« PreviousContinue »
tientest fusing before you can gather one grain of the metal.
And, therefore, first of all, I tell you earnestly and authoritatively (I know I am right in this), you must get into the habit of looking intensely at words, and assuring yourself of their meaning, syllable by syllable nay, letter by letter. For, though it is only by reason of the opposition of letters in the function of signs to sounds that the study of books is called " literature," that a man versed in it is called, by the consent of nations, a man of letters, instead of a man of books or of words, you may yet connect with that accidental nomenclature this real fact-- that you might read
all the books in the British Museum (if you could live long enough) and remain an utterly illiterate, uneducated person ; but that if you read ten pages of a good book, letter by letter, that is to say, with real accuracy, you are forevermore in some measure an educated person. The entire difference between education and non-education (as regards the merely intellectual part of it) consists in this accuracy. A well-educated gentleman may not know many languages, may not be able to speak any but his own, may have read very few books; but whatever language he knows, he knows precisely; whatever word he pronounces, he pronounces rightly. Above all, he is learned in the peerage of words, knows the words of true descent and ancient blood, at a glance, from words of modern canaille; remembers all their ancestry, their intermarriages, distant relationships, and the extent to which they were admitted, and offices they held among the national noblesse of words at any time and in any country. But an uneducated person may know, by memory, many languages, and talk them all, and yet truly know not a word of any — not a word even of his own. An ordinarily clever and sensible seaman will be able to make his way ashore at most ports; yet he has only to speak a sentence of any language to be known for an illiterate per
So also the accent, or turn of expression of a single sentence, will at once mark a scholar. And this is so strongly felt, so conclusively admitted, by educated persons, that a false accent or a mistaken syllable is enough, in the parliament of
any civilized nation, to assign to a man a certain degree of inferior standing forever.
THE PERFECT ORATOR
R. B. SHERIDAN
Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was born in Dublin, Ireland, September 30, 1751, and died in London, England, July 7, 1816. He lived idly as a youth, tempestuously as a man, and died in debt and misery. He was a good dramatist, a clever parliamentarian, and a great orator, but, through dissipation, became broken in health, fortune, and reputation, and died, a discredited man, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
IMAGINE to yourself a Demosthenes, address
ing the most illustrious assembly in the world, upon a point whereon the fate of the most illustrious of nations depended. How awful such a meet
a ing! How vast the subject! Is man possessed of talents adequate to the great occasion? Adequate ! Yes, superior. By the power of his eloquence, the augustness of the assembly is lost in the dignity of the orator; and the importance of the subject, for a while superseded, by the admiration of his talents.
With what strength of argument, with what powers of the fancy, with what emotions of the heart, does he assault and subjugate the whole man; and, at once, captivate his reason, his imagination, and his passions. To effect this, must be the ut
most effort of the most improved state of human nature. Not a faculty that he possesses, is here unemployed; not a faculty that he possesses, but is here exerted to its highest pitch. All his internal powers are at work; all his external, testify their energies.
Within, the memory, the fancy, the judgment, the passions, are all busy. Without, every muscle, every nerve, is exerted; not a feature, not a limb, but speaks. The organs of the body, attuned to the exertions of the mind, through the kindred organs of the hearers, instantaneously vibrate those energies from soul to soul.
Notwithstanding the diversity of minds in such a multitude, by the lightning of eloquence they are melted into one mass; the whole assembly, actuated in one and the same way, become, as it were, but one man, and have but one voice. The universal cry is,— let us move against Philip, — let us fight for our liberties, let us conquer or die!
PUBLIC OPINION AND THE SWORD
T. B. MACAULAY
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, was born in Rothbey Temple, Leicestershire, England, October 25, 1800, and died at Kensington, London, December 28, 1859. He won renown as historian, poet, parliamentarian and orator.
T the present moment I can see only one ques
tion in the State, the question of reform; only two parties — the friends of the bill and its enemies.
No observant and unprejudiced man can look forward, without great alarm, to the effects which the recent decision of the Lords may possibly produce. I do not predict, I do not expect, open, armed insurrection. What I apprehend is this — that the people may engage in a silent but extensive and persevering war against the law. It is easy to say: “ Be bold; be firm; defy intimidation; let the law have its course; the law is strong enough to put down the seditious." Sir, we have heard this blustering before; and we know in what it ended. It is the blustering of little men, whose lot has fallen on a great crisis. Xerxes scourging the waves, Canute commanding the waves to recede from his footstool, were but types of the folly. The law has no eyes; the law has no hands; the law is nothing - nothing but a piece of paper printed