Изображения страниц

O take fast hold ! let that light be thy guide,

In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide,

Who seeketh heav'n, and comes of heav'nly breath.

Then farewell, world, thy uttermost I see,
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.
Splendidis longum valedico nugis." pp. 199, 200.

The following pair of kisses would not be out of place in Joannes Secundus. They are not quite so burning as those which the amorous bard of Verona snatched from Lesbia's lips to give to immortality in song.

“Love, still a boy, and oft a wanton is,
School'd only by his mother's tender eye:

What wonder then, if he his lesson miss,
When for so soft a rod, dear play he try?

And yet my Star, because a sugar'd kiss
In sport I suck'd, while she asleep did lie,

Doth low'r, nay chide, nay threat for only this:
Sweet, it was saucy Love, not humble I.

[ocr errors]

But no 'scuse serves, she makes her wrath appear
In beauty's throne; see now, who dares come near
Those scarlet judges, threat'ning bloody pain?

O heav'nly fool! thy most kiss-worthy face,

Anger invests with such a lovely grace,
That anger's self I needs must kiss again." p. 115.

"O kiss! which dost those ruddy gems impart,
Or gems, or fruits, of new-found Paradise :

Breathing all bliss and sweet'ning to the heart;
Teaching dumb lips a nobler exercise.

O kiss! which souls, ev'n souls, together ties
By links of love, and only nature's art :

How fain would I paint thee to all men's eyes,
Or of thy gifts, at least, shade out some part !

But she forbids, with blushing words, she says,

She builds her fame on higher-seated praise :
But my heart burns, I cannot silent be.

Then since, dear life, you fain would have me peace,

And I, mad with delight, want wit to cease,
Stop you my mouth with still still kissing me.

p. 120.

The letters of Sir Philip Sidney are very justly characterized by Walpole, as “small matters. There is nothing remarkable in them either one way or another-except the following,

in which he is as "curst and brief," as Sir Toby Belch could wish. The extreme insolence of this violent little epistle, is a fair sample of the manners of that time. From the swearing virago on the throne, down through every gradation and class of society, the same haughty aud ungovernable temper was perpetually breaking out in the various shapes of formidable outrage or petty annoyance. The treatment which Sidney himself received from the Earl of Oxford, and which is detailed at length in his Life, is another striking illustration of it. One does not very well conceive how a knight (and such a knight) could have borne that mortal offence, though the De Vere had been of royal estate as well as lineage.

“Mr. Molineux-Few words are best. My letters to my father have come to the eyes of some. Neither can I condemn any but you for it. If it be so, you have played the very kņave with me; and so I will make you know, if I have good proof of it. But that for so much as is past. For that is to come, I assure you before God, that if ever I know you do so much as read any letter I write to my father, without his commandment, or my consent, I will thrust my dagger into you. And trust to it, for I speak it; in earnest. In the meantime farewell. From court, this last of May, 1578.* By me,

" Philip SIDNEY. “Indorsed, Mr. Philip Sidney to me, brought 1578, by my lord chancellor; received the 21st of June.”

“This letter was not written to the steward, as Walpole falsely states, but to the secretary of Sir H. Sidney, Edward Molineux, Esq. of Nutfield, in the county of Surrey.' Sir Philip imagined, erroneously, as he afterwards confessed, that this gentleman had basely betrayed the confidence of his employer, and turnished the onemies of the aged lord deputy with matter of accusation against him. Though the

above epistle, therefore, is sadly deficient in point of discretion and temper, it shows • the intensity of our author's filial regard; and, whatever may be deducted from our

estimation of the coolness of his head on account of it, an equivalent must, we ap prehend, be substituted in our increased love and respect for the amiable qualities of his heart."

Sir Philip's prose was more poetical than his verse ; and shews abilities which time might have ripened into the grave authorship of Raleigh, or the political wisdom of Buckhurst.

ART. III.-Eloquence of the United States. Compiled by E. B.

WILLISTON. An enlarged edition. In 5 vols.

A COMPLETE and comprehensive collection of American oratory remains still a desideratum, notwithstanding the attempt to supply it by the compiler of the work, the title of which stands at the head of this article. We despair, in fact, of beholding such a collection while the body of our unreported eloquence continues to expand in the same proportion as it has ever since the era of the Revolution. While the displays, both feeble and forcible, of our congressional orators are spread before the public in all their amplitude, the treasures of our forensic eloquence are rapidly passing into obscurity. The utmost industry will be unable, after the lapse of a few years, to gather up the materials of the national fame in this department of oratory, 80 as to put them into any durable form, or, we fear, to enshrine the least of its relics, so quickly do the splendid memorials of genius, with the barren remains of mediocrity, float together down the stream of oblivion.

