« הקודםהמשך »
The issues of time are manifold, and the fashions of the world change. Few things were so much decried, little more than a dozen years ago, as Controversy. It was the order of the day then to represent faith and reason as antagonists, and to confound the advocates of free discussion with the abettors of scepticism and the leaders in political agitations. Much of this is given up as untenable. Controversy has now almost incorporated itself with our daily life, and the search for truth has been solemnly declared to be a human duty. Parliaments, pulpits, platforms, periodicals, and pamphlets, almost ananimously concur in regarding every topic as "a question.” Newspapers discuss, conventions debate, conferences argue, and public meetings consider; while all assert their desire to discover a reasonable solution of the matters which engage their attention.
This Magazine first systematically brought controversy into true relationship with the active thought of the age, and undertook, not only to educate the reason in its operations, but to substantiate experimentally the far-seeing maxim of Edmund Burke—" He that wrestles with us strengthens our perves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." Our faith in the excellency of controversy as a means of setting forth truth in a clear, strong light has never faltered, never wavered; and we have seen it grow—since the time when we took up our editorial pen--from the great weakness of a shunned activity to the great power of a popular method of treating the gravest interests, and of stirring the greatest thoughts. Experience has confirmed gur early faith. This Magazine was originated with a fixed purpose, and to that ito conductors have adhered with rigid honesty, viz., that every important question should receive, so far as their ability or that of their contributors could reach, "impartial discussion.”
The manner in which the various debates contained in our successive volumes have been carried on amply proves that taste, temper, and judgment may co-exist with keen, incisive, and trenchant controversy, and that wrangling and offensive speech are not the necessary concomitants of a vigorously contested debate. The present volume, we think, demonstrates more emphatically than ever the utility of controversy in causing the inward forces of man to exert themselves in an intenser form, and in giving a livelier impression of the truth from its close juxtaposition with error. The topics discussed, and the manner in which the fresh and living convictions of the writers have been expressed in these pages, ought to commend this volume to all lovers of reasoned thought; while the position which our Magazine occopies in the history of human thought, as the first and, as yet, the only organ for “the free and open encounter” of opinion, entitles it to the good wishes and help of all who appreciate the advantage of training men to exercise their judg. ments with cultured care and trained sagacity.
To the numerous and able contributors to whom the preciousness of this volume is mainly due, we owe hearty thanks for their sedulous care in thinking and writing, for their frankness of speech, and their studious avoidance of harshness or personality.
In taking note of the matters composing this volume, while allocating the first place to the controversial papers, we cannot avoid reflecting with pleasure on the value of the leading articles, so varied in subject, yet so interestingly composed, which have been furnished by Mr. Neil. "The Essayist ” requires that the worth and utility of its contents should be recognized; while the range and importance of the inatters brought before the reader in "The Reviewer" will prove that our efforts are not slackening as the years fleet on. “The Topic," besides affording a fine training-ground for younger controversialists, or those whose avocations allow them little leisure to elaborate thought, yet think intelligently and express themselves tersely, has brought before us some of the most important passing events of our own times.
We are glad to find that its beneficiality is widely appreciated. If we look with less pleasure on “ The Societies' Section," we account for our disappointment by reflecting that many Secretaries modestly conclude that a notice in a daily paper should suffice for their Associations. By this, as we think it, mistaken humility, the force of example the kindly cheering on of society by society—is lost, and the sense of companionship in self-culture is taken away. Should the officials of Young Men's Associations bestir themselves, we shall be glad to heighten the value of this department. The usefulness of “The Inquirer” is still maintained, and the kindliness of our readers in supplying answers to queries merits acknowledgment. " Our Collegiate Course" affords the opportunity of doing test-work in the process of self-culture, such as is nowhere else to be found, and claims, from the pains it costs the conductors, more practical attention than it has as yet received.
As years grow op us, we become more thoroughly attached to our readers and our aims. We have given the grudgeless labours of our nights and days to the increase of the intellectual advantages of the age in which we live. Amid competitors of all classes and all claims and schemes, we have hitherto held on our single independent course, in the conviction that, by the earnest culture of thought, our fellow-men, especially our young men, would be most truly benefited, and truth be ultimately most surely established. In the full hope of continued success, and grateful for such earnests of it as occasionally reach us, we are content, as heretofore, “ to labour and to wait." Reader, labour with us; and, by such aid as you can give, encourage us still in our endeavour to
Dispense the treasures of exalted thought,
ELOQUENCE, outspokenness, though a rare, is not a modern manifestation of thought. In the elder civilizations of Europe, oratory was cultivated as a scientific art, and was a portion of the practical outfit of a public man. All political business was transacted, in its earlier stages, orally, and was only submitted to writing in its finished state. It was registered, not reported. The merely reflective mind could not immediately influence popular feeling or public events. Ready utterance and attractive speech were more efficacious than weight of character or power of mind. The necessities of these ages required talkers, and the existence of the demand developed the supply: Oratory became a profession, and Eloquence an art; rules, maxims, precepts, detailed treatises, and common-place models multiplied and abounded, and the means of carrying on political affairs received a far larger share of attention than the ends to be attained by it—the maintenance of public freedom and political independence, the spread of comfort, the extension of intellectual culture, and the diffusion of righteousness of life.
The public necessities of the ancient world made all their literature oral. The poets declaimed their magnificent epics, their thrilling odes, their glowing hymns, or burning lyrics, at their splendid public festivities, in their war-camps, at the tables of heroes and dynasts, and round the altars of their country's gods. Nor were “the sweet and solemn-breathing airs" "of the authors of "measurable song” alone felicitously breathed into the listening ear. The historian made the assembled Greeks glow and pant, and thrill and applaud, as at the august celebrations of their national games they met in crowds and thought in multitudes. The stage grew out of this recitative requirement of a bookless age, history developed into tragedy, and satire into comedy-the chorus taking the bard's place. This mimic representative of life gathered to its service some of the noblest spirits of antiquity, and imparted to spoken literature a notability and dignity which after ages have been unable to attain. The staid philosopher was even fain in those distant times to wed his
thoughts to music, or to arrange them for declamatory utterance; and hence Eloquence became the normal form of ancient thought. The great aim was to give each idea so much grace as to attract, force as to impress, and vigour as to fix it in the memory, and make it blend indissolubly thereafter with the hearer's mind. Then thought issued quick, living, newly-begotten, with all its mysterious and spontaneous activity from the thinker's spirit, and entered with all the fascination of a fresh-created gift into the hearer's heart. The ecstasy of excitement, the energy of vitalized intelligence, and the exquisite exaltation of emotion consequent on the stir of mind, gave Eloquence a matchless charm and a surpassing potency. The anxious, study-v
-worn speaker, moved by many concurrent influences, grew as it were with his inborn thought; the fervour of his emotions was kindled, the whole framework of his body thrilled and tingled with the tremor of his mind's activity; and as he shed "the consummate flower" of intellectuality along the crowd-himself transformed into one oral, vivid argument and impulse-how could his majestic attitude, his quivering gestures, his flashing eye, his knit features, his expressive and varying intonations, his tiptoed anxiety to influence and persuade, his very livingness, fail to rivet attention, and startle into hitherto unfelt rapturousness the excitable throng, whose spirits lay like an Æolian harp trembling under the enchantment of the thought-enriched air which had been just made vocal with his soul's life?
It is true that it was a dying energy which was thus cast forth upon the embracing atmosphere, but it was thus all the more wondrous in its magic; for the orator himself seemed spellbound, filled with some strange, immortal essence, which gathered together the whole energies of his being, and flashed it forth with vigorous impulse into every other spirit. And though the voice died in the distance, and the words faded faster than the flower-leaves which the wind had shaken, yet the intensified life they contained fixed them in the very hearts of those whose bosoms glowed beneath their influence. The voice of Eloquence was not that of pure thought and calm reflectiveness-it was that of thought filled with the forces and fires of the emotions, touched with the blood-felt enthusiasm of a greatened nature, buoyant with the exhilaration of an excited spirit, vibrating with the very inner energies of lifethought, decked by imagination, vital with passion, and glorified by the plastic art of genius. The whole of the capacities of the ancient orator-intellectual, moral, imaginative, sensitive, and physicalwere at once congenialized and unified; and this sublime essence and pith of the human mind, when uttered, was worthily called Eloquence.
Nor was the thought-tossed brain of the teeming thinker, while collocating his ideas and marshulling the ordered vocables into organized masses of effective speech, alone busy; the emotional and critical Greeks, by constant usage, had acquired a fastidiously delicate intellectual power, and a discriminating susceptibility of taste; they