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the smoking blood of their prisoners; quaffing libations from human skulls; infesting the shores of the Baltic for plunder and robbery ; bringing home the reeking scalps of enemies as an offering to their king. These are our ancestors! And this the barbarism out of which our civilization has come, “ like a Lapland spring from the icy bosom of winter.” Hang up this picture alongside of the one sketched by Homer and Herodotus, and say which is the more charming, and whether the Englishman or the Ethiopian has reason to boast the louder of his lineage. And yet those rough and savage men had among them the rudiments of modern society. Their reverence for woman,
whom they made the priestess of their shrines, if not the divinity of their groves, was the origin of the glorious chivalry which adorned the annals of Europe in after-times, and which has determined the best feature of American manners. Out of their laws of social justice was elaborated the English system of Common Law, called “the perfection of human reason.” Their wild and savage jargon furnished the elements of the language which we speak - a language which pours its silvery cadences through the stanzas of Spencer, which rolls in ocean-like majesty through the song of Milton, and which flows with the smoothness of a deep and gentle river through the verse of Wordsworth. Let us be sufficiently humble ourselves, and hopeful of the other families of the human race. In fact, the whole race has but just commenced its career. The superior beings behold man just risen at the morning prime, his destined social and moral state almost at an infinite distance before him. From their point of view there can be hardly a perceptible difference in the relative degree of advancement among the races. They all appear, so to say, on one ground in the perspective, just as objects remote from each other, when seen from some point vastly more remote, blend together and form but one figure on the sky. So must the various races of men appear from that high ground towards which the whole race is pressing on. And from that ground how clear must it be, that no other sentiments become them than those which prompt to mutual aid and mutual respect and love.
E. H. S.
ART. IV.- PULPIT ELOCUTION.*
This is one of those books which ought to do good. There is no man among us more competent to write on Elocution, than Mr. Russell. He has been long known as an accomplished teacher of this important art, and the various works on the same subject which have come from his hand, have all been characterised by sound judgment and good sense. Whilst he urges in strong terms the importance of the study of elocution, his views, both as to the methods and results of culture, are free from extravagance and charlatanry. In addition to his other qualifications, he is a scholar and an author, and is thus better able to appreciate the difficulties with which literary men of sedentary habits have to contend, in public speaking.
The present volume has its value increased by two introductory essays, one from Rev. Dr. Park, and the other from Rev. E. N. Kirk; than whom, no persons among us are better qualified to speak authoritatively respecting whatever appertains to sacred eloquence.
Were we not familiar with the facts, it would seem incredible that the study of elocution should be so much neglected, and especially by those who are preparing for the ministry. A young man spends years in disciplining his faculties and storing his mind with knowledge. The great object of life with him is to communicate thoughts to the minds of others, to awaken their feelings, to arouse and direct the determinations of their wills. To accomplish what he wishes, he has one great instrument, the voice. He is to be a public speaker. And yet the art of speaking is precisely what he neglects. The great business of life with him is to communicate what is in him to others, and yet he almost doubts whether it is right to cultivate the. power of communication.
Of course, no study of rhetoric or oratory will make a stupid or a bad man, a good preacher. It does not propose
* Pulpit Elocution : comprising Suggestions on the importance of Study; Remarks on the effect of Manner in speaking ; the Rules of reading, exemplified from the Scriptures, hymns and sermons; Observations on the principles of Gesture ; and a Selection of pieces for practice in reading and speaking: By William Russell, Instructor in Elocution. Andover : Ållen, Morrill and Wardwell. 1846. 12mo. pp. 408. VOL. XLI. 4TH. S. VOL. VI. NO I.
to give, or to supply the want of, mental culture or Christian principle. But, assuming that a young man has those attainments of mind and qualities of character which fit him for the ministry, the elocutionist would give him that instruction in the management of the organs of expression, which will enable him to utter truly and forcibly the thoughts and emotions which are already in his own soul. He would take the seal from the lips and the lethargy from the arm, and enable him to express truly what he feels strongly. Until the preacher has this power of expressing through voice and manner what is within him, no matter how wise and good he may be, he will be unfitted for his office. He will be like a closed dark lantern, full of light in itself, but giving none to others.
