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DISCRETION AND CUNNING.
At the same time that I think discretion' the most useful talent that a man can be master of', I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion points out the noblest ends to us, and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of obtaining them: cùnning has only private selfish aims, and sticks at nothing that may make them succeed. Discretion has large and extended views, and, like a well-formed eye, commands a whole horizon': cùnning is a kind of short-sightedness', that discovers the minutest objects that are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion', the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it: cùnning', when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done if he had passed only for a plain man. Discretion is the perfection of reason', and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cùnning is a kind of instinct', that only looks out after our immediate interest and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding: cùnning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them: in short', cùnning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, in the same manner that vivacity is often mistaken for wit', and gravity for wisdom.
Bernardo. The extract which you have given furnishes a fine illustration of the principle referred to, and some good examples of the rhetorical pause of suspension. A similar style of reading is required for passages in which the speaker puts a question, and then answers it himself. If you should ever hear a speaker asking questions, and then answering them himself, if you will notice, I think you will observe that he pronounces the question in a higher, a more open, and declarative tone; and the answer (after a long pause) in a lower, slower, and yet firmer and more emphatic one. Cicero, in his oration for Muræna, makes use of this figure when he says,
Join issue with me upon the crimes themselves. What is your charge', Cato'? What is to be tried? What do you offer evidence of? Do you impeach corruption'?-I do not defend it. Do you blame me for defending, by my pleading, what I punished by law'?I answer, that I punished corruption, and not innocence': as to corruption, if you please, I will go hand in hand with yourself in impeaching it.
Sometimes the question takes the declarative form, as in the following extract from Cicero's second oration against Antony. It is not difficult to see that, in the following passage, the answers are to be pronounced in a lower, fuller, and more energetic tone than the question part, but with increasing force, to the last Antony.
As trees and plants necessarily arise from seeds, so are you, An'tony, the seed of this most calamitous war. You mourn, O Romans! that three of your armies have been slaughtered'; they were slaughtered by Antony: you lament the loss of your most illustrious citizens; they were torn from you by Antony: the authority of this order is deeply wounded'; it is wounded by Antony: in short, all the calamities we have ever since beheld (and what calamities have we not' beheld'?), if we reason rightly, have been entirely owing to An'tony. As Helen was of Troy, so the bane, the misery, the destruction of this state is Antony.
Crito. As one figure of speech is very apt to suggest another, I am here reminded that the repetition of a word or thought is always pronounced somewhat emphatically; and, when it takes the pause of suspension after it, it usually has the rising inflection also.' Thus:
Sir, I should be much surprised to hear that motion opposed by any member in this house. A motion founded in justice', supported by precedent', and warranted by necessity'.
Bernardo. I will add to your illustration by quoting a passage from Cic1 It is laid down by Dr. Porter as a rule, that "Emphatic repetition requires the falling slide." He gives as example:
"You wrong me every way, you wrong' me Brutus.'
I regard this, however, merely as a case of ordinary emphasis, having the usual falling inflection. Certainly the examples of repetition given above do not take the falling inAlcction.
ero's oration against Antony, in which the word laws receives increasing force upon every repetition, which gives it a climax of importance:
And shall we think of ratifying the acts of Cæsar, yet abolish his laws'? Those laws which he himself, in our sight, repeated, pronounced, enacted'? Laws which he valued himself upon passing'? Laws in which he thought the system of our government was comprehended'? LAWS which concern our provinces and our trials'? Are we, I say, to repeal such laws, yet ratify his acts'? Yet may we at least complain of those which are only proposed: as to those which we pass', we are deprived even of the liberty to complain.
Crito. Again the principle of suggestion comes in to furnish me with a parallel passage. It is that in which Germanicus, addressing his mutinous soldiers, employs questions to give force and spirit to his reproaches. The ' repetition of the pronoun you, with the circumflex, forms a climax of great beauty.
