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He must, however, have studied these not a little also, for his language in his poetical dialogue is not the language of conversation alone. Nor is there any poet whose effusions bear the impress of more severe thought, which not only impregnates, but some times obscures, his thick-coming fancies.' If internal evidence is to be a guide, he, as little as any one, could have dispensed with previous meditation and preliminary discipline.

Wherever prose-writers have been remarkable for some particular quality, it will be equally found that the point in which they have excelled was one upon which they had bestowed commensurate pains. Those, for example, who are distinguished for the beauty of their style have acquired their skill as the artist acquires his power of drawing—not by contenting themselves with the first rude and rapid draught, but by repeated references to better models, by an incessant renewal of their attempts, and by the untiring correction of defects. Every one knows that Pascal wrote each of his · Provincial Letters' many times over. The draught of his 'Epoques de la Nature' which Buffon sent to the press was the eleventh. The Benedictine editor of Bossuet's works stated that his manuscripts were bleared over with such numerous interlineations that they were nearly illegible. Burke penned his political pamphlets three times at least before they were put into type, and then he required to have a large margin for his manifold corrections. Sterne was incessantly employed for six months in perfecting one very diminutive volume. “I mention this,' says Paley, to whom we owe knowledge of the fact, "for the sake of those who are not sufficiently apprised that in writing, as in many other things, ease is not the result of negligence, but the perfection of art.'

The proposition that uncommon excellence arises from the concurrence of great talents with great industry is supported by_so many examples that they might be produced by the score. The extraordinary effect, indeed, of sustained application might almost seem to countenance the saying of Buffon, that 'genius was patience. The idle may dream over the fancied possession

' of intuitive powers which they never display. Those who enter the arena and engage in the contest know that strength cannot be put forth without strenuous exertion, nor skill be manifested without assiduous practice.

Of all the attainments which Lord Stanhope, in his graceful and attractive speech, showed to depend upon cultivation, none more needed to be dwelt upon before a body of students than that of oratory. There is no accomplishment which even when possessed in a moderate degree raises its possessor to considera

. tion with equal rapidity, none for which there is so constant a

demand * He was Provost of Worcester College, Oxford.


demand in the church, in the senate, or at the bar, and none, strange to say, which is so little studied by the majority of aspirants. Dr. King, in his · Anecdotes of his Own Time,' which was written in 1760, complains that the want of a proper power of expression was a universal defect in the English nation. Many admirable scholars whom he had known could not speak with propriety in a common conversation, whereas among the French and Italians he had met with few learned men who did not talk with ease and elegance. The only three persons of his acquaintance among our own countrymen who expressed themselves in a manner which would have been pronounced excellent if everything they uttered had been committed to writing, were Bishop Atterbury, Dr. Gower,* and Dr. Johnson. That his pupils might acquire the art of speaking with correctness and facility, he used to recommend them to get by heart a page of some English classic every morning, and the method was often attended with complete success.

There is still the same disproportion as in his day between the extensive learning of the educated classes and their capability of imparting it. Great pains are taken at our schools and universities to obtain knowledge, but upon the mode of conveying it in a way which shall be pleasing and forcible, no pains are bestowed at all. It is as if years should be spent in collecting materials for the construction of a mighty edifice without any attempt to dispose them in an order which would secure beauty, strength, or convenience. Lord Chesterfield was for ever impressing upon his son the necessity, if he wished to be listened to, of acquiring an elegant style and a good delivery. He appealed to the instances within his own experience of the applause which followed those who possessed these advantages, and of the uselessness without them of the most solid acquirements. Lord Townshend, he said, who invariably spoke with sound argument and abundant knowledge, was heard with impatience and ridicule, because his diction was always vulgar and frequently ungrammatical, his cadences false, and his voice inharmonious; whereas the Duke of Argyle, whose matter was flimsy, and his reasoning the weakest ever addressed to an intelligent assembly, "charmed, warmed, and ravished his audience,' by a noble air, a melodious voice, a just emphasis, and a polished style. Lord Cowper and Sir William Wyndham prevailed chiefly by the same means. By his own account, Lord Chesterfield himself afforded an illustration of the truth of his position when he introduced bis bill into the House of Lords for reforming the Calendar. He knew little of the matter, and re


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solved to supply the deficiency by well-rounded periods, and a careful delivery. This,' he continues,' succeeded, and ever will succeed; they thought I informed, because I pleased them; and many of them affirmed that I had inade the whole very clear to them when, God knows, I had not even atteinpted it.' Lord Macclesfield, who was a profound astronomer, followed, and with a perfect mastery of the subject, and with as much lucidity as the question permitted, furnished a real explanation of it, but, as his sentences were not so good as those of Lord Chesterfield, the preference,' says the latter, was most unanimously though most unjustly given to me.' Upon every occasion he had found, in like manner, that weight without lustre was lead.

