« ZurückWeiter »
at intervals one hand to heaven, amidst the fiery crests of the pursuing waves and the raving of the storm; until at last, upon a sound from afar of malicious laughter and mockery, all was hidden forever in driving showers; and afterward, but when I know not, nor how. "Dream-Fugue."
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
5. The Present Age. In these brief words what a world of thought is comprehended; what infinite movements; what joys and sorrows; what hope and despair; what faith and doubt; what silent grief and loud lament; what fierce conflicts and subtle schemes of policy! what private and public revolutions! In the period through which many of us have passed, what thrones have been shaken; what hearts have bled; what millions have been butchered by their fellow-creatures; what hopes of philanthropy have been blighted! And at the same time what magnificent enterprises have been achieved; what new provinces won to science and art; what rights and liberties secured to nations! It is a privilege to have lived in an age so stirring, so pregnant, so eventful. It is an age never to be forgotten. Its voice of warning and encouragement is never to die. Its impression on history is indelible. Amidst its events, the American Revolution, the first distinct, solemn assertion of the rights of men; and the French Revolution, that volcanic force which shook the earth to its center, are never to pass from men's minds. Over this age the night will, indeed, gather more and more as time rolls away; but in that night two forms will appear, Washington and Napoleon, the one a lurid meteor, the other a benign, serene, and undecaying star. Another American name will live in history, your Franklin; and the kite which brought lightning from heaven will be seen sailing in the clouds by remote posterity, when the city where he dwelt may be known only by its ruins. There is, however, something greater in the age than its greatest men; it is the appearance of a new power in the world, the appearance of the multitude of men on the stage where as yet the few have acted their parts alone. This influence is to endure to the end of time. What more of the present is to survive? Perhaps much
of which we now take no note. The glory of an age is often hidden from itself. Perhaps some word has been spoken in our day which we have not deigned to hear, but which is to grow clearer and louder through all ages. Perhaps there sleeps in his cradle some reformer who is to move the Church and the world, who is to open a new era in history, who is to fire the human soul with new hope and new daring. What else is to survive the age? That which the age has little thought of, but which is living in us all; I mean the soul, the immortal spirit. Of this all ages are the unfoldings, and it is greater than all. We must not feel, in the contemplation of the vast movements in our own and former times, as if we ourselves were nothing. I repeat it, we are greater than all. We are to survive our age, to comprehend it, and to pronounce its sentence.
"The Present Age."
W. E. CHANNING.
6. Or stay at home, and take up one of those daily prints, which are so true a picture of the world; look down the columns of advertisements, and you will see the catalog of pursuits, projects, aims, anxieties, amusements, indulgences, which occupy the mind of man. He plays many parts: here he has goods to sell, there he wants employment; there again he seeks to borrow money, here he offers you houses, great seats or small tenements; he has food for the million, and luxuries for the wealthy, and sovereign medicines for the credulous, and books, new and cheap, for the inquisitive. Pass on to the news of the day, and you will learn what great men are doing at home and abroad: you will read of wars and rumors of wars; of debates in the legislature; of rising men, and old statesmen going off the scene; of political contests in this city or that county; of the collision of rival interests. You will read of the money market, and the provision market, and the market for metals; of the state of trade, the call for manufactures, news of ships arrived in port, of accidents at sea, of exports and imports, of gains and losses, of frauds and their detection. Go forward, and you arrive at discoveries in art and science, discoveries (so-called) in religion, the court and royalty, the entertainments of the great, places of
amusement, strange trials, offenses, accidents, escapes, exploits, experiments, contests, ventures. Oh, this curious, restless, clamorous, panting being which we call life! And is there to be no end to all this? Is there no object in it? It never has an end, it is forsooth its own object!
"God's Will the End of Life."
JOHN HENRY Newman.
HOW TO DEVELOP THE IMAGINATION
A public speaker should cultivate the habit of making vivid mental pictures of what he sees and reads. This is one of the best remedies for self-consciousness. It also develops the power of concentration, gives freshness and reality to a speaker's utterance, and greatly increases the interest of his audience. The attentive hearer keenly follows the operation of a speaker's mind, is inclined to see what he sees, and is quick to detect mental wandering away from the thought. The more vividly and accurately the speaker mentally pictures what he is saying, the more clearly and satisfactorily will his audience be imprest by his message.
Imagination, like any other faculty, can be cultivated by judicious practise. There is so much material on every hand that the public speaker will do well to choose subjects for practise such as he is likely to use. He should have special regard for mental pictures that embody harmony, beauty, and symmetry. He should endeavor to work out such pictures into the smallest detail, making them as complete as possible. This work of the imagination should become more and more selective, and less a thing of chance. Sir Benjamin Brodie says: "Physical investigation, more than anything besides, helps to teach us the actual value and right use of the imagination-of that wondrous faculty which, when left to ramble uncontrolled, leads us
astray into a wilderness of perplexities and errors, a land of mists and shadows; but which, properly controlled by experience and reflection, becomes the noblest attribute of man, the source of poetic genius, the instrument of discovery in science, without the aid of which Newton would never have invented fluxions, nor Davy have decomposed the earths and alkalis, nor would Columbus have found another continent."
Imagination may be defined as a mental image of something not present to the senses. When properly developed it enables a public speaker to summon before his mental vision experiences and observations of the past, and to live them over again. This imparts spontaneity and intensity to his words, and wins both the attention and the confidence of his audience. A well-developed imagination broadens the view of the speaker, quickens his sensibilities, and gives him a larger sympathy for mankind. If, as Carlyle says, "Man carries under his hat a private theater, wherein a greater drama is acted than is ever performed on the mimic stage, beginning and ending in eternity," how careful every one should be, and especially the public speaker, in choosing the scenes, characters, and plays to be presented there!
Begin your practise with a simple picture like the following:
1. The past rises before me like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life. We hear the sounds of preparation-the music of boisterous drums-the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see thousands of assemblages, and hear the appeals of orators. We see the pale cheeks of women, and the flushed faces of men; and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers. We lose sight of them no more. We are with them when they enlist in the great army of freedom. We see them part with those they