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EXERCISE XXVII.—GENIUS AND METHOD.—Diderot. [As an exercise in humorous expression, the following piece requires attention to full liveliness and perfect freedom, and even gaiety of tone. To read such pieces in a dull, monotonous manner, is, of course, to defeat their intention, both in elocution and composition.]
At seven o'clock, the company sat down to cards, and Messrs. Le Roy, Grimm, the Abbé Galiani, and I, began to converse.
A dispute arose between Grimm and Le Roy about genius and method. Grimm detests method : it is, according to him, the pedantry of literature. Those that can do nothing, he maintained, but arrange, had better not give themselves the trouble; those who can learn nothing but by means of arrangements, had as well remain ignorant. "But,” said Le Roy, “it is method which makes genius available.”“ And which spoils it." They said a great many things which it is not worth while mentioning to you ; and they would have said a great many more, had not Galiani interrupted them.
"I remember a fable, my friends, which I must tell you. It is rather long, perhaps, but it won't tire you.
“One day, in the middle of a wood, there arose a dispute about singing, between the nightingale and the cuckoo. Each gave the preference to his own talent. What bird,' said the cuckoo, has so simple, natural, and measured a song as I ?'— What bird,' said the nightingale, ‘has a song so sweet, varied, light, and brilliant as mine?'— I
say few things,' said the cuckoo ; but they have weight and order, and one remembers them.'—'I am fond of talking,' said the nightingale, but what I say is always new, and never wearies. I enchant the woods, the cuckoo saddens them. He is so attached to his mother's lesson, that he never hazards a note he has not learned from her. I acknowledge no teacher : I laugh at rules; and it is when I break through them that I am most admired. Where is the comparison between your dull method and my happy flights ?'
“ The cuckoo made many attempts to interrupt the nightingale. But nightingales sing for ever, and never listen :it is a little failing of theirs. Our friend, carried away by her ideas, ran on without minding her rival's answer. “ At last, however, they agreed
to refer the matter to some arbitrator. But where were they to find an enlightened and impartial judge? They set out in search of one.
“In crossing a meadow, they fell in with an ass of the most grave and solemn aspect. Such length of ears never was seen since the creation of the species. Ah!' said the cuckoo, 'we are in luck. Our quarrel is an affair of the ear, and here is an admirable pair of them. This is the very judge we want.'
"The ass was browsing, and never dreaming that he was one day to be a judge of music. But stranger things sometimes happen. Our two birds lighted beside him, complimented him on his gravity and judgment, explained the subject of their dispute, and begged him very humbly to decide it.
“ But the ass, scarcely turning round his clumsy head, and continuing to browse most diligently, made them a sign with his ears, that he was hungry, and that he was not that day, holding a bed of justice. The birds insist,--the ass continues to browse. At last, however, his appetite was appeased.
“There were some trees planted on the skirt of the meadow. Well,' said he, ‘go there, and I will come to you. You sing and I will digest. I will listen to you, and then give you my opinion.'
The birds take flight, and perch in a tree. follows them, with the air and step of a chief justice. He lay down on the grass, and called to them, “Begin: the court will hear you.'
My lord,' said the cuckoo, 'you must not lose a note I sing; you must seize the character of my song; and, above all, be pleased to observe its contrivance and method.' Then, drawing himself up, and clapping his wings each time, he began to sing, “Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckcuckoo, cuckoo, cuckcuckoo!' and after having combined these notes in all possible ways, he held his
peace. “ The nightingale, without any preamble, began to display her voice, struck into the boldest modulations, and warbled the most singular and original strains. Her song was successively sweet, airy, brilliant, and pathetic; but it was not music for everybody.
“ Carried away by her enthusiasm, she would have sung longer; but the ass, who had been yawning fearfully all the while, interrupted her. •I have no doubt,' said he, that all that
you have been singing is very fine, but I can make nothing of it. It seems to me to be strange, confused, and incoherent. You are perhaps more learned than your rival, but he is more methodical than you; and, for my part, I am for method.'
