Imágenes de páginas

convince, but to persuade ; for women—and men with women-like minds—always take feeling for conviction and faith for belief. Your appeal must be to the emotions. Argument should not be attempted, or it should be so presented as to be utterly illogical in substance and shape. You may indulge with perfect safety in the most transparent fallacies, especially if they fall in with the prejudices of your audience. Introduce as many anecdotes as possible, for the purpose of illustrating your assertions; there is nothing that so tells with a mixed audience, especially if you point the moral, that this one case proves the whole. If, for instance, it is your purpose to abuse a whole class of persons, tell a story of something which you once saw done by one member of the class, and draw the inference that therefore all are hateful together, or otherwise, as the case may be. This is the certain means of carrying with you the minds of the unreasoning part of your audience, and these are sure to be the vast majority of them. The form of your speech cannot be too poetical : scatter flowers without stint—they are sure to be taken as the flights of a lofty eloquence. The substance of what you say is not of so much importance as the form of it. Nonsense, that flows in a full swell from the lips, in rounded periods and with fine phrases that roll into the ears and fill them, is sure to be accepted with pleasure, and to elicit a chorus of applause. An occasional laugh is effective; but far more so is an occasional touch of the pathetic, especially if the sentiment is uttered in the tones of pathos. Freight your froth with a little sentiment by way of ballast ; it needs not to be new ; on the contrary, the more nearly it approaches a truism, the more readily will it be understood.

their purpose.

There is some art in mingling these ingredients so as not to offend by excess of quantity, always more dangerous than defect in quality. On the slightest intimation that your audience are growing weary of one strain, start them upon another, and, if possible, an opposite one. Call them from long-continued gravity by a timely jest, and recall them from laughter to seriousness by plunging into your soberest themes. The effect of contrast in heightening both of the opposite emotions, and thus kindling the flagging attention, is often wonderful.

Perhaps you will say that these are unworthy arts. They may be so; but they are not the less necessary for

It is useless to make a speech, unless you can thereby influence either the opinions, the feelings, or the actions, of your hearers ; if you do not choose to adopt the means by which this object can be effected, you have no right to complain of ill success. Argument, however able, is wasted upon those who cannot comprehend it; the best intentions will not induce an audience to lend their ears to a dull discourse, badly delivered. The arts requisite to the attainment of your object are not in themselves censurable ; and, if you deem them unworthy, it should be because


feel yourself to be above the part you purpose to perform. You should not attempt to address such an audience, unless you are prepared to bring yourself down to the level of their intelligence ; but, having resolved to address them, you must talk after their fashion, and not according to your own ideal of something better and loftier. Indeed, this rule extends to all oratory. There is no compulsion upon you to make a speech ; if you cannot conform to the character of your audience, you have the remedy in your own hands, by refusal to depart from your own standard of good sense or good taste; but, having resolved to stand upon the platform, play your part properly, according to the work to be done and the materials on which you work, and submit, if not cheerfully yet thoroughly, to the conditions by which alone success is practicable.

Nor will the exercise be without benefit to you. Το unbend, to come down from the high regions of pure reason and place yourself on a level with common minds—to be unwise now and then—even to put on the cap and bells for the amusement of women and smallminded men-is not altogether time wasted. Something is to be learned from contact with your fellow-creatures, that will often serve to filter philosophy, and make wisdom practical.

You will return to the lofty region of your meditations, refreshed by the relaxation, and with a new page added to your knowledge of human nature. It is not a very noble one that is revealed in such gatherings as those for commanding whose applause I have here endeavoured to give you some hints; but it is perhaps the most extensive of any, for it is the exhibition of the commonplace mind, in the condition in which it is most open to observation.




Let us see

I will now ask you to accompany me to the Public Meeting, properly so called, to which not only are all classes invited, but to which they come. how these should be treated from the platform.

Occasionally, some topic of local interest will gather together an assemblage representing the whole population; but the true public meeting is seldom evoked for any but political purposes. At all events, a political meeting, and especially an election, is the typical assembly that will most conveniently illustrate the hints I am about to offer to you for the cultivation of that most important branch of platform oratory. If I treat of it with more minuteness of detail than I have devoted to some other parts of the subject, it is because experience has proved to me the great importance of proficiency in this art, especially to the members of our Profession, who, more than any others, are called upon to exercise it. At political meetings, the Lawyers are always expected to be the speakers, and are so. Their fellow-citizens assume it to be their business to talk,

and therefore look to them as the proper mouthpieces of a meeting. A Solicitor in the provinces can scarcely avoid the leadership of a party and an agency at the elections. He cannot properly discharge the duties of these posts of honour and influence, unless he can make a tolerable speech at a public meeting; and the more his skill in the management of it, the greater his power, the higher his position, and the more valuable his services.

The art of Platform Oratory is not less useful to the Barrister. If you should not be called upon to act on behalf of others, I hope you may at some time hereafter be required to exercise the art in the character of a candidate, when you will find it to be of equal service to you. It is because I have had extensive experience of it in both characters, and have gained such knowledge of it as I possess in the rough school of personal encounter with these assemblies, that I venture to impart to you the result of those rude teachings.

To speak plainly, then, this class of public meeting is a mob, and no other word so properly describes it, and the speaking that alone will succeed with it is moboratory.

You must not shrink from this title because it is often used reproachfully by those who are unable to accom

The name of “Mob Orator” is freely applied to every speaker who can really influence a miscellaneous meeting. If you cannot bear it, you should make up your mind at once to retreat from the pursuit of ambition in political life. To succeed, you must submit to the conditions of success. Your object is to sway the minds of those to whom you speak; to do this you must speak in such manner as most moves them, and whatever

plish it.

« AnteriorContinuar »