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himself just what he is to accomplish, and then keep the eye single to that end. And so, too, must the recipient come to a definite experience of the effect produced ; not be satisfied with a blurred or vague general sense of what the discourse means. With the composer a definite and firm seizing of the end is absolutely essential to direct and forcible movement to that end; and unless the interpreter realize definitely and firmly what has been presented, he has missed so far the object of interpretation. Preparatory to any formal exercise the composer must test himself by such questions as : Just what end do I wish to accomplish? Exactly what impression do I wish to leave? or, Just what action do I wish to prompt? When a high-school pupil makes a choice of his graduating theme, he must be examined as to the ground of his choice. Should he choose, “Every Cloud has a Silvery Lining,” or “Over the Alps lies Italy,” he may find that he has been caught by something that sounds well, and that he really has no definite idea, sentiment, or conviction moving him to speech. If he does not settle this important matter at the outset he may be forced to learn as he proceeds that his “silvery lining” is only a thin film after all ; and that his Italy, which lies beyond the Alps, is sure enough beyond the Alps, but what of that? If he expects to awaken only the bit of sentiment of “silvery lining” and “over the Alps,” he can do no better than to announce his title on the program and retire. Likewise the value to the interpreter must be tested by an effort to state precisely how he is affected by the selection.
The composer cannot state precisely the end sought till all the circumstances under which the effect is to be produced are known. Discourse will sometimes have to be adapted to the special experience of trades, professions, and social surroundings. Farmers, mechanics, merchants, lawyers, and teachers are each interested in and prepared to receive a special class of ideas, which would make no appeal to others. And under such limiting conditions the composer is restricted to aims in harmony with the special interests of the class addressed.
But a still more widely controlling factor is the stage of mental development to be addressed. The writer may have to address children and the immature in thought, who can appreciate only the pictures of objects, and these only when expressed in the simplest language; or he may have to address those who can form classes of things and desire to find relations among objects; or, still higher, he may have to address those who are able to search for the unity of all things,
—the connection of things into a universe. That is, he may have to form popular discourse, scientific discourse, or philosophic discourse.
The composer must always mark the grade of minds addressed, and adjust himself to their experience. The farther he is removed from the grade of life addressed, the more difficult is it to make the required adaptation; and this is impossible when he has to adapt to those
cend. But adjusting to those of lower capacity is not so easily done as would appear. The difficulty of writing for children is clearly recognized; and it arises from the distance to which the writer is necessarily removed from the experience addressed. As a rule, a philosopher cannot address a popular audience effectively. To do so he must be a pliable and skillful rhetorician, which means that he has the art of adaptation.
But aside from the variable factors which limit and define the end according to circumstances, there is an invariable factor to be counted on in all audiences and under all circumstances, and which determines fundamentally the aim and adaptation in discourse. This factor is the different powers of the mind to be affected - the intellect, the sensibility, and the will. To make any definite effect on the mind is to affect prominently one or another of these powers. This fact defines the end, making it threefold more definite than the mere idea of addressing the mind; and gives rise to the three great classes of discourse, Prose, or didactic discourse ; Oratory, or persuasive discourse; Poetry, or literary discourse.
Prose, or didactic discourse, seeks to inform the intellect, — to communicate to it knowledge for its own sake. This process involves the sensibility and the will, as the mind must be stimulated by desire to receive the truth, and the will must make effort to appropriate it; yet the end is the knowledge gained, and the other activities are only means thereto. Thus prose discourse is discourse adapted to the logical end of truth. It seeks to bring the mind into a knowledge of the objective world of fact; to develop a knowl. edge of things as they exist. Whatever the form, the discourse is didactic when it is adapted to inform the intellect as an end.
Oratory, or persuasive discourse, seeks some end, through action, beyond the knowledge and feeling by which the action is stimulated. With oratory the object is not to bring the mind into conformity with the world, but to stimulate to reaction against the world, — to bring the world into conformity to some idea which the mind itself sets up. While prose seeks to give a knowledge of things as they are, oratory strives, through influencing the will, to make things what they ought to be. For instance, the composer may seek to give a knowledge of the state or of society as they at present exist; or he may strive to give such knowledge and arouse such sentiments as will prompt to effort to make them what they should be. A writer may desire to give a knowledge of slavery for the sake of the knowledge; or he may, through such knowledge, prompt to action against some form of oppression, as was once done against slavery. Railroads as they are, are not what they should be; and feeling the desirability of making them so, one may speak to prompt action to that end. In so doing, he would form an oration.
An oration is based in the emotions, for these are the motives to action. No appeal can be made to the will directly. People will not choose to act by simply being asked to do so. The proper motives to action must be aroused, through the presentation of thought to the intellect. Hence, while it was stated that discourse affects the intellect, the sensibility, and the
will, the direct effect is confined to the intellect and the sensibility; the sensibility being addressed as means to some end reached through action, or for its own sake.
Poetry, or literary discourse, awakens emotions for their own sake, and not to serve as motives to action. One may contemplate a waterfall or a landscape and find his reward in the contemplation. Hearing the song of a bird or viewing a gorgeous sunset, is justified by the emotions awakened. In all such cases the mind feels that the object is what it ought to be — that it is perfect. Poetry presents the object as if there were no collision between its ideal and its real nature. Such a view of an object awakens the esthetic emotions, rather than those emotions which prompt to effort, such as the feelings of injustice and oppression wielded by Patrick Henry to arouse the colonists to resist the mother country.
Let it be emphasized that the distinction here drawn between the kinds of discourse is that of adaptation to an end and not that of form. Popularly speaking, an oration is something spoken, and poetry is that which is written in verse. But an oration is still an oration when printed, and a poem is still a poem when changed to the prose form, as often happens in the process of translation. A poem delivered orally does not become an oration; and an argument for states' rights put in verse is at best only doggerel poetry. Note the following stanzas, from a so-called poem on the discovery of America, “designed to convey instruction to the young":