What is there in these days that you have not attempted'? What have you not profaned? What name shall I give to this assembly? Shall I call you soldiers'? You who have besieged with your arms, and surrounded with a trench, the son of your emperor? Shall I call you citizens'? You who have so shamefully trampled upon the authority of the senate'? YOU who have violated the justice due to enemies', the sanctity of embassy', and the rights of nations'?
Bernardo. As I remarked at the beginning of this conversation, that sometimes a high pitch of voice is required, and sometimes a low one, according to the sentiment, it may be well to notice, in this place, the change of voice with which we should introduce an illustrative simile or comparison in poetry. I think it will be found that at least the beginning of the simile should be read in a lower and more plaintive tone of voice than that part of the passage which precedes it. But let us take an example or two. Suppose we begin with Addison's beautiful description of Marlborough in battle. 'Twas then great Marlb' rough's mighty soul was proved, That in the shock of charging hosts unmoved,
Amid confusion, horror, and despair,
Examined all the dreadful scenes of war;
In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd,
And, pleased the Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides on the whirlwind, and directs the storm.-ADDISON.
You perceive how much the reading of this piece is embellished by allowing the voice to drop into a monotone at the commencement of the simile, and then gradually slide out of it, and rise to a higher pitch to avoid too great a sameness.
Crito. And I think that I perceive a peculiar propriety in this mode of introducing a simile in poetry. It must be based upon this principle, that the mind, in forming a simile, is seldom agitated by any strong passion; and as the simile is something that is thrown in to explain or illustrate, that tone of voice which expresses serene, tranquil contemplation, seems to be the tone most suitable to it; and this, if I am not mistaken, will be found to be the plaintive tone, approaching to a monotone. Milton's beautiful description of the sports of the fallen angels affords a good opportunity of exemplifying the rule:
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
With conquest, felt th' envenom'd robe; and tore,
Into th' Euboic sea.-MILTON.
Bernardo. Something allied to the principle involved in reading the simile, is that which requires that sublime, grand, and magnificent descriptions in poetry should be read with a similar falling of the voice, and a sameness nearly approaching to monotone. Thus, in the following extract from Pope, a series of grand images, commencing at the fifth line, fills the mind with surprise approaching to astonishment. As this passion has a tendency to fix the body, and deprive it of motion, so it is best expressed, in speaking or reading, by a deep and almost uniform tone of voice,-such inflections as are required being less in degree than in most other cases.
And if each system in gradation roll',
All this dread order break'-for whom? for thee'?
But I see our time is already exhausted, and we must defer a farther consideration of the subject until the next evening.
ANALYSIS.-Public speaking; and reading in public the speeches of others. General principles that should govern both. How should we read a quoted speech in the speech of another? The speech of Cassius, in which he repeats the supplicating words of Cæsar. The principle that should govern the reading of it. Hotspur's description of a conceited fop. The swain in Gray's Elegy. The "Last words of Marmion." General principles. The reading of dialogue, where the personification is complete. Gray's poem, The Bard." The personification of Pride, in Pope's Essay on Man.
Bernardo. Well', Crito', what topic or topics have you to suggest for our consideration this evening'?
Crito. I have been thinking upon the subject of public speaking, and also about reading in public the speeches of others.
Bernardo. A very important subject; or, rather, two important subjects, as they are not one and the same thing. Do they suggest any difficulties to you' ?
Crito. I have seen it laid down as a rule that in speaking the speech of another, we should give it all the force and energy that would become the character whose words are assumed. This appears reasonable, because we assume to personate another-to put ourselves in his place. But I would like to know if we ought to read the speech of another just as we should pronounce it from the rostrum. In other words, if we read a speech
merely for the information of our hearers, should we do it oratorically?*
Bernardo. I am pleased with your question, for it shows that you have already discriminated between the character of an orator uttering his own sentiments, and that of one who merely reads from a book. Where the reader merely reads his own speech, he may safely act the orator in his own person; but if he merely assumes the character of a reader of the words of another, he occupies a different position in the view of his hearers, and his manner must be different. Yet I would have you bear in mind that these two kinds of style or manner of reading should differ only in degree of force; the greater degree in the case of the orator, and the lesser in that of the reader: the tones, inflections, and gesticulations should be the same in kind in both.
