Page images
PDF
EPUB

command the lightnings of the tempest without philosophy,.. as without philosophy to wield the lightnings of eloquence. They ought not to have this power without laboring for it, without waiting patiently at the shrine of that divinity,—the industry, which alone can give it. The gift is too great, too high, to cost them little.

But this is a point, which deserves to be considered by itself, the greatness of the art. To give the noblest thoughts the noblest expression; to stand up in the pure light of reason, or to create a new atmosphere, as it were, for intellectual vision; to put on all the glories of imagination as a garment; to penetrate the soul, and to make men feel as if they were themselves new creatures; to make them conscious of new powers and a new being; to exercise, in the loftiest measure, the only glorious and godlike sway, that which is exercised over willing minds; to fill the ear, the eye, the inmost soul, with sounds, and images, and holy visions of beauty and grandeur; to make truth and justice, to make wisdom, and virtue, and religion, more lovely and majestic things, than men had ever thought them before; to delight, as well as to convince; to charm, to fascinate, to win, to arouse, to calm, to terrify, to overwhelm, this is the work of eloquence; and it is a glorious work.

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

The great object of all the liberal arts is to exhibit the mind; to exhibit character, thought, feeling, in their various aspects. In this consists all their power and sublimity. For this, the painter spreads upon the dull canvass the breathing forms of life; the sculptor causes the marble to speak; the architect models the fair and majestic structure, with sublimity enthroned in its dome, with beauty shaped in its columns, and glory written upon its walls; and the poet builds his lofty rhyme; and the eloquent in music, orders his movement and combination of sweet sounds.

But, of this mind, the human frame is the appointed instrument. It was designed for this end. For it could have answered all the purposes of physical existence, without any of its present grace and beauty. It was made with no

more obvious intent, than to be the expression of mind, the organ of the soul, the vehicle of thought. And when all its powers are put in requisition for this purpose,—the voice with all its thrilling tones; the eye, “through which, as a window, the soul darts forth its light;' the lips, on which 'grace is poured;' the whole glowing countenance, the whole breathing frame, which, in their ordinary forms, can express more than the majesty of an Apollo, more than the agony of a Laocoon;-when every motion speaks, every lineament is more than the written line of genius, every muscle swells with the inspiration of high thoughts, every nerve is swayed to the movings of some mighty theme; what instrument of music, what glories of the canvass, can equal it?

THE SAME SUBJECT CONCLUDED.

Eloquence is the combination of all arts, and it excels them all in their separate powers. Nor is it confined to the mere gratification of taste. The great and ultimate object of social existence, is for mąn to act on man; and eloquence is the grandest medium of this action. It is not only the highest perfection of a human being (for 'the orator must be a good man') but it is that perfection in act. It is sublimity, beauty, genius, power, in their most glori

ous exercise. boboite Eloquence, it is often said, is the peculiar attribute of man. But more than this is true. It belongs to humanity. The human soul is eloquent, whenever and wherever it has a full developement. Its signatures are divine; and where they are seen, they cannot fail to leave their impression.

It is one of the maxims with which we have no patience, that the English character is not fitted for an earnest delivery; that eloquence will not flourish on this stock; that there is something in our temperament or taste that forbids it. The English mind not eloquent! We might as well say, that it is possessed of no strong feelings or noble thoughts. For if it has these, and has them, in fact, in uncommon strength, has it not a language, a voice, a countenance, a free and unfettered arm, 'the weapon of the orator,' to express them?

« PreviousContinue »