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surface, affording in the heart of a populous city, that first of luxuries, space; trodden by herds of its natural and chartered proprietors; encompassed by magnificent edifices, the homes of the gifted, cultivated, and liberal; with its beautiful view of water, and of the surrounding country ; crowned by Dorchester Heights, and the Blue Hills; — Boston Common, has always appeared to us one of the choicest of nature's temples. The memory of the good is worthy such a temple; and we trust we shall be forgiven for having attempted to fix there this slight monument to a noble sufferer in that great cause which has stimulated the highest minds to the sublimest actions, which calls its devotees from the gifted, its martyrs from the moral heroes of mankind; the best cause, the fountain of all liberty, — liberty of conscience!
CONVERSATION. Mrs. Farrar.
[Pieces such as the following serve a useful purpose in elocution, by
exemplifying the difference between the manner of random talk and that of dignified conversation. The former admits the “gay” and the “ humorous” forms of tone : the latter requires the “ serious," and, sometimes, the “grave,” though never implying the absence of
that “ animation” which belongs to earnestness. A distinct enunciation and a deliberate utterance, with moderate empha
sis and pauses, are the main points of good elocution, in the reading of all pieces which imbody sentiment in didactic style, but in conversational forms.]
Good conversation is one of the highest attainments of civilized society. It is the readiest way in which gifted minds exert their influence, and, as such, is worthy of all consideration and cultivation. I remember hearing an English traveller say, many years ago, on being asked how the conversational powers of the Americans compared with those of the English, “ Your fluency rather exceeds that of the old world. But conversation, here, is not cultivated as an art."
The idea of its being so considered anywhere, was new to the company; and much discussion followed the departure of the stranger, as to the desirableness of making conversation an art. Some thought the more natural and spontaneous it was, the better; some confounded art with artifice, and hoped their countrymen would never leave their own plain honest way of talking, to become adepts in hypocrisy and affectation. At last, one, a little wiser than the rest, explained the difference between art and artifice; asked the cavillers, if they had never heard of the art of thinking, or the art of writing; and said, he presumed the art of conversing was of the same nature.
And so it is. By this art persons are taught to arrange their ideas methodically, and to express them with clearness and force; thus saving much precious time, and avoiding those tedious narrations, which interest no one but the speaker. It enforces the necessity of observing the effect of what is said, and leads a talker to stop, when she finds that she has ceased to fix the attention of her audience.
The art of conversing would enable a company, when a good topic was once started, to keep it up, till it had elicited the powers of the best speakers; and it would prevent its being cut short in the midst, by the introduction of something entirely foreign to it.
Fluency of speech seems to me a natural gift, varying much in different individuals, and capable of being rendered either a delightful accomplishment, or a most wearisome trait of character, according as it is combined with a well or ill disciplined mind. If, as a nation, we are fluent, it is especially incumbent upon us to be correct and methodical thinkers; or we shall only weary those who are so, by our careless and thoughtless volubility.
Some persons seem to forget that mere talking is not conversing; that it requires two to make a conversation, and that each must be, in turn, a listener ; but no one can be an agreeable companion, who is not as willing to listen as to talk.
Selfishness shows itself in this, as in a thousand other ways: one who is always full of herself, and who thinks nothing so important as what she thinks, and says, and does, will be apt to engross more than her share of the talk, even when in the company of those whom she loves.
There are situations, however, wherein it is a kindness to be the chief talker, as when a young lady is the eldest of the party, and has seen something, or been in some place, the description of which is desired by all around her. If your mind is alive to the wishes and claims of others, you will
easily perceive when it is a virtue to talk, and when to be silent. It is undue pre-occupation with self, that blinds people, and prevents their seeing what the occasion requires.
Sometimes, the most kind and sympathizing person will not do justice to her nature, but will appear to be cold and inattentive, because she does not know that it is necessary to give some sign, that she is attending to what is addressed to her. She averts her eye from the speaker, and listens in such profound silence, and with a countenance so immovable, that no one could suppose her to be at all interested by what she is hearing. This is very discouraging to the speaker, and very impolite. Good manners require that you should look at the person who speaks to you, and that you should put in a word, or a look, from time to time, that will indicate your interest in the narrative. A few interjections happily thrown in by the hearer, are a great comfort and stimulus to the speaker; and one who has always been accustomed to this evidence of sympathy or comprehension, in her friends, feels, when listened to without it, as if she were talking to a dead wall.
THE TEAR OF PENITENCE. Moore.
[The gentle tone of “repose” pervades the first part of the following
piece, – that of admiration and “tenderness," succeeds, in the description of the child. “ Orotund quality,” “aspirated” by the effect of aversion and repugnance approaching to horror, occurs in the description of the criminal. The tones of solemnity, reverence. and awe, are introduced at the line beginning, “ But hark!” &c. The “expression" of admiration and tenderness succeeds, commencing at “ And looking,” &c. “ Pathos,” regret, and contrition, prevail from “ And how felt he,” &c. to “ Blest tears,” &c., where " tenderness," “ tranquillity,” and “joy,” vary the expression once more. The close is full, swelling, and rapturous in its effect. These variations should all receive the full benefit of the shifting rhythm of this plastic lyric. The metrical character of every stanza, should tell distinctly on the ear, but in due subordination, in every instance, to the key of the emotion. The musical effect of verse, however, properly receives fuller scope in lyric compositions, than in any other.]
The Peri, — according to the fable, - is in quest of that which shall se.
cure her admission to heaven. After a long and wearisome search, and repeated failures, she finds it, at last, in the tear of penitence.
Now, upon Syria's land of roses,
And whitens with eternal sleet,
Is sleeping rosy at his feet.
But naught can charm the luckless Peri;
Flinging their shadows from on high,
Had raised to count his ages by!
Yet haply there may lie concealed,
Beneath those chambers of the sun,
With the great name of Solomon,
May teach her where, beneath the moon,
The charm, that can restore, so soon,
Cheered by this hope, she bends her hither :
Still laughs the radiant eye of Heaven,
Nor have the golden bowers of even,
Slowly, she sees a child at play,
As rosy and as wild as they;
* The Temple of the Sun at Balbec
That fluttered round the jasmine stems, Like winged flowers or flying gems; And near the boy, who, tired with play, Now, nestling 'mid the roses, lay, She saw a wearied man dismount
From his hot steed, and, on the brink Of a small imaret's rustic fount,
Impatient, Aling him down to drink.
Then swift his haggard brow he turned
To the fair child, who fearless sat, Though never yet hath daybeam burned
Upon a brow more fierce than that, Sullenly fierce, — a mixture dire, Like thunder-clouds,- of gloom and fire, In which the Peri's eye could read Dark tales of many a ruthless deed; Yet tranquil, now, that man of crime, As if the balmy evening time Softened his spirit, - looked and lay, Watching the rosy infant's play ; Though still, whene'er his eye by chance Fell on the boy's, its lurid glance
Met that unclouded, joyous gaze, As torches that have burned all night, Through some impure and godless rite,
Encounter morning's glorious rays.
But hark! the vesper call to prayer,
As slow the orb of daylight sets,
From Syria's thousand minarets !
Kneels, with his forehead to the south, Lisping the eternal name of God
From Purity's own cherub mouth;