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ELOCUTIONARY

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INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON ORATORY.

ORATORY is the art of public speaking according to rhetorical rules, and has, for its principal design, to convince or persuade. We learn from Homer's Iliad that this art was, at a very early period, held in the highest esteem by the Greeks, with whom it may strictly be said to have originated, the eloquence to be found among the Eastern or Egyptian nations, being more allied to poetry, than to what is understood by us, as Oratory.

In the palmy days of the Republics of Greece and Rome, Oratory was prized above all other arts, as awakening the ardour of the patriot, stimulating the courage of the hero, and defending the cause of innocence oppressed. “If,” observes Quintillian,“ utility ought to be the governing motive of every exertion and design of our lives, can we possibly be employed to better advantage than in the exercise of an art which enables a man, upon all occasions, to support the interests of his friend, to protect the rights of the stranger, or to defend the cause of the oppressed, -that not only renders him the terror of his open and secret adversaries, but secures him, as it were, by the strongest and most impenetrable armour ?” It was by this art alone that Demosthenes arrested for a time the ambitious projects of Philip of Macedon; and that Cicero compelled Catiline to flee the city he had doomed to destruction, and drove into exile Verres, the spoliator of Sicily.,

The birthplace of Oratory has ever been the land of freedom; there and there alone it can bloom and flourish in perfect vigour, for, on the soil of despotism the noble plant droops, withers, dies. Liberty, indeed, is the nurse of true genius; it animates the spirit, and invigorates the hopes of man, excites honourable emulation and the desire of excelling in every art. All other qualifications may be found among those who are deprived of freedom, but never did a slave become an orator.

The magical effect produced by oratory has been eloquently described by Sheridan in the following words :

“ Imagine to yourselves a Demosthenes, addressing the most illustrious assembly in the world, upon a point whereon the fate of the most illustrious of nations depended. How awful such a meeting! how vast the subject! Is man possessed of talents adequate to the great occasion ?- Adequate! Yes, superior. By the power of his eloquence, the augustness of the assembly is lost in the dignity of the orator; and the importance of the subject, for a while, superseded by the admiration of his talents. With what strength of argument, with what powers of fancy, with what emotions of the heart, does he assault and subjugate the whole man, and at once captivate his reason, his imagination, and his passions !—To effect this must be the utmost effort of the most improved state of human nature. faculty that he possesses is here unemployed; not a faculty that he possesses but is here exerted to its highest pitch. All his internal powers are at work; all his external testify their energies. Within, the memory, the fancy, the judgment, the passions, are all busy; without, every muscle, every nerve is exerted; not a feature, not a limb, but speaks. The organs of the body, attuned to the exertions of the mind, through the

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