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THE ELOQUENCE OF ACTION.
And smile to see thy splendors fly,
Flag of the free heart's hope and home,
By angel hands to Valor given !
And all thy hues were born in Heaven..
Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us!
THE ELOQUENCE OF ACTION.-DANIEL WEBSTER. T H EN public bodies are to be addressed on momentous
V occasions, when great interests are at stake and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable in speech, further than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force, and earnestuess, are the qualities which produce con-. viction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from afar. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but 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 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, 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 conception, outrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit,
THE WORTH OF ELOQUENCE.
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 greater and higher than all eloquence, it is action; noble, sublime, godlike action!
ABOU BEN ADHEM.-LEIGH HUNT.
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
THE WORTH OF ELOQUENCE. T ET us not, gentlemen, undervalue the art of the orator. Of I all the efforts of the human mind, it is the most astonishing in its nature, and the most transcendent in its immediate triumphs. The wisdom of the philosopher, the eloquence. of the historian, the sagacity of the statesman, the capacity of the general, may produce more lasting effects upon human affairs ; but they are incomparably less rapid in their influence, and less intoxicating from the ascendency they confer. In the solitude 18
THE WORTH OF ELOQUENCE.
of his library the sage meditates on the truths which are to influence the thoughts and direct the conduct of men in future times; amid the strife of faction the legislator discerns the measures calculated, after a long course of years, to alleviate existing evils, or produce happiness yet unborn; during long and wearisome campaigns the commander throws his shield over the fortunes of his country, and prepares in silence and amid obloquy the means of maintaining its independence. But the triumphs of the orator are immediate; his influence is instantly felt; his, and his alone, it is
" The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
And read his history in a nation's eyes ! ”
“I can conceive,” says Cicero, “ of no accomplishment more to be desired than to be able to captivate the affections, charm the understanding, and direct or restrain, at pleasure, the will of whole assemblies. This single art has, amongst every free people, commanded the greatest encouragement, and been attended with the most surprising effects. For what can be more astonishing, than that from an immense multitude one man should come forth, the only, or almost the only man, who can do what Nature has made attainable by all ? Or can anything impart to the ears and the understanding a pleasure so pure as a discourse which at once delights by its elocution, enlists the passions by its rhetoric, and carries captive the conviction by its logic ?
“What triumph more noble and magnificent than that of the eloquence of one man, swaying the inclinations of the people, the consciences of judges, and the majesty of senates ? Nay, farther, can aught be esteemed so grand, so generous, so public-spirited, as to relieve the suppliant, to raise up the prostrate, to communicate happiness, to avert danger, to save a fellow-citizen from exile and wrong? Can aught be more desirable than to have always ready those weapons with which we can at once defend the weak, assail the profligate, and redress our own or our country's injuries ?
“But, apart from the utility of this art in the Forum, the Ros. trum, the Senate, and on the Bench, can anything in retirement
from business be more delightful, more socially endearing, than a language and elocution agreeable and polished on every subject ? For the great characteristic of our nature- that which distinguishes us from brutes-is our capacity of social intercourse, our ability to convey our ideas by words. Ought it not, then, to be pre-eminently our study to excel mankind in that very faculty which constitutes their superiority over brutes ?
“Upon the eloquence and spirit of an accomplished orator may often depend, not only his own dignity, but the welfare of a goyernment, nay, of a people. Go on, then, ye who would attain this inestimable art. Ply the study you have in hand, pursue it with singleness of purpose, at once for your own honor, for the advantage of your friends, and for the service of your country.”
D The wild-beast combat to await,
And the king a second signal made,
Wildly the wild one yelled,
And the king another signal made :
Now, from the balcony above,
And the Lady Kunigund, in bantering mood,