« AnteriorContinuar »
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by
It is a remark of Cicero, which has been often quoted, that "Eloquence is the tender offspring of a free Constitution." In proof of its justness, our own country may well be cited as an example; for from the first day that the separate independence of the American Colonies was agitated in debate, the annals of our literature have been rich in the choicest specimens of soul-stirring Eloquence. American Eloquence set in motion and urged on the Revolution ;—it sustained our invaluable Constitution against the overthrow with which it was threatened from indifference and dissenting timidity;—and it is believed that no country could ever boast a more brilliant list of eloquent cotemporary names than now adorn the pulpit, the bar, and the legislative halls of the United States.
In the difficult task of making selections from the multi farious materials which presented themselves to the editor his choice has been decided by the dignity and importance of the subjects discussed, the justness of the views advanced, and the literary merit of the productions.
It is the belief of the publishers that in the following pages, they present to the public a volume most highly creditable to the intellect of our country. The reason of this excellence is obvious. The institutions and condition of our country are such as especially to call forth and promote talents for public speaking, Every question of grave import, or doubtful tendency, is carried, not at the bayonet's point, or by royal edict, but by the popular voice, after the sharp conflict of mind with mind. On this account too, a volume of judicious selections from American Eloquence, becomes a commentary upon our laws, religion, and politics, which should be in the hands of every freeman who would honorably discharge the duties of a citizen and a patriot. It need scarcely be remarked that such a work is eminently suited to be placed in the hands of the young, not only for the manly views and the pure morality which its pages contain, but as affording some of the brightest models for their study and imitation. Even the student of eloquence whose mind has been enriched by the stores of antiquity, may dwell with daily and nightly devotion upon a work embracing within its varied pages, specimens of the transparent musical flow of Everett and Story^—the impetuous torrent of 3eecher^-the scathing coruscations of Burges—and the thunder of Webster, He may adyantageonsly lay aside his rules and treatises, to sit often and long at the feet of these masters of the *' art of persuasion,'' that by an habitual con. templation of their excellence he may be transformed into the same image. Let him learn too from their example not to be soon weary of his exertions, or faint in his labors, what. ever they may be. Nor W|H he, if he duly estimates the
dignity and importance of the art which he is striving to attain—
"the God-like power
An art which stands forth the hand maid of benevolence and the protectress of improvement; which pleads the cause of injured humanity, and wings the shafts of sacred truth. And when the day of peril comes, (and who, though he hopes, can say he believes also, that the foreign tyrant or the traitor demagogue will never think to "change the fair face of our American Liberty into ashes,") at that day she will constitute a defence surer than the rocky harbors which gird our coast, and oppose to the aggressor resistance more formidable than fleets and armies. Caesar feared Cicero more than all the legions of Pompey, and never trembled but under the Orator's terrible denunciation.
With so many of the brightest models among our countrymen, and so many advantages afforded for its cultivation, genuine Eloquence surely will not be suffered to languish among us. Should the following compilation advance this noble cause, even in the humblest degree, its object will be fully attained.