive agent
Chest-voice, the
  the expression of the sensitive life
  should be little used
  the eccentric voice
Chevé, M. and Mme.
Children, why are they graceful?
Chorre, Mother
Circle, the, for exalting and caressing
Colors, symbolism of
  the primitive
  the three that symbolize the life, soul and mind
Color charts, the
Concentric state, the
Conjunction, the
  the soul of the discourse
Consonants, musical
  are gestures
  the initial
  variation in the value of
  beat time for the pronunciation of
  every first, is strong
  two things to be observed in
Contemplation and retroaction
Costal breathing
Courier, Paul Louis
Cousin, Victor
Cros, Antoine
Czartoriska, Princess


Dailly, Dr.
Davout, Marshal
Death, the sign language of
De Bammeville, July
De Blocqueville, Mme.
De Chimay, Princess
Degrees, theory of
D'Haussonville, Countess
De Lamartine, Mme.
De la Madelène, Jules
Delaunay, Charles
Delivery, a hasty
De Leomenil, Mme. Laure
Delsarte, biographical sketch of
  criterion of
  method of
  took much time in educating a pupil
  was he a philosopher?
  lectures of
  teachings of
  the press on
  the discoverer of the law
  can never be reproduced
  birth, death, name, early history of
  how he learned music
  enters the conservatory
  theatre and school of
  becomes a teacher of singing and elocution
  history of the voice of
  dramatic career of
  recitations of
  sings at the Court
  marriage and family of
  religion of
  friends of
  the "Talma of music"
  anecdotes of
  scholars of
  "Stanzas to Eternity" of
  "dear and last pupil" of
  musical compositions of
  an instance of the singing of
  shapeless coat of
  imitating defects
  singing during lessons
  inventions of
  Berlioz's treatment of
  before the Philotechnic Association
  and the four professors
  last years of
  a concert of
  character and merit of
  "Episodes of a Revelator" of
  America's offer to
  return to Paris of
  last letter to the King of Hanover of
  struggles with his teachers
  visit to the dissecting room
  a pensioner of the conservatory
  mystical or religious musings of
  the way of making his discovery
  is grateful because he had not written
  his book not spontaneous
  on trueness in singing
Delsarte, Mme., maiden name of
  beauty and talent of
Delsarte, Gustave
De Meyendorf, Mme.
De Musset, Alfred
De Riancey, Henry
Deshayes, M.
De Staël, Mme.
Diaphragmatic breathing
Dictation exercises
Discovery, dawn of Delsarte's
Dissecting room, Delsarte's visit to the
Divine Majesty, reflection of the
Divine reason
Donoso-Cortes, M.
Dramatic singing
Dugrand, Delsarte's struggles with papa
Dynamic apparatus, its composition


Ear, the most delicate sense
Eccentric state, the
E flat
Elbow, the
  thermometer of the relative life
  sign of humility, pride, etc.
Eloquence holds  first rank  among the arts
  to be taught and learned
  is composed of three languages
  does not always accompany intellect
Emotions, tender, expressed by high notes
Emphasis, example of
E mute before a consonant
  before a vowel
Epic, the
Epicondyle, the eye of the arm
Epigastric centre, the, soul
Epiglottis, contracting the
Episodes of a Revelator
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V
Episode VI
Episode VII
Equilibrium, the laws of
Error must rest upon some truth
Etruscans, the
Evolutions, passional
Expiration, the sign of
Expression, very difficult
  the whole secret of
Expressive centres
Eye, the tolerance of
Eyes, the
  the nine expressions of
  parallelism between the voice and the
  chart of the
Eyebrow, the
  the thermometer of the mind


Fables, recitation of
Face, divided into three zones
Fact, the value of a
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Fingers, the
Force and interest consist in suspension
Form, the vestment of substance
  definition of
Fourier, Charles
Free-thinkers, blindness of
French prosody
French versification
Frontal (forehead) zone, the


