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highest pitch of excitement of which his nature is capable; and the torrent of his thoughts and feelings gushes from him in a copious and fiery flood, like lava from a burning mountain. The languor that succeeds to these efforts proves the excess of excitement under which they are made. When Mr Ames concluded his speeches, his nerves, says the writer of his life, seemed to be strained and shattered, like the cordage of a ship after a heavy storm. The effect of extempore speaking in giving life and warmth to the manner of the orator is also seen at the bar; where a counsellor is often wrought up by the mere mechanical excitement of the act to a high degree of of heat and passion, upon matters of mere business, as cases of insurance and patents. Now the effect of introducing a written discourse, whether at the bar, in the pulpit, or in the senate house, is to break this natural sympathetic chain; and to bring in the cold dead letter, like a wall of partition between hearts and minds that are rushing into contact. A discourse may be written under the influence of strong excitement, and will thus have something in its character analogous to the situation. It will then produce emotion in the audience; but there will still be no room for the powerful and salutary reaction, which this emotion would in different circumstances exercise upon the speaker. He must go on pouring out his Bukewarm closet conceptions, like iced water, upon the fire -which he has himself kindled; and the utmost benefit that -he can derive from any sympathetic communication with his hearers is a little additional warmth in his manner as a mere reader. We know that even under these disadvantages a fine writer and a fine reader is heard with extreme pleasure; but it is not difficult to imagine how much greater would be the effect of the same talents and graces displayed under the influence of the high excitement of extempore discourse.
The heart, says Longinus, is the source of all true eloquence. The same thought is expressed by Goethe in his Faust, in a passage of which, as it is rather a pointed ex-pression of a common, though important truth, we take the liberty of offering the following imitation. Faust, better known by the name of Dr Faustus, is consulted by one of his students upon the proper method of acquiring the art of persuasion. "Persuasion," says the doctor in reply
"Persuasion, friend, comes not by toil or art;
'Tis the live fountain in the speaker's heart
Sends forth the streams that melt the ravished hearer.
And fools may think your stock of wisdom ample.
If then, feeling be the essential part of eloquence, every thing that tends to impede its flow should of course be carefully avoided, and this is the necessary and direct operation of declaiming from written notes.
It may be urged, however, that extempore speaking is a matter of habit, and cannot be practised without the necessary previous training, which does not form a part of our ordinary systems of education. This difficulty, however, is constantly encountered at the bar, where the young practitioner, after devoting many years and much expense to the acquisition of various branches of knowledge, is compelled to risk his success in life upon his ability in an art, to which he has given no attention. But admitting the objection in its full strength, it only serves to place in a clearer light, one of the most remarkable deficiencies in our academical institutions, in all of which this branch of education is wholly neglected. In some of our universities there are foundations devoted expressly to instruction in eloquence, but by the same confusion of ideas which we have mentioned, the term is understood to mean the art of writing and reading, and to teach public speaking does not form a part of the duty of a professor of rhetoric and oratory. We have at Cambridge a trial of skill in declamation, and a distribution of prizes as the reward of success; but declamation, as there understood, does not signify, as it did with the Romans, an extempore harangue on a given subject, but a mere recitation of scraps in prose or verse, a useful exercise enough for boys in grammar schools, but not very well fitted for the improvement of young men, on the eve of engaging in the most weighty occupations of life. This matter was very differently managed by the ancients. The attention of the professional student was directed almost exclusively to the acquisition of the habit of speaking; and the practice of declamation in private, as an exercise, was kept up with unremitted perseverance. We find from Cicero's letters that he continued it through his
whole life. This plan of education was even carried to excess; and instruction in the mere learning of the profession was almost wholly overlooked. The study of a few weeks was thought sufficient for the acquisition of a competent knowledge of law, while many years in succession was devoted to oratory. And it may, perhaps, be said with safety, that if a gentleman, instead of devoting seven years to the study of various branches of knowledge, and no time whatever to improvement in eloquence, should employ one year in acquiring the habit of speaking in public, and six months in informing himself in the most necessary points of learning, he would begin the practice with far more satisfaction to himself and a much better chance of success, than he does at present. In reality, however, it is not necessary or desirable that any valuable department of science, which is now attended to, should be omitted; but only that instruction in eloquence should be superadded to the rest; and that the manly and really useful discipline of declaiming extempore, should be substituted, in the higher institutions, for the present practice of recitation. To learn to speak with effect in public, is the precise object of education with two thirds of our professional men, and with all who frequent our colleges, as far as they may wish or expect to take a part in the government of the country. All other studies are subsidiary to this. And yet at present the subsidiary studies alone are pursued, and the principal object, in the accomplishment of which they are to aid, is entirely overlooked.
