תמונות בעמוד

were keen-sighted in the detection of faults or flaws, and exquisitely subtle in the perception of beauties or excellences in the argumen. tative periods of the intellectual gladiators who in the public assemblies of the people engaged in the polished arbitrement of debate ; or sought, by the use of oral expression, to win the applause or wield the destinies of those wild and restless republics, “where grew the arts of war and peace.”. Only the resistless spirits of the age could look with unabashed and unintimidated self-reliance upon those massed crowds of critical listeners, and risk the perilous venture of giving form and pressure to opinions in their presence, and by the forth-casting of fit speech dare to inform, exhort, arouse, rebuke, or dissuade those men whose lives were spent in making history. The mint and coinage of ordinary minds could not stir the judicial and deliberative Greeks to change. They could weigh, and test, and scorn the little thoughts of unimpressive men, and toss their advice to the passing winds. There was another class of minds which was effectless on a Greek crowd—the profound, earnest, undemonstrative, reflective men--men whose worth consisted in their deep vision into human things, the very gravity of whose thoughts put a seal upon their lips among the clamorous throng, and the cautious balance of whose intellects restrained them from taking a one-sided part in any public movement. Such men the Greeks could never comprehend--the neutrality of carefully elaborated reflectiveness was never theirs ; pure, unimpassioned thought could seldom move them; the statuesque, keen-chiselled logic of speculative minds could never charm and overpower their spirits like the riehly-coloured rhetoric of the eloquent. Mere logic was useless, futile. The giant bones of great thoughts required to have the knotted thews and rope-hard muscles which moved them subdued into grace, and inlaid with softer tissues, until the harmonies and proportions of a perfect form displayed themselves, and the eye flashed, the cheek flushed, the skin crimsoned, and the blue veins rose with the pulsing vitalities of a vigorous gymnast or a potent gladiator: then alone was logic resistless; for it had been trained, developed, matured, and made flexibly graceful by rhetoric.

In such a state of civilization, it is scarcely to be wondered thatas Cleon, son of Cleanetus, said in an Athenian assembly—"the chief wish of every man was to be a good speaker.". The eloquent were the mighty masters of the human mind; to them the facile Greeks submitted ; on them they lavished political power; by them they were moved or soothed; for them they prepared rewards and crowns; through them all business was managed; and among them all offices, aggrandizements, and honours were distributed." The tide of words" became all-powerful, and the inhabitants of the Greek republics degenerated, till they became “ spectators of words, and hearers of actions," and more like audiences of men sitting to hear the contentions of sophists, than men met to deliberate on the management of a commonwealth.

This declension resulted from the emphasis laid upon, and the importance attached to Eloquence as an end instead of a means; as the pure form of a statue becomes to the intent artist a far more vivid interest than the idea it is required to embody, or the event it is meant to memorial. Spoken thought always tends to become impassioned; the contagion of passion kindles in speaker and hearer alike; a fiercer glow of personal feeling intensifies the concurrent forces of excitement, and quickens the interest of each. The object the orator aims at is success; the object the listener should have is the attainment of right and true thought: but when the hearer is caught into the whirl of the speaker's enthusiasm, he loses all sense of the whereabouts he occupies, and succumbs at last to that superinduced motion, and gives up selfreckoning altogether. The habit of the orator gains power by constancy of usage, and the readiness to yield to his power increases by frequency of submission, until the eloquent man acquires a sort of dominion over the will, and makes it enter into servitude to him and his intents. Then Eloquence becomes an art, tact takes the place of conviction, and men speak to gain their own ends, not to attain the best ends. The people criticize the oratory rather than the matter of the oration, and give their suffrage, not to the best adviser, but to the most efficient speaker : sophistry arises, and sophists abound, and Eloquence ceases to be outspokenness,-in fact, ceases to be, though not to be so named. When Greek oratory became a mere art, it ceased to be a great fact,-its resistless force failed.

