« EelmineJätka »
upon a debate in Congress. There, however, the same argument may be adduced in a different form, if the proposition discussed interferes with any stipulation by treaty or with the Constitution of the United States. The argument of illegality, therefore, is equivalent to denial of the powers of the deliberating body. It is of great and frequent use in all deliberative discussions; but is not always that which is most readily listened to by the audience. Men are seldom inclined to abridge their own authority; and the orator who questions the competency of his hearers to act upon the subject in discussion must be supported by proof strong enough to control their inclinations, as well as to convince their reason.
The arguments of possibility and of necessity are those which first command the consideration of the speaker whose object is persuasion. Since, if impossi. bility on the one hand, or necessity on the other, be once ascertained, there is no room left for further deliberation. But, although nothing more can be required for dissuasion than to show that the intended purpose is impracticable, barely to show its possibility can have very little influence in a debate; and it becomes the province of the speaker to consider its probability and facility, insisting upon every circumstance which contributes to strengthen these.
It is to be remarked, that the task of dissuasion or opposition is much easier to the orator than that of persuasion, because, for the rejection of a measure, it is sufficient to show either that it is impracticable or inexpedient. But for its adoption, both its possibility and its expediency must be made to appear. The proposer of the measure must support both the alternatives; the opponent needs only to substantiate one of them.
In discussing the probabilities and facilities of a measure, the speaker often indulges himself in the use of amplification, which here consists in the art of multiplying the incidents favorable to his purpose, and presenting them in such aspects as to give each other mutual aid and relief. As in the arguments of impossibility and necessity, he borrows from demonstrative oratory the art of approximation, and represents as impossible that which is only very difficult, or, as absolutely necessary, that which is of extreme importance.
The argument of contingency, or, as it is styled by the ancient rhetoricians, the argument from the event, derives a recommendation of the measure in debate from either alternative of a successful issue or of failure. An admirable instance of this kind of argument is contained in that advice of Cardinal Wolsey to Cromwell:
« Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just and fear not;
2. With regard to the deliberating body, there are two views in which they must be presented to the speaker's reflections, as accessible to persuasion, the motives by which they are to be stimulated, and their own manners and character. As motives of persuasion, an orator may address himself to the sense of duty, of honor, of interest, or of passion; motives which I have here arranged according to the comparative weight which they ought respectively to carry, but which, in the influence which they really possess over most deliberative assemblies, should be ranked in precisely an inverted order.
Of the sense of duty may be observed what I have already said of arguments pointed against the power of the audience. They are, indeed, only different modi. fications of the same thing. To call upon the auditory to perform a duty is to speak the language of command; it virtually denies the power of deliberation; and, although the force and efficacy of the appeal may be admitted, it is seldom listened to with pleasure, and always rather controls than persuades the will.
THE ART OF PERSUASION
Is it your
he most proper and the most powerful arguments which are usually employed
for the purposes of persuasion are those addressed to the sense of honor and
of interest. But in the choice and management of these you are to consult in a special manner the character of your audience; for one class of men will be most powerfully swayed by motives of honor, while another will most readily yield to the impulse of interest. « The discourse must be accommodated, I am now speaking the words of Cicero, not only to the truth, but to the taste of the hear
Observe then,' first of all, that there are two different descriptions of men: the one rude and ignorant, who always set profit before honor; the other polished and civilized, who prefer honor to everything. Urge, then, to the latter of these classes considerations of praise, of honor, of glory, of fidelity, of justice, - in short, of every virtue. To the former present images of gain, of emolument, of thrift; nay, in addressing this kind of men, you must even allure them with the bait of pleasure. Pleasure, always hostile to virtue, always corrupting by fraudulent imitation the very nature of goodness herself, is yet most eagerly pursued by the worst of men; and by them often preferred, not only to every instigation of honor, but even to the dictates of necessity. Remember, too, that mankind are more anxious to escape evil than to obtain good; less eager to acquire honor than to avoid shame. Who ever sought honor, glory, praise, or fame of any kind, with the same ardor that we fly from those most cruel of afflictions,- ignominy, contumely, and scorn ? Again, there is a class of men, naturally inclined to honorable sentiments, but corrupted by evil education and vitiated opinions. purpose, then, to exhort or persuade ? Remember that the task before you is that of teaching how to obtain good and eschew evil. Are you speaking to men of liberal education ? Enlarge upon topics of praise and honor; insist with the keen. est earnestness upon those virtues which contribute to the common safety and advantage of mankind. But if you are discoursing to gross, ignorant, untutored