Page images
[ocr errors][merged small]

Kind souls | What weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded ? Look you here !
Here is himself, marred, as you see, by traitors.

Good friends ! Sweet friends ! Let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny |
They that have done this deed are honorable !
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it ! They are wise and honorable
And will, no doubt, with reason answer you.

I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts;
I am no orator, as Brutus is,
But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man,
That love my friend, and that they knew full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor power of speech,
To stir men's blood.

I only speak right on.
I tell you that which you yourselves do know,
Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor, poor, dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me. But were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar, that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.


Pulpit Orators of Mediaeval Europe

I' is a long journey through time from the period

of the decadence of classic oratory to the revolu

tionary era at the close of the eighteenth century, in which the Demosthenes and Cicero of the far past first found their rivals upon the stage of modern eloquence. In this lapse of nearly eighteen centuries, though the art of oratory survived, its field of exercise was greatly narrowed. In Europe, the home of such civilization as existed, free speech in political affairs was almost a thing unknown. The hand of the autocrat lay heavily upon the neck of the nations, and secular thought was “cabined, cribbed, confined.” Only in England, in those periods when the people rose in revolt against the tyranny of their kings, was there any freedom of speech in parliamentary halls. During the extended era in question oratory, as a rule, was restricted to the clergy, to whom the broad domain of morals and religion lay freely open, and to whose care was left such education and philosophy as existed. It is, therefore, in the Church that we must seek the leading orators of mediaeval times. During most of the age in question, learning and thought drifted very largely into the cloister and monastery, while the ignorance and immorality of the people called for strenuous efforts on the part of the keepers of the public conscience, and the leaders in thought and education. All this gave rise to an abundance of ecclesiastical oratory, of which a considerable sum is still in evidence, while secular oratory during the period in question is almost unknown.


ST. AUGUSTINE (354–430)

44 F all the Fathers of the Latin Church,” says Villemain, 0 “Saint Augustine manifested the most imagination in theology; the most eloquence, and even sensibility, in scholasticism.” Born at Tagasta, in Numidia, he studied Greek, rhetoric and philosophy, at Carthage and Madaura, while his mother, Monica, a devout Christian, instructed him in religion. He taught grammar and rhetoric, and in 384 became professor of rhetoric and philosophy at Milan. His career up to this time had been one of immorality, but, affected by the sermons of Saint Ambrose, he became devoutly religious, joined the Church, and was thenceforth a preacher and writer of the highest ability among the early theologians. His reputation as an eloquent preacher was very great. His life, as preacher and author, was passed in Africa, where he died at Hippo in 430, during the siege of that city by the Vandals.


[The following is the opening portion of a sermon by Saint Augustine, on the subject of “The Lord's Prayer,” which he analyzes throughout in the manner here presented. It is an excellent example of his oratorical method.]

The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, hath taught us a prayer; and though He be the Lord himself, as ye have heard and repeated in the Creed, the only Son of God, yet He would not be alone. He is the Only Son, and yet would not be alone; He hath vouchsafed to have brethren. For to whom doth He say, “Say, our Father, which art in Heaven 2 ” Whom did He wish us to call our Father, save His own Father | Did He grudge us this 2 Parents sometimes, when they have gotten one, two, or three children, fear to give birth to any more, lest they reduce the rest to beggary. But because the inheritance which He

« PreviousContinue »