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ments, and just observations, backed and supported by authorities divine and human. Here the speaker must make his way to the judgment and conviction of his audience, by words and matter weighty and significant; in sentences grave and unaffected; in short, rather by strong good sense in familiar language, than by trifling observations in hard words and studied ornaments.--The subject being opened, explained, and confirmed, in the three first parts; that is to say, the speaker, having gained the attention and judgment of his audience, must proceed in the peroration to complete his conquests over the passions, such as imagination, admiration, surprise, hope, joy, love, fear, grief, anger. To these some application may be made in the exordium; but now the court must be paid wholly to them; in managing which is required no small skill and address. Now, therefore, the speaker must begin to exert himself. Here it is that a fine genius may display itself in the use of amplification, enumeration, interrogation, metaphor, and every ornament that can render a discourse entertaining, winning, striking, and enforcing. Thus the orator may gain the ascendant over his audience ;-can turn the current of their minds his own way, either like the rapid Severn with uplifted head, rushing on impetuous, or like the smooth gliding Thames, gently rising by almost imperceptible advances.
Remarks on Reading.
READING is the food of the mind; it forms taste, enriches knowledge, and refines reason. The gay, the giddy, the frivolous, read without expansion of soul, or improvement of their mental powers. They. read without choice, without system, and with heedless precipitation. The impressions and the objects
succeed each other with such rapidity, that the first is effaced by the following, and all are jumbled together in the memory; so that, after much reading, the men I allude to have only acquired the equivocal talent of disgusting a sound mind with embryo ideas, lost in a luxuriancy of words.
Young men are, in general, councelled to read much. If they adhere to this advice; if they devour every book that falls in their way, as is usually the case, even with those that have the best intentions, they overshoot the mark, and their purpose is disappointed. Amusement only will become their aim. They will give up Tillotson, Blackstone, Addison, Steele, Congreve, &c. for a novel, that is, for reading, of a nature the most dangerous to the undecided taste of a raw mind. I am well aware that there are some few of these ephemeral productions that may be run over with a sort of advantage, but this must not be during the period allotted you for laying the foundations of manly eloquence.
A young man may read Don Quixote twenty times over, before he perceives the acuteness of the author, or feels the moral aim of the work. It will appear him a tissue of extraordinary events only, and excentricities of a wild imagination. You well know, that in romances, or even novels, things are generally pushed to the extreme.. If they treat of virtue, it loses its name, and becomes heroism or fantastic virtue. They always address themselves to fancy, and lead her a chace after ideal happiness, which nothing but cool reason, in a more advanced period of life, can put a stop to.
For the present, therefore. leave every work of this nature, even the best, and peruse none but such as are recommended to you for truth, solidity, and elegance.
To guard you against this intemperance of reading, I must assure you, that the number of books on which you should form your taste, is by no means considerable. Let your friends see master-pieces in your hands.
Attach yourselves, at first, to their thoughts, and acquire, by every exertion of assiduity, that harmony of style, which wins the soul by charming the ear; those felicities of expression, that rules cannot reach to; and that combination of sounds, by the means of which you will paint and impress your ideas.
Be not precipitate; cal! yourself often to account for what you have read. I would counsel you, at first; to take down the heads in writing. You will soon find yourself able to remember them without this assistance; and, besides, you will imperceptibly make yourself master of the art of analysis, which is the su rest and shortest road to instruction.
Of Method in Speaking:
METHOD is the art of ranking every thing in the place that suits it; in fact, I might boldly tell you at once, that method is nothing but good taste; I do not mean that good taste which produces the graces of a discourse, but that other species of taste, which regulates the order in which the different parts, the reasons, the proofs, and all the means of persuasion, should be displayed, for the purpose of producing the greater effect it is not the taste that colours, but it is that which draws, which sketches the forms, and groups them; in short, I mean the taste that creates the beauty of reason, and not that of fancy; the beauty of plenitude, not that of a single member. It disposes the springs that you are to put in motion for the purpose of pleasing, instructing, and persuading.. Before you cast about for the order in which you are to offer your thoughts, you must already have preconceived a general outline of your subject: the next process is, in that outline, to mark the place of your
principal ideas; your subject will then become circumscribed, and you will see its extent.
This plan will be your ground-work; it will support you, direct you, regulate the movements of your mind, and submit them to the laws of method. Without it, the best speaker will go astray, his progress will be unguided, and the irregular beauties of his speech will be at the mercy of hazard. How brilliant soever the colours he employs may be, the disposition of the picture will ruin the whole effect; and the speaker may be admired, but his genius will most certainly be suspected.
Why are the works of Nature so perfect? says Buf fon; it is because every work is a whole, or has its full plenitude; it is because she never deviates from one eternal plan. She prepares in silence the seeds of all her productions in one bold stroke alone, she hits off the primitive form of every living being; she unfolds and bestows perfection on it by a perpetual motion, and in a prescribed time. The human mind. cannot create, it can produce nothing until it has been fertilized by experience and meditation: its notions. are the seeds of its productions; but if it imitates the progress and labour of Nature; if it rise on the wings of contemplation, to the most sublime truths; if it connect them, link them, and form them into one grand whole by the powers of reflection; it will raise a monument of fame on an immortal foundation.
It is for want of a plan, and for not having allowed reflection to dwell long enough on his subject, that a man of abilities finds himself embarrassed, and knows. not where or how to begin. He at once perceives a vast number of ideas; as he has made no comparison betwixt them, nor established any subordination among them, there is nothing that determines him to. give the preference to one more than to the other; he, therefore, stands a victim of his own perplexity. But when he shall have laid down a plan to himself; when once he shall have gathered together, and put in order, every idea essential to his subject, the work
will have arrived at the point of maturity; he will be eager to give it birth; thought will succeed thought, with case and pleasure to himself; his style will be natural and lucid; the delight he feels will beget a warmth, which will glow through all his periods, and give life to every expression; his animation will increase; the tones of his voice will swell; every object will become prominent: and sentiment, in unison with perspicuity, will render the discourse both interesting and luminous.
Weigh your own feelings, examine the emotions of others, endeavour to discover, in every occurrence of life, the spring of human passions, study to imitate nature, and with the genius and judgment you. are blessed with, you cannot but succeed as a great speaker.
One word more, and I quit the subject: accustom yourself, even in your common conversation, to link your thoughts to one another; utter none without a momentary examination, whether it is sound and fit or not justness and precision will glide from your conversation into your first little essays, and from these into greater; and when, at last, nature shall have attained its maturity, and occasion touches the spring of genius, all the powers of your mind will burst into harmonious motion.
SECTION XIV. ›
Ir will hot, I think, be pretended, that any of our preachers have often occasion to address more sagacious, learned, or polite assemblies, than those which were composed of the Roman senate, or the Athenian people, in their most enlightened times. But it is well known what great stress the most cele