Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

formers of the sixteenth century wrote and preached to princes and worldly prelates against their public and private sins. So thundered the lion-hearted Luther in the presence of German Barons, while it will ever remain as the signal glory of the great French preachers of the seventeenth century-of Massillon and Bossuet and Bourdaloue, that, when at many other European courts, the royal ear was filled with ill-timed eulogiums, these courageous men stood up at the very centre of Parisian profligacy and warned the great monarch and his courtiers against prevailing sins.

So is it outside the special province of sacred address, that such ethical earnestness is seen to be effective-especially in the discussion and enforcement of principles whose basis, significance and objects are ethical ; having to do with some important social, political or educational question. Dr. Eliphalet Nott, in his masterly address “ On the Death of Alexander Hamilton," evinced this species of impassioned power. Charles Sumner, in his speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, evinced it, as did Calhoun, On the Slavery Question ; Webster against Hayne ; Beecher in Exeter Hall, London, in defence of the American War Policy ; Mirabeau and Gambetta in the French Assembly ; and, most conspicuously of all, those fiery leaders of the Crusades, such as Peter of Amiens, Pope Urban II. and Innocent III., and Bernard of Clairvaux, who by the magic and the might of their intensive address moved the multitudes before them on to the wars,

and made it appear, at the time, that the failure on the part of any loyal subject to take up arms against the cruelties of the Saracens and the desecrators of the Cross was treason alike before God and man, and would be visited with the most condign punishment. During what is called the War of Liberation, in Germany, when deliverance from the tyranny of Napoleonic rule was the one desire of all others, orators spoke and writers wrote in this emotive and cogent manner; partly, because, in the deep intensity of their convictions, they could not have done otherwise, and, partly, because it was through this particular method of appeal that they hoped to be the more potent and persuasive. The object was an immediate effect, and the method was effective, and nothing of the nature of the impotent and inert could for one moment be entertained, in the face of the pressing necessities of the times.

It was a time when some were fighting and some were writing and haranguing. The sword and the pen were both busily at work, but back of the warrior were the writer and the herald, inciting the people to take up arms and not to lay them down till victory was assured. The events and interests

. were stirring and the style of the time was correspondingly stirring. The pen was a power.

1. We note, in closing, that the Impassioned Style has existed, as an historical element, in all leading literatures and periods, and should have place, in some substantial form, in the style of

[ocr errors]

every writer and in every species of discourse, secular or sacred. It is one of the few radical types of style, demanded, in part, by the very nature of the style itself, and, in part, by the presence of that indifference, prejudice and hostility to the truth which demand for their removal something more than an insipid, enervating type of expression. The intellectual style may reach and affect the judgments of men. It will not, necessarily, arouse and impel them to right action, on any given issue that is presented. The literary style may reach and affect their tastes, and rest at that point, as having fulfilled its mission. An additional and a different order of appeal must be made, before malice and bigotry and stupidity give way, in turn, to good will, impartial candor and personal interest. Instruction and entertainment must be supplemented and reinforced by intense impression. In such necessities, style must assert its more pronounced and positive qualities ; must become pungent, penetrating and searching ; breaking in pieces all that is callous ; burning its way as a fire from heaven through all defilement and dross out into the open field of purity. Its language must be true and telling ; its method, direct and ingenuous ; its spirit fearless, and its final object the maintenance of the truth.

As all the lower forms of literature, as seen in fiction and journalism, poetry and miscellany, take advantage of this impassioned principle, and press it successfully to the dangerous extremes of the sensual and debasing, so much the more must all higher literature accept it and utilize it for worthiest ends, exhibiting, thereby, a realism of the spirit as Rousseau and Rabelais ; Tolstöi and Zola ; Ouida and Renan exhibit a "realism of the flesh.”

2. Such an effective order of style, we may add, is especially to be pressed in the presence of scholars and students, so inclined to underrate and discard it, and the tendency of whose pursuits, as introspective and didactic, is somewhat calculated to weaken its influence among them. Though the intellectual style is the first order of style for scholars and for all men, and though the literary style, must be regarded as of high value, this is not to say of impassioned writing that it is inferior in its nature and makes no vital appeal to the interest of students. Of the great representative orders of prose expression, it takes its place as one, and cannot yield that place. Writers who are to be, in the best sense of the term, successful must be emotive, possessed of that passion and personality and power, which make up the essential unity of the impassioned style. They must write what they write, out of their own hearts into the hearts of others. They must dip their pens, not infrequently, into the open fountain of human experiences and sympathies, and write impressively as well as clearly and tastefully and popularly.

We have spoken of the danger of undue abstruseness and formality along the line of the style intellectual as, also, of the danger of a haughty

ances.

æstheticism along the line of the style literary, of each of which extremes no better preventive could be found than that quality of expression now before us, in its honest, unaffected and forcible utter

We deem it eminently safe to say that much of the best efforts in authorship of our educated men is lost by reason of its lack of these cogent elements of expression. Intelligible and in good taste, there is an important something that it lacks and that is—impassioned vitality-an internal and external potency of character that would sensibly affect us as we came into its presence and, often, thrill us through and through.

In a word, all true style is stirring and stimulative ; warming and firing the soul of the reader as he scans it ; quickening within his dormant being every worthiest faculty and feeling, leaving his soul all aglow with light and heat, with faith and love and holy courage. There is such a thing as an eloquent style, as it stands upon the paper in its unspoken form, instinct with true passion, with the author's deepest personality and power. We can almost see it move and hear it speak. It is filled to the full with what the French call-unctionpermeated to its core with the very principle of life; inspiring in its effect upon us, as if it were the product of a special divine afflatus, and never more urgently needed at any time than now-to add heat to light ; to convert desire into volition ; to impress the truth indelibly upon the minds of men and to make of men of letters, the world over, what they

« ZurückWeiter »