Gautier, Théophile
Genal (chin) zone, the
Gesture, in general
  is for sentiments
  its services to humanity
  reveals the inner man
  the direct agent of the heart
  the interpreter of speech
  the interpreter of emotion
  an elliptical language
  division of
  harmony and dissonance of
  origin and oratorical value of
  superior to the other languages
  is magnetic
  the laws of
  must always precede speech
  joy and fright require backward movement
  equilibrium the great law of
  the hirmonic law of
  parallelism of
  numbers of
  lack of intelligence indicated by many
  duration of
  the rhythm of
  importance of the laws of
  the semeiotic or reason of
  the types that characterize
  its modifying apparatus
  the inflections of
  delineation of
  spheroidal form of
  the sense of the heart
  the spirit of
  the inflection of the deaf
  a series of, for exercises
  the static the life of
  the semeiotic the spirit and rationale of
  the series of, applied to the  sentiments oftenest expressed
  the, of interpellation
  the, of thanks, affectionate and ceremonious
  the, of attraction
  the, of surprise and assurance
  the, of devotion
  the, of interrogative surprise
  the, of reiterated interrogation
  the, of anger
  the, of menace
  the, of an order for leaving
  the, of reiteration
  the, of fright
  three important rules for
  how produced
  difficulty in
  object of
  definition of
  without a motive
Giraudet, Alfred
  report of Delsarte's lecture
God, the spirit of, in all things
  how He reveals things
  a pretext for every Utopia
  the archetype
Good, the
Gospel, the, directs investigation
Great movements for exaltation of sentiment
Greeks, the, had no school of æsthetics
Guéroult, Adolphe
Guide-accord, the, of Delsarte
Gymnastics, the grand law of organic
  the practice of


Hand, the, another expression of the face
  expressions of the
  its three presentations
  criterion of the
  chart of
  the digital face
  the back and the palmar face
  the three rhythmic actions
  the, in natural surprise
  the, in death
  attitudes of the
  in affirmation
  the nine physiognomies of
Harmony, born of contrasts
  is in opposition
Head, the, movements of
  the occipital, parietal and temporal zones
  the primary agent of movement
  action of, in surprise
  which side is for the soul and which for the senses?
  attitudes of
Head voice, the
  how produced
  interprets mental phenomena
  the concentric voice
Heart, when to carry the hand to the
High head, small brain
Humanity is crippled
Human reason
Human science, the alpha and omega of
Human triplicity, the
Human word composed of three languages


Ideal, the
Imitation, the melody of the eye
  uselessness of
Immanences, the
Impressions and sensations
Individual type, how formed
Infant, the, has neither speech nor gesture
Infinitesimal quantities
Inflection, a modification of sound
  their importance
  illustrations of
  rules of
  must not be multiplied
  life revealed through four millions of
  the melody of the ear
  the gesture of the blind
  differentiating the
  life of speech
  medallion of
Inspiration, when allowable
the sign of
Interjection, the
Interrogative surprise
Intonations, caressing
Italian, no two equal sounds in


Jacob, Mlle.
Jesus of Nazareth
Joy, the greatest in sorrow
Joys, keen


King of Hanover
  Delsarte's last letter to the
King Louis Philippe


Laboring men, the ways of
Lachrymose tone disgusting
La Fontaine
La Harpe
Lamaitre, Frederick
Laocoon, the
Larynx, the
  coloring of
  lowering the
  the thermometer of the sensitive life
Larynxes, artificial
Latin prosody
Laugh, signification of the
  its composition
Law, definition of
  application of the, to various arts
Legs, the, and their attitudes
Leroux, Pierre
Liars do not elevate their shoulders
Life, the sensitive state
  principal elements of
  the phenomena of
Lind, Jenny
Literary remains of Delsarte
Literature, the law applied to
Littré's Dictionary
Logic often in default
Louvre, false pictures in the
Love gives more than it receives
Lovers, the gaze of
Loyson, Father
Lucht, Auguste
Lungs, the
Lyric art


  the three phases of
  either painter, poet, scientist, or mystic
  three types in
  the object of art
  a triplicity of persons
  the agent of Æsthetics
  when a man shrinks
  unfamiliar to himself
Marie, Franck
  in oratorical diction
Medallion of inflection
Medium voice, the expression of moral emotions
  the normal voice
Menace, the head and hand
Mental or reflective state
Mind, the intellectual state
Mode simpliste
Modest people turn out the elbow
Monsabre, Father
Moral or affective state
Mother, the voice of the
Mother vowel, the
Motion, distinction and vulgarity of
Mouth, the
  no contraction of back part
  openings of, for various vowels
  a vital thermometer
Movements from various centres
  flexor, rotary, and abductory
  initial forms of
Mucous membrane, transmitter of sound
Muscular machinery (gesture), the language of emotion
Music, the seven notes of
  a succession of sounds


