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SKETCHES OF AMERICAN SCENERY-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
It is our intention to devote a plate in each number of The Port Folio to the description of American Scenery. To the pencil our country affords an inexhaustible abundance, which, for picturesque effect, cannot be surpassed in any part of the old world. We invite the artist and the amateur to furnisk. us with Sketches, and accompanying descriptions. . . . .
BUTTERMILK-FALLS CREEK, in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, is a tributary stream of the Susquehanna river. Its springs are between the branches of the Lawahanock, (pronounced by the settlers Lackawany,) and the Tunkanock. Uniting its different branches pear the river, it falls into the Susquehanna, on the east side, about twenty miles above the town of Wilkesbarre. The land on it is, principally, timbered with oak; the soil is, in general, of an inferior quality. This stream abounds with fine situations for mills, and other water works, having, in its course, several considerable falls, from a supposed resemblance in colour to the foam of which, it dérives its homely Dame. The sketch, given with this, is of the lower fall, near the river.
It is to be observed, that in this country, we apply the name of creek in a manner different from its signification in England. There, it means an arm of the sea, or inlet; with us, it denotes such a stream as in our mother country would be called a rivulet, or river. But she can find among her streams no parallel to the majesty of our rivers,
“ Continuous depth, and wondrous length of course,
R, H. R.
RHETORIC-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
This title has the strongest claims upon the regard of our rising republic. In monarchies, in aristocracies, and even in despotism itself, Eloquence is most potent to confound Guilt and to vindicate Innocence; but, in every commonwealth, from that of Athens to this of America, Oratory is a sort of governing Genius, moulding the mind of man. In our own country, the proofs of this assertion are innumerable. Under the old government, and under the new, our public speakers have not only been signally conspicuous, but, with magic art, have displayed all the power of Shakspeare's Prospero over the people. Hence, whatever contributes, after the manner of Quintilian and Ci. cero, to the formation of an accomplished orator, deseryes, not only in a libe. ral, but even in a mercenary view, the attention of every aspirant to fame and fortune.
Strongly impressed with the truth of these sentiments, we commence the ensuing article with singular satisfaction. The Rev. Dr.JAMES ABERCROMBIE, whose care in the education of youth is familiar to the applauding public, has twice delivered in the Philadelphia Academy a course of Lectures upon the Arts of Reading and Public Speaking. The following is the introductory Discourse, and fully unfolds the judicious plan of its accomplished author.
Although much of the matter of which these Lectures are composed is original, yet a considerable portion has been selected from the most popular authors on the important subject of Elocution. In the winter of 1806, at the request of some young gentlemen, who, with a few exceptions, were shaping their education with a view to the Bar, elementary instruction on the cardinal topics of Rhetoric was desired. Our Lecturer accordingly composed the following course, which, we understand, he intends in future to repeat, with the necessary exemplifications, during the winter season, for the benefit of such gentlemen as may wish to receive instruction in those important arts. Dr. A has obviously, and we think successfully, endeavoured to obtain a comprehensive command of his subject, by diligently studying, care. fully comparing, and elegantly epitomizing the sentiments and precepts of the great masters, from Aristotle, Quintilian, and Cicero, down to Rollin, Campbell, and Enfield. After the multiplied labours both of the sequestered student and the powerful orator, it would argue either presumption, or impertinence in any author, who arrogantly professed to exbibit a system entirely new. On the contrary, the most popular didactic writers have framed their volumes in the form of a Digest, and satisfied themselves with the collation, rather than the invention of the topics of oratory. In support of this opinion, it is remembered that the elegant biographer of Blair, the learned and accomplished Dr. Hill, fully justifies the practice, and thus successfully quotes his author:
“As he did not pique himself upon the depth of his Lectures, so neither did hę boast of their originality. Upon every subject treated of, he tells us that
he had thought for himself, but that he had availed himself, occasionally, of the ideas of others. He felt it his duty to convey to his pupils all the know. ledge that could improve them. By borrowing from others, he understood that he not only enlarged the mass, but gave a value to the parts of it, of which they might otherwise have been destitute."
We cannot terminate this introduction without insisting, with all our emphasis, upon the utility, beauty, and power of the arts, in charmful confederacy, of Reading, Speaking, and Conversing.
He who is master of either one or all of these liberal accomplishments, is, under whatever government, or whatever fortune, a sort of potentate in the realms of mind. He governs, he fascinates, he instructs, he delights his contemporaries. An eloquent man, as we read in the Scriptures, is known far and near. In the sublime and beautiful language of the impassioned Job, Unto him men give ear and wait, and keep silence at his counsel. The young men see him, and hide themselves, and the aged arise, and stand up. When the ear hears him, it blesses him, and when the eye sees him, it is a witness of his glory. We ardently hope that the generous youth of America will survey, with the highest enthusiasm, the elegant figure of Eloquence, and prefer her before sceptres and thrones, and esteem riches nothing in comparison to her. ED..
