صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

be considered as an essential part of a liberal education."

This is most true, apt, clear, and conclusive; and it is as applicable to Elocution as to Logic. Speech, as much as reason, distinguishes man from the brute ; all men must use it, whether well or ill, in the daily concerns of their lives, or in more public affairs, and in a more extensive arena : and the advantages of a system for doing it well are equally apparent.

The following passage from the same preface is a direct answer to the right reverend Doctor's own objections to an artificial system of Elocution:

"It has usually been assumed, however, in the case of the present subject, that a theory which does not tend to the improvement of practice is utterly unworthy of regard; and then, it is contended that Logic (Elocution) has no such tendency, on the plea that men may and do reason (speak) correctly without it: an objection which would equally apply in the case of Grammar, Music, Chemistry, Mechanics, &c., in all of which systems the practice must have existed previously to the theory."

How alive the right reverend Doctor is to the weakness of the argument against a system for his favorite science, and yet with what triumph he uses the same defeated argument against my art,-exclaiming, "Then why not leave nature, or custom, which is second nature, to do her own work ?"

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

He proceeds, and I go with him heartily:

"But many who allow the use of systematic principles in other things, are accustomed to cry up common sense as the sufficient and only safe guide in reasoning." (This is exactly what the reverend Doctor himself does in the case of Elocution, and therefore let him give the coup de grace to his own position.)

"Now, by common sense is meant, I apprehend, (when the term is used with any distinct meaning,) an exercise of the judgment unaided by any art or system of rules; such an exercise as we must necessarily employ in numberless cases of daily occurrence; in which, having no established principles to guide us, no line of procedure, as it were, distinctly chalked out,—we must needs act on the best extemporaneous conjectures we can form. But that common sense is only our second best guide,—that the rules of art, if judiciously framed, are always desirable when they can be had, is an assertion for the truth of which I may appeal to the testimony of mankind in general; which is so much the more valuable, inasmuch as it may be accounted the testimony of adversaries. For the generality have a strong predilection in favor of common sense, except in those points in which they, respectively, possess the knowledge of a system of rules; but, in these points, they deride any one who trusts to unaided common sense. A sailor, e. g., will perhaps despise the pretensions of medical men, and prefer treating a disease by common sense; but he would

ridicule the proposal of navigating a ship by common sense, without regard to the maxims of nautical art. A physician, again, will perhaps contemn systems of political economy, of logic, or metaphysics, and insist on the superior wisdom. of trusting to common sense in such matters; but he would never approve of trusting to common sense in the treatment of diseases. Neither, again, would the architect recommend a reliance on common sense alone in building, nor the musician in music, to the neglect of those systems of rules, which, in their respective arts, have been deduced from scientific reasoning, aided by experience. And the induction might be extended to every department of practice. Since, therefore, each gives the preference to unassisted common sense only in those cases where he himself has nothing else to trust to, and invariably resorts to the rules of art wherever he possesses the knowledge of them, it is plain that mankind universally bear their testimony, though unconsciously, and often unwillingly, to the preferableness of systematic knowledge to conjectural judgments."

Now, could any one have furnished a clearer, more logical, or more satisfying answer than the above, to the learned and right reverend Doctor's own objections to a system of Elocution; and to his doctrine, in his Elements of Rhetoric, in favor of " unaided common sense," against "the rules of art" in delivery, viz.: "The practical rule to be adopted, is not only to pay no studied attention to the voice, but studiously to withdraw the thoughts from it, and to dwell as intently as possible on the sense; trusting to na

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

ture, (i. e., common sense,) to suggest spontaneously the proper emphases and tones"!

I am contented that the learned prelate's doctrine should be adjudged on his own arguments, and that his objections to a system of Elocution (which he does not possess) should be answered by his able defence of a system of Logic, of the rules of which he is master.

I have dwelt thus long on the right reverend prelate's opposition to Elocution as an art, because I have frequently felt that his testimony was of great weight with many, in deterring them from a study pronounced useless or impracticable by so high an authority,-and one deserv ing great consideration and respect, from the station, erudition, general clearness of reasoning, and the attainments of its author: and it is therefore a source of great satisfaction to me, to find that he has himself (in his Elements of Logic) furnished arguments against himself, (in his Elements of Rhetoric,) of a clearness and force that no effort of mine could have attained to.

I will once more take advantage of the same admirable preface, to adopt for my own purpose the language of the right reverend Doctor:

"I am not so weak as to imagine that any system can ensure great proficiency in any pursuit whatever, either in all students, or in a very large proportion of them: We sow many seeds to obtain a few flowers.'"

But I am happy to be able to add, that I have been gratified by finding my efforts rewarded by the marked im


provement in voice, delivery, expression and gesture, of many pupils who have attended my course of instruction for but a short period; and in the still greater advance of those who have patiently, and steadily, and laboriously carried out the system that I have laid down. That system has no pretension to profundity, but it is simple and intelligible, and, I think I may venture to add, (as far as it goes,) correct in theory, and easy of practice. It will, therefore, I trust, be found of service to the student in the acquisition of an art which is daily gaining ground, as an essential part of the education of a gentleman.

I have added to the system a full practice in reading and declamation, extracted from the works of the best authors in prose and verse, and in every variety of style. The mere reading aloud of these extracts, as practice in reading and declamation, (after an understanding of the rules and principles laid down in the system,) even without an instructor, will be of great advantage to the student. He will reap at least the benefit of accustoming his ear to the flow of the language, and so, insensibly, catching something of the strength and spirit of their diction.

If he go a step further, and read them under the direction of a guide who can point out to him the peculiar merits of each, and show him, analytically, how every beauty may be heightened and brought out into strong relief,-if he will practise himself with such an instructor, on such models, disciplining his ear, his action, and his voice, he

[merged small][ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »