But in every accomplishment which may become the object of pursuit, it is excessively difficult to delineate the form (or, as the Greeks call it, the character [Footnote: [Greek: charachtaer].]) of what is best; because some suppose it to consist in one thing, and some in another. Thus, for instance, "I am for Ennius," says one; "because he confines himself to the style of conversation:"—"and I," says another, "give the preference to Pacuvius, because his verses are embellished and well- wrought; whereas Ennius is rather too "negligent." In the same manner we may suppose a third to be an admirer of Attius; for, as among the Greeks, so it happens with us, "different men have different opinions;"—nor is it easy to determine which is best. Thus also in painting, some are pleased with a rough, a wild, and a dark and cloudy style; while others prefer that which is clear, and lively, and well covered with light. How then shall we strike out a general rule or model, when there are several manners, and each of them has a certain perfection of its own? But this difficulty has not deterred me from the undertaking; nor have I altered my opinion that in all things there is a something which comprehends the highest excellence of the kind, and which, though not generally discernible, is sufficiently conspicuous to him, who is skilled in the subject.
"But as there are several kinds of Eloquence which differ considerably from each other, and therefore cannot be reduced to one common form;—for this reason, as to mere laudatory Orations, Essays, Histories, and such suasory performances as the Panegyric of Isocrates, and the speeches of many others who were called Sophists;—and, in short, as to every thing which is unconnected with the Forum, and the whole of that species of discourse which the Greeks call the demonstrative [Footnote: The demonstrative species of Eloquence is that which was solely employed either in praising or dispraising. Besides this, there are two others, viz. the deliberative, and the judicial; the former was employed in political debates, where it's whole business was either to persuade or dissuade; and the latter, in judicial suits and controversies, where the Speaker was either to accuse or defend. But, on many occasions, they were all three intermingled in the same discourse.];—the form, or leading character of these I shall pass over; though I am far from considering it as a mere trifle, or a subject of no consequence; on the contrary, we may regard it as the nurse and tutoress of the Orator we are now delineating. For here, a fluency of expression is confessedly nourished and cultivated; and the easy construction, and harmonious cadence of our language is more openly attended to. Here, likewise, we both allow and recommend a studious elegance of diction, and a continued flow of melodious and well-turned periods;—and here, we may labour visibly, and without concealing our art, to contrast word to word, and to compare similar, and oppose contrary circumstances, and make several sentences (or parts of a sentence) conclude alike, and terminate with the same cadence; —ornaments, which in real pleadings, are to be used more sparingly, and with less appearance of art. Isocrates, therefore, confesses in his Panathenaicus, that these were beauties which he industriously pursued; for he composed it not for victory in a suit at law (where such a confession must have greatly injured his cause) but merely to gratify the ear.
"It is recorded that the first persons who practised this species of composition [Footnote: The composition here mentioned consisted of three parts, The first regarded the structure; that is, the connection of our words, and required that the last syllable of every preceding, and the first of every succeeding word should be so aptly united as to produce an agreeable sound; which was effected by avoiding a collision of vowels or of inamicable consonants. It likewise required that those words should be constantly made choice of, whose separate sounds were most harmonious and most agreeable to the sense. The second part consisted in the use of particular forms of expression, such as contrasts and antithesises, which have an appearance of order and regularity in their very texture. The third and last regarded that species of harmony which results not so much from the sound, as from the time and quantity of the several syllables in a sentence. This was called number, and sometimes rhyme; and was in fact a kind of prosaic metre, which was carefully attended to by the ancients in every part of a sentence, but more particularly at the beginning and end of it. In this part they usually included the period, or the rules for determining the length of their sentences. I thought it necessary to give this short account of their composition, because our author very frequently alludes to it, before he proceeds to explain it at large.] were Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian, and Gorgias the Leontine; and that these were followed by Theodorus the Byzantine, and a number of others, whom Socrates, in the Phaedrus of Plato, calls [Greek: logodaidalos] Speech-wrights; many of whole discourses are sufficiently neat and entertaining; but, being the first attempts of the kind, were too minute and puerile, and had too poetical an air, and too much colouring. On this account, the merit of Herodotus, and Thucydides is the more conspicuous: for though they lived at the time we are speaking of, they carefully avoided those studied decorations, or rather futilities. The former rolls along like a deep, still river without any rocks or shoals to interrupt it's course; and the other describes wars and battles, as if he was founding a charge on the trumpet; so that history (to use the words of Theophrastus) caught the first alarm from these, and began to express herself with greater dignity and spirit.
"After these came Socrates, whom I have always recommended as the most accomplished writer we have in the way I am speaking of; though sometimes, my Brutus, you have objected to it with a great deal of pleasantry and erudition. But when you are better informed for what it is I recommend him, you will then think of him perhaps as favourably as I do. Thrasymachus and Gorgias (who are said to have been the first who cultivated the art of prosaic harmony) appeared to him to be too minutely exact; and Thucydides, he thought, was as much too loose and rugged, and not sufficiently smooth, and full-mouthed; and from hence he took the hint to give a scope to his sentences by a more copious and unconfined flow of language, and to fill up their breaks and intervals with the softer and more agreeable numbers. By teaching this to the most celebrated Speakers, and Composers of the age, his house came at last to be honoured as the School of Eloquence. Wherefore as I bore the censure of others with indifference, when I had the good fortune to be applauded by Cato; thus Isocrates, with the approbation of Plato, may slight the judgment of inferior critics. For in the last page of the Phaedrus, we find Socrates thus expressing himself;—'Now, indeed, my dear Phaedrus,' said he, 'Isocrates is but a youth: but I will discover to you what I think of him.'—'And what is that?' replied the other.—'He appears to me,' said the Philosopher, 'to have too elevated a genius to be placed on a level with the arid speeches of Lysias. Besides, he has a stronger turn for virtue; so that I shall not wonder, as he advances in years, if in the species of Eloquence to which he now applies himself, he should exceed all, who have hitherto pursued it, like so many infants. Or, if this should not content him, I shall not be astonished to behold him with a godlike ardour pursuing higher and more important studies; for I plainly see that he has a natural bent to Philosophy!'"
Thus Socrates presaged of him when he was but a youth. But Plato recorded this eulogium when he was older; and he recorded it, though he was one of his equals and cotemporaries, and a professed enemy to the whole tribe of Rhetoricians! Him he admires, and him alone! So that such who despise Isocrates, must suffer me to err with Socrates and Plato.
The manner of speaking, then, which is observed in the demonstrative or ornamental species of Eloquence, and which I have before remarked, was peculiar to the Sophists, is sweet, harmonious, and flowing, full of pointed sentiments, and arrayed in all the brilliance of language. But it is much fitter for the parade than the field; and being, therefore, consigned to the Palaestra, and the schools, has been long banished from the Forum. As Eloquence, however, after she had been fed and nourished with this, acquires a fresher complexion, and a firmer constitution; it would not be amiss, I thought, to trace our Orator from his very cradle.
But these things are only for shew and amusement: whereas it is our business to take the field in earnest, and prepare for action. As there are three particulars, then, to be attended to by an Orator,—viz. what he is to say, in what order, and how; we shall consider what is most excellent in each; but after a different manner from what is followed in delivering a system of the Art. For we are not to furnish a set of precepts (this not being the province we have undertaken) but to exhibit a portrait of Eloquence in her full perfection: neither is it our business to explain the methods by which we may acquire it, but only to shew what opinion we ought to form of it.
The two first articles are to be lightly touched over; for they have not so much a remarkable as a necessary share in forming the character of a compleat Orator, and are likewise common to his with many other professions;—and though, to invent, and judge with accuracy, what is proper to be said, are important accomplishments, and the same as the soul is to the body, yet they rather belong to prudence than to Eloquence. In what cause, however, can prudence be idle? Our Orator, therefore, who is to be all perfection, should be thoroughly acquainted with the sources of argument and proof. For as every thing which can become the subject of debate, must rest upon one or another of these particulars, viz.—whether a fact has been really committed, or what name it ought to bear in law, or whether it is agreeable or contrary to justice; and as the reality of a fact must be determined by force of evidence, the true name of it by it's definition, and the quality of it by the received notions of right and wrong;—an Orator (not an ordinary one, but the finished Speaker we are describing) will always turn off the controversy, as much as possible, from particular persons and times, (for we may argue more at liberty concerning general topics than about circumstances) in such a manner that what is proved to be true universally, may necessarily appear to be so in all subordinate cases. The point in debate being thus abstracted from particular persons and times, and brought to rest upon general principles, is called a thesis. In this the famous Aristotle carefully practised his scholars;—not to argue with the formal precision of Philosophers, but to canvass a point handsomely and readily on both sides, and with all the copiousness so much admired in the Rhetoricians: and for this purpose he delivered a set of common places (for so he calls them) which were to serve as so many marks or characters for the discovery of arguments, and from which a discourse might be aptly framed on either side of a question.
