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spectral phenomenon, for it was not I, in my proper and natëral self, that sat there at table or subsequently rose to speak.
4. At the moment, then, if the choice had been offered me whether the Mayor should let off a speech at my head or a pistol, I should unhesitatingly have taken the latter alternative. I had really nothing to say, not an ideä in my head, nor, which was a good deal worse, any flowing words or embroidered sen⚫tences in which to dress out that empty Nothing, and give it a cunning aspect of intelligence, such as might last the poor vacuity the little time it had to live.
5. But time pressed; the Mayor brought his remarks, affectionately eulogistic of the United States and highly complimentary to their distinguished representative at that table, to a close, ămid a vast deal of cheering; and the band struck up "Hail Columbia," I believe, though it might have been "Old Hundred," or "God save the Queen" over again, for anything that I should have known or cared. When the music ceased, there was an intensely disagreeable instant, during which I seemed to rend away and fling off the habit of a lifetime, and rose, still void of ideas, but with preternatural composure, to make a speech.
6. The guests rattled on the table, and cried "Hear!" most vociferously, as if now, at length, in this foolish and idly garrulous world, had come the long-expected moment when one golden word was to be spoken; and in that imminent crisis, I caught a glimpse of a little bit of an effusion of international sentiment which it might and must and should do to utter.
7. Well; it was nothing, as the Sergeant had said. What surprised me most was the sound of my own voice, which I had never before heard at a declamatory pitch, and which impressed me as belonging to some other person, who, and not myself, would be responsible for the speech: a prodigious consolation and encouragement under the circumstances!
8. I went on without the slightest embarrassment, and sat down amid great applause, wholly undeserved by anything that I had spoken, but well won from Englishmen, methought, by the new development of pluck that alone had enabled me to speak at all. "It was handsomely done!" quoth Sergeant Wilkins; and I felt like a recruit who had been for the first time under fire.
9. I would gladly have ended my oratorical career then and there forever, but was often placed in a similar or worse position, and compelled to meet it as I best might; for this was one of the necessities of an office which I had voluntarily taken on my shoulders, and beneath which I might be crushed by no moral delinquency on my own part, but could not shirk without cowardice and shame. My subsequent fortune was various.
10. Once, though I felt it to be a kind of imposture, I got a speech by heart, and doubtless it might have been a věry pretty' one, only I forgot every syllable at the moment of need, and had to improvise' another as well as I could. I found it a better method to pre-arrange a few points in my mind, and trust to the spur of the occasion, and the kind aid of Providence for enabling me to bring them to bear.
11. The presence of any considerable proportion of personal friends generally dumbfounded me. I would rather have talked with an enemy in the gate. Invariably, too, I was much embarrassed by a small audience, and succeeded better with a large one, the sympathy of a multitude possessing a buoyant effect, which lifts the speaker a little way out of his individuality and tosses him toward a perhaps better range of sentiment than his private one.
12. Again, if I rose carelessly and confidently, with an expectation of going through the business entirely at my ease, I often found that I had little or nothing to say; whereas, if I came to the scratch in perfect despair, and at a crisis when failure would have been horrible, it once or twice happened that the frightful emergency concentrated my poor faculties, and enabled me to give definite and vigorous expression to sentiments which an instant before looked as vague and far-off as the clouds in the atmosphere.
13. On the whole, poor as my own success may have been, I apprehend that any intelligent man with a tongue possesses the chief requisite of oratorical power, and may develop many of the others, if he deems it worth while to bestow a great amount of labor and pains on an object which the most accomplished orators, I suspect, have not found altogether satisfactory to their highest impulses. At any rate, it must be a remarkably
1 Pretty (prit'ti). raneously, or off-hand, without pre"Im' pro vise, to speak extempo- vious preparation.
true man who can keep his own elevated conception of truth when the lower feeling of a multitude is assailing his natural sympathies, and who can speak out frankly the best that there is in him, when by adulterating it a little, or a good deal, he knows that he may make it ten times as acceptable to the audience.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, an American novelist and essayist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, July 4th, 1804. Owing to ill health, at the age of ten years, he left home to try the effects of farm-life, going to a farm owned by the family, and located on the shores of Sebago Lake, Maine. He returned to Salem, resumed his studies, and graduated at Bowdoin College in 1825. In 1837 he collected his early contributions to magazines, and published them under the title of "Twice-told Tales." The work was highly lauded by the N. A. Review. It was republished, with a second series, in 1842. Probably his most popular romances are the "Scarlet Letter," "The House of the Seven Gables," and the "Marble Faun." During the administration of President Pierce, he was U. S. Consul at Liverpool. This office he resigned in 1857. He died suddenly, while on a journey to the White Mountains for his health, at Plymouth, New Hampshire, May 19, 1864. Mr. Hawthorne's literary reputation was not confined to the United States. His most important works have been republished and widely read in England, and, in the form of translations, in Germany
144. A FOREST NOOK.
NOOK within the forest; overhead
The branches arch, and shape a pleasant bower,
And flecks of gold; a soft cool emerald tint
Here the spruce thrusts in
Its bristling plume, tipped with its pale-green points;
Into firm rugged edges, interlace:
While here and there, through clefts, the laurel lifts
As though to hoard it for the haunting elves
Of richest brown; the wild-rose spreads its breast
Has dropped its dark, long cone.
The scorching glare
With shrill, quick chirp; and like a flake of fire
In the thick green, betrays some wandering wing
4. The insect tribe are here: the ant toils on
Tells its trapped prey, and looping quick its threads,
The wood-tick taps its tiny muffled drum
The grasshopper its swelling bugle winds.
Those breaths of Nature, the light fluttering airs,
5. Such nooks as this are common in the woods:
That the low flower our careless foot treads down
Is a rich shrine of incense delicate,
And radiant beauty, and that God hath formed
145. FOREST TREES.
A. B. STREET.
HAVE paused more than once in the wilderness of America,
to contem'plate the traces of some blast of wind, which seemed to have rushed down from the clouds, and ripped its way through the bosom of the woodlands; rooting up, shivering, and splintering the stoutest trees, and leaving a long track of desolation. There is something awful in the vast havoc made among these gigantic plants; and in considering their magnificent remains, so rudely torn and mangled, hurled down to perish prematurely on their native soil, I was conscious of a strong movement of sympathy with the wood-nymphs, grieving to be dispossessed of their ancient habitations.
2. I recollect also hearing a traveler of poëtical temperament, expressing the kind of horror which he felt in beholding, on the banks of the Missouri, an oak of prodigious size, which had been in a manner overpowered by an enormous wild grape-vine. The vine had clasped its huge folds round the trunk, and from thence had wound about every branch and twig, until the mighty tree