Page images






A New Series.

JANUARY 31, 1829.

deemed necessary in familiar or private OBSERVATIONS ON ELOQUENCE. conversation.

Cicero had so high an opinion of eloThe practice of speaking is the distinct- quence, that he considered it as the greative mark which, next to reason, elevates est of all human pursuits. A genuine mankind above the brute creation. Quin- orator, according to him, ought to be one tilian, indeed, seems to rank it above the of the wisest of mankind, a proficient in reasoning faculty, as the criterion of hu- every science, and a master of all human man superiority; but we ought to recol- learning : but it is unreasonable to expect lect that he was more a rhetorician than such perfection in any finite being, nor is a reasoner. He exclaims, “ If we have it necessary that an orator should be allreceived from Providence nothing better accomplished. Let him be acquainted than the use of speech, what is there with human nature and with the springs which we ought to cultivate with greater of action; let him possess something zeal and earnestness? What object is more than that “ little learning which is more worthy of our ambition than that of a dangerous thing ;" let him attentively excelling other men in the particular fa- study the subject on which he intends to culty which alone raises them above the expatiate; and with these preparations, level of the brutes ?"

if he should be endowed with ordinary Of the origin of speech we took notice talents, we may be assured that he will on a former occasion ;-we now proceed not make a despicable figure. He will to that higher and more dignified kind be able to persuade and to enforce; he which bears the denomination of eloquence. may make an effective impression upon The word literally means speaking out; his auditors; and he may even (though and he who thus exerts himself is ex- it is what he ought to avoid) “ make the pected to rise above plain statement and worse appear the better cause.” ordinary remark, to speak with fluency The attractions and advantages of eloand force, to use figurative and meta- quence are well described by Thomson in phorical diction, and illustrate arguments the following lines, addressed to the late by those embellishments which are not earl of Chesterfield:

Dress'd by thee, more amiably fair,
Truth the soft robe of mild persuasion wears;
Thou to assenting Reason giv'st again
Her own enlighten'd thoughts : call'd from the heart,
Th' obedient passions on thy voice attend;
And ev'n reluctant party feels awhile

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Thy gracious pow'r, as though the varied maze
Of eloquence, now smooth, now quick, now strong,

Profound and clear, you roll the copious flood.” We do not think that the earl, though bombast, and detect all the errors into by no means a contemptible orator, was

which the votaries of the muse are apt to fully entitled to this panegyric; but, as fall,-so, with respect to the precepts of the passage is very appropriate to our rhetoric, it may be safely asserted, that, subject, we make allowance for the flattery, though they do not generate that energy while we adopt the illustration.

of mind which rises to the highest Rights -A still greater dignity is attached to of eloquence, they will serve to caution the practice of eloquence, when we con- the speaker against incongruity in the sider that it is in general closely connect- disposition of his matter, absurdity in ed with the blessings of liberty. It is argument, and that false glitter of ornaonly in free states, and under represent- ment which amuses without convincing, ative governments, that oratory can be or those injudicious attempts to interest said to flourish. When appeals are made the feelings which provoke ridicule rather to the people on the affairs of state, – than excite sympathy. This position will when their minds are to be enlightened be the more undeniable, if we consider that or their passions excited for the general the foundation of eloquence is reason itinterest and benefit-it is necessary that self, and that its exercise implies the posthe talents of those who wish to guide or session of that faculty both in the speaker influence the community should be exer- and the hearer. In pursuance of this cised in the art of persuasion, and in the idea, Aristotle justly represented rhetoric propagation of patriotism and public spi- as nearly allied to logic. rit. Under the sway of despotism, this Oratorical effusions may be divided into spirit is studiously counteracted, the voice three species,—the demonstrative, the of reason is stilled, and manly eloquence deliberative, and the judicial. Those of is consequently mute.

