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behind them specimens of the most alarming eloquence, as monuments both of their genius and of their devotedness to the cause of God and His truth.
The following extract from the translator's preface will show who the Abbe Maury was, as well as the estimation in which his character and work have been held by competent judges :
• The name of the Abbe Maury hath become so distinguished, not only in France, but also in this and other countries of Europe, that his literary productions will, probably, attract a degree of attention corresponding with that which his public character and conduct have excited.
As a member of the Constituting National Assembly it was his lot to step forward at an epoch which will for ever remain memorable in the annals of France.
In the midst of those contests and recriminations which prevailed among the different orders of which that assembly was composed, the Abbe Maury stood forth as the champion of the Church, and of aristocracy. His eloquence and abilities elevated him to distinguished importance among his brethren, while his undaunted spirit acquired fresh energy from the number, the abilities, and the attacks of his opponents : thus, though repeatedly foiled, yet like an expiring hero in the field of battle, he was determined not to yield but with his latest breath.
His zeal and talents shone conspicuous in this crisis of public affairs; and we are informed that he hath since received from the hands of his holiness at Rome the reward of a strenuous defence of a tottering Church.
But not only hath the senate borne witness to his abilities : the press, also, superadds its testimony in various literary productions.
Eloquence, the subject of that work which is here presented in an English dress, appears to have occupied his maturest thoughts ; and the justice and enlargement of his ideas upon this subject mark the success with which he has pursued it.
To boast of his attaining to originality of thought on a subject which hath been so frequently and so ably discussed, would, doubtless, be presumptuous ; to insinuate that he has written a complete system would be to contradict his own professions ; but to acknowledge that he has thrown out a variety of useful hints, and that in his manner of discussion he is lively and interesting, is no more than to pay him that tribute to which his merit may justly lay claim.
The following dissertation is only one of several which M. Maury hath given to the public. There are also collected in one volume the Panegyrics of St. Louis and of Fenelon ; Reflections on the sermons of Bossuet; and the Panegyric of St. Austin.
In these he has discovered the talents of an orator, particularly in that species of the art styled panegyric, to which the French have ever shown more attachment than the English.*
In the work now offered to the public, and which seems the most material for a young speaker to peruse, the abbe has described those
* A late publication hath since appeared, and been attributed to the abbe, consisting, chiefly, of speeches delivered by him in the National Assembly,
rules, and suggested those observations, by which he appears to have been guided in his own compositions.
In confirmation of the good opinion which the translator has conceived of M. Maury's performance, he transcribes, with pleasure, the remarks of the Monthly Reviewers on those discourses, of which the following translation constitutes the first :
“ The first of these discourses relates to various parts of the eloquence of the pulpit, and does great honor to the taste, judgment, and feelings of the ingenious author. His reflections on Cicero, Demosthenes, Bossuet, Fenelon, Bourdaloue, Saurin, Bridaine, &c, are sensible and solid; and his precepts and rules are every way adapted to form the taste of a young orator to that affecting simplicity which disdains all frivolous ornaments, and has no other object in view than to touch and to persuade.
This discourse is followed by two.orations that were delivered before the French Academy in honor of St. Louis and Fenelon ; another in honor of St. Augustine, delivered in the General Assembly of the French clergy; and a piece entitled, • Reflections on the Sermons of Bossuet, last published. All these are excellent in their kinds.” (Monthly Review, vol. Ivii, p. 309.)' It is by no means our intention to analyze the work before us.
