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think our tea is without sugar. The phrase, “a deafening roar,” implies that men find a very loud sound temporarily incapacitates them for hearing faint ones. Το a hand which has for some time carried a heavy body, small bodies afterwards lifted seem to have lost their weight. Now, the truth at once recognized in these, its extreme manifestations, may be traced throughout. It may be shown that alike in the reflective faculties, in the imagination, in the perceptions of the beautiful, the ludicrous, the sublime, in the sentiments, the instincts, in all the mental powers, however we may classify them, action exhausts; and that in proportion as the action is violent, the subsequent prostration is great.
Equally, throughout the whole nature, may be traced the law that exercised faculties are ever tending to resume their original state. Not only after continued rest do they regain their full power; not only do brief cessations partially reinvigorate them; but even while they are in action the resulting exhaustion is ever being neutralized. The two processes of waste and repair go on together. Hence with faculties habitually exercised as the senses of all persons, or the muscles of anyone who is strong - it happens that, during moderate activity, the repair is so nearly equal to the waste, that the diminution of power is scarcely appreciable; and it is only when the activity has been long continued, or has been very violent, that the repair becomes so far in arrear of the waste as to produce a perceptible prostration. In all cases, however, when, by the action of a faculty, waste has been incurred, some lapse of time must take place before full efficiency can be reacquired; and this time must be long in proportion as the waste has been great.
Keeping in mind these general truths, we shall be in a condition to understand certain causes of effect in composition now to be considered. Every perception received, and every conception realized, entailing some amount of waste,— or, as Liebig would say, some change of matter in the brain; and the efficiency of the faculties subject to this waste being thereby temporarily, though often but momentarily, diminished, the resulting partial inability must affect the acts of perception and conception that immediately succeed. And hence we may expect that the vividness with which images are realized will, in many cases, depend on the order of their presentation; even when one order is as convenient to the understanding as the other.
There are sundry facts which alike illustrate this, and are explained by it. Climax is one of them. The marked effect obtained by placing last the most striking of any series of images, and the weakness—often the ludicrous weakness-produced by reversing this arrangement, depends on the general law indicated. As immediately after looking at the sun we cannot perceive the light of a fire, while by looking at the fire first and the sun afterwards we can perceive both; so, after receiving a brilliant, or weighty, or terrible thought, we cannot appreciate a less brilliant, less weighty, or less terrible one, while, by reversing the order, we can appreciate each. In Antithesis, again, we may recognize the same general truth. The opposition of two thoughts that are the reverse of each other in some prominent trait, insures an impressive effect and does this by giving a momentary relaxation to the faculties addressed. If, after a series of images of an ordinary character, appealing in a moderate degree to the sentiment of reverence, or approbation, or beauty, the mind has presented to it a very insignificant, a very unworthy, or a very ugly image, the faculty of reverence, or approbation, or beauty, as the case may be, having for the time nothing to do, tends to resume its full power; and will immediately afterwards appreciate a vast, admirable, or beautiful image better than it would otherwise so. Conversely, where the idea of absurdity due to extreme insignificance is to be produced, it may be greatly intensified by placing
it after something highly impressive; especially if the form of phrase implies that something still more impressive is coming. A good illustration of the effect gained by thus presenting a petty idea to a consciousness that has not yet recovered from the shock of an exciting one, occurs in a sketch by Balzac. His hero writes to a mistress, who has cooled towards him, the following letter:
"Madame:-Votre conduite m'étonne autant qu'elle m'afflige. Non contente de me déchirer le cœur par vos dédains, vous avez l'indélicatesse de me retenir une brosse à dents, que mes moyens ne me permettent pas de remplacer, mes propriétés étant grevées d'hypothèques.
"Adieu, trop belle et trop ingrate amie! Puissionsnous nous revoir dans un monde meilleur! "CHARLES-EDOUARD."
Thus we see that the phenomena of Climax, Antithesis, and Anticlimax, alike result from this general principle. Improbable as these momentary variations in susceptibility may seem, we cannot doubt their occurrence when we contemplate the analogous variations in the susceptibility of the senses. Referring once more to phenomena of vision, everyone knows that a patch of black on a white ground looks blacker, and a patch of white on a black ground looks whiter, than elsewhere. As the blackness and the whiteness must really be the same, the only assignable cause for this is a difference in their actions upon us, dependent upon the different states of our faculties. It is simply a visual antithesis.
But this extension of the general principle of economy- this further condition to effective composition, that the sensitiveness of the faculties must be continuously husbanded-includes much more than has been yet hinted. It implies not only that certain arrangements and certain juxtapositions of connected ideas are best; but that some modes of dividing and presenting a subject will be more striking than others; and that, too, irrespective of its logical cohesion. It shows why we must progress from the less interesting to the more interesting; and why not only the composition as a whole, but each of its successive portions, should tend towards a climax. At the same time, it forbids long continuity of the same kind of thought, or repeated production of like effects. It warns us against the error committed both by Pope in his poems and by Bacon in his essays,-the error, namely, of constantly employing forcible forms of expression; and it points out that as the easiest posture by and by becomes fatiguing, and is with pleasure exchanged for one less easy, so, the most perfectly-constructed sentences will soon weary, and relief will be given by using those of an inferior kind.
Further, we may infer from it not only that should we avoid generally combining our words in one manner, however good, or working out our figures and illustrations in one way, however telling; but that we should avoid anything like uniform adherence, even to the wider conditions of effect. We should not make every section of our subject progress in interest; we should not always rise to a climax. As we saw that in single sentences it is but rarely allowable to fulfill all the conditions to strength; so, in the larger sections of a composition we must not often conform entirely to the law indicated. We must subordinate the component effect to the total effect.