In like manner Roman eloquence, when it was invigorated by genuine feeling, interest, and purpose, maintained its nobility and power; but so soon as it substituted the artistic for the actual, it became inane and inutile. By losing the living essence, it lost its moving power; and on ceasing to be the soul-felt expression of a truly entertained opinion, it ceased to stir the pulse and excite the spirit to pour a contagious intensity into the passion-ful hearts of the people, and it no longer

“ Roused the world-bestriding giant,

Sinking fast in slavery's arms." It is ever so. Reality is the life of thought; and living thought alone is powerful,—is Eloquence.

We have thought it advisable to advance the foregoing remarks on ancient Eloquence, that we may bring out, with the emphasis of contrast, the distinction between the oratory of the past and the present time; and that our readers may be led to mark this point particularly, as one having vast issues involved in it, in any discussion on the nature, power, and influence of modern Eloquence. The ancient orators quickened thought, and intensified its action, by exciting and straining the feelings and emotions,—by employing a varied, ornamented, and impassioned style, and by the prominent and vivid exhibition of their own vehement, impetuous, and impressive fervour. The pithy force of their expressions caught the ear, and charmed the hearer with its appropriateness, stirred the emotions, animated the feelings, roused the passions, and so brought the inner faculties of their audiences under the control of the commanding energies of the speaker, who used them to dun and din the intellect into active thought. Though close-textured reasoning often underlay the many-hued surface of the stretohing web of word-woven reflection, yet the glow and radiance first attracted the attentive interests of the Athenian assemblies or the Roman crowds. Rhetoric coloured the careful draft which logic drew, and the vivid tints struck the eye before the grace of form was noted. They kindled reason with the fires of passion, and tipped the arrows of their invectives with the venom of their own inflamed hearts. Even while merely perusing them, the eager and suspended soul feels that, under the influence of their out-breathed thoughts,—

“Passion's fierce illapse
Rouses the mind's whole fabric; with supplies
Of ready impulse, keeps th' elastic powers
Intensely poised, and polishes anew

By that collision all the fine machine." In modern Eloquence much of this is changed. Indeed there are few exertions of the mind in which the modifying power of circumstances is more marked than in the means by which the orator of an age like ours "astonishes, enraptures, elevates,” and instructs an audience, compared with those which stirred the hearts of the men and nations of those century-hoar eras when Demosthenes uttered his resistless orations, or Cicero declaimed his grand and ample sentences, instinct at once with grace, beauty, and life. The institutions of modern society have imparted a sedateness, temperance, argumentativeness, and business-liketone to many things, and to none more than to Eloquence. The poet may still adorn the complicated members of his verse with all the gorgeous rarity and wondrous beauty fancy can yield, and tone the undulating harmony of his lay to please himself; and yet be faultless. The sculptor must conserve the weird and stainless purity and symmetry of the olden models, or impart but the palest tinge of earthliness to the lineaments into which “he hews the marble.” The painter may dash his colours on the willing canvas in any groupings and forms which may best give effective visibility to the inner ideal from which he works. The musician may weave the moving air into a gossamery mantle of enchantment, and touch the soul by the thin medium which enwraps the earth in any mode which gratifies his gifted spirit. The orator, however, cannot nowadays express the strong conception vitalized by his mind in the full pith and plenitude, with the undeviating directness and thrilling passionateness, the moving energy and impulsive variousness which his ideas may possess, but must soothe his mind and smooth his style to the practical level of a colder age ;-unless, indeed, some political convulsion, some moral monstrosity, some unexampled eventuality in social life, some spirit-stirring hour occur, in which the mind shakes off the shackles of conventionality, like the withes which bind a fresh-awakened giant; then

" The words of men,
Big with the very notion of their souls,
Declare with wbat accumulated force
Th’impetuous nerve of passion arges on

