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Page 268


This is excellent in its way; a good sentence is
helped materially by an appropriate gesture in the right
place, and even a dull one is saved from absolute
stupidity by a timely illustrative motion of the hand.
But we deprecate the practice of some, who, when telling
a story involving an account of their conversation
or conduct with others, particularly of a quarrelsome
nature, go through the motions again in public, as if
we were the party in difficulty, leaving people passing
to infer that we are the victim of their deadly hate.
How terrible it is to have one of the bellicose sort
back us to the wall and force us to listen to the
account of his trouble with another like himself, maugre
our protestations of business and haste! “Only a
minute,” he says, and then, taking us by the collar,
while we endeavor to give a smiling lie to our real feelings,
he commences to say that he called on his antagonist,
and, says he to him, “What do you mean by such
” This, of course, is yelled at the top of the
voice, and people look round to see what the row is about.
He then goes on: “He had no explanation to make.”
This is said in a moderate tone. “Then, says I,” he
continues, in a loud voice, “you are an infernal rascal,
— doubling his fist in our face, and holding our collar
by the other hand, — “and deserve to have your nose
” We try, with a very severe effort, to look
good-natured; but people stare at us, and policemen
stand on the opposite side, watching for the moment of
actual strife, to pitch in. “I told him,” — still brandishing
his fist, and speaking loud, — “you are a scamp,
and when I meet you on 'Change I 'll kick you!
He tried to go into the house, but I took him by the


Page 269
collar with both hands,” — suiting the action to the word,
— “and, says I, No, you don't go so easy.” We are in
despair. Another policeman has come along, and
everybody who has passed has reported the row. Even
the newsboys come and thrust their inquisitive and
unwashed mugs in between us, evidently estimating
how much they are going to make out of the disturbance
in a fair retail of its detail, while the reporters
stand waiting at the corners to secure the item that
seems impending. Thus all seems to our disturbed
fancy, as we stand back to the wall, with the fist coming
up before our eyes, and the loud and violent tones in
our ears. It is fearful to fall into the hands of such
people, and we rush from their presence as if we
were the ones on whom the real violence, and not the
delineated, had been practised. Were we a teacher of
elocution, we should recommend that this species of
illustrative gesticulation be omitted.