“Now," said the Abbé, addressing M. Le Roy, and pointing to Grimm with his finger, " there is the nightingale,you are the cuckoo,-and I am the ass who decides in your favour. Good night!”
EXERCISE XXVIII. -ODE TO AN ANCIENT SYCAMORE, ON THE
BANKS OF THE OHIO.-Dr. Bird.
[This piece requires, in reading or recitation, the firm tone of grave but lofty sentiment; the utterance full, but softened by awe; the pitch low; movement slow; and pauses long : the whole strain being that of deep musing.]
Rude tree, now gaunt with eld,
Dodder, or moss, or misletoe, to deck
Thine antique nakedness,-majestic wreck Of the great wilderness now passed away,-What tales of blood, of wild and woodland fray,
Lie in thy hollows cellid,
A monarch in past years,
Billows of verdure in the summer gust,
And to the swelling river swept, like dust,
The grave-yard of his peers, –
Yes, at thy root, the roar
The tortured Huron, dying at the stake,
Dream'd of his green paths by his surging lake;
Wept her rough play-grounds o'er,
And here, perhaps, when Boone
Gazed on the sweeping river, here he kept
Dreaming the dream of home; and woke with fright,
From the nocturnal tune
Such scenes as these hast thou
Shalt thou behold them ;—from the runlet bed
Beaver and bear, and lapping wolf are fled; The bison-path is empty, and the den of the hill-roaming elk, a place for men.
Up to thy blasted brow
Where is the Wilderness,
That the keen vulture, o'er thee in the air,
Saw not its confines ?-Where the Indians ?- Where
His purchase and his cess,
Up to thy cloud once more,
Where is the wilderness ?-adown the steeps
Eastern, the flood of emigration sweeps ; On the North lakes a thousand squadrons ply; And o'er the Western prairies, where thine eye
Wearies, the smoke-drifts pour,-
Of yore-for, sweetly seen
The magic city,—wall and roof and spire,
Blazing in sunset, and their pictured fire
That view'st the latest scene,-
Enough;- It is the last
But ill beseem the pageant smiling near.
Still, for the musing passer. Every limb,
Better than trumpet-blast,
EXERCISE XXIX. ADDRESS BEFORE THE SOCIETY OF ST. PAT
RICK-Earl Moira. Spoken March 17th, 1803, in the prospect of a French invasion.
[An example of forcible and earnest declamation,-requiring attention to spirited and energetic utterance, throughout.]
I do not mean to allude to the ordinary design of this institution, or that which so peculiarly recommends it as one devoted to charitable purposes. There is something in the present crisis of affairs, so awful; and there is something in the circumstances of this meeting so different from the ordinary course, that it places all other considerations out of the question. It is at a moment like this, that such a meeting is likely to be productive of the most essential advantages. I look, with sanguine expectations, to the effect which will be produced, throughout Ireland, by the sentiments expressed by a meeting so respectably constituted as this is.
I will say, then, let this meeting communicate the tone of its sentiments to the people of Ireland. Although we can come to no resolution, yet the sentiments we shall express will be immediately felt throughout every part of Ireland. I know that the words I utter will carry with them the force and weight which the sanction of this meeting can alone impart.
It is, therefore, as the organ of this meeting, that I would say to the people of Ireland,—Regard the policy of those whom I will not at present call our enemies; but who certainly have endeavoured to throw a cloud over the prosperity of the country. Reflect that the advantages, which they have uniformly held out, have been founded upon the principle of sowing the seeds of dissension among nations. I will say to the people of Ireland, From what has passed, dread the future.
I will say, what have any classes of you, in Ireland, to hope from the French? Is it your property you wish to preserve ?--Look to the example of Holland, and see how that nation has preserved its property by an alliance with the French! Is it independence you court ?—Look to the example of unhappy Switzerland; see to what a state of