« AnteriorContinuar »
The style, the abruptness of a beginning like this, in the closet would appear absurd; but in the pulpit it is attended with the most lasting impressions: that style, which in the closet might justly be called flimsy, seems the true mode of eloquence here. I never read a fine composition, under the title of a sermon, that I do not think the author has miscalled his piece; for the talents to be used in writing well, entirely differ from those of speaking well. The qualifications for speaking, as has been already observed, are easily acquired; they are accomplishments which may be taken up by every candidate who will be at the pains of stooping. Impressed with a sense of the truths he is about to deliver, a preacher disregards the applause or the contempt of his audience, and he insensibly assumes a just and manly sincerity. With this talent alone, we see what crowds are drawn around enthusiasts, even destitute of common sense; what numbers converted to Christianity. Folly may sometimes set an example for wisdom to practise; and our regular divines may borrow instruction from even Methodists, who go their circuits, and preach prizes among the populace. Even Whitfield may be placed as a model to some of our young divines; let them join' to their own good sense his earnest manner of delivery.*
It will be perhaps objected, that by confining the excellencies of a preacher to proper assurance, earnestness, and openness of style, I make the qualifications too trifling for estimation : there will be something called oratory brought up on this occasion; action, attitude, grace, elocution, may be repeated as absolutely necessary to complete the character; but let us not be deceived; common sense is seldom swayed by fine tones, musical periods, just attitudes, or the display of a white handkerchief; oratorial behavior, except in very able hands indeed, generally sinks into awkward and paltry affectation.
* [" In all Whitfield's discourses, there was a fervent and melting charity, an earnestness of persuasion, an outpouring of redundant love, partaking the virtue of that faith from which it flowed, inasmuch as it seemed to enter the heart which it pierced, and to ':eal it as with balm.”-SOUTHEY, Life of Wesley, i p. 150.)
It must be observed, however, that these rules are calculated only for him who would instruct the vulgar, who stand in most need of instruction; to address philosophers, and to obtain the
haracter of a polite preacher among the polite-a much more useless, though more sought-for character-requires a different method of proceeding. All I shall observe on this head is, to entreat the polemic divine, in his controversy with the Deists, to act rather offensively than to defend; to push home the grounds of his belief, and the impracticability of theirs, rather than to spend time in solving the objections of every opponent.
" It is ten to one," says a late writer on the art of war,* “but that the assailant who attacks the enemy in his trenches, is always victorious."
Yet, upon the whole, our clergy might employ themselves more to the benefit of society by declining all controversy, than by exhibiting even the profoundest skill in polemic disputes : their contests with each other often turn on speculative trifles; and their disputes with the Deists are almost at an end, since they can have no more than victory, and that they are already possessed of, as their antagonists have been driven into a confession of the necessity of revelation, or an open avowal of atheism. To continue the dispute longer would only endanger it; the skeptic is ever expert at puzzling a debate which he finds himself unable to continue; "and, like an Olympic boxer, generally fights best when undermost."
(" Les Rêveries sur l’Art de la Guerre du Comte de Saxe;" a work reviewed by Goldsmith, in the Monthly Review for June, 1757. See vol. iv., Periodical Criticism.
PROGRESS OF POLITENESS-RULES AT A RUSSIAN ASSEMBLY.
When Catharina Alexowna was made empress of Russia, the women were in an actual state of bondage, but she undertook to introduce mixed assemblies, as in other parts of Europe; she altered the women's dress by substituting the fashions of England ; instead of furs, she brought in the use of taffeta and damask; and cornets and commodes instead of caps of sable. The women now found themselves no longer shut up
in separate apartments, but saw company, visited each other, and were present at every entertainment.
But as the laws to this effect were directed to a savage people, it is amusing enough to see the manner in which the ordi
Assemblies were quite unknown among them; the Czarina was satisfied with introducing them, for she found it impossible to render them polite. An ordinance was therefore published according to their notions of breeding, which, as it is a curiosity, and has never before been printed that we know of, we shall give our readers :
“1. The person at whose house the assembly is to be kept, shall signify the same by hanging out a bill, or by giving some other public notice by way of advertisement, to persons of both
“ 2. The assembly shall not be open sooner than four or five o'clock in the afternoon, nor continue longer than ten at night.
“3. The master of the house shall not be obliged to meet his guests, or conduct them out, or keep them company; but though he is exempt from all this, he is to find them chairs, candles, liquors, and all other necessaries that company may ask for: he
is likewise to provide them with cards, dice, and every necessary for gaming
66 4. There shall be no fixed hour for coming or going away; it is enough for a person to appear in the assembly.
“5. Every one shall be free to sit, walk, or game, as he pleases ; nor shall any one go about to hinder him, exceptions at what he does, upon pain of emptying the great eagle" (a pint-bowl full of brandy): "it shall likewise be sufficient, at entering or retiring, to salute the company.
“6. Persons of distinction, noblemen, superior officers, mer. chants, and tradesmen of note, head workmen, especially carpenters, and persons employed in chancery, are to have liberty to enter the assembly; as likewise their wives and children.
“7. A particular place shall be assigned the footmen, except those of the house, that there may be room enough in the apartments designed for the assembly.
“8. No ladies are to get drunk upon any pretence whatsoever; nor shall gentlemen be drunk before nine.
“ 9. Ladies who play at forfeitures, questions and commands, &c., shall not be riotous: no gentleman shall attempt to force a kiss, and no person shall offer to strike a woman in the assembly, under pain of future exclusion."
Such are the statutes upon this occasion, which in their very appearance carry an air of ridicule and satire. But politeness must enter every country by degrees; and these rules resemble the breeding of a clown, awkward, but sincere.*
* [These soirées are said to have been attended with the happiest effects ; though the admission of such a mixed company was sometimes productive of rather awkward situations. The great propensity which the Russians generally had for strong liquors, the ladies as well as gentlemen, was occasionally indulged in to excess, and scenes occurred that would not be tolerated in civile ized society.--See Barrow's Peter : he Great, p. 318.1
Man's province is universal, and comprehends every thing, from the culture of the earth, to the government of it: men only become coxcombs by assuming particular characters for which they are particularly unfit, though others may shine in those verv characters. But the case of the fair sex is quite different; for there are many characters which are not of the feminine gender, and, consequently, there may be two kinds of women coxcombs ; those who affect what does not fall within their department, and those who go out of their own natural characters, though they keep within the female province.
I should be very sorry to offend, where I only mean to advise and reform; I therefore hope the fair sex will pardon me, when I give ours the preference. Let them reflect, that each sex has its distinguishing characteristic, and if they can with justice (as certainly they may) brand a man with the name of a cottquean,* if he invades a certain female detail which is unquestionably their prerogative, may not we, with equal justice, retort upon them when, laying aside their natural characters, they assume those which are appropriated to us? The delicacy of their texture, and the strength of ours; the beauty of their form, and the coarseness of ours, sufficiently indicate the respective vocations. Was Hercules ridiculous and contemptible with his distaff? Omphale would not have been less so at a review, or a council-board. Women are not formed for great cares themselves, but to soothe and soften ours; their tenderness is the proper reward for the toils we undergo for their preservation; and the
* [“ A man that is too busy in meddling with women's affairs."— Phillips's New World of Words.)