« FöregåendeFortsätt »
scale of victory, and to secure the glory of the day: soldiers of a doubtful character are stationed in the middle, so that, if they are not animated by the example of the great men before them, they may be driven on by the forcible impulse of those behind.
All this appears plausible enough in theory; but numberless circumstances will often arise to render other tactics necessary. The orator, as well as the military commander, must not trust to any fixed rules, but to his own good sense and presence of mind, for such changes of plan as may be best suited to the exigency of the occasion.
The conclusion of the speech, or what is called the Peroration, should be a striking summary of the chief points already enlarged upon, and particularly those of a pathetic nature, often accompanied by a declaration of the speaker's reliance on the candor, discernment, justice, and sensibility of his audience.
For examples of the rules here laid down, we must refer to our selection of the most admired speeches in the English language; but we are also happy to avail ourselves of Lord CHESTERFIELD's equally simple and elegant illustration of the same part of our subject. On finding that his son had chosen DEMOSTHENES for his model, he endeavours to confirm him in that choice, and reminds him of the uncommon pains taken by that orator to conquer many natural impediments, and to acquire a graceful and commanding elocution. " As he took so much pains for the graces of oratory only, I conclude,” says his Lordship, “ he took still more for the more solid parts of it. I am apt to think he applied himself extremely to the propriety, the purity, and the elegancy of his language,—to the distribation of the parts of his oration,-to the force of his arguments,-to the strength of his proofs, and to the passions as well as the judge ment of his audience. I fancy he began with an Exordium, to gain the good opinion and the affections of his hearers; that afterwards he stated the point in question briefly, but clearly; that he then brought his proofs, afterwards his arguments; and that he concluded with a Peroration, in which he recapitulated the whole succinctly, enforced the strong parts, and artfully slipped over the weak ones, and at last made a strong push at the passions of his hearers. Wherever you would persuade or prevail, address yourselves to the passions : it is by them that mankind is to be taken."
OF THE THIRD ESSENTIAL FUNCTION OF THE
In the old books of Rhetoric, this is called Elocution, and means the language which the Orator makes use of, or the words in which he expresses himself. But Elocution is now commonly taken in a more confined sense, as implying only the tones of voice, the utterance, the enunciation of the speaker, with the proper accompaniments of countenance and gesture, all which were included by the ancients in what they called Pronunciation. In order therefore to prevent any confusion which may arise from those different meanings, it is necessary to inform the learner, that our present remarks are confined to the expression of our thoughts and sentiments by words, without any consideration of tones and gestures, which will be the subject of the next section.
There is no occasion to repeat here any of the observations before made on grammatical correctness.
The efforts of the Student must now be directed to higher attainments, and particularly to the accurate choice of words, which is the foundation of all eloquence. This was the favorite axiom of Julius CÆSAR, whom even CICERO placed above all other orators for a pure and elegant command of the Roman language *.
It is impossible, under this head, to lay down a better general rule than the common one, that our thoughts should always appear in a proper dress. This metaphor contains in one word much useful instruction. A good dress should be suited to the person, character, and occasion: it should always fit, so as neither to exhibit an awkward appearance by its swagging looseness, nor to prevent the easy and graceful motion of the body and limbs by keeping them in a press : it should be plain, yet neat-genteel, not foppish-occasionally rich, never tawdry—sometimes even splendid and highly adorned, but only when required by the character to be supported, or by the grandeur of the scene, and the dignity of the company. In the same manner our language should be simple, yet well chosen-conveying every idea with clearness and precision-neither encumbered by circumlocutions, on the one hand, nor cramped and obscured by enigmatical brevity, on the other--correct without pedantry, elegant without affectation-copious, not redundant-full, not overflowing—but whether simple or sublime, plain or brilliant, mild or impetuous and energetic, always taking its tone from the nature of the subject, and the effect to be produced.
The old Rhetoricians, who wanted to reduce every thing to fixed rules, thought they found out an admirable * De claris Oratoribus.
method of simplifying a part of their task, by classing orations of all sorts, whatever might be the nature of the subject, or the end aimed at, under three general heads, or kinds, which they called the demonstrative, the delibee rative, and the judicial.
The first kind has for its object praise or censure ; and includes all panegyrics, invectives, funeral orations, or animated pictures of the excellence or depravity of distinguished characters. On such occasions, the orator is allowed to display all the riches of his genius, all the ornaments, copiousness, and brilliancy of his language: he is preparing to conduct the truly great and good man to the temple of immortal fame, or to consign the villain to eternal infamy: he may therefore give full scope to his talents, being under no restraint but a becoming adherence to facts, without which his praise would only be the effusion of fulsome flattery, and his censure the mere railing of a malignant declaimer.
About a century ago, the French were allowed to have borne away the palm of funeral Oratory, Bossuet by the sublimity of his panegyrics, and FLECHIER by the delicacy of his compliments, and by the exquisite polish, richness, and harmony of his language. This kind of eloquence has not been so much cultivated in England ; but we have perhaps as masterly delineations of character in our histories, those, for instance, written by HUME, ROBERTSON, and BELSHAM, who have adorned their narratives with many an interesting portrait, where we see the vivid colours of genius admirably chastened by the nice touches of historical truth.
In orations of the deliberative kind, the object of disa cussion is the expediency or inexpediency, the propriety or impropriety, the wisdom or the folly of any measure. The language in such cases must be clear, strong, argumentative--no finery--no affected graces-nothing introduced to tickle the ear, or amuse the fancy--but to soften prejudices, to command the passions, and carry irresistible conviction to the understanding. The Debates in our own Senate will furnish examples of this kind, in no respect inferior to the most admired productions of ancient Greece or Rome.
Speeches at the Bar are said to be of the judicial kind, and are directed to the
of accusation or defence -to prove or disprove a matter of fact-to establish or overturn a question of right-to settle or controvert a point of law. Perspicuity and force, fair reasoning and demonstrative evidence, would seem here to be the only essential requisites.
But however plausible those distinctions may appear, they are so far from being accurate, that all the three different kinds, the demonstrative, the deliberative, and the judicial are blended together in almost every speech, and upon every subject. What are panegyrics and invectives but exhortations to virtue, and dissuasives from vice. Can any argument more powerfully tend to kindle the flame of patriotism in the bosom of a good sovereign than HUME's character of ALFRED, or to excite a stronger detestation of royal vices than the same writer's historical exposure of the cowardice, inactivity, folly, levity, licentiousness, ingratitude, treachery, tyranny, and cruelty of King John? On the other hand, when we are deliberating on any subject, the necessity, for instance, of a vigorous prosecution of the war against our present enemy, shall we not draw some arguments from his character, from his treachery, his disregard of treaties, his implacable spirit of revenge, his insatiate rapacity and boundless ambition ? And will not the demonstrative be thus introduced into the deliberative ? Even in those speeches