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In the same way, this view of oratory in the third place, shows the philosophical necessity, in a complete art of oratory, of the department of style; and prescribes the course of learning in reference to it. Thoughts can be addressed to other minds only through language. Were rhetoric justly confined, as Dr. Whately confines it to the mere invention and arrangement of arguments, or more generally to the mere invention and arrangement of thought simply for the thought's sake, then, as does in fact that author, we might drop style from its place in this art. It is the exterior aim in oratory, of which Dr. Whately takes no recognition in his fundamental conception of it, that prescribes the necessity of style in a complete development of rhetoric. At the same time, this view defines the line between proper rhetorical and poetical style; which no other view can furnish. It gives at once, also, the principle of classification for the various properties of style, which yet remain, for the most part, unclassified. hile it indicates the necessity of attention to style in all oratorical training, it yet prevents, by its keeping prominent its exterior aim, giving law to all culture in oratory, the lifeless, disgusting mannerism of an aesthetic development of the art.
Finally, this view determines the relation of elocution to rhetoric, and the attention which the orator should give to it in his training. Whether elocution is or is not a part of rhetoric, is a question that has much puzzled rhetoricians. The aesthetic class who have looked more to the form of oratory, have inclined to recognize it as an essential department, but yet have hardly known what to do with it. Dr. Whately, on the other hand, both rejects it as a - fo part of rhetoric, and condemns all systematic training in it.
foratory, however, be, essentially, a personal procedure, implying an address to another mind, it necessarily includes elocution as much as style, or invention; the vocal, as much as the verbal or the logical embodiment of the moral aim. Elocution is, then, originally, an essential part of spoken oratory. But mind may be addressed through the written character as well as through the sound, and the actual accomplishment of the moral end, which we have held to be involved in all oratory is, so far, independent of the vocal expression. There is a propriety, as there is, also, great convenience, in constituting a distinct art of elocution. In training here, however, the end of discourse should never be lost from view, otherwise, the result will be as Dr. Whately intimates, “an affected style of spouting.” For the orator, in the original and proper sense of the term, a distinct and thorough training in elocution is necessary; unless, indeed, the tones of oratory are all arbitrary, capricious, and subject to no law. This, happily, is not the case. Vocal expression has been successfully subjected to a strict philosophical analysis; and in a work of remarkable
We refer, of course, to Dr. Rush's Philosophy of the Voice; a work that places the author in the first rank of original investigators in this country.
philosophical thoroughness, precision, and accuracy, the various movements of the voice in expressing the relations of thought, as also the kinds and degrees of passion, are fully and clearly enumerated, described, and classified with the exactness and fullness of arts of music. It is, now, as absurd to object in oratorical training to systematic training in elocution, as, in musical training, to condemn the systematic and methodical procedures prescribed by proper musical arts. No function in man attains its full development, or measure of capacity, without exercise; and it would be silly to question whether such exercise should in him proceed rationally or not, that is, according to the known laws of that function, and by systematic progressive stages. The liability, here as in style, to mannerism, is counteracted by the same principle which prescribes the necessity of distinct and thorough training in it;-the presence of the moral element which controls in all oratory. All those processes of oratorical training which systems of rhetoric properly set forth and direct, are at once determined and regulated with philosophical precision, by this element in oratory. There is another part of oratorical training, of which the ancients made much, that lies out of such systems. We mean what the ancients called imitation;–the study of models in oratory. Hów much this has to do with oratorical culture is proved by the fact, that great orators ever appear in clusters. Demosthenes was but the brighter star of a glorious constellation of Athenian orators, as Cicero was but one of many brilliant Roman statesmen and advocates. In this part of his training, the orator needs more than elsewhere, perhaps, the guidance of the moral element. The study of models of eloquence in reference to the specific character of this moral element, its strength, its development and mode of working, gives unity to the whole study, furnishes the proper stand-point of criticism indicating both excellences and faults, and counteracts the liability to habits of servile imitation. The importance of this part of training in oratory, it is to be feared, is not properly appreciated in modern times. The study of written oratory, even, is of far higher benefit than is generally supposed. “Men who have a quick, penetrating genius,” says Augustine, as quoted by Fenelon, “profit more in eloquence from reading the discourses of eloquent men, than from studying the precepts even of the art.” The speaking orator, the better model, is not always at hand. Written oratory lies ever within our reach. There is, indeed, an oratory of the most perfect kind, ever open to our study; the oratory of nature. There the all-perfect is ever speaking. His Divine person, ever holding forth the high moral end of His teachings, appears everywhere. Nature is not poetry. It is a sad piece of work, if it be only or essentially that. It is not to be studied for its forms. It is oratory everywhere—a God speaking—communicating His own perfect nature to those whom, in this respect, as moral, He has created in His own image. This is"its commanding element. For this moral end, and for the mode by which it is accomplished, nature should be studied. So regarded, nature is perfect. Thus studied, good sermons will be found not only “in stones,” as the poet has it, but everywhere. Thus, here as elsewhere, it is only by the apprehension of the ethical element in oratory that we gain any satisfactory view of the art. From whatever point regarded, it presents itself ever under the same aspect; and forces us to the admission, that true oratory is ever essentially a moral procedure.