The total inattention to this truth is not, therefore, a matter of inferior moment. Hundreds of ripe scholars are unable in consequence to bring their attainments to bear upon the understandings of those whom it is their business to inform. Unadorned sense, dry reasoning, a hard, flat, and colourless style make no impression except that of weariness. It is not only in Parliament and the pulpit that the faculty is required of rendering knowledge and argument attractive. Those who observe the effects upon the lower orders of bodily toil, must be sensible that their education, from the time they leave school, will never be conducted in any marked degree through the medium of books. Their chief instruction must be oral, and in many parishes the clergy have adopted the practice of giving secular lectures, which succeed or fail in exact proportion as the lecturer is a proficient in the art of speaking. Tawdry bombast and low humour will, indeed, excite the admiration of unrefined rustics as well as the higher products of the intellect, but no learning, however abundant, ever commands the ears of these audiences, unless it is set off by some extrinsic charm. A gulf is left between the mind of the speaker and that of the hearer, and until this strait can be bridged the long antecedent journey is more than half in vain. Nor need there be any fear that, if clocution and style were more cultivated, a torrent of tedious declamation would be let loose upon the world. Study, by improving taste, increases fastidiousness; and is rather calculated to check than to encourage an ill-timed loquacity. Clergymen and lawyers, at all events, are obliged by their calling to address public assemblies; and the sole question which remains to them is, whether they will do it well or ill.

The vulgar, said Lord Chesterfield, look upon a fine speaker as a supernatural being, and endowed with some peculiar gist of heaven. He himself maintained that a good speaker was as much Vol. 103.- No. 206.

a mechanic

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a mechanic as a good shoemaker, and that the two trades were equally to be learned by the same amount of application. In this there was some degree of exaggeration, but he was much nearer the truth than those who are deterred from every attempt to improve by the erroneous idea that unless the power is intuitive it can never be acquired. They might consider by what long repeated efforts a child learns to talk and read, or the years they pored over Greek and Latin before they gained a mastery over these tongues, and they would not infer, because they felt no inherent aptitude for speaking, that, therefore, nature had denied them the capacity. So much is it a matter of industry that, if any schoolboy were asked to select the most conspicuous

, example of defects subdued and excellence attained by indefatigable perseverance, he would certainly name the first of orators. The most eloquent of Romans went through a training as severe as that of the illustrious Greek, and if Demosthenes and Cicero found elaborate preparation essential to success, it is no wonder that lesser men should not be speakers before they have studied how to speak. Lord Chesterfield declares that he succeeded in Parliament simply by resolving to succeed. He early saw the importance of eloquence, and neglected nothing which could assist him to become a proficient in it. He conned carefully all the fine passages he met with in his reading ; he translated from various languages into English; he attended to his style in the freest conversations and most familiar letters; he never allowed a word to fall from his lips which was not the best he could command ! By these means he arrived at such an habitual accuracy that at last he said the pains would have been necessary to express himself inelegantly. A rapid review of the small band of pre-eminent speakers who have adorned our Senate, which has been the chief school of eloquence, the bar producing far fewer orators than might have been expected, will lead to the conclusion, that however varied in detail may have been the methods by which men learned to clothe ready conceptions in ready language, laborious study has been common to them all. From Demosthenes downwards no one has become an adept in the art without a special adaptation of means to the end. Nothing more is wanting to enable the enlightened part of the community to bring their minds into closer contact with the uninstructed, and thus to elevate the lower orders by a potent influence which hitherto has been imperfectly exerted, than that they should have the self-confidence to believe that the education which formed the Chesterfields will not be thrown away upon themselves. Nature has not destined every one to be a


Chatham or a Burke, but there are few persons of fair abilities who might not attain to the power of expressing good sense, and useful knowledge, in clear, flowing, and agreeable language.

The old oratory, unlike the old literature of England, is effete and out of date. It was pedantic in the reigns of Elizabeth and James. In the great Rebellion, when the passions were roused to the utmost pitch, and it was employed to move the multitude as well as the senate, it might have been expected to assume a more modern and popular air. But the theological studies of the parliamentary leaders gave the law to their eloquence. They framed their speeches upon the model of sermons, divided them into heads, and deadened inflammatory sentiments by a didactic style. The famous orations of Mr. Pym are read in our day with such intolerable weariness, that we wonder they could ever have been listened to with patience by any assembly, ignorant or educated. They are able no doubt, but cumbersome and dreary, and never before or since did enthusiasm find vent in such inanimate language. Though Lord Strafford spoke at his trial with genuine eloquence, it is almost a solitary specimen, and nobody dreams of reverting to the debates of that exciting time for grand sentiments expressed in burning words, or for maxims stamped in the mint which gives a perpetual currency to ideas. The style of speaking changed at the Restoration. The cavaliers were men of the world, who talked the language of the world. They flung aside that heavy scholastic garb which stifled sentiments instead of adorning them, and made a closer approximation to simplicity and nature. In the reign of Queen Anne parliamentary eloquence took much the same shape that it retains at present, as we can infer from casual specimens, and the descriptions of men in the next generation who had listened to it in their youth. Very little, however, has been preserved, and nearly the whole of that little is garbled and abridged. An imperfect abstract of the discussions in the Lords and Commons was commenced in 1711, in a publication called the Political State of Great Britain ;' but these epitomes merely aim at stating the opinions of the speakers, and make no pretence of preserving their language. Even of the opinions they were an untrustworthy indication, for they were compiled from the information of the door-keepers and subordinate officers of the Houses of Parliament. In 1736 Cave commenced a more elaborate system in the "Gentleman's Magazine.' He employed persons to take notes by stealth, which were handed over to some author who used them as raw materials from which to manufacture finished speeches. Guthrie discharged the task till November, 1740, when it passed into the more powerful hands of Johnson. He relinquished it

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