صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the emphasis, and give the proper accent to each word, and how to vary the voice, according to the nature of the sentence. There is certainly a difference between reading a prayer and a gazette. These are often pretty classical scholars, and would think it an unpardonable sin to read Virgil, or Martial, with as little taste, as they do divine service.'

Spect. No. 147. And the same standard author, in his 407th paper, complains as follows.

“Our preachers stand stock still in the pulpit; and will not so much as move a finger to set off the best sermons in the world. We meet with the same speaking statues at our bars, and in all public places of debate. Our words flow from us in a smooth continued stream, without those strainings of the voice, motions of the body, and majesty of the hand, which are so much celebrated in the orators of Greece and Rome. We can talk of life and death in cold blood, and keep our temper in a discourse, which turns upon every thing that is dear to us.

“ It is certain, that proper gestures, and vehement exertions of the voice, cannot be too much studied by a public orator. They are a kind of comment upon what he utters, and enforce every thing he says with weak hearers,” (and surely the bulk of hearers are vieak)“ better than the strongest argument he can make use of. They keep the audience awake, and fix their attention to what is delivered to them ; at the saine time that they shew the speaker is in earnest, and affected himself with what he so passionately recommends to others.

“How cold and dead a figure in comparison of these two great men, (Demosthenes and Cicero) does an orator often make at the British bar, holding up his head with the most insipid serenity, and stroking the sides of a long wig,” &c.

Dean Swift (who was no friend to over-doing on the serious side) advises his young clergyman as follows:

“I take it for granted that you are already desirous to be seen in a pulpit. But I hope you think it prudent to pass quarantine among the desolate churches five miles round this town, where you may at least learn to read and speak before, you venture to expose your parts in a city congregation. Not that these are better judges, but

because, if a man must needs expose his folly, it is more safe and discreet to do so before few witnesses, and in a scattered neighbourhood. And you will do well, if you can prevail with some intimate and judicious friend to be your constant hearer, and to beg of himn to give you notice, with the utmost freedom, of whatever he finds amiss either in your voice or gesture. For want of such early warning, many clergymen continue defective, and sometimes rediculous, to the end of their lives. Neither is it rare to observe, among excellent and learned divines, a certain ungracious manner, or unhappy tone of voice, which they have never been able to shake off.”

Are the faults complained of by these authors, who wrote almost fifty years ago, amended, or likely to be amended ? Let the answer to this question be collected from the following verses, by Dr. Byram, prefixed to Fordyce's ART OF PREACHING, published a few years ago.

For, what's a sermon, good, or bad,
If a man reads it like a lad?
To hear fome people when they preach,
How they run o'er all parts of speech,
And neither raise a word nor fink;
Our learned bishops, one would think,
Had taken fchool-boys from the rod,

To make ambaladors of God.
And afterwards,

point of sermons, 'tis confest,
Our English clergy make the best :
But this appears, we must confess,
Not from the pulpit, but the press.
They manage with disjointed skill,
The matter well, the manner ill ;
And what seems paradox at first,

They make the best, and preach the worst. If there is, as we have seen, so much room to lament the deficiences of those who are to lead the devotions of congregations, and to instruct them in their duty, and whose business it is to win them, by every engaging and powerful art, to the faithful performance of it ; if there is so much reason to wish that those failures might be made up, and those errors amended, which are undoubtedly a great cause of the reluctance we observe, in many to attend, and their coldness and indifference in places of