Crito. I see there is much reason in this rule; for it would be very difficult for one who had assumed the character of a reader to change wholly to that of an orator, without doing violence to the feelings of his hearers. And yet the reader must give tones and inflections of the same kind as the orator used, or he will not faithfully represent him. But still another point has been suggested to me. What if the speaker quotes what another person said: how should we read this speech within a speech? For example, we will take the speech of Cassius, in which he is describing Cæsar under the paroxysms of a fever. Cassius says,
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And, when the fit was on him', I did mark
How he did shake': 'tis true, this god' did shake',
His coward lips did from their color fly',
And that same eye', whose bend doth awe the world',
Ay, and that tongue of his', that bade the Romans
As a sick' girl.-SHAKSPEARE.
Must these words of Cæsar, "Give me some drink', Titinius'," be pronounced in exact imitation of the small, feeble voice of a sick person'-just as Cæsar spoke them'?
Bernardo. By no means, because Cassius did not pronounce them so; for, with only a partial imitation of the feeble voice of Cæsar, Cassius united a tone of scorn and contempt, which we should preserve when reading the passage. You must bear in mind that when reading a speech you are to assume the character of the leading speaker throughout, modified only in degree. If Cassius (the leading speaker) had merely mimicked Cæsar, without uniting scorn and contempt with the mimicry, he would have lowered himself to the character of a buffoon, and would thus have made himself appear ridiculous. Much more ridiculous should we appear if, in reading this passage, we should become the mere mimic, and that at third hand too. In Shakspeare's Henry the Fourth, the hero, Hotspur, describes a conceited fop in language indicative of anger and contempt. In reading the speech we must assume the character of Hotspur rather than that of the
*If the reader supposes that Crito designed this as a repeated question, he will give it the falling inflection, in accordance with Note 3, Rule I. Otherwise he will give it the rising inflection. Now who shall decide what Crito's intention was? All those who regard it as a repeated question will evidently read it in one way, and all those who regard it as merely explanatory will read another way. This well illustrates the principle laid down, that different readings of a passage arise from different interpretations of it.
+ Even here the degree of force must be less than when these words are supposed to bo spoken by Cassius.
fop whom he describes, carrying out the leading passion instead of the secondary. If in reading any piece we so far forget the leading passion as to assume the secondary entirely, we fall into mimicry, and render our expression, however just in other respects, ridiculous. I will read the whole speech of Hotspur, in one part of which, as you will perceive, he assumes to give the language of the fop.
My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
He gave his nose, and took't away again;
Who, therewith angry, when it next came there,
He called them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
With many a holiday and lady terms
He question'd me; among the rest demanded
My prisoners, in your majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting, with my wounds being cold,
To be so pester'd by a popinjay,
Out of my grief and my impatience,
Answer'd neglectingly, I know not what;
He should, or he should not; for he made me mad`,
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman,
Of guns, and drums, and wounds (God save the mark!),
And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth
Was spermaceti for an inward bruise;
And that it was great pity, so it was,
That villainous saltpetre should be digg'd
Which many a good tall fellow had destroyed
He would himself' have been a soldier'
This bold unjointed chat of his, my lord',
I answer'd indirectly, as I said;
And I beseech you, let not this report
Come current for an accusation,
Betwixt my love and your high majesty.-SHAKSPEARE.
Crito. I perceive that the rule which you have laid down will also apply to what is supposed to have been said by the hoary-headed swain in Gray's Elegy in a Country Church-yard.
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonor'd dead,
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Oft have we seen him, at the peep of dawn,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by," etc.-GRAY.
Bernardo. You are correct.
It would be very ridiculous, in reading this