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branch of our literature, and must be ascribed in part to circumstances in our condition which can be removed only gradually. A chaste elegance in the art of composition, as in all other arts, is generally the result, in part, of assiduous culture, and consequently the evidence of a high degree of advancement. But we think, that the deficiency of several of our orators in this quality, has been owing materially to the admiration entertained, by so many of our fellowcitizens, for a few faulty models, and more especially for the works of Curran and Phillips. We object to this admiration, not so much because it is extravagant, as because it is undiscriminating. We know that perfect simplicity is compatible with a high degree of ornament, provided it be apt and unforced ornament, and there are certainly passages alike faultless and striking in both these orators, and more especially in the first. But these great beauties are balanced, not to say outweighed, by faults of equal inagnitude, and the contrast, striking as it is, seems to have been strangely overlooked by many of our countrymen.
Misled by some of the most glaring absurdities of these brilliant, but irregular productions, they seem to have essentially mistaken the nature of real eloquence, to have supposed not only that it was something more than plain good sense, but soinething' at war with it. We know nothing that could be better adapted to correct impressions like these, than the frequent contemplation of the severe beauty of Attic eloquence. But above all, would we recommend the speeches of Demosthenes, as models of practical business like oratory. The present age is a period, when men are in earnest, when they seek, even in works of amusement, for something which shall excite intense thought, and call forth their inmost feelings; when they will not endure to hear important subjects treated carelessly or superficially.* We may add, that if this be the character at the present day, of all enlightened nations, still, more especially, is it that of our own. All our public institutions, all our private and domestic habits, are calculated to render us emphatically a practical people. Every individual is in some degree a man of business. With us a recluse is almost an unknown being, and the most retired students are drawn from their closets to bear some part in the machinery of active socie
* See Dr Channing's Sermon at the Ordination of Mr Gannett, VOL. XXII.-NO. 50.
ty Our whole frame of government presupposes, wbat our admirable systems of early education have enabled us to verify in a great degree, that our community is made up of thinking, reflecting individuals. No feature in the character of the people, at least of the older parts of our country, is more striking than their singular sedateness and gravity. Their very amusements are strongly marked by these characteristics. Their only festival days are those, which are devoted to the celebration of important agricultural, political, religious, or literary ceremonies. Nothing seems to be intended as the mere sport of the passing hour; all is serious and practical. This peculiar gravity of character is daily becoming more prominent, and diffusing itself more widely. It is surely not improbable, that it will eventually give a coloring to all our intellectual productions, but more especially to our oratory, and that in this country the most popular and successful eloquence will be the grave, manly, argumentative eloquence of which Demosthenes is so splendid an example; which disdains to trifle, which seeks to convince and persuade, not to entertain; which speaks to the reason and the heart, rather than to the fancy; the eloquence of sound thought and deep feeling. The works of Demosthenes, to say nothing of the other illustrious orators of Greece, are alone sufficient to render the language in which he wrote, worthy of the assiduous study of every well educated American.
But the study of good models is, after all, only one means of improving the oratory of our country. Among many others, which might be mentioned, we shall suggest one, both because we consider it of high importance, and because it has not, so far as we are aware, been generally adopted, either in this or any other community; and that is, to oblige the students of our principal literary seminaries to debate, extempore, from time to time, in the presence and under the direction of a teacher. No one will dispute the expediency of such a practice, who considers, either the manifest value, in a country like ours, of the faculty of speaking in public, or the great disproportion which exists among us, between the number of able and accomplished orators, and that of intelligent and well educated individuals. The debates in our legislatures, for instance, more especially in New England, are principally carried on by members of one profession, (it is true a most respectable one,) that of the law, or rather by that highly savored portion of them, who have previously enjoyed frequent opportunities of exercising and improving their oratorical powers before a judicial tribunal.
This is certainly far from desirable. There are, in every representative assembly, many citizens of other professions and pursuits, well entitled by their wisdom and integrity to the places which they hold, and well able, had they the power of expressing themselves with ease, to shed light on every question of public importance. Yet these men, (putting out of the question rare instances of natural eloquence,) are compelled either to do themselves and their subject injustice, by an imperfect and embarrassed enunciation of their sentiments, or to confine themselves to a simple yea and nay, and leave the field of debate to their more fluent, though it may often happen, worse informed, or less intelligent brethren. The more discreet generally prefer the latter course, and however clearly they may prove their wisdom by their votes, can exert but little influence over the decisions of others.
