Ebenezer Porter.

Analysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and ... online

. (page 25 of 30)
Online LibraryEbenezer PorterAnalysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and ... → online text (page 25 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

45 oal moment of its proUible success^ The time may pass
quickly by you — the glorious opportunity may soon be
lost. Afler a little sleeping, a little debating, and a
little sitting upon these benches^ and a little folding of
your arms, and a short, passing space of languid procras-

50 tination, the present auspicious occasion will have dis-
appeared, and the dominion of bigotry and despotism
will come in all its might upon our slumberings, like an
armed man in the night, and destroy the peace of Ire-
land, and endanger the safety of England, and threaten

55 the liberties of the general empire. — But God forbid
that such a time may ever arrive I Tet, if it is destined
to come upon us, late and far, far distant from us be the
ill-omened crisis. If I were a lover of discord — Sir, I
am not a lover of discord — and those perhaps who con-

60 sider me so, are not only lovers of discord, because they
prefer to what they call discord and commotion, the
solitude, which absolute, unthinking obedience pays to
unmitigated despotism. I respect all men's consciences.
God forbid that I shpuld not give to their honest differ-

64 ences of opinion that toleration which I challenge for
myself. I have said that a want of conscientious hon-
esty and. frankness is the last charge which I would
bring against any man, either within these walls or out
of ooors ; but I have lived long enough to knbw that

70 most antagonists, provided they be not honesti enlight-
ened men, are very often the most perverse and perti-
nacious antagonists, and that all hopes of reclaiming them

Digitized by VjOOQIC

344 Kxutaitt. [Ex. 81.

fh>m their errors, '' so help them God/' is impossible.
It becomes us, then, to set our houses in order by times,

75 tnd to recoileet, that if we carried up the Bill, oufa^for-
mer occasioii, with a majority of nineteen, and it failed
in the House of Peers, there is ten thousand fold the ne*
cessitj of taking this last opportunity of bringing the
question to a conclusion, because an event may happen

80 — God knows how soon or how late, but God forbid that
it should be soon, when you will no longer have the op-
tion ; when even if the Bill should be carried — not by a
majority of nineteen or twenty-seven — but by a unani-
mous vote of Both Houses of Parliament, and the voice

85 of the whole country-— even if the country streamed with
blood, the measure could not be effected except by an
inseparable breach of the Crown.

81. Dangers which beset the Literature of the Age.

There are dangers of another sort, which beset the
literature of the age. The constant demand for new
works and the impatience for fame, not only stimulate
authors to an undue eagerness for strange incidents,
5 singular opinions, and vain sentimentalities, but their
style and diction are infected with the faults of extrava-
gance and affectation. The old models of fine writing
and good taste are departed from, not because they can
be excelled, but because they are known, and want

10 freshness ; because, if they have a finished coloring,
they have no strong contrasts to produce effect. T^
consequence is, that opposite extremes in the manner
of composition prevail at the same moment, or succeed
each other with a fearful rapidity. On one side are to

15 be found authors, who profess to admire the easy flow
and simplicity of the old style, the naturalness of famil-
iar prose, and the tranquil dignity of higher composi-
tions. But in their desire to be simple, they become
extravagantly loose and inartificial ; in their familiar-

20 ity, feeble and drivelling ; and in their more aspiring ef-
forts, cold, abstract, and harsh. On the other side,
there are those who have no love for polished perfection
of style, for sustained and unimpassioned accuracy, for

Digitized by VjOOQIC


persuasive, but equable diction. They require more

25 hurried tones, more* stirring spirit, more glowmg and ir-
regular sentences. There must be intensity of thought
and intensity of phrase at every turn. There must be
bold and abrupt transitions, strong relief, vivid coloring,
forcible expression. If these are present, all other

30 faults are forgiven, or forgotten. Excitement is pro-
duced, and taste may slumber.

