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of your treatise, I would observe that it satisfied my curiosity, as to the elements of the art which I teach, and enlarged to so great an extent my resources as a teacher, that the advantages I am constantly deriving from it, of themselves prompt me to a full and grateful acknowledgement of its merits. It naturally led to a friendly intercourse between us : for what is more powerful, when good moral qualities are not deficient, to attract and bind one man to another, than fellowship in elevating intellectual pursuits.
The method of investigation adopted in your work, shows the reason why the ancients did not reduce elocution to a science. Recent times first disclosed the true mode of investigating nature; and your treatise will be admitted by all competent judges, to be a triumphant exhibition of its efficacy.
This “Grammar of Elocution,” is fruit gathered from the vine which you planted; it is adapted to special purposes, which will be set forth in the preface, but is by no means intended as a substitute for
your valuable work. In what I have said of that work, I have only discharged a debt of public justice, and told what I believe to be the truth; I confess it has been with pleasure, because I can subscribe myself Your sincere Friend and Servant,
JONATHAN BARBER. Cambridge, October 1831.
The value of the following work must be estimated, I. by the importance of the subject of which it treats, and II. by the manner in which that subject is treated.
· I. As respects the importance of delivery, I shall offer an argument, which I consider as conclusive. It is founded on the opinion and practice of the Greek and Roman orators. Their evidence to the importance of the art of Elocution, and to the care with which it was cultivated among them, is full and clear. I see no reason to believe, that the ancients had any record of the functions of the voice-any science of Elocution, in the sense in which we possess it in the works of Steele and Rusli, or in which I have endeavored to display it in this Grammar. The discourse of Quinctilian on the voice, may be considered as revealing to us the Ultima Thule of their researches. But they endeavored to compensate by practice, for their deficiency in principles. The Greeks, especially, entertained very high conceptions of the end and objects of the fine arts generally, and of the art of speaking, among the rest. They were not satisfied, unless their efforts surprised, moved, deTighted. They considered the true end of a fine art, was, to communicate a high degree of satisfaction to a cultivated taste ; and they continued to labor, till they attained that end. Hence the long and painful preparatory exercises in speaking, to which they submitted, in the presence of their rhetorical masters. These, however, were, as regards Elocution, rather an appeal to the taste of those masters, than to any general standard of science ; and the corrections must have been, for the most part, the result of individual feeling and judgment. But though thus destitute of what Cicero calls the “ Fontes Philosophiæ e quibus illa manant,' their sense of the importance of delivery, is strongly disclosed in their history. I will not dwell on the case of Demosthenes, with his half shaven head, his cave, and his practice on the sea shore, though they are an emphatic record of his opinions on elocution, and of his sublime de. votion to the pursuit of his art : but I will mention a fact, perhaps not so generally known. It is, that this distinguished orator expended a sum, amounting to several thousand dollars, in the payment of a master of elocution. Cicero, after having completed his education in other respects, (and what an education !) devoted two years to recitation, under the most accomplished tragedian of antiquity. Caius Gracchus, who arrayed one half of Rome against the other, was so solicitous about the management of his voice in addressing public assemblies, that a slave used to stand behind him with a pitch pipe, to set the prelusive note. The science of music was habitually cultivated among the Greeks and Ro. mans, as subservient to the art of elocution.
Statues were sometimes erected to distinguished Rhetoricians. In some instances, the public money was coined in their name : and their salaries frequentiy exceeded those of a Minister of State in modern Europe. By these facts, we are made acquainted with the opinions of nations who carried the art of speaking to perfection; and with the practices of youthful declaimers, who became subsequently eonspicuous on the theatre of
The oratory of the best Greek and Roman speakers, was, withal, eminently practical. They did not employ it for
* Fountains of Philosophy from which these things are derived.
meretricious display, or empty declaration, but as an instrument of power in the State. Its aim and its effects were to convince, to impress, and to impel to action. They were leaders in the busiest, most enlightened, and tumultuous periods. Their voices 6 shook distant thrones, and made the extremities of the earth to tremble.
Were these men mistaken, in estimating highly the advantages of an impressive delivery ? OR ARE WE, who disregard them? Were they deficient in matter, in power of argument, in the learning of their times, in the compass of their subject, in the arts of composition ? I confine the argument, for the moment, to Demosthenes and Cicero, who by their precepts and practice, are conspicuous advocates of the art of delivery: and I address myself to a certain class of society, who are constantly maintaining that scholarship and well exercised reasoning powers, are all that are necessary to the public speaker-to the minisjer of the gospel, for instance, whose office is at least as much with the imagination and the heart, as with the intellect-I address myself to them, I say, and ask whether the great orators I have mentioned, might not have put in a claim to exemption from the drudgery of elocution, if ever it could be safely pleaded ? Who is there among you, gentlemen, whoever you are who have maintained this idle plea, that will venture to contradict these great men ? Had they not a deep sense of the value of time, and of the relative importance of their studies ? Look at their sublime devotion to their pursuit. Had they formed mistaken notions of their art? Their unrivalled success in it, is the best answer to the question. Is it possible that they could throw away months and years in attaining an impressive delivery, unless assured of its immense importance, EVEN TO THEM?
Oratorical pre-eminence can be reasonably expected by a few only, but a correct, impressive elocution is desirable for
all: for all, at least, among the educated classes of society. It is particularly so in this country. Here, a learned education is sought, specially with a view to some profession, in which public speaking must be exercised. Great numbers of young men are daily entering our colleges, who are to become ministers of the gospel, or lawyers. In this coun. try, too, no freeman is excluded from the state and national councils ; on the contrary, talent, when combined with an emulous spirit, is naturally invited to participate in their administration : to say nothing of the frequency of public meetings for municipal or beneficent purposes. Under these cir- . cumstances, there are but few among the well informed part of the community, to whom it may not be of importance to speak with correctness, ease and impressiveness; or who, if not able to do so, must not, sometimes, painfully feel the disadvantages arising from the deficiency. Hereafter, young gentlemen of America, some of you will deeply regret your neglect of the art of delivery: when you are obliged to do that indifferently, which you might have learnt to do well: when, on some interesting occasion, (and such occasions will come,) you find you cannot fix the attention of your audience--of the listening fair-when some competitor, more happy than yourselves, casts you into shade, and leaves you nothing but the consciousness of a mortifying comparison between him and you--or when, seeing opportunities for obtaining distinction, or fixing a profitable opinion in the public mind, of your talents and acquirements, you are obliged to forego them, because you have despised or neglected the art of communicating your sentiments in an impressive and agreeable manner.
II. It remains to refer to the following Grammar. It is not offered to the public, as a work of discovery. Two such works have appeared, within about half a century. The first to which I would allude, is Steele's Prosodia Rationa