the first class are employed in bestowing It is the opinion of many, that elo- praise or imputing blame, in declamation quence is a natural quality, which is without argument, or in the averment of more effective without the use of rules or that which is supposed by the speaker to the exercise of art. Undoubtedly, a man be scarcely controvertible. Among these of talent may draw others to his opinions we may reckon some of the speeches of without the formality of rules or the pro- Isocrates and Cicero, Pliny's panegyric cess of study; even a wild man of the on Trajan, some funeral orations recorded woods may persuade and influence his by Thucydides; and, in modern times, friends and neighbours by his unpolished the éloges of French academicians, the speeches; but, when the theory of elo- discourses of Fléchier and Bourdaloue, quence is aided by rules founded on com- the sermons of many English divines, the mon sense and propriety, the deliberate anti-Gallican speeches of Mr. Pitt, and oration is preferable to the effusions of the tribute of Charles Fox to the memory rude uncultivated nature. Hence arises of the duke of Bedford. the utility of rhetoric, which is an im- Deliberative eloquence is very extenprovement of the art of speaking, the sive in its range, as it involves the quesresult of observations and experiments tions of war and peace, political negotiamade by men of good capacities and of tions, domestic interests, foreign alliances, enlightened minds. After multiplied and and all matters connected with governoften unsuccessful attempts, those prin- ment and legislation. In this branch the ciples are at length discovered which di- ancient Greeks and Romans excelled ; stinguish between the good and the bad, and the admirers of antiquity maintain the excellent and the defective. These, that no harangues of succeeding times are when reduced to method, become rules; equal to the extant orations of Demothey diminish the pains and trouble of sthenes and Cicero. Alluding to this succeeding inquirers, considerably shorten supposed inferiority of the moderns, Dr. the road to oratorical knowlege, and ma- Knox observes, that “ eloquence is numterially assist in the formation of a cor- bered among those arts which, instead of rect judgement. As it is contended, with making a progressive improvement in the regard to poetry, that, although just and course of revolving ages, have receded accurate rules of criticism will not bestow greatly from their original excellence." genius, they will check redundancy and This assertion will be doubted by many of


those who recollect, or have read, the was admired by the Romans for the talent parliamentary speeches of the earl of and skill with which he embodied the Chatham, Pitt, Burke, Fox, Sheridan, ideas of the dramatist; and many English and Canning; and even if we allow it to performers have raised themselves to celebe in general well-founded, the difference brity by displaying an intimate acquaintis chiefly to be attributed to the cool and ance with the workings of the heart and reasoning character of a British senatorial the movements of passion. audience, less likely to require or to endure vehement appeals to the imagination or the passions. When Burke, in imita

" A delicate monster."-Shakspeare. tion of the Roman practice of enlisting sensible objects in the excitement of emo

In a sterile and mountainous region, tion, produced a revolutionary dagger,

masses of rock were scattered over the and threw it on the floor of the house of plain, like the fragments of an antedilucommons, ridicule was the only effect

vian world; hollows were scooped, as of the orator's practical display of aristo- by the hands of giants, threatening peril cratic indignation.

to the incautious passenger; moss and Judicial eloquence, or the pleading of lichen flourished amidst the rank uncauses and the attack or defence of

wholesome grass, forming an abode for

supposed criminals, used to call forth all the the adder and the spider. One leafless zeal of the Roman character. The first tree alone towered in the wilderness, a men in the state were proud of acting as

beacon of desolation. It had been temadvocates without remuneration, and ex

pest-riven and withered, none knew how erted themselves as strenuously for the long, and it swayed and groaned in the lowest citizen, as if their own lives had blast with a strange and wild sound. been at stake. Erskine, perhaps, was

Yet this dismal spot had a human inhamore an imitator of the Roman advocates bitant, a creature formed, like the scene than any of his contemporaries at the bar, in which he dwelt, in horror and in deand the impression which he made upon formity. The few whom necessity ima jury was consequently forcible,-much pelled over the plain directed many a greater, indeed, than he could at any hurried glance toward his dwelling, and time make on the members of the legis- instinctively avoided all approaches to it. lature.

He was a dwarf,—an abortion of nature There is another species of eloquence in her most splenetic mood, an object of which is more particularly cultivated at strong disgust, an outcast from society. the present time in England than at any His age was unknown; many in the adjaformer period ;-we mean convivial ora

cent hamlets remembered him as the terror tory. At every public dinner, and some of their boyhood, and their fathers had times at private entertainments, the custom made him a subject of converse before of drinking to the health of an individual their birth. He was not only the wonder leads to a complimentary speech in return but the dread of the whole country; yet for the honor of notice. This practice no one could accuse him of doing evil or necessarily induces previous study on the mischief. He mingled not in the avocapart of unfledged speakers, that they tions of the rustics, in their violence or may not subject themselves to ridicule. their sports. He was one of those A good speech is sometimes heard at these finger-posts, which Nature has created to meetings; but the general effect of the direct to the knowlege of her custom is an effusion of cant or an expo- power; his deformity was a mark for sure of imbecility.

