Page images


but among those of apparently moderate powers; not only against the force of early disadvantages, but against that of the most adverse circumstances of active and public employment. The highest honors of learning | have 5 been won Il amidst laborious professional duties and the pressing cares of state. Hardy seamen, too, who have spent their days | in conflict with the storms of the ocean, have found means to make themselves distinguished | in science and literature, as well as by achievements in 10 their profession. The lives of Columbus, Cook, and Lord Collingwood gloriously attest this fact. Our own country has produced her full proportion of self-taught men, -statesmen and civilians, philosophers and men of science. At their head | stand Washington and Frank15 lin, neither of whom | enjoyed, in early life, advantages of education, equal to those which are afforded by some of our free schools | to the humblest of the people.




[This, and the two following pieces, are meant to be studied, and marked in pencil, by pupils, themselves,-under the guidance, at first, of the teacher. The marking to be applied as an extension of practice on Rhetorical Pauses.]

When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable, in speech, farther than it is connected with high intellectual and moral en5 dowments. Clearness, force, and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they I will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled 10 in every way,-they cannot compass it. It must exist

in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it, they cannot reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the 15 earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force.

The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments, and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, 20 their children, and their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then, words have lost their power, rhetoric

is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then, patriotism is eloquent: then, self-devotion is eloquent. The clear concep5 tion, outrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward to his object, this, this is eloquence: or rather it is something 10 greater and higher than all eloquence,—it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action.



[To be marked for Rhetorical Pauses, by the reader.]

The history of the world is full of testimony to prove how much depends upon industry; not an eminent orator has lived but is an example of it. Yet, in contradiction to all this, the almost universal feeling appears to be, that 5 industry can effect nothing, that eminence is the result of accident, and that every one must be content to remain just what he may happen to be. Thus multitudes, who come forward as teachers and guides, suffer themselves to be satisfied with the most indifferent attainments, and a miser10 able mediocrity, without so much as inquiring how they may rise higher, much less making any attempt to rise.

For any other art they would have served an apprenticeship, and would be ashamed to practise it in public before they had learned it. If any one would sing, he 15 attends a master, and is drilled in the very elementary principles; and only after the most laborious process dares to exercise his voice in public. This he does, though he has scarce any thing to learn but the mechanical execution of what lies in sensible forms before the 20 eye.

But the extempore speaker, who is to invent as well as to utter, to carry on an operation of the mind as well as to produce sound, enters upon the work without preparatory discipline, and then wonders that he fails! Îf he 25 were learning to play on the flute for public exhibition, what hours and days would he spend in giving facility to his fingers, and attaining the power of the sweetest and most expressive execution! If he were devoting himself to the organ, what months and years would he labor, that

he might know its compass, and be master of its keys, and be able to draw out, at will, all its various combinations of harmonious sound, and its full richness and delicacy of expression! And yet he will fancy that the 5 grandest, the most various and most expressive of all instruments, which the infinite Creator has fashioned by the union of an intellectual soul with the powers of speech, may be played upon without study or practice; he comes to it a mere uninstructed tyro, and thinks to 10 manage all its stops, and command the whole compass of

its varied and comprehensive power! He finds himself a bungler in the attempt, is mortified at his failure, and settles it in his mind forever, that the attempt is vain.

Success in every art, whatever may be the natural tal15 ent, is always the reward of industry and pains. But the instances are many, of men of the finest natural genius, whose beginning has promised much, but who have degenerated wretchedly as they advanced, because they trusted to their gifts, and made no efforts to improve. 20 That there have never been other men of equal endowments with Demosthenes and Cicero, none would venture to suppose; but who have so devoted themselves to their art, or become equal in excellence? If those great men had been content, like others, to continue as they began, 25 and had never made their persevering efforts for improvement, what would their countries have benefited from their genius, or the world have known of their fame ?— They would have been lost in the undistinguished crowd that sunk to oblivion around them.


[To be marked for Rhetorical Pauses, by the reader.]

