Abbildungen der Seite

doubtful, if, in the majority of cases, habits of profound thought are successfully cultivated by the frequenters of debating clubs. Nay, more, it may be confidently asserted that, in many instances, these develope a tendency to sophistry, special pleading, one-sided arguments, and fighting for victory rather than for truth. (4) They are sceptical as to the beneficial results of these societies in a moral point of view, disapproving of the subjects selected as being often beyond the immature powers of the debaters, and regarding the mode of conducting the debate itself as more calculated to foster a love of saying smart things than to promote the sober and serious tone in which the future statesman or clergyman should discuss the gravest subjects.

Balancing these arguments, our impartial readers will probably admit that there is much to be said on both sides of this question as of most others. If judged by results in after life, no doubt much may be adduced in favour of these societies. Sir Roundell Palmer, in an admirable speech, delivered at the inaugural meeting of the Articled Clerks' Debating Society last week, urged this argument with great power, producing a list of ten splendid men now in the highest positions in England, who were members of the "Oxford Union" thirty years ago, during his undergraduate career. But one asks, what proportion do these prizes bear to the blanks? in other words, granting that Mr. Gladstone (one of the ten) is a most distinguished orator, and that the rest of the ten are admirable public speakers, what are we to say of the remaining hundreds ? We shall find them in the pulpit, at the bar, in parliament, on platforms at our public meetings; and we leave it to the impartial judgment of the British public, whether our sermons and speeches are, on an average, such as might reasonably be expected from an Oxford or Cambridge education, and from the boasted training which our debating societies are said to afford. Nor let it be forgotten, in a just estimate of this question, that some of our best speakers (Mr. Brigh', for example) have never been, so far as we know, members of any o our great debating clubs, but have attained their excellence in another and a better way.

II. Can any reforms be introduced into our debating societies which would render them more practically useful? (1) Our first suggestion is that the greatest care should be taken by the founders and promoters of the institution to devise and enforce proper rules for the government of the debates; to select such subjects as are strictly suited to the ability, attainments, and general interests of the speakers; and to take the greatest care in admitting and retaining only

such members as will really benefit themselves and others by their attendance—many societies having been ruined by being converted into theatres for the display of jokes and buffoonery. (2) Our second suggestion is that the great object of the society should be kept steadily in view by an occasional address or lecture, delivered by some eminent statesman, clergyman, or professor, in which the requisites for public speaking should be explained and the errors commonly committed faithfully exposed. Such a lecture would naturally insist upon (a) a thorough knowledge of the subject, (b) a systematic plan in every speech, (c) clearness of ideas resulting from thorough examination, (d) choice of simple but expressive words for conveying the exact meaning, (e) strict adherence to the laws of grammar, (f) careful instruction in the essential but much neglected art of sentence-making, (g) and the constant practice of writing (at first at least) every word which the debater intends to speak. (3) We lastly suggest that every debating society should secure the services of some experienced barrister to attend the debate, take notes, and, at the close, offer a few critical remarks. Combined with this, moreover, there ought to be direct teaching either in classes or individually; for public speaking is the result, not of gift alone or of art alone, but of gift and art combined. The training which the great Lord Chatham gave his illustrious son by which he acquired his "admirable readiness of speech-his aptness for finding the right word without pause or hesitation," is an illustration of what we mean. Such instruction, begun in the Sixth Form of our public schools and continued throughout our university career, would do more than all our speech-days and debating societies, as at present constituted, to train not a select few, but the great mass, for the discharge of the important duties of after life.

In conclusion, we firmly believe that this question is one of far more than mere literary importance; for there is but little hope of moving the masses of the people till men, educated in other respects, acquire facility in wielding the power of speech-one of the choicest instruments committed to them by God for influencing their fellow-creatures in the best of causes.

[graphic][merged small]

Old Trinity and the American Church.


WE leave the Battery,* reconciled by the practical good of its beneficent emigration establishments, to its utilitarian transformation, but yet, as we recollect its early beauties, its attractive resorts, and its gala scenes, it is not easy to resist the indulgence of a sentimental regret at the change.

