As this motion of the arm is somewhat complicated, and may be found difficult to execute, it would be adviseable to let the pupil at first speak without any motion of the arm at all. After some time he will naturally fall into a small curvature of the elbow, to beat time, as it were, to the emphatic word; and if, in doing this, he is constantly urged to raise the elbow, and to keep it at a distance from the body, the action of the arm will naturally grow up into that we have just described. So the diagonal position of the arm, though the most graceful and easy when the body is at rest, may he too difficult for boys to fall into at first; and therefore it may be necessary, in order to avoid the worse extreme, for some time to make them extend the arm as far from the body as they can, in a somewhat similar direction, but higher from the ground, and inclining more to the back. Great care must be taken to keep the hand open, and the thumb at some distance from the fingers; and particular attention must be paid to keeping the hand in the exact line with the lower part of the arm, so as not to bend at the wrist, either when it is held out without motion, or when it gives the emphatic stroke. And above all, the body must be kept in a straight line with the leg on which it bears, and not suffered to bend to the opposite side.
[Illustration: PLATE III.]
At first it may not be improper for the teacher, after placing the pupil in the position plate I. to stand at some distance exactly opposite to him in the same position, the right and left sides only reversed, and while the pupil is speaking, to show him by example the action he is to make use of. In this case the teacher’s left hand will correspond for the pupil’s right, by which means he will see as in a looking-glass, how to regulate his gesture, and will soon catch the method of doing it by himself.
It is expected the master will be a little discouraged at the aukward figure his pupil makes in his first attempts to teach him. But this is no more than what happens in dancing, fencing, or any other exercise which depends on habit. By practice, the pupil will soon begin to feel his position, and be easy in it. Those positions which were at first distressing to him, he will fall into naturally, and if they are such as are really graceful and becoming (and such it is presumed are those which have been just described) they will be adopted with more facility than any other that can be taught him.
On the Acting of Plays at School.