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cians than to the gardens of the Academy." Let the pupil but consider how much and what kind of preparation it required to write one of Swing's or Beecher's sermons, Lincoln's Gettysburg Speech, Washington's Farewell Address, Lowell's “ Vision of Sir Launfal,” or Wordsworth's “ Ode on the Intimations of Immortality.” Out of what rhetoric did these come? They embody the culture and tension of the age, rather than the age's rhetorical maxims. Yes, “ The orator is the good man skilled in speaking”; and skill itself is the man's speaking. In further description of the orator Quintilian speaks of him as “a man who, being possessed of the highest natural genius, stores his mind thoroughly with the most valuable kinds of knowledge ; a man sent by the gods to do honor to the world, and such as no preceding age has known ; a man in every way eminent and excellent, a thinker of the best thoughts and a speaker of the best words.” No one can be a speaker of the best words who is not a thinker of the best thoughts.
And just as discourse of worthy effect can spring only from a soul of wealth and worth, so it can be adequately interpreted and appreciated by the same general qualifications. The art of literary criticism, i.e. the art of estimating rather than fault-finding, is not the application of specific rules to a production, but the reception of its effect into the life of the critic, and its ideal reproduction from the standpoint and basis of life from which it was produced, with the added experience of its value. The problem is, how the production arises out of and returns to life, and
the consequent value of the process. Since the critic must speak to the value of the selection he must have the refinement and compass of life to reëxperience the author's life embodied in the selection. The small critic can do no better than to attack details here and there, with this or that rhetorical weapon which he has learned to apply under the name of criticism ; but such is not the process of that discourse-interpretation which brings the value of the production home to the reader. Hence it is evident that all that has been said touching the prime condition of effective discourse applies equally to the author and to the interpreter. Of course there is a difference in the capacity required for the details of execution in the two cases ; but the fundamental basis of operation in life is the same in each. Discourse cannot be effective without the adequate reception of its message, any more than without the adequate presentation of that message. Effective discourse implies some one susceptible to the effect. The writer demands qualified readers as strongly as the reader demands qualified writers.
It must not be supposed that this general requirement of culture on the part of both reader and writer makes discourse unnecessary, by rendering the writer unable to advance the interests of the reader. The help comes to the reader through the writer's ad· vanced position in the particular thought and sen
timent of the discourse under construction. In a particular case, the writer must keep in advance of his reader. He may have to raise himself to the full height of his ability to do so; or he may need, as when addressing the immature in thought, to lower himself within their reach ; but in all cases he must keep in advance on the particular line of his investigation, and more elevated in any sentiment he would arouse. In fact the greater the inequality between the reader and the writer in any particular selection of discourse the better, so long as vain or wasteful effort is not required in the process of interpretation. There has grown up a sentimental prejudice against difficult books, giving preference to those which may be perused in the relaxed mood of the hammock. Real reading requires energy ; and the best books are those which challenge effort, and merit frequent and prolonged study. Yet the original proposition holds, that man, born into the world of literature, to receive the most of it, needs the most varied and thorough culture. As with the writer, the greater the reader's breadth and depth of culture the more effective does discourse become.
Coming now to the task of a particular composition, with volume and force of life in general, the author must be moved in each production by
A Sincere Purpose. — We have already observed that the effect in the mind addressed is the true cause of the discourse; and sincerity of purpose requires that the effect to be produced in the mind addressed for the good of that mind be the sole impulse to the utterance. The motive must be unalloyed with any feeling of self; as when one is moved to speak by a desire to appear before an audience, to display learning and power of language, to excel another speaker, or to call forth popular applause. The assumption is, from the very nature of discourse, that the purpose is the effect in the mind of the hearer, for the benefit of the hearer. The moment the reader or hearer feels that the author is making the discourse with reference to himself, the discourse at once loses its power.
For this reason the pronoun I should be used warily and sparingly. It is bad taste for a speaker to play a part in illustrative incidents and stories, when his own personality is not essential to the illustration. He should not state, for instance, that he while visiting Rome found the Coliseum in such and such condition, assuming that the point of interest with his audience is not the condition of the Coliseum, but the fact that the speaker has traveled and has seen Rome and the Coliseum. He must not thrust himself in between his audience and the object he describes. This does not prevent a speaker or writer from presenting his own experience when that is the topic called for ; but the temptation to get into the foreground of the discussion must be silenced. It is a safe rule for the composer to keep himself out of the discourse altogether, assuming that the audience are interested only in the topic under discussion and not in him. Should he himself become the interesting topic, as when a famous man is called upon to give an account of himself, the case is different ; for then he is the theme of the discourse. But those who need to guard themselves most are least apt to be called upon for self-explanation.
Instead of uttering the thought for the mind addressed, as the law of purpose requires, consciously or unconsciously, the language and the thought are frequently deformed into affectation of style, than which nothing is more offensive to good taste and to good morals. “Affectation creates caricatures of beauty ; these repel taste as they repel good sense. That cast of character which leads a young man to wear long hair and to part it in the middle often appears in literature in a straining after the feminine qualities of style when no beauty of thought underlies and demands them. This nauseates short-haired men and lends reason to their prejudice against the genuine because of the counterfeit elegance.”1
A natural style cannot be produced without an absorbing interest in the aim of the discourse. Pretense will unconsciously leave its mark in some undue attention to the details of style. Phelps quotes the following illustration of this offense from a speech of the elder Josiah Quincy, delivered in the American Congress to secure the repeal of the embargo on our commerce laid by Great Britain in the War of 1812:
An embargo liberty was never cradled in Massachusetts. Our liberty was not so much a mountain as a sea nymph. She was as free as air. She could swim or she could run. The ocean was her cradle. Our fathers met her as she came like a goddess of beauty from the waves. They caught her as she was sporting on the beach. They courted her as she was spreading her nets on the rocks.