Our Orator then, (for I am not speaking of a mere school-declaimer, or a noisy ranter in the Forum, but of a well-accomplished and a finished Speaker)—our Orator, as there is such a copious variety of common-places, will examine them all, and employ those which suit his purpose in as general and indefinite a manner as his cause will permit, and carefully trace and investigate them to their inmost sources. But he will use the plenty before him with discretion, and weighing every thing with the utmost accuracy, select what is best: for the stress of an argument does not always, and in every cause, depend upon similar topics. He will, therefore, exercise his judgment; and not only discover what may be said, but thoroughly examine the force of it. For nothing is more fertile than the powers of genius, and especially those which have been blessed with the cultivation of science. But as a rich and fruitful soil not only produces corn in abundance, but also weeds to choak and smother it; so from the common-places we are speaking of, many arguments will arise, which are either trivial, or foreign to our purpose, or entirely useless. An Orator, therefore, should carefully examine each, that he may be able to select with propriety. Otherwise, how can he enlarge upon those which are most pertinent, and dwell upon such as more particularly affect his cause? Or how can he soften a harsh circumstance, or conceal, and (if possible) entirely suppress what would be deemed unanswerable, or steal off the attention of the hearer to a different topic? Or how alledge another argument in reply, which shall be still more plausible than that of his antagonist?
But after he has thus invented what is proper to be said, with what accuracy must he methodize it? For this is the second of the three articles above-mentioned. Accordingly, he will give the portal of his Harangue a graceful appearance, and make the entrance to his cause as neat and splendid as the importance of it will permit. When he has thus made himself master of the hearer's good wishes at the first onset, he will endeavour to invalidate what makes against him; and having, by this means, cleared his way, his strongest arguments will appear some of them in the front, and others at the close of his discourse; and as to those of more trifling consequence, he will occasionally introduce [Footnote: In the Original it is inculcabit, he will tread them in, (like the sand or loose dust in a new pavement) to support and strengthen the whole.] them here and there, where he judges them likely to be most serviceable. Thus, then, we have given a cursory view of what he ought to be, in the two first departments of Oratory. But, as we before observed, these, though very important in their consequences, require less art and application.
After he has thus invented what is proper to be said, and in what order, the greatest difficulty is still behind;—namely to consider how he is to say it, and in what manner. For the observation of our favourite Carneades is well-known,—"That Clitomachus had a perpetual sameness of sentiment, and Charmidas a tiresome uniformity of expression." But if it is a circumstance of so much moment in Philosophy, in what manner we express ourselves, where the matter, and not the language, is principally regarded; what must we think of public debates, which are wholly ruled and swayed by the powers of Elocution? Accordingly, my Brutus, I am sensible from your letters, that you mean to inquire what are my notions of a finished Speaker, not so much with respect to his Invention and Disposition, as to his talents of Elocution:—a severe task! and the most difficult you could have fixed upon! For as language is ever soft and yielding, and so amazingly pliable that you may bend and form it at your pleasure; so different natures and dispositions have given rise to different kinds of Elocution. Some, for instance, who place the chief merit of it in it's rapidity, are mightily pleased with a torrent of words, and a volubility of expression. Others again are better pleased with regular, and measured intervals, and frequent stops, and pauses. What can be more opposite? and yet both have their proper excellence. Some also confine their attention to the smoothness and equability of their periods, and aim at a style which is perfectly neat and clear: while others affect a harshness, and severity of diction, and to give a gloomy cast to their language:—and as we have already observed that some endeavour to be nervous and majestic, others neat and simple, and some to be smooth and florid, it necessarily follows that there must be as many different kinds of Orators, as there are of Eloquence. But as I have already enlarged the talk you have imposed upon me;—(for though your enquiries related only to Elocution, I have ventured a few hints on the arts of Invention and Disposition;)—I shall now treat not only of Elocution, but of action. By this means, every part of Oratory will be attended to: for as to memory, which is common to this with many other arts, it is entirely out of the question.
The Art of Speaking then, so far as it regards only the manner in which our thoughts should be expressed, consists in action and Elocution; for action is the Eloquence of the body, and implies the proper management of our voice and gesture. As to the inflexions of the voice, they are as numerous as the various passions it is capable of exciting. The finished Orator, therefore, who is the subject of this Essay, in whatever manner he would appear to be affected himself, and touch the heart of his hearer, will employ a suitable and corresponding tone of voice:—a topic which I could willingly enlarge upon, if delivering precepts was any part of my present design, or of your request. I should likewise have treated concerning gesture, of which the management of the countenance is a material part: for it is scarcely credible of what great importance it is to an Orator to recommend himself by these external accomplishments. For even those who were far from being masters of good language, have many times, by the sole dignity of their action, reaped the fruits of Eloquence; while others who had the finest powers of Elocution, have too often, by the mere awkwardness of their delivery, led people to imagine that they were scarcely able to express themselves:—so that Demosthenes, with sufficient reason, assigned the first place, and likewise the second and third to pronunciation. For if Eloquence without this is nothing, but this, even without Eloquence, has such a wonderful efficacy, it must be allowed to bear the principal sway in the practice of Speaking.
If an Orator, then, who is ambitious to win the palm of Eloquence, has any thing to deliver which is warm and cutting, let his voice be strong and quick;—if what is calm and gentle, let it be mild and easy;—if what is grave and sedate, let it be cool and settled;—and if what is mournful and affecting, let his accents be plaintive and flexible. For the voice may be raised or depressed, and extended or contracted to an astonishing degree; thus in Music (for instance) it's three tones, the mean, the acute, and the grave, may be so managed by art, as to produce a pleasing and an infinite variety of sounds. Nay, even in Speaking, there may be a concealed kind of music:—not like the whining epilogue of a Phrygian or a Carian declaimer, but such as was intended by Aeschines, and Demosthenes, when the one upbraids and reproaches the other with the artificial modulations of his voice. Demosthenes, however, says most upon this head, and often speaks of his accuser as having a sweet and clear pronunciation. There is another circumstance, which may farther enforce our attention to the agreeable management of the voice; for Nature herself, as if she meant to harmonize the speech of man, has placed an accent on every word, and one accent only, which never lies farther than the third syllable from the last. Why, therefore, should we hesitate to follow her example, and to do our best to gratify the ear? A good voice, indeed, though a desirable accomplishment, is not in our power to acquire:—but to exercise, and improve it, is certainly in the power of every person.
The Orator, then, who means to be the prince of his profession, will change and vary his voice with the most delicate propriety; and by sometimes raising, and sometimes depressing it, pursue it gradually through all it's different tones, and modulations. He will likewise regulate his gesture, so as to avoid even a single motion which is either superfluous or impertinent. His posture will be erect and manly:— he will move from his ground but seldom, and not even then too precipitately; and his advances will be few and moderate. He will practise no languishing, no effeminate airs of the head, no finical playing of the fingers, no measured movement of the joints. The chief part of his gesture will consist in the firm and graceful sway of his body, and in extending his arm when his arguments are pressing, and drawing it again when his vehemence abates. But as to the countenance, which next to the voice has the greatest efficacy, what dignity and gracefulness is it not capable of supporting! and when you have been careful that it may neither be unmeaning, nor ostentatious, there is still much to be left to the expression of the eyes. For if the countenance is the image of the mind, the eyes are it's interpreters, whose degree of pleasantry or sadness must be proportioned to the importance of our subject.
But we are to exhibit the portrait of a finished Orator, whose chief excellence must be supposed, from his very name, to consist in his Elocution; while his other qualifications (though equally complete) are less conspicuous. For a mere inventor, a mere digester, or a mere actor, are titles never made use of to comprize the whole character; but an Orator derives his name, both in Greek and Latin, from the single talent of Elocution. As to his other qualifications, every man of sense may claim a share of them: but the full powers of language are exerted by himself alone. Some of the philosophers, indeed, have expressed themselves in a very handsome manner: for Theophrastus derived his name from the divinity of his style; Aristotle rivalled the glory of Isocrates; and the Muses themselves are said to have spoken from the lips of Xenophon; and, to say no more, the great Plato is acknowledged in majesty and sweetness to have far exceeded all who ever wrote or spoke. But their language has neither the nerves nor the sting which is required in the Orator's, when he harangues the crowded Forum. They speak only to the learned, whose passions they rather choose to compose than disturb; and they discourse about matters of calm and untumultuous speculation, merely as teachers, and not like eager antagonists: though even here, when they endeavour to amuse and delight us, they are thought by some to exceed the limits of their province. It will be easy, therefore, to distinguish this species of Elocution from the Eloquence we are attempting to delineate. For the language of philosophy is gentle and composed, and entirely calculated for the shady walks of the Academy;—not armed with those forcible sentiments, and rapid turns of expression, which are suited to move the populace, nor measured by exact numbers and regular periods, but easy, free, and unconfined. It has nothing resentful belonging to it, nothing invidious, nothing fierce and flaming, nothing exaggerated, nothing marvellous, nothing artful and designing; but resembles a chaste, a bashful, and an unpolluted virgin. We may, therefore, consider it as a kind of polite conversation, rather than a species of Oratory.
As to the Sophists, whom I have already mentioned, the resemblance ought to be more accurately distinguished: for they industriously pursue the same flowers which are used by an Orator in the Forum. But they differ in this,—that, as their principal aim is not to disturb the passions, but rather to allay them, and not so much to persuade as to please,—they attempt the latter more openly, and more frequently than we do. They seek for agreeable sentiments, rather than probable ones; they use more frequent digressions, intermingle tales and fables, employ more shewy metaphors, and work them into their discourses with as much fancy and variety as a painter does his colours; and they abound in contrasts and antitheses, and in similar and corresponding cadences.
Nearly allied to these is History, which conducts her narratives with elegance and ease, and now and then sketches out a country, or a battle. She likewise diversifies her story with short speeches, and florid harangues: but in these, only neatness and fluency is to be expected, and not the vehemence and poignant severity of an Orator [Footnote: In the Original it is,—sed in his tracta quaedam et fluens expetitur, nan haec contorta, et acris Oratorio; upon which Dr. Ward has made the following remark:—"Sentences, with respect to their form or composition, are distinguished into two sorts, called by Cicero tracta, strait or direct, and contorta, bent or winding. By the former are meant such, whose members follow each other in a direct order, without any inflexion; and by the latter, those which strictly speaking are called periods."].
There is much the same difference between Eloquence and Poetry; for the Poets likewise have started the question, What it is which distinguishes them from the Orators? It was formerly supposed to be their number and metre: but numbers are now as familiar to the Orator, as to the Poet; for whatever falls under the regulation of the ear, though it bears no resemblance to verse (which in Oratory would be a capital fault) is called number, and by the Greeks rhyme. [Footnote: [Greek: Ruthmos]] In the opinion of some, therefore, the style of Plato and Democritus, on account of it's majestic flow, and the splendor of it's ornaments, though it is far from being verse, has a nearer resemblance to poetry than the style of the Comedians, who, excepting their metre, have nothing different from the style of conversation. Metre, however, is far from being the principal merit of the Poets; though it is certainly no small recommendation, that, while they pursue all the beauties of Eloquence, the harmony of their numbers is far more regular and exact. But, though the language of Poetry is equally grand and ornamental with that of an Orator, she undoubtedly takes greater liberties both in making and compounding word; and frequently administers to the pleasure of her hearers, more by the pomp and lustre of her expressions, than by the weight and dignity of her sentiments. Though judgment, therefore, and a proper choice of words, is alike common to both, yet their difference in other respects is sufficiently discernible: but if it affords any matter of doubt (as to some, perhaps, it may) the discussion of it is no way necessary to our present purpose.
We are, therefore, to delineate the Orator who differs equally from the Eloquence of the Philosopher, the Sophist, the Historian, and the Poet. He, then, is truly eloquent, (for after him we must search, by the direction of Antonius) who in the Forum, and in public debates, can so speak, as to prove, delight, and force the passions. To prove, is a matter of necessity:—to delight, is indispensably requisite to engage the attention:—and to force the passions, is the surest means of victory; for this contributes more effectually than both the others to get a cause decided to our wishes. But as the duties of an Orator, so the kinds of Elocution are three. The neat and accurate is used in proving; the moderately florid in delighting apd the vehement and impetuous in forcing the passions, in which alone all the power of Eloquence consists. Great, therefore, must be the judgment, and wonderful the talents of the man, who can properly conduct, and, as it were, temper this threefold variety: for he will at once determine what is suitable to every case; and be always able to express himself as the nature of his subject may require.
Discretion, therefore, is the basis of Eloquence, as well as of every other accomplishment. For, as in the conduct of life, so in the practice of Speaking, nothing is more difficult than to maintain a propriety of character. This is called by the Greeks [Greek: to prepon], the becoming, but we shall call it decorum;—a subject which has been excellently and very copiously canvassed, and richly merits our attention. An unacquaintance with this has been the source of innumerable errors, not only in the business of life, but in Poetry and Eloquence. An Orator, therefore, should examine what is becoming, as well in the turn of his language, as in that of his sentiments. For not every condition, not every rank, not every character, nor every age, or place, or time, nor every hearer is to be treated with the same invariable train either of sentiment or expression:—but we should always consider in every part of a public Oration, as well as of life, what will be most becoming,—a circumstance which naturally depends on the nature of the subject, and the respective characters of the Speaker and Hearer. Philosophers, therefore, have carefully discussed this extensive and important topic in the doctrine of Ethics, (though not, indeed, when they treat of right and wrong, because those are invariably the fame:)—nor is it less attended to by the Critics in their poetical Essays, or by men of Eloquence in every species and every part of their public debates. For what would be more out of character, than to use a lofty style, and ransack every topic of argument, when we are speaking only of a petty trespass in some inferior court? Or, on the other hand, to descend to any puerile subtilties, and speak with the indifference and simplicity of a frivolous narrative, when we are lashing treason and rebellion?
Here, the indecorum would arise from the very nature and quality of the subject: but others are equally guilty of it, by not adapting their discourse either to their own characters, or to that of their hearers, and, in some cafes, to that of their antagonists; and they extend the fault not only to their sentiments, but to the turn of their expression. It is true, indeed, that the force of language is a mere nothing, when it is not supported by a proper solidity of sentiment: but it is also equally true that the same thing will be either approved or rejected, according as it is this or that way expressed. In all cases, therefore, we cannot be too careful in examining the how far? for though every thing has it's proper mean, yet an excess is always more offensive and disgusting than a proportionable defect. Apelles, therefore, justly censures some of his cotemporary artists, because they never knew when they had performed enough.
This, my Brutus, as your long acquaintance with it must necessarily inform you, is a copious subject, and would require an extensive volume to discuss. But it is sufficient to our present purpose to observe, that in all our words and actions, as well the smallest as the greatest, there is a something which will appear either becoming or unbecoming, and that almost every one is sensible of it's confluence. But what is becoming, and what ought to be, are very different considerations, and belong to a different topic:—for the ought to be points out the perfection of duty, which should be attended to upon all occasions, and by all persons: but the becoming denotes that which is merely proper, and suited to time and character, which is of great importance not only in our actions and language, but in our very looks, our gesture, and our walk; and that which is contrary to it will always be unbecoming, and disagreeable. If the Poet, therefore, carefully guards against any impropriety of the kind, and is always condemned as guilty of a fault, when he puts the language of a worthy man into the mouth of a ruffian, or that of a wife man into the mouth of a fool:—if, moreover, the artist who painted the sacrifice of Iphigenia, [Footnote: Agamemnon, one of the Grecian chiefs, having by accident slain a deer belonging to Diana, the Goddess was so enraged at this profanation of her honours, that she kept him wind-bound at Aulis with the whole fleet. Under this heavy disaster, having recourse to the Oracle, (their usual refuge in such cases) they were informed that the only atonement which the angry Goddess would accept, was the sacrifice of one of the offender's children. Ulysses having, by a stratagem, withdrawn Iphigenia from her mother for that purpose, the unhappy Virgin was brought to the altar. But, as the story goes, the Goddess relenting at her hard fate, substituted a deer in her stead, and conveyed her away to serve her as a Priestess. It must be farther remarked that Menelaus was the Virgin's uncle, and Calchas the Priest who was to officiate at this horrid sacrifice.] could see that Chalcas should appear greatly concerned, Ulysses still more so, and Menelaus bathed in tears, but that the head of Agamemnon (the virgin's father) should be covered with his robe, to intimate a degree of anguish which no pencil could express: lastly, if a mere actor on the stage is ever cautious to keep up the character he appears in, what must be done by the Orator? But as this is a matter of such importance, let him consider at his leisure, what is proper to be done in particular causes, and in their several parts and divisions:—for it is sufficiently evident, not only that the different parts of an Oration, but that entire causes ought to be managed, some in one manner, and some in another.
We must now proceed to delineate the form and character of each of the three species of Eloquence above-mentioned; a great and an arduous talk, as I have already observed more than once; But we should have considered the difficulty of the voyage before we embarked: for now we have ventured to set sail, we must run boldly before the wind, whether we reach our port or not.
The first character, then, to be described, is the Orator who, according to some, is the only one that has any just pretensions to Atticism. He is distinguished by his modest simplicity; and as he imitates the language of conversation, he differs from those who are strangers to Eloquence, rather in reality than in appearance. For this reason, those who hear him, though totally unskilled in the art of Speaking, are apt to persuade themselves that they can readily discourse in the same manner [Footnote: There is a pretty remark to the same purpose in the fifteenth number of The Guardian, which, as it may serve to illustrate the observation of Cicero, I shall beg leave to insert.
"From what I have advanced, it appears how difficult it is to write easily. But when easy writings fall into the hands of an ordinary reader, they appear to him so natural and unlaboured, that he immediately resolves to write, and fancies that all he has to do is to take no pains. Thus he thinks indeed simply, but the thoughts not being chosen with judgment, are not beautiful. He, it is true, expresses himself plainly, but flatly withal. Again, if a man of vivacity takes it into his head to write this way, what self-denial must he undergo, when bright points of wit occur to his fancy? How difficult will he find it to reject florid phrases, and pretty embellishments of style? So true it is, that simplicity of all things is the hardest to be copied, and case to be acquired with the greatest labour."];—and the unaffected simplicity of his language appears very imitable to an ignorant observer; though nothing will be found less so by him who makes the trial. For, if I may so express myself, though his veins are not over-stocked with blood, his juices must be found and good; and though he is not possessed of any extraordinary strength, he must have a healthy constitution. For this purpose, we must first release him from the shackles of number; for there is (you know) a kind of number to be observed by an Orator, which we shall treat of in the sequel:—but this is to be used in a different species of Eloquence, and to be relinquished in the present. His language, therefore, must be free and unconfined, but not loose and irregular, that he may appear to walk at ease, without reeling or tottering. He will not be at the pains to cement word to word with a scrupulous exactness: for those breaks which are made by a collision of vowels, have now and then an agreeable effect, and betray the not unpleasing negligence of a man who is more felicitous about things than words. But though he is not to labour at a measured flow, and a masterly arrangement of his words, he must be careful in other respects. For even these limited and unaspiring talents are not to be employed carelessly, but with a kind of industrious negligence: for as some females are most becoming in a dishabille, so this artless kind of Eloquence has her charms, though she appears in an undress. There is something in both which renders them agreeable, without striking the eye. Here, therefore, all the glitter of ornament, like that of jewels and diamonds, must be laid aside; nor must we apply even the crisping-iron to adjust the hair. There must be no colouring, no artful washes to heighten the complexion: but elegance and neatness must be our only aim. Our style muft be pure, and correct;—we must speak with clearness and perspicuity; —and be always attentive to appear in character. There is one thing, however, which must never be omitted, and which is reckoned by Theophrastus to be one of the chief beauties of composition;—I mean that sweet and flowing ornament, a plentiful intermixture of lively sentiments, which seem to result from a natural fund of good sense, and are peculiarly graceful in the Orator we are now describing. But he will be very moderate in using the furniture of Eloquence: for (if I may be allowed such an expression) there is a species of furniture belonging to us, which consists in the various ornaments of sentiment and language. The ornaments of language are two-fold; the one sort relates to words as they stand singly, and the other as they are connected together. A single word (I speak of those which are proper, and in common use) is then said to be well chosen, when it founds agreeably, and is the best which could have been taken to express our meaning. Among borrowed and translatitious [Footnote: Words which are transferred from their primitive meaning to a metaphorical one.] words, (or those which are not used in their proper sense) we may reckon the metaphor, the metonymy, and the rest of the tropes; as also compounded and new-made words, and such as are obsolete and out of date; but obsolete words should rather be considered as proper ones, with this only difference, that we seldom make use of them. As to words in connection, these also may be considered as ornamental, when they have a certain gracefulness which would be destroyed by changing their order, though the meaning would still remain the same. For as to the ornaments of sentiment, which lose nothing of their beauty, by varying the position of the words,—these, indeed, are very numerous, though only a few of them are remarkably striking.
The Orator, then, who is distinguished by the simplicity of his manner, provided he is correct and elegant, will be sparing in the use of new words; easy and modest in his metaphors; and very cautious in the use of words which are antiquated;—and as to the other ornaments of language and sentiment, here also he will be equally plain and reserved. But in the use of metaphors, he will, perhaps, take greater liberties; because these are frequently introduced in conversation, not only by Gentlemen, but even by rustics, and peasants: for we often hear them say that the vine shoots out it's buds, that the fields are thirsty, the corn lively, and the grain rich and flourishing. Such expressions, indeed, are rather bold: but the resemblance between the metaphor and the object is either remarkably obvious; or else, when the latter has no proper name to express it, the metaphor is so far from appearing to be laboured, that we seem to use it merely to explain our meaning. This, therefore, is an ornament in which our artless Orator may indulge himself more freely; but not so openly as in the more diffusive and lofty species of Eloquence. For that indecorum, which is best understood by comparing it with its opposite quality, will even here be viable when a metaphor is too conspicuous;—or when this simple and dispassionate sort of language is interrupted by a bold ornament, which would have been proper enough in a different kind of Elocution.
As to that sort of ornament which regards the position of words, and embellishes it with those studied graces, which are considered by the Greeks as so many attitudes of language, and are therefore called figures, (a name which is likewise extended to the flowers of sentiment;)—the Orator before us, who may justly be regarded as an Attic Speaker, provided the title is not confined to him, will make use even of this, though with great caution and moderation. He will conduct himself as if he was setting out an entertainment, and while he carefully avoids a splendid magnificence, he will not only be plain and frugal, but neat and elegant, and make his choice accordingly. For there is a kind of genteel parsimony, by which his character is distinguished from that of others. He will, therefore, avoid the more conspicuous ornaments above- mentioned, such as the contracting word to word,—the concluding the several members of a sentence with the same cadence, or confining them to the same measure,—and all the studied prettiness which are formed by the change of a letter, or an artful play of found;—that, if possible, there may not be the slightest appearance, or even suspicion, of a design to please. As to those repetitions which require an earnest and forcible exertion of the voice, these also would be equally out of character in this lower species of Eloquence; but he may use the other ornaments of Elocution at his pleasure, provided he checks and interrupts the flow of his language, and softens it off by using familiar expressions, and such metaphors as are plain and obvious. Nay, even as to the figures of sentiment, he may sometimes indulge himself in those which are not remarkably bold and striking. Thus, for instance, we must not allow him to introduce the Republic as speaking, nor to fetch up the dead from their graves, nor to crowd a multitude of ideas into the same period. These efforts demand a firmer constitution, and should be neither required nor expected from the simple Orator before us; for as in his voice, so likewise in his language, he should be ever easy and composed. But there are many of the nobler ornaments which may be admitted even here, though always in a plainer and more artless habit than in any other species of Eloquence; for such is the character we have assigned him. His gesture also will be neither pompous, nor theatrical, but consist in a moderate and easy sway of the body, and derive much of it's efficacy from the countenance,—not a stiff and affected countenance, but such a one as handsomely corresponds with his sentiments.