minds, to them hold up profit, lucre, money-making, pleasure, and escape from pain. Deter them also by the prospect of shame and ignominy, for no man, however insensible to positive glory, is made of such impenetrable stuff as not to be vehemently moved by the dread of infamy and disgrace. This passage of Cicero, extracted from the dialogue between himself and his son, I recommend to your meditations as the truly paternal advice of a father to his child. You will find it not only a most useful guide in the practice of deliberative oratory, but, if properly applied, it will furnish you a measure for many an audience and many a speaker. It is, however, proper to remind you that arguments of interest are in some degree purified of their dross by the constitution of our principal deliberative assemblies. They are representative bodies. Their measures operate upon their constituents more than upon themselves. The interests to which you appeal in arguing to them are not their individual interests, but those of the nation. They are, therefore, often identified with the more elevated topics of honor; since to promote the interest of the people is the highest honor of the legislator. This, however, is sufficiently understood by most of our deliberative orators. As for you, my young friends, whenever you may be called to deliberate upon the concerns of your country, I trust you will feel that the honor, as well as the inter
est of the public, is the object of your pursuit; and, without ever forgetting the sacred regard to the general interest which becomes a virtuous citizen, you will still perceive the immeasurable distance between those regions of the soul which are open only to the voice of honor and those which are trodden by the foot of avarice.
In all numerous assemblies the characters, opinions, and prejudices of the auditors will be various; a certain proportion of them will belong to each of the classes enumerated by Cicero. In such cases the deliberative orator will find it advisable to introduce a variety of arguments; some addressed to the generous, and some to the selfish, feelings; some to the coarsest, and some to the most refined, principles of action. But I cannot, with Quintilian, discuss the question, how far an orator may exert his talents of persuasion for base and dishonorable purposes, or urge his hearers to actions which he himself would detest or despise. In judicial controversies, where the discussion relates to time and actions irretriev. ably past, it may often be the fortune of the orator to defend what he cannot justify; and in the most rigorous court of justice or of honor, he may say, like Shakespeare's Isabella,
«I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage, whom I dearly love."
But of deliberative eloquence the first principle is sincerity. No honest man would advise what he cannot approve; and a counsellor should disdain to recommend that which he would not join in executing himself. And this leads me to the third general head, from which the means of persuasion are to be drawn in deliberative oratory,— the speaker himself.
3. The eloquence of deliberation will necessarily' take much of its color from the orator himself. He must be careful to suit his discourse to his own character and situation. In early life he may endeavor to make strong impression by the airy splendor of his style, contrasted with the unaffected modesty of his address. If advanced in years, and elevated in reputation and dignity, the gravity of his manner and the weight of sentiment should justly correspond with the reverence due to his station. It is in deliberative assemblies, more than upon any other stage of public speaking, that the good opinion of his auditory is important to the speaker. The demonstrative orator, the lawyer at the bar, derive great advantage from a fair reputation and the good will of their hearers; but the peculiar province of the deliberative speaker is to advise; and what possible effect can be expected from advice, where there is no confidence in the adviser ? This subject, however, is so important and so copious, that I shall reserve it for a separate lecture, in which I propose to consider those qualities of the heart and of the mind, which are, or ought to be, best adapted to acquire that benevolence of the auditory which is so powerful an auxiliary to the power of speech.
In treating this part of the subject, Aristotle, according to his usual custom, has pursued his train of analysis to its deepest root, and to its minutest ramification. Assuming, as a fundamental position, that utility, that is, the attainment of good or avoidance of evil, is the ultimate object of all deliberation, he proceeds to enumerate a catalogue of everything considered as a blessing by human beings. These blessings he divides into two classes: first, of those universally recognized and positive; and second, of those which are only relative and subject to controversy. Among the former he includes virtue, health, beauty, riches, eloquence, arts, and sciences. Among the latter are the least of two evils: the contrary to what your enemy desires; the esteem of the wise; what multitudes desire; and specific
objects to individual men. The forms of government also modify the prevailing
The deliberative orator, whose appeal must always be to the
DECLAMATION, COMPOSITION, AND DELIVERY
The ancient practice of declamation was an ingenious and useful exercise, for
improving in the art of deliberative oratory. A character and a situation,
generally known in history, were assumed; and the task of the declaimed was to compose and deliver a discourse suitable to them. The Greek and Roman historians introduce speeches of this kind in the midst of their narratives; and among them are so many examples of the most admirable eloquence, that we regret the cold accuracy of modern history which has discarded this practice, without providing any adequate substitute in its stead.