The old Florentine Republic had attained, even in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a high degree of wealth and refinement. Her civilization, crude and stormy in some of its aspects, was passing into a state of serene beauty and strength. , Had it not been checked by hostile powers, by the despotism of the Papacy and the tyranny of the Empire, and especially by the universal prevalence of bigotry and violence, it might have risen to the highest elevation, and long blessed the world with its benignant influence. That, however, was a period of social and political transition, in which freedom and tyranny, religion and superstition, charity and hate, contended for the mastery, and in which it is difficult to say which gained the victory. It was an era, however, favorable to the development of some of the higher and more vigorous qualities of the human mind, and especially to the cultivation of poetry and romance. . The stars shone bright and clear amid the gathering or the vanishing gloom. The violence of the storm, which often swept the heavens, only gave deeper beauty to the calm and sunshine by which it was succeeded. It was an age, at once, of stormy passions and lofty imaginings, of great vices and great virtues. The earliest and greatest of the Florentine, and indeed of the Italian Poets, is Dante Alighieri, author of the Divina Commedia, or the Vision of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise; one of the noblest poems in any language, and yet one of the most singular compounds of truth and error, of beauty and deformity. If, however, THIRD SERIEs, vol. v. No. 2 3
we make allowance for its narrow views, its superstitious fancies, and atrocious bigotries, as due rather to the age than to the man, we shall be compelled to acknowledge it one of the sublimëst Epics that was ever written. Severe, gloomy, and cumbrous, it is yet radiant with the light of genius, and contains pictures of truth and virtue the most vivid and entrancing. In parts, the author seems absolutely inspired. He writes like one of the old Hebrew prophets. Brief, rapid, condensed, burning with heat and beauty, his language rushes and rejoices, like a strong man to run a race, while the rapt reader is compelled to hold his breath in astonishment and delight.
g is true, that every now and then, one is shocked with some strange barbaric notion, some superstitious figment, or some outrageous fanaticism. Not unfrequently we are bewildered with extravagant theology, and still more extravagant metaphysics; yet, all the while cannot help being awed by the spirit of grandeur and beauty which pervades the whole, and which ever and anon gleams out upon our vision, like beacon-fires upon the mountains, or the faces of angels amid the clouds of heaven. Then, again, after a long and fatiguing journey through the shuddering night, or lurid glare of the Inferno, we come, with the wandering poet himself, to some terrestrial paradise, some scene of ineffable loveliness in the wide waste of horror, from which, refreshed and cheered, we gradually rise to mingle with “the spirits of the just made perfect,” and lose ourselves in the splendors of “the beatific vision.”
As Mont Blanc not only rises far above his fellows, but is often crowned with light, while the rest of the world is reposing in shadow, so Dante not only soars above all his contemporaries, and indeed above all the poets of Italy, ancient or modern, but seems invested with a supernal radiance, as if he held communion with a higher sphere. W. like Mont Blanc, he is “of the earth, earthy.” His “foundation is in the dust.” He belongs, obviously, to an imperfect, nay more, apostate race, even when soaring above the clouds, and catching the rays of the eternal sun. In him the fiercest fanaticism is mingled with the widest sympathy; the most intolerant passion with the gentlest love. On acquaintance, however, you forgive everything, forget everything, just as in gazing upon the Alps at sunrise, or at sunset, you forget that their ros summits form a part of the dull earth, and imagine, in your i. dreamy and poetic mood, that they must be the portals of eternal day, so near to heaven they seem, and so radiant with the beauty which comes from afar.
All the darkness of Dante's inferior nature is thus forgotten, or, if you please, absorbed with the ravishing splendor which he caught from a better world. His Beatrice, once human, becomes divine— the incarnation of truth and beauty, the very sum and essence of all goodness, purity and joy.
So also his fierce judgments, both of the living and the dead, so repulsive in many respects; his intolerant scorn of his enemies, and the burning sarcasm that he heaps upon “the lost,” assume the character of heavenly justice, stern and awful as that of God. This, doubtless, is owing to the intense vividness of his imagination, and the overpowering force of his language, exceeding in this respect, all the uninspired poets of ancient, or of modern times. Indeed, from his profound sincerity and tragic earnestness, Dante becomes to those familiar with his genius, a sort of spiritual being, having a greater affinity both with angels and devils than with living men and women. It is scarcely the man Dante, that penetrates the shadowy circles of the Inferno, and then ascends with a serene, airy motion towards the light of Paradise. It is rather the spirit of Dante, or a spirit in the form of Dante, a sort of halfhuman, half-divine Mephistopheles, that glides with such unresisting might, first amid the horrors of the bottomless pit, and then amid the glories of heaven. Hence, also, everything which he describes, even the most grotesque and horrible, appears as if it must be true and real, so clear, so palpable, does he make it. “Werily, this man,” said the old women of Verona, who, in his dark complexion, stern countenance and frizzled locks, imagined they saw the tokens of his exposure to the smoke and heat of the infernal regions,—“Verily, this man has seen and touched the horrors he describes.” But Dante reached first the terrestrial, and then the heavenly Paradise, and, as if he had never seen the despair of hell, lingered long amid the unutterable glories of the Divine presence; so that the last impression which he leaves upon our minds, is that of a purified spirit, a large-hearted, ethereal, contemplative angel, who has seen the face not only of the glorified Beatrice, but of the uncreated God. In this way the author of the Divina Commedia has become idealized in our minds, as the poet of Paradise, not of Paradise lost, but of Paradise regained. That stern and melancholy face of his at last glows with unearthly joy, and smiles upon us from the highest heaven. “Forth from the last corporeal did he come Into the heaven that is unbodied light, Light intellectual, replete with love; Love of true happiness, replete with joy,
Joy that transcends all sweetness of delight.”
This great poet was born on the 14th May, 1265, sixty-three years before the birth of Chaucer, the morning-star of English poetry, and about three centuries before that of Shakespeare. e was thus the child of the Middle Ages, and in none did that strange and stirring period more gloriously mirror itself. Indeed, the char