Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

derstood by the judge, may destroy the effect of all the argument and reasoning, which the pleader employs. If his narration be improbable, it will be disregarded; if it be tedious and diffuse, it will fatigue and be forgotten. To render narration distinct, particular attention is requisite in ascertaining clearly the names, dates, places, and every other important circumstance of the facts recounted. In order to be probable in narration, it is necessary to exhibit the characters of the persons of whom we speak, and to show that their ac. tions proceeded from such motives as are natural and likely to gain belief. To be as consise as the subject will admit, all superfluous circumstances must be rejected; by which the narration will be rendered more forcible and more clear.

Io sermons, explication of the subject to be discoursed on, occupies the place of narration at the bar, and is to be conducted in a similar manner. It must be concise, clear, and distinct; in a style correct and elegant, rather than highly adorned. To explain the doctrine of the text with propriety; to give a full and clear account of the nature of that virtue or duty which forms the subject of discourse, is properly the didactic part of preaching; on the right execution of which much depends. In order to succeed, the preacher must meditate profoundly on the subject; so as to place it in a clear and striking point of view. He must consider what light it may derive from other passages of scripture; whether it be a subject nearly allied to some other, from whicb it ought to be distinguished; whether it can be advantageously illustrated by comparing or opposing it to some other thing; by searching into causes, or tracing effects ; by pointing out examples, or appealing to the hearts of the hearers; that thus a precise and circumstantial view may be afforded of the doctrine inculcated. By distinct and apt illustrations of the known truths of religion, a preacher may both display great merit, as a composer; and, what is infinitely more valuable, render his discourses weighty, instructive and useful.

1 THE ARGUMENTATIVE PART OF A DISCOURSE, THE PATHETIC PART, AND THE PERORATION,

As the great end for which men speak on any serious occasion, is to convince their hearers that 'something is true, or right, or good; and thus to influence their practice'; reason and argument must constitute the foundation of all manly and persuasive eloquence.

With regard to arguments, three things are requisite. First, invention of them; secondly, proper disposition and arrangement of them; and thirdly, expressing them in the most forcible manner. Invention is undoubtedly the most material, and the basis of the rest. But in this, art can afford only small assistance. It can aid a speaker however in arranging and expressing those arguments which his knowledge of the subject has discovered.

Supposing the arguments properly chosen, we must avoid blending those together that are of a separate nạture. All arguments whatever are intended to prove one of these three things; that something is true; that it is right or fit; or that it is profitable and good. Truth, duty, and interest are the three great subjects of discussion among men. But the arguments employed upon either of them are generally distinct; and he, who blends them all under one topic, which he calls his argument, as in sermons is too frequently done, will render his reasoning indistinct and, inelegant.

With respect to the different degrees of strength in arguments, the common rule is, to advance in the way of climax from the weakest to the most forcible. This method is recommended when the speaker is convinced that his cause is clear, and easy to be proved. But this rule must not be universally observed. If he distrust his cause, and have but one material argument, it is often proper to place this argument in the front; to prejudice his hearers early in his favour, and thus dispose them to pay attention to the weaker reasons which he

may

afterwards introduce. When amid a variety of arguments there is one or two more feeble than the rest, though proper to be used, Cicero advises to place them in the middle, as a situation less conspicuous, than either the beginning or end of the train of reasoning.

When arguments are strong and satisfactory, the more they are separated the better. Each can then bear io be introduced alone, placed in its full light, amplified and contemplated. Bot, when they are of a doubtful or presumptive nature, it is safer to crowd them together, to form them into a phalanx, that, though individually weak, they may mutually support each other.

Arguments should never be extended too far, nor multiplied too much. This serves rather to

render a cause suspicious, than to increase its strength. A needless multiplicity of arguments burdens the memory, and diminishes the weight of that conviction, which a few well chosen arguments produce. To expand them also beyond the bounds of reasonable illustration is always enfeebling. When a speaker endeavours to expose a favourable argument in every light possible, fatigued by the effort, he loses the spirit, with which he set out; and ends with feebleness, what he began with force.

Having attended thus far to the proper arrangement of arguments, we proceed to another essential part of a discourse, the pathetic; in which, if any where, eloquence reigns, and exerts its power. On this head the following directions

appear useful.

Consider carefully whether the subject admit the pathetic, and render it proper; and, if it do, what part of the discourse is most fit for it. To determine these points belongs to good sense. Many subjects admit not the pathetic; and even in those, that are susceptible of it, an attempt to excite the passions in a wrong place, may expose an orator to ridicule. It may in general be observed, that, if we expect any emotion, which we raise, to have a lasting effect, we must secure in our favour the understanding and judgment. The hearers must be satisfied, that there are sufficient grounds for their engaging in the cause with zeal and ardour. When argument and reasoning have produced their full effect, the pathetic is admitted with the greatest force and propriety.

A speaker should cautiously avoid giving his hearers warning that he intends to excite their passions. Every thing of this kind chills their sensibility. There is also a great difference between telling the hearers that they ought to be moved, and actually moving them. To every emotion or passion nature has adapted certain corresponding objects; and without setting these before the mind, it is impossible for an orator to excite that emotion. We are warmed with gratitude, we are touched with compassion, not when a speaker shows us that these are noble dispositions, and that it is our duty to feel them; nor when he exclaims against us for our indifference and coldness. Hitherto he has addressed only our reason or conscience. He must describe the kindness and tenderness of our friend; he must exhibit the distress suffered by the person for whom he would interest us. Then, and not before, our hearts begin to be touched, our gratitude, our compassion begins to flow. The basis, therefore of all successful execution in pathetic oratory, is to paint the object of that passion which we desire to raise in the most natural and striking manner; to describe it with such circumstances as are likely to awaken it in the minds of others.

To succeed in the pathetic, it is necessary to attend to the proper language of the passions. This if we consult nature, we shall ever find is unaffected and simple. It may be animated by bold and strong figures, but it will have no ornament, no finery. There is a great difference between painting to the imagination and to the heart. The one may be done with deliberation and coola ness; the other must always be rapid and ardent.

« AnteriorContinuar »