Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy. A Tale of Passion. >> Chapter XIII >> Page 129

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Page 129

Novel (Romance) | Lea and Blanchard | 1842
Transcription BEAUCHAMPE. 129

did I content myself with the mere acquisition of the ne-
cessary knowledge. Knowing how much depends upon
voice, manner and fluency, in obtaining success before a
jury, I addressed myself to these particulars with equal
industry. My voice, even now, has a compass which
your unexercised lungs, though quite as good originally as
mine, would fail entirely to contend with. I do not de-
ceive myself, as I certainly do not seek to deceive you,
when I say, that I acquired the happiest mastery over my
person."
Ah ! sir,�we see that now�that must have been the
case !" said the youth interrupting him. The other con-
tinued, sadly smiling as he heard the eulogy which the
youth meant to speak, the utterance of which was obvi-
ously from the heart.
My voice was taught by various exercises to be slow
or rapid, soft or strong, harsh or musical, by the most sud-
den, yet unnoticeable transitions. I practised all the arts,
which are recommended by elocutionists for this purpose.
I rumbled my eloquence standing on the sea-shore, up to
my middle in the breakers. I ran, roaring up steep hills--
I stretched myself at length by the side of meandering
brooks, or in slumberous forests of pine, and sought, by
the merest whispers, to express myself with distinctness
and melody. But there was something yet more requisite
than these, and this was language. My labours to obtain
all the arts of utterance did not seem less successful. I
could dilate with singular fluency, with classical propriety,
and great natural vigour of expression. I studied direct-
ness of expression by a frequent intercourse with men of
business, and examined, with the nicest urgency, the par-
ticular characteristics of those of my own profession who
were most remarkable for their plain, forcible speaking.
I say nothing of my studies of such great masters in dis-
course and philosophy, as Milton, Shakspeare, Homer,
Lord Bacon, and the great English divines. As a model
of pure English the Bible was a daily study of two hours ;
and from this noble well of vernacular eloquence, I gath-
ered�so I fancied�no small portion of its quaint expres-
sive vigour, its stern emphasis, its golden and choice
phrases of illustration. Never did a young lawyer go into
the forum more thoroughly clad in proof, or with a better
armoury as well for defence as attack."