« הקודםהמשך »
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 on 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 ultiinately most surely established. In the full bope 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,
To virtue wake the pulses of the heart,
ELOQUENCE, outspokenness, though a rare, is not a modern mani. festation 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-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 spell. bound, 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 bearts 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 criticalGreeks, by constant usage, had acquired a fastidiously delicate intellectual power, and a discriminating susceptibility of taste; they
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 specu. lative 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-beetriding 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 discus. sion 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 impres. sive fervour. The pithy force of their expressions caught the ear,