public worship and instruction ; if the clergy are so deficient in their public performances, what is left for me to say of those devotion-confounding, ear-splitting pests of our churches, I mean the parish-clerks and parish children? I would only ask, whether, if we had declared a final and irreconcilable hostility against cominon decency, not to say propriety, and had set ourselves to find out the inóst effectual means possible for turning worship into burlesque; I would ask, I say, whether, if this was our design, there could be a more certain way to gain it, than to place a set of people in every church, who should come in between every two sentences spoken by the minister, with a squall as loud as the sound of ten trumpets, and totally discordant from one another, and from the key in which the minister speaks. If the minister speaks properly, why do not the clerk and the charity-children speak in concord with him? If the clerk speaks properly, why do not the minister and the children speak in the same key with him? Or if the children are right, why do not the minister and clerk scream as high, or at least, take a concordant key with theirs ? They cannot be all right, and all different from one another. How much inore rational would it be spend the time, which is now so ridiculously thrown away in teaching the poor children to set the ears of the whole parish on edge, in making them understand thoroughly what they so often repeat by rote, without understanding, I mean the answers to those useful questions in their catechism, “What is your duty to God ?" and,“ What is your duty to your neighbour " This would be of service to them all their lives ; whereas the other answers no end, that has the least connection with common sense.

It is by keeping clear of every thing disagreeable or grating, and by consulting all that inay please, entertain, and strike, that the sagacious Roman Catholics keep up in their people, a delight in the public services of their foolish religion. If we were wise, and as much in earnest as we ought, we should imitate thein in this. But what avails it to attempt to oppose that which has power to make wrong right, and absurdity proper, I mean the irresistible tyrant, Custom, whose dominion is in no nation more absolute' (where there are so many so capable , of judging) than in this our dear country.

[blocks in formation]

HISTORICAL NARRATION. (1) (The Trojans ( 2 ) ( if we may believe tradi- Narrations

tion) were the first founders of the Roman Com-
monwealth ; who under the conduct of Æneas,
having made their escape from their own ruined
country, got to Italy, and there for some time lived
a rambling and unsettled life, without any fixed
place of abode, among the natives, an unculti-
vated people, who had neither law nor regular
government, but were wholly free from all rule
or restraint. This mixed multitude, however,
crowding together into one city, though origi-
nally different in extraction, language and cus-
toms, united into one body, in a surprising (3)
short space of time. And as their little state
came to be improved by additional numbers, by
policy, and by extent of territory, and seemed
likely to inake a figure among the nations ; ac--
cording to the common course of things, the ap-
pearance of prosperity drew upon them the envy

(1) Narration requires very little of what is properly called exprefon, in pronouncing it; I have, however, ordered the enphatical words in this, and all the lelons, to be printed in Italics, for the reader's help. See in the Essay, Narration, and the other paffions put upon the margin of the lessons.

(2) Of the manner of pronouncing matter contained in a parenthefis, see the Essay, p. 13.

(3) A small elevation of the voice will be proper here, to express moderate wonder. See Wonder.

of the neighbouring states ; so that the princes and people who bordered upon them, began to seek occasions of quarrelling with them. The alliances they could form, were but few; for inost of the neighbouring states avoided embroiling themselves on their account.

The Romans seeing, that they had nothing to trust to, but their own conduct, found it necessary (1) to bestir themselves with great diligence, to make vigorous preparations, to excite one another to face their enemies in the field, to hazard their lives in defence of their liberty, their country, and their families. And when, by their valour, they repulsed the enemy, they gave assistance to their allies, and gained friendships by often giving, (2) and seldom demanding favours of that sort. They had, by this time, established a regular forın of government, to wit, the monarchial. And a senate, consisting of men advanced in years, and grown wise by experience, though infirm of body, consulted with their kings upon all important matters, and, on account of their age, and care of their country, were called Fathers. Afterwards, when kingly power, which was originally established for the preservation of liberty, and the advantage of the state, came to degenerate into lawless tyranny, they found it necessary to alter the form of government, and to put the supreme power into the hands of two chief magistrates, to be held for one year only ; hoping, by this contrivance, to prevent the bad effects naturally arising from the exorbitant licentious

ness of princes; and the indefeasible tenure by I which they generally imagine they hold their sovereignty, &c. [Sal. (3) Bell. CATILINAR.]

(1) This sentence is to be spoken somewhat quicker than the rest, to express earnestress.

(2) The words, often giving and seldom demanding, being antithefist to one another, must be expressed with such an emphasis, as may point out the antithesis, or oppsition.

(3) The reader is, once for all, desired to take notice, that I have not scrupled to alter both the sense and the words in many, if

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »