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8 18. Exercise, further, in order to be most useful, must be critical ; in other words, must be subjected to the inspection of a teacher or of the performer himself, for the purpose of removing faults and retaining qualities that are good.
The proper time of criticism is after the performance is finished. To write or to speak with a constant reference to criticism at the time, is to impose on the mind a double labor or occupation, so that neither part of the work can be done well. Such subsequent criticism is shown to be necessary at once by the consideration, that, otherwise, it cannot be known whether the work has proceeded aright or in accordance with the principles that should regulate it. It, also, greatly helps to give the principle exemplified in the exercise a practical, controlling existence in the mind.
§ 19. Once more, skill in rhetoric cannot be attained except by much continued practice.
No illustration is requisite to show the correctness of this principle. It may be remarked here, however, that the labor of writing should not be pursued so coastantly as to make it a drudgery, awakening no interest and inspiring no enthusiasm.
OF RHETORIC AS AN AESTHETIC ART.
§ 20. Inasmuch as Discourse proceeds necessarily in conformity with the laws of Taste, (§ 5.), Rhetoric is properly regarded as an Aesthetic Art.*
* The term “Aesthetic ” is preferred to “ Critical ” because the latter is too exclusively negative in its import.
The various arts have been distributed into two classes, one of which has been denominated Free, Liberal, Fine, Elegant, &c; the other, Mechanical, Useful, &c. Free arts are those in which the expression of beauty or the gratification of the taste is the controlling end of the production or proceeding; Mechanical arts are those in which some other end, as of utility, controls the production.
There are two arts, however, Rhetoric and Architecture, which it has been found difficult to embrace under this classification. Authors have differed from one another in assigning them their respective places under it. They both have an end foreign to aesthetics. Hence some have classed them among
the unaesthetic or mechanical arts. But Oratory and Architecture certainly of theinselves awaken aesthetic emotions, and have accordingly an aesthetic character; other writers have, therefore, ranked them among
the aesthetic or elegant arts. A third class of authors, to mediate the controversy, have given them a middle position between the two.
But the true issue is, have these arts essentially an aesthetic aim, even although jointly with another, that is, a useful or mechanical aim? Architecture, certainly, does not exclusively respect a useful end. A Temple, a Dwelling, is not merely a shelter. It is designed to affect the mind as well as the body. It is, in this respect, essentially different from a tool, a machine, a mere mechanical instrument. Much more is this aesthetic character essential to eloquence As designed to affect another mind, it must affect it in accordance with its nature, that is, in accordance with its aesthetic onstitution. As expression, moreover, of one mind to another, it must bear the aesthetic character of the communicating mind. It is therefore essentially aesthetic in its nature, being so distinguished both from its aim and from
its origin. That it has a foreign aim does not, in the least impede the aesthetic procedure. For conformity to end, suitableness, fitness, is itself an aesthetic element.
Rhetoric, consequently, like architecture, is something more than a merely decorative art, which adds ornament to something that is not of itself aesthetic or is perfectly adapted to its end without being in taste. It is, of its own nature and essentially, an aesthetic art; as discourse must be in accordance with principles of Taste, or it cannot be perfect even in reference to its end. Oratory must, there fore, of necessity, express beauty in order to its perfection. This cannot be said of a tool, a machine, a product of any mechanical art.
§ 21. Discourse, as aesthetic in its nature, freely admits all the various elements of Beauty.
These elements are reducible to three, viz: Absolute Beauty, Grace, and Propriety.
The various elements of Beauty are either inherent in the object itself or depend on its relations. All inherent beauty is either absolute, that is, permanent and inseparable from the object, or accidental and contingent. The permanent is denominated Absolute Beauty; the accidental or contingent, Grace.
Relative Beauty, or Beauty depending on relations merel:, is denominated Propriety. We have thus the fol. lowing definitions.
ABSOLUTE BEAUTY is that element which lies in some fixed property of a beautiful object. Thus the brightness of the rainbow, the clearness and stillness of a meadow stream, the fresh verdure of spring, are instances of absolute beauty.
GRACE is that element of beauty which lies in motion, or ia repose, the effect of previous motion. The undulations of
a lake when stirred by a gentle breeze, the easy gambolings of a playful lamb, the free motions of supple infancy, are instances of the grace of motion. While the blending of the violet conceived of as nature's penciling, the easy composure of an infant's limbs in sleep, are instances of the grace of repose.
PROPRIETY respects the relations of the object, and consists in conformity to truth in the determination of these relations. It includes the specific elements of fitness, conformity, harmony, symmetry, proportion and the like.
§ 22. ABSOLUTE BEAUTY appears in discourse in the subject, the form of development of the subject or any subordinate thought, and also in the manner of expression.
1. The subject itself of the discourse may often reveal aesthetic beauty. Thus in Biography, a noble or lovely character of itself stirs our admiration, and imparts aesthetic pleasure. The biographer whose very subject is a character vile, corrupt or depraved, labors under a constant difficulty so far as the gratification of taste is an object of his work. In History, such subjects as the Retreat of the Ten Thous sand, the Roman Republic, the German Reformation, are in themselves admirable. The orations of Demosthenes against Philip, aiming at the independence and freedom of the Grecian States, possess intrinsic beauty in their subject. That of Cicero pro Cluentio, admirable as it is, yet has to contend with the difficulties of a subject in itself repulsive.
In fictitious composition, the subject is at the choice of the writer; and in his selection he has the opportunity of displaying the elevation and correctness of his taste. This principle will determine, very justly, the relative character and merits of the fictitious writings of Sir Walter Scott and
of those of the late French school. How etherial and puro are some of the writings of the Germans in this department of composition!
2. The development of the theme in discourse may also contain this element of beauty. There is a singular beauty in the following plan of a discourse by Dr. Sprague,* as thus announced in the partition. “ The Christian does not desire to live alway, because he prefers
Perfect light to comparative darkness;
perfect; The honors of victory to the perils of warfare." 3. In the manner of expression, this element of beauty may also very generally be exhibited. In the selection of his images, by the purity of his sentiments, and the refinement of his associations as evinced in his style, there is wide room furnished to the writer for the exhibition of a cultivated and elegant taste. The orations of Demosthenes, of Chatham, and of Henry, abound thus in expressions of lofty sentiments of patriotism and indignation at oppression which impart a peculiar beauty to their eloquence.
§ 23. Grace may appear in the subject itself, or in the working of the speaker's mind in conceiving and representing the particular thoughts of the dis
The subject may possess in itself the element of aesthetic grace, so far as it admits of motion or change. Living objects and such as are subject to the influence of causes of
* National Preacher, Vol. 13, p. 129.