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SERMOCINATIO.

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the country.'-But what is this good for?-'Why, individuals prosper and get rich.'—And what good does that do? [Here the dialogue ends.] I should insult this audience by attempting to prove that a rich man, as such, is neither better nor happier than a poor one. [Here it is resumed.] 'But as men grow rich, they live better !'—Is there any good in this stopping here?—' But these improvements increase the population.'—And what good does that do ?"

A speech is very much enlivened by this figure. The conversation must be natural, and well represented in the voice and manner of the speaker. It adds much to the effect if the author represents the character of the person correctly whom he thus summons up before him. If the fancied person is a philosopher, he must talk like a philosopher; if a clown, like a clown. The audience will be displeased if any unfairness is shown. A "man of straw," or personage representing baseless objections, must not be called up.

We often meet this figure in sermons, especially in the form of supposing some auditor to object to the speaker, or to converse with him. The following is a specimen, slightly abbreviated, from, the sermons of John Wesley: "I ask, What can make a wicked man happy? You answer, 'He has gained the whole world.' -We allow it; and what does this imply?-'He has gained all that gratifies the senses.'-True; but can eating and drinking make a man happy? This is too coarse food for an immortal spirit.-'He has another resource-applause, glory. And will not this make him happy?—It will not; for he can not be applauded by all men; no man ever was. It is certain some will blame, and he that is fond of applause will feel more

pain from the censure of the one, than pleasure from the praise of many.”

80. Use of this Figure.-To excel in the use of this figure, requires great skill and mental culture. The principles and directions given in the chapter on Representative Writing are nearly all applicable to it, and should be carefully studied.

VISION.

CHAPTER XII.

VISION.

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81. Definition, and Examples.-THE representation of what is past, future, or absent, or of a fancied occurrence, as though it was present, is properly called Vision.

Under the influence of a vivid imagination a speaker fancies what he is describing as now passing before him; and if he can succeed in producing the same temporary illusion in his hearers, the impression made by his description is much stronger than it would otherwise be.

In the description of a murder, Daniel Webster employed this figure in a passage of great power. After using the simple narrative style in the beginning of the description, as though the event had long since happened, stating that the "deed was executed with self-possession;" "deep sleep had fallen on the victim;" "his sleep was sweet," etc., he immediately changes his narrative into the present tense, as though the thing was happening now, in the presence of the judge and jury, and says:

“The assassin enters, through the window already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he winds up the ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chamber."

After using the present tense for a few minutes, he returns to the narrative style, and says:

"The room was unconsciously open to the admission of light. The face of the innocent sleeper was turned from the murderer," etc.

Then he resumes the vision:

"The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without a struggle or motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death!”

How much more impressive is this than the cold narrative style!

Frequent transitions from the past to the present are common in excited narrative, as the nature of the events described often require the narrative style, and will not admit of being represented in Vision.

In the well-known description of the battle of Waterloo by Byron, this figure is introduced with great effect. We have room only for a few lines of it. It will be perceived that it begins in the historical style, but the last line of the first stanza employs the figure of Vision.

"There was a sound of revelry by night,

And Belgium's capital had gathered there
Her beauty and her chivalry; and bright
The lamps shone over fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when

Music arose with its voluptuous swell,

Soft eyes looked love to eyes that spoke again,

And all went merry as a marriage bell;—
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell."

The next stanza describes the consternation of the company, in Vision, as though present, and then the past returns to the narrative style, and does not resume the present tense again in the whole description

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till the very last, when, in describing the field after the battle, he abruptly brings it before us as though we could see it, saying:

THE HISTORICAL PRESENT.

"The earth is covered thick with other clay,

Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse-friend, foe-in one red burial blent!"

Such a production shows us the power of this figure of speech.

82. The Historical Present. So common is it in historical writings, that the use of the present tense of verbs for the past tense is by some grammarians called "the historical present." Modern writers do not use it so frequently as the ancient writers. It should be employed sparingly, and only in excited narratives, or it will soon lose all its effect.

To show its frequency and power, we briefly refer to a few examples.

Everett, in an oration on the Pilgrims, has a very eloquent passage, beginning with these words:

"Methinks I see it now that one solitary adventurous vessel, the Mayflower of a forlorn hope, freighted with the prospects of a future state, and bound across the unknown sea."

The whole passage is one of the sublimest descriptions in the English language. At the close of it the student will observe also an excellent specimen of the apostrophe, beginning:

"Tell me, man of military science! in how many months were they all swept off by the thirty savage tribes enumerated within the early limits of New England? Tell me, politician! how long did the shadow of a colony, on which your conventions and treaties had not smiled, languish on the distant coast?"

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