The native weight and energy of things." As the province of law extends, the surface of civilization is widened, the regularity and simplicity of thought is cultivated, the diffusion of knowledge broadens over the earth, the devotion to business and matters of fact is deepened and intensified, the power as well as the province of Eloquence will be altered. We do not believe that at any time the persuasive influence of oratory will fail; that the fresh-born thought of the dilated soul, that the effluent emotion of the living teacher, will ever cease to be efficacious, or resign their functions, before “the sober, gainful arts of modern days :" yet we think that the potent voice of the public speaker must, as a general rule, be subdued and modified, and that be can now only, or at least chiefly, become the master of the heart by acquiring the control of the intellect. Nor do we think that the modern orator has a less noble function in exercising the best efforts of his skill to form the life, and rule the emotions of the society of our onn day, than had the great professor of the divine art of Eloquence in the days of old. Though the newspaper flashes the energy of thought daily into the public mind in vivid, vigorous, sententious, and ornate phrase; the pamphlet sows along the fields of opinion the seed of active and nervous intellectuality; the magazine brightens the whole hemisphere of social life with the light of genius, or the radiancy of a polished reflectiveness ; the volume treasures up the sage's thought, the thinker's argumentative cogency, or the poet's fluent ardour; the published sermon distils among the eager crowds the words in which the divine message has been delivered ; and the reported speech brings to the eye the pbrases employed by those who can expatiate and discourse on matters of interest, “still, the conjuration and the mighty magic” of personality can never but impart to the speaker's tlought "the light that never was on land or sea," and give it a necromantic fascination that wiil throb into the very soul, and thrill the inner chambers of the heart. The press is mighty as an engine for instruction, persuasion, and delight; but the living, thought-discharging, passionate fervour of an orator, as he forges and launches forth the volatile essence of his spirit in forms of power and diction of pith, with a speed that defies observation, a resistlessness that brooks no obstacle, and an art that is consummate in its apparent artlessness, is a potency which diffuses animation, ardour, glow, and energy into the audience, and sets the contagious influence of emotion in ever. enwrapping circles closer and closer round the soul; till, whirled into the vortex, it too becomes an incorporate part of the active motion which has been excited, and resigns itself to the overmastering vehemency which captures and captivates it. This special spell the press can never appropriate. The dead, cold columns of type range themselves before the eye, and tell, with exactest minuteness perhaps, the thoughts and words which the speaker expressed ; but the animated form, the flashing eye, the tense-strung countenance, the living intonations, the emphasis of feeling, and the concurrent throbbing of many hearts, as the idiomatie utterance of his ideas touches them, for the time being, into a special unity, are all a-wanting, and cannot be represented. Character, position, power, corporate or individual station, may all be indicated by titles or terms ; but the fascination of personality, and of the actual eyewitnessing of thought, coming into being, ripe from the master-spirit who utters it, cannot be conveyed through any phraseological description, however copious, elaborate, sprightly, elegant, or varied. In reading, all these enter the mind in sequent singleness, in one long line of straight-going excursiveness ; while in listening, all these converge, concur, and co-operate, with a united, appulsive power upon each individual mind, and so place each under strikingly similar conditions of intellectual activity. The charm is the charm of life; and where the press fails, it fails, “ for life is wanting there."

But the press, though not able to reproduce at once the entire unity of the ravishment of oratory, has had much to do with effeeting the modifications which Eloquence has undergone in modern days. Thinkers are not now compelled to culture all the expressive and impressive faculties, to perfection as far as in them lies, the entirety of their nature and being, to deploy their whole life into the publication of their ideas. The press presents man with a means of communicating with his fellows in another form than that in which, in ancient times, the man of thought required to meet, affect, and excite bis comrades in life's pathways. While this opportunity has intensified the individual capacities of the soul, it has lessened the wholeness as well as the wholesomeness of intellectual efforts, and has divorced power from power; so that, in our day, we many times find the best writers of the age ineffective in speech, and our most effective speakers by no means the most thoroughly trained in the arts contributory to argumentative cogency, or accuracy of rerbal expression.

Extemporaneousness is plenteous enough in the study or the editorial sanctum, but it is of a sort which cannot throw itself out and off in the blaze of day, and among crowds. An almost superhuman intuitiveness regarding the causes or issues of events ; an extraordinary power of precise thought and concise expression; a marvellous aptitude for popular exposition, are daily displayed in the leading articles of the great journals and periodicals; but the rapid pen quivers, and the trenchant mind is palsied by the mere personal congregating of the public to be addressed ; and the man who could fling down upon the broad expanded sheet before him with all but the speed of speech, will falter, and fail, and quail before an andience who wait upon him to expedite those very thoughts

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