public scorn, and he did not wrestle with Some may expect that theatrical elo- his destiny. He would sit for hours bequence should here be noticed; but that neath the blasted tree, watching the does not properlyform a part of our subject. storm-clouds gathering like armed hosts, It may be asked, “Is not a player a speak- and would smile as the thunder growled er?”“ Yes,” we answer—" he speaks out a signal for aerial warfare. With the the words which are assigned to him; but first flash of the lightening he would he is merely a reciter, not an orator, for spring to the summit of one of the rocky eloquence refers to the delivery of those piles, clap his dry bony hands, and howi thoughts and conceptions which rise in out a welcome to the tempest. This was the speaker's own mind. Let it not be his hour of communion with external supposed, however, that we undervalue objects; he could not hold communion the merits of the histrionic race. Roscius with the summer sunshine, or the fresh



spring; for what had he to do with tively, and faced the intruder; but neibeauty or with enjoyment ? the hour of ther spoke. The door stood open, and darkness and of horror was his ! he could the night-blast swept drearily through act as the spirit of the whirlwind and the hovel. Another awful peal followed the genius of the storm; but he could a splendid burst of lightening, which not sympathise with light and har- flickered for a second ere it faded ; and, mony.

in that fleeting interval, the dwarf had The dwarf was clad in a vest and distinguished that his unbidden guest mantle of yellow serge; and over hair was a slight and graceful youth, in a which, had time less whitened it, would garb half warlike and half courtly. Hair have been undistinguishable in tint from bright and silvery as moonlight fell in its covering, he wore a high conical profusion upon his shoulders, and a long cap, adorned with a profusion of yellow plume of blended white and azure floated feathers; his sandals were girt on with over his countenance. There was thongs of the same hue, and his whole evident shrinking of the spirit perceptible appearance was grotesque and fantastic. in the compressed lips and rigid attitude Yet this creature had feelings, and pas- of the intruder ; but he overcame this sions, and attachments,--stunted, per- weakness, and stood firmly before his haps, for he had been pitied, spurned, or grim and frowning host. Coldly and despised. He was a man of another proudly did the dwarf ask his motive for region ; but he spoke the language of the this unwelcome visit, and the enquiry country which he had adopted,-spoke was answered in a foreign tongue-in it with a polish which savored of high the loved accents of another land! The breeding and of long use; but it was a dwarf started; he clasped his narrow stranger-tongue in which he howled out forehead convulsively with his huge his greeting to the thunder and to the hand, and paused; but it was merely the blast. His terrific features were then pause of an instant. Hurriedly he trimconvulsed with a powerful and over- med his lamp; dexterously he produced whelming joy, and his accents were those a light by a simple and rapid process ; of other years, and of other scenes, the and, when he had effected the ignition spell-tones of memory, the seal set by of some decayed grass hastily torn from feeling on early associations and withered his rude couch, the flame was soon comhopes. The utterance of such language municated to a faggot placed upon the was his carnival, and the bruised spirit, hearth, so as to shed a broad clear light in breathing it forth, bounded from the over the hut. As the blaze brightened, pressure of the world's contumely. But, the dwarf threw up his arms, and shriekwhen the storm had abated and the ed in a shrill tone'; the stranger started, clouds rolled off in dark masses to the and glanced suspiciously toward the ocean, the dwarf's passion subsided open door. into calmness as gradually as the hori- The host then motioned his guest to a zon which extended above his head ; his low stool, and lay down at his feet. The chin fell heavily on his heaving breast, lamp cast its reflection full on the stranger, his spread hands became clenched, then and the dwarf gazed on him until his relaxed, and hung lifeless at his side; brow grew dark and his eye lurid. his discolored eyeballs expanded, dark- "Thou art come," at length he muttered ened, and finally turned slowly and slowly, “from a land of roses :

:-what heavily earthward; and he cowered be would'st thou of one who has cast off neath the brightening light.

