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[destruction of the United States Government] to be expected! I answer, if it ever reaches us, it must spring up among us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
There is even now something of ill omen among us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of courts; and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feeling to admit, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny.
I know the American people are much attached to their government. I know they would suffer much for its sake. I know they would endure evils long and patiently before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affection for the government is the natural consequence, and to that sooner or later it must come.
Here, then, is one point at which danger may be expected. The question recurs, how shall we fortify against it? The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of '76 did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and the Laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.
When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying that there are no bad laws, or that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay, but till then let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.
There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that may arise, as, for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case is the interposition of mob law either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.
They (the heroes of the Revolution) were pillars of the temple of liberty; and now that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewed from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us, but can do so no more. It will in the future be our enemy. Reason-cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason-must furnish all the material for our future support and defense. Let those materials be molded into general intelligence, sound morality, and, in particular, a reverence for the Constitution and laws.
21. The Three Forms of Oral Composition.-Before entering upon a study of the next chapter, we should stop to note the different forms, or divisions, into which oral composition logically falls. It may be divided into three large classes. These divisions are quite separate, and are so arranged that the student may begin with what is comparatively easy and simple, and conclude with what is most difficult. Although some of the general principles apply to all of the three forms, each form has its own.
(a) The first form. The first form consists in telling in your own words what some one else has said or written. You hear a story or lecture, or read a magazine article, and then re-tell these in your own language, just as if you were telling them to a friend. The content of what you tell belongs to some one else; the language you employ belongs to you. Of course, as we have previously discussed, your talk must be adapted to suit the particular hearers and the occasion.
(6) The second form. The second form is telling what you yourself have thought out and shaped into some logical order. This form resembles written composition, because you collect your material from books and magazines, from people, and from your own experience, and then arrange it the way that suits you best. You talk your composition out instead of writing it out. The selecting and arranging of material, and the language are yours.
(c) The third form. The third form is talking on a topic impromptu, without knowing beforehand either your subject or the language you are to use. Of course, you will not be expected to talk on a topic that you do not already have some knowledge of. The aim is to give you ease and clearness in talking without preparation on subjects upon which you have not anticipated saying anything.
(1) Write out, with brief but as comprehensive headings as possible, the mental outline for some recent lecture that you have heard. Try to select something the other members of the class also have heard.
(2) Make a list of memory schemes with which you are acquainted.
(3) Perhaps you have definitely in mind some person who as a conversationalist is long-winded and unable to distinguish between what is essential and what not to the topic of discussion. Write an imaginary conversation of this person.
(4) Read the speech of some forceful speaker and be prepared to tell in class what effect you think the speech must have had upon the audience, and why it had this effect.