Influencing By Persuasion. Part 3
Recently a book-salesman entered an attorney's office in New York and inquired: "Do you want to buy a book?" Had the lawyer wanted a book he would probably have bought one without waiting for a book-salesman to call. The solicitor made the same mistake as the representative who made his approach with: "I want to sell you a sewing machine." They both talked only in terms of their own interests.
The successful pleader must convert his arguments into terms of his hearers' advantage. Mankind are still selfish. They are interested in what will serve them. Expunge from your address your own personal concern and present your appeal in terms of the general good, and to do this you need not be insincere, for you had better not plead any cause that is not for the hearers' good. Notice how Senator Thurston in his plea for intervention in Cuba and Mr. Bryan in his "Cross of Gold" speech constituted themselves the apostles of humanity.
Exhortation is a highly impassioned form of appeal, frequently used by the pulpit in efforts to arouse men to a sense of duty and induce them to decide their personal courses, and by counsel in seeking to influence a jury. The great preachers, like the great jury-lawyers, have always been masters of persuasion.
Notice the difference among these four exhortations, and analyze the motives appealed to:
Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay! Let not a traitor live! - Shakespeare, Julius Casar.
Strike - till the last armed foe expires, Strike - for your altars and your fires, Strike - for the green graves of your sires,
God - and your native land!
- Fitz-Greene Halleck, Marco Bozzaris.
Believe, gentlemen, if it were not for those children, he would not come here to-day to seek such remuneration; if it were not that, by your verdict, you may prevent those little innocent defrauded wretches from becoming wandering beggars, as well as orphans on the face of this earth. Oh, I know I need not ask this verdict from your mercy; I need not extort it from your compassion; I will receive it from your justice. I do conjure you, not as fathers, but as husbands: - not as husbands, but as citizens: - not as citizens, but as men: - not as men, but as
Christians: - by all your obligations, public, private, moral, and religious; by the hearth profaned; by the home desolated; by the canons of the living God foully spurned; - save, oh! save your firesides from the contagion, your country from the crime, and perhaps thousands, yet unborn, from the shame, and sin, and sorrow of this example!
- Charles Phillips, Appeal to the jury in behalf of Guthrie.
So I appeal from the men in silken hose who danced to music made by slaves and called it freedom, from the men in bell-crown hats who led Hester Prynne to her shame and called it religion, to that Americanism which reaches forth its arms to smite wrong with reason and truth, secure in the power of both. I appeal from the patriarchs of New England to the poets of New England; from Endicott to Lowell; from Winthrop to Longfellow; from Norton to Holmes; and I appeal in the name and by the rights of that common citizenship - of that common origin, back of both the Puritan and the Cavalier, to which all of us owe our being. Let the dead past, consecrated by the blood of its martyrs, not by its savage hatreds, darkened alike by kingcraft and priestcraft - let the dead past bury its dead. Let the present and the future ring with the song of the singers. Blessed be the lessons they teach, the laws they make. Blessed be the eye to see, the light to reveal. Blessed be tolerance, sitting ever on the right hand of God to guide the way with loving word, as blessed be all that brings us nearer the goal of true religion, true republicanism, and true patriotism, distrust of watchwords and labels, shams and heroes, belief in our country and ourselves. It was not Cotton Mather, but John Greenleaf Whittier, who cried:
Dear God and Father of us all, Forgive our faith in cruel lies, Forgive the blindness that denies.
Cast down our idols - overturn Our Bloody altars - make us see Thyself in Thy humanity!
- Henry Watterson, Puritan and Cavalier.
Goethe, on being reproached for not having written war songs against the French, replied, "In my poetry I have never shammed. How could I have written songs of hate without hatred? " Neither is it possible to plead with full efficiency for a cause for which you do not feel deeply. Feeling is contagious as belief is contagious. The speaker who pleads with real feeling for his own convictions will instill his feelings into his listeners. Sincerity, force, enthusiasm, and above all, feeling - these are the qualities that move multitudes and make appeals irresistible. They are of far greater importance than technical principles of delivery, grace of gesture, or polished enunciation - important as all these elements must doubtless be considered. Base your appeal on reason, but do not end in the basement - let the building rise, full of deep emotion and noble persuasion.
Questions And Exercises
1. (a) What elements of appeal do you find in the following? (b) Is it too florid? (c) Is this style equally powerful today? (d) Are the sentences too long and involved for clearness and force?
Oh, gentlemen, am I this day only the counsel of my client? No, no; I am the advocate of humanity - of yourselves - your homes - your wives - your families - your little children. I am glad that this case exhibits such atrocity; unmarked as it is by any mitigatory feature, it may stop the frightful advance of this calamity; it will be met now, and marked with vengeance. If it be not, farewell to the virtues of your country; farewell to all confidence between man and man; farewell to that unsuspicious and reciprocal tenderness, without which marriage is but a consecrated curse. If oaths are to be violated, laws disregarded, friendship betrayed, humanity trampled, national and individual honor stained, and if a jury of fathers and of husbands will give such miscreancy a passport to their homes, and wives, and daughters, - farewell to all that yet remains of Ireland! But I will not cast such a doubt upon the character of my country. Against the sneer of the foe, and the skepticism of the foreigner, I will still point to the domestic virtues, that no perfidy could barter, and no bribery can purchase, that with a Roman usage, at once embellish and consecrate households, giving to the society of the hearth all the purity of the altar; that lingering alike in the palace and the cottage, are still to be found scattered over this land - the relic of what she was - the source perhaps of what she may be - the lone, the stately, and magnificent memorials, that rearing their majesty amid surrounding ruins, serve at once as the landmarks of the departed glory, and the models by which the future may be erected.
Preserve those virtues with a vestal fidelity; mark this day, by your verdict, your horror of their profanation; and believe me, when the hand which records that verdict shall be dust, and the tongue that asks it, traceless in the grave, many a happy home will bless its consequences, and many a mother teach her little child to hate the impious treason of adultery.
- Charles Phillips.
2. Analyze and criticise the forms of appeal used in the selections from Hoar, Story, and Kipling.
3. What is the type of persuasion used by Senator Thurston (page 50)?
4. Cite two examples each, from selections in this volume, in which speakers sought to be persuasive by securing the hearers' (a) sympathy for themselves; (ft) sympathy with their subjects; (c) self-pity.
5. Make a short address using persuasion.
6. What other methods of persuasion than those here mentioned can you name?
7. Is it easier to persuade men to change their course of conduct than to persuade them to continue in a given course? Give examples to support your belief.
8. In how far are we justified in making an appeal to self-interest in order to lead men to adopt a given course?
9. Does the merit of the course have any bearing on the merit of the methods used?
10. Illustrate an unworthy method of using persuasion.
11. Deliver a short speech on the value of skill in persuasion.
12. Does effective persuasion always produce conviction?
13. Does conviction always result in action?
14. Is it fair for counsel to appeal to the emotions of a jury in a murder trial?
15. Ought the judge use persuasion in making his charge?
16. Say how self-consciousness may hinder the power of persuasion in a speaker.
17. Is emotion without words ever persuasive? If so, illustrate.
18. Might gestures without words be persuasive? If so, illustrate.
19. Has posture in a speaker anything to do with persuasion? Discuss.
20. Has voice? Discuss.
21. Has manner? Discuss.
22. What effect does personal magnetism have in producing conviction?
23. Discuss the relation of persuasion to (a) description; (b) narration; (c) exposition; (d) pure reason.
24. What is the effect of over-persuasion?
25. Make a short speech on the effect of the constant use of persuasion on the sincerity of the speaker himself.
26. Show by example how a general statement is not as persuasive as a concrete example illustrating the point being discussed.
27. Show by example how brevity is of value in persuasion.
28. Discuss the importance of avoiding an antagonistic attitude in persuasion.
29. What is the most persuasive passage you have found in the selections of this volume. On what do you base your decision?
30. Cite a persuasive passage from some other source. Read or recite it aloud.
31. Make a list of the emotional bases of appeal, grading them from low to high, according to your estimate.
32. Would circumstances make any difference in such grading? If so, give examples.
33. Deliver a short, passionate appeal to a jury, pleading for justice to a poor widow.
34. Deliver a short appeal to men to give up some evil way.
35. Criticise the structure of the sentence beginning with the last line of page 296.