With New York's civic triumphs the Battery will always be historically associated. Here a swelling municipality was wont to vent its enthusiasm, in pompous military display, noisy cannonading and flatulent oratory, on every occasion of civic, political, and national festivity. Here the Briarean hands of municipal welcome were first extended to every distinguished foreign visitor. Here in 1824 Marquis de Lafayette landed, on his return to the United States, and here he felt the first grasp of that universal hand-shaking with which a grateful but a tiresomely-intrusive nation always welcomes its heroes.† It was at the Battery, too, though but so short a time ago, that the young Prince of Wales first took to horse, on that triumphal ride up Broadway. He passed almost at his start the Bowling Green, with its revolutionary reminiscence, of the demolished statue of his great grandfather, George III., and those early days of fierce contention, whose bitterness has long since been sweetened by years of friendly relation and international courtesy. The welcome given to England's heir showed that old grudges, if not forgotten, were buried, beyond, it is hoped, any chance of resurrection.

A hundred steps or so from the Bowling Green, brings us on our long walk up Broadway, to Trinity Church, a goodly gift from Queen Anne of pious memory, to her then loyal subjects, and a precious inheritance to their republican descendants. Its sonorous chimes * See article on "Emigrants in America."

+ Though the Marquis, with true French politeness, yielded gracefully to the national demand for a touch of his glove, he became very sparing of speech. Of each one who came up, he asked as he shook hands with him, "Are you a married man?" If he was answered "Yes," the Marquis rejoined, "Happy fellow;" if answered "No," he exclaimed, "Lucky dog." With this meagre luggage of nine words, the economical Marquis is said to have kept himself in English speech, and made a creditable appearance during his whole journey from Maine to Georgia.

NO. X.


re-echo many a tradition of church and state, and its ever-green churchyard is full of the memorials of the great and good of the past.

This revered temple stands opposite to Wall Street, warning off all desecration from the irreverent money-changers of that busy mart, and reminding them that there is something more worth living and dying for than the dollar. The present structure dates only from the year 1846. It is one of those imitations of Gothic to which the modern rage for medieval art is ever exciting the architect, but only to show the impotence of the mimicry of a sentiment which is neither his own nor of that of the age in which he lives. As seen from the street, the building appears all spire, and the little that shows of the body, seems but a prop to sustain its lank height. The steeple itself is not an unimposing erection, and is said to be a very fair rendering of that of the Louth Cathedral in Ireland.

The green churchyard with its ancient trees throwing their deep shade over mouldering tombs and crumbling gravestones, is a surprise of repose and solemnity in the very midst of the most stirring and worldly of people. It contains among the crowded monuments of its dead those of Bradford, an Englishman by birth, who established the first newspaper in New York, in 1724, a tiny sheet of the size of a half foolscap; Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat; Alexander Hamilton, the revolutionary statesman; and young Lawrence, who fell in the gallant encounter between the Shannon and Chesapeake.

The churchyard is full of the tombs and gravestones, some dating two hundred years back, of the ancient burghers of New York. One of its most frequented spots is that where a stone slab records simply these words, "Charlotte Temple." This was the title of a sentimental romance, which was a great favourite with the grandmothers of the present generation of Americans. "It is a tale of seduction, the story of a young girl brought over to America by a British officer, and deserted; and being written in a melo-dramatic style has drawn tears from the public freely as any similar production on the stage.”* The tomb is supposed to contain the remains of the original of the unfor tunate heroine of this story, which is founded on fact. The ground about the tomb, kept constantly bare of grass by frequent steps, shows that the pathetic tale of Charlotte Temple has still its numerous readers and sympathisers.

An ugly so-called Gothic structure, which has the look of a gigantic

"Cyclopædia of American Literature," article, Susanna Rawson. By Evert A. Duyckinck and George L. Duyckinck. New York: Scribner.

« ZurückWeiter »