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sentence with condensed meaning. This will fasten itself in your hearers' memories, and will tell on them when the recollection of your smooth ample phrases has passed away. These pungent bits may even be rough or quaint, so that they are striking. Alliteration may often be used effectively here. Many of Sydney Smith's and Cobbett's most successful sayings, which stuck like waspstings, owe half their success to alliteration. Antithesis, too, may be here well employed. But both Alliteration and Antithesis are to be used occasionally only, and with discretion. If you make them predominant elements of your style, you will poison it. Jokes also and facetious passages do great service, if they are not only good in themselves but well-timed. If systematic, they are detestable. Sarcasm and Irony are powerful weapons of much more frequent utility : but take care that your Sarcasm is not coarse or palpably ungenerous, and that your Irony is not so finedrawn that common hearers will suppose you to be in earnest.
All that has been written here, and most of what you will read in Treatises on Rhetoric, presupposes great care and labour in oratorical preparation. The question arises (and it was asked of old) whether this assiduous habit of preparation may not unfit a man for extempore speaking; and, as all agree, the man who does not possess, and who finds that he cannot acquire the power of speaking off-hand with fluency and tolerable effectiveness when occasion requires it, had better give up the study of oratory. Read what Quintilian has written on this subject in his seventh book. He will teach you that long training (if wisely conducted) will not incapacitate, but will qualify you for the best possible exertion of your natural powers, when suddenly called into action. “Ars semel percepta non labitur.” And it is very rarely indeed that a man is called on to speak without having some warning before hand. A very short time for preparation will suffice for a skilful debater. You may think over, and may
arrange the bulk of your speech while you are delivering your proemiun ; and some common-places, which you may easily remember, will serve for a proemiun. If, under such circumstances, you are a little slower than usual in your delivery, it will seem respectful to your audience :-"Tardior pron unciatio moras habet, ut tamen deliberare ,non hæsitare videam ur.” But, above all things, use whatever modicum of time you can gain, in determining, and, if possible, in composing your conclusion. Hamilton's advice on this is excellent. “ Consider of your conclusion, that you may be ready to finish, whenever you may find it convenient.” You should do this under all circumstances and for every kind of speaking. Without it all may be marred. For example, how common it is for a man in an after-dinner speech after winning favourable opinions by some clever and well-poised sentences, not to know how to finish gracefully, but to go maundering on with repetitions and platitudes, until he sets every one against him.
If you have more time, but not enough for preparing a complete speech, prepare and arrange your best possible sentences to be used in the most favourable and important parts of your subject. I have already quoted some advice from Hamilton showing how to introduce these “Purpurei Panni ” to the best advantage, so as to disguise their artificial character, and make them seem natural portions of the whole speech.
Many indeed of our most effective modern orators have never done more in the way of preparation, than determine mentally the arrangement and tone of what they mean to say, and work up as well as possible such special parts as seemed likely to be most effective. Thus we read in Hoey's memoir of Plunkett that
“Of the method of his public speaking he [Plunkett] told Shiel, who told George Henry Moore (so that the tradition reaches us through a line of orators accomplished in the art), that he always carefully prepared to the very syllable the best passages, and the best only of his great speeches; and used these as a kind of rhetorical stepping stones, trusting to his native force and fluency for sustaining the style."
I ought now, in order to fill up my full plan, to discuss the comparative merits, as models, of the speeches of Plunkett, and many other modern Orators, as well as of the ancient. But to do this properly would require very many pages, and I am already out of bounds. I will only cite and recommend besides Demosthenes, the speeches of Lysias, Isæus, and Æschines, among the Greeks: the orations of Cicero, Pro Milone, Pro Flacco, Pro Fonteio, Pro Cælio, Pro Cluentio, the orations against Rullus, and
Conspicuæ divina Philippica Famu
Volvitur a primâ quæ proxima. In English oratory I would specify Burke's Speeches in 1774 on American Taxation, his speech in 1775 on moving the resolutions for consolidation with the Colonists; Pitt's Speech on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Grattan on the Declaration of Irish Rights, Erskine's Defences of Stockdale and of Hardy, Curran's Speech for Finnerty, Plunkett's summing-up of the evidence when he was Junior Counsel against Emmet, and Canning's Speech at Plymouth in 1823, and his Speech in the House of Commons on April 28th in that year on the Foreign Policy of England, and the chances of a general European war.
There has been great difference of opinion among able men as to the good and the ill effects of frequent and early participation in the sham-fights of debating societies. My own opinion is decidedly in favour of attending them, provided (and the proviso is very important) that the student always remembers the nature of the place and its proper purpose. Generally speaking, there is not the slightest practical interest felt in a debating society as to what may be the vote of the majority. The speaker is apt to think of nothing but of getting applause ; and for this purpose he ranges, fancy led, into all kinds of collateral topics, and is likely to devote an undue proportion of his oratory to saying smart things about the other debaters. This vice of wandering from the subject is a very pernicious one, as he will find when he has to speak in real earnest in after-life. The student, when at a debating society, should ever keep before his mind the fact that his purpose is not to win plaudits in that mimic encounter, but to get well trained for actual conflicts hereafter. He must keep to the strict purpose of the theme of discussion with unceasing watchfulness over himself. When used in this spirit of self-control, a debating society furnishes a young man with an education, such as it is impossible for him to get elsewhere, in readiness of speech, in delivery, and in the power of thinking while he is on his legs. I believe every exercise to be useful which aids in giving any of these qualifications. We know, for instance, on Lord Holland's authority, that Charles James Fox was in youth passionately fond of private theatricals. Those who share (or who have shared) in this fondness for the amateur stage, may hear with interest Lord Holland's opinion that those early tastes and habits were of great service to his illustrious kinsman on the stage of real life, by giving a familiar knowledge of our dramatic literature, which enriched his vocabulary and supplied him with an unusual store of apposite, though not hackneyed, quotations. Lord Holland adds that “his practice of acting was not less useful to him as an orator in the modulation of his voice.” Lord Holland might have alluded also to the great advantage, which every one, who is destined to a career of which public speaking forms an important part, derives from getting used to the sound of his own voice, and from conquering early in life that terrible impediment to oratory which is so expressively termed “stage fright.”
I have in the opening part of this Essay spoken of the continued study of Ethics as an indispensable part of the education which is to lead to the Forum, and as a requisite never to be abandoned amid the toils and turmoils of the Forum itself. I wish, in conclusion, to repeat that statement, and especially the last part of it. However honourably an Advocate may practise his profession, the habit of arguing in favour of a pre-appointed conclusion, instead of letting the conclusion depend on a free and full examination of the arguments on all sides, has an unhealthy effect on the mind. Much of what Plato wrote in this respect about the rhetoricians of his age comes unpleasantly home to modern advocates.* . In order to counteract as far as possible this evil influence, always keep up some line of study, in which you seek after truth for the sake of truth, and for the sake of truth alone. Verum propter verum. The exact sciences, the great sciences of natural philosophy—for instance, Astronomy, philology in her numerous departments—and many more domains of knowledge will give you ample choice for a worthy subject. Do this; and in your conduct also as to
of the Jurists of old Rome, who taught that “jurisprudentia est divinarum atque humanarum rerum notitia, justi atque injusti scientia ;” † and by whom its primary functions were recog
• See, for instance, the “ Theætetus" of Plato, where Socrates speaks of the nobler position of the real lovers of Truth :-"We stand in pointed contrast with politicians and rhetors in the public assembly or Dikastery. We are like freemen: they, like slaves. They have before them the Dikasts, as their masters, to whose temper and approbation they are constrained to adapt themselves. They are also in presence of antagonists ready to entrap and confute them. The personal interests, sometimes even the life, of an individual are at stake; so that everything must be sacrificed to the purpose of obtaining a verdict. Men brought up in these habits become sharp in observation and emphatic in expression, but merely with a view to win the assent and approbation of the master before them as to the case in band. No freo aspirations or spontaneous enlargement can have place in their miods. They become careless of true and sound reasoning-slaves to the sentiment of those they address and adepts in crooked artifice which they take for wisdom” (II. Grote's “ Plato," p. 389). Sir Alexander Grant's second essay, near the beginning of the first volume of his recent edition of the “ Nicomachean Etbics," deserves reference. At page 127 he says, very truly, “ Rhetoric usually juggles the mind of the speaker as well as of his audience. It takes off the attention of both from examining the truth.”
† Ulpian, as cited in the Digest I. i. 1.