« PreviousContinue »
ous presentation of the theory, with illustrations and directions how to profit by it.
Examples both for imitation and disapproval, in this work, have been drawn from modern as well as ancient writers, American as well as foreign-from some not widely known, as well as from the most celebrated.
As it regards the best use to be made of the book, I would respectfully suggest to teachers that students of Rhetoric should always combine practice with study, and should be required to produce either original or selected examples of every figure of speech, of every kind of composition, and of every style described. Once a week, perhaps, the class may present in writing specimens or illustrations of what has been studied during the week, and the exercises suggested in Part IV. should all be fairly wrought out after the previous parts have been studied. In this way the science and art are so welded together in the memory as to be of permanent value.
It is also an excellent exercise for a student to be required to present written criticisms of some productions, well-known or otherwise, according to the principles stated in the text-book. It is comparatively easy for a student to write when a definite subject is suggested to him. Rhetoric, like music, is eminently practical; and while theoretic study is indispensable, persistent, careful work is demanded.
HETORIC is both a science and an art. In this respect, it is like all other subjects which embrace practice, founded upon rules that grow out of certain facts in the nature of things: such as Grammar, Architecture, Music, Painting, Medicine and Surgery, Land-surveying, Engineering, Navigation.
With reference to all such subjects there are two classes of persons: those who appreciate and approve a proper study of the theory as a basis of actual work, and those who insist that native genius alone is competent to reach the desired result.
The occasion for this diversity of opinion arises from the fact that there are men who have studied carefully practical sciences, but have not been able to achieve eminent success in actual work; and there are also men who have not studied the theory, who' are still remarkably successful. The two extremes may be seen in some profound students; perhaps teachers of elocution, for instance, who can not make an effective extempore speech, or of Rhetoric, who can not write a popular book or essay; and in some who have never studied the theory of their profession, and are yet eminent as "natural painters," "natural musicians," and "natural bone-setters."
Occasionally, too, we meet with men who have carefully studied the science underlying some art, and have also become skillful in the practice, who seem to lose a consciousness of their obligation to study, and who undervalue and, perhaps, decry their own study.
It is a great misfortune to a young person to fall under the influence of such men. As Archbishop Hare well said, "It is, indeed, no small satisfaction to think, that whoever attacks learning, if he does it weakly, does it no hurt; and if he does it well, his own performance is a good argument against him; while he shows thereby its usefulness as well as his own ingratitude."*
It is not to be denied that men differ in constitutional ability, and that many, without a close and systematic examination of the theory, have exhibited remarkable talent. But at the same time all who desire to excel in any art should study the science on which it is based as thoroughly and exhaustively as their opportunities will allow. They should become familiar with principles and with the best examples, and even with associated sciences. This course has "been faithfully and laboriously pursued by the strongest and most efficient men. Thorough study will not restrain native genius, but develop and direct it; and if for a time it represses extravagance that might ex
*"The Works of the late Right Rev. and learned Dr. Francis Hare, Lord-bishop of Chichester" (London, 1746), vol. i. p. 50. This applies to the depreciation of grammar, rhetoric, and logic, by Macaulay, a man who may be said to have been steeped in these sciences from his childhood, and who undervalued them, simply because he had been taught to obey them from his earliest life, and could not appreciate the value of studying them.
hibit strength, it will only lay the foundation for greater triumph.
Especially does this apply to Rhetoric. There have indeed been ignorant orators, but it does not follow that general information is not useful to a speaker. Battles have been fought and victories won with poor weapons, and yet good armor is necessary, and for the want of it many a battle has been lost. There are strong temptations to superficiality, and to a spurious. and limited facility in practice, that may be obtained without severe effort.
The ends of Rhetoric can not be acquired by the study of grammar alone, nor by general reading, nor by practice. It has rules based on the nature of language, and on the nature of mind, that have been reached and reduced to a system by the most thorough research, which can be mastered and employed only as the result of diligent effort.
Indeed it has been a favorite opinion of the most profound adepts in this science that only a virtuous man, under the noblest impulses of our nature, can attain the highest excellence in the art. It requires, for the fullest exhibition of its power, not only a welltrained, well-stored mind, but a heart full of generous, healthy emotion. Such was the opinion of Quintilian, and it has been repeated by many modern writers on Rhetoric.
In this book an attempt is made to present the science naturally, unencumbered by useless technicalities, or by discussions of side issues, that may be interesting to mature men, who alone can derive any direct
advantage from them in the improvement of their style of thought and utterance. Some works on Rhetoric exert no appreciable practical effect on the style of the student. This is not a work about Rhetoric, but endeavors to present the very elements of effective expression of thought and emotion. Its good results will depend largely upon the care with which the theory is studied, and upon the repeated efforts made by the student to produce for himselt the various kinds of figures of speech and styles of composition analyzed and explained. This he should do, partly by the way of finding examples in his reading, and analyzing and classifying them, and partly by inventing original specimens.
Part I. explains the primary elements which composition employs: WORDS, with directions how to obtain a copious, and correct, and efficient vocabulary.
Part II. explains and illustrates another and more complicated class of the elements of expression, called FIGURES OF SPEECH AND THOUGHT.
Part III. shows how these elements are combined and actually employed, and their result, in STYLE, and in the leading kinds of written and oral productions.
Long dissertations on the theory of TASTE, and the beautiful and sublime, are intentionally omitted, as belonging more appropriately to Mental Philosophy. The province of Logic, also, is not encroached upon by dissertations on the relations of thoughts to each other, and the laws of Conviction and Persuasion. Often rules are given under these heads that no writer regards in practice.