This kind of Oratory will likewise be frequently enlivened by those turns of wit and pleasantry, which in Speaking have a much greater effect than is imagined. There are two sorts of them; the one consisting in smart sayings and quick repartees, and the other in what is called humour. Our Orator will make use of both;—of the latter in his narratives, to make them lively and entertaining;—and of the other, either in giving or retorting a stroke of ridicule, of which there are several kinds; but at present it is not our business to specify them. It will not be amiss, however, to observe by way of caution, that the powers of ridicule are not to be employed too often, lest we sink into scurrility;—nor in loose and indecent language, lest we degenerate into wantonness and buffoonery; —nor with the least degree of petulance and abuse, lest we appear audacious and ill-bred;—nor levelled against the unfortunate, lest we incur the censure of inhumanity;—nor against atrocious crimes, lest we raise a laugh where we ought to excite abhorrence;—nor, in the last place, should they be used unseasonably, or when the characters either of the Speaker, or the Hearer, and the circumstances of time and place forbid it;—otherwise we should grossly fail in that decorum of which we have already said so much. We should likewise avoid all affected witticisms, which appear not to be thrown out occasionally, but to be dragged from the closet; for such are generally cold and insipid. It is also improper to jest upon our friends, or upon persons of quality, or to give any strokes of wit which may appear ill-natured, or malicious. We should aim only at our enemies; and even at these, not upon every occasion, or without any distinction of character, or with the same invariable turn of ridicule. Under these restrictions our artless Orator will play off his wit and humour, as I have never seen it done by any of the modern pretenders to Atticism, though they cannot deny that this is entirely in the Attic taste.
Such, then, is the idea which I have formed of a simple and an easy Speaker, who is likewise a very masterly one, and a genuine Athenian; for whatever is smart and pertinent is unquestionably Attic, though some of the Attic Speakers were not remarkable for their wit. Lysias, indeed, and Hyperides were sufficiently so; and Demades, it is said, was more so than all the others. Demosthenes, however, is thought by many to have but little merit of the kind; but to me nothing can be more genteel than he is; though, perhaps, he was rather smart than humourous. The one requires a quicker genius, but the other more art and address.
But there is a second character, which is more diffusive, and somewhat stronger than the simple and artless, one we have been describing,—though considerably inferior to that copious and all-commanding Eloquence we shall notice in the sequel. In this, though there is but a moderate exertion of the nerves and sinews of Oratory, there is abundance of melody and sweetness. It is much fuller and richer than the close and accurate style above-mentioned; but less elevated than the pompous and diffusive. In this all the ornaments of language may be employed without reserve; and here the flow of our numbers is ever soft and harmonious. Many of the Greeks have pursued it with success: but, in my opinion, they must all yield the palm to Demetrius Phalereus, whose Eloquence is ever mild and placid, and bespangled with a most elegant variety of metaphors and other tropes, like so many stars. By metaphors, as I have frequently observed, I mean expressions which, either for the sake of ornament, or through the natural poverty of our language, are removed and as it were transplanted from their proper objects to others, by way of similitude. As to tropes in general, they are particular forms of expression, in which the proper name of a thing is supplied by another, which conveys the same meaning, but is borrowed from its adjuncts or effects: for, though, in this case, there is a kind of metaphor, (because the word is shifted from its primary object) yet the remove is performed by Ennius in a different manner, when he says metaphorically,—"You bereave the citadel and the city of their offspring,"—from what it would have been, if he had put the citadel alone for the whole state: and thus again, when he tells us that,—"rugged Africa was shaken by a dreadful tumult,"—he puts Africa for the inhabitants. The Rhetoricians call this an Hypallage, because one word is substituted for another: but the Grammarians call it a Metonymy, because the words are shifted and interchanged. Aristotle, however, subjoins it to the metaphor, as he likewise does the Abuse or Catachresis; by which, for instance, we say a narrow, contracted soul, instead of a mean one, and thus steal an expression which has a kindred meaning with the proper one, either for the sake of ornament or decency. When several metaphors are connected together in a regular chain, the form of speaking is varied. The Greeks call this an Allegory, which indeed is proper enough if we only attend to the etymology; but if we mean to refer it to its particular genus or kind, he has done better who comprehends the whole under the general name of metaphors. These, however, are frequently used by Phalereus, and have a soft and pleasing effect: but though he abounds in the metaphor, he also makes use of the other tropes with as much freedom as any writer whatever.
This species of Eloquence (I mean the middling, or temperate) is likewise embellished with all the brilliant figures of language, and many of the figures of sentiment. By this, moreover, the most extensive and refined topics of science are handsomely unfolded, and all the weapons of argument are employed without violence. But what need have I to say more? Such Speakers are the common offspring of Philosophy; and were the nervous, and more striking Orator to keep out of sight, these alone would fully answer our wishes. For they are masters of a brilliant, a florid, a picturesque, and a well-wrought Elocution, which is interwoven with all the beautiful embroidery both of language and sentiment. This character first streamed from the limpid fountains of the Sophists into the Forum; but being afterwards despised by the more simple and refined kind of Speakers, and disdainfully rejected by the nervous and weighty; it was compelled to subside into the peaceful and unaspiring mediocrity we are speaking of.
The third character is the extensive,—the copious,—the nervous,—the majestic Orator, who possesses the powers of Elocution in their full extent. This is the man whose enchanting and diffusive language is so much admired by listening nations, that they have tamely suffered Eloquence to rule the world;—but an Eloquence whose course is rapid and sonorous!—an Eloquence which every one gazes at, and admires, and despairs to equal! This is the Eloquence that bends and sways the passions!—this the Eloquence that alarms or sooths them at her pleasure! This is the Eloquence that sometimes tears up all before it like a whirlwind; and, at other times, steals imperceptibly upon the senses, and probes to the bottom of the heart!—the Eloquence which ingrafts opinions that are new, and eradicates the old; but yet is widely different from the two characters of Speaking before-mentioned.
He who exerts himself in the simple and accurate character, and speaks neatly and smartly without aiming any higher!—he, by this alone, if carried to perfection, becomes a great, if not the greatest of Orators; nor does he walk upon slippery ground, so that if he has but learned to tread firm, he is in no danger of falling. Also the middle kind of Orator, who is distinguished by his equability, provided he only draws up his forces to advantage, fears not the perilous and doubtful hazards of a public Harangue; and, though sometimes he may not succeed to his wishes, yet he is never exposed to an absolute defeat; for as he never soars, his fall must be inconsiderable. But the Orator, whom we regard as the prince of his profession,—the nervous,—the fierce,—the flaming Orator, if he is born for this alone, and only practices and applies himself to this, without tempering his copiousness with the two inferior characters of Eloquence, is of all others the most contemptible. For the plain and simple Orator, as speaking acutely and expertly, has an appearance of wisdom and good-sense; and the middle kind of Orator is sufficiently recommended by his sweetness:—but the copious and diffusive Speaker, if he has no other qualification, will scarcely appear to be in his senses. For he who can say nothing calmly,—nothing gently—nothing methodically, —nothing clearly, distinctly, or humourously, (though a number of causes should be so managed throughout, and others in one or more of their parts:)—he, moreover, who proceeds to amplify and exaggerate without preparing the attention of his audience, will appear to rave before men of understanding, and to vapour like a person intoxicated before the sober and sedate.
Thus then, my Brutus, we have at last discovered the finished Orator we are seeking for: but we have caught him in imagination only;—for if I could have seized him with my hands, not all his Eloquence should persuade me to release him. We have at length, however, discovered the eloquent Speaker, whom Antonius never saw.—But who, then, is he?—I will comprize his character in a few words, and afterwards unfold it more at large.—He, then, is an Orator indeed! who can speak upon trivial subjects with simplicity and art, upon weighty ones with energy and pathos, and upon those of middling import with calmness and moderation. You will tell me, perhaps, that such a Speaker has never existed. Be it so:—for I am now discoursing not upon what I have seen, but upon what I could wish to see; and must therefore recur to that primary semblance or ideal form of Plato which I have mentioned before, and which, though it cannot be seen with our bodily eyes, may be comprehended by the powers of imagination. For I am not seeking after a living Orator, or after any thing which is mortal and perishing, but after that which confers a right to the title of eloquent; in other words, I am seeking after Eloquence herself, who can be discerned only by the eye of the mind.