We may be indulged, however, in a few remarks upon the general subject on which the author has written. Though we have no aversion to good and wholesome rules in public speaking, yet we are persuaded that no set of rules, however perfect they may be, and however well they may be understood by the student, can supply the place of any natural or inherent defect a man may have in regard to public speaking. We do not, however, mean to say that men are generally and necessarily defective in this particular, although it is manifest that it was never designed that all men should be public speakers, any more than it was that they should be all mechanics, farmers, lawyers, or ministers of the Gospel ; yet we are inclined to think that most men are naturally eloquent, until they are marred by some circumstance attendant upon
their lives. Let any man, however unlettered he may be, get his mind deeply impressed with his subject, and have his feelings enlisted in its success, and he will plead its cause with an engaging eloquence ; the earnestness of his manner will supply any defectiveness which may appear in the choice of words or the construction of sentences; though if suitable language be added to his native earnestness he will be doubly eloquent. If we allow oratory to consist in the unrestrained expression of the sentiments and feelings of the heart, all men are naturally eloquent, and the most eloquent in their childhood. If we watch the emotions of a child when he first begins to express his thoughts, in a free and unrestrained manner, unawed by the presence of those whom he fears, we shall behold all the characteristics of genuine oratory. His eyes, his countenance, the motions of his limbs, and
the change of his bodily position, will all indicate the emotions of his heart, and the sincerity with which he pours forth his effusions. Nor is it hardly possible to resist the effects of this honest and simple display of his oratorical powers. Here is no art,-no knowledge of rules, -not so much as even to understand the meaning of the word by which his effusions are designated; and the more this honest simplicity predominates, the more engaging and captivating will be the exhibition of his juvenile powers.
Why then, it may be asked, are not all men, and more especially ali public speakers, orators. The answer is that some are spoiled by a wrong application of rules; others are prevented from an exhibition of their powers from timidity; while others never become such because their hearts are not filled and warmed with the subject on which they speak. Many a youth acquires a sort of mechanical manner of acting and speaking, by a slavish attention to artificial direction, changing the position of his body just so often, whatever may be his subject, lifting his hand or letting it fall in a regular routine, and modifying the intonations of his voice according to set rules, without any just regard to his subject, exhibiting all the mechanical regularity of an automaton, and equally destitute of life and animation-and this passes off for eloquence with those who know no better. Others, for fear of transcende' ing the bounds of moderation, and of being stigmatized as enthusiasts, restrain the ardent feelings of their souls-those feelings prompted and excited by the nature of their subject--and check that overflowing of emotion which is essential to constitute genuine eloquence. Timidity cramps the genius, confuses the intellect, and stops that regular flow of thought which otherwise would exalt the individual to the rank of an orator. These causes operate less or more in most men who appear before the public, and prevent the full and beneficial exercise of their powers. Let a man thoroughly understand his subject, feel its importance, be raised above the fear of man, be unrestrained and unshackled by artificial rules,,but under the influence of well-digested sentiments and of a well-cultivated understanding-pour forth the emotions of his warmed heart, and he will rarely fail to witness the effects of his eloquence—the eloquence of truth, honesty, and intrepidity—his voice, his eyes, every muscle of his face, and every movement of his body will speak—and speak too to the heart and understanding of his audience.
But of all public speakers, we think the minister of Jesus Christ has the greatest advantage for the display of genuine eloquence. In the first place, his subject is the most awful, grand, and sublime, and at the same time the most charming and inviting, of any which can come within the range of human thought or conception. All other subjects
sink into insignificance when compared to this. To be standing between the living and the dead—to be pleading the cause of God and man-to be dwelling on the awfully momentous subjects of heaven and hell—subjects in which the everlasting destinies of immortal beings are involved-is enough, one would think, to inspire the dullest heart with an indescribable pathos, and to awaken up emotions which must make the tongue of the dumb' to speak with an eloquence which should be irresistible. Hence a dull.moralizer, or a tame metaphysician in the pulpit, is of all spectacles the most onerous and disgusting.
