« PreviousContinue »
anently fitted for see on manly dignity and stage The Stubas of an Orden
the same excellence. The ancient writings are mode
With a view to the same obj
and lo. The architect measy York Minster. So, in applying the living sto
ing else; but he with zeal and affecti
with the great and writers. It is true, of Jeremy Taylor
nis models. It is not very would not hope,
Les of Parliamentary Logic, himself, and app
amous for his single speech. It tion of that exa
co know that he ought to hesitate, We cannot en he comes to the premeditated and see what it 4,"— “to catch at some expression that Greek, not idea, and then seem to hit at last upon the so flexible o watch his opportunity, and speak after a precisen peaking has been tiresome;" but it is worthy of
The Studies of an Orator,
dinary purpubes may be alone can secure the jing with a health,
in matters of
and, most of all, the invention of printing,
be, that none can ever, in point of
*he pre-eminence of the ancients.
ve changed the functions of the in doing rather than in ser
ww, as formerly, propagated asm for foreign lantages Jos
rative eloquence have lost pre too little prizeul, and is dit
ty in the strict discipline
or and more sagacious
entirely new. The
whose names are everywhere familiar. At present, there emains in that country one very remarkable orator-remarkable for energy, for sarcasm, for argument, for burning thought, for almost every oratorical virtue. The stream of his eloquence gathers strength at every interruption, deviates and hesitates not a moment, or only for a moment, to bury all opposition under the accumulated weight of sarcasm and invective. With few exceptions, these great orators have practically recommended the study of the ancients, and of the old English writers. They have made them their familiar study, have carefully translated them, have committed them to memory. I have mentioned some of Chatham's studies. His celebrated son, three years before his early entrance into public.life, is said to have possessed a more thorough, certainly a more ready knowledge of the classics, than most who have devoted to them a life of toil. No living
lopment of in theol
variety, better, in spite of its occasional harshness, than the tame formality of later times. Give us, if it be necessary, their inversions, their ponderous words, even their obsolete phrases, if in no other way we can get back again their simple dignity, their copiousness, their vigor, their rich, mellow thought. It may be that future writers will seek to unite the sterner virtues of the former age, with the milder ones of our own. Indeed it
Some of the first living orators are beginning to use those Saxon forms, which, not half a century ago, would have been received with universal condemnation. True, the elder writers are confined to a range of grave subjects—and in oratory, to the productions of the pulpit; but in all of them there are so many virtues, such earnestness and sincerity, so much that concerns man as mun, so much that affects our highest interests,the wisdom of the Proverbs, the poetry and philosophy of revelation, truths which
'Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing, that, the use of language apart, they afford just the instruction and discipline suited to the dignity of an independent and thoughtful man. The orator may not, like the elder Pitt, learn by heart the sermons of Barrows, nor like the younger, read Spenser till he is charged with reading nothing else; but he should not fail of familiar acquaintance with the great and good minds of the seventeenth century:
The orator should carefully study his models. It is not very necessary, indeed, to learn the rules of “ Parliamentary Logic, as laid down by their author, famous for his single speech. It may not be very important to know that he ought to hesitate, and appear to boggle when he comes to the premeditated and finest part of his speech,”— "to catch at some expression that shall fall short of his idea, and then seem to hit at last upon the true thing,”—“to watch his opportunity, and speak after a person whose speaking has been tiresome;" but it is worthy of his careful regard to detect the habits and character, the studies and pursuits of those who have been most eloquent. We would, if possible, discover the causes of their success from the history of their lives, the circumstances of their speeches, and their manner of conducting the oration. And here, as in art, the choicest models seem voted, by acclamation, to ancient times. Other and more meager languages; other orders of society, the progress of society, and, most of all, the invention of printing, have diminished the power of the orator by narrowing the sphere of his labor.
For these reasons it may be, that none can ever, in point of authority and honor, dispute the pre-eminence of the ancients. But with the change of times have changed the functions of the speaker. If knowledge be not now, as formerly, propagated mostly by public speaking, if deliberative eloquence have lost something of its importance and sincerity in the strict discipline of parties, the law demands pleaders wiser and more sagacious than ever, and the pulpit has opened a field entirely new. The free institutions of England and America have produced orators whose fame is bound up with that of their country. The deliberative eloquence of the last seventy years has afforded us models in oratory, on the whole, inferior to none the world ever saw. The times were stormy. Long wars, rapid and dangerous revolutions, questions of intense political, social and moral interest excited the public mind. In one hemisphere, a nation emerged into independence from a long, dubious and exhausting struggle. In the other, the bulwarks of national existence were to be reared, in the hearts of the people, against the gigantic scheme of the greatest of generals, against the more insidious, but not less dangerous attacks of false principles in government and religion.
In England, Lord Chatham was the leader of that splendid band, whose names are everywhere familiar. At present, there remains in that country one very remarkable orator-remarkable for energy, for sarcasm, for argument, for burning thought, for almost every oratorical virtue. The stream of his eloquence gathers strength at every interruption, deviates and hesitates not a moment, or only for a moment, to bury all opposition under the accumulated weight of sarcasm and invective. With few exceptions, these great orators have practically recommended the study of the ancients, and of the old English writers. They have made them their familiar study, have carefully translated them, have committed them to memory. I have mentioned some of Chatham's studies. His celebrated son, three years before his early entrance into public life, is said to have possessed a more thorough, certainly a more ready knowledge of the classics, than most who have devoted to them a life of toil. No living man has more earnestly recommended, by precept and by example, the study of the Greek and Latin orators, indeed, of the orators of every age, than Lord Brougham. The oration for the
Crown is said to be almost at his tongue's end; other orations he has translated; the writers and speakers of modern times he has critically analyzed,—of older times, carefully studied, and reaps his reward in a more thoroughly Saxon, and, which is saying the same thing, a more vigorous style than any orator of
I have suggested some of the minor studies of the orator: for of inferior consequence they certainly are, when compared with those that tend more directly to discipline and invigorate the mind. No beauty of style, no fine arrangement of argument will avail, if the argument itself be feeble.
No man needs a greater variety of knowledge than the public speaker; for no one can use more. Not a branch of literature but will yield him some fruit; not a science in the whole circle but will minister to his wants; not an isolated fact but will find some vacant corner, waiting for its ornament or support. Other things being equal, the power belongs to him whose memory is a storehouse of knowledge. He has an illustration for every new phasis of truth; every principle he embodies in a living form; every decision has its precedent; of passing events, with their manifold relations, he finds the germ or the symbol in other events which have happened elsewhere.
First among those studies which more directly affect the substance of a speech, stands the philosophy of the mind. The orator should know the nature of his species, his own nature. No other study can so fully and harmoniously develop his mind. Nothing is so interesting to man as man. He is not a lifeless, valueless being; his thoughts do not die as soon as uttered; his spirit ceases not its being to-day, or any day when he ceases to appear on earth. Other studies may afford the orator a novel and interesting source of illustration, but argument might have availed without it. They may give him knowledge of the utmost importance in an emergency; but the emergency will occur but once in a lifetime. A knowledge of himself is interwoven with