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became master of Greece there was a complete subsidence of popular speaking, and Demosthenes, who was the greatest, was the last of Grecian orators. In Rome, too, where prowess in arms was excelled only by the eminence of her public speakers, we see that the light of eloquence went out with the fall of the republic, and Cicero was her last and greatest orator.
It may be laid down, therefore, as an axiom or cardinal principle of the oratorical art that it derives its lifespring from popular institutions, and by the maintenance of these unimpaired, we can alone preserve its existence.
Next to the question of the conditions suitable to speech-making is its necessity, utility, and importance. As to its necessity that point was touched upon in what has just been said. In representative governments great social and political problems are evolved, first, from the wants of the people and then from the legislative body. In either stage they draw forth animated controversy. Old views give way but slowly and reluctantly to new meas
It is only after repeated attacks, retreating and again attacking with new rhetorical weapons or with the old ones newly sharpened, that conservative views recede before the force of radical ideas. When we consider how slow we are to change our long-settled notions of property, public policy, and private privilege, ideas in which we are trained from infancy, we can form a conception of the im
portance of presenting new ideas with such clearness, force, and elegance as not to shock too severely long-standing opinions. Again, with what insinuating art must the speaker be able to convince his hearers that he is not a self-seeking demagogue and charlatan, but an advocate of reform for its own sake, and for the sake of the community?
The questions, too, which now present themselves for discussion are even more numerous than at any time in history. While the French Revolution was of a magnitude to awaken the deepest interest among all mankind, and great orators strained the compass of the English language in giving vent to their views in regard thereto, either of condemnation, approval, or apology, and while other great social movements have arisen in previous ages, we still have had mighty revolutions in our day, the eloquence of which will bear no mean comparison with that of any country; while the nicer questions of land tenure, tariffs, corporate law, to say nothing of constitutional construction, are as numerous and as pressing as ato any former period of history. All these matters require exposition by skillful public speaking
The utility and importance of the speaker's art follow from what has been said as to its necessity. The destiny of mankind hinges on the great social problems which, like the French Revolution and the American Civil War, thrust themselves upon the field of political activity. To avoid such great cat
aclysms, or, what is even of more consequence, to point the proper lessons to be drawn from them, is the object of statesmanship; to teach these lessons to the people, who look for guidance in times of peril to their intellectual leaders, to show them that the storm will soon abate, that sunshine will soon return, that their burdens are not so great as they might have been, to keep them submissive to law and devoted to order, is the orator's duty.
An unlicensed declaimer will exaggerate public misfortunes, aggravate the general distress, and make the people restive and dissatisfied; a calm, well-poised, temperate, insinuating, and logical speaker will calm and soothe the tempest of passion, and shed light where all is darkness.
The difficulties of the art, too, should not be overlooked; it is not an easy thing to become a good, not alone a great, orator. .Deniosthenes, Cicero Burke, Webster, Chatham, Fox, Clay, Lincoln Douglas, Prentiss, and all others who attained high rank as speakers, added to great natural abilities long and laborious practice. Their whole lives were devoted to it, and though some of them may not have looked deep into classical learning, they employed other means which were tantamount to its cultivation.
As he employs language, his words must be well chosen, his grammer correct, his periods smooth and rounded, his style chaste and popular. As he discourses upon almost every question of political or
social importance, he must possess a large fund of general information, drawn from every department of human life. As the rights of
As the rights of person and property frequently, hang on the utterances of his lips, he must be well trained in the weight and siguificance of words, singly and combined. As he is usually elevated to high positions by means of this very talent, he must conduct himself with moderation and discretion. As he is the center of all eyes while speaking, his “form and moving” should be “express and admirable." As he may not always be able to express his thoughts in his own language, he must be conversant with literature to invoke its aid when required. Cicero sums the whole matter up when he says that "in an orator are required the acuteness of a logician, the learning of philosophers, the diction almost of poets, the memory of lawyers, the voice of tragedians, and the action of the best players.” Yet it must not be supposed, however, that one cannot be an orator without possessing all these acquirements in perfection. Scarcely any one is so possessed of them. Abraham Lincoln was somewhat defective in grace of person; S. S. Prentiss was lame and had a lisping speech; Burke had a strong brogue; Randolph had a high-keyed, squeaking voice, and like defects could be pointed out in others. These shortcomings are said to have made the speakers attractive, enlisting, possibly, the sympathy or attention of the audience, which is the first thing to be desired and secured.
wish to cultivate is something good to talk about, and after that to express it in clear, concise, and comprehensive language. Other excellencies will usually follow, if not in the very highest degree, at least to an extent that will not be very far behind those we do possess.
There is an impression of considerable prevalence that the whole art of speaking must come from nature; that the orator, like the poet, must be born, not made; and many who feel that they do not possess the natural gift, abandon all effort at cultivation and study; while there is a still ·larger class who, enjoying the endowments of nature, decline all attempts to improve themselves by systematic study. Both of these classes are equally in error. Much the larger part of the orator's success comes from labor, from learning, by very toilsome methods, the canons of the art. Cicero, whose natural talents were of a very high order, admits that he learned his art. S. S. Prentiss spent years in laborious study. Stephen A. Douglas directly charged Abraham Lincoln with making his celebrated Springfield speech after great care and preparation, and Mr. Lincoln admitted such to be the case. Daniel Webster made his reply to Hayne from notes he had prepared long before, when examining the subjects discussed by him for another occasion. And so it will be found that the great efforts of an orator are the result of much previous labor, the amount of which is generally commensurate with