As amplification has been said to be the favorite resort of demonstrative oratory, the allegation of examples is the most effectual support of deliberative dis
There is nothing new under the sun. The future is little more than a copy of the past. What hath been shall be again. And to exhibit an image of the past is often to present the clearest prospect of the future. The examples, which are adduced successfully by the deliberative speaker, are of two kinds: first, fictitious inventions of his own; second, real events borrowed from historical fact. The first of these are called by Aristotle fables, and the second parables. The fable, which may be invented at the pleasure of the speaker, is more easily applied to his purpose; but the parable, always derived from matter of fact, makes a deeper impression upon the minds of the audience. In the rude ages or society, and among the uncultivated class of mankind, the power of fable, and still more of parable, to influence the will is scarcely conceivable upon mere speculative investigation. But it is demonstrated by the uniform tenor of all human experience. The fable of Menenius Agrippa stands conspicuous in the Roman annals. It pacified one of the most dangerous insurrections which ever agitated that turbulent but magnanimous people. The Scriptures of the Old Testament bespeak the efficacy of these instruments in a
no less energetic. But their unrivaled triumph is in the propagation of the Christian Gospel, whose exalted founder, we are told,“ needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man,” and who delivered his incomparable system of moralityaltogether through the medium of fables and parables, both of which, in the writings of the Evangelists, are included in the latter term. “And with many parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it; but without a parable spake he not unto them. »
The principal feature in the style of deliberative oratory should be simplicity. Not that it disdains, but that it has seldom occasion for decoration. The speaker should be much more solicitous for the thought than for the expression. This constitutes the great difference between the diction proper for this, and that which best suits the two other kinds of oratory. Demonstrative eloquence, intended for show, delights in ostentatious ornament. The speaker is expected to have made previous
preparation. His discourse is professedly studied, and all the artifices of speech are summoned to the gratification of the audience. The heart is cool for the reception, the mind is at leisure for the contemplation of polished periods, oratorical numbers, coruscations of metaphor, profound reflection, and subtle ingenuity. But deliberative discussions require little more than prudence and integrity. Even judicial oratory supposes a previous painful investigation of his subject by the speaker, and exacts an elaborate, methodical conduct of the discourse. But deliberative subjects often arise on a sudden, and allow of no premeditation. Hearers are disinclined to advice which they perceive the speaker has been dressing up in his closet. Ambitious ornament should, then, be excluded rather than sought. Plain sense, clear logic, and above all, ardent sensibility,—these are the qualities needed by those who give, and those who take, counsel. A profusion of brilliancy betrays a speaker more full of himself han of his cause; more anxious to be admired than believed. The stars and ribands of princely favor may glitter on the breast of the veteran hero at a birthday ball; but, exposed to the rage of battle, they only direct the bullet to his heart. A deliberative orator should bury himself in his subject. superintending providence, he should be visible only in his mighty works. Hence that universal prejudice, both of ancient and modern times, against written, deliberative discourses; a prejudice which bade defiance to all the thunders of Demosthenes. In the midst of their most enthusiastic admiration of his eloquence, his countrymen nevertheless remarked, that his orations (smelt too much of the lamp.”
Let it, however, be observed, that upon great and important occasions the deliberative orator may be allowed a more liberal indulgence of preparation. When the cause of ages and the fate of nations hangs upon the thread of a debate, the orator may fairly consider himself as addressing not only his immediate hearers, but the world at large, and all future times. Then it is, that, looking beyond the moment in which he speaks, and the immediate issue of the deliberation, he makes the question of an hour a question for every age and every region; takes the vote of unborn millions upon the debate of a little senate, and incorporates himself and his discourse with the general history of mankind.
On such occasions and at such times, the oration naturally and properly assumes a solemnity of manner and a dignity of language commensurate with the grandeur of the cause. Then it is that deliberative eloquence lays aside the plain attire of her daily occupation, and assumes the port and purple of the queen of the world. Yet even then she remembers that majestic grandeur best comports with simplicity. Her crown and sceptre may blaze with the brightness of the diamond, but she must not, like the kings of the gorgeous East, be buried under a shower of barbaric pearls and gold.