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clearly understand what I mean by it when the term is here used.

What, then, is the character of the assembly thus strangely influenced ?

In the first place, it is almost wholly impulsive. It is governed entirely by its feelings. Reason has scarcely a perceptible control over it. Argument, such as the trained intellect recognises and obeys, is of no avail.

Consequently, you must address yourself to its emotions. What is their character ?

To the honour of human nature be it said, that the emotions of a multitude-of men in masses are almost always right, as their judgment is almost always wrong. Even if they fall into wrong acts, these are usually the results of right feelings. Some generous or noble sentiment will be found to underlie emotions that bear the aspect of malevolence, and to be the parent of passions that are demoniacal in their issues.

It has been noticed in the penny theatres, frequented by the population that feeds our gaols, that a noble, a generous, or an honest sentiment never fails to evoke a burst of applause. Vice receives no honour even from the vicious, who cheer the virtue they will not practise. A play that did not end with the punishment of vice and the reward of virtue would be hooted from the boards patronised by the criminal class !

A mob has a large measure of self-esteem—as if proud of the power of numbers. The humblest person feels his self-importance swell by association; he is not conscious of his individual insignificance in the crowd.

An English mob possesses, to a marked degree, the English sense of humour. It is readily tickled to laughter, and often its swelling wrath may be turned aside by a judicious jest. But it is by humour, not by wit, that a mob is moved. The keenest wit would be unappreciated, because it is not understood. Humour never fails.

A mob is usually good-tempered, perhaps always so, save where the very object of the meeting is to give expression to evil emotions previously engendered. Beware, then, how you run counter to the passion of the moment. If you would avert it, you must fall in with it, that you may guide it. Admit the grievance, acknowledge the justice of that indignation, but suggest some other redress. Perfect good-temper on your part will go far to ensure good-temper on the part of your audience. Let no provocation induce you for one moment to lose your temper. Meet hootings with a smile and parry abuse with a jest; if there is disturbance, be calm and composed, fold your arms, and await patiently the return of order, without the slightest expression of vexation or alarm. Soon you will find the majority of the meeting enlisted in your support and compelling the disorderly minority to silence or expulsion. I have never known this to fail, even amid the tempest that usually rages around the hustings at an election.

If there is a show of violence, make no show of fear. A mob is very cowardly ; it is wholly wanting in moral courage, and it can boast but of little physical courage, because it has no cohesion or mutual reliance. Happily, the multiplication of emotion, which makes its passions so formidable, does not extend to its acts. It wants the elements for action : it has no cohesion, no organisation, no mutual reliance; it is disintegrated, and each individual atom of which it is composed is compelled to look

only to himself, not being assured whether his neighbours will not desert him in his need. A firm front, a bold eye, a brave bearing on your part, not only strike a kind of awe into the offenders, but certainly command the respect of the many, who feel a strong sympathy with them wherever shown, and will enlist a support that will effectually protect you from the threatened violence. They will even shame the furious from their intent. I have seen the mob drop the stones they had lifted to throw, and greet with an enthusiastic cheer the man whom they had failed to terrify.

This being the characteristic of an English mob, such as you will have to encounter at political gatherings, and especially at elections, you will readily learn how to deal with it.

The inexperienced imagine that a mob will prefer an orator who descends to its own level, and talks to it after its own fashion. This is a grave mistake. A mob likes best the speaker who stands above his audience, and keeps above them. To talk down to them is condescension, than which nothing is more obnoxious. The loftier the orator the more gratifying to the assembly is his deference to them. Moreover, an English mob has the English love of aristocracy : as a mob they do not relish orators of their own class; they prefer to listen to a gentleman, and if he bears a title, so much the more is he welcome. Successful mob-oratory, therefore, by no means implies vulgarity, or coarseness of speech or of manner. On the contrary, put on your grandest manner, and speak in your loftiest style ; but with this proviso, that your language is not too fine. In the progress of these epistles I have had such frequent occasion to urge upon you the avoidance of learned language, and the preference of plain English for the transmission of your thoughts to others, that I fear to weary you by repetition ; but if it be a useful hint for addressing even select assemblies, it is necessary for speaking to a mob. And you may do so without lapsing into vulgarity, for it is the glory of our English tongue—and perhaps we are indebted to it for much of the power of the British nation—that the thoughts of the wise may not only be clothed, but conveyed with accuracy and force, in the language of the common people.

302

LETTER XLV.

ORATORY OF THE PLATFORM (CONCLUDED).

desire to say,

The speaker who can influence a mob is usually stig-
matised by those who cannot do so as a demagogue. It
is well to be advised of this probable consequence of
successful Platform Oratory, that you may be prepared
to meet and defy it. Demagoguism consists not in the
use of those arts of oratory by which an assembly is
moved—not in saying in the most effective manner that
which
you

and
may

with honour say ;-but in saying that which is not your sincere opinion, or which you do not verily believe, for the purpose of insuring applause and support. If you are honest with your audience, you may rightfully express your honest thoughts in

any

fashion that will best secure for them a welcome ; but if you seek to lure by the utterance of that which is not your faith, you play the demagogue, and the name is then properly applied to you.

The manner of mob oratory should, like the matter of it, be bold, confident and energetic. You must feel the most perfect self-confidence and show it; you must speak out with the full power of your voice, throw all

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