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JOHN HENRY NEWMAN (1801-1890)
A BRITISH CATHOLIC ORATOR
N recent times two prominent divines of the English Episcopal
Church have been converted to the Roman Catholic faith,
and been made cardinals in the Church of Rome. These were Cardinal Manning, of whom we have elsewhere spoken, and Cardinal Newman, with whom we are here concerned. Beginning his pastoral career as vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, Newman subsequently took a very active part in what was known as “ The Oxford Movement,” and himself wrote a number of the famous “Tracts for the Times." These tracts, which were in favor of the strictest Anglican orthodoxy, ended in the conversion to the Roman faith of a number of their writers, Newman among them. He resigned from St. Mary's in 1843, and subsequently entered the Catholic Church, being made a cardinal by the Pope in 1879.
As a pulpit orator Newman ranked high, winning fame in both his forms of faith. His long series of Oxford sermons contain some of the finest ever preached from an Anglican pulpit, and his Roman Catholic sermons, though less striking for their pathos, are marked by still finer rhetoric and literary finish. Aside from his reputation as an orator, Newman was an author of fine powers, alike as a logician and in theological controversy. To his prose writings he added many poems of fine touch and finish, most notable among them being the famous hymn, “ Lead, Kindly Light.”
THE EVILS OF MONEY-GETTING [From one of Newman's “Oxford Sermons " we make a brief extract in illustration of his style of oratory, and also for the salutary lesson it conveys and the effective manner in which the weakness and wickedness of money seeking, for itself alone, is presented. It was preached from the text, “Woe unto ye that are rich, for ye have received your consolation."]
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN
I say, then, that it is a part of Christian caution to see that our engagements do not become pursuits. Engagements are our portion, but pursuits are for the most part of our own choosing. We may be engaged in worldly business without pursuing worldly objects. “ Not slotbful in business," yet “serving the Lord.” In this, then, consists the danger of the pursuit of gain, as by trade and the like. It is the most common and widely spread of all excitements. It is one in which everyone almost may indulge, nay, and will be praised by the world for indulging. And it lasts through life—in that differing from the amusements and pleasures of the world, which are short-lived and succeed one after another. Dissipation of mind, which these amusements create, is itself, indeed, miserable enough ; but far worse than this dissipation is the concentration of mind upon some worldly object which admits of being constantly pursued ; and such is the pursuit of gain.
Nor is it a slight aggravation of the evil that anxiety is almost sure to attend it. A life of money-getting is a life of care, From the first there is a fretful anticipation of loss in various ways to depress and unsettle the mind, nay, to haunt it, till a man finds he can think about nothing else, and is unable to give his mind to religion from the constant whirl of business in which he is involved. It is well this should be understood. You may hear men talk as if the pursuit of wealth was the business of life. They will argue that, by the law of nature, a man is bound to gain a livelihood for his family, and that he finds a reward in doing so—an innocent and honorable satisfaction—as he adds one sum to another, and counts up his gains. And, perhaps, they go on to argue that it is the very duty of man, since Adam's fall, “in the sweat of his face,” by effort and anxiety, “to eat bread.” How strange it is that they do not remember Christ's gracious promise, repealing that original curse and obviating the necessity of any real pursuit after “the meat that perisheth.” In order that we might be delivered from the bondage of corruption, He has expressly told us that the necessaries of life shall never fail His faithful follower any more than the meal and oil the widow woman of Sarepta ; that while he is bound to labor for his family, he need not be engrossed by his toil; that while he is busy, his heart may be at leisure for the Lord. “Be not anxious, saying : What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed ? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek ; and your Heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”
I have now given the main reason why the pursuit of gain, whether in a large or a small way, is prejudicial to our spiritual interests—that it fixes the mind upon an object of this world. Yet others remain behind
Orators of the French Revolution
EVER within the history of mankind has there
been a more unbridled outburst of human pas
sion than in the great Revolution that overturned the feudal establishment of France, putting an end to a long era of cruelty and oppression. Terrible as was the Revolution, the sum of misery it occasioned was inconsiderable as compared with that caused by the system of which it was the legitimate termination. The former was dramatically centred within a few years; the latter had pursued its slow course through many centuries. We can well comprehend the fiery vehemence of the oratory to which the Revolution gave rise.
In the veins of the orators burned the same intense flame of hatred which was shown in the frightful excesses of the people. First and greatest of them, Mirabeau,-a member of the titled class, but a democrat in grain,-poured forth his thoughts in a torrent of fiery eloquence that has rarely been equaled. Vehemence was his forte, and his verbal blows fell as sudden and swift as the knife of the guillotine upon the necks of its victims. Those who followed him were of the same type. Danton, with his sledge-hammer sentences; Vergniaud, with his more polished but equally implacable speeches; Marat, in whom thirst for blood permeated his very words; Robespierre, uttering platitudes about God and the hereafter while his hands are reeking with the blood of his late friends and associates. The Revolution was a phenomenal event, and its orators were not the least of its phenomena.
GABRIEL HONORE RIQUETTI, COUNT DE
THE DEMOSTHENES OF FRANCE
MAN man of passion, of youthful vices, of disorderly habits, of
dangerous intrigues, rebellious at once against father and
State, Mirabeau might have died unknown to fame had not the States General of 1789 given him an opportunity for the display of his remarkable eloquence, and the exertion of his gigantic energy against the system of oppression and injustice which had so long afflicted France. It was with difficulty that he obtained an election to that body, but once there, “ He trod the tribune with the supreme authority of a master and the imperial air of a king.” One of his critics says: “He was a man who, by his qualities no less than by the singularity of his fortune, is destined to take his place in history by the side of the Demosthenes, the Gracchi, and the other kindred spirits of an antiquity whose gigantic characteristics he so frequently reproduced.” Vehement and imperious in temper, irresistible in his command over an audience, he swayed the States
General at his will, and had he lived the Revolution might have taken quite another form than that hideous one by which it made itself execrable.
As concerns the oratory of Mirabeau, Carlyle says, “ His short and pithy sentences became the watchwords of the Revolution; his gestures were commands, his motions were coups d'etat.” Macaulày thus compares him with Chatham, England's most famous orator : “Sudden bursts which seemed to be the effect of inspiration, short sentences which came like lightning, dazzling, burning, striking down everything before them, in these chiefly lay the oratorical power both of Chatham and Mirabeau.
There have been far greater speakers and far greater statesmen than either of them ; but we doubt