Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"Tis of more worth than Kingdoms ! far more precious
Than all the crimson treasures of life's fountain.
0! let it not elude thy grasp; but, like
The good old patriarch upon record,
Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee.

19. THE ELOQUENCE OF ACTION. - Daniel Wetster.

When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable in speech, further than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it, — they cannot reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then, words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then, patriotism is eloquent; then, self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, cutrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming froni the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward, to his object, — this, this is eloquence; or, rather, it is something greater and higher than all eloquence, — it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action!

20 SINCERITY THE SOUL OF ELOQUENCE. – Goethe. Born, 1749; died, 1832

How shall we learn to sway the minds of men
By cloquence ? to rule them, or persuade ? -
Do you seek genuine and worthy fame?
Reason and honest feeling want no arts
Of utterance, - ask no toil of elocution !
And, when you speak in earnest, do you need
A search for words? O! these fine holiday phrases,
In which

you
robe

your worn-out commonplaces,
These
scraps

of

paper which you crimp and curl,

Anil twist into a thousand idle shapes,
These filigree ornaments, are good for nothing,
Cost time and pains, please few, impose on no one ;
Are unrefreshing, as the wind that whistles,
In autumn, 'mong the dry and wrinkled leaves.
If feeling does not prompt, in vain you strive.
If from the soul the language does not come,
By its own impulse, to impel the hearts
Of hearers with communicated power,
In vain you strive, in vain you study earnestly, -
Toil on forever, piece together fragments,
Cook up your broken scraps of sentences,
And blow, with puffing breath, a struggling light,
Glimmering confusedly now, now cold in ashes, -
Startle the school-boys with your metaphors, -
And, if such food may suit your appetite,
Win the vain wonder of applauding children!
But never hope to stir the hearts of men,
And mould the souls of

many
By words which come not native from the heart !

into one,

21. TIIE CIIRISTIAN ORATOR. - Original translation from Villemain. By the introduction of Christianity, a tribune was erected, frum which the most sublime truths were boldly announced to all the world; from which the purest lessons of morality were made familiar to the ignorant multitude; a tribune so authoritative, so august, that before it Emperors, soiled with the blood of the People, were humbled ; a tribune so pacific and tutelary, that more than once it has given refuge to its mortal enemies ; a tribune, from which many an interest, abandoned everywhere else, was long defended; a tribune which, singly and eternally, has pleaded the cause of the poor against the rich, of the oppressed against the oppressor, and of man against himself.

There, all becomes ennobled and deified. The Christian orator, with his mastery over the minds of his hearers, elevating and startling them by turns, can reveal to them a destiny grander than glory, or terribler than death. From the highest Heavens he can draw down an eternal hope to the tomb, where Pericles could bring only tributary lamentations and tears. If, with the Roman orator, he commemorates the warrior fallen on the field of battle, he gives to the soul of the departed that immortality which Cicero dared promise only to his renown, he charges Deity itself with the acquittal of a country's gratitude.

Would the orator confine himself to evangelical preaching? That science of morals, that experience of mankind, those secrets of thu passions, which were the constant study of the philosophers and orators of antiqnity, ought to be his, also, to command. It is for him, ever more than it was for them, to know all the windings of the human heart, all the vicissitudes of the emotions, all the sensibilities of the soul; not with a view to exciting those violent affections, those popular animosities, those fierce kindlings of passion, those fires of vengeance and of hate, in the outbursts of which the triumph of ancient eloquence was attained; but to appease, to soften, to purify, the soul. Armed against all the passions, without the privilege of availing him. self of any, he is obliged, as it were, to create a new passion, if by that name we may profane the profound, the sublime sentiment, which can alone vanquish and replace all others in the heart,

- an intelli, gent religious enthusiasm ; and it is that, which should impart to his elocution, to his thoughts, to his words, rather the inspiration of a prophet than the art and manner of an orator.

22 AFFECTATION IN THE PULPIT. — William Cowper. Born, 1731 ; died, 1800 In man or woman,

but far most in man,
And most of all in man that ministers
And serves the altar,- in my soul I loathe
All affectation. 'Tis my perfect scorn;
Object of my implacable disgust.
What!— will a man play tricks, — will he indulge
A silly, fond conceit of his fair form,
And just proportion, fashionable mien,
And pretty face, — in presence of his God?
Or will he seek to dazzle me with tropes,
As with the diamond on his lily hand,
And play his brilliant parts before my eyes,
When I am hungry for the bread of life?
He mocks his Maker, prostitutes and shames
His noble office, and, instead of truth,
Displaying his own beauty, starves his flock !
Therefore, avaunt all attitude, and stare,
And start theatric, practised at the glass !
I seek divine simplicity in him
Who handles things divine; and all besides,
Though learned with labor, and though much admired
By curious eyes and judgments ill-informed,
To me is odious as the nasal twang
Heard at conventi, le, where worthy men,
Misled by custom strain celestial themes
Through the pressed nostril, spectacle-bestrid.

