« AnteriorContinuar »
when foreigners visit the city of Washington, as they often do, they would witness something more than “the flag of the Union floating on the top of the capitol;" they would hear within its walls, specimens of eloquence, the power and grandeur of which, they could not fail to admire. They now animadvert very severely upon the manner in which our congressional orators are accustomed to speak. After crossing the Atlantic, they visit the seat of government, in the expectation of hearing some of the most eloquent speakers in the United States. In that respect, they are not disappointed. And not only so, but they hear in the senate, if not in the house of representatives, orators, over whom, the best speakers in England or any other country, can claim no superiority. The cavillers undervalue the merits of American speakers. In their books, they criticise too severely those who have seats in congress, as well as other citizens of the United States. But if we would entirely escape censure, let us endeavor to avoid deserving any portion of it. Let American speakers unite elegance of language with force of reasoning, so perfectly, that even the inhabitants of other countries will be constrained to say, with regard to them, as Milton did in another case:
" Their words drew audience and attentio
Still as night and suminer noon-tide air.” American young men are, then, called upon by considerations of national honor, to become good speakers. In order to accomplish so desirable an object, that honorable enthusiasm for the art of eloquence, by which the great men of antiquity were characterized, should pervade their minds.
The torch of genius,” be it remembered, “is lighted at the altar of enthusiasm."
In view of the whole subject, it is proper to remark, in conclusion, that whatever may be the perfection in which the individual possesses the faculty of speech from nature, it is susceptible of acquiring much additional power, smoothness and flexibility, by cultivation and practice. It is hoped that this work will be conducive to the attainment of accuracy, force, and beauty of expression, in reading, conversation, and public speaking. If several years experience as a teacher of elocution, afford the means of judging, the matter which it contains will be beneficial to all who are desirous of teaching or learning the sublime art. Lord Bacon took "all knowledge to be his province.” Mrs. Sigourney advises us to “take all goodness for our province." Let us take both. To be wise and good, is the highest object to which our hopes can aspire. Those in whom wisdom and goodness are combined in the greatest degree, will participate the most largely in all the social pleasures of this life, and in the unspeakable joys of that which commences, never to end, beyond the darkness and silence of the tomb. It is the will of Him who built the heavens and the earth, that man should be the instructor of his fellow man. We are commanded by Him who "spake as never man spake,” to do all that in our day and generation may be done, to teach all nations,” and thus to swell the triumphs of knowledge.
Under these impressions, this book has been prepared for the press. And it is offered to the people of my native country, with a confident hope, that it will be found useful in advancing the interests of that branch of education to which it is devoted, and which must be regarded, not merely as a fine art, but as an eminently valuable accomplishment.
138. Extract from Cicero's Speech for Cluentius,......