Napoleon III
Nasal cavities, the
Ninefold accord, the
Normal state, the
Nose, a complex and important agent
  nine divisions of
Nose, a moral thermometer
Notes, high, for tender emotions
Nourrit, Adolph


Occipital zone, the life
Opposition of agents
Orator, the, should be a man of worth
Oratorical sessions
Oratory, definition of
  the science of, not yet taught
  the essentials
  the fundamental laws of
  the criterion of
  the student of, should not be a servile copyist
  three important rules for the student of
  symbolism of colors applied to
  perseverance and work necessary to the student of
Order for leaving, an
Organic chart


Painter, how a, examines his work
Painting, application of the law to
Palate, the
Pantomime, secrets of
Parietal zone, the soul
Particle, the
Pasca, Mme.
  of signs
Passive attitude, the type of energetic natures
Pasta, Mme.
People, vulgar and uncultured
Phenomena, natural, contain lessons
Philotechnic Association
Poe, Edgar A.
Poets are born, orators are made
  lack of, in body
Powers, the
Preacher, a, must not be an actor
Preposition, the
Pricette, Father
Principiants and principiates
Processional relations, theory of
  reversal of
Professors, Delsarte and the four
Pronoun, the




R, cure of the faulty
Rainbow, the
  the colors of
Random notes
Raphael's picture of Moses, a fault in
  a blind faculty
  an act of faith
  the attributes of
Reiterated interrogation
Respect, a sort of weakness
  suppressing the
  and silence
  three movements of
  to facilitate
  vocal, logical, passional
Respiratory acts, their signification
Reverence, the sign of
Reynaud, Jean
Royer, Mme., Clémence


St. Augustine
St. Saens
St. Thomas
Salutation, the sign of
Sand, George
Science, bases of the
  and art
Scientists, cause of the failure of
Sculptor, aims of the
Sculpture, application of the law to
  of the shoulder
Senses, the
Sensibility, thermometer of
Sensitive nature betrayed by voice
Sensitive or vital state
Sensualism, convex
Shades and inflections
Shoulder, the
  thermometer of love
    the sensitive life
  the sign of passion
  action of, in surprise
  thermometer of emotions
  semeiotics of
  in the aristocratic world
Sigh, the
Signs of passion
Silence, the father of speech
  the speech of God
  the rule of
Sincerity intolerable
Sob, the
Societies, meeting of the learned
Sontag, Mme.
Soprano voice, the
Sorbonne, the
Soul, the moral state
Souhe, Frederic
Sound, the first language of man
  revelation of the sensitive life
  is painting
  should be homogeneous
  every sound is a song
  the sense of the life
  reflection of divine image
Souvestre, Emile
  the omnipotence of
  inferior to gesture
  anticipated by gesture
  the sense of the intelligence
  the three agents of
  oratorical value of
  soul of
  visible thought
Standard, value of a
Subject, the
Subjectivity in Æsthetics
Substantive, the
Sue, Eugene
Surprise and assurance


Teachers, ignorance of the
Tears, accessory matters
  to be shed only at home
Temporal region, the mind
Tenor voice, the
Thanks, affectionate and ceremonious
Thermometers, the three
  the articular arm centres called
Thermometric system of the shoulder
Thoracic centre, the mind
Threatening with the shoulder
Thumb, the thermometer of the will
  has much expression
  the sign of life
  the, in death
  living mimetics of
  the thermometer of life and death
Tone, position of
Tones, the lowest, best understood
  prologation of
Torso, the,
  divisions of
  chart of
"Treatise on Reason"
Tremolo, the
Trinitarians, the
Trinity, the
  the holy, recovered in sound
True, the
Trueness in singing
Truth, men are divided in regard to
Types, the, in man
Typical arrangements


