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debate advances, they become improper; they lose the appearance of being suggested by the business that is going on. Study and ostentation are apt to be visible ; and consequently, though admired as elegant, they are seldom so persuasive as more free and unconstrained discourses.
This, however, does not forbid premeditation, on what we intend to speak. With respect to the matter, we cannot be too accurate in our preparation ; but with regard to words and expressions it is very possible so far to overdo, as to render our speech stiff and precise. Short notes of the substance of the discourse are not only allowable, but of considerable service, to those especially, who are beginning to speak in public. They will teach them a degree of accuracy, which, if they speak frequently, they are in danger of losing. They will accustom them to distinct arrangement, without which, eloquence, however great, cannot produce entire conviction.
Popular assemblies give scope for the most animated manner of public speaking. Passion is easily excited in a great assembly, where the movements are communicated by mutual sympathy between the orator and the audience. That ardour of speech, that vehemence and glow of sentiment, which proceed from a mind animated and inspired by some great and public object, form the peculiar character of populac eloquence in its highest degree of perfection.
The warmth, however, which we express, must be always suited to the subject; since it would be ridicu. lous to introduce great vehemence into a subject of small importance, or which by its nature requires to be treated with calmness, We must also be careful not to counterfeit warmth without feeling it. The best rule is, to follow nature ; and never attempt a strain of eloquence which is not prompted by our own genius. A speaker may acquire reputation and influence by a calm argumentative manner. To reach the pathetic and sublime of oralory, requires those strong sensibili. ties of mind, and that high power of expression, which are given to few.
Even when vehemence is justified by the subject and prompted by genius ; when warmth is felt, not feigned; we must be cautious, lest impetuosity transport us too far. If the speaker lose command of himself, he will soon lose command of his audience. He must be. gin with moderation, and study to warm his hearers gradually and equally with himself
. For, if their pas. sions be not in unison with his, the discord will soon be felt. Respect for his audience should always lay a decent restraint upon his warmth, and prevent it from carrying him beyond proper limits. When a speaker is so far master of himself, as to preserve close attention to argument, and even to some degree of accurate expression ; this self command, this effort of reason in the midst of passion, contributes in the highest degree both to please and persuade. The advantages of pas sion are afforded for the purposes of persuasion, without that confusion and disorder which are its usual at. tendants.
In the most animated strain of popular speaking we must always regard what the public ear will receive without disgust. Without attention to this, imitation of ancient orators might betray a speaker into a boldness of manner, with which the coolness of modern laste would be displeased. It is also necessary to at. tend with care to the decorums of time, place and cliar. acter. No ardour of eloquence can atone for neglect of these. No one should attempt to speak in public without forming to himself a just and strict idea of what is suitable to his age and character ; what is suit. able to the subject, the hearers, the place and the occa. sion. On this idea he should adjust the whole strain and manner of his speaking.
What degree of conciseness or diffuseness is suited to popular eloquence, it is not easy to determine with precision. A diffuse manner is generally considered as most proper. There is danger, however, of erring in this respect; by too diffuse a style, public speakers often lose more in point of strength, than they gain by fulness of illustration. Excessive conciseness indeed
must be avoided. We must explain and inculcate ; but confine ourselves within certain limits. We should never forget, that however we may be pleased with hearing ourselves speak, every audience may be tired ; and the moment they grow weary, our eloquence becomes useless. It is better in general, to say too little than too much ; to place our thought 'in one strong point of view, and rest it there, than by showing it in every light, and pouring forth a profusion of words upon it, to exhaust the attention of our hearers, and leave them languid and fatigued.
ELOQUENCE OF THE BAR,
The ends of speaking at the bar and in popular as. semblies are commonly different. In the latter the orator aims principally to persuade ; to determine his hearers to some choice or conduct, as good, fit, or use. ful. He therefore applies himself to every principle of action in our nature ; to the psasions and to the heart, as well as to the understanding. But at the bar con. viction is the principal object. There the speaker's duty is not to persuade the judges to what is good or useful, but to exhibit what is just and true ; and con. sequently his eloquence is chiefly addressed to the un. derstanding.
At the bar speakers address themselves to one, or to a few judges, who are generally persons of age, gravity, and dignity of character. There those advantages which a mixed and numerous assembly affords for employing all the arts of speech, are not enjoyed. Passion does not rise so easily. The speaker is heard with more coolness; he is watched with more severity ; and would expose himself to ridicule by attempting that high and vehement tone, which is suited only to a multitude. Beside at the bar, the field of speaking is confined within law and statute. Imagination is fettered. The advocate has always before him the line, the
square, and the compass. These it is his chief busi. ness to be constantly applying to the subjects under debate,
Hence the eloquence of the bar is of a much more limited, more sober, and chastised kind, than that of popular assemblies; and consequently the judicial orations of the ancients must not be considered as exact models of that kind of speaking which is adapted to the present state of the bar. With them strict law was much less an object of attention than it is with us. In the days of Demosthenes and Cicero the municipal statutes were few, simple and general ; and the decision of causes was left in a great measure to the equity and common sense of the judges. Eloquence, rather than jurisprudence, was the study of pleaders. Cicero says that three months study would make a complete civilian ; nay, it was thought that a man might be a good pleader without any previous study. Among the Romans there was a set of men called pragmatici, whose office it was to supply the orator with all the law knowl. edge bis cause required; which he disposed in that popular form, and decorated with those colours of eloquence which were most fi:ted for influencing the judges.
It may also be observed, that the civil and criminal judges in Greece and Rome were more numerous than with us, and formed a kind of popular assembly. The celebrated tribunal of the Areopagus at Athens consis. ted of fifty judges at least. In Rome the Judices Selec!i were always numerous, and had the office and power of judge and jury. In the famous cause of MiJo, Cicero spoke to fifty one Judices Selecti, and thus had the advantage of addressing his whole pleading, not to one or a few learned judges of the point of law, as is the case with us, but to an assembly of Roman citizens. Hence those arts of popular eloquence wbich he employed with such success. Hence certain practices which would be reckoned theatrical by us, were comnion at the Roman bar ; such as introducing not only the accused person dressed in deep mourning, but presenting to the judges his family and young children, endeavouring to excite pity by their cries and tears.
The foundation of a lawyer's reputation and success must be laid in a profound knowledge of his profession. If his abilities, as a speaker, be ever so eminent; yet, if his knowledge of the law be superficial, few will choose to engage him in their defence. Beside previ. ous study and an ample stock of acquired knowledge, another thing inseparable from the success of every pleader, is a diligent and painful attention to every cause with which he is entrusted; to all the facts and circumstances with which it is connected. Thus he will in a great measure be prepared for the arguments of his opponent; and, being previously acquainted with the weak parts of his own cause, he will be able to fortify them in the best manner against the attack of his adversary.
Though the ancient popular and vehement manner of pleading is now in a great measure superseded, we must not infer that there is no room for eloquence at the bar, and that the study of it is superfluous. There is perhaps no scene of public speaking, where elo. quence is more requiste. The dryness and subtilty of subjects usually agitated at the bar, require more than any other, a certain kind of eloquence in order to command attention ; to give weight to the arguments employed, and to prevent what the pleader advances from passing unregarded. The effect of good speaking is always great. There is as much difference in the impression made by a cold, dry, and confused speaker, and that made by one who pleads the same cause with elegance, order, and strength, as there is between our conception of an object, when presented in twilight, and when viewed in the effulgence of noon.
Purity and neatness of expression is in this species of eloquence chiefly to be studied; a style perspicuous and proper, not needlessly overcharged with the pedantry of law terms, nor affectedly avoiding these when suitable and requisite. Verbosity is a fault of which