He then is truly an Orator, (I again repeat it,) who can speak upon trivial subjects with simplicity, upon indifferent ones with moderation, and upon weighty subjects with energy and pathos. [Footnote: Our Author is now going to indulge himself in the Egotism,—a figure, which, upon many occasions, he uses as freely as any of the figures of Rhetoric. How the Reader will relish it, I know not; but it is evident from what follows, and from another passage of the same kind further on, that Cicero had as great a veneration for his own talents as any man living. His merit, however, was so uncommon both as a Statesman, a Philosopher, and an Orator, and he has obliged posterity with so many useful and amazing productions of genius, that we ought in gratitude to forgive the vanity of the man. Although he has ornamented the socket in which he has set his character, with an extravagant (and I had almost said ridiculous) profusion of self-applause, it must be remembered that the diamond it contains is a gem of inestimable value.] The cause I pleaded for Caecina related entirely to the bare letter of the Interdict: here, therefore, I explained what was intricate by a definition,—spoke in praise of the Civil Law,—and dissolved the ambiguities which embarrassed the meaning of the Statute.—In recommending the Manilian Law, I was to blazon the character of Pompey, and therefore indulged myself in all that variety of ornament which is peculiar to the second species of Eloquence. In the cause of Rabirius, as the honour of the Republic was at stake, I blazed forth in every species of amplification. But these characters are sometimes to be intermingled and diversified. Which of them, therefore, is not to be met with in my seven Invectives against Verres? or in the cause of Habitus? or in that of Cornelius? or indeed in most of my Defences? I would have specified the particular examples, did I not believe them to be sufficiently known; or, at least, very easy to be discovered by those who will take the trouble to seek for them. For there is nothing which can recommend an Orator in the different characters of speaking, but what has been exemplified in my Orations,—if not to perfection, yet at least it has been attempted, and faintly delineated. I have not, indeed, the vanity to think I have arrived at the summit; but I can easily discern what Eloquence ought to be. For I am not to speak of myself, but to attend to my subject; and so far am I from admiring my own productions, that, on the contrary, I am so nice and difficult, as not to be entirely satisfied with Demosthenes himself, who, though he rises with superior eminence in every species of Eloquence, does not always fill my ear;—so eager is it, and so insatiable, as to be ever coveting what is boundless and immense. But as, by the assistance of Pammenes, who is very fond of that Orator, you made yourself thoroughly acquainted with him when you was at Athens, and to this day scarcely ever part with him from your hands, and yet frequently condescend to peruse what has been written by me; you must certainly have taken notice that he hath done much, and that I have attempted much,—that he has been happy enough, and I willing enough to speak, upon every occasion, as the nature of the subject required. But he, beyond dispute, was a consummate Orator; for he not only succeeded several eminent Speakers, but had many such for his cotemporaries:—and I also, if I could have reached the perfection I aimed at, should have made no despicable figure in a city, where (according to Antonius) the voice of genuine Eloquence was never heard.
But if to Antonius neither Crassus, nor even himself, appeared to be eloquent, we may presume that neither Cotta, Sulpicius, nor Hortensius would have succeeded any better. For Cotta had no expansion, Sulpicius no temper, and Hortensius too little dignity. But the two former (I mean Crassus and Antonius) had a capacity which was better adapted to every species of Oratory. I had, therefore, to address myself to the ears of a city which had never been filled by that multifarious and extensive Eloquence we are discoursing of; and I first allured them (let me have been what you please, or what ever were my talents) to an incredible desire of hearing the finished Speaker who is the subject of the present Essay. For with what acclamations did I deliver that passage in my youth concerning the punishment of parricides [Footnote: Those unnatural and infamous wretches, among the Romans, were sown into a leathern sack, and thus thrown into the sea; to intimate that they were unworthy of having the lead communication with the common elements of water, earth, and air.], though I was afterwards sensible it was too warm and extravagant? —"What is so common, said I, as air to the living, earth to the dead, the sea to floating corpses, and the shore to those who are caft upon it by the waves! But these wretches, as long as life remains, so live as not to breathe the air of heaven;—they so perish, that their limbs are not suffered to touch the earth;—they are so tossed to and fro' by the waves, as never to be warned by them;—and when they are cast on the shore, their dead, carcases cannot rest upon the surface of the rocks!" All this, as coming from a youth, was much applauded, not for it's ripeness and solidity, but for the hopes it gave the Public of my future improvement. From the same capacity came those riper expressions,—"She was the spouse of her son-in-law, the step-mother of her own offspring? and the mistress of her daughter's husband [Footnote: This passage occurs in the peroration of his Defence of Cluentius]."
But I did not always indulge myself in this excessive ardour of expression, or speak every thing in the same manner: for even that youthful redundance which was so visible in the defence of Roscius, had many passages which were plain and simple, and some which were, tolerably humourous. But the Orations in defence of Habitus, and Cornelius, and indeed many others; (for no single Orator, even among the peaceful and speculative Athenians, has composed such a number as I have;)—these, I say, have all that variety which I so much approve. For have Homer and Ennius, and the rest of the Poets, but especially the tragic writers, not expressed themselves at all times with the same elevation, but frequently varied their manner, and sometimes lowered it to the style of conversation; and shall I oblige myself never to descend from that highest energy of language? Bit why do I mention the Poets whose talents are divine! The very actors on the stage, who have most excelled in their profession, have not only succeeded in very different characters, though still in the same province; but a comedian has often acted tragedies, and a tragedian comedies so as to give us universal satisfaction. Wherefore, then, should not I also exert my efforts? But when I say myself, my worthy Brutus I mean you: for as to me, I have already done all, I was capable of doing. Would you, then, plead every cause in the same manner? Or is there any sort of causes which your genius would decline? Or even in the same cause, would you always express yourself in the same strain, and without any variety? Your favourite Demosthenes, whose brazen statue I lately beheld among your own, and your family images, when I had the pleasure to visit you at Tusculanum,—Demosthenes, I say, was nothing inferior to Lysias in simplicity; to Hyperides in smartness and poignancy, or to Aeschines in the smoothness and splendor of his language. There are many of his Orations which are entirely of the close and simple character, as that against Lepsines; many which are all nervous, and striking, as those against Philip; and many which are of a mixed character, as that against Aeschines, concerning the false embassy, and another against the same person in defence of Ctesiphon. At other times he strikes into the mean at his pleasure, and quitting the nervous character, descends to this with all the ease imaginable. But he raises the acclamations of his audience, and his Oratory is then most weighty and powerful, when he applies himself to the nervous.
But as our enquiries relate to the art, and not to the artist, let us leave him for the present, and consider the nature and the properties of the object before us,—that is, of Eloquence. We must keep in mind, however, what I have already hinted,—that we are not required to deliver a system of precepts, but to write as judges and critics, rather than teachers. But I have expatiated so largely upon the subject, because I foresee that you (who are, indeed, much better versed in it, than I who pretend to inform you) will not be my only reader; but that my little essay, though not much perhaps to my credit, will be made public, and with your name prefixed to it.
I am of opinion, therefore, that a finished Orator should not only possess the talent (which, indeed, is peculiar, to himself) of speaking copiously and diffusively: but that he should also borrow the assistance of it's nearest neighbour, the art of Logic. For though public speaking is one thing, and disputing another; and though there is a visible difference between a private controversy, and a public Harangue; yet both the one and the other come under the notion of reasoning. But mere discourse and argument belongs to the Logician, and the art of Speaking gracefully and ornamentally is the prerogative of the Orator. Zeno, the father of the Stoics, used to illustrate the difference between the two by holding up his hand;—for when he clenched his fingers, and presented a close fist,— "that," he said, "was an emblem of Logic:"—but when he spread them out again, and displayed his open hand,—"this," said he, "resembles Eloquence." But Aristotle observed before him, in the introduction to his Rhetoric, that it is an art which has a near resemblance to that of Logic;—and that the only difference between them is, that the method of reasoning in the former is more diffusive, and in the latter more close and contracted.
I, therefore, advise that our finished Orator make himself master of every thing in the art of Logic, which is applicable to his profession:—an art (as your thorough knowledge of it has already informed you) which is taught after two methods. For Aristotle himself has delivered a variety of precepts concerning the art of Reasoning:—and besides these, the Dialecticians (as they are called) have produced many intricate and thorny speculations of their own. I am, therefore, of opinion, that he who is ambitious to be applauded for his Eloquence, should not be wholly unacquainted with this branch of Erudition; but that he ought (at least) to be properly instructed either in the old method, or in that of Chrysippus. In the first place, he should understand the force, the extension, and the different species of words as they stand singly, or connected into sentences. He should likewise be acquainted with the various modes and forms in which any conception of the mind may be expressed—the methods of distinguishing a true proposition from a false one;—the different conclusions which result from different premises;—the true consequences and opposites to any given proposition;—and, if an argument is embarrassed by ambiguities, how to unravel each of them by an accurate distinction. These particulars, I say, should be well understood by an Orator, because they are such as frequently occur: but as they are naturally rugged and unpleasing, they should be relieved in practice by an easy brilliance of expression.