The favorite idea of a genius, among us, is of one who never studies, or who studies nobody can tell when, at midnight, or at odd times and intervals, and now and then strikes out, "at a heat," as the phrase is, some wonderful 5 production. This is a character that has figured largely in the history of our literature, in the person of our Fieldings, our Savages, and our Steeles; "loose fellows about town, or loungers in the country;" who slept in alehouses, and wrote in bar-rooms; who took up the pen as 10 a magician's wand, to supply their wants, and, when the pressure of necessity was relieved, resorted again to their

carousals. Your real genius is an idle, irregular, vagabond sort of personage; who muses in the fields, or dreams by the fireside: whose strong impulses,-that is the cant of it,-must needs hurry him into wild irregular5 ities, or foolish eccentricity; who abhors order, and can bear no restraint, and eschews all labor; such a one as Newton or Milton! What! they must have been irregular, else they were no geniuses.

"The young man," it is often said, "has genius enough, 10 if he would only study." Now the truth is, as I shall take the liberty to state it, that the genius will study; it is that in the mind which does study: that is the very nature of it. I care not to say that it will always use books. All study is not reading, any more than all read15 ing is study.

Attention it is, though other qualities belong to this transcendant power,-attention it is, that is the very soul of genius; not the fixed eye, not the poring over a book, but the fixed thought. It is, in fact, an action of the 20 mind, which is steadily concentrated upon one idea or one series of ideas, which collects in one point the rays of the soul, till they search, penetrate, and fire the whole train of its thoughts. And, while the fire burns within, the outside may be indeed cold, indifferent, negligent, absent 25 in appearance; he may be an idler or a wanderer, apparently without aim or intent; but still the fire burns within.

And what though "it bursts forth," at length, as has been said, "like volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force ?" It only shows the intense action of 30 the elements beneath. What though it breaks like lightning from the cloud? The electric fire had been collecting in the firmament through many a silent, clear, and calm day. What though the might of genius appears in one decisive blow, struck in some moment of high debate, 35 or at the crisis of a nation's peril? That mighty energy, though it may have heaved in the breast of Demosthenes, was once a feeble infant thought. A mother's eye watched over its dawning. A father's care guarded its early youth. It soon trod with youthful steps the halls of 40 learning, and found other fathers to wake and to watch for it, even as it finds them here. It went on; but silence was upon its path; and the deep strugglings of the inward soul silently ministered to it. The elements around breathed upon it, and "touched it to finer issues."

The golden ray of heaven fell upon it, and ripened its expanding faculties. The slow revolutions of years slowly added to its collected energies and treasures; till, in its hour of glory, it stood forth imbodied in the form of liv5 ing, commanding, irresistible eloquence.

The world wonders at the manifestation, and says, Strange, strange, that it should come thus unsought, unpremeditated, unprepared!" But the truth is, there is no more a miracle in it, than there is in the towering of 10 the preeminent forest-tree, or in the flowing of the mighty and irresistible river, or in the wealth and waving of the boundless harvest.

[ocr errors]

LESSON VIII.-ANTIQUITY OF FREEDOM.-W. C. BRYANT. [Marked for Rhetorical Pauses, in poetry.]


Here are old trees, tall oaks | and gnarled pines,
That stream with gray-green mosses; here | the ground
Was never trenched by spade; and flowers | spring up
Unsown, and die ungathered. It is sweet |


5 To linger here, among the flitting birds,

And leaping squirrels, wandering brooks, and winds'
That shake the leaves, and scatter, as they pass,
A fragrance from the cedars, thickly set


With pale blue berries. In these peaceful shades,10 Peaceful, unpruned, immeasurably old,

My thoughts go up the long dim' path of years,
Back to the earliest days of Liberty.

O FREEDOM! thou art not, as poets dream,
A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs,
15 And wavy tresses | gushing from the



With which the Roman master crowned his slave |
When he took off the gyves. A bearded man,
Armed to the teeth, art thou; one mailed hand ||

Grasps the broad shield, and one | the sword; thy brow, 20 Glorious in beauty | though it be, is scarred ||

With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs ||

Are strong with struggling. Power | at thee has launched
His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee;
They could not quench the life thou hast from heaven.
25 Merciless power has dug thy dungeon deep,

And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires,
Have forged thy chain; yet, while he deems thee bound,
The links are shivered, and the prison walls |
Fall outward; terribly tau springest forth,

« PreviousContinue »