That this evil, with many others of a similar nature, would be at least materially remedied, by the measure which we recommend, seems to us beyond a question. We may add, that it is not only a practicable measure, but one which could be carried into execution with the greatest ease, and that it has been, in fact, recently adopted in several of our Law Schools. It may, perhaps, be considered as unnecessary, since it is frequently said, that the practice of composition in writing, is the best method of acquiring the power of debating with force and readiness. We are sensible, that this opinion is countenanced by no mean authority, and we should be the last to dispute the numerous and weighty advantages, which can be derived from writing only, but we cannot admit that it is of itself sufficient to render men consummate orators. It may strengthen their power of thought, and increase their command of language, but much will obviously remain to do, which can be accomplished only by debating extempore. This practice, for instance, would greatly facilitate the acquisition of what is a rare accomplishment, in this and in most other countries, a good delivery. The reigning defect in our readers and speakers is monotony. Now this fault is often acquired by reading or reciting the works of others, and is occasioped,
more particularly, by the extreme difficulty which we find in entering into the spirit of wbat we utter ; that is, in inspiring ourselves with the same feelings, while pronouncing a passage, that existed at the time it was composed, in the mind of the author. We find a similar, though a less difficulty, in repeating aloud our own compositions, because the glow of feeling with which they were written, has gone by, and can be recalled only by a strong effort. There is, on the other hand, no monotony in private conversation, because we utter what we feel at the moment, instead of reciting what we recollect, and, for a similar reason, this defect is displayed much more seldom, and in a much less degree, at the bar and in the senate, than in the pulpit.
We hope it will not be inferred from these remarks, that we are in any degree hostile to the prevailing custom of declaiming from the works of distinguished authors. On the contrary, we consider it of the highest value, both as an oratorical exercise, and as a vehicle of noble and useful sentiments. It is only while followed to the exclusion of any other species of declaration, that it can be open to the slightest objection. To conclude, if any readers should complain, that we have noticed only the faults of our public speakers, and passed over their good qualities in silence, we would observe, that this circumstance has resulted from the nature of our design, which has been to suggest some methods for the improvement of American oratory, and by no means to give a picture of its actual condition, a task much too extensive and interesting to be accomplished within our present limits.
The edition of Demosthenes, mentioned at the head of this article, is entitled to the praise of great correctness.
It has no other recommendation than its portable size; an advantage dearly purchased by the entire omission of notes, and the employment of a type too small and indistinct to be read without hazard, even by the strongest eyes.
This latter defect is one, which has occurred so frequently in recent editions of standard works, both in our own and other languages, that it deserves to be particularly and strongly reprehended.
ART. V.-1. Manners and Customs of several Indian Tribes,
located west of the Mississippi, including some Account of the Soil, Climate and vegetable Productions; and the Indian Materia Medica ; to which is prefixed the History of the Author's Life, during a Residence of several Years among them. By John D. HUNTER. 8vo. pp. 402.
Philadelphia. 1823. 2. Historical Notes respecting the Indians of North Ame
rica, with Remarks on the Attempts made to convert and civilise them. By John HALKETT, Esq. 8vo. pp. 408. London. 1825. More than three centuries have passed away, since the American continent became known to the Europeans. At the period of its discovery, it was inhabited by a race of men, in their physical conformation, their moral habits, their social and political relations, their languages and modes of life, differing essentially from the inhabitants of the old world. From Hudson's Bay to Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, the country was possessed by numerous petty tribes, resembling one another in their general features, but separated into independent communities, always in a state of, alarm and suspicion, and generally on terms of open hostility. These people were in the rudest condition of society, wandering from place to place, without sciences and without arts, (for we cannot dignify with the name of arts the making of bows and arrows, and the dressing of skins,) without metallic instruments, without domestic animals; raising a little corn by the labor of their women, with a clamshell or the scapula of a buffalo, devouring it with true savage improvidence, and subsisting, during the remainder of the year, upon the precarious supplies furnished by the chase, and by fishing. They were thinly scattered over an immense extent of country, fixing their summer residence upon soine little spot of fertile land, and roaming, with their families, and their mat or skin houses, during the winter, through the forests, in pursuit of the animals necessary for food and clothing.
Such a state of society could not but arrest the attention of the adventurer, to whom everything was new and strange. A spirit of inquiry had been recently awakened in Europe,