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THE HEART THE SOURCE OF POWER
T. EDWARD EGBERT
The following is part of an oration delivered by Mr. Egbert in an
Orpheus, poet, philosopher, master of the lyre—is a name immortal in classic song. The skill with which he struck the tensile chords is fabled to have been such that the unconscious rocks and trees left their places and moved to the time of the air he played, and the beasts of the mountains, bewitched of their ferocity and charmed to friendship, gathered lovingly at his feet.
Half bruised and disconsolate at the loss of his bride, Eurydice, he resolved on descent into the under-world, that, if possible, he might oppose the cruel rulers there, and obtain permission for the return of his nymphspouse to their mountain home.
Armed with his lyre, he entered the realm of Hades and essayed entrance to the palace of Pluto.
At the thrice-guarded gates further advance was denied. From the depths of his hungry soul he poured a
prayer over the sensitive strings of his second love, the lyre. At the first note from the "golden shell” the chariot wheels of the gods stood fast, Tantalus forgot the infernal torment of his insatiable thirst, the vultures ceased to tear the constantly reproduced vitals of Titios, the palace gates turned upon their golden hinges, Pluto melted into sympathy, and Eurydice was released.
This scrap of mythology reveals to us, that, according to the judgment of men in those far-away days, the power of perfect art was unlimited. Was that conception unwarranted? May it not be that the only limit of the ministry of art is the attainment of the artist? The principal realm of the ministry of art is the affections, the emotions, the passions. Art is not primarily a teacher. Its concern is not to instruct in fundamental truths or radical principles. It does not engage in intellectual controversies or go to war. It forever appeals to what is already known and freely granted. Its ministry is invariable to its friends; toward the unfriendly it is speechless forever.
The ministry of music to man is through a single sense; painting and sculpture through another. The art of arts, that art of which all others are part expressions, appeals to the whole man. That art is oratory
The trumpet that has aroused the sluggish from lethargy to activity, the faint-hearted from submission and oppression to resistance of it, that has cheered the slave of appetite on in the struggle for kingship over self, has been the voice of the orator.
This art, without the possibility of aid of strings, mallet and chisel, or paints and canvas, with truth its
subject, the soul of man its immediate object, has been the herculean force in the world among men.
What is the secret of its power?
Thoughts are expressed by words. The emotions have their own peculiar unworded language of mystical signs. Each emotion, every shade of emotion, each passion, every mood of mind, has its own peculiar dialect which expresses the most delicate shades of quality and intensity of feeling. It is by these that the emotions and passions communicate themselves from orator to auditors. However much the thought of the orator may be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied, the emotions never are. Genuine feeling expresses itself accurately and is understood definitely. So is pretended feeling at once detected and instantly condemned.
The emotions make no answer to arguments directed to the head, but heart does answer heart in the same pitch as that in which it is addressed. The breeze against the sails propels the ship and the pressure of steam in the chest gives motion to the engine; so do the emotions acting upon the will beget action in the direction in which they impel. The dissatisfaction among the American colonists at the injustice and oppression of the mother country was general, but the indignities were endured without protest till those whirlwinds of fiery indignation burst from the breasts of the Otises and Henrys who in holy recklessness dared denounce tyranny in their own king. It was the lofty patriotism of these forest Demostheneses, ringing out across the Colonies, that lighted the fires of liberty on the hearthstones in the cabins of the people throughout the land. In all those weary years, from Bunker Hill to York
town, in the uncomplaining sufferings of hunger and cold, in the quiet endurance of an anguish in the hospitals to painful suffering, who cannot read the impress and hear the echo of that sublime sentiment, "give me liberty or give me death.” So has it always been, and while human nature remains what it is, it will always be, that he who leads the way from the worse to the better, that he who charms, sweetens, thrills, and betters others' lives, carries in his heart the source of power.
ROBERT L. TAYLOR
An excerpt from one of Governor Taylor's popular addresses.
I sat in a great theater in the national capital. It was thronged with youth and beauty, old age, and wisdom. I saw a man, the image of his God, stand upon the stage, and I heard him speak. His gestures were the perfection of grace, his voice was music, and his language was more beautiful than any I had ever heard from mortal lips.
He painted picture after picture of the joys and pleasures and sympathies of the home. He enthroned love and preached the gospel of humanity like an angel. Then I saw him dip his brush in the ink of mortal blackness and blot out the beautiful pictures he had painted. I saw him stab love dead at his feet, I saw him blot out the stars and the sun and leave humanity and the universe in eternal blackness and eternal death.
I saw him, like the serpent of old, worm himself into the paradise of human hearts and by his seductive eloquence and subtle devices and sophistry inject his fatal venom, under whose blight its powers faded, its music was hushed, its sunshine was darkened, and its soul was made a desert waste with only the new made graves of hope and faith.