תמונות בעמוד

comparison with the antients is great. Among them the judges were commonly numerous ; the laws were few and simple ; the decision of causes was left in a great measure to equity and the sense of mankind. Hence the field for judicial eloquence was ample. But at present the system of law is much more complicated. The knowledge of it is rendered fo laborious, as to be the study of a mans life. Speaking is therefore only a Secondary accomplishment, for which he has little lei. fure.

With respect to the pulpit it has been a great disad. vantage, that the practice of reading fermons instead of repeating them has prevailed so universally in England. This indeed may have introduced accuracy.; but elo quence has been much enfeebled. Another circumAtance too has been prejudicial. The sectaries and fanatics before the Restoration used a warm, zealous, and popular manner of preaching; and their adherents afterward continued to distinguish themselves by similar ardor. Hatred of these feets drove the established church into the opposite extreme of a studied coolness of expression. Hence from the art of persuasion, which preaching ought ever to be, it has passed in England into mere reasoning and instruction.

I HE foundation of every species of eloquence is good sense and solid thought. It should be the first study of him, who means to address a popular assembly, to be previously, master of the business, on which he is to speak. ; to be well provided with matter and argu, ment; and to rest upon these the chief stress. This will give to his discourse an air of manliness and strength, which is a powerful instrument of persuasion. Ornament, if he have genius for it, will succeed of course, ; at any rate it deserves only fecondary regard.

.To become a persuasive speaker in a popular assem. . bly, it is a capital rule, that a man should always be : persuaded of whatever he recommends to others. Never, if it can be avoided, should he espouse that side of an argument, which he does not believe to be the right. All high, eloquence must be the offspring of paffion. This makes every man persuasive, and gives a force to his genius, which it cannot otherwise possess.

Debate in popular assemblies seldom allows a speaker that previous preparation, which the pulpit always, and the bår sometimes, admits. A general prejudice prevails, and not an unjust one, against fet speeches in public meetings. At the opening of a debate they may sometimes be introduced with propriety ; but, as the

debate advances, they become improper ; they lose the appearance of being fuggested by the business, that is going on. Study and oftentation are apt to be visible; and consequently, though admired as elegant, they are feldom fo persuasive, as more free and unconstrained discourses.

This however does not forbid premeditation, on what we intend to speak. With respect to the matter we cinnot be too accurate in our preparation ; but with regard co words and expressions it is very possible so far to overdo, as to render our speech Atiff and precise. Short notes of the substance of the discourse are not only allowable, but of confiderable service, to those especially, who are beginning to speak in public. They will teach them a degree of accuracy, which, if they speak frequently, they are in danger of losing. They will accuf. tom them to distinct arrangement, without which eloquence, however great, cannot produce entire conviction.

Popular assemblies give scope for the most animated manner of public speaking. Pallion is easily excited in a great assembly, where the movements are communicated by mutual fympathy between the orator and the audience. That ardor of speech, that vehemence and glow of sentiment, which proceed from a mind animated and inspired by some great and public object, form the peculiar character of popular elo quence in its highest degree of perfection.


The warmth however, which we express, must be al. ways suited to the subject ; since it would be ridiculous to introduce great vehemence into a subject of small importance, or which by its nature requires to be treated with calmness. We must allo be careful not to counterfeit warmth without feeling it. The best rule is, to follow nature ; and never to attempt a strain of eloquence, which is not prompted by our own genius. ' A speaker may acquire reputation and influence by a calm, argumentative manner. To reach the pathetic and fubTime of oratory requires those strong sensibilities of mind and that high power of expression, which are given to few.

Even when vehemence is justified by the subject, and prompted by genius ; when warmth is felt, not feign, ed ; we must be cautious, left impetuofity transport us too far. If the speaker lose command of himself, he will soon lose command of his audience. He must begin with moderation, and study to warm his hearers gradually and equally with himself. For, if their pafsions be not in unison with his, the discord will soon be felt. Respect for his audience should always lay a decent restraint upon his warmth, and prevent it from carTying him beyond proper limits. When a speaker is so far master of himself, as to preserve close attention to argument, and even to some degree of accurate expreffion ; this self command, this effort of reason in the midst of pallion, contributes in the higheit degree both

to please and to perfuade. The advantages of paffion are afforded for the purposes of persuasion without that confusion and disorder, which are its usual attend. ants.

· In the most animated strain of popular speaking we must always regard, what the public ear will receive without disgust. Without attention to this imitation of antient orators might betray a speaker into a boldness of manner, with which the coolness of modern taste would be displeased. It is also necessary to attend with care to the decorums of time, place, and character. No ardor of eloquence can atone for neglect of these. No one fhould attempt to speak in public without forming to himself a just and strict idea of what is suitable to his age and character ; what is suitable to the subject, the hearers, the place, and the occasion. On this idea he should adjust the whole train and manner of his speak


What degree of conciseness or diffuseness is suited to popular eloquence, it is not easy to determine with precision. A diffuse manner is generally considered, as most proper. There is danger however of erring in this respect ; by too diffuse a style public speakers often lose more in point of strength, than they gain by ful. ness of illustration. Excellive conciseness indeed must be avoided. We must explain and inculcate ; but confine ourselves within certain limits. We should never

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