Imágenes de páginas

the most effective and overwhelming orators because his reason was penetrated and made red-hot by his passion." Lord Brougham's speeches were spoken of as 66 law papers on fire." To this list may be added the names of Curran, Grattan, Pitt, Patrick Henry, Webster, and Clay. Rufus Choate deserves special mention, for in earnestness among American orators he stands pre-eminent. Reporters were

accustomed to call his speech "chain-lightning." In addressing a jury, his whole frame seemed charged with electricity; clinching his fists, quivering in every limb, dishevelling his hair, whispering, then screaming, he seemed more like a madman or fiend than like the accomplished scholar and perfect gentleman he really was.

Pulpit oratory abounds in examples of marked earnestness or passion. Chrysostom was elegant, but also impressively and passionately energetic. It was the same with Martin Luther. "If I wish to compose, or write, or pray, and preach well," he says, "I must be (zornig) mad." Bourdaloue and Massillon were likewise men of true oratoric passion. Still more so was Robert Hall. He used to say: "If I should speak slow, it would be my ruin." In his zeal he abandoned himself entirely to his subject, and "often seemed," says Hazlitt, as if in mortal throes and agonies." The intensity and impetuosity of Chalmers were so great as to render manuscript delivery in his case advisable, if not absolutely necessary. John M. Mason, when asked the secret of Dr. Chalmers' power, replied: “his


blood earnestness." his force, "his prodigious energy," been intellectualized and sanctified, it would have "made him, who was the greatest of orators, the strongest of ruffians—a mighty murderer upon the earth.” It was somewhat the same with Baxter. "When he spoke of weighty soul concerns," says one of his contemporaries, "you might find his very spirit drenched therein."

It is said of him that, had not

Whitefield was profoundly in earnest; his impassioned entreaties and appeals often rose to the verge of what may be termed " intensified vehemence." John Wesley, too, certainly appreciated earnestness in delivery. His brother Charles once tried to draw him away from a mob in which some coarse women were scolding each other. He replied: "Stop, Charles, and learn how to preach." "I go to hear

Rowland Hill," said Sheridan, "because his ideas come red-hot from the heart." The impetuosity of Phillips Brooks bears along and greatly delights his auditors. In his address before the Episcopal Congress at Philadelphia he argued that earnest preaching is the great element in preserving spiritual life, and that there would be less declension if ministers had more of the spirit of Heaven and of Christ in their preaching." The following estimate of Mr. Moody, taken from the New York Tribune, is suggestive and will be generally indorsed: "Mr. Moody possesses little rhetorical power, less culture, and no learning; yet his unusual earnestness and simplicity keep all his hearers enchained."

We shall hardly be allowed to pass this point without alluding to what is termed unction. Three species of unction can be enumerated:

(1) Physical unction, or that earnestness which. comes of the brute force in man. It may be secured by rasping oneself into an excitement through vigorous gesticulation and loud enunciation. With ignorant people, at least this so-termed "able-bodiedness" has much credit, and it may in some instances contribute to other and higher types of oratorical energy. 15

(2) Intellectual unction, or that earnestness which is aroused by lofty and inspiring intellections or by profound sympathy with objects demanding attention or pity. It is artificially attained by stimulating the intellect until the rhetorical and oratorical instincts and intuitions act with unwonted rapidity and accuracy. That degree of physical exercise which, without exhaustion, perfects the blood circulation; also stimulants of various kinds, together with the reading of vigorous literature, and, with some people, earnest conversation, result in intellectual unction. When it can be done, the best way for the orator to secure this quality, and introduce it into his speech, is for him to hold his mind in close contact with the truth he is to utter until white heat is evolved.

(3) The unction of the Holy Ghost, or that earnestness which comes from a heart filled with love to God and man, and a voice and manner brought into perfect harmony with that mental and spiritual state." It is, of all qualities, that which best adorns

the pulpit, though it is extremely difficult of analysis and definition. It is in such perfect keeping with the popular idea of preaching as to be regarded indispensable. Intellectual superiority always yields to it." It is better," says St. Bernard, "than erudition or stores of acquired learning.” 16

This unction of the Holy Ghost, the sublimest of all elements in preaching, is secured, as Dr. Tyng suggests, "by the power of prayer, the power of humble, self-renouncing faith, the power of a close, patient, loving walk with Jesus." "The most mighty eloquence and the most devoted diligence," says Bridges, "will be utterly inefficient without the unction that is brought down from heaven by frequent and fervent supplication."

Two or three concluding remarks as to earnestness, in both platform and pulpit oratory, claim attention.

First, oratorical passion cannot be assumed; it must be evolved and be spontaneous. If assumed, the result will be rant. In Faust we read:

"But never a heart will be ignited,

Comes not the fire from the speaker's heart."

"Nothing is lasting," as Ben Jonson says, "that is feigned." Monod concludes a discussion of this subject in these words:

"Put no more warmth into your manner than you have in your heart. This honesty in speaking-allow me the

expression will constrain you to introduce a more sincere and profound warmth than you would ever have attained in any other way. It will, besides, have a salutary reaction on your writing, and even on your soul. For, displaying things as they are, it will bring your faults to light, and admonish you to correct them."

Second. Earnestness should be sought through interest in the hearers, and self-abandonment to the subject. No speaker can be truly eloquent who, while speaking, thinks of the movement of his hands, the intonation of his voice, or the fit of his necktie. The attention and the tension must be not to the superficial, but to the vital and profound.

Third. Conscience, intellect, and passion constitute the trinity and perfection of man; hence it matters not how strong are the passions, if they are under the firm control of conscience and intellect.

The advantages of this spontaneous, self-forgetful, and morally controlled earnestness are so many that they can hardly be enumerated. A few principal benefits ought not to be passed unnoticed. Enthusiastic earnestness and passion, for instance, often make even stale subjects glisten like December stars. The psychological, rather, the physiological, reason for this seems to be that, the brain of the speaker being stimulated, influences the brains of the auditors. The brain-tissue of one looking upon Niagara is said to be thrown into very rapid movement; it is exhilarating; it is upon the same principle the Niagara style of delivery sets the brain of the hearer into an active and delightful phosphorescent state.

« AnteriorContinuar »