« ПретходнаНастави »
It is usually thought that a preacher, who feels what he is saying himself, will naturally speak with that tone of voice, and expression in his countenance, that best suits the subject, and which cannot fail to move his audience: thus it is said, a person under the influence of fear, anger, or sorrow, looks and speaks in the manner naturally expressive of these emotions. This is true in some measure; but it can never be supposed, that any preacher will be able to enter into his subject with such real warmth upon every occasion. Besides, every prudent man will be afraid to abandon himself so entirely to any impression, as he must do to produce this effect. Most men, when strongly affected by any passion or emotion, have some peculiarity in their appearance, which does not belong to the natural expression of such an emotion. If this be not properly corrected, a public speaker, who is really warm and animated with his subject, may nevertheless make a very ridiculous and contemptible figure. It is the business of art, to show nature in her most amiable and graceful forms, and not with those peculiarities in which she appears in particular instances; and it is this difficulty of properly representing nature, that renders the eloquence and action, both of the pulpit and the stage, acquisitions of such difficult attainment.
But, besides those talents inherent in the preacher himself, an intimate knowledge of nature will suggest the necessity of attending to certain external circumstances, which operate powerfully on the mind, and prepare it for receiving the designed impressions. Such, in particular, is the
proper regulation of church-music, and the solemnity and pomp of public worship. Independent of the effect that these particulars have on the imagination, it might be expected that a just taste, a sense of decency and propriety, would make them more attended to than we find they are. We acknowledge that they have been abused, and have occasioned the grossest superstition; but this universal propensity to carry them to excess is the strongest proof that the attachment to them is deeply rooted in human nature, and consequently that it is the business of good sense to regulate, and not vainly to attempt to extinguish it. Many religious sects, in their infancy, have supported themselves without any of these external assistances: but when time has abated the fervour of their first zeal, we always find that their public worship has been conducted with the most remarkable coldness and inattention, unless supported by well-regulated ceremonies. In fact, it will be found, that those sects who at their commencement have been most distinguished for a religious enthusiasm that despised all forms, and the genius of whose tenets could not admit the use of any, have either been of short duration, or ended in infidelity.
The many difficulties that attend the practical art of making religion influence the manners and lives of mankind, by acquiring a command over the imagination and passions, have made it too generally neglected, even by the most eminent of the clergy for learning and good sense. These have rather chosen to confine themselves to a track, where they were sure to excel by the force
of their own genius, than to attempt a road where their success was doubtful, and where they might be outshone by men greatly their inferiors. It has therefore been principally cultivated by men of lively imaginations, possessed of some natural advantages of voice and manner. But as no art can ever become very beneficial to mankind, unless it be under the direction of genius and good sense, it has too often happened, that the art we are now speaking of has become subservient to the wildest fanaticism, sometimes to the gratification of vanity, and sometimes to still more unworthy purposes. Gregory.
ON THE DUTIES OF SCHOOLBOYS.
QUINCTILIAN says, that he has included almost all the duty of scholars in this one piece of advice which he gives them, to love those who teach them, as they love the sciences which they learn of them; and to look upon them as fathers, from whom they derive not the life of the body, but that instruction which is in a manner the life of the soul. Indeed, this sentiment of affection and respect suffices to make them apt to learn during the time of their studies, and full of gratitude all the rest of their lives. It seems to me to include a great part of what is to be expected from them.
Docility, which consists in submitting to directions, in readily receiving the instructions of their masters, and reducing them to practice, is properly the virtue of scholars, as that of masters is to teach well. The one can do nothing without
the other; and as it is not sufficient for a labourer to sow the seed, unless the earth, after having opened its bosom to receive it, in a manner hatches, warms, and moistens it; so likewise the whole fruit of instruction depends upon a good correspondence between the masters and the scholars.
Gratitude for those who have laboured in our education is the character of an honest man, and the mark of a good heart. Who is there among us, says Cicero, that has been instructed with any care, that is not highly delighted with the sight or even the bare remembrance of his preceptors, masters, and the place where he was taught and brought up! Seneca exhorts young men to preserve always a great respect for their masters, to whose care they are indebted for the amendment of their faults, and for having imbibed sentiments of honour and probity. Their exactness and severity displease sometimes, at an age when we are not in a condition to judge of the obligations we owe to them; but when years have ripened our understanding and judgment, we then discern that what made us dislike them, I mean admonitions, reprimands, and a severe exactness in restraining the passions of an imprudent and inconsiderate age, is expressly the very thing which should make us esteem and love them. Thus we see that Marcus Aurelius, one of the wisest and most illustrious emperors that Rome ever had, thanked the gods for two things especially-for his having had excellent tutors himself, and that he had found the like for his children.
Quinctilian, after having noted the different characters of the mind in children, draws, in a
few words, the image of what he judged to be a perfect scholar; and certainly it is a very amiable one: For my part,' says he, "I like a child who is encouraged by commendation, is animated by a sense of glory, and weeps when he is outdone. A noble emulation will always keep him in exercise, a reprimand will touch him to the quick, and honour serve instead of a spur. We need · not fear that such a scholar will give himself up to sullenness."
How great a value soever Quinctilian sets upon the talents of the mind, he esteems those of the heart far beyond them; and looks upon the others as of no value without them. In the same chapter from whence I took the preceding words, he declares, he should never have a good opinion of a child, who placed his study in occasioning laughter, by mimicking the behaviour, Lien, and faults of others: and he presently gives an admirable reason for it: 'A child,' says he, 'cannot be truly ingenious, in my opinion, unless he be good and virtuous; and were it otherwise, I should rather choose to have him dull and heavy than of a bad disposition.'
He displays to us all these talents in the eldest of his two children, whose character he draws, and whose death he laments in so eloquent and pathetic a strain, in the beautiful preface to his sixth book. I shall beg leave to insert here a small extract of it, which will not be useless to young persons, as they will find it a model which suits well with their age and condition.
After having mentioned his younger son, who died at five years of age, and described the graces and beauties of his countenance, the prettiness of