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How often does it happen that in a debate speakers of great genius and power declaim in vain, whilst a stammering, hesitating, awkward man of fact convinces in a moment! It is quite true that Genius sometimes triumphs over Knowledge, and makes the worse appear the better reason; but the triumph is short-lived: the fallacy is soon exposed, and Genius is laughed at or despised: but Knowledge oftener triumphs over Genius, and always, in the nature of things, keeps its ground.
These, Sir, are my views upon this subject.
Fourth SPEAKER. -Sir, I really cannot understand how the gentleman who spoke before the last speaker can fancy that Art is superior to Nature in Oratory. Why what is Art? Simply the copy of nature. What is great, effective, elegant, striking, and graceful in natural speech has been formed into a code by observant men, and this is the derivation of the art of Oratory! Now surely the original must be greater than the imitation! Surely the Genius must be greater than the Art! Look to the rules of the Art themselves, and you will find the admission there. For what is the first maxim of the Elocution Teacher ? “ Be natural;" “ Study nature;” “Be in earnest.” What is this but a direct admission that Nature is the great Orator, after all, and that Genius is greater than Art, and is its model ?
Oratory is the clear and forcible expression of thought; and as the capacity to think clearly and deeply is at all times a natural, and never an acquired power, clear utterance, which depends upon clear thought, must also be natural and not ac quired.
This is all I have to say, Sir, on the subject.
Fifth SPEAKER. — Sir, Power is of no value without impetus. A Steam Engine may be of great strength; but without fuel it is worthless, and without guidance it can do no work. Just in like manner, a man of genius is useless without Knowledge, and ineffective without Art. Mere greatness is nothing, and can do nothing; it is like a perfect lamp unfilled and untrimmed.
Now it is very difficult to say whether we are most indebted for the light to the lamp, to the oil, or to the trimming. Without the oil the lamp could not be lighted; without the lamp the oil would be of no service; and without the trimming, the lamp would burn so ill as to be nearly useless, and very disagreeable.
And, Sir, it is equally difficult to say whether the genius for speaking, the knowledge of the subject, or the art of delivery, is the most important element in the Orator's success. Without Genius his remarks will be commonplace and ineffective: without Knowledge they will be brilliant
but useless; and without Art they will be illarranged, graceless, and unattractive.
To me it seems that no man is a good Orator who fails to combine all the three elements we have named; who has not the genius that gives him clear and deep glances into truth : the knowledge that gives him the power of fact and of proof; and the art that gives him the means of attracting and securing the attention of his auditors.
As I must choose between the three sources of the Orator's success, I give my vote for Knowledge. For as it is the oil which is the real source of light, no matter what the lamp may be, so it is Knowledge that is the true illuminator of speech, no matter who may be the utterer.
Sixth SPEAKER.- I think it is Rousseau who says that Oratory requires such a combination of qualities that he wonders how any man dares to open his mouth in public. “ Combination of qualities : ” mark that phrase ! qualities, not acquirements, are needed by the Orator : qualities of genius, not qualities communicated by knowledge. Insight, judgment, comparison, method, boldness, and constructiveness ; these are the qualities on which a man depends in Oratory: and these, you will observe, are all born gifts, and not acquired faculties. It follows, therefore, that to Genius, or Nature, the Orator is mainly indebted.
Take two boys of the same age: teach them the same facts, and give them an equal knowledge of Art: you will find that they will make quite different speakers. One boy will be bright, quick, ready of perception, facile in illustration, and enthusiastic in argument: the other will be dull, slow to see, incorrect in judgment, inconclusive in reasoning, and feeble in proof. Does not this clearly show us that it is Genius and not Education that really makes a man an Orator? I grant that Education is a most important element in the Orator's success; but I hold that it is less important than Natural Talent. Genius without Art will make a man a better speaker than Art without Genius : for Genius will always give eloquence, whilst Art at the most can only give fuency. Genius is the possession of mental power: Art is only the means of its developement. Genius is the stream, and Art the channel : it needs no logic to prove that Genius must be the greater of the two: for as a stream will make itself a channel, whatever may obstruct it, so Genius will find for itself a means of developement, however great and numerous may be the difficulties in its way.
SEVENTH SPEAKER.— Sir, Knowledge in an Orator may be compared to materials in the hands of a skilful architect: it is the matter by which he builds his edifice. Now just as the skill of the
builder would be valueless and unavailing were he without materials to build, so (it seems to me) is the genius of the Orator without use or value, if he be without Knowledge. For what can he do? Talk, but prove nothing: shine, but give no light: please, but yield no instruction. Now, we know that even a common workman, if you give him materials, will build us a house; it will not be so grand, so elegant, so proportionate, or so tasteful as the house that an architect of genius would raise: but it will, to say the least of it, be better than none.
Well ; just in the same way the edifice of thought that a speaker without genius, but possessed of knowledge, would rear, would be better and more useful to us (because more substantial) than the airy fabric of fancy and eloquence - fancy without substance, and eloquence without information - which the Orator of Genius, unaccompanied by Knowledge, would create for
Only let a man know a subject, and he will soon find a way to let out his intelligence, and to profit the world by it. He may speak badly, ungracefully, and unmusically ; without plan, suecinctness, or style; but he will say what he means, before he has done, and will make his audience fully understand him. How often do you see a Lecturer upon Art or Science, who exhibits the greatest possible awkwardness and difficulty in the