Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

fulness, if you practise it. It is this :-Never get up to say anything except you have something to say, and, when you have said it, sit down.”

But to finish properly requires all the skill you will ever be able to command. How many speeches, sermons, and lectures have been shorn of their strength and beauty by a poor finish. Strive heartily against this. Aim at driving home all the pentup power at your disposal at the end. Take the following as a sample of one kind of peroration, and you will not wonder that it lives in the memory :

Sir, I implore gentlemen-I adjure them by all they hold dear in this world—by all their love of liberty, by all their veneration for their ancestors, by all their regard for posterity, by all their gratitude to Him who has bestowed on them such annumbered and countless blessings, by all the duties which they owe to mankind, and by all the duties which they owe to themselves—to pause, solemnly pause at the edge of the precipice, before the fearful and dangerous leap is taken into the yawning abyss below, from which none who ever take it, shall return in safety.

Or take the following example of a well-arranged and effective conclusion :

Their statues are men-living, feeling, intelligent, adoring man, bearing the image of his Maker-having the impress of divinity. Their monuments are the everlasting hills which they have clothed with verdure ; their praises are the sound of health and joy in valleys which they have made fruitful; to them incense daily rises, in the perfumes of fragrant fields which they have spread with cultivation ; fair cities proclaim their glory ; gorgeous mansions speak their munificence; their names are inscribed on the goodly habitations of men, and on those hallowed temples of God, whose spires point to heaven, which, we trust, has received them.

CHAPTER IX.

STYLE AND ITS CULTIVATION. FROM what has been already said, it will, we think, be readily understood that, just as there are varieties in voice and action, so there are varieties in the character of writings, both in prose and poetry. Such being the case, it will necessitate the greatest care and taste to realise how the pieces are to be read with proper effect. Nor is this asking too much ; for, as Dr. Channing well remarks, “Is there not a source of the highest intellectual pleasure in the art of recitation or reading aloud ! To hear a work of genius recited or read by a man of fine taste, enthusiasm, and powers of elocution, is a very high and pure gratification. Were this more cultivated and encouraged amongst us, great numbers of persons now insensible to the most beautiful compositions might be awakened to their excellence and power. It is not easy to conceive a more effectual way of spreading a refined taste through a community; and it would be a most valuable addition to our social and domestic pleasures,”

Very often it will also be found that there is a combination of two or more styles, which will necessitate a corresponding combination of voice and action. Yea, even the proper expression of a single emotion or passion will need a change in the tone or action, or perhaps both alike.

While this is true, it should also be remembered that many speeches, addresses, poems, and passages of great authors have a marked, special character, and it is to those we now would draw special attention, by way of illustrating the different styles. We begin with the

PATHETIC STYLE. This is suited for pieces of a sad and mournful character ; all poems, stories, or narratives that appeal to the sympathies, or which are calculated to arouse sorrow or every feeling of pity, will partake of this style. The following will give a good idea of what is required :

THE GRAVE OF THE BELOVED. The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget ; but this wound we consider our duty to keep open ; this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude. Where is the mother that would willingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a pang ? Where is the child that would willingly forget the most tender of parents, though to remember be but to lament ? . Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whom he mourns ?- Who, even when the

[ocr errors]

tomb is closing upon the remains of her he most loved, and he feels his heart, as it were, crushed in the closing of its portal, would accept consolation that was to be bought by forgetfulness? No, the love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear of recollection, when the sudden anguish and convulsive agony over the present ruins of all that we most loved is softened away into pensive meditation on all that it was in the days of its loveliness, who would root out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may sometimes throw a passing cloud even over the bright hour of gaiety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom, yet who would exchange it even for the song of pleasure or the burst of revelry ; No; there is a voice from the tomb sweeter than song; there is a recollection of the dead to which we turn even from the charms of the living. O the grave ! the grave! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment. From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down upon the grave even of an enemy and not feel a comp cious throb that even he should have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies mouldering before him !

The grave of those we loved—what a place for meditation ! There it is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheeded in the daily intercourse of intimacy ; There it is that we dwell upon the tenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness of the parting scene; the bed of death with all its stifled griefs ; its noiseless attendants ; its mute, watchful assiduities; the last testimonies of expiring love ; the feeble, faltering, thrilling (oh, how thrilling !) pressure of the hand; the last fond look of the glazing eye turning upon us even from the threshold of existence; the faint, faltering accents struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection! Ay, go to the grave of buried love and meditate! There settle the account with thy conscience for every past benefit unrequited, every past endearment unregarded of that being who can never, never, never return to be soothed by thy contrition !

If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the silvered brow of an affectionate parent; if thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the fond bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thy arms to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth; if thou art a friend, and hast ever wronged in thought, word, or deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee ; if thou art a lover, and hast ever given one unmerited pang to that true heart that now lies cold and still beneath thy feet; then be sure that every unkind look, every ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come throng. ing back upon thy memory, and knocking dolefully at thy soul, Then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear-more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing

Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit if thou canst with these tender yet futile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of the duties to the living.

THE BURIAL OF ARNOLD.

By N. P. WILLIS.
Ye've gathered to your place of prayer

With slow and measured tread :
Your ranks are full, your mates all there;

But the soul of one has fied.
He was the proudest in his strength,

The manliest of ye all ;
Why lies he at that fearful length,

And ye around his pall ?
Ye reckon it in days since he

Strode up that foot-worn aisle,
With his dark eye flashing gloriously,

And his lip wreathed with a smile.
O had it heen but told you then,

To mark whose lainp was dim,
From out yon rank of fresh-lipped men,

Would ye have singled him ?
Whose was the sinewy arm which flung

Defiance to the ring ?
Whose laugh of victory loudest rung,

Yet not for glorying ?
Whose heart, in generous deed and thought,

No rivalry might brook,
And yet distinction claiming not?

There lies he-go and look !
On now, his requiem is done,

The last deep prayer is said ;
On to his burial, comrades, on,

With the noblest of the dead.

Slow, for it presses heavily ;

It is a man ye bear! Slow, for our thoughts dwell wearily

On the noble sleeper there. Tread lightly, comrades, ye have laid

His dark locks on his brow, Like life, save deeper light and shade :

We'll not disturb them now. Tread lightly, for 'tis beautiful,

That blue-veined eyelid's sleep,
Hiding the eye death left so dull,

Its slumber we will keep.
Rest now, his journeying is done,

Your feet are on his sod;
Death's chain is on your champion,

He waiteth here his God.
Ay, turn and weep, 'tis manliness

To be heart-broken here,
For the grave of earth's best nobleness

Is watered by the tear.

THE PAUPER'S DEATH-BED.

By MRS. SOUTHEY.
Tread softly ; bow the head,

In reverent silence bow ;
No passing bell doth toll ;
Yet an immortal soul

Is passing now.
Stranger ! however great,

With lowly reverence bow;
There's one in that poor shed,
One by that paltry bed

Greater than thou.
Beneath that beggar's roof,

Lo ! Death doth keep his state ;
Enter; no crowds attend ;
Enter; no guards defend

This palace-gate.
That pavement, damp and cold,

No smiling courtiers tread;
One silent woman stands,
Lifting with meagre hands

A dying head.

« AnteriorContinuar »