I venerate the man whose heart is warm,
Whose hands are pure, whose doctrine and whose life,
Coïncident, exhibit lucid proof
That he is honest in the sacred cause.
To such I reuder more than mere respecto

Whose actions say that they respect themselves
But loose in morals, and in manners vain,
In conversation frivolous, in dress
Extreme, at once rapacious and profuse ;
Frequent in park with lady at his side,
Ambling and prattling scandal as he goes •
But rare at home, and never at his books,
Or with his pen, save when he scrawls a card
Constant at routs, familiar with a round
Of ladyships — a stranger to the poor ;
Ambitious of preferment for its gold;
And well prepared, by ignorance and sloth,
By infidelity and love of world,
To make God's work a sinecure; a slave
To his own pleasures and his patron's pride ;
From such apostles, O, ye mitred heads,
Preserve the Church! and lay not careless hands
On skulls that cannot teach, and will not learn!

22. UTILITY OF HISTORY.-Original Translation from De Ségur. B. 1763 ; d. 1830

WHATEVER your career, a knowledge of history will always be to you a source of profit and delight. Examples strike deeper than precepts. They serve as proofs to convince, and as images to attract. History gives us the experience of the world, and the collective reason of ages. We are organized likennen of the remotest times; we have the same virtues and the same vices; and. hurried forward, like them, by our passions, we listen with distrust to those warnings of wisdom which would thwart our inclinations. But History is an impartial instructor, whose reasonings, which are facts, we cannot gainsay. It exhibits to us the Past, to prefigure the Future. It is the mirror of truth. Nations and men, the most renowned, are judged in our eyes from a point of time which destroys all illusion, and with a singleness of purpose which no surviving interest can mislead.

Before the tribunal of History, conquerors descend from their triumphal cars; tyrants are no longer formidable by their satellites ; princes appear before us unattended by their retinue, and stripped of that false grandeur with which Flattery saw them invested. You detest, without danger, the ferocity of Nero, the cruelties of Sylla, the hypocrisy of Tiberius, the licentiousness of Caligula. If you have seen Dionysius terrible at Syracuse, you behold him humbled at Corinth. The plaudits of an inconstant multitude do not delude your judgment in favor of the envious traducers of the good and great ; and you follow, with enthusiasm, the virtuous Socrates to his prison, the just Aristides into exile. If you admire the valor of Alexander on the banks of the Granicus, on the plains of Arbēla, — you condemn, without fear, that unmeasured ambition which hurried bim to the recesses of India, and that profligacy which, at Labylon, tarnished the close of his career. The love of liberty, cherished by the Greeks, may kindle your soul; but their jealousies, their fickleness, their ingratitude, their sanguinary quarrels, their corruption of manners, at once announce and explain to you their ruin. If Rome, with her colossal power, excite your astonishment, you shall not fail soon to distinguish the virtues which constituted her grandeur, from the vices which precipitated her fall. Everywhere shall you rocoso aize the proof of this antique maxim, that, in the end, only what is honest is useful; that we are truly great only through justice, and entirely happy only through virtue. Time dispenses cquitably its

recompenses and its chastisements; and we may measure the growth . and the decline of a People by the purity or corruption of their morals.

Virtue is the enduring cement of the power of Nations; and without that, their ruin is inevitable !

24. FALSE COLORING LENT TO WAR. — Thomas Chalmers. Born, 1780 ; died, 1847.

On every side of me I see causes at work which go to spread a most delusive coloring over war, and to remove its shocking barbarities to the back-ground of our contemplations altogether. I see it in the history which tells me of the superb appearance of the troops, and the brilliancy of their successive charges. I see it in the poetry which lends the magic of its numbers to the narrative of blood, and trans. ports its many admirers, as by its images, and its figures, and its nodding plumes of chivalry, it throws its treacherous embellishments over a scene of legalized slaughter. I see it in the music which represents the progress of the battle; and where, after being inspired by the trumpet-notes of preparation, the whole beauty and tenderness of a drawing-room are seen to bend over the sentimental entertainment; nor do I hear the utterance of a single sigh to interrupt the deathtones of the thickening contest, and the moans of the wounded men, as they fade away upon the car, and sink into lifeless silence. All, all, goes to prove what strange and half-sighted creatures we

Were it not so, war could never have been seen in any other aspect than that of unmingled hatefulness; and I can look to nothing but to the progress of Christian sentiment upon carth to arrest the strong current of the popular and prevailing partiality for war. Then only will an imperious sense of duty lay the check of severe principle on all the subordinate tastes and faculties of our nature. Then will glory be reduced to its right estimate, and the wakeful benevolence of the Gospel, chasing away every spell, will be turned by the treachery of no delusion whatever from its siinple but sublime enterprises for the good of the species. Then the reign of truth and quietness will be ushered into the world, and war - cruel, atrocious, unrelenting war — will be stripped of its many and its bewildering fascinations.

are.

« AnteriorContinuar »