But as in every topic which is discussed by reason and method, we should first settle what it is we are to discourse upon,—(for unless the parties in a dispute are agreed about the subject of it, they can neither reason with propriety, nor bring the argument to an issue;)—it will frequently be necessary to explain our notions of it, and, when the matter is intricate, to lay it open by a definition;—for a definition is only a sentence, or explanation, which specifies, in as few words as possible, the nature of the object we propose to consider. After the genus, or kind, has been sufficiently determined, we must then proceed (you know) to examine into it's different species, or subordinate parts, that our whole discourse may be properly distributed among them. Our Orator, then, should be qualified to make a just definition;—though not in such a close and contracted form, as in the critical debates of the Academy, but more explicitly and copiously, and as will be best adapted to the common way of thinking, and the capacity of the vulgar. He is likewise, as often as occasion requires, to divide the genus into it's proper species, so as to be neither defective, nor redundant. But how and when this should be done, is not our present business to consider: because, as I observed before, I am not to assume the part of a teacher, but only of a critic and a judge.
But he ought to acquaint himself not only with the art of Logic, but with all the common and most useful branches of Morality. For without a competent knowledge of these, nothing can be advanced and unfolded with any spirit and energy, or with becoming dignity and freedom, either concerning religion,—death,—filial piety,—the love of our country,— things good or evil,—the several virtues and vices,—the nature of moral obligation,—grief or pleasure, and the other emotions of the mind,—or the various errors and frailties of humanity,—and a variety of important topics which are often closely connected with forensic causes; though here(it is true) they must be touched upon more slightly and superficially. I am now speaking of the materials of Eloquence, and not of the art itself:—for an Orator should always be furnished with a plentiful stock of sentiments,—(I mean such as may claim the attention of the learned, as well as of the vulgar)—before he concerns himself about the language and the manner in which he ought to express himself.
That he may make a still more respectable and elevated figure (as we have already observed of Pericles) he should not be unacquainted with the principles of Natural Philosophy. For when he descends, as it were, from the starry heavens, to the little concerns of humanity, he will both think and speak with greater dignity and splendor. But after acquainting himself with those divine and nobler objects of contemplation, I would have him attend to human concerns. In particular, let him make himself master of the Civil Law, which is of daily, and indeed necessary use in every kind of causes. For what can be more scandalous, than to undertake the management of judicial suits and controversies, without a proper knowledge of the laws, and of the principles of Equity and Jurisprudence? He should also be well versed in History and the venerable records of Antiquity, but particularly those of his own country: not neglecting, however, to peruse the annals of other powerful nations, and illustrious monarchs;—a toil which has been considerably shortened by our friend Atticus, who (though he has carefully specified the time of every event, and omitted no transaction of consequence) has comprized the history of seven hundred years in a single volume. To be unacquainted with what has passed in the world, before we came into it ourselves, is to be always children. For what is the age of a single mortal, unless it is connected, by the aid of History, with the times of our ancestors? Besides, the relation of past occurrences, and the producing pertinent and striking examples, is not only very entertaining, but adds a great deal of dignity and weight to what we say.
Thus furnished and equipped our Orator may undertake the management of causes. But, in the first place, he should be well acquainted with their different kinds. He should know, for instance, that every judicial controversy must turn either upon a matter of fact, or upon the meaning of some particular expression. As to the former, this must always relate either to the reality of a fast, the equity of it, or the name it bears in law. As to forms of expression, these may become the subject of controversy, when they are either ambiguous, or contradictory. For when the spirit of a law appears to be at variance with the letter of it, this must cause an ambiguity which commonly arises from some of the preceding terms; so that in this case (for such is the nature of an ambiguity) the law will appear to have a double meaning.
As the kinds of causes are so few, the rules for the invention of arguments must be few also. The topics, or common places from which those arguments are derived, are twofold,—the one inherent in the subject, and the other assumptive. A skilful management of the former contributes most to, give weight to a discourse, and strike the attention of the hearer: because they are easy, and familiar to the understanding.
What farther remains (within the province of the Art) but that we should begin our discourses so as to conciliate the hearer's good-will, or raise his expectation, or prepare him to receive what follows?—to state the case before us so concisely, and yet so plausibly and clearly, as that the substance of it may be easily comprehended?—to support our own proofs, and refute those of our antagonist, not in a confused and disorderly manner, but so that every inference may be fairly deducible from the premises?—and, in the last place, to conclude the whole with a peroration either to inflame or allay the passions of the audience? How each of these parts should be conducted is a subject too intricate and extensive for our present consideration: for they are not always to be managed in the same manner.
But as I am not seeking a pupil to instruct, but an Orator who is to be the model of his profession, he must have the preference who can always discern what is proper and becoming. For Eloquence should, above all, things, have that kind of discretion which makes her a perfect mistress of time and character: because we are not to speak upon every occasion, or before every audience, or against every opponent, or in defence of every client, and to every Judge, in the same invariable manner. He, therefore, is the man of genuine Eloquence, who can adapt his language to what is most suitable to each. By doing this, he will be sure to say every thing as it ought to be said. He will neither speak drily upon copious subjects, nor without dignity and spirit upon things of importance; but his language will always be proportioned, and equal to his subject. His introduction will be modest,—not flaming with all the glare of expression, but composed of quick and lively turns of sentiment, either to wound the cause of his antagonist, or recommend his own. His narratives will be clear and plausible,—not delivered with the grave formality of an Historian, but in the style of polite conversation. If his cause be slight, the thread of his argument, both in proving and refuting, will be so likewise, and he will so conduct it in every part, that his language may rise and expand itself, as the dignity of his subject encreases. But when his cause will admit a full exertion of the powers of Eloquence, he will then display himself more openly;—he will then rule, and bend the passions, and direct them, at his pleasure,—that is, as the nature of his cause and the circumstances of the time shall require.
But his powers of ornament will be chiefly exerted upon two occasions; I mean that striking kind of ornament, from which Eloquence derives her greatest glory. For though every part of an Oration should have so much merit, as not to contain a single word but what is either weighty or elegant; there are two very interesting parts which are susceptible of the greatest variety of ornament. The one is the discussion of an indefinite question, or general truth, which by the Greeks (as I have before observed) is called a thesis: and the other is employed in amplifying and exaggerating, which they call an auxesis. Though the latter, indeed, should diffuse itself more or less through the whole body of a discourse, it's powers will be more conspicuous in the use and improvement of the common places:—which are so called, as being alike common to a number of causes, though (in the application of them) they are constantly appropriated to a single one. But as to the other part, which regards universal truths, or indefinite questions, this frequently extends through a whole cause:—for the leading point in debate, or that which the controversy hinges upon, is always most conveniently discussed when it can be reduced to a general question, and considered as an universal proposition:—unless, indeed, when the mere truth of a matter of fact: is the object: of disquisition: for then the case must be wholly conjectural. We are not, however, to argue like the Peripatetics (who have a neat method of controversy which they derive from Aristotle) but more nervously and pressingly; and general sentiments must be so applied to particular cases, as to leave us room to say many extenuating things in behalf of the Defendant, and many severe ones against the Plaintiff. But in heightening or softening a circumstance, the powers of language are unlimited, and may be properly exerted, even in the middle of an argument, as often as any thing presents itself which may be either exaggerated, or extenuated; but, in, controul.
There are two parts, however, which must not be omitted;—for when these are judiciously conducted, the sorce of Eloquence will be amazing. The one is a certain propriety of manner (called the ethic by the Greeks) which readily adapts itself to different dispositions and humours, and to every station of life:—and the other is the pathetic, which rouses and alarms the passions, and may be considered as the scepter of Eloquence. The former is mild and insinuating, and entirely calculated to conciliate the good-will of the hearer: but the latter is all energy and fire, and snatches a cause by open violence;—and when it's course is rapid and unrestrained, the shock is irresistible. I [footnote: Here follows the second passage above-referred to, in which there is a long string of Egotisms. But as they furnish some very instructive hints, the Reader will peruse them with more pleasure than pain] myself have possessed a tolerable share of this, or, it may be, a trifling one:—but as I always spoke with uncommon warmth and impetuosity, I have frequently forced my antagonist to relinquish the field. Hortensius, an eminent Speaker, once declined to answer me, though in defence of an intimate friend. Cataline, a most audacious traitor, being publicly accused by me in the Senate-house, was struck dumb with shame: and Curio, the father, when he attempted to reply to me in a weighty and important cause which concerned the honour of his family, sat suddenly down, and complained that I had bewitched him out of his memory. As to moving the pity of my audience, it will be unnecessary to mention this. I have frequently attempted it with good success, and when several of us have pleaded on the same side, this part of the defence was always resigned to me; in which my supposed excellence was not owing to the superiority of my genius, but to the real concern I felt for the distresses of my client. But what in this respect have been my talents (for I have had no reason to complain of them) may be easily discovered in my Orations:—though a book, indeed, must lose much of the spirit which makes a speech delivered in public appear to greater advantage than when it is perused in the closet.
