« ForrigeFortsæt »
the subject, strictly considered, coming under the head of public speaking.
At the solicitation of several friends, I, one evening, a few years since, went to a church, not in the parish where I resided, in order to hear a preacher, announced by hundreds as being one of the ablest and most eloquent orators ever heard in these countries. I saw ascend the pulpit a young man with an intelligent countenance, holding a small Bible in his hand, from which he read his text, but not having any manuscript of his discourse with him.
In the very opening of his oration, it was easy to perceive that he was grossly affected. His voice abounded in inequalities, and in harsh, grating intonations. His delivery deserved rather to be called eager, than energetic. His sentences were poured forth with ungraceful rapidity; each clause was evidently prepared, and exhibited a very jejune and clumsy imitation of the fluency of extemporaneous eloquence. His action was incessant, and dramatic, but perpetually faulty. His manner of speaking had, indeed, the merit of being earnest, but it was coarse; much that of a popular declaimer in what are termed debating societies, mingled with the rant of the conventicle.
His pronunciation was vicious: he said i-ther, no-ledge, par-si-ality, cove-tchous, &c. He bellowed till he became hoarse and nearly inarticulate ;
and did not leave off till he had been at work one hour and a quarter. He had an enormous congregation
chiefly composed of the middle class of persons, and the majority females.
This faithful account of what took place on the above mentioned occasion affords a lesson, and teaches the true meaning of the phrase-popularity. The preacher described was not only popular, but much less defective than many so called ; and proved, that when an opinion is given as to the claims of man, book, or anything else, to our admiration, the inquiry of the hearer should be directed to discover
- not what he has been told—but the capability of judging on the part of him who gives the recommendation.
TABLE TALK OF
Several years ago, the hospitality of a deceased and admirable friend afforded me an opportunity of meeting at his house a gentleman then and subsequently distinguished throughout the enlightened classes of British society, for the great power of his mind, as a general writer, a critic, a man of wit, and a scholar. Soon after I had left the company, which I should state was not large, nor composed altogether of persons merely literary, it occurred to me to attempt making a memorandum, in the manner of James Boswell, of what Mr.
had said in the course of the evening. The following is the result of my experiment; and I believe I have executed my task with sufficient fidelity; though, from
what I have observed of the party assembled at the festive board of our host, nothing very brilliant or momentous is to be looked for. The celebrity, how
, gives value to anything that fell from his lips, or his pen. 1816. The celebrated
proved very well-bred, peculiarly cheerful, and an agreeably loquacious companion; confirming, so far, an opinion I have always entertained, that good breeding is invariably sprightly, and never taciturn. He remarked—that the press of the Times newspaper was worked by a steam engine, and threw off eight hundred copies in an hour; whereas formerly two hundred and fifty were as many as could be worked off in that space of time, by the pressman, who was then a person of great importance, and served a regular apprenticeship; while now any one could be taught the pressman's business in a fortnight.
That Lord Erskine was a man of unexampled fire and boldness of character; and that his lordship himself told him (--- -), that one day in court, greatly indignant at the colour given by Judge B—, in his charge, to the case of his (Erskine's) client, he told him aloud that “he was a liar and a scoundrel ;” and that B- heard him distinctly, and hung his head without replying.
That to the immortal honour of the English bench of bishops, they had uniformly and unexceptionably opposed the principle of the slave-trade ; and that the question of abolition originated with a prelate ; but
that the Royal Family (with the exception of the Duke of Gloucester) had as uniformly opposed the measure.
That Mr. Leach, a practitioner at the bar, bid fair to be Lord Chancellor.
That Walter Scott had received, in the compass of one year, seven thousand pounds for his writings, but was greatly embarrassed; having joined in trading speculations with Ballantyne, the printer in Edinburgh, and not succeeded.
That the artists concerned had tried their utmost, but found it impracticable to execute a quarto page in stereotype.
That old Jacob Tonson's books were specimens of the finest sort of printing extant; unless he were to except the early books, just after the black-letter printing had ceased.
That in the East Indies, the natives could produce infinitely fine woven work, and that their colours were extremely rich; but that they were so little inventive, that they required to be supplied with patterns for their designs from England.
That, in his opinion, Miss Joanna Baillie's “ Plays on the Passions,” were ridiculous stuff; and that she was enraged with Jeffries, and the Edinburgh Reviewers, for their censure.
That Samuel Richardson was a very fine writer, without learning of any kind, but of amazing natural powers and knowledge of the human heart : and that he thought Sir Charles Grandison, Richardson's best work.
That Lord V. was an extremely stupid and illiterate man, and his book of travels was, even now, not readable ; but that originally, as his MS. stood, it was impossible to produce it; so he gave it to a book-maker in London, who fitted it for the press.
That there was a large heavy work on Suicide, by a Mr. M- -; but that whoever should read it, would never be a felo de se, as he must have sufficient patience to endure all the ills of life.
That he had reason to believe, from all he had read and heard, that the people of the East Indies had not derived the smallest benefit from the introduction of European arts into their country, having borrowed nothing from them.
TRAITS OF CHARACTER.
Under this head I can, with the strictest veracity, relate an anecdote, which I am inclined to believe is without a parallel in the history of every-day life. More than thirty years ago, I was well acquainted with an elderly gentleman who had been an officer in the British service when young; and in the course of conversation one evening, repeated a remarkable story connected with the recollections of his juvenile times.
I should observe, that our topic happened to be national character, and that I said only what I sincerely thought in favour of that of Ireland, of which country my acquaintance, like myself, was a native.