In deciding how practically to carry out the principles of artistic composition, we may derive help by bearing in mind a fact already pointed out, the fitness of certain verbal arrangements for certain kinds of thought. That constant variety in the mode of presenting ideas which the theory demands will, in a great degree, result from a skillful adaptation of the form to the matter. We saw how the direct or inverted sentence is spontaneously used by excited people, and how their language is also characterized by figures of speech and by extreme brevity.
Hence, these may with advantage predominate in emotional passages, and may increase as the emotion rises. On the other hand, for complex ideas, the indirect sentence seems the best vehicle. In conversation, the excitement produced by the near approach to a desired conclusion will often show itself in a series of short, sharp sentences; while in impressing a view already enunciated we generally make our periods voluminous by piling thought upon thought. These natural modes of procedure may serve as guides in writing. Keen observation and skillful analysis would, in like manner, detect further peculiarities of expression produced by other attitudes of mind; and by paying due attention to all such traits a writer possessed of sufficient versatility might make some approach to a completely organized work.
This species of composition which the law of effect points out as the perfect one, is the one which high genius tends naturally to produce. As we found that the kinds of sentences which are theoretically best are those generally employed by superior minds, and by inferior minds when excitement has raised them; so we shall find that the ideal form for a poem, essay, or fiction is that which the ideal writer would evolve spontaneously. One in whom the powers of expression fully responded to the state of feeling would unconsciously use that variety in the mode of presenting his thoughts which art demands. This constant employment of one species of phraseology, which all have now to strive against, implies an undeveloped faculty of language. To have a specific style is to be poor in speech. If we remember that in the far past men had only nouns and verbs to convey their ideas with, and that from then to now the growth has been towards a greater number of implements of thought, and consequently towards a greater complexity and variety in their combinations, we may infer that we are now, in our use of sentences, much what the primitive man was in his use of words; and that a continuance of the process that has hitherto gone on must produce increasing heterogeneity in our modes of expression. As now, in a fine nature, the play of the features, the tones of the voice and its cadences, vary in harmony with every thought uttered; so, in one possessed of a fully-developed power of speech, the mold in which each combination of words is cast will similarly vary with and be appropriate to the sentiment.
That a perfectly endowed man must unconsciously write in all styles we may infer from considering how styles originate. Why is Johnson pompous, Goldsmith simple? Why is one author abrupt, another rhythmical, another concise? Evidently in each case the habitual mode of utterance must depend upon the habitual balance of the nature. The predominant feelings have by use trained the intellect to represent them. But while long, though unconscious, discipline has made it do this efficiently, it remains, from lack of practice, incapable of doing the same for the less active feelings; and when these are excited the usual verbal forms undergo but slight modifications. Let the powers of speech be fully developed, however; let the ability of the intellect to utter the emotions be complete, and this fixity of style will disappear. The perfect writer will express himself as Junius when in the Junius frame of mind; when he feels as Lamb felt, will use a like familiar speech; and will fall into the ruggedness of Carlyle when in a Carlylean mood. Now he will be rhythmical and now irregular; here his language will be plain and there ornate; sometimes his sentences will be balanced and at other times unsymmetrical; for a while there will be considerable sameness, and then again great variety. His mode of expression naturally responding to his state of feeling, there will flow from his pen a composition changing to the same degree that the aspects of his subject change. He will thus without effort conform to
what we have seen to be the laws of effect. And while his work presents to the reader that variety needful to prevent continuous exertion of the same faculties, it will also answer to the description of all highly-organized products, both of man and of nature; it will be not a series of like parts simply placed in juxtaposition, but one whole made up of unlike parts that are mutually dependent.
Complete. From the text in the Humboldt Library.
DAVID A. HARSHA
ARSHA'S "Eminent Orators and Statesmen," is one of the most interesting collections of biography and anecdote bearing on the subject of which it treats. He has the admirable faculty of reverencing greatness, and it enables him to draw those life-like portraits which are the despair of mere criticism. He was born at South Argyle, New York, in 1827. His Eminent Orators and Statesmen," was first published in 1855. He has written biographies of Bunyan, Watts, Addison, and others.
THE METHODS OF BURKE
NE of the greatest men of the eighteenth century was Edmund Burke. the page of history his name will shine with the purest lustre to the latest posterity. Mankind will ever contemplate with admiration the character of this mighty orator, statesman, and philosopher, whose name is enrolled in the records of immortality, side by side with Cicero and Bacon. The amplitude of his mind; the exuberance of his fancy; the comprehensiveness of his understanding; the subtlety of his intellect; the grandeur and variety of his expression; the magnificence of his language; the richness and splendor of his eloquence; and above all, the boundless stores of knowledge which he possessed, will always create delight and wonder in the mind.
To assist us in forming a proper estimate of his oratorical character, we must have recourse to the descriptive sketches of his contemporaries, whose united opinion will corroborate what we unhesitatingly affirm, that in many respects Edmund Burke was the most consummate orator, the wisest statesman, and the most powerful debater the world has ever seen.
"The variety and extent of his powers in debate was greater than that of any other orator in ancient or modern times. No one ever poured forth such a flood of thought; so many original combinations of inventive genius; so much knowledge of man and the working of political systems; so many just remarks on the relation of government to the manners, the spirit, and even the prejudices of a people; so many wise maxims as to a change in constitutions and laws; so many beautiful effusions of lofty and generous sentiment; such exuberant stores of illustration, ornament, and apt allusion; all intermingled with the liveliest sallies of wit, or the boldest flights of a sublime imagination. »
No one can contemplate Mr. Burke without admiring the vast extent of his knowledge, the beauty of his imagery, the richness, variety, and splendor of his eloquence. In what follows we have the leading traits of his character as an orator noticed.