THE BRAIN IN ITS DIRECTION OF THE BODY
We come now to the brain and its direction of other parts of the body.
What tremendous and unnecessary force is used in talking,—from the aimless motion of the hands, the shoulders, the feet, the entire body, to a certain rigidity of carriage, which tells as powerfully in the wear and tear of the nervous system as superfluous motion. It is a curious discovery when we find often how we are holding our shoulders in place, and in the wrong place. A woman receiving a visitor not only talks all over herself, but reflects the visitor’s talking all over, and so at the end of the visit is doubly fatigued. “It tires me so to see people” is heard often, not only from those who are under the full influence of “Americanitis,” but from many who are simply hovering about its borders. “Of course it tires you to see people, you see them with, so much superfluous effort,” can almost without exception be a true answer. A very little simple teaching will free a woman from that unnecessary fatigue. If she is sensible, once having had her attention brought and made keenly alive to the fact that she talks all over, she will through constant correction gain the power of talking as Nature meant she should, with her vocal apparatus only, and with such easy motions as may be needed to illustrate her words. In this change, so far from losing animation, she gains it, and gains true expressive power; for all unnecessary motion of the body in talking simply raises a dust, so to speak, and really blurs the true thought of the mind and feeling of the heart.
The American voice—especially the female voice—is a target which has been hit hard many times, and very justly. A ladies’ luncheon can often be truly and aptly compared to a poultry-yard, the shrill cackle being even more unpleasant than that of a large concourse of hens. If we had once become truly appreciative of the natural mellow tones possible to every woman, these shrill voices would no more be tolerated than a fashionable luncheon would be served in the kitchen.
A beautiful voice has been compared to corn, oil, and wine. We lack almost entirely the corn and the oil; and the wine in our voices is far more inclined to the sharp, unpleasant taste of very poor currant wine, than to the rich, spicy flavor of fine wine from the grape. It is not in the province of this book to consider the physiology of the voice, which would be necessary in order to show clearly how its natural laws are constantly disobeyed. We can now speak of it only with regard to the tension which is the immediate cause of the trouble. The effort to propel the voice from the throat, and use force in those most delicate muscles when it should come from the stronger muscles of the diaphragm, is like trying to make one man do the work of ten; the result must eventually be the utter collapse of the one man