« AnteriorContinuar »
ons of poetry, or the animated language of the paffions?
IN performing these exercises, the learner should daily read aloud by himself, and, as often as he has opportunity, under the correction of an Inftructor or Friend. He fhould alfo frequently recite compofitions memoriter. This method has feveral advantages: it obliges the speaker to dwell upon the ideas which he is to exprefs, and hereby enables him to difcern their particular meaning and force, and gives him a previous knowledge of the several inflexions, emphases, and tones which the words require. And by taking off his eye. from the book, it in part relieves him from the influence of the school-boy habit of reading in a different key and tone from that of converfation; and gives him greater liberty to attempt the expreffion of the countenance and gefture.
IT were much to be wifhed, that all public fpeakers would deliver their thoughts and fentiments, either from memory or immediate conception; for, befides that there is an artificial uni formity, which almost always diftinguishes reading from fpeaking, the fixed pofture, and the
bending of the head which reafon requires, are inconfiftent with the freedom, eafe, and variety of juft elocution. But if this is too much to be expected, especially from Preachers, who have fo much to compofe, and are so often called upon to speak in public; it is however extremely defirable that they should make themselves fo well acquainted with their discourse, as to be able, with a fingle glance of the eye, to take in several claufes, or the whole, of a sentence*.
I HAVE only to add, that after the utmost pains have been taken to acquire a just elocution, and this with the greatest fuccefs, there is fome diffi culty in carrying the art of speaking out of the fchool, or chamber, to the bar, the fenate, or the pulpit. A young man who has been accustomed to perform frequent exercifes in this art in private, cannot eafily perfuade himself, when he appears before the public, to confider the business he has to perform in any other light, than as a trial of skill, and a display of oratory. Hence it is, that the character of an Orator has of late often been treated with ridicule, fometimes with contempt. We are pleased with the easy and
*See Dean Swift's advice on this head in his Letter to a young Clergyman.
graceful movements which the true gentleman has acquired by having learnt to dance; but we are offended by the coxcomb, who is always exhibiting his formal dancing-bow, and minuetstep. So, we admire the manly eloquence and noble ardour of a British Legislator, rifing up in defence of the rights of his country; the quick recollection, the forcible reasoning, and the ready utterance of the accomplished Barrifter; and the fublime devotion, genuine dignity, and unaffected earneftnefs of the facred Orator: but when a man, in either of these capacities, fo far forgets the ends, and degrades the confequence of his profeffion, as to fet himfelf forth to public view under the character of a Spouter, and to parade it in the ears of the vulgar with all the pomp of artificial eloquence, though the unfkilful may gaze and applaud, the judicious cannot but be grieved and difgufted. Avail yourfelf, then, of your skill in the Art of Speaking, but always employ your powers of elocution with caution and modefty; remembering, that though it be defirable to be admired as an eminent Orator, it is of much more importance to be refpected, as a wife Statef man, an able Lawyer, or a ufeful Preacher.