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“ Till near the sixteenth century,
To Europe was unknown
So populous since grown.
The people then believed the world
To be so very small
Were with some islands all.”
While this is written in verse, it cannot be called poetry in any fundamental sense, but readily falls under prose, because it is an effort to teach facts touching the discovery of America. · In all cases the form is incidental to the spirit. By the spiritual standard Irving's “Sketch Book” is a collection of poems; and this view is justified by the dictionary and the encyclopaedia; while Whittier's war poems, designed to arouse the people against slavery, are oratorical, because they seek to change the existing order of things. Shakespeare
did not write in verse. When it is said that an expression is poetic, the soul of the expression is hinted at, and not its form. It is true that the highest tension of feeling naturally seeks rhythmical expression; yet all good prose is more or less rhythmical; every oration should be musical. Undoubtedly discourse may be classified on the basis of form into prose and poetry, and this will be done at the proper place — in discussing the language of discourse; but here we are concerned with discourse in its entire spirit and compass. Every one is conscious of using language to each of the three ends above described. 'And these ends are fundamental, controlling, as we shall see, the organization of both the thought and the style of discourse.
These kinds of discourse shade imperceptibly into each other; and frequently a discourse defies exact classification. But this should not discourage us, for such is true everywhere. The dividing line between plants and animals has never been found ; yet we recognize the working value of such a distinction. Everywhere in the world of thought things blend and flow; and we must not hope to draw lines of thought more sharply than they are found in things. It matters not that we are baffled in classifying a given piece of discourse ; for this fact shows the nature of the discourse, and this is what is really sought. Classification is not an end, but a means. If it be found that a discourse is equally well adapted to each of the three ends, let it be so ; for this is its unique and fundamental fact, the fact that regulates all further procedure in its study. Such a discovery might be a criticism on the discourse, but not a reflection on the critic. As a rule, however, the classification is readily made, for the types of each class are distinct and numerous. Classify, on the basis of purpose, the following :
“ The founder of rhetoric as an art was Corax of Syracuse (c. 466 B.c.). In 466 Thrasybulus, the despot of Syracuse, was overthrown, and a democracy was established. One of the immediate consequences was a mass of litigation on claims to property, urged by democratic exiles who had been dispossessed by Thrasybulus, Hiero, or Gelo. If, twenty years after the Cromwellian settlement of Ireland, an opportunity had been afforded to aggrieved persons for contesting every possession taken under that settlement in the ten counties, such persons being required to plead by their own mouths, the demand for an “art” of forensic rhetoric in Ireland would have been similar to that which existed in Sicily at the moment when Corax appeared. If we would understand the history of Greek rhetoric before Aristotle, we must always remember these circumstances of its origin. The new "art" was primarily intended to help the plain citizen who had to speak before a court of law.”
" It is estimated that from seventy-five to a hundred thousand wives and children of these soldiers are now held in slavery. It is a burning shame to this country. ... Wasting diseases, weary marches, and bloody battles are now decimating our armies. The country needs soldiers, must have soldiers. Let the Senate, then, act now. Let us hasten the enactment of this beneficent measure, inspired by patriotism and hallowed by justice and humanity, so that, ere merry Christmas shall come, the intelligence shall be flashed over the land to cheer the hearts of the nation's defenders and arouse the manhood of the bondman, that, on the forehead of the soldier's wife and the soldier's child no man can write • Slave.”
“Oh, there is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to her son that transcends all other affections of the heart. It is neither to be chilled by selfishness, nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stifled by ingratitude. She will sacrifice every comfort to his convenience ; she will surrender every pleasure to his enjoyment; she will glory in his fame, and exult in his prosperity ; and if misfortune overtake him, he will be the dearer to her from misfortune ; and if disgrace settle upon his name, she will still love and cherish him in spite of his disgrace ; and if all the world beside cast him off, she will be all the world to him.”
Which of the foregoing confronts an actual with an ideal condition of things, for the purpose of changing the ideal into the actual? Which presents simply an ideal for the mere sake of the joy awakened by con
templating the ideal? Which presents a fact for its merely intellectual value? Which of the foregoing confines the attention to one aspect of the subject, and which to two aspects? In what respect are all of these alike, and in what respect is each peculiar ? Select many other examples, and classify them by applying the foregoing questions. And for further emphasis select some piece of land and present it, first, to give a clear notion of it ; second, to persuade some one to buy it or to improve it ; third, to awaken the feeling of beauty. To each of the three ends, how should a steam-engine be presented ? forest trees ? charity ? the school ? the solar system ? rhetoric?
THE THOUGHT IN DISCOURSE.
To whatever end discourse is adapted, thought is presented as the means, through language as the medium. Hence, we are here concerned, not with the nature of thought, but with its adaptation to the ends of utterance, — with thought in the process of affecting the mind addressed. The same subject-matter may be used for different purposes, but in each case it must be differently organized. In logic thought is considered in its own nature, and organized about some center of its own ; while in discourse thought must be organized to the requirements of the end sought, and in obedience to the conditions under which it is sought. The history of Greece might be so compacted and organized as to satisfy the sternest laws of logic ; but such an organization would not serve to instruct immature minds, nor to produce emotional or volitional effects. The nature of the theme determines the logical organization; the particular end sought, and the conditions under which it is sought, the rhetorical organization. The latter may be identical with the former, — in fact, for some purposes it must be so ; but in most cases a modification is made by the laws imposed from without.