We have followed out this train of thought somewhat farther than was necessary for our immediate object, which was, merely to state with distinctness the proper idea of an orator, with a view to a more correct estimate of the character of Mirabeau. If the principles here advanced are correct, the greatest orator is not the one who can bequeath to after ages the best collection of written speeches, but the one who can make the strongest impression, by the use of the noblest means, upon the most enlightened audience. An excellent writer of speeches may be a very indifferent orator, or may not speak at all. Burke, for example, was not heard with pleasure, and in the proper sense of the term, was no orator; although his written speeches are perhaps the choicest specimens in existence, in this form of philosophy and fine writing. Isocrates never spoke in public. On the other New Series, No. 11.
hand, Demosthenes and Cicero united the talents of writing and speaking. Their orations, as reported by themselves, are perfect models of the art; and it is known historically that their eloquence produced the strongest impression on their hearers. But even when the same individual combines, in as high a degree as these illustrious characters, the two distinct powers, we are not at liberty to estimate his talent as an orator by his merit as a writer; and in this case, as in every other, we can only judge of his eloquence by the historical and traditional accounts we have of its effects.
Thus, no adequate memorial can ever be preserved of excellence, however consummate, of this delightful art, and we must be content to know that great orators have existed without pretending to judge, except as far as we are guided by mere description, of the kind and degree of their powers. If this consideration is in some respects unpleasant, it is at the same time agreeable to reflect, that we are not obliged to doubt the exactness of the historical and traditional accounts that have come down to us of the great effects produced by the eloquence of former orators, because they have left no written speeches of proportional value. The reputation of Patrick Henry, for example, rests wholly on tradition; but we are not therefore to regard it as unmerited. It is only necessary, in order to estimate it fairly, to strip the accounts we have of it, of all manifest exaggeration and then to take into view the character of the hearers he was in the habit of addressing, and the means he employed to produce effect. The conclusion would probably be, that he was at least equal, if not superior to any orator of modern times.
The faine of Mirabeau also rests in a great measure on tradition and history. We have, it is true, a considerable number of publications of different degrees of importance and value from his pen; but though they all exhibit strong marks of talent, none of them belong to the class of finished and standard works, or justify completely the reputation which we know their author acquired in another field. Some of these, as the Translation of Tibullus and the Letters to Sophia, were written from merely pecuniary motives, and must be regarded as the attempts of an amateur to turn to account in time of need, the arts which he had studied as elegant accomplishments. The Essay on the Prussian Monarchy and the Secret History of the court of Berlin are rather valuable as repositories of rich and cu
rious materials, than as literary productions. The various political pamphlets which were published by Mirabeau before the opening of the revolution, although some of them excited at the time very great attention, have also long been forgotten. Among them was the one, entitled Considerations on the order of Cincinnatus; intended to point out the inconsistency of this hereditary distinction with our republican institutions. The same view of this subject was also taken, as is well known, by our illustrious Franklin; and although no practical inconvenience has yet resulted from the establishment of the order, it can hardly be denied that it is in theory an offence against the principles of the government. It is easy to conceive that it may have excited strong alarms in the friends of liberty abroad and at home, at a time when the success of our political experiment was still uncertain, to see so important a body as the army exhibit a hankering after the European folly of hereditary rank. These several publications served to indicate the talents of their author, and to recommend him to the public attention; but it was not till his appearance in the national assembly that the secret of his astonishing mental energy was fully revealed. From the first organization of that body till the day of bis death he was acknowledged as the undisputed leader of the popular party; and doubtless contributed much by the prodigious power of his eloquence to its final ascendency. If now, on the principles above stated, we attempt to judge of the degree of his talent as an orator by the impression he produced and the character of the audience upon which it was made, it can hardly be denied that his eloquence was of the very first class. The national assembly was one of the ablest and most enlightened bodies of men that ever existed; and it required of course an exhibition of the highest qualities of mind and character to produce effect upon it. The interests under discussion were the most important that could possibly engage the attention of an audience, and nothing but undoubted superiority could have secured the confidence of the popular party to the extent to which Mirabeau possessed it. His reported speeches however give but an indistinct notion of the character of his eloquence. Very few of them were prepared for publication by himself; and hardly any, even at the time of their delivery, could have possessed the qualities of an artificial and elaborate oration. In such a hurry of events there was no opportunity for working ten years in succession upon one speech,