the blossoms, and retained the thorns as It was after an hour of tempest and of his only portion ?”—“ First I would feverish excitement, that the dwarf re- learn whether he repays the world's bittreated into the narrow chamber which terness with pardon or with hate ?"he had selected as an asylum. There “With hate-deep, deadly, and implawas still a fitful flashing of the light grey cable-fathomless as the ocean's depths eye, with a tremulous motion about the measureless as its waters. Thou art lip, which betrayed an internal struggle. young, new to passion and to life: to Suddenly the storm again burst forth, thee I cannot tell my hatred, for thou only more violent from its late restraint, wilt not be able to picture it to thy and, as a broad and bright flash lighted spirit.”—“And yet," said the stranger up the heavens, the rude latch of his falteringly, “it is a glorious world !" door was raised, and a light figure ap- A long wild laugh rang through the peared. The dwarf started up instinc hut, and the guest started up. “Aye!" cried the dwarf, as he grasped the mantle bitter jests; and desired to consult my of the youth, and forced him back into mirror, and to choose a mate after its his seat: “glorious it may be for those dictates ; but I scorn to enter into a who, like thee, are young and well-form- detail of my sufferings. I have sworn ed; but for me, and persons of my stamp to pursue the hated family of my chief (if indeed Nature has cursed other vic- enemies even to ruin; it is for this I tims with such a semblance) it is bitter, live. They are the world's wonder; loathsome, and ungenial. Thou art of they exist in an atmosphere of delight, the sterling coinage of the world, strip- and they too have a son--not one after ling; thou wilt pass current like a golden my present fashion, but a glorious creanoble; but I am a base counterfeitma ture, radiant with youth;a thing to mockery, meant to cheat mortality into a marvel at."--"Oh! restore him to their sense of her own nothingness! What arms !" implored the stranger earnestly; had I done that the brand of deformity “I have sought thee to work out his should be stamped upon my brow~-that liberation-I will remain, and be thy the seal of outlawry should be set on my slave--I will toil for thee."--"Peace!” spirit? I had feelings like other men, impatiently interposed the dwarf; "thy hopes, passions, and impulses like them; head is lighter than the plume which but my feelings have been outraged, my decks it. Do I look like one for whom hopes blasted, my passions mocked, and any would toil, or do I need such sermy impulsès urged to evil Why was I vice? And what,” he added, “if the to be scourged through the world- de- youth be lost? is it my duty to find and frauded of my birth-right-hunted from io produce him? May pot the pampered my most secret baunts scoffed at in my stripling of six feet wander from his roseaffections, and sacrificed to the fancied wreathed paths to the wilderness, and I superiority and unfeeling arrogance of remain unchallenged ?" There was a others ?–And dost thou tell me that it is hollowness, in the tone of the mysterious a glorious world - It has light, but I being, which seemed to render reply imhave lived to feel that light odious; it possible; it was not even attempted ; has music, but it breathes only for the but the stranger-youth, humbly kneeling, happy; it has flowers, but they are prized seised the hand of the dwarf. “Spare only for their beauty; it has a thousand him, spare him!” murmured the low soft lures to joy, and hope, and greatness, voice; “ spare him for my sake-for the but they are false; and, beyond all these, sake of his affianced bride ?"-" His it has women, the very light, and music, bride!" shrieked the dwarf : his bride! and flowers, and lure of all—and they let me look on thee;"—and he rudely are creation's falsehood !”

tore off the plumed cap which had veiled The dwarf sprang up as he ceased her countenance, and fixed his eyes on speaking, and closed the door of the her, with a blank and withering stare.hovel, which he secured by a rude bar of “ All that nature had designed of beautiunhewn timber; and then resuming his ful, when she first modeled woman, was station, he thus continued: “Listen to concentrated in that form and face; the me. I was the child of tears and wishes: glow of affection struggled with the palemy parents were wealthy, and of noble ness of feminine timidity upon her cheek; blood; four years had beheld them heaven's own azure was in her eyes, and united, and yet they were childless. passion had lighted them with new fire ; "Give us but a son, and we shall be she was a thing to worship.-And thou blessed beyond the common lot of mor- wast to be his bride (resumed the dwarf, tality,' murmured the ill-judging couple, convulsively) to sit at his board, and preand a son was granted to their prayers.” side at his revels! I could look on thee Again a wild laugh pealed through the until mine eye-strings would crack, and hut.-_“I am that son ;-I am the heir of yet thou art but a woman, fair and false. that haughty house in my infancy I was Thou would'st not have dared the storm pillowed on down--now I am couched and the night-hour, and defied one whom on moss: in my youth I was lodged in a the world calls monster, for such as I am palace-now burrow in a den. I had -no, no; thou hast attached thyself to a heart ;-but it might be a mockery, for the radiant countenance and the graceful what had such a thing as I to do with limb-to one who can look on nature and gentleness? I was spurned for a fair proudly confess himself her son--poor faced stripling for one like thee minion ;” and he passed his coarse spurned with open loathing and with aukward hand over her lustrous hair, and

« PreviousContinue »