But we are to raise not only the pity of our judges, (which I have endeavoured so passionately, that I once took up an infant in my arms while I was speaking;—and, at another time, calling up the nobleman in whose defence I spoke, and holding up a little child of his before the whole assembly, I filled the Forum with my cries and lamentations:)—but it is also necessary to rouse the judge's indignation, to appease it, to excite his jealousy, his benevolence, his contempt, his wonder, his abhorrence, his love, his desire, his aversion, his hope, his fear, his joy, and his grief:—in all which variety, you may find examples, in many accusatory speeches, of rousing the harsher passions; and my Defences will furnish instances enough of the methods of working upon the gentler. For there is no method either of alarming or soothing the passions, but what has been attempted by me. I would say I have carried it to perfection, if I either thought so, or was not afraid that (in this case) even truth itself might incur the charge of arrogance. But (as I have before observed) I have been so much transported, not by the force of my genius, but by the real fervor of my heart, that I was unable to restrain myself: —and, indeed, no language will inflame the mind of the hearer, unless the Speaker himself first catches the ardor, and glows with the importance of his subject. I would refer to examples of my own, unless you had seen them already; and to those of other Speakers among the Romans, if I could produce any, or among the Greeks, if I judged it proper. But Crassus will only furnish us with a few, and those not of the forensic kind:— Antonius, Cotta, and Sulpicius with none:—and as to Hortensius, he spoke much better than he wrote. We may, therefore, easily judge how amazing must be the force of a talent, of which we have so few examples:— but if we are resolved to seek for them, we must have recourse to Demosthenes, in whom we find almost a continued succession of them, in that part of his Oration for Ctesiphon, where he enlarges on his own actions, his measures, and his good services to the State, For that Oration, I must own, approaches so near to the primary form or semblance of Eloquence which exists in my mind, that a more complete and exalted pattern is scarcely desirable. But still, there will remain a general model or character, the true nature and excellence of which may be easily collected from the hints I have already offered.
We have slightly touched upon the ornaments of language, both in single words, and in words as they stand connected with each other;—in which our Orator will so indulge himself, that not a single expression may escape him, but what is either elegant or weighty. But he will most abound in the metaphor; which, by an aptness of similitude, conveys and transports the mind from object to object, and hurries it backwards and forwards through a pleasing variety of images;—a motion which, in its own nature, (as being full of life and action) can never fail to be highly delightful. As to the other ornaments of language which regard words as they are connected with each other, an Oration will derive much of its lustre from these. They are like the decorations in the Theatre, or the Forum, which not only embellish, but surprize. [Footnote: In the following Abstract of the Figures of Language and Sentiment, I have often paraphrased upon my author, to make him intelligible to the English reader;—a liberty which I have likewise taken in several other places, where I judged it necessary.] For such also is the effect of the various figures or decorations of language;—such as the doubling or repetition of the same word;—the repeating it with a slight variation; —the beginning or concluding several sentences in the same manner, or both at once;—the making a word, which concludes a preceding sentence, to begin the following;—the concluding a sentence with the same expression which began it;—the repeating the same word with a different meaning; —the using several corresponding words in the same case, or with the same termination;—the contrasting opposite expressions;—the using words whose meaning rises in gradation;—the leaving out the conjunctive particles to shew our earnestness;—the passing by, or suddenly dropping a circumstance we were going to mention, and assigning a reason for so doing; —[Footnote: We have an instance of this, considered as a figure of language, in the following line of Virgil; Quos ego—, sed praestat motos componere fluctus. Aeneid. I. Whom I—, but let me still the raging waves. This may likewise serve as an example of the figure which is next mentioned.] the pretending to correct or reprove ourselves, that we may seem to speak without artifice or partiality;—the breaking out into a sudden exclamation, to express our wonder, our abhorrence, or our grief;— and the using the same noun in different cases.
But the figures of sentiment are more weighty and powerful; and there are some who place the highest merit of Demosthenes in the frequent use he makes of them. For be his subject what it will, almost all his sentences have a figurative air: and, indeed, a plentiful intermixture of this sort of figures is the very life and soul of a popular Eloquence. But as you are thoroughly acquainted with these, my Brutus, what occasion is there to explain and exemplify them? The bare mention of them will be sufficient.—Our Orator, then, will sometimes exhibit an idea in different points of view, and when he has started a good argument, he will dwell upon it with an honest exultation;—he will extenuate what is unfavourable, and have frequent recourse to raillery;—he will sometimes deviate from his plan, and seem to alter his first purpose:—he will inform his audience beforehand, what are the principal points upon which he intends to rest his cause;—he will collect and point out the force of the arguments he has already discussed; he will check an ardent expression, or boldly reiterate what he has said;—he will close a lively paragraph with some weighty and convincing sentiment;—he will press upon his adversary by repeated interrogations;—he will reason with himself, and answer questions of his own proposing;—he will throw out expressions which he designs to be otherwise understood than they seem to mean;—he will pretend to doubt what is most proper to be said, and in what order;— he will divide an action, &c. into its several parts and circumstances, to render it more striking;—he will pretend to pass over and relinquish a circumstance which might have been urged to advantage;—he will secure himself against the known prejudices of his audience;—he will turn the very circumstance which is alledged against him to the prejudice of his antagonist;—he will frequently appeal to his hearers, and sometimes to his opponent;—he will represent the very language and manners of the persons he is speaking of;—he will introduce irrational and even inanimate beings, as addressing themselves to his audience;—he will (to serve some necessary purpose) steal off their attention from the point in debate;—he will frequently move them to mirth and laughter;—he will answer every thing which he foresees will be objected;—he will compare similar incidents,—refer to past examples,—and by way of amplification assign their distinguishing qualities to opposite characters and circumstances;—he will check an impertinent plea which may interrupt his argument;—he will pretend not to mention what he might have urged to good purpose;—he will caution his hearers against the various artifices and subterfuges which may be employed to deceive them;—he will sometimes appear to speak with an honest, but unguarded freedom;—he will avow his resentment;—he will entreat;—he will earnestly supplicate;—he will apologize;—he will seem for a moment to forget himself;—he will express his hearty good wishes for the deserving, and vent his execrations against notorious villainy;—and now and then he will descend imperceptibly to the most tender and insinuating familiarities. There are likewise Other beauties of composition which he will not fail to pursue;—such as brevity where the subject requires it;—a lively and pathetic description of important occurrences;—a passionate exaggeration of remarkable circumstances;—an earnestness of expression which implies more than is said;—a well-timed variety of humour;—and a happy imitation of different characters and dispositions. Assisted and adorned by such figures as these, which are very numerous, the force of Eloquence will appear in its brightest lustre. But even these, unless they are properly formed and regulated, by a skilful disposition of their constituent words, will never attain the merit we require;—a subject which I shall be obliged to treat of in the sequel, though I am restrained partly by the circumstances already mentioned, but much more so by the following. For I am sensible not only that there are some invidious people, to whom every improvement appears vain and superfluous; but that even those, who are well-wishers to my reputation, may think it beneath the dignity of a man whose public services have been so honourably distinguished by the Senate, and the whole body of the Roman people, to employ my pen so largely upon the art of Speaking. [Footnote: The long apology which our author is now going to make for bestowing his time in composing a treatise of Oratory, is in fact a very artful as well as an elegant digression; to relieve the dryness and intricacy of the abstract he has just given us of the figures of rhetoric, and of the subsequent account of the rules of prosaic harmony. He has also enlivened that account (which is a very long one) in the same manner, by interspersing it, at convenient distances, with fine examples, agreeable companions, and short historical digressions to elucidate the subject.]