Examples of each sort may be easily (bund in our

miscellaneous literature, among minds of no ordinary

. cast. Our poeU'y deals less than formerly with the sen-

35 timents and feelings belonging to ordinary life. It has
almost ceased to be didactic, and in its scenery and de-
scriptions reflects too much the peculiarities and mor-
bid visions of eccentric minds. How little do we see
of the simple beauty, the chaste painting, the uncon-

40 scious moral grandeur of Crabbe and Cowper? We
have, indeed, successfully dethroned the heathen dei-
ties. The Muses are no longer invoked by every un-
happy inditer of verse. The Naiads no longer inhabit
our fountains, nor the Dryads our woods. The River

45 Gods no longer rise, like M father Thames,

** And the haib*d weym gflide 9o(i\j to' the ihore."

In these respects our poetry is more true to nature,
and more conformable to just taste. But it still insists
too much on extravagant events, characters, and pas-
sions far removed from common life, and father remov-

50 ed fVom genera] sympathy. It seeks to be wild, and
fiery, and startling ; and sometimes, in its caprices, low
and childish. It portrays natural scenery, as if it were
always in violent commotion. It describes human emo-
tions, as if man were always in ecstasies or horrors.

55 Whoever writes for future ages must found himself upon
feelings and sentiments belonging to the mass of man-
kind. Whoever paints from nature will rarely depart
from the general characterof repose impressed upon her
scenery, and will prefer truth to the ideal sketches of

60 the imagination. Storjf.

Digitized by VjOOQIC

MiRCISflB. [El. 89.

82. TribuU to Hmry Kirke White.

Unhappy White ! while life was in its springs
And thy young Mase just way'd her joyous wing.
The spoiler came ; all, all thy promise fair
Has sought the grave, to sleep forever there.
5 Oh ! what a noble heart was here undone,
When Science selfdestroy'd her fkvourite son !
Yes, she too much indulged thy fond pursuit,
She sow'd the seeds, but death has reap'd the fruit.
'Twas thine own genius gave the final blow,

10 And help'd to plant the wound that laid thee low :
So the struck eagle stretch*d upon the plain.
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
Vtew'd his own feather on the fktal dart,
And wing'd the shaft that quiver'd in his heart :

15 Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel.
He nurs'd the pinion which impelled the steel.
While the same plumage that had warm'd his nest,
Drank the last li^drop of his bleeding breast.


Digitized by VjOOQIC


83. Dtftmce ^ Pulpii Eloquence.

It 18 saffioiemly evident tfa&t eloquence has a ^rong
influenoe over the minds and pasnonfi of men^

I do not call the attention of the reader to those com-
potttioos which filled Athens with valor, which agitata-
5 ed or calmed, at the will of the orator, the bosoms of a
thousand warriors, and which all nations have consent-
ed to immortalize. The thunder which Demosthenes
hurled at the bead of Philip, continues to roll to the
present hour ; and his eloquence, stripped as it is of ac-

10 tien and ntterance, mutiilated by thne, and enfeei^d by
translation, is yet powerful enough to kindle in our bo-
soms, at this remote age, a fire, which the hand of death
has extinguished in the hearts of those who were origi-
nally addressed! We pass over, also, the eloquence

15 which Cicero poured ont, in a torrent so resistless, that

the awfnl senate of Rome could not wijthstand its force ;

, an eloquence that could break confederacies, disarm

forces, control anarchy!— an eloquence tkii years

cannot impair, age cannot weaken, time cannot, de-

20 stroy ! But we appeal to its influence, in an age not
very remote, nor very nnKke the present, in a neigh-
boring coqntry, in the ministerial profession. The
name of MassUlon was more attractive tlutn aU the
perfumes that Arabia could fnrnirii ; and this was the

Sfi inoense that filled the cfanrches of spiritual Babylon.
The theatre was forsaken, while the church was enewd-
ed ; the court forgot tbdr aronsaneols^ to attend the
preacher ; and his spirit-eontPoHing ncaeate 4rew the
Qionarch from his throne to his feet, stopped the impet-

Digitized by VjOOQIC

S4S ExsRCfSEs. [Ex. 83.

30 uoos stream of dissipation, and compelled the mocking
world to listen ! This is not a picture delineated by fan-
cy, but a representation of facts ; and it is well known,
that no fashionable amosementa had attractions when
the French Bishop was to ascend the pulpit While he

35 spoke, the king trembled ; while he denounced the in*
dignation of God against a corrupted court, nobility
shrunk into nothingness : while he described the hor-
rors of a judgment to come, infidelity turned pale, and
the congregation, unable to support the thunder of his

40 language, rose from their seats in agony ! Let these
instances suffice to show the power of eloquence, the
influence which language well chosen has upon the mind
of man, who alone, of all the creatures ofGod, isable
to transmit his thoughts through the medium of speech,

45 to know, to relish, and to use the charms of language.
I am well aware that an argument is deduced from
the power of eloquence against the use of it in the pul-
pit. ' It is liable to abuse,' say they ; ' it tends to im-
pose upon the understanding, by fascinating the imagi-

50 nation.' Most true ! it is liable to abuse ; and what is
there so excellent in its nature that is not t The doc-
trines of grace have been abused to licentiousness ; and
the liberty of Christianity ' used as a cloak of malicious-
ness.' This, however, is no refutation of those doc-

55 trines, no argument against that liberty. Because elo-
quence has been abused, because it has served Anti-
christ, or rendered sin specious, is it, therefore, less
excellent in itself t or is it, for that reason, to be re-
jected from the service of holiness ? No; let it be em-

00 ployed in the service of God, and it is directed to its
noblest ends ; it answers the best of purposes !

' But the most eloquent are not always the most use-
ful : and God hath chosen the ignorant, in various in-
stances, to confound the wise.' It isgranted. But

65 does' God uniformly wc^k one way ? When he sends,
it is by whom he will send ; and he can qualify, and .
does qualify those whom he raises up for himself. He
can give powers as a substitute for literature, and
by his own energy efl^ that which eloquence alone

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Ex. 83.] 8ACRBD ELOQUENCE. 349

70 cannot. Bat we set not up this attainment against his
energy ; we know that it is useful only in dependence
upon it We know, too, why the ignorant are frequent-
ly exalted in the scale of usefulness, to show that ' the
power is not of roan, but of God ;' and ' that no flesh

75 should glory in his presence.' But has he not blessed
talents also, for the same important purpose t Has he
never employed eloquence usefully? Has his favor
been uniformly limited, or ever limited to the illiterate ?
Because he sometimes works without the means, and

80 apparently in defiance of the means, are we therefore
to lay them aside ? Who possessed more advantages,
or more eloquence than the apostle, whose words are al-
luded to in this objection ? Did Paul make a worse
preacher for being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel ?

85 But the gospel of Jesus disdains such assistance :
for the apostle says to the Corinthians, * I came not to
you with excellency of speech :' — * and my speech, and
my preaching, was not with enticing words of men's
wisdom.' That the gospel of Jesus disdains the assist-

90 ance of eloquence, in a certain sense, I admit It will
not accept any thing as its support It stands upon
its own inherent excellence, and spurns all extraneous
aid. It is a sun absorbing every surrounding luminary.
Its beauty eclipses every charm brought in comparison

95 with it Yet, is this a reason why, in enforcing its
glorous truths upon our fellow-men, we should disdain
assistance which although it aids not the gospel, is
useful to them? Follow the opposite principle, and
lay aside preaching. The gospel approves itself to the

lOOconscience; every attempt to illustrate and enforce it
is useless, when applied to the truth itself, for it cannot
be rendered more excellent than it is : yet it may be
rendered more perspicuous to our fellow-men ; it needs
enforcing as it regards them ; and preaching has been

105in6tituted by God himself for that express purpose. So.
eloquence cannot render assistance to the gospel itself ;
but may be useful to those who attend it. True elo-
quence has for its object, not merely to please, but to
render luminous ^he subject discussed, and to reach tbo

llOhearts of those concerned.

Digitized by VjOOQIC

850 EXERCI8B8. [Ex. 84t.

We live in a day wjieo it becomes as to be eqaal ev-
ery way to our adversaries. This we can never be, if
we cherish a contempt for liberal science. Infidelity
HAs her standard, and advances with daring front, to

115 'defy the armies of the living God.' Distinguished
talents rally around her ensign. The charms of elo-
quence,^ the force of reason, the majesty of literature,
the light of science, are all enlisted under her banner ;
are opposed to ' the truth as it is in Jesus.' Let us,

120 in reliance upon divine aid, meet them upon equal
terms, contend with them on their own ground, turn
against them their own weapons I Let us meet them in
the plain, or upon the mountain ; let us ascend to their
elevation, or stoop to their level ! Let us oppose sci-

125 ence to science, eloquence to eloquence, light to light,
energy to energy ! Let us prove that We are their equals
in intellect, their colleagues in literature : but that, in
addition to this, ' One is our master, even Christ' —
that we have * a more sure word of prophecy,' — and

130 that our light, borrowed from the fountain of illumina*
tion, will shine with undiminished lustre, when their
lamp, fed only by perishable, precarious supplies, shall
be for ever extinguished !

84. The Blind Preacher.

One Sunday, as I travelled through the county of
Orange, my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied
near a ruinous, old, wooden house, in the forest, not far
from the road-side. Having frequently seen such ob-
5 jects before, in travelling though these states, I had no
difficulty in understanding that this was a place of reli-
gious worship. Devotion alone should have, stopped
me, to join in the duties of the congregation ; but I
must confess, that curiosity to hear the preacher of such
10 a wilderness, was not the least of my motives.

On entering the house, I was struck with his preter-
natural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old
man — liis head, which was covered with a white linen
cap ; his shrivelled hands, and his voice, were all shaken

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Ex. 84.] 8ACREO BLOQVBNCE. 351

15 under the iafliienee of a palsy, and a few moments as-
certained to me that he was perfectly blind. The first
emotions which touched my breast, were those of min-
gled pity and veneration. But ah ! How soon were all
my feelings changed 1 It was a day of the administra-

30 tion of the sacrament, and his subject, of course, was
the passion of our Saviour. I had heard the subject
handled a thousand tirnes ; I had thought it exhausted
long ago. Little did I suppose, that in the wild woods
of America, I was to meet with a man whose eloquence

25 would give to this topic, a new and more sublime pathos
than I had ever before witnessed.

As he descended from the pulpit, to distribute the
mystic symbol, there was a peculiar, a more than hu-
man solemnity in his air and manner, which made my

30 blood run cold, and my whole frame to shiver. He
then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Saviour —
his trial before Pilate — his ascent up Calvary — his cru-
cifixion — and his death. I knew the whole history ;
but never, until then, had I heard the circumstances so

35 selected, so arranged, so colored ! It was all new ;
and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in mj
life. His enunciation was so deliberate, that his voic^
trembled on every syllable ; and every heart in the as-
sembly trembled in unison.

40 His peculiar phrases, had that force of description,
that the original scene appeared to be, at that moment,
acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the
Jews— the staring, frightful distortions of malice and
rage. We saw the buffet — my soul kindled with a

45 flame of indignation, and my hands were involuntarily
and convulsively clenched. But when he came to
touch the patience, the forgiving meekness of our Sa-
vior — when he drew, to the life, his blessed eyes stream-
ing in tears to heaven — his voice breathing to God, a

50 soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, " Fa«^
ther, forgive them, for they know not what they do," —
the voice of the preacher, which had all along faulter-
ed, grew fslinter and fainter, until his utterance being
entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he rais-

55 ed his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst intba loud

Digitized by VjOOQIC

352 EXBB0I8C8. [Ex. 85.

and irrepressible flood of grief. The e£foct was ineon-
ceivable. The whole house resoanded with the min-
gled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.
It was some time before the tumult had subsided, so

(K) far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by
the usual, but fallacious standard of my own weakness,
I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the
preacher. For I could not conceive, how he would be
able to let his audience down from the height to which

65 he had wound them, without imparing the sc^mnity
and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by
the abruptness of the fall. But the descent was as
beautiful and sublime, as the elevation had been rapid
and enthusiastic.

70 The first sentence with which he broke the awful
silence, was a quotation from Rousseau : " Socrates
died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like a God ! !"
Never before did I completely understand what Demos-
thenes meant by laying such stress on delivery.


85. Joel 2:1—11.

Joel ii. — Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound
an alarm in my holy mountain : let all the inhabitants of
the land tremble : for the day of the Lord cometh, for it
is nigh at hand ; 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess,
a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning
spread upon the mountains : a great people and a strong :
there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any
more after it, even to the years of many generations. 3 A
fire devoureth before them ; and behind them a flame burn-
eth : the land is as the garden of Eden before them,
and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and noth-
ing shall escape them. 4 The appearance of them is as
the appearance of horses; and as horsemen so shall they
run. 5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of moun-
tains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire
that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in bat-
tle-array. 6 ^Before their fkce the people shall be much
pained ; all faces shall gather blackness. 7 They shall run

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Ex. 86.] 8ACRBO BLOaUBNCB. 353

like mighty men ; they shall climb the wall like men of
war ; and thej shall march every one on his ways, and they
shall not break their ranks : 8 . Neither shall one thrust
another ; they shall walk every one in his path : and when
they fiill upon the sword, they shall not be wounded,
9 They shall run to and fro in the city ; they shall run
upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses ; they
shall enter in at the windows like a thief. 10 The earth
shall quake before them ; the heavens shall tremble : the
sun and moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw
their shining : 11 And the Lord shall utter his voice
before his army : for his camp is very great : for he is strong
that executeth his word : for the day of the Lord is great
and very terrible ; and who can abide it?

86. 2 Samuel 1 : 17—5^7.

2 Samuel i. — 17 And David lamented with this lamen-
tation over Saul, and over Jonathan his son : 18 (Also he
bade them teach the children of Judea the use of the bow :
behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.) 19 The beau-
ty of Israel is slain upon thy high places : how are the
mighty fallen I 20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in
the streets of Askelon : lest the daughters of the Philistines
rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. ,
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither
let there be rain upon you, nor fields of offerings : for there
the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of
Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. 22 From
the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow
of Jonathan turned not ba^, and the sword of Saul return-
ed not empty. 23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleas-
ant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided :
they were swifier than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed
you in scarlet, with other delights ; who put on ornaments
of gold upon your apparel. & How are the mighty fallen
in the midst of the battle I O Jonathan, thou wast slain in
thy high places. 26 I am distressed for thee, my brother
Jonathan : very pleasant hast thou been unto me : thy love

Digitized by VjOOQIC

354 BXKBCISBS. [Ex.87.

to ne was wonderfiil, pawing the bf e of woraen* ^ How
are the mighty iallea and the weapons of war peril bed !

87. RevehUioti.

All truth is from the sempiternal souree

Of light divine. But Egypt, Greece, and Rome,

Drew from the stream below. More favor'd we

Drink, when we choose it, at the fountain-head.
5 To them it flow'd much mingled and defiFd

With hurtful error, prejudice, and dreams

Illusive of philosophy, so call'd,

But falsely. Sages after sages strove

In vain to filter off a crystal draught
10 Pure from the lees, which often more enhanced

The thirst than slak'd it, and not seldom bred

Intoxication and delirium wild.

In vain they push'd inquiry to the birth

And spring-time of the world ; ask'd, Whence is man ?
15 Why form'd at all? and wherefore as he is?

Where must he find his Maker ? with what rites

Adore him ? Will he hear, accept, and bless?

Or does he sit regardless of his works ?

Has man within nim an immortal seed ?
20 Or does the tomb take all ? If he survive

His ashes, where ? and in what weal or wo?

Knots worthy of solution, which alone

A deitv could solve. Their answers vague

And all at random, fabulous and dark,
25 Lefl them as dark themselves. Their rules of life.

Defective and unsanctioned, prov'd too weak

To bind the roving appetite, and lead

Blind nature to a God not yet reveal'd.

'Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts,
90 Explains all mysteries except her own,

And so illuminates the path of life.

That fools discover it, and stray no more.

Now tell me, dignified and sapient sir.

My man of morals, nurtured in the shades
35 Of Academus— is this false or true ?

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Ex. 88.] 8ACRED BLOaUENCE. 355

Is Christ the able teacher, or the schools T

If Christ, then why resort at ev'ry turn

To Athens or to Rome, for wisdom short

Of man's occasions, when in him reside
40 Qraoe, knowledge, comfort^-^n unikthom'd store !

How oft, when Paul has serv'd us with a text.

Has Epictetns, Plato, Tully preach'd?

Men that, if now alire, would sit content

And humble learners of a Savior's worth,
45 Preach it who might. Such was their love of truth.

Their thirst of knowledge, and their candor too !


88. Daniel : 3—19.

Dan. ix. — 3 And I set my face unto the Lord Qod, to
seek by prayer and supplications, with fastings, and sack-
cloth and ashes ; 4 And I prayed unto the I^rd my God,
and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and
dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that
love him» and to them that keep his commandments ; 5
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have
done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from
thy precepts and from thy judgments : 6 Neither have we

Online LibraryEbenezer PorterAnalysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and ... → online text (page 25 of 30)