Uchard, Mario
Ugly, the
Uprightness, perpendicular
Uvula, raising the


Values, the law of
  resume of the degrees of
Verb, the
Véron, Eugene
Vertebrae, three sorts of
Vice, hideousness of
Vicious arrangements
Violent emotion, in, the voice stifled
Virtues, the
Vision, three sorts of
Vital breath
Vocal cords, fatiguing the
Vocal music
Vocal organ, the
Vocal shades, law of
Vocal tube, the, must not vary for a loud tone
Voice, the charms of
  organic apparatus of
  a mysterious hand
  the kinds of
  the registers of
  meaning of the high and deep
  the language of the sensitive life
  the chest, the medium, the head
  the white
  dimensions and intensity of
  how to obtain a stronger
  three modes of developing
  method of diminishing
  the less the emotion, the stronger the
  how to gain resonance
  a tearful, a defect
  the tremulous, of the aged
  the rhythm of its tones
  must not be jerky
  inflections of
  great affinity between the arms and the
  exercises for
  the mixed
  tenuity and acuteness of
  shades of
  definition of the
  shading of the
  pathetic effects in the
  tearing of the
  two kinds of loud
Volubility, too much
Vowels correspond to the moral state
  length of the initial


"What I Propose"
Will, the
Wolf and the lamb, the fable of the
Words, the value of, in phrases
  dwelling on the final
Worlds, three, presented
Wrist, the
  thermometer of the physical life
Writing, a dead letter


Zaccone, Pierre
Zola, M.


[1] The sensitive is also called the vital, the mental, the reflective,
and the moral the affective state. The vital sustains, the mental
guides, the moral impels.--TRANSLATOR.

[2] The registers here given undoubtedly refer to the singing voice, as
the range of notes in the speaking voice is very much more limited. Very
frequently voices are found whose range in singing is very much greater
than that which the author has given here; however, on the other hand,
many are found with even a more limited range.--TRANSLATOR.

[3] The sounds here given are those of the French vowels.

    _A_ has two sounds, heard in _mat_ and _far_.
    _E_ with the acute accent (é) is like _a_ in _fate_,
    _E_ with the grave accent (è) is like _e_ in _there_.
    _I_ has two sounds--the first like _ee_ in _reed_, the second
      like _ee_ in _feel_.
    _O_ has a sound between that of _o_ in _rob_ and _robe_.
    _O_ with the circumflex (ô) is sounded like _o_ in _no_.
    The exact sound of _u_ is not found in English.
    _Ou_ is sounded like _oo_ in _cool_.
    The nasal sound _an_ is pronounced nearly like _an_ in _want_.
    The nasal _in_ is pronounced somewhat like _an_ in _crank_.
    The nasal _on_ is pronounced nearly like _on_ in _song_.
    The nasal _un_is pronounced nearly like _un_ in _wrung_.

Consult some work on French pronunciation, or, as is far preferable,
learn these sounds from the living voice of the teacher--Translator.

[4] From γἑνειου, the chin.

[5] Many of these papers were entrusted by the family to a former pupil
of Delsarte, who took them to America.

[6] Notes taken by his pupils, during the latter years of his lessons
prove that the master touched upon this question. I do not copy them
because, being somewhat confused, they might give rise to
misunderstandings; neither do they in any way contradict anything that I
have said above; they confirm, on the contrary, what remains in my
memory of the interpretation of Delsarte, who never belied himself.

[7] The existence of the persons of the Trinity, the one in the other.
These charts and diagrams are given in Part Fifth.

[8] For a fuller report of this lecture, see "Delsarte System of
Expression," by Genevieve Stebbins, second edition, $2. Edgar S. Werner,
Publisher, 48 University Place, New York.

[9] "Delsarte System of Oratory" and "Delsarte System of Expression."

[10] See page 549 for complete lesson.

[11] This extract shows that Delsarte was not unknown to Berlioz. Mme.
Arnaud refers to the coldness with which Berlioz treated Delsarte. The
article given here has been translated so as to preserve as nearly as
possible the quaint, half sarcastic style of the author.--PUBLISHER.

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