Another thing which has justly ruined the reputation of many a public speaker is an affected imitation of others. On hearing a man of commanding powers and native eloquence pour forth the sentiments of his soul in such a manner as to rivet the attention and captivate the hearts of his hearers, another takes him for his copy, and immediately commences a course of servile imitation. Not possessing adequate powers for a successful imitation of this man's method of uttering his sentiments, he falls into contempt in the estimation of all men of taste and discernment, and becomes a prey to numerous ills arising from a disappointed ambition; for nothing is more disgusting to a well-instructed mind than an ineffectual attempt to imitate others; and what renders many of those mimics more disgusting still is, that they are exceedingly prone to copy defects instead of excellencies. This has been often and painfully witnessed. All affectation is disgusting. But affectation in the pulpit is doubly so. This, however, is not all. An affected imitation of another is not only evidence of a vitiated taste and a weakness of judgment, but is injurious to the organs of speech, and of course to the health of the body. It requires an unnatural effort, and an artificial excitement, to imitate some speakers, and more especially those whose voice is naturally full, and their enunciation strong; and hence such an effort causes the person to contract a stiffness of manner, by a perpetual effort at imitation, which requires extra exertions to keep up, and which therefore must sooner or later exhaust his strength. Every man has his proper gift of God; and all that is required is a diligent improvement of that gift, in order to discharge his duty with fidelity and success.
It seems not to have been the intention of the Abbe Maury to lay down rules so much as it was to give an illustration of genuine oratory, by an exhibition of such examples as were found in the sermons and discourses of eminent writers and speakers. And these examples confirm the justness of the remark we have made, that true eloquence is evinced in the earnest and unrestrained expression of the sentiments of a heart filled and fired with the subject matter of discourse, unawed by fear, unmoved by pride, vanity, or ambition, and not shackled by a
Maury on Eloquence.
229 slavish attention to artificial rules. If a thorough understanding of the subject, and a zealous concern for its success, will not make a man its eloquent advocate, it is in vain to attempt to qualify himself by studying the rules of oratory ; but, with these cardinal qualifications, he is greatly assisted by an attention to good rules, if he have them so perfectly at command that they seem to be natural to him; otherwise he will appear stiff and affected. Take the following as an example from the book before us :
• If there be extant among us any traces of this ancient and energetic eloquence, which is nothing else than the original voice of nature, it is among the missionaries, and in the country, where we must seek for examples. There, some apostolic men, endowed with a vigorous and bold imagination, know no other success than conversions, no other applauses than tears. Often devoid of taste, they descend, I confess, to burlesque details ; but they forcibly strike the senses; their threatenings impress terror; the people listen to them with profit : many among them have sublime strokes ; and an orator doth not hear them without advantage, when he is skilful in observing the important effects of his art.
M. Bridaine, the man who, in the present age, is the most justly celebrated in this way, was born with a popular eloquence, abounding with metaphorical and striking expressions; and no one ever possessed, in a higher degree, the rare talent of arresting the attention of an assembled multitude.
He had so fine a voice, as to render credible all the wonders which history relates of the declamation of the ancients, for he was as easily heard by ten thousand people in the open fields, as if he had spoken under the most resounding arch. In all he said, there were observable unexpected strokes of oratory, the boldest metaphors, thoughts sudden, new, and striking, all the marks of a rich imagination, some passages, sometimes even whole discourses, composed with care, and written with an equal combination of taste and animation.
I remember to have heard him deliver the introduction of the first discourse which he preached in the church of St. Sulpice, in 1751.. The first company in the capital went out of curiosity to hear him.
Bridaine perceived among the congregation many bishops, and persons of the first rank, as well as a vast number of ecclesiastics. This sight, far from intimidating, suggested to him the following exordium, so far at least as my memory remains, of a passage, with which I have been always sensibly affected, and which, perhaps, will not appear unworthy of Bossuet, or Demosthenes.
“ At the sight of an auditory so new to me, methinks, my brethren, I ought only to open my mouth to solicit your favor in behalf of a poor missionary, destitute of all those talents which you require of those who speak to you about your salvation. Nevertheless, I experience to-day, a feeling very different. And, if I am cast down, suspect me not of being depressed by the wretched uneasiness occasioned by vanity, as if I were accustomed to preach myself. God forbid that a minister of Heaven should ever suppose he needed an excuse with you! for whoVol. IV.-April, 1833.