« ForrigeFortsæt »
lar, better than most men, advises his son to feel his way; to make short speeches at first,
; and principally in committees, where formal speeches are not expected ; and thus to acquire confidence by degrees, before he launched out on any great or momentous occasion.
2dly. A young member of parliament should endeavour to make himself well acquainted with every subject which is likely to come under discussion ; and if his mind is full upon the question, it is very likely he will feel a momentary impulse to enter into the debate, especially if any pause should take place. At all events, by studying diligently the different topics of debate, he enables himself to discharge his duty properly if he gives only a silent vote, and is accomplishing his mind for future occasions.
3dly. It is practice that makes a fluent orator. Practice cannot give genius, it is true; but (if I may be allowed a vulgarism) there
is a ready knack, both of writing and speaking, 1. which men of very moderate talents often and easily acquire. Debating societies have their disadvantages, and there are two in particular against which young men ought to be guarded. They are apt to generate a love of disputing,
the most disagreeable quality, without exception, with which a young man can enter society. The applause also which superficial speakers receive there, is apt to generate a belief that a command of words is the only necessary accomplishment. Otherwise by affording an opportunity of practice, debating societies certainly contribute more than any means I know of towards fluency and readiness, which are no mean qualifications in an orator. But it is only to a mind which is well stocked with useful knowledge that they will afford this improvement. The person who goes ignorant into one of these seminaries, unless he compensates by ardent study for his former de ficiencies, will come out, under the most favourable circumstances, only a noisy and fluent dunce.
4thly. Any man before he rises to speak in a popular assembly should have formed a complete plan of his intended discourse; whether in speaking he adopts divisions or not, he will find his memory greatly assisted by dividing in his mind bis intended harangue into its several parts, and methodically arranging them. I have seen the first of our parliamentary orators
have in their hands little memorandums, which I could perceive contained the heads of their discourses. In a reply the proper arrangement is always to follow the course of your adversary's argument; and hence those speakers who are not great masters of method and arrangement, often shine more in a reply than in an opening speech. I am far from advising that you should study the words or phrases you are to employ before-hand, this would only serve to confuse and embarass you. The language of an orator must be strictly his own, such as in general he would employ upon ordinary occasions, but as select as the rapidity of utterance will allow.
5thly. In the course of an oration never he. sitate about the choice of a word. Take that which presents itself rather than look for terms more uncommon and refined ; for if the mind is once diverted from the matter to the words, your discourse will be deranged, and fail in a lucid order, which is a greater deficiency than an indifferent style; and it is also probable that even your enunciation will be perplexed and stammering
6thly. From the two preceding rules you will
easily perceive of what immense importance it is to an orator to accustom himself even in common conversation to polished language, and a very nice choice of expression. He must never permit himself to use a vulgarism on the most common occasion, but must carefully eradicate all such noxious weeds from his vocabulary. A little attention to this chastity and correctness of expression will soon render it easy and habitual. No other words but the best will present themselves to your mind; and on the contrary, I am convinced that unless a man has previously cleared his usual dialect from low and vicious expressions, they will obtrude themselves whenever he speaks in public, whatever may be his caution and attention.
In treating thus of extempore oratory, as far as applies to the eloquence of the senate, I have anticipated much of what I should otherwise have had to advance on that of the bar, for the same rules will apply to both, and I shall only have to add one or two remarks exclusively applicable to the latter.
I am far from agreeing with Mr. Hume and Dr. Blair, that the English bar affords not a fine theatre for oratory. They certainly, in
forming this conclusion, reasoned under some disadvantage, for they had only before their
view the Scottish bar, where the trial by jury is ( allowed only in criminal cases. The observa
tion of Dr. Blair is therefore perfectly just in this case.
“ Speakers at the bar,” says he, 6 address themselves to one or a few judges, and those too, persons generally of age, gravity, and authority of character. There they have not those advantages which a mixed and nu. merous assembly affords for employing all the arts of speech.” This is strictly true from the view which presented itself to this writer ; but in England, where in three of the principal courts, as well as in all the inferior judicatures of the kingdom, almost every cause is tried by a jury of twelve men, selected by ballot, surely the very finest opportunity for the display of oratory is afforded, and especially as the advocate addresses them under peculiar advantages, with some ideas of superior learning and superior dignity.
The English advocate too has conducted the cause from its commencement, and examined the evidence; he is therefore not only made master of the whole argument, but, if possessed of