In other cases we recognize the importance of cultivating the art of expression. If one were proposing to make authorship the business of life, we should think it advisable for him at least to learn how to write in a clear and correct style. Indistinct articulation, false tones and emphasis, an undeveloped voice, an inexpressive, vague manner, are to the preacher, what bad grammar, ignorance of the meaning of words, a scanty vocabulary, or confused, entangled sentences and paragraphs, are to the author. The art of writing is the art of expressing thoughts by means of the pen, as that of speaking, is by the voice. In our New England churches, these two modes of expression are combined. To the preacher, the latter is as important as the former, with this additional consideration in his case, that the value of what he writes is hidden and lost in a defective elocution.
Our systems of education recognise the importance of the art of writing. In the academy, the college, the professional school, the student is subjected to a constant discipline in composition. But no such attention is paid to the art of speaking. In the primary school, learning to read means, not learning how to express through the agency of the voice the thought and emotion which are in any given passage, but merely to repeat with sufficient rapidity the words which it contains. During the succeeding stages of education, the student is required at certain intervals to declaim pieces committed to memory. This, with a few criticisms, is all that is done in this department.
Those who know what such declamations ordinarily are, and how conducted, know their utter uselessness. They do little towards training or developing the powers of the voice, and as little to remedy defects of tone or gesture. The inefficiency of the common instruction given in elocution is so evident, that the teacher takes little interest in it, and the scholar holds the art itself in contempt.
After years of assiduous training of mind and heart, a young man, full of high purposes and ardent hopes, at length enters the pulpit. His influence there depends on his being able to communicate to others what is in his own soul. Yet for this he is unprepared; or what is worse, is perhaps almost incapacitated for doing it, by the vicious habits of voice and manner which he has unconsciously contracted. The sermon before him may have been written out of a heart throbbing with emotion, but when he delivers it, he feels that, for some reason or other, he is not conveying to the minds of others what was in his own. The eyes of the congregation, which at first looked expectantly, begin to droop or wander, he has no hold on the attention of his hearers, his words fall lifeless into the air, and he concludes his discourse with the depressing conviction that he might as well have said nothing. If he is a modest and self-distrustful man, he will either become discouraged, lose confidence in himself and drag on a desponding and unprofitable life, or striving to remedy past neglect, he will subject himself to that discipline in elocution which, if his habits are not too confirmed, may at length enable him to become an efficient preacher. Infinitely more hopeless is the case of him, who cannot imagine the fajilt to be in himself; who attributes his want of influence to the hard, worldly and irreligious hearts of his hearers; instead of referring it to a manner which repe all attention, and a voice whose intonations make meaningless what in itself may be full of meaning.
But the evil does not stop here. In nearly all cases a minister's influence out of the pulpit depends very much on his influence in it. Unless he is first an effective preacher, he will probably be nothing anywhere. There are doubtless some striking exceptions, but as a general rule, a dull, ineffective preacher is not likely to be much regarded as a pastor. The reasoning of a people may be
incorrect, but it is very natural, in assuming that he, who with the advantage of deliberate preparation cannot on Sunday speak words which deserve attention, will still less deserve it for the unpremeditated words of the week. When a man spends one day in seven in convincing his people of his dulness, he will probably succeed; and when he has once associated the idea of dulness and incapacity with himself in his most important work, he will find that they are indisposed to give heed to him in other things. As illustrating this, Mr. Russell mentions a fact which deserves consideration. Except there be some obliquity of character or great imprudence of conduct, a minister rarely has any difficulty with a congregation, so long as he makes the Sabbath services profitable to them. But if he have a cold, lifeless manner, which repels attention and makes the church a place of profitless weariness, the congregation will soon be uneasy. Men feel that it will not do to have the great truths of religion made so uninteresting to their children, and they reasonably demand that what occupies so much time should be made more profitable to themselves. However good and wise he may be as a man, as a minister they need one who can impart that wisdom and goodness, and they will be disposed on the first good opportunity to be rid of one who fails in this essential part of his office.
And he has no right to expect any other result. He may think that his people ought to pay attention to the meaning of what he says, and not to the manner
to the substance, and not the form. He is unjust towards them. If his words were printed and his hearers allowed to give them their proper emphasis and intonation, it would be their fault if they did not feel their true weight. But when he utters them himself, it is very different. If his manner blurs and stifles the meaning of his words, his hearers are not accountable for failing to understand what he has made unintelligible. When he undertakes to express his meaning, not by words alone, but by voice and gesture, emphasis, intonation, gesture become as important as his style of writing. Nay, more; they are not the mere form, but they constitute a part of the substance of what he says. He has no more right to blame a people for being insensible to the ideas which are in his mind but which he does not utter, than