« PreviousContinue »
Q. What are some of the chief requisites in tne art of persuad ing?
A. Extensive knowledge, sound sense, keen sensibility, and solid judgment, with great command of lanuage, and a correct and graceful elocution. Q. What do you deem the next requisite?
A. Perfect sincerity, earnestness of manner, and a thorough conviction in the mind of the speaker as to the truth of what he delivers.
Q. What are the principal parts of a regular oration or discourse?
A. The Exordium, the Division, the Narration, the Confirmation, the Refutation, and the Peroration.
Q. What do you understand by the Exordium?
A. The beginning, or introduction, in which the speaker states the object he has in view, and bespeaks the favor and attention of his audience. Q. What do you mean by the Division?
A. The part in which the speaker mentions the na ture of the question at issue, and lays down the plan which he means to pursue in discussing it.
Q. What do you understand by the Narration?
A. The part in which the speaker takes a view of his whole subject, and states all the facts and circum stances connected with the case.
Q. And what is the Confirmation ?
A. The part in which the orator gives his own opin ions, and brings forward all the proofs and arguments on which they are founded. Q. And what is the Refutation ?
A. The part in which the speaker answers the various objections and arguments that may be brought against his opinions by an opponent.
Q. What is the Peroration ?
A. The part in which the speaker, after appealing to the passions and feelings of his audience, sums up all that has been said, and brings his oration to a 'conclusion. Q. Are all these parts kept perfectly distinct?
A. Not exactly so; for the one is often less or more blended with the other.
What, besides talents, is necessary to make a great orator? A. Long and unremitted application to study, and a mind thoroughly imbued with the principles of virtue, and actuated by the noble principle of independence.
Q. Is eloquence as much cultivated now as it once was?
X. Far from it; the period when eloquence chiefly flourished was in the days when Greece and Rome were in all their splendor, and in the full enjoyment of liberty.
Q. Who were the most distinguished of ancient orators ?
A. Demosthenes among the Athenians, and Cicero among the Romans; the former considered as the greatest that the world has ever seen. Q. Have modern nations excelled much in oratory ?
A. The French, the Dutch, and the Swiss, have all excelled in this art, but more particularly in pulpit. eloquence; while the British and American have excelled in all the various kinds.
Q. Can you mention some of the most eminent of the British orators?
A. Chatham, Pitt, Fox, Burke, Sheridan, Grattan, distinguished for the eloquence of the senate ; Curran, Erskine, &c., for the eloquence of the bar; and Barrow, Atterbury, and Kirwan, for the eloquence of the pulpit.
Q. Who are and have been the most illustrious among American orators ?
A. Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, Fisher Ames, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, E. Everett, John Randolph, W. Preston, G. M'Duffie, and some others.
[For a beautiful sketch of the eloquence of Cicero and Demosthenes, of Burke, Fox, and Pitt, of England, and of Hamilton, Ames, Calhoun, Clay. and Webster, of America, see an article in the Am. Bib. Repository, Jan., 1840, by N. Cleaveland, Esq., of Mass.]
SECTION II. To aid the student in preparing an oration or speech, the author would first avail himself of the fine example of our distinguished countryman, Edward EverETT, of whom, as an orator, the following sketch is given in the North American Review for 1837. It is here given only in part, but sufficient for our purpose :
“ The great charm of Mr. Everett's orations consists, not so much in any single and strongly-developed intellectual trait, as in that symmetry and finish which, on every page, give token of the richly-endowed and thorough schol.
The natural movements of his mind are full of grace ; and the most indifferent sentiment which falls from his pen has that simple elegance which it is as difficult to define as it is easy to perceive. His level passages are never tame, and his fine ones are never superfine. His style, with matchless flexibility, rises and falls with his subject, and is alternately easy, vivid, elevated, ornamental, or picturesque, adapting itself to the dominant mood of the mind, as an instrument responds to the touch of a master's hand. His knowledge is so extensive, and the field of his allusions so wide, that the most familiar views, in passing through his hands, gather such a halo of luminous illustrations, that their likeness seems transformed, and we entertain doubts of their identity. Especially in reading these orations, do we perceive the power which comes from an accurate knowledge of history. No one wields an historical argument with more skill ; no one is more fruitful in effective historical parallels and applications. He has, in perfection, the historical eye, if we may so speak; the power of running over an epoch and seizing upon its characteristic expression, and of distinguishing the events by which that expression is most decidedly manifested. His picturesque narrative is also one of his most striking accomplishments. This is seen most happily in his Plymouth and Bloody Brook Orations.
• His style appears to us a nearly perfect specimen of a rhetorical and ornamental style. Certainly it is so, if the just definition of a good style be, proper words in proper pla
He is as careful to select the right word, as a workman in mosaic is to pick out the exact shade of color which he requires. His orations abound with thcse delicious caden-" ces, which thrill through the veins like a strain of fine music, and cling spontaneously to the memory. Where can we find the
nglish guage molded into more graceful forms, than in such sentences as these ?
“« The sound of my native language beyond the sea, is a music to my ear, beyond the richest strains of Tuscan softness or Cas tilian majesty.
“ • No vineyards, as now, clothed our inhospitable hill-sides ; no blooming orchards, as at the present day, wore the livery of Eden, and loaded the breeze with sweet odors; no rich pastures, nor waving crops, stretched beneath the eye, along the wayside, from village to village, as if Nature had been spreading her halis with a carpet, fit to be pressed by the footsteps of her descending God!'
“ The passage which describes the forlorn condition of the Pilgrims, on their voyage and at their landing, is singularly expressive and beautiful.
1. The extracts we have made or referred to from Mr. Everett's volume of Orations, are specimens of that magnificent declamation which is one of his most obvious characteristics; but some of his discourses are of a practical cast, and display a corresponding style. His singular power of illustration enables him to give dignity to the lowest, and interest to the dryest subject, while that unerring taste, which, in his highest flights, insures him temperance and smoothness, preserves him from the unpardonable sin of being heavy, commonplace, and prosaic. His brilliant intellectual accomplishments and his fine taste rest upon a granite foundation of vigorous good sense. Read his speech on the subject of the Western Rail-road for an illustration of these remarks."
ORATORY OF DANIEL WEBSTER. The eloquence of Webster is of a less elaborate character than that of Everett, but it makes its way more easily to the understanding and the heart. At the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument, he de livered, June 17, 1843, an admirable address, in the presence of many thousands, displaying great variety of style in its several parts. The following extracts are from that audress :
“ Yes! Bunker Hill Monument is completed. Here it stands, fortunate in the natural eminence on which it is erected; majestic in its object and purpose. Behold it there ! rising over the land and the sea, visible at this moment to three hundred thou. sand of the citizens of Massachusetts. It stands a memorial of the past, a monitor to the present and to all succeeding generations of men.
“I have spoken of its purpose ; for if it had been without other
purpose than the erection of a mere work of art, the granite of which it is composed would have continued to sleep in its native bed! That purpose gives it its dignity and causes us to look up to it with emotions of awe, and invests it with attributes of a great intellectual personage. It is itself the great ora. tor of this occasion. It is not from my lips, or from any human lips that the stream of eloquence is to flow, which shall be com. petent to express the emotions of this vast multitude. The potent speaker stands motionless before you. It is a plain shaft. It bears no inscription, fronting the rising sun, from which a future antiquarian shall be employed to wipe away the dust-nor