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thing would knock up at once, wearied out by your want of skill in putting things. And so it is that Providence, kindly and gradually putting things, wiles us onward, still keeping hope and heart, through the trials and cares of life. Ah, if we had had it put to us at the outset how much we should have to go through, to reach even our present stage in life, we should have been ready to think it the best plan to sit down and die at once! But, in compassion for human weakness, the Great Director and Shower of events practises the Art of Putting Things. Might we not sometimes do so when we do not ? When
some poor fellow grumbling at his lot, and shirking his duty, might not a little skill employed in putting these things in a proper light serve better than merely expressing our contempt or indignation ? A single sentence might make him see that what he was complaining of was reasonable and right. It is quite wonderful from what odd and perverse points of view people will look at things : and then things look so very different. The hill behind your house, which you have seen a thousand times, you would not know if you approached it from some unwonted quarter. Now, if you see a man afflicted with a perverse twist of mind, making bim put things in general or something in particular in a wrong way, you do him a much kinder turn in directing him how to put things rightly, than if you were a skilful surgeon and cured him of the most fearful squint that ever hid behind blue spectacles.
Did not Franklin go to hear Whitefield preach a charity sermon resolved not to give a penny; and was he not so thoroughly overcome by the great preacher's way of putting the claims of the charity which he was advocating, that he ended by emptying his pockets into the plate ? I daresay Alexander the Great was somewhat staggered in his plans of conquest by Parmenio's way of putting things. After you have conquered Persia, what will you do ?' “Then I shall conquer India.'
• After you have conquered India, what will
• Conquer Scythia.' 'And after you have conquered Scythia, what will
do?' • Sit down and rest. Well,' said Parmenio to the conqueror, 'why not sit down and rest now?' I trust young Sheridan was proof against his father's way of putting things, when the young man said he meant to go down a coalpit. Why go down a coalpit ?' said Sheridan the elder. “Merely to be able to say I have been there.' You blockhead,' replied the highprincipled sire, what is there to keep you from saying so without going?'
I remember witnessing a decided success of the art of putting things. A vulgar rich man, who had recently bought an estate in Aberdeenshire, exclaimed, It is monstrous hard; I have just had this morning to pay forty pounds of stipend to the parish minister for my property. Now, I never enter the parish church (nor any other, he might have added), and why should I pay to maintain a Church to which I don't belong ?' I omit the oaths which served as sauce. Now, that was Mr. Oddbody's way of putting things, and you would say his case was a hard one. But a quiet man who was present changed the aspect of matters. “Is it not true, Mr. Oddbody,' he said, that when you bought your estate, its rental was reckoned after deducting the payment you mention ; that the exact value of your annual payment to the minister was calculated, and the amount deducted from the price you paid for the property? And is it not therefore true, that not a penny of that forty pounds really comes out of your pocket ?' Mr. Oddbody's face elongated. The bystanders unequivocally signified what they thought of him ; and as long as he lived he never failed to be remembered as the man who had tried to extort sympathy by false pretences.
To no man is tact in putting things more essential than to the clergyman. An injudicious and unskilful preacher may so put the doctrines which he sets forth as to make them appear revolting and absurd. It is a fearful thing to hear a stupid fellow preaching upon the doctrine of Election. He may so put that doctrine that he shall fill every clever young lad who hears him with prejudices against Christianity, which may last through life. And in advising one's parishioners, especially in administering reproof where needful, let the parish priest, if he would do good, call into play all his tact. With the best intentions, through lack of skill in putting things, he may do great mischief. Let the calomel be concealed beneath the jelly. Not that I counsel sneakiness; that is worse than the most indiscreet honesty. There is no need to put things, like the Dean immortalized by Pope, who when preaching in the Chapel Royal, said to his hearers that unless they led religious lives they would ultimately reach a place which he would not mention in so polite an assembly.' Nor will it be expedient to put things like the contemptible wretch who, preaching before Louis XIV., said Nous mourrons tous ; then, turning to the king, and bowing humbly, presque tous. And it is only in addressing quite exceptional congregations that it would now-a-days be regarded as a piece of proper respect for the mighty of the earth, were the preacher, in stating that all who heard him were sinners, to add, by way of reservation, all who have less than a thousand a year.
Any man who approaches the matter with a candid spirit, must be much struck by the difference between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic ways of putting the points at issue between the two great Churches. The Roman prayers are in Latin, for instance. A violent Protestant says that the purpose is to keep the people in ignorance. A strong Romanist tells you that Latin was the universal language of educated men when these prayers were drawn up; and puts it that it is a fine thing to think that in all Romish churches over Christendom the devotions of the people are expressed in the selfsame words. Take keeping back the Bible from the people. To us nothing appears more flagrant than to deprive any man of God's written word. Still the Romanist has something to say for himself. He puts it that there is so much difficulty in understanding much of the Bible — that such pernicious errors have followed from false interpretations of it. Think, even, of the dogma of the infallibility of the Church. The Protestant puts that dogma as an instance of unheard-of arrogance. The Romanist puts it as an instance of deep humility and earnest faith. He says he does not hold that the Church, in her own wisdom, is able to keep infallibly right; but he says that he has perfect confidence that God will not suffer the Church deliberately to fall into error. Here, certainly, we have two very different ways of putting the same things.
But who shall say that there are no more than two ways of putting any incident, or any opinion, or any character ?
There are innumerable ways — ways as many as are the idiosyncrasies of the men that put them. You have to describe an event, have you ? Then you may put it in the plain matter-of-fact way, like the Times' re
porter ; or in the sublime way, like Milton and Mr. Wordy; or in the ridiculous way, like Punch of design), and Mr. Wordy (unintentionally); or in the romantic way, like Mr. G. P. R. James; or in the minutely circumstantial way, like Defoe or Poe; or in the affectedly simple way, like Peter Bell ; or in the forcible, knowing way, like Macaulay; or in the genial, manly, goodhumoured way, like Sydney Smith ; or in the flippant way, like Mr. Richard Swiveller, who when he went to ask for an old gentleman, inquired as to the health of the ancient buffalo;' or in the lackadaisical way, like many young ladies ; or in the whining, grumbling way, like many silly people whom it is unnecessary to name : or in the pretentious, lofty way, introducing familiarly many titled names without the least necessity, like many natives of beautiful Erin.
What nonsense it is to say, as it has been said, that the effect of anything spoken or written depends upon the essential thought alone! Why, nine-tenths of the practical power depends on the way in which it is put. Somebody has asserted that any thought which is not eloquent in any words whatever, is not eloquent at all. He might as well have said that black was white. Not to speak of the charm of the mere music of gracefully modulated words, and felicitously arranged phrases, how much there is in beautifully logical treatment, and beautifully clear development, that will interest a cultivated man in a speech or a treatise, quite irrespective of its subject. I have known a very eminent man say that it was a delight to him to hear Follett make a speech, he did not care about what. The matter was no matter ; the intellectual treat was to watch how the great advocate put it. And we have all read with delight stories with