THE ARTS OF READING AND PUBLIC SPEAKING,
DELIVERED IN THE PHILADELPHIA ACADEMY, Nov. 17, 1806, AND
IN THE HALL OF THE UNIVERSITY, NOV. 16, 1807.
IMPROVEMENT in the important arts of Reading and of Public Speak ing, being the object of the Lectures I propose to deliver to you, I shall, in the course of them, endeavour to explain the great principles upor} which those arts are founded ; by the knowledge and strict observance of which principles alone, correctness of enunciation, gracefulness of delivery, and that impressive communication of thought which arrests the attention and captivates the heart, are to be obtained.
The correct and graceful reader or speaker, possesses a power little short of that ascribed to necromancers and magicians, of fascinating and enchaining the fancy, imagination, and affections of the persons they address, and thus “leading them captive at their will."
He gives a skilful trial of his art,
This, however, is not to be done, but by those who are regularly instructed in the principles, and initiated into the arts and mysteries, by which these wonderful effects are produced.
Various frequently are the avenues which lead to, and different the modes of access adopted in order to accomplish, the possession of the desired object. Many learned, elaborate, and judicious treatises upon both the arts now under consideration have been given to the world by accomplished orators and finished scholars; but, theory alone, though flowing from the animated pen of a Cicero, a Quintilian, a Sheridan, a Walker, a Massillon, or a Burke, and enforced by the most luminous written exemplifications, will never form either a correct reader, or a graceful and pleasing orator. It is information exemplified and enforced by practice which can give effectual instruction either in the art of reading or that of public speaking. This combination of precept and example is the object of my present undertaking; and in the execution of it, the investigation and development of the two subjects will consist more of practical than of elaborate and minute theoretical discussion ; such being the speediest and most effectual mode of acquiring a competent knowledge of both. Of course, the necessity of delivering a regular didactic discourse at every meeting will be obviated; and instruction CORveyed more agreeably, because less formally, in occasional remarks and familiar observations.
There are, however, some leading and essential principles in both the arts, which must be methodically arranged, systematically communicated in written language, and carefully committed to memory, in order to form a proper basis for proficiency in the oral communication of sentiment, whether by reading or by recitation. These, of course, will constitute the subjects of my future Lectures, with an analysis of which I shall conclude the present, after suggesting a few preliminary observations upon the general principles of both the arts. At the same time premising, that many of the precepts and remarks throughout the
course will be extracted from the most judicious and popular writers . on the subjects before us; little remaining to be added upon topics which have been so recently and so minutely discussed by a Blair, a Beattie, a Barron, a Campbell, and a Home. He, however, who judiciously combines and condenses the elaborate dictates of such high authorities will, perhaps, more effectually promote the interests of science, and the dissemination of useful knowledge, than by vainly attempteing to diversify, and thereby to improve, merely by a change of language, the instruction already so copiously, so happily conveyed: although the chain of connexion, with some original supplementary observations and elucidations, may be introduced with advantage, and prove an interesting and valuable contribution to the general stock of Polite Literature.
First then-Of the Art of Reading. By the Art of Reading, I mean the art of correct and articulate pronunciation; or, of intelligibly, emphatically, and impressively repeating what is written in any language: or, in other words, the Art of Reading well, consists in pronouncing the thoughts of others, or our own, exhibited in visible characters, as if the same had their full and proper operation on our minds, and were the result of our own immediate conception. He, therefore, who would acquire a just and forcible pronunciation in reading, must not only fully comprehend the sense or meaning, but enter into the spirit of his author: for he can never convey the force and fullness of the author's ideas to another, unless he feels them himself: and the voice will naturally vary, according to the impression made upon the mind, or the passion excited. In common conversation, we speak in a natural voice with proper accent, emphasis, and tone; yet when we read or recite the sentiments of others, we too frequently assume a stiff, lifeless, or unnatural manner. The reason is, that in the one case we feel what we express, and instinctively commit the expression of it to Nature alone, who, if unrestrained, will always give just and forcible expression to sentiment: whereas, in the other case, as we do not feel, though we may fully comprehend and understand the meaning of an author, we cannot possibly commit'the expression of the sentiment to the agency of Nature alone, animated as she invariably is, by the pure operation of mind upon the organs of sense.
A mere audible recital of the words of any author, as it may be made by a person who does not understand, and what is more, who does not feel what he says, so it may be made also in such a manner as not to be understood by those who hear him; or, if not totally unintelligible, be at least but imperfectly or obscurely understood; whereas the art of reading well, consists in conveying to the hearer the whole meaning of the writer. Socrates has truly observed, that all men are eloquent on those subjects which they perfectly understand : and Cicero remarks, with equal truth, though with less acuteness, that no man can speak well on those topics which he has not studied. To this end, it is evidently necessary that the reader should himself understand and feel what he reads, before he can possibly repeat it intelligibly and effectually to others.