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But especially must the orator acquaint himself with all the general matters and details belonging to his special department of oratory. This is the requisition made upon the lawyer, the statesman, and the preacher, if they would attain the highest distinction in oratory. Speakers must be "eloquent by their wisdom," in mastering everything belonging to the profession. The secular orator must be an untiring and profound student of British and American eloquence. The celebrated speeches of the master-minds ought to be dwelt upon and repeated until committed to memory. 32
The pulpit orator, for instance, must be a theologian and a teacher of theology.33 If he is "mighty in the scriptures" he will, like Apollos, and for the same reason, be an 66 eloquent man." The preacher should be so well acquainted with his textbook, the Bible, that when the flush of the extemporaneous is upon him, the rich stores of revealed truth and Scriptural expression, without the aid of concordance or reference Bible, will spring to his lips. The realms of theological literature, including exegetical, historical, systematic and practical theology, in all their highways and byways, should be thoroughly known by the pulpit orator. His stock of sermonic literature must be coextensive with the writings of all the best sermonizers-those uniting deep spirituality with extensive learning, together with simplicity, clearness, and force of expression.34 And still further, the ideal orator makes himself thorough master of the subject-matter upon which
he speaks. Copiousness of matter will cure nearly half the defects of the orator's elocution. "All men," says Socrates, "are sufficiently eloquent in that which they understand." Cicero puts this same thought in a negative form: "No man can be eloquent upon any subject he does not understand." Mr. Webster once replied to a gentleman who pressed him to speak on a subject of great importance: "The subject interests me deeply, but I have not time. There, sir," pointing to a large number of letters on the table, "is a pile of unanswered letters, to which I must reply before the close of the session (which was then three days off). I have not time to master the subject so as to do it justice." "But, Mr. Webster, a few words from you would do so much to awaken public attention to it." "If there be so much weight in my words as you represent," Webster replied, "it is because I do not allow myself to speak on any subject till I have imbued my mind with it." Wirt, though fluent and in constant practice, would never speak, if he could help it, without the most laborious preparation. For extemporaneous after-dinner speeches "he had a mortal horror.” "Which is your best sermon?" was asked of Massillon. "The one I know best," he replied. “Make yourself master of your subject," is Bishop Simpson's advice. Garrick said of Whitefield: "He is at his best when he has preached a sermon for the fortieth time." Emerson's discussion of this subject is apt: "The orator must have the fact and know how to tell it. In any knot of men conversing on
any subject, the person who knows most about it will have the ear of the company, if he wishes it, and lead the conversation, no matter what genius or distinction other men there present may have; and in any public assembly, him who has the facts, and can and will state them, people will listen to, though he is otherwise ignorant, though he is hoarse and ungraceful, though he stutters and screams.
In every company, the man with the fact is like the guide you hire to lead your party up the mountain, or through a difficult country. He may not compare with any of the company in mind, or breeding, or courage, or possessions; but he is much more important to the present need than any of them. Such is the knowledge demanded of the orator who aspires to high rank."
We offer this caution: The orator must not be trammelled by his knowledge. The power of disembarrassing the speech of everything not making for the main issue cannot be overestimated. If one has not the judgment judiciously to select from his stores of knowledge, he would as well or better have less knowledge. The great orators, with scarcely an exception, have had this reserve power, or power of selection, as to the use of materials; and scarcely a writer upon the subject of oratory has failed to impress the importance of this power upon his readers. Cicero's observations are so terse and wise as to entitle them to a representative rank :
"But the orator, by his eloquence, represents all those things which in the common affairs of life are considered
evil, and troublesome, and to be avoided, as heavier and more grievous than they really are; and at the same time amplifies and embellishes, by power of language, those things which to the generality of mankind seem inviting and desirable; nor does he wish to appear so very wise among fools as that his audience should think him impertinent or a pedantic Greek, or, though they very much approve his understanding, and admire his wisdom, yet should feel uneasy that they themselves are but idiots to him; but he so effectually penetrates the minds of men, so works upon their senses and feelings, that he has no occasion for the definitions of philosophers, or to consider, in the course of his speech,' whether the chief good lies in the mind or in the body;''whether it is to be defined as consisting in virtue or in pleasure;' whether these two can be united and coupled together;' or 'whether,' as some think, 'nothing can be known, nothing clearly perceived and understood;' questions in which I acknowledge that a vast multiplicity of learning and a great abundance of varied reasoning is involved; — but we seek something of a far different character: we want a man of superior intelligence, sagacious by nature and from experience, who can acutely divine what his fellow-citizens, and all those whom he wishes to convince on any subject by his eloquence, think, feel, imagine, or hope."
XIV. The ideal orator is a master in those arts of eloquence adjoining the fields of Elocution.
These arts are included chiefly under gestureculture and voice-culture, the details of which belong to another treatise. Hence only in a general way, in the present volume, can this subject be presented.
There is a noticeable agreement among all writers upon oratory as to the great importance of both the study of models and the law of constant practice.
British forensic and pulpit orators, as already noticed, have been diligent students, especially of Greek models. That was a suggestive remark in one of Lord Brougham's letters to Macaulay, already quoted. (See p. 107.)
The statement of Sydney Smith is also to the point: "After all, it is impossible to gain a just expression of voice and gesture merely from rules, without practice and imitation of the best examples." And Professor Shepard's recommendation to preach