Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Latin, and Hebrew, are to take up their whole time. Only on holidays the students will, for moderate exercise, be allowed to divert themselves with the use of some of the lightest and most voluble weapons; and proper care will be taken to give them at least a superficial tincture of the ancient and modern Amazonian tactics. Of these military performances, the direction is undertaken by Epicene,* the writer of · Memoirs from the Mediterranean,' who, by the help of some artificial poisons conveyed by smells, has within these few weeks brought many persons of both sexes to an untimely fate; and, what is more surprising, has, contrary to her profession, with the same odours, revived others who had long since been drowned in the whirlpools of Lethe. Another of the professors is said to be a certain lady, who is now publishing two of the choicest Saxon novels, which are said to have been in as great repute with the ladies of queen Emma's court, as the · Memoirs from the New Atalantis' are with those

I shall make it my business to inquire into the progress of this learned institution, and give you the first notice of their · Philosophical Transactions, and Searches after Nature.'

Yours, &c.

TOBIAH GREENHAT."

of ours.

* Mrs Manley, author of the Memoirs of the New Atalantis.

+ Mrs Elizabeth Elstob, eminent for her knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon language and antiquities. See an account of her is Ballard's Memoirs of Learned Ladies.

THE TATLER, No. LXVI.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 10, 1709.

Will's Coffee-house, Sept. 9. The subject of the discourse this evening was eloquence and graceful action. Lysander, who is something particular in his way of thinking and speaking, told us, “ a man could not be eloquent without action ; for the deportment of the body, the turn of the eye, and an apt sound to every word that is uttered, must all conspire to make an accomplished speaker. Action in one that speaks in public, is the same thing as a good mien in ordinary life. Thus, as a certain insensibility in the countenance recommends a sentence of humour and jest, so it must be a very lively consciousness that gives grace to great sentiments. The jest is to be a thing unexpected; therefore your undesigning manner is a beauty in expressions of mirth; but when you are to talk on a set subject, the more you are moved yourself, the more you will move others.

“ There is,” said he," a remarkable example of that kind. Æschines, a famous orator of antiquity, had pleaded at Athens in a great cause against Demosthenes; but having lost it, retired to Rhodes. Eloquence was then the quality most admired among men, and the magistrates of that place, having heard he had a copy of the speech of Demosthenes, desired him to repeat both their pleadings. After his own, he recited also the oration of his antagonist. The people expressed their admiration of both, but more of that of Demosthenes. “ If you are,” said he, “ thus touched with hearing only what that great orator said, how would you

have been affected had you seen him speak? for he who hears Demosthenes only, loses much the better part of the oration.” Certain it is, that they who speak gracefully, are very lamely represented in having their speeches read or repeated by unskilful people; for there is something native to each man, so inherent to his thoughts and sentiments, which it is hardly possible for another to give a true idea of. You may observe in common talk, when a sentence of any man's is repeated, an acquaintance of his shall immediately observe, “ That is so like him, methinks I see how he looked when he said it."

But of all the people on the earth, there are none who puzzle me so much as the clergy of Great Britain, who are, I believe, the most learned body of men now in the world : and yet this artof speaking, with the proper ornaments of voice and gesture, is wholly neglected among them; and I will engage, were" a deaf man to behold the greater part of them preach, he would rather think they were reading the contents only of some discourse they intended to make, than actually in the body of an oration, even when they were upon matters of such a nature, as one would believe it were impossible to think of without emotion.

I own there are exceptions to this general observation, and that the dean we heard the other day together is an orator. * He has so much regard to his congregation, that he commits to his memory what he is to say to them; and has so soft and graceful a behaviour, that it must attract your attention. His person, it is to be confessed, is no small recommendation; but he is to be highly commended for not losing that advantage; and adding to the propriety of speech, which might pass the criticism of Longinus, an action which would have been approved by Demosthenes. He has a peculiar force in his way, and has charmed many of his audience, who could not be intelligent hearers of his discourse, were there not explanation as well as grace in his action. This art of his is useful with the most exact and honest skill: he never attempts your passions, until he has convinced

your reason. All the objections which he can form, are laid open and dispersed, before he uses the least vehemence in his sermon; but when he thinks he has your head, he very soon wins your heart; and never pretends to show the beauty of holiness, until he has convinced you of the truth of it.

Would every one of our clergymen be thus careful to recommend truth and virtue in their proper figures, and show so much concern for them as to give them all additional force they were able, it is not possible that nonsense should have so many hearers as you find it has in dissenting congregations, for no reason in the world, but because it is spoken extempore; for ordinary minds are wholly

* This fine character is drawn for Bishop Atterbury, then Dean of Carlisle, one of the queen's chaplains. It seems as if it cost Steele some effort to permit insertion of a passage so favourable to a Tory divine, for he appeals to it more than once as a decisive proof of his impartiality.

governed by their eyes and ears; and there is no way to come at their hearts, but by power over their imaginations.

There is iny friend and merry companion Daniel ;* he knows a great deal better than he speaks, and can form a proper discourse as well as any orthodox neighbour. But he knows very well, that to bawl out, “ My beloved !" and the words

grace! regeneration! sanctification! a new light! the day! the day! ay, my beloved, the day! or rather the night! the night is coming !" and ‘judgment will come, when we least think of it!" and so forth---He knows, to be vehement is the only way to come at his audience. Daniel, when he sees my friend Greenhat come in, can give a good hint, and cry out, “This is only for the saints ! the regenerated !" By this force of action, though mixed with all the incoherence and ribaldry imaginable, Daniel can laugh at his diocesan, and grow fat by voluntary subscription, while the parson of the parish goes to law for half his dues. Daniel will tell you, it is not the shepherd, but the sheep with the bell, which the flock follows.

Another thing, very wonderful this learned body should omit, is, learning to read; which is a most necessary part of eloquence in one who is to serve at the altar; for there is no man but must be sensible, that the lazy tone, and inarticulate sound of our common readers, depreciates the most proper form of words that were ever extant in any nation or language, to speak their own wants, or his

power from whom we ask relief.

* The celebrated Daniel Burgess, of whose pulpit buffoonery many examples are still preserved. This meeting-house near Lincoln's Inn was destroyed by the high church mob upon occasion of Sacheverell's trial.

« PredošláPokračovať »