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manner is unimportant in addressing a Judge. Everywhere, and always, it is of moment. A Judge will hear you, and try to understand you, however badly you may express yourself ; but he will listen more readily, and your argument will be more effective, because more certainly understood, if it be couched in good language and uttered with some of the graces of an orator. Even though you may determine never to address a Jury, you should not the less fit yourself to speak in a pleasing strain to the Judges, whether in the Equity Courts or elsewhere.
So, when you address Magistrates at Quarter Sessions, carefully avoid the too frequent fault of talking to them as to a Jury. True, that they are the judges, both of the fact and of the law, and to that extent perform the office of jurymen; but then they are a very special jury, and are not swayed by the clap-trap and fallacies that are commonly used by advocates to influence juries. On this point I speak from some experience, and I can tell you
that many a time I have seen the utmost impatience upon the Bench of eloquent speeches addressed to the Justices, that would have secured a verdict with a Jury Educated men, sitting as judges, even though they may not be lawyers, desire facts and arguments, and look upon anything more than these, and especially upon complimentary language, sentimentalities and fine phrases, as rather an insult to their understandings. If these last have any effect at all, it is only to weary or to repel.
It is often asked, how far jesting is permissible at the Bar. It is not in good taste, perhaps, but I must admit that it is very effective. When the most grave work is being done, men feel the strongest tendency to laugh. It is wonderful what slight and sorry jests will provoke shouts of laughter in a court of justice. I will not now consider the cause of this, though the philosophy of humour accounts for it. The fact suffices, that when surrounded by solemnity we are most easily tickled to laughter. The Advocate who can summon smiles to the lips of his audience will command their ears more certainly than he who can only call tears into their eyes, and both will achieve an easy triumph over the speaker who can do neither, let him be ever so accomplished in other respects. If, therefore, jesting secures the object of the orator, which is in the first place to procure an attentive hearing, a moderate use of it is permissible. But the danger of the practice lies in the difficulty of observing moderation. The habit grows with indulgence ; a successful jest to-day will provoke two to-morrow, and when the joke comes to the lips, it is almost impossible to suppress the utterance of it. The conclusion is, that you may jest, with due discretion both as to quality and quantity ; but, conscious of the tendency of the practice to degenerate, keep a watch over yourself, to restrain the impulse when it comes out of place.
I have said that, in the vast majority of cases, you must not speechify to your juries, but only talk to them, especially at Nisi Prius. Eloquence would be worse than useless over a disputed account or a questionable contract—it would be positively ridiculous.
The more simple, straightforward and business-like your speech, the more influence it will carry. It should be plain to homeliness in its language, and entirely unoratorical in manner. You are to discuss with the twelve men before you a matter of business—nothing more ; and you address them precisely as you would were you to stop
any one of them in the street and hold him by the button while you talked over with him “that little affair.” I can give you no better illustration of my meaning
Sometimes, though rarely, the occasion will arise when it will be your duty to appeal to the feelings of your Jury. Then do it thoroughly. Throw your whole heart into the work. Do not halt half-way ; do not fear that
go too far; I never yet saw a speaker fail from excess of emotion, but I have seen many fail from lack of it. If it becomes your business to appeal to the feelings at all, there is scarcely a limit to the sweep of the chords ; all may be pressed into your service to produce the one tone it is your purpose to evoke. But remember—and I repeat the rule yet once again, for it is the golden one that lies at the foundation of the art of oratory — effectually to kindle the emotions of others you must yourself be moved; to make them feel you must feel; a mere acted part will not answer. Sympathy is the secret string by which the emotions are awakened, and there is no sympathy with a sham, however well disguised and cleverly acted.
THE ORATORY OF THE PLATFORM.
I Class under this general title all the various speakings that are addressed to the public at large, on matters of public concern, and as distinguished from those addressed to selected persons to whom you speak as a citizen, and not in a professional capacity. The distinction, which is of some importance, will be recognised at once by the instance of a Member of Parliament. When he addresses his constituents, seeking for election, his oratory is that of the platform. When, being elected, he addresses the House of Commons, he speaks in his professional character as an M.P., and the strain of his oratory will be that which I have endeavoured to describe in the letter that treats of the Oratory of the Senate.
The Oratory of the Platform has some characteristics common to all times, places and assemblies, and which are essential to the successful practice of it. But, in addition to these universal features, certain special qualities are required for various kinds of platform speaking, according to the various natures of the occasion, the subject, and the audience. I will first endeavour to give you a brief sketch of the general characteristics which you should study to comprehend, and then I will suggest what has appeared to me to be the special characteristics of some of the most important kinds of platform oratory.
A public meeting is moved by two great levers, one of which is supplied by the speaker, the other by the audience. You stir the people by your voice and words, but enthusiasm is supplied by themselves, caught by one from another, and reflected again and again from mind to mind. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the most accomplished orator, talking to a single man, or even to half-a-dozen men, to stir their hearts to tumult or inspire a fit of uncontrollable passion. There is wanting the silent sympathy by which mind communicates with mind, as if by the subtle influence of some undiscovered medium by whose agency the impressions of one mind are inaudibly and invisibly impressed upon all other minds within its sphere. The phenomena of panics and of popular frenzies and delusions place beyond question the fact of the existence of such a sympathy, and the orator must avail himself of it upon the platform, if he would put forth the full power of his art.
True, this sympathy is never kindled by argument alone. The most perfect logician the world has ever seen would fail to awaken the feelings of his audience, even while commanding their loftiest admiration and securing their heartiest applause, for the skill with which his reason has addressed itself to their intelligence. The better minds among the audience may be held in willing thraldom by a clear and convincing argument; and, if that alone be the object of the orator,