The speeches delivered at the bar of the Supreme Court, stand some chance of being rescued from the fate which impends over the whole mass of our juridical eloquence, should they be characterized by power of argument or splendour of rhetoric. But how small a portion do they constitute of the great body of American forensic oratory! How unsatisfactory such specimens, if intended to exhibit the opulence of our resources and the vigour of our efforts in this single division of the art! How imperfect such materials, considered as a standard by which to measure the stature of the national mind, and the magnitude of its achievements, in this one department of oratory, embracing the pleadings before at least a hundred separate judicatories. The amount of intellectual effort impelled into this channel in the United States, is almost incalculable.

Now when it is considered that the forums of this country have ever been the nurseries of those principles which lie at the foundation of our republican constitutions--when it is recollected that under the training induced in these schools of eloquence, is acquired the moral courage which blends investigations into first principles with the defence of personal rights—when it is seen that the exhibitions of our advocates embrace almost every variety of oratory-that they unite a subtle logic with a bold declamation and appeals which address themselves to the loftiest principles of action, with such as touch the sympathies and sens sibilities of our universal nature-when these circumstances are remembered, it is impossible not to regret that so large a proportion of our juridical eloquence is irrecoverably perished. Nor is this regret lessened by the reflection that the art of reporting, with all its present “appliances and means," enables us to preserve but a few of the fragments which confer lustre on our own period.

Did we possess merely a moiety of the rich accumulations which were formed down to the era of the Revolution, what aid would not such a collection afford for tracing the principles of that great movement to their germs in the minds of the lawyers of that period! What light would not a body of such oratory lend to investigation, if by means of its recorded triumphs-its well authenticated achievements, we could follow the successive steps of so memorable a transaetion from its incipient stages to its final consummation, and behold, in distinct colours, the action of a few gifted minds on the popular sentiment of that period, with the reaction of that sentiment on the oratory which is nourished by the aliment of the passions in a season of general fermentation !

In this wreck of our oratorical treasures, if we had preserved the speeches of a small number on a limited theatre, we should then have had proper materials of comparison with other countries and epochs. If those could re-appear, with some share of their original radiance, who shed a brightness over the public councils, and who were translated from the forum to the senate, when the defence of private rights was postponed or suspended by the perils which threatened general privileges, we should then possess some means of measuring our claims to a place for our orators by the side of the mighty masters of the art.

It is the heroic ages of eloquence which can alone furnish the elements of such a comparison. The orator who rises in great conjunctures, supplies the principles of just parallel with those of a different country or epoch, who pursue the same lofty and glorious line of exertion, for he has mankind and posterity for his audience. He speaks to universal sympathies. He is the representative, as it were, of the wrongs or the privileges of the wbole human race. He addresses those principles which are immutable amid all changes of policy, all fluctuations of opinion and of manners. Like the poet who writes for futurity and mankind, he appeals to sensibilities and impulses which are common to the whole human family. He explores the sources of those universal affections by the magic of his genius, and builds on them the fabric of his enduring reputation. But in ordinary periods--in times when men's

minds do not ferment by the potent influence of wide-spread calamity, or national trial, the orator is bounded by a circle which the spirit of the age draws around him. His genius takes its colour from the general complexion of things. His aspirations are shaped to suit the “ form and pressure" of the times. His topics, his illustrations, his appeals, his invocations are borrowed from the local or accidental circumstances which colour his eloquence with the hues of the passing hour. Like the dramatist who pictures manners in their evanescent aspects or conventional forms, who writes for the existing generation and the immediate audience, the complexion of his oratory assumes that of the localities. In ordinary periods, therefore, we have not the materials of an instructive parallel. The ends of eloquence are always the same, to move, to persuade, or to delight-the means vary infinitely with the character of the audiences addressed, and the occasions which excite in a corresponding manner the genius of the speakers. The most perfect specimens of Roman, Grecian and British art, have come down to us from periods when the orator spoke to those affections which are part of the mental inheritance of the human family in all ages, when the majesty of the theme and the greatness of the theatre elevated him to the highest pitch of his art. In the absence of the elements of comparison, by which we might be able to determine our claims to oratorical distinction froin the records of the art itself, during its most glorious periods in our republic, let us turn to the characteristic differences of opposite eras for some standard by which we may measure our pretensions to rank with the nations of antiquity, and with those modern communities in which genuine eloquence has closely followed the fortunes of liberty.

It is impossible to view the subject of oratory in a clear light unless we trace out the differences discoverable in its style and spirit at different epochs, and display their connection with the character and condition of the communities to which it has been addressed, unless we show that all the peculiarities in the eloquence of a people are reflected from its manners, habits and institutions, and how these circumstances influence and modify the genius of the speakers.

1. Our social fabric is constructed of quite different materials from those of the states of antiquity. Hence the oratory of these dissimilar epochs possesses but few characteristics in commor.

Ancient eloquence had, it is well known, a stronger hold on the passions and enthusiasm of the audience, than any thing of a similar kind' in